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Title: Blessed Edmund Campion
Author: Guiney, Louise Imogen
Language: English
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The St. Nicholas Series

Edited by the Rev. Dom Bede Camm, O.S.B.



BLESSED EDMUND CAMPION

   “Go seek thy peace in war:
Who falls for love of God, shall rise a star!”
                           BEN JONSON

[Illustration]



Nihil Obstat.
D. BEDA CAMM
        _Censor Deputatus_


Imprimatur:
[Illustration] GULIELMUS _Episcopus Arindelensis
                          Vicarius Generalis_


WESTMONASTERII,
_die 14 Januarii, 1908._


[Illustration: Campion reading an Address of Welcome to Queen Mary.
_p. 3._]


BLESSED EDMUND CAMPION

by

LOUISE IMOGEN GUINEY

[Illustration]



R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd.
Paternoster Row, London
And at Manchester, Birmingham, and Glasgow
1914      _All rights reserved_



   _Campiani Fratribus
   e Provincia Angliæ Societatis Jesu Tribus
   opusculum suum
   grato affectu
   Scriptor_



PREFATORY NOTE


THIS little book leans much, as every modern work on the subject
must do, upon Mr. Richard Simpson’s monograph: _Edmund Campion,
Jesuit Protomartyr of England_. In many points supplementing or
contradicting that splendid though biased narrative, the present
writer has gratefully taken advantage of the researches of the Rev.
John Hungerford Pollen, S.J. It may also be useful to state that the
contemporary citations, when not otherwise specified, are from two
invaluable witnesses, Parsons and Allen. The translated passages have
been compared with the originals, and sometimes newly rendered.

                                                        L. I. G.

_St. Ives, Cornwall: Epiphany, 1908._



CONTENTS


  CHAP.                                                      PAGE
     I. YOUTH: LONDON, OXFORD: 1540-1566                        1
    II. THE HOUR OF UNREST: OXFORD, DUBLIN: 1566-1570          14
   III. STEPS FORWARD: IRELAND: 1571                           27
    IV. CHEYNEY AGAIN: DOUAY: 1571                             40
     V. THE CALL TO COME UP HIGHER: DOUAY, PRAGUE: 1571-1573   53
    VI. THE WISHED-FOR DAWN: BOHEMIA: 1573-1579                64
   VII. A LONG MARCH: ROME, GENEVA, RHEIMS: 1580               75
  VIII. INHOSPITABLE HOME: 1580                                88
    IX. SKIRMISHING: THE ENGLISH COUNTIES: 1580               100
     X. MANY LABOURS: AND A BOOK: 1580                        112
    XI. AT LYFORD GRANGE, AND AFTER: 1581                     129
   XII. THE THICK OF THE FRAY: 1581                           141
  XIII. VICTORY: DECEMBER 1, 1581                             166



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  CAMPION READING AN ADDRESS OF WELCOME TO QUEEN MARY     _Frontispiece_

  CAMPION IN HIS PROCTOR’S ROBES. GATEWAY OF ST. JOHN’S
      COLLEGE, OXFORD, IN BACKGROUND                     _to face p._ 16

  ‘P[ATER] EDMUNDUS CAMPIANUS, MARTYR’                          ”     80

  ‘WE HAVE NOT BROKEN THROUGH HERE!’                            ”    128

  CAMPION BEFORE QUEEN ELIZABETH                                ”    144

  ‘NOT GUILTY!’                                                 ”    160



BLESSED

EDMUND CAMPION



I

YOUTH: LONDON, OXFORD: 1540-1566


THE Campion family seem to have been both gentlefolk and yeomen, and
to have been widely scattered over the land: in Northamptonshire,
Warwickshire, Essex, Sussex, and Devon. Nothing is definitely known,
at present, as to which branch of the Campion family the Blessed
Edmund belonged. Unlike many of the martyrs of Tudor and Stuart times,
he was what is called a “born” Catholic: in more accurate phrase, a
born heathen, as we all are! but baptized in his parents’ religion
soon after his birth in London, on the Feast of St. Paul the Apostle,
January 25, in the year 1540, New Style. Edmund had two brothers, and
a sister, none of whom played any great part in his after life. By the
time he entered the Society of Jesus his father and mother were both
dead: his written expression is that he had “hopes” they died in full
communion with the Church; but evidently he did not know, being abroad,
how it had fared with them in those terribly stormy days for Christian
souls.

Edmund Campion, senior, was a book-seller, evidently in good standing,
but not well to do. Some rich London guildsmen (probably of the
Grocers’ Company, for it was they who maintained him later), befriended
the promising little boy at just the right moment, when his father
was reluctantly going to apprentice him to a trade; and he was sent,
at their joint expense, to a good Grammar School. Afterwards, under
the same patrons, he entered Christ Hospital, then lately set up in
Newgate Street (out of confiscated Franciscan funds and the generosity
of Londoners), as the “foundation” of the sixteen-year-old king, Edward
VI. Here the small Edmund, full of life and laughter, banded and
belted, ran about in now extinct yellow petticoats, and one of the
earliest pairs of those historic yellow stockings. He was thirteen, and
quite famous already in the school-boy world of London for his learning
and his attractive presence and speech, when Queen Mary Tudor, who had
just succeeded to the English throne, entered her city in state. Out of
many hundred eligible youngsters it was he who was chosen to stand up
before her on a street platform, under the shadow of the old St. Paul’s
Cathedral, and shrilly welcome her in the Latin tongue. The Queen sat
on a white horse, robed in gold-embroidered dark velvet, crimson or
purplish, with the great sword carried before her by the boyish Earl of
Surrey, with eight thousand mounted lords and gentlemen on either side,
all the glittering ambassadors, and a bevy of beautifully apparelled
ladies. On certain figures in that splendid and noisy pageant the child
might have looked with pensive eyes, had he been able to forecast his
own future; as it was, he cannot have failed to observe the Queen’s
younger sister, the thin, watchful, spirited girl who was known as the
Lady Elizabeth. Another was there, of high office, though not of high
descent, who was all goodness, piety and generosity, and may well have
been drawn to notice Edmund Campion for the first time on that sunshiny
afternoon in August, 1553. This was Sir Thomas White, then Lord Mayor
of London, a staunch Catholic. He was an unlearned man and childless,
who became, later, co-founder of the Merchant Taylors’ School, and
enricher of many towns. By 1555 he had opened his College of St. John
Baptist, once a Cistercian house, at Oxford. The Grocers’ Company at
once approached him to admit their Blue-coat ward as a scholar; this
he did, and conceived, almost as soon, a marked attachment to him;
and two years later (when Edmund was not yet eighteen!) he made him a
Senior Fellow. Campion’s other early friends at the University were his
first tutor, John Bavand, and Gregory Martin, a Foundation Scholar like
himself. These two showed towards him a lifelong devotion.

Mary’s troubled reign had covered the five most susceptible years of
his youth, and restored to the country, despite its legal excesses,
a definitely Catholic tone. Things were soon to change. War by
statute against the Mass was first declared in 1559. Edmund Campion
had left Oxford by the time that St. John’s, deprived of President
after President by the Royal Commissioners, was swept clean of all
the dons who favoured, or in any degree tolerated, the jurisdiction
of that Apostolic See which safeguarded the doctrine and honour of
the Blessed Eucharist. But while he lived in his University world,
he lived untouched. He was not looked upon as a Catholic. Nor was
he such, if his heart could be fully judged by his outward actions.
Buried in literature, philosophy, and pleasant tutorial work, he had
become, in his cultured indifference, what St. Jerome’s accusing vision
called a “Ciceronian,” and not a Christian: a skin-deep Ciceronian,
however. There is only a bare possibility that, on proceeding M.A. in
1564, he escaped taking the wretched Oath of Supremacy, and thereby
acknowledging the Queen as Head in spirituals as well as temporals
within her realm of England. He stretched his conscience, as many were
doing, thinking to help along the unity of faith, thereby defeating
that unity for good and all. An almost unprecedented vogue at Oxford
had served to blind him: he was so happy, so busy, so needed, so much
at home there. Friends encouraged him; undergraduates flocked about
him, and imitated his very gait and tone as they never have imitated
any one else except Newman.

Campion was a famous Latin scholar; and he was a good Grecian and a
good Hebraist: Greek and Hebrew were studies newly revived just before
he was born. He spoke as well as he wrote. The flamboyant art of
oratory, now almost extinct in our more quiet-coloured century, was
then much studied and admired; and Campion was famous for debates and
addresses and encomiums. When only twenty, he had been called upon to
preach, though a layman, at the re-burial of poor Amy Robsart, Lord
Dudley’s young wife, in the University church of St. Mary-the-Virgin;
and this he did with great grace and animation, and with no small
display of tact, for rumours of a murder with a motive had already got
abroad. Such prominence may have come to Campion through Sir Thomas
White’s request: Sir Thomas had his associations with Cumnor. Four
years later, Edmund Campion was able to put sincere love and sincere
grief into a funeral oration (this time a Latin, not an English one)
for the good and dear Founder himself, whose body was solemnly interred
in the Chapel of his College.

In September, 1566, Queen Elizabeth made the first and happier of her
two visits to Oxford. In the Queen’s train was Dudley; also a quieter,
plainer, less noticed man, but one out of all comparison with him
for astute power: this was Sir William Cecil, the Prime Minister,
afterwards known far and wide as Lord Burghley. There were farces and
tragedies for the Queen at Oxford, there were musical performances,
theological disputations, and other academic sports. In front of the
vast assemblage stood forth Master Campion of St. John’s, alone in his
ruff, hood and gown. As representative of the University, he welcomed
smiling royalty, and Dudley, now Earl of Leicester, Chancellor of the
University, and royalty’s magnificent favourite. Campion shone, as
well, in the absurd discussions in natural science which followed.
The Queen and Dudley marked him, as they could not fail to do; for
nothing could exceed the courtliness with which he had performed
his task. The Chancellor sent for him in private, and expressed the
Queen’s good-will, whereby Campion might bid, through him, for whatever
preferment he chose. But Campion, always truly modest and full of
ironic humour as well, would ask of his patron nothing, he said, but
his continued regard. The young bookman had a real liking for the
vicious worldling, liked by several sensitively good men, then and
since. Sir William Cecil also took instinctive interest in Campion and
his eager dialectics. Altogether, there was no more popular man in
Oxford or elsewhere. Campion was on the hilltop of professional and
personal success.

In all this beautiful fountain-play of “the things which are seen,” he
was running the very gravest risk of spiritual ruin. Perhaps he could
not know, in his leaf-hung hermitage, what a tremendous muster of souls
was going on, now that the ancient Church and a new statecraft were to
fight it out in England. Queen Elizabeth’s quarrel with the Pope was
hardly more doctrinal than her royal father’s had been: she, too, would
have been quite content to live all her days as a Catholic, provided
that Catholicism would prove her slave. The battle was not between two
known religions. On one side was conservative England with a belief;
on the other the strong spirit of secularism, plus a few fanatics
formed not by the English, but the Continental Reformation. Religion in
itself troubled the Court party as little as anything could possibly
do. It was because the spirit of Catholicism seemed to them to threaten
their particular kind of national pride, and to interfere with their
particular kind of worldly prosperity, that Cromwell in one great Tudor
reign, Burghley in the other, tried to put it down. They wished to
get good citizenship acknowledged not as an ideal, but as the supreme
ideal, and they cared not how much else was shovelled out of the way.
Their only use for religion was to bring it well under the authority of
the law and the supremacy of the Crown. They had no objection to high
respectability, but a most violent objection to the supernatural life,
because that gives to those who practise it a dangerous independence.
Elizabeth wanted unity and peace. Her subjects were to be forced by
statute to pray less and to pray all alike; and to be thereby trained,
somehow, to put Sacraments and Saints and the Papacy out of their
heads. English humankind were to forsake their happy wild life, as it
were, in the Church Universal, and all become, as if by magic, one
large tame pet lying in a ribboned collar on the royal hearth. This is
a vision which has appealed to many another head of a commonwealth as
desirable, though unaccountably difficult! Some worthy persons have
brought themselves to believe that nothing to speak of happened at
the Reformation. But at the time, everybody understood in the clearest
fashion that an old moral system which would not come to terms had been
dropped, and a more satisfactory one created. It was a working theory
of that age, all over Europe, that a governor had the right to fix the
belief of subjects. What was wanted in England was made to order, out
of the rags of ruined doctrine and discipline. Foreign Protestants
raged over its externals, as having too much of the old thing, but
the bullying State, riding roughshod over Convocation and the laity,
was perfectly at ease, knowing that there was more than enough of the
new thing to colour the whole, and to colour it once and for ever.
There was no affection for “continuity” in those days except among
the “Romans.” The attitude of their persecutors was that of men in a
fury that any Englishman should dare to connect himself either with
the world at large, or with his country’s own disclaimed yesterday.
The State Trials, for instance, bear this out in a score of places.
Many an official answer resembles the one made to that interesting
character Blessed Ralph Sherwin, when he said truly that his coming
back to his own land was to persuade the people to Catholic Unity. “You
well know,” so the Counsel reproved him in Westminster Hall, “that it
was not lawful for you to persuade the Queen’s subjects to any other
religion than by her Highness’s instructions is already professed.”
The “received religion,” or, as it was quite as often called, the
“Queen’s religion,” was simply the new idea of nationalism torn away
from relationship to the arch-idea of nations, which is the law of
God. It was, in practice, no adoring angel at the Altar, but a capable
parish beadle at the door. Now this was never the Catholic conception
of what religion has been, or is meant to be. Happily, many thoroughly
patriotic Englishmen felt that no least jot of Christian revelation,
however much it stood in the way of Cæsar, could, with their consent,
be put by; and to keep it free they were willing to make themselves
very disagreeable indeed to their revered sovereign, and to their more
easy-going countrymen. With that rude definiteness which is ever
their chief family trait, the better Catholics threw their full force
against the Oaths of Supremacy and Acts of Uniformity, as soon as they
understood their meaning. The centuries passed since then prove that
they succeeded in holding asunder what the Queen would join together.
Was it unreasonable that she punished the men who tried to spoil her
dream? And almost the chief of these men Edmund Campion was destined
to be, though years were to pass before he lent his whole heart to the
work God willed him to do.



II

THE HOUR OF UNREST: OXFORD, DUBLIN: 1566-1570


THOUSANDS who were comfortably placed in life, and conscientious, too,
had a great deal to suffer until things were made plain. Edmund Campion
began to fret, and argue, and ponder, and pray for light in secret,
for several years going about “that most ingeniose Place” (as a later
lover called Oxford) with heavy thoughts. Oxford itself, despite the
Ecclesiastical Commission fixed there to worry it, was more Catholic
in spirit than any other city in England. Nevertheless Campion’s
temptation to conform was very great. We must remember that many of his
first impressions and memories were Anglican. He was brought up during
his early school life on the new Liturgy, which came into operation
before his tenth year. He knew now, in manhood, that to change about,
and forsake the State religion for the only Church which is as exacting
as her Master, would be to see the ruin of his happy career. His strong
point, in the beginning, was not what is called brute courage. His was
the nervous, Hamlet-like temper, natural to students and recluses,
which, by a fatal error, puts endless thinking into what needs only to
be done.

[Illustration: Bld. Edmund Campion in Proctor’s robes.

(Gateway of St. John’s College, Oxford, in background)]

During these years Campion read a great deal of theology, as in his
position he was bound to do, according to University rules. Where
everything else except his inmost heart inclined him to heresy,
the Fathers drove him back upon the fulness of revealed truth. The
day which he spent with St. Augustine, or St. Jerome, or St. John
Chrysostom, was a day on which (to catch up the phrase of his friend
and biographer, Fr. Robert Parsons, himself a Balliol man) he was ready
“to pull out this thorn of conscience.” But on the morrow returned the
old spirit of obstinacy and delay. Meanwhile the Anglican influence
was gaining for Campion’s dearest friend of many, Richard Cheyney,
the Lord Bishop of Gloucester, was drawing him on towards his own
ideals, which were “Catholic-minded,” if not Catholic. The learned,
gentle and lovable Cheyney withstood with zest the risen Puritan party,
and in his hold on sound doctrine stood apart from all his colleagues
on the Episcopal Bench. He had been brought up as a Catholic, and
ordained according to the full Catholic ritual, in 1534. The reminder
is sometimes needed that Protestants did not shoot up full-grown,
that all original Protestantism was made up of human material once
Catholic. From first to last, however, Cheyney could not be forced to
coerce the Church which he had abandoned. In this he stood not, as has
been stated, quite alone among the Elizabethan Bishops, for Downham of
Chester and Ghest of Rochester shared his honourable abstinence, though
in less degree. The moment Cheyney was out of the way, the Catholics on
his diocesan ground, hitherto safe, were mercilessly harried. He had
been made a Bishop against his will, displacing the true occupant
of the See, when his friend Edmund Campion was two-and-twenty. In most
matters Cheyney followed Luther; Cranmer’s more heretical doctrines,
which prevailed on all sides in England, he thoroughly hated. He
longed always for a reconciliation which was never to be, and never
can be. He longed to see the Catholics (against the well-thought-out
and oft-repeated prohibition of their leaders, between 1562 and 1606)
do a little evil to procure a great good: namely, smooth matters
over, escape their terribly severe penalties, and in the end become
able to leaven the lump of English error, by the mere preliminary
of attendance at the service of Common Prayer according to law, in
their own old parish churches. The Book of Common Prayer, as he would
remind them, was expressly designed to suit persons of various and
even contradictory religious views: Catholic; not-so-very Catholic;
ex-Catholic; non-Catholic; anti-Catholic! Campion often rode over
the hills to Gloucester to sit by the episcopal hearth-fire, book on
knee, and hear such theories as this, and sympathize with the lonely
old man who “saw visions,” and had little else in his vexed life to
content him. His strong double desire was to save by his own effort for
the Church of England separated from Rome, that great body of ancient
belief and practice sure otherwise to be lost in the flood of invited
Calvinism; and to secure Edmund Campion himself as his intellectual
coadjutor and successor, as one of high gifts likely to “drink in
his thoughts and become his heir.” The two were together, not only
in matters of dogma, but in all minor points. Cheyney shared with
Campion dislike of politics, telling the Council that in such matters
he was “a man of small experience and little observation.” He kept
his old priestly ideals, and would never marry. Campion, too, chose
to be a celibate. If he gave his heart to either Church, he saw even
then that it must be an undivided heart. To him, with his underlying
tenderness towards the ancient faith, and his dream of peacemaking
through compromise, which is so English, and just in these matters so
mistaken, the mission thus opened out appealed. Half reluctantly, yet
not realizing the disloyalty of his act (as he himself tells us), he
allowed himself to receive from Cheyney’s hands Deacon’s orders in the
Church of England.

His interior struggle, from this day forth, went from bad to worse.
With the unaffected simplicity of his character, he talked over his
difficulties not only with Cheyney, but with any one at Oxford who
seemed able to help him. As a consequence, the Grocers’ Company, whose
exhibition he still held, heard rumours, grew uneasy, and began to
suspect him, ending in 1568 by inviting Campion up to London to save
his credit by preaching at Paul’s Cross, and publicly “favouring,”
as they expressed it, “the religion now authorized.” He begged for
time, and that being granted, for more time. He attended a court of
the Company in order to plead engagements, and to say that he was
not his own man, while deep in academic duties and at the service of
undergraduates: “divers worshipful men’s children,” he calls them. He
was Public Orator and Proctor, in fact, by now, as well as Fellow
and Tutor of his College. (He never resided long enough to take his
Doctor’s degree.) He exacted from the Company a written statement
of the dogmas he was expected to avow; and finding it impossible to
subscribe to the hot heterodoxy thus laid down, he cut his first tether
by resigning his exhibition.

His most brilliant colleague at St. John’s, Gregory Martin, who had
protested in vain against Campion’s diaconate (which was to cause the
recipient extreme remorse for a long time), had become a convert to
Catholicism, and sacrificed all his secular prospects. He wrote to his
dear friend to warn him against ambition, and to urge on him escape
from moral bondage. “Come!” the fervent letter cried; “if we two can
but live together, we can live on nothing. If this be too little, I
have money; and if this also fails, one thing is left: ‘they that
sow in tears shall reap in joy!’” Such earnest words, though seeming
wasted, had their share in shaking Edmund Campion’s rest.

With the summer term of 1570 his Proctorate expired. He spent the
Long Vacation in tutoring the eight-years-old Harry Vaux, eldest son
of Lord Vaux of Harrowden, who afterwards beautifully redeemed his
childish promise. The end of Michaelmas term found Campion face to
face for the last time with that life which he had so loved, and in
which, with his scientific enthusiasm for letters, he had been such a
wonderful inspiration to young men. There was no conscious motive in
his heart deeper than a thirst for such freedom as had become difficult
in a Puritanizing University, when he cut himself loose, slipped out of
it for good, and took ship for Ireland.

In the new move he had the approbation of Leicester, and the
companionship of a much-attached Oxford disciple, Richard Stanihurst,
who is remembered by posterity only for his grotesque translation of
Virgil. Campion may well have left home with the understanding that
he should have a clear educational field in Dublin, but he arrived
a little too late. The outlook had been very bright. Some good men
then in power were eager for the revival of the extinct University of
Dublin, an ancient Papal foundation, but ruined, as all the great
Schools were (most of them permanently, some only temporarily), by the
religious changes. The chief supporters of the plan were enthusiastic,
far-sighted, and most liberally inclined towards Catholics. Fear and
prejudice therefore stepped in, in the person of Elizabeth’s Irish
Bishops. The Lord Chancellor, Dr. Weston, wrote privately to the
Queen, deploring the popularity of the scheme, and begging her to
take the unborn foundation “into her merciful, motherly care.” She
followed that advice. In token thereof, in due season arose Trinity
College, Dublin, as a complete checkmate to the earlier project, quite
safe for evermore from Papist blight. Thus was Campion cheated of a
continuance of his natural vocation, in serving upon the staff of the
new University. Two of his friends who had most concern in it were
James Stanihurst, father of Richard, and Sir Henry Sidney, then Lord
Deputy of Ireland, who had proffered it lands and money. Leicester
would have provided Campion with a letter of introduction to Sir Henry,
his own brother-in-law. The latter’s young son, Philip, was at this
time a student in Oxford, where his governor, Thomas Thornton of Christ
Church, afterwards Vice-Chancellor, had been constantly in Campion’s
society. Sir Henry Sidney always bore himself most kindly towards
Campion. The latter lived, a more than welcome guest, under the roof
of James Stanihurst, then Recorder of Dublin, and Speaker of the local
House of Commons. Stanihurst was the head of an Anglo-Irish family
not openly Catholic since Queen Mary’s reign. Indeed, in his public
capacity, he had often sided against Catholicism, although he was as
friendly as Sidney himself to those who professed it. In the midst of
this temporizing household, Campion, himself a temporizer, came during
the winter to be doubted by certain bigots outside. Very possibly he
was too free-spoken. Campion “came to Ireland believing in practically
all Catholic dogmas, even in the Eucharist, and in the authority of
the Council of Trent.” The impression may have got abroad that his
then unknown variety of Anglicanism differed little from the dangerous
creed of times past, lately discovered to be the proper business of
the police! Whatever the reason, Campion began to be a marked man. Sir
Henry Sidney told Stanihurst with heat, that so long as he was Governor
he would see to it that “no busy knave of them all should trouble him,”
on Campion’s account. Under this unpleasant circumstance of espial,
added to the disappointment he had just undergone, the sensitive exile
presently fell ill, and got a most affectionate nursing from the
Stanihursts, till his strength revived. He started as soon to write
a treatise on a subject of which his mind, up to now, had been full:
the character and aim of the ideal youth at the Universities. This
_De Juvene Academico_ reminds us of a theme by another great Oxonian
who was in Dublin three hundred years later, and had also to face the
heartbreaking failure of an Irish University dreamed of, and not to be.
Campion afterwards recast his fine little work, and under its second
form it is to be found among the few _Opuscula_ published after his
death. His comely face and gracious manner were quickly taken into
favour in his Dublin circle. While he was gaining a contrary repute on
hearsay, the few who had access to him nicknamed him “the Angel.”

Meanwhile, hating idleness, and bent on redeeming what may have looked
like a foolish absence from Oxford, Campion planned the composition
of a brief _History of Ireland_. Friends helped him in “inquiring
out antiquities of the land.” He was what we should call a thorough
“researcher,” a bird by no means common in those early days. He went
here and there among musty manuscript records of the city, and from
library to library in the country, happily gathering in his materials
for work. He had been some three months in Ireland when on a March
midnight there came a sudden warning from the faithful Lord Deputy,
who was on the point of leaving for England. Campion learned thereby
that Weston the Chancellor had pursuivants ready to arrest him the next
morning! The Stanihursts acted at once, and hurried their friend into
the care of Sir Christopher Barnewall and Dame Marion Sherry, his
wife, of Turvey House, in the parish of Donabate, eight miles away.
There, breathless with the sudden flight through the dark, the three
devoted escorts left him in safety.



III

STEPS FORWARD: IRELAND: 1571


THE Barnewalls were in feeling both more Catholic and more Irish than
the Stanihursts, and they showed Edmund Campion a no less tender
hospitality. The great house was in a beautiful and remote situation.
Running in and out of it was a horde of laughing children, including
the eleven-year-old Janet who was to become Richard Stanihurst’s
early-dying wife. Campion loved the hearty Knight, their father, and
their lady mother, whom he calls “in very sooth, a most gentle and
godly woman.” Though he mingled freely with the life of the family,
he was considerately given the great garret to write in and hide in.
Here he began his little _History_. First of all, though, he sent back
a grateful missive in Latin to the men who had been so providently
kind to him. To the Recorder, he says: “Was I not fortunate in such
friendship and patronage as yours? How good, how generous it was of
you to take in an unknown stranger, and to keep him all these months
on the fat of the land! You looked after my health as carefully as
after Richard’s, the son worthy of your love. You supplied me, too,
with books, and made the best possible provision for my time of study:
may I perish, if ever in this world, outside my room in Oxford, I had
sweeter dealings with the Muses!... Up to this, I have had to thank
you for conveniences; but now I must thank you for my rescue, and my
very breath,—yes, breath is just the word! for they who succumb to
these persecutors are wont to be thrust into dismal dungeons, where
they inhale filthy fogs, and are cut off from wholesome air. But now,
through you and your children’s kindness, I shall live, please God
... most happily.” The stress laid, in this affectionate letter, upon
the writer’s appreciation of personal care, of the privacy dear to
students, of good diet and pure air, tells its own tale of physical
delicacy. Campion was slight in build, and like many another tireless
and quenchless spirit known to history, at no time really strong. He
ends by asking that his St. Bernard may be sent on to him, and encloses
a lively page for his friend Richard, recalling the service rendered in
snatching him from danger, and conveying him to Turvey House. “Is it
not hard,” Campion breaks out, “that beholden to you as I am, I have
no way of showing it?... Meanwhile, if these buried relics have any
flavour of the old Campion, their flavour is for you ... you and your
brother Walter ... you, up that whole night through, and he, summoned
to us from his wife’s side. Seriously, I owe you much. I have nothing
to write about unless you have time and inclination for a laugh. Have
you? Then hold your breath, and listen! The day after I came here, as
I sat down to work, into the bedroom burst a poor old soul, coming on
what business I wot not. She knew nothing of me, so seeing me suddenly
at her left, took me for a ghost! Her hair rose on end; she went dead
white; she stared aghast; her jaw fell. ‘What is the matter?’ quoth I,
whereupon she almost collapsed with fright. Not a syllable could she
utter, but made shift to flounce out of the room, and pour into her
mistress’s ear how some sort of hideous spectre had appeared to her
on the top floor! This was repeated to me at supper. They called the
little old thing in, and made her relate her scare. We all nearly died
with laughter; and I was established as quite alive.”

The book, put together, as was almost all Campion’s literary work,
under highly disturbing conditions, is unfinished; and what there
is of it is sketchy and out of proportion. One of its charms is its
character-drawing, including the speeches with which, after the fashion
of Livy, Campion fits the situation by putting them into the mouths
of his personages. His was a dramatic mind. He knew both history and
human nature: the latter knowledge crops up everywhere in all that
he wrote, and spoke, and did, and supplied him with no small share
of his power over others. The outstanding charm of the _History of
Ireland_ is its style, crisp, arresting, bright with idiom: an idiom so
noble and so much his own, that one understands the almost breathless
admiration with which his generation looked up to him and listened to
him. But this book, like the _View of the Present State_, written some
seventeen years later by another gentle-hearted Englishman, the poet
Spenser, is all wrong in its theory that to get any footing in the
modern world the “mere Irishry” must be Anglicized. Campion did not
know the Celts, their laws, nor their literature; he never came nearer
to them than through chronicles written in scorn of them, or the daily
table-talk, wide of the mark, of the English Pale. Yet, according to
his opportunity, he loved the country and the people, and deplored that
the descendants of a race of mediæval scholars should be cut off from
education. Afterwards he felt that his rather helter-skelter pamphlet
represented limited knowledge and unformed opinion; he speaks of it as
“premature,” and wished, when he lost the manuscript, that it might
perish rather than reach the public as it was. It bore a dedication
to the Earl of Leicester, his “singular good lord,” in the hope that
it might “make his travel seem neither causeless nor fruitless,” or,
as he says again in plainer language: “I render you my poor book as
an account of my voyage.” It was first printed, without supervision
from the author, in a very muddled, unsatisfactory way, by Raphael
Holinshed in 1577; then in more scholarly fashion by Sir James Ware,
in his _Ancient Irish Histories_, 1633. We all remember how useful
Holinshed’s pages were to Shakespeare: the twenty lines or so of the
famous description of Wolsey in Act IV, Scene 2, of _Henry VIII_, is
taken almost word for word from what Campion had written, and Holinshed
had incorporated in his _Chronicles_.

Nowhere in this little book, begun and broken off at Turvey House, and
purposely non-committal in its religious expressions, is there any sign
that its author had already, as some have thought, returned to the
Church. For Parsons, his earliest biographer, whose facts concerning
these years were supplied by Richard Stanihurst, says of Campion that
his purity and devoutness in Ireland were marked, although he was not
in the Church. Fr. Pollen, summing up the evidence of these written
pages, considers Campion “near to the Church, but distinctly avoiding a
confession of faith.”

Chancellor Weston, a zealot of the most pronounced Protestant type,
made a livelier pursuit after having been baffled by Campion’s escape
from Dublin. The latter found himself quite unable to lead any sort of
orderly life, thanks to the restless hue and cry after him; and one
day he recognized with a shock of horror the penalties to which he was
exposing the generous friends, so far unmolested, who were giving him
shelter. His conscience would not allow him to come out with a flat
denial of Catholic tenets or sympathies. His only alternative, after a
half-year in Ireland, was flight homeward. Here once more he was aided
(though they were in great sorrow at his decision) by his Anglo-Irish
friends, those “dear friends which ever after he loved most entirely,
and they him.”

Richard Stanihurst, as private tutor to the children of the Earl of
Kildare, had acquaintance with the Earl’s steward, Melchior Hussey.
This man (a character by no means admirable) was about to embark at
Drogheda for a visit to England, and it was arranged that Campion
should be disguised to pass as his Irish servant. Thus, in the month
of May, putting himself under the special patronage of the national
Saint, and adopting his name, Campion boarded the ship as “Mr.
Patrick.” Officers of the law promptly appeared on the track of the
quasi-Papist, delaying the weighing of the anchor, annoying the crew,
upsetting the cargo, and questioning every passenger on deck except the
harmless-looking person who stood “in a lackey’s weed” behind Hussey.
Edmund Campion was a born actor. He put on and kept up a highly stupid
expression, while he was praying with might and main for St. Patrick’s
intercession in his great danger! He had cause to thank his new patron
in Heaven, although the party of searchers swooped upon his bags
below deck, and carried off with them the rough draft of his precious
manuscript, that _History of Ireland_ which he was to see no more for
many a year.

The early summer of 1571 was ill-starred. Various startling events
had conjoined like tidal waves to lift the misbehaving English
Government up to its highest pitch of alarm. Chief of these was the
Bull of Deposition against Queen Elizabeth, issued by the Holy See
after consultation with many temperate English advisers. John Felton,
a gentleman of Southwark, posted a copy of it upon the palace gates
of the Bishop of London, on the morning of May 25, the Feast of
Corpus Christi: by August he was to pay for the bold act with his
life. The Queen of Scots had newly arrived in England. London, by the
time Campion reached it, was in a ferment. “Nothing was to be found
there but fears, suspicions, arrestings, condemnations, tortures,
executions.... The Queen and Council were so troubled that they could
not tell whom to trust, and so fell to rigorous proceedings against
all, but especially against Catholics, whom they most feared; so that
Campion could not tell where to rest in England, all men being in fear
and jealousy one of another.”

Campion had not broken his old bonds, yet nothing interested him so
powerfully as the things of religion. The love of God was lying in wait
for him, and forced his hand. Of all possible places in London where
he might have gone on the 26th or 27th of May, he chose Westminster
Hall, in order to attend the trial of Dr. John Storey, former
Principal of Broadgates Hall (Pembroke College) in Oxford, and that
University’s first Regius Professor of Civil Law. Dr. Storey was very
feeble for his years, which were sixty-seven. By a wretched breach of
international law he had been trapped at Antwerp, carried away from
his wife and family to England, and arraigned for having “feloniously
and traitorously comforted Richard Norton,” his own friend, the old
hero of the Pilgrimage of Grace. But the real cause of his arrest and
execution was a much larger matter. He was a troublesomely consistent
person. He had spoken out in the House of Commons against the new
Liturgy in the first Parliament of Edward VI, and against the Supremacy
Bill in the first Parliament of Queen Elizabeth. He had been an
Ecclesiastical Commissioner under Queen Mary. Foxe, in the famous _Book
of Martyrs_, lies in the most reckless way about Storey’s part in those
sordid bygone persecutions, and Holinshed and Strype and many another
historian repeat Foxe.

Storey was an honourable and even merciful man, but a man of his time.
People were much of a piece in the sixteenth century when it came to
holding to the grindstone the nose of the unwilling! There is this to
be said, however: that the Marian courts dealt out death to heretics
and malcontents, and candidly stopped there, and were not inspired
to any cruelty more subtle; whereas Good Queen Bess not only dealt
out death very much more liberally, but invented a poison for all the
springs of life. Her statutes, terribly oppressive from the first,
ended in what Burke calls the most hateful code framed since the world
began: Penal Laws which, especially from 1585 on, struck without
mercy at Catholics in their rights of worship, property, inheritance,
education, travel, professions, public service and private liberties
of every kind. Another point to be noted in passing is that Queen Mary
persecuted her subjects for changing their religion. Her more ingenious
sister persecuted them for not changing it! Historians have not dwelt
much upon the difference, but to a reader with some philosophy in him
it will have no little weight.

Dr. Storey was executed five days after his trial, under even more
horrible circumstances than were usual. Edmund Campion had then
left England, after an exceedingly short stay. His standing watch
in Westminster Hall had done more for him than many arguments and
exhortations: it kindled a spark in him which made him, in Lord
Falkland’s phrase, “ready for the utmost hazard of war.” There was a
cause to which he could run home; there was a vocation to which he
could climb: these opened out before him as he stood in the surging
indoor crowd. “He was animated by that blessed man’s example,” says
Parsons, “to any danger and peril for the same faith for which the
Doctor died.” Edmund Campion lost no time. There had been enough of
that sad old game, and he was thirty-one years old, with three quarters
of his too brief life behind him. Now he was awake, and had touched, in
the dark, his heart’s long-patient Master. He set out at once for the
nearest stronghold of apostolic souls, the English Seminary at Douay in
Belgium.



IV

CHEYNEY AGAIN: DOUAY: 1571


INTERRUPTED sea-voyages were his fate. This time, half-way across the
Channel, his ship was hailed by a Government frigate, _The Hare_, which
demanded to be shown the ship’s sailing papers, and the passports
of her passengers. Campion had none. Moreover, as his religion was
suspected, the dutiful Protestant frigate, homeward bound, promptly
swallowed him, bag and baggage. His generous friends in Ireland had
forced upon him money for his needs, and the captain who now kidnapped
him found it convenient to keep the money, but kind-heartedly let his
prisoner lose himself in the streets of Dover. Other friends quickly
made the losses good. On Campion’s second attempt to reach Calais
all went well. He did not lack his secular epitaph, so to speak,
at Court. It was not then a legal crime, though it soon became so,
for a Catholic Englishman to leave the country fast being made into
a hell for him. The mighty Cecil treated this expatriation as quite
voluntary. “And it is a very great pity,” he chose to say, looking into
Richard Stanihurst’s gratified eyes, “for Master Campion was one of the
diamonds of England.”

The date of Campion’s reconciliation to the Church is unknown. It seems
unlikely to have taken place in Ireland. He may have been absolved
from his schism in London, or else as soon as he had reached Douay.
There was a busy trade in wool still flourishing at that time between
Flanders and England, and in the thrifty, kindly towns of the exporting
country refugees formed a considerable part of the population. Douay,
properly speaking, Douai, was called “Doway” by its foster-children.
The creation of its English Seminary was a master-stroke of Dr. William
Allen, Canon of York, afterwards Cardinal, once of Oriel College,
Oxford, and Principal of St. Mary Hall. Indeed, “Oxford may be said
to have founded Douay.” Allen was aided by many men of mark, notably
by his old tutor, Morgan Phillipps, and by the latter’s bequeathed
funds; also by the Flemish Abbots and layfolk. Campion seems to have
been the eighteenth arrival in the newly established house of young,
prayerful, enthusiastic men. He found there as Professor of Hebrew,
his beloved Gregory Martin, and a learned colleague, Richard Bristow,
late Fellow of Exeter College, the first of the Seminarian priests
to be ordained: two props and pillars of the foundation. There also
was Thomas Stapleton, late Fellow of New College, the most able
Catholic controversialist of the age. Five of the twenty English
students enrolled in 1571, joined the Society of Jesus. The College,
destined to speedy and splendid development, was affiliated to the
Douay University, established some eight years before it by Spanish
munificence and a Papal Bull. Here, then, Edmund Campion came into his
soul’s haven, “out of the swing of the sea.”

It was Dr. Allen’s missionary policy that all his sons, before memory
of them had grown dim at home, should write to their more undecided
friends in England, doing what they could to win them to the service
of Christ in the Church Catholic. Campion sent a very long document
to this end to his venerated and now ageing friend, Bishop Cheyney:
a wonderful letter, in that live Elizabethan English, which was bold
as surgery itself, yet charged with feeling. Associating his beliefs
with Cheyney’s as the writer does, he helps us to understand his own
doctrinal position while in Oxford and in Dublin. He failed in both
places, writes Fr. Morris, for the same reason: “the position was a
false one, for it was an effort to serve two masters, and to live like
a Catholic and teach the Catholic religion outside the pale of the
Catholic Church.” “There is no end or measure,” he now tells Cheyney
from Douay, “to my thinking of you; and I never think of you without
being horribly ashamed.... So often was I with you at Gloucester, so
often in your private chamber, with no one near us, when I could
have done this business, and I did it not!” By “this business” he
means confessing Catholic truth, and urging Cheyney to return to it.
“And what is worse, I have added flames to the fever by assenting and
assisting. And although you were superior to me, in your counterfeited
dignity, in wealth, age and learning, and though I was not bound to
look after the physicking or dieting of your soul, yet, since you were
of so easy and sweet a temper as in spite of your grey hairs to admit
me, young as I was, to familiar intercourse with you, to say whatever
I chose, in all security and secrecy, while you imparted to me your
sorrows and all the calumnies of the other heretics against you; and
since like a father you exhorted me to walk straight and upright in
the royal road, to follow the steps of the Church, the Councils, and
the Fathers, and to believe that where there was a consensus of these
there could be no spot of falsehood; I am very angry with myself that
I neglected to use such a beautiful opportunity of recommending the
Faith: that through false modesty or culpable negligence, I did not
address with boldness one who was so near to the Kingdom of God. But
as I have no longer the occasion that I had of persuading you face
to face, it remains that I should send my words to you to witness my
regard, my care, my anxiety for you, known to Him to whom I make my
daily prayer for your salvation. Listen, I beseech you, listen to a
few words. You are sixty years old, more or less” (Cheyney was really
sixty-eight), “of uncertain health, of weakened body; the hatred of
heretics, the pity of Catholics, the talk of the people, the sorrow
of your friends, the joke of your enemies. Who do you think yourself
to be? What do you expect? What is your life? Wherein lies your hope?
In the heretics hating you so implacably and abusing you so roundly?
Because of all heresiarchs you are the least crazy? Because you confess
the Living Presence of Christ on the Altar, and the freedom of man’s
will? Because you persecute no Catholics in your diocese? Because
you are hospitable to your townspeople, and to good men? Because you
plunder not your palace and lands, as your brethren do? Surely these
things will avail much, if you return to the bosom of the Church, if
you suffer even the smallest persecution in common with those of the
Household of Faith, or join your prayers with theirs. But now, whilst
you are a stranger and an enemy, whilst, like a base deserter, you
fight under an alien flag, it is in vain to attempt to cover your
crimes with the cloak of virtues.... What is the use of fighting for
many articles of the Faith, and to perish for doubting of a few?... He
believes no one article of the Faith who refuses to believe any single
one. In vain do you defend the religion of Catholics, if you hug only
that which you like, and cut off all that seems not right in your
eyes. There is but one plain, known road: not enclosed by your palings
or mine, not by private judgment, but by the severe laws of humility
and obedience: when you wander from these you are lost. You must be
altogether within the house of God, within the walls of salvation, to
be sound and safe from all injury; if you wander and walk abroad ever
so little, if you carelessly thrust hand or foot out of the ship, if
you stir up ever so small a mutiny in the crew, you shall be thrust
forth: the door is shut, the ocean roars: you are undone!... Do you
remember the sober and solemn answer which you gave me when three years
ago we met in the house of Thomas Dutton at Shireburn, where we were to
dine? We were talking of St. Cyprian. I objected to you (in order to
discover your real opinions) that Synod of Carthage which erred about
the baptism of infants. You answered truly that the Holy Spirit was
not promised to one Province, but to the Church; that the Universal
Church is represented in a full Council; and that no doctrine can be
pointed out about which such a Council ever erred. Acknowledge your own
weapons, which you used against the adversaries of the Mystery of the
Eucharist!... Here you have the most ... apostolic men collected at
Trent ... to contend for the ancient faith of the Fathers! All these,
whilst you live as you are living, anathematize you, hiss you out,
excommunicate you, abjure you.” Campion goes on to urge upon Cheyney
an outward adherence to the Council which had discussed and resolved
his own private beliefs. “Especially now you have declared war against
your colleagues, why do you not make full submission, without any
exceptions, to the discipline of these Fathers?... Once more, consult
your own heart, my poor old friend! give me back your old beauty, and
those excellent gifts which have been hitherto smothered in the mud
of dishonesty. Give yourself to your Mother who begot you to Christ,
nourished you, consecrated you; acknowledge how cruel and undutiful
you have been: let confession be the salve of your sin.... Be merciful
to your soul; spare my grief. Your ship is wrecked, your merchandise
lost: nevertheless, seize the plank of penance, and come even naked
into the port of the Church. Fear not but that Christ will preserve
you with His hand, run to meet you, kiss you, and put on you the white
garment: Saints and Angels will sing for joy! Take no thought for your
life: He will take thought for you who gives the beasts their food,
and feeds the young ravens that call upon Him. If you but made trial
of our banishment, if you but cleared your conscience, and came to
behold and consider the living examples of piety which are shown here
by Bishops, priests, friars, Masters of Colleges, rulers of Provinces,
lay people of every age, rank and sex, I believe that you would give up
six hundred Englands for the opportunity of redeeming the residue of
your time by tears and sorrow.... Pardon me, my venerated old friend,
for these just reproaches, and for the heat of my love. Suffer me to
hate that deadly disease; let me ward off the imminent danger of so
noble a man and so dear a friend with any dose, however bitter. And now
if Christ give grace and you do not refuse, my hopes of you are equal
to my love: and I love you as passing excellent in nature, in learning,
in gentleness, in goodness, and as doubly dear to me for your many
kindnesses and courtesies. If you recover your [spiritual] health, you
make me happy for ever. If you slight me, this letter is my witness.
God judge between you and me: your blood be on yourself! Farewell, from
him that most desires your salvation.”

One phrase in this steel web of phrases from the pen of a rhetorician
with a heart, shows that Campion knew of Cheyney’s sad and now
complicated position in England. The letter was written November 1,
1571. A Convocation had met in the preceding April, on the heels of the
Act of Uniformity, to which Cheyney was summoned in vain. It required
the signing of the Thirty-nine Articles, and enacted, under Archbishop
Grindal’s leadership, many things equally hateful to Cheyney, such as
displacement and defacement of Altar-stones—(a great symbol, this,
and no mere act of pillage!), the abolition of Prayers for the Dead,
the prohibition even of the Sign of the Cross in church. Cheyney,
excommunicated for his wilful absence, afterwards sued by proxy for
absolution, for the sake of averting temporal penalties: but he had
nothing more to do with the hierarchy. “Now you have declared war
against your colleagues,” shows that Campion had heard accurate news of
all this.

The moment may have seemed to Campion exactly favourable for such
a strong appeal. One of Cheyney’s successors in his See declared:
“It was certain he died a Papist.” This was contradicted by a lesser
authority, but yet a good one. If it were indeed “certain”, at least
Edmund Campion, to whom the tidings would have been most consoling,
never knew of it. It seems as if Cheyney could not have answered that
bugle-call of a letter. He is said, however, to have kept it always,
and to have called it his greatest treasure.

How these many cries of “the heat of my love” must have haunted his
ear! It is hardly in human nature to value such a document at all (and
there are passages in it more ruthless, after the manner of the time,
than any we have quoted), unless for the reflex reason that it does its
intended work in the heart of the receiver. To have valued it either
as a piece of literary cleverness, or as a monument of misdirected
concern, would have been equally cynical, and clean contrary to
Cheyney’s known attitude towards his friend. He did not live to see
Campion return to England. Shunning the bigots and the unprincipled men
in power to the last, and sheltering the Catholics all he could, he
shut himself up at Gloucester, a whole High Church party in himself,
wounded and at bay: and there in 1579 he died, and was buried in the
glorious Cathedral, without an epitaph. The dream of his lifetime, as
well as Edmund Campion’s sonship, he had loved and lost.



V

THE CALL TO COME UP HIGHER: DOUAY, PRAGUE: 1571-1573


IN Allen’s _Apology for Seminaries_ there is a beautiful account of the
ideals of Douay. “The first thought of the founders of the College had
been to attract the young English exiles who were living in Flanders
from their solitary and self-guided study to a more exact method and
to collegiate obedience; and their next, to provide for the rising
generation in England a succession of learned Catholics, especially of
clergy, to take the place of those removed by old age, imprisonment,
and persecution. Their design then was to draw together out of
England the ‘best wits’ from the following classes; those inclined to
Catholicism; those who desired a more exact education than could be
then obtained at Oxford or Cambridge, ‘where no art, holy or profane,
was thoroughly studied, and some not touched at all;’ those who were
scrupulous about taking the Oath of the Queen’s supremacy; those who
disliked to be forced, as they were in some Colleges of the English
Universities, to enter the ministry; ... and those who were doubtful
which religion was the true one, and were disgusted that they were
forced into one without being allowed opportunity of inquiring into the
other.” The spirit of Douay was not reactionary, but the best spirit
of the English Renaissance. It had, besides, a character or atmosphere
holy and bright, not formed by mere human culture: it was as “a garden
enclosed, and a fountain sealed.” Campion found there a peace such
as he had never known. He had already, at Oxford, given seven years
to philosophy, and six more to Aristotle, positive theology, and the
Fathers. The study of scholastic theology was dead in Oxford: Campion
now first took up the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas. He arrived in
June, and in August he bought a noble edition of the _Summa_ for his
own use, in three volumes folio. This was discovered in 1887 by Canon
Didiot of Lille, and it is now at the Roehampton Noviciate. Several
features make it a particularly interesting relic: Campion’s signature,
with the date of his purchase, on the flyleaf; various beautifully
executed little drawings, underlinings, and a host of marginal notes
in Latin. By far the most touching of these relates to what St. Thomas
quotes from Gennadius on the baptism of blood. Blessed Edmund Campion
wrote in a tall, bold hand, over against this passage, the one musing
word, “Martyrdom.” Canon Didiot, with that intimate touch of French
sympathy, calls it “_mot radieux et prophétique_.”

For nearly two years Campion followed the course of scholastic
theology, taking his degree of Bachelor in January, 1573. He then
received Minor Orders, and was ordained Sub-deacon. All went happily
for him at Douay. He was again at his old work, and, as ever, he won
the highest opinions from those among whom he moved. In his Oxford
days he had always held lofty standards before his pupils: “never
to deliquesce into sloth, nor to dance away your time, nor to live
for rioting and pleasure ... but to give yourselves up to virtue and
learning, and to reckon this the one, great, glorious and royal road.”
But the feeling in the exhortations of his later life is tenfold
deeper, and strikes a far more haunting note of duty towards England,
and towards the Church. This is a passage from the revised _De Juvene
Academico_, which had first been sketched out years before in Dublin.
“Listen to our Heavenly Father asking back his talents with usury!...
Behold, by the wickedness of the wicked the house of God is devoted
to flames and to destruction; numberless souls are being deceived,
are being shaken, are being lost, any one of which is worth more than
the empire of the whole world.... Sleep not while the Enemy watches;
play not while he devours his prey; sink not into idleness and folly
while his fangs are wet with your brothers’ blood. It is not wealth nor
liberty nor station, but the eternal inheritance of each of us, the
very life-blood of our souls, our spirits, and our lives, that suffers.
See, then, my dearest young scholars and friends, that we lose none of
this precious time, but carry hence a plentiful and rich crop, enough
to supply the public want, and to gain for ourselves the reward of
dutiful sons.” One of those who listened to these words was destined to
become the proto-martyr of the English Continental Seminaries: Cuthbert
Mayne, a dear pupil of Campion’s, who as a Devon lad had come up to
Oxford and St. John’s, had first conformed to the new regulations,
and served as College Chaplain, then awakened from his delusion, and
fled over seas for conscience’ sake, “not to escape danger, but to be
prepared for it,” in response to one of Campion’s burning letters. This
letter was intercepted, but its purport had reached him, and decided
him.

In the spring of 1573, Campion found himself driven to a course he
had not contemplated on coming to Douay. As he slowly saw his way, he
followed it, to horizon beyond horizon. He had many steps to take,
because in his thirst for perfection he had far to travel. He told
Dr. Allen he wished to leave his present life, go on pilgrimage, in
the spirit of penance, to the Tomb of the Apostles at Rome, and there
seek admission into the Society of Jesus. The mediæval Orders would
have less attraction for Campion: he was an intensely “modern” man.
Now this was a severe blow to Allen: hardly less so to others of
Campion’s circle. Campion, the pride, the example, the hope of the
Seminary, to quit it for good, and to quit it in order to join the
most recent of religious communities—one which as yet had few English
members! It was inexplicable. But Allen, like the great-hearted and
broad-minded commander-in-chief he was, let him go without protest. He
little foresaw that far from losing his most promising champion, he was
but lending him to better masters of the interior life than himself,
and would receive his trained strength again in the English Mission’s
spiritual day of battle.

Campion set out on foot across the Continent for Rome, along that road
“trodden by many a Saxon king and English saint, to the Apostles’
shrine.” His companions walked with him all the first day; but the next
morning he sent them back, and pushed on alone. Solitude was henceforth
his choice, whenever duty permitted. He must have had many strange
adventures during that spring journey. We know of one of them, though
not from him. At some point of the route, probably on the northern
Italian border, he came face to face with an old friend, an Oxonian,
and a Protestant. The horseman first rode past the poor mendicant on
the highway, and then was prompted by some dim sense of recognition
to return and speak to him. On realizing that it was really Edmund
Campion whom he used to know “in great pomp of prosperity,” he showed
much concern, proffered his good-will and his purse, and begged to hear
how Campion had fallen into that ill plight. But the pilgrim refused
aid; and the other traveller heard something then and there of the
“contempt of this world, and the eminent dignity of serving Christ in
poverty,” which greatly moved him: and “us also,” adds Robert Parsons
of Balliol, “that remained yet in Oxford, when the report came to our
ears.” A strange tale it must have seemed to those who knew their
Master of Arts and all his old fastidiousness! He was by now a saint
in the making, and they were fast losing touch with him. Personal
holiness is, so to speak, a mining country: its progress and its wealth
are underground, unguessed-at by the careless passer-by. A saint is a
mystery because he walks so closely in the shadow of God, who is the
Great Mystery.

When Campion reached Rome, and had paid his devotions to the holy
places, he went to call upon Cardinal Gesualdi, who, as he stated
afterwards, “having some liking of me, would have been the means to
prefer me ... but I, resolved what course to take, answered that I
meant not to serve any man, but to enter into the Society of Jesus,
thereof to vow and to be professed.” With this intention, Campion
sought out the newly-elected head of that Society, Father Everard of
Liège, whose surname was generally Latinized into Mercurianus, from
Mercœur, his native village. He was fourth in his office, having
succeeded that great personality St. Francis Borgia, on St. George’s
Day, April 23, 1573. Biographers have represented that Campion had a
half-year’s delay in Rome before he was able to apply for admission to
the Society; but such was not the case. He promptly presented himself,
and was received as Mercœur’s first recruit, and received not as a
postulant, but as a novice. As Anthony Wood tells us, “he was esteemed
by the General of that Order to be a person every way complete.” Four
years later, Campion most affectionately thanked his own old tutor,
John Bavand, for unasked “introductions, help and money,” which had
been supplied since he came to Rome. He speaks of himself as “one whom
you knew never could repay you, but who was at the point, so to speak,
of death.... You were munificent to me when I was going to enter the
sepulchral rest of religion.” The aid he would not accept for himself
on his journey from one friend, he had accepted in the city (and spent,
no doubt, in almsgiving) from another. Perhaps Bavand was abroad,
and heard of that incident which came to pass on the road: certainly,
he was one from whom Campion could not in chivalry refuse whatever he
chose to share with him.

The Society of Jesus had been founded only six years before Campion
was born. It had as yet no English “Province,” that is, no members
living under the English flag with a domestic government of their
own. But Edmund Campion was already well known to the Provincials on
the Continent, who had a warm contest over him, every one of them
wishing to add such a promising soldier to his own wing of the army
of the Lord. As it fell out, Bohemia won. Campion was sent as one
of a company to Vienna, and then from Vienna to Prague, where the
Noviciate was, with Father Avellanedo, Confessor to the Empress, a man
of wide experience. He was so deeply edified by his companion that,
he told Fr. Parsons long after, it had kept him all his life “much
affectioned” towards England and Englishmen. Prague was in a miserable,
godless state: the Catholics were poor and few: the great University
had perished: and all this was due to the ruin, moral and material,
produced by the preaching, at the dawn of the fifteenth century, of
John Hus. That Hus got his Socialistic ideas from Wyclif was a fact
never out of Campion’s mind while in Bohemia: for he thought that
England owed some reparation to a country which she had helped to
spoil, and he was more than willing to pay his part of that debt.



VI

THE WISHED-FOR DAWN: BOHEMIA: 1573-1579


CAMPION stayed but two months at Prague, as the small Noviciate was
removed to Brünn in Moravia, where the inhabitants were most hostile
to Catholicism. The Bishop of Olmütz begged the Jesuits to help him
so far as their Rule permitted. Novices were sent out among the
neighbouring villages, to catechize and instruct the poorer Catholics;
and no one had so instant a success in this little enterprise as “God’s
Englishman.” At the year’s end his Novice Master, John Paul Campanus,
became Rector of the College in Prague, and took Edmund Campion back
with him. The latter left a good deal of his heart within the gray and
austere walls of Brünn, as two of his charming letters show. In the old
garden, under a mulberry tree, he had had a wonderful vision: Our Lady
stood there, smiling at him, and offering him a purple robe. He knew
the portent of martyrdom, but for long hid it in his heart. At Prague
Campion continued and increased his Douay employments. He opened the
October term with what was called a “glorious peroration”. As Professor
of Rhetoric, he wrote, in 1574, a beautiful little treatise on that
subject so familiar to him. His duty was to be first in the house to
rise and last to go to bed; he spent his recreation-time catechizing
children, receiving converts, visiting the prison and the hospital,
or helping the cook in the kitchen! In January, 1575, he set up at
his College a branch Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, or
Sodality of Our Lady, of which he became president. About the same
time he made his first vows. He was continually called upon for great
College occasions, and to pronounce public panegyrics. “Whatever had
to be done,” says his pompous but sympathetic biographer Bombino, “was
laid upon him.” On getting a fresh task he would ask his Superior,
in a spirit of perfect humility and confidence, if he was thought
strong enough to add that to the rest? and if the answer were Yes, he
shouldered the new duty at once, much to the wonder of others. “I am
in a continual bloom of health,” he writes gallantly to his “dearest
Parsons,” who had just entered the Society; “I have no time whatever
to be ill in!” Two sacred plays (six hours did it take to perform each
of them!) came from Campion’s truly dramatic pen in 1577. One was on
the Sacrifice of Abraham; one on the melancholy career of King Saul. It
is a matter of much regret that these are lost. He seems also to have
composed dialogues and scenes for his own scholars, and to have put
together at this same time his spirited account of the origin of the
English schism, in a narrative (in Latin) of _The Divorce of King Henry
VIII from his Wife and from the Church_. It was printed by Harpesfield,
long after Campion’s death.

Meanwhile Rudolph II had succeeded to the imperial throne; and the
“magnificently provided” Envoy who was sent to Prague, bearing the
congratulations of Queen Elizabeth, was none other than Sir Philip
Sidney. Sidney’s mind was set upon seeing his old friend Campion,
and talking with him; but he managed only with difficulty to carry
out his wishes. He went officially in the Emperor’s train to hear
his friend (not yet in priest’s orders) preach, and on his return
to England unguardedly spoke with delight of the sermon. Whenever
Sidney visited the Continent he was supposed to become tainted with a
hankering after Catholicism, though in all his public actions he was
conspicuously Protestant. Campion, who knew him from boyhood and was
not given to misjudgment, believed that he had almost won over the
star of English chivalry: “this young man so wonderfully beloved and
admired,” he calls him in 1576; a testimony doubly interesting, when
we remember that Philip Sidney was then but three-and-twenty, to the
effect which his short life made upon all his contemporaries. “He had
much conversation with me,” Campion’s letter goes on, “and I hope not
in vain, for to all appearances he was most keen about it. I commend
him to your remembrances at Mass, since he asked the prayers of all
good men, and at the same time put into my hands alms to be distributed
to the poor for him; this trust I have discharged.” He ends by hoping
that some of the missionaries then going back to England from Douay
will have “opportunity of watering this plant ... poor wavering soul!”
Fr. Parsons in his _Life of Campion_ tells us that Sidney “professed
himself convinced, but said that it was necessary for him to hold on
the course which he had hitherto followed.” Such was the sad answer of
Felix to St. Paul.

Campion’s thoughts had turned often of late to another friend, Gregory
Martin, who had left overcrowded Douay for the Seminary newly founded
in the heart of Rome, in the ancient English hospice for pilgrims.
Campion longed to turn his fellow-priest into a Jesuit, for he loved
his own Society in the extreme; but that was not to be. A letter to
Martin, glowing with that interior fire which was shed out from Edmund
Campion upon everything he touched, ends most tenderly. “Since for so
many years we two had in common our College, our meals, our studies,
our friends and our enemies, let us for the rest of our lives make
a more close and binding union, that we may have the fruit of our
friendship in heaven. For there also I will, if I can, sit at your
feet.”

After years filled with literary and academic labour in two Colleges,
and blessed with marked growth in holiness, Edmund Campion was ordained
priest by the Archbishop of Prague. His first Mass was said on the
Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, September 8, 1578. Following his
General’s express command, he dismissed the old unhappy scruple
about his Oxford diaconate, and it troubled him no more. He was made
Professor of Philosophy. “You are to know,” he pleasantly says, “that
I am foolishly held to be an accomplished sophist!” During the course
of this year 1578, he wrote his last and most famous drama, now lost,
on St. Ambrose and the Emperor Theodosius, which, when acted, made
a tremendous stir. He became ever more and more noted as a preacher,
a “sower of eternity” in the popular heart, as well as the favourite
orator when grandees died and were buried in state. But all this time
his mind and heart were far away.

No one ever practised religious obedience in a more heroic spirit; yet
he secretly longed to throw his life and his labours directly into the
balance for England’s sake. He knew what was going on there, and his
thoughts seem never once to have turned towards pikes, or any political
remedy; his whole ambition was, as he said in one letter, to “torture
our envious foe with good deeds,” and in another, “to catch them by
the prayers and tears at which they laugh.” His long-dear Cuthbert
Mayne, of whom he had lost sight for awhile, had given up his life for
the Faith at Launceston, November 29, 1577. He had been captured near
Probus; his wealthy host, Francis Tregian, was attainted of præmunire,
and his children completely beggared. This young Westcountryman had
a character all his own. He had been charged with nothing but the
exercise of his priestly functions, and was offered his life, on the
day of his execution, if he would but swear that the Queen was Supreme
Head of the Church of England. “Upon this,” continues the chronicle,
“he took the Bible into his hands, made the sign of the Cross upon
it, kissed it, and said: ‘The Queen neither ever was, nor is, nor
ever shall be, the Head of the Church of England!’” Campion had only
recently heard the news in the August of 1579. One can read between the
lines of a passage like this: “We all thank you much for your account
of Cuthbert’s martyrdom; it gave many of us a divine pleasure. Wretch
that I am, how far has that novice distanced me! May he be favourable
to his old friend and tutor! Now shall I boast of these titles more
than ever before.” Within the next six months Edmund Campion was to see
the beginning of his heart’s desire.

Dr. Allen, the founder of Douay, was in Rome to organize the English
College; and there he brought all his persuasion to bear upon the
General of the Society of Jesus and his consultors, that the English
Jesuits might be allowed to join the English secular priests in the
pressing redemption of their distracted country. There were the gravest
reasons for and against the proposal, but the answer given to Dr.
Allen was that the Society would do its best to supply missioners
thenceforward, and that Robert Parsons and Edmund Campion should be
sent first as forerunners of the rest. Allen was naturally overjoyed.
While Mercœur, the Father-General, wrote officially to Campion’s
Superior at Prague, Allen wrote a moving letter to Campion himself:
“My father, brother, son,” he calls him, “make all haste and come,
my dearest Campion ... from Prague to Rome, and thence to our own
England.” ... “God, in whose hands are the issues, has at last granted
that our own Campion, with his extraordinary gifts of wisdom and grace,
shall be restored to us. Prepare yourself, then, for a journey, for a
work, for a trial.”

The imaginations of Campion’s comrades at Prague were touched to the
quick by the prospect opening before their happy brother. One of these
bore witness to the fragrance of his own thoughts by painting a garland
of roses and lilies on the wall of Campion’s little room, just at
the bed’s head. A white-haired Silesian, Father James Gall, wrote in
scroll fashion, by night, over the outer door of that same little room:
“P[ater] Edmundus Campianus, Martyr.” For such a romantic irregularity
the old saint was reprimanded. He replied quite simply: “But I had to
do it!” Poor Campion, who was shy, had seen both these things, before
Campanus, the sympathetic Rector, gave him his marching orders to start
at once for Rome. “The Fathers do verily seem to suspect something
about me; I hope their suspicions may come true!” he said. “God’s will
be done, not mine.” And then, adds that first English biographer who
so well knew him and so much loved him: “Being scarce able to hold
tears for joy and tenderness of heart, he went to his chamber, and
there upon his knees to God satisfied his appetite of weeping and
thanksgiving, and offered himself to His divine disposition without any
exception or restraint: whether it were to rack, cross-quartering, or
any other torment or death whatsoever.”



VII

A LONG MARCH: ROME, GENEVA, RHEIMS: 1580


FROM Prague to Munich, and from Munich to Innsbrück, Campion had the
distinguished and very friendly company of Ferdinand, brother of the
reigning Duke of Bavaria. Afterwards he went on alone on foot, as he
was always glad to do, as far as Padua. Here he took horse for Rome,
which he reached just before Palm Sunday, April 5, 1580, coming “in
grave priest’s garb,” we are told, “with long hair, after the fashion
of Germany.” He was informed by the Father-General that he was to start
for England nine or ten days after Easter. Campion begged “neither
to be Superior of the expedition nor to have anything to do with
the preparations,” and that during the fortnight he might be free
from all except necessary cares, in order to make a more devotional
entrance upon the life ahead of him. “And the like did, for their part,
and had done, all the Lent before, those other priests also of the
English Seminary,” says Parsons, speaking of many seculars afterwards
martyred, “that were appointed by their Superiors to go with us in this
mission.... All these together used such notable and extraordinary
diligence for preparing themselves well in the sight of God ... as was
matter of edification to all Rome.”

Rome was a most religious place at that time, not only in its enduring
associations, but in the temper of the people. One in large measure
responsible for its spirit of penance and prayer, and loving charity
to the poor, was then living at San Girolamo, opposite the old English
hospital, now turned into a College: this was St. Philip Neri, the
most venerated and endearing figure in all the great city. He knew
the successive little English bands; when he passed them in the
streets, cheerful St. Philip used to smile tenderly, and give what must
have been to them a thrilling greeting: “‘Hail, Little Flowers of
Martyrdom!’” the opening line of the Breviary Hymn for Holy Innocents’
Day. Parsons and Campion, and the secular clerics associated with them,
may have originated the custom of going over to San Girolamo for a
special fatherly blessing before setting forth to almost certain death.
There is a tradition (mentioned by Newman) that one of that company did
not care to seek St. Philip’s prayers, and that afterwards he failed
to persevere. This is thought to be the lay student, John Paschall, or
Pascal, who was apparently of an unstable disposition, and is known to
have forsworn the Faith, when his great chance came to profess it.

The Pope, Gregory XIII, showed untiring and fatherly interest in all
the missionaries, and their travelling funds were his personal gift.
He wept over them in bestowing his parting benediction. Campion set
out this time with seven English priests, Ralph Sherwin, a former
Fellow of Exeter College, among them; also with two lay brothers, and
two students. Others joined them from Rheims and Louvain, some of
them advanced in years and well known. The party adopted the novel and
almost daredevil fashion of going on foot; but, mounted and riding
privately in advance of it, were its two eldest members. One was the
holy octogenarian Thomas Goldwell, the Lord Bishop of St. Asaph, who
had been offered by Queen Mary a transfer to the See of Oxford, and
refused it. He was destined to be the last survivor of the deposed and
scattered Catholic hierarchy in England, who had all but one refused
the unheard-of Oath in 1559, and had all been deprived of their Sees
that same year. Bishop Goldwell now, twenty years afterwards, was one
of two who were living; and his colleague, Watson, Bishop of Lincoln,
was in prison. The other senior missionary was his companion, Dr.
Nicholas Morton, Canon Penitentiary of St. Peter’s, who had done
something already towards the making of English history. The first
little Jesuit group of three was commanded by Fr. Robert Parsons, a
born organizer, a man of splendid resources, afterwards celebrated,
and much loved and hated. For convenience, as for safety, they all
put on secular dress. Campion, however, would buy no new clothes, but
arrayed himself in an old buckram suit, with a shabby cloak. When
rallied on his highly inelegant appearance, he remarked with the gay
spirit so like that of another “blissful martyr,” Sir Thomas More, that
a man going forth to be hanged need trouble himself little about the
fashion!

The roads were bad beyond any modern idea of badness, and it poured
rain for the first nine or ten days. Campion, the least robust of
the party, and the most poorly clad, fell ill under such combined
discomforts, and while crossing the Apennines had to be lifted into
the saddle of one of the very few horses which had been brought along
for the sake of the infirm. As soon as he was well enough he resumed
his daily habit of saying Mass very early, and of walking on, in the
later morning hours, till he was a mile ahead of the rest, to make his
meditation, read his Office, and say the Litany of the Saints, before
he should be overtaken. He and his comrades planned their spiritual
life, day by day, with the most careful regularity. Their talk was
always of souls: “the Harvest” was their word for England, or else “the
Warfare.” In the chilly spring twilights Campion would push on ahead
again, “to make his prayers alone, and utter his zealous affections to
his Saviour without being heard or noted.”

[Illustration: “P(ater) Edmundus Campianus, Martyr.” p 73.]

The route lay through Siena, Florence, Bologna. In the latter city
there was a week’s delay, due to an injury to Fr. Parsons’ leg. The
band of twelve was entertained by the Cardinal Archbishop of that See,
who was the historian of the Council of Trent: Gabriel Paleotto. Like
Avellanedo, like many another Italian, Paleotto loved the English.
“Were he a born Englishman, he could not love them more,” wrote
Agazzario to Allen, at that time when the national temperament was
much more expressive and responsive than it is now. At Milan, in the
early part of May, the future confessors and martyrs were to find
another and a greater, also “much affectioned” towards them, who
received them most hospitably, and even asked the English College for
other relays of guests in the future. This was the great Archbishop,
St. Charles Borromeo. Bishop Goldwell, who had passed through Milan
days before the walkers reached it, had been, in 1563, Vicar-General
to St. Charles, and would have bespoken his interest in the little
party. The reverend host complimented Ralph Sherwin by asking him to
deliver a sermon before him, and as for Campion, he was required to
discourse daily after dinner. St. Charles himself, all the while,
whether vocal or silent, was acting upon the pilgrims as a _Sursum
corda_. “Without saying a word, he preached to us sufficiently,” says
the ever-appreciative Parsons, “and so we departed from him greatly
edified and exceedingly animated.” How charming is the forgotten use
of the last word, meaning “souled,” or, as we still say, “heartened,”
“inspirited!” Such indeed is the true function of the saints.

From Turin the little company made for Mount Cenis, and young,
middle-aged and old lustily climbed it; and then among the torrents
and boulders of that glorious scenery, they came down into Savoy.
At St. Jean Maurienne they found the roads blocked by the Spanish
soldiery, and at Aiguebelle ran across other disturbances, caused by
the wars of religion raging in the Dauphiné. As there was nothing
to do but abandon the direct route, they turned aside and entered
Geneva, the hotbed of Calvinism, and the home of Theodore Beza, the
learned apostate who had succeeded to Calvin’s leadership. There was a
close community of spirit between Geneva and the English Reformation.
However, Switzerland, then as now, had liberal laws, and any traveller,
Catholic or Protestant, was free to pass, unmolested though not
unquestioned, three days in the city. It looks decidedly like an
alloy of mischief on the part of five of the English that they went
to call in a body on Beza! They were admitted as far as the court by
Claudine, his stolen wife, whom they had all heard of, and were not
ill-pleased to see. When the famous greybeard came out they managed,
after passing their compliments, to worry him with some telling
controversial shots. Campion knew not how to be rude: but Sherwin found
amusement, ever afterwards, in remembering how that honest fellow
“Patrick” stood and looked and talked, cap in hand, “facing out” (such
is Sherwin’s shockingly boyish language in a private letter), “the
old doting heretical fool.” The celebrity so described behaved rather
vaguely, and, in the course of nature, could not have been sorry to
see the last of his besiegers, and of their wits, sharpened with life
in the open air. He bowed them out with less abruptness than might
have been expected—indeed, with a certain show of civility; and went
back to his books. Later, Sherwin and two other youngsters, in a
midnight discussion with some English Protestant students, actually
challenged Beza and all Calvindom to a trial of theologies, with
the drastic proviso that the defeated party should be burnt in the
marketplace! Meanwhile Campion, in the _rôle_ of “Patrick,” did his
share of “facing out” other worthies in Geneva, besides finding an old
University friend there, who “used him lovingly,” but reported that an
alarm had been raised, and encouraged the departure of the paladins.
These, halting on a spur of the Jura before nightfall, with Lake Leman
spread beneath them, said _Te Deum_ together, that they were safely
out of the city. There seems to have been a good deal of curiosity
or bravado mingled with their polemical zeal, and Campion’s always
tender conscience would have readily accepted, if it did not suggest,
a suitable penance for the raid. So off they trudged nine steep,
contrite, extra miles (“extreme troublesome,” we are told they were) to
the nearest shrine, that of St. Claude, over the French border.

They entered Rheims the last day of May, 1580, for in Rheims was
the soul, if not the body, of the College now driven, partly for
convenience, partly by force of trouble, out of Douay. That College
was never re-formed: but the scholar-exiles lived close together, up
and down the street still called _Rue des Anglais_. The travellers
were rapturously welcomed by all, especially by the great Englishman
whom the old narrative quaintly calls “Mr. Dr. Allen, the President.”
Here at Rheims the venerable Bishop of St. Asaph fell ill of a fever.
He was never again to cross the Channel. By the time he had fairly
recovered, rumours of his movements had naturally got abroad, and the
Pope was unwilling to imperil so important and precious a person. While
still a convalescent at Rheims, Goldwell wrote to his Holiness in
person, begging him to listen to no objections, but to anoint at once
three or four new Bishops to shepherd their own needy Church; and he
very touchingly assures the Holy Father, knowing that the question of
a fitting maintenance for them would arise, that God had so inclined
the minds of all the English priests whom he knew to put up with their
penniless and hunted daily lives, and the vision of the gallows always
before them, that any of these, once consecrated, would be entirely
contented to go on as poorly as he had gone heretofore, like a Bishop
of the Early Church. The application failed. “Etiquette and routine
prevailed,” says Simpson, in summing up this incident.

In truth, it was not that good-will was lacking. Nobody on the Catholic
side believed that the new sad order of things in England was going
to last, and consequently, waiting and postponing in a matter of this
sort, could not seem the disastrous mistake which it really was. The
upshot, in any case, was that the good Bishop was recalled to Rome, and
there died; and that for thirty weary years the poor flock struggled
on without any qualified prelate to supply their crying spiritual
wants and hold them together. Then the first provisional leader, known
as the Archpriest, was appointed, and later came Vicars Apostolic.
When finally the longed-for mitres were seen again in the land, they
had been absent too long. The nominal link snapped; the great native
tradition was broken; the titles of the ancient Sees, given up, as
if in sleep, by their lineal heirs, were never reclaimed. So far as
surface connection goes,—and it goes far indeed with people in general,
who neither reason nor read, but get all their ideas from what they
see and hear, this was the most tragic loss which could possibly have
befallen the post-Reformation Church. (The English Benedictines kept
the thread of their own dynasty in their hands: but this did not affect
the Catholic body, and the lay interest.) The stranger who could not
destroy the life and blessing of the firstborn has had possession, for
three centuries and a half, by royal grant, of his home and of his very
name.



VIII

INHOSPITABLE HOME: 1580


SIR FRANCIS WALSINGHAM had a wonderfully well-organized spy-system: far
superior, as Simpson remarks, to the attempts of the Spaniards in the
same line. Therefore each of the missionaries was cautioned to travel
under a name other than his own. Campion fell back upon his beloved
alias of “Mr. Patrick,” as he had done for the brief visit to Geneva.
His friends made him drop it, as they neared the Channel; being Irish,
it was doubly dangerous, since here at Rheims the home-goers got their
first tardy news of the so-called Geraldine insurrection in Ireland,
acted upon in July, 1579, and crushed almost as soon by the massacre
at Smerwick in Kerry. It had been nursed by European feeling against
Elizabeth’s policy in Flanders, and her piracies on the high seas; and
the great religious grudge found it a convenient opening. Dr. Nicholas
Sander, who was not a Papal Legate, but stood none the less for the
Pope’s active good-will in the matter, joined the expedition with James
Fitzmaurice, Spanish soldiers, Roman officers, ships and supplies. That
expedition did not, as we know, dislodge Jezebel from her throne, but
it gave sufficient heartbreak to our messengers of the Gospel of Peace,
who were now sure to be mixed up with it in the popular mind. The
situation was certainly an awkward one. It gave unique plausibility to
Walsingham’s claim that (to quote Fr. Pollen) “the preaching of the old
Faith was only a political propaganda.” Father Robert Parsons faced the
future, on behalf of the rest, in the spirit of a brave man. “Seeing
that it lay not in our hands to remedy the matter, our consciences
being clear, we resolved ourselves, with the Apostle, ‘through evil
report and good report’ to go forward only with the spiritual action
we had in hand. And if God had appointed that any of us should suffer
in England under a wrong title, as Himself did upon the case of a
malefactor, we should lose nothing thereby, but rather gain with Him
who knew the truth, and Whom only in this enterprise we desired to
please.”

Danger was a spur and not a bridle to Campion’s devoted will. But he
began to foresee little fruit from labours on his native ground, with
so much fierce misunderstanding against him; and to fear that he had
not done well in so gladly laying down what was, after all, steady
and successful work in Bohemia. With this buzzing scruple he went to
the President for advice. Allen replied that the work in “Boemeland,”
excellent at all points as it had been, yet could be done by any
equally qualified person, or “at least by two or three” such persons,
whereas in his own necessitous England Campion would be given strength
and grace to supply for many men.

At Rheims, during his waiting-time, Campion preached one of his
famous sermons to the students. It gave him a pathetic pleasure to be
complimented upon his ready English, of which he had spoken little
in private, and not a word in public, for eight years. His text is
reported to have been Luke xii. 49: “I am come to send fire upon the
earth; and what will I but that it shall be kindled?” and at one point
he cried out in so earnest a manner: “Fire, fire, fire, fire!” that
those outside the Chapel ran for the water-buckets! But a careful
reading of what was then spoken suggests quite a different passage
of Holy Scripture as present in Campion’s mind. His theme was the
ruin wrought by the conflagration of heresy, now attacking a third
generation of Christian souls, and to be put out, he says, by “water of
Catholic doctrine, milk of sweet and holy conversation, blood of potent
martyrdom.” Isaiah lxiv. 11, runs: “Our holy and our beautiful house
where our fathers praised Thee, is burned up with fire; and all our
pleasant things are laid waste.” This very passage had been alluded to
in one of Campion’s former exhortations, and may have been a favourite
with him. The whole trend, indeed, and every part of this Rheims sermon
bear out the thoughts not of the Apostle’s page, but of the Prophet’s.

Bishop Goldwell and Dr. Morton, the highest in office of the
missionary party, remained at Rheims. Three Englishmen, a lay Professor
of Law, and two priests, joined in, to fill up the gap, then another
Jesuit, who had been labouring in Poland: this was Fr. Thomas Cottam,
ordered home to restore his health, but destined, as were so many of
his comrades, for martyrdom. The little band of fifteen divided, and
sailed from different ports: Campion, with Parsons and one lay brother,
Ralph Emerson, headed for Calais as their point of departure, going
by way of St. Omers, “not a little encouraged to think that the first
mission of St. Augustine and his fellows into [our] island was by that
city.” Here there was another Jesuit College. The Flemish Fathers
croaked friendly warnings in their ears, for it was common rumour
in St. Omers that the Queen’s Council had full information of the
appearance, dress and movements of the exiles, and had officers posted
to waylay them on arrival. They had come on foot nearly nine hundred
miles, and were not likely to give up the object of their journey. But
they took precautions. It was decided that Parsons should go first,
in military attire, accompanied from the Low Countries by a good youth
who passed as his man George; and that if Parsons got safely to Dover,
he was to send for Campion and the faithful little soul Ralph Emerson.
An English gentleman “living over seas for his conscience,” brought Fr.
Parsons his fine disguise: nothing less than a Captain’s uniform of
buff leather, with gold lace, big boots, sword, hat, plume, and all.
Campion, when he had gone, sat down to write to the General of the
Society about him, with his inevitably pictorial touch. “Father Robert
sailed from Calais after midnight.... They got him up like a soldier:
such a peacock! such a swaggerer!... such duds, such a glance, such
a strut! A man must have a sharp eye indeed,” he adds, “to catch any
glimpse of the holiness and modesty that lurk there underneath it all.”
He goes on to explain how he is laying out money to buy numerous and
silly clothes “to dress up myself and Ralph,” whereby “to cheat the
madness of this world.” Fr. Parsons, like Campion himself in lesser
_rôles_, must have been a dramatic genius, for arriving at Dover on
the 12th of June, and falling into the hands of the searcher, he so won
him over, by the mere swagger and strut aforementioned, as not only to
be passed without inquiry, but to be helped to a horse to carry him
to Gravesend. Thereupon the Captain was quick to bespeak the interest
of so unexpectedly polite a functionary in his friend “Mr. Edmunds,”
described as a jewel-merchant lying at St. Omers; and he gave the
searcher a letter recommending London as a good market, to be forwarded
post-haste to that gentleman, and to be shown to the searcher again by
“Mr. Edmunds” himself when he came over. And by the reception of that
letter Campion learned that Fr. Parsons was scot-free, and speeded on
his way.

On the Feast of his old College patron, St. John the Baptist, “Mr.
Edmunds,” followed by Brother Ralph, his supposed servant, boarded the
vessel bound for Dover. At daybreak they stepped ashore under the white
cliffs, and there kneeling a moment in the shadow of a rock, Campion
renewed his offering of himself, without reserve or condition, to the
God of Hosts, for the dark “warfare” which lay before him.

Meanwhile, the dispositions of the searcher (who evidently put in no
appearance) had undergone a forced change. He and the Mayor of the town
had been reprimanded by the Council for letting Papists slip through
their nets. Moreover, there had been furnished, by a spy, a detailed
description of Cardinal Allen’s brother, who was about to pass through
Dover on his way to relatives in Lancashire; and as Gabriel Allen and
Edmund Campion looked very much alike, our jewel-merchant found himself
instantly under arrest. With an accuracy which he was not in the least
aware of, the Mayor charged him and the lay brother of being “foes to
the Queen’s religion and friends to the old Faith; with sailing under
false names, and with returning for the purpose of propagating Popery.”
Campion offered to swear that he was not Gabriel Allen, but offered
in vain. The Mayor held a hasty conference, and ordered a mounted
guard to carry both prisoners up to Sir Francis Walsingham and the
Council. All this time, Campion was praying to God for deliverance,
and earnestly begging St. John the Baptist to intercede for himself
and his companion. They were waiting near the closed door of a room.
“Suddenly,” wrote Campion himself long after, to the Father-General,
“suddenly cometh forth an old man: God give him grace for his pains!
‘Well,’ quoth he, ‘it is agreed you shall be dismissed: fare ye well.’”
After which the two Jesuits left without further notice or opposition,
and travelled as fast as ever they could to London.

Fr. Parsons had reached the city not without adventure, but without
mishap, a fortnight before. Yet as no word had been received since from
him, Campion had no idea how to proceed or whither to go; nor could
he inquire without arousing suspicion. Fortunately Parsons had given
to some watchful young Catholics a description of the jewel-merchant
and his man: Ralph Emerson was easily recognizable on account of his
extremely short stature. Thus they had hardly touched the wharf at the
Hythe before a stranger, Thomas Jay, stepped to the gangway, with a
welcoming gesture, saying: “Mr. Edmunds, give me your hand: I stay here
for you, to lead you to your friends.” Under this guidance Campion
reached London and Chancery Lane, where he was clothed and armed, and
provided with a horse. He must have been astonished to learn under
whose roof he was so safe and so comfortable: for it was none other
than that of the chief pursuivant! Here was, indeed, a case of the bird
nesting in the cannon’s mouth. St. Augustine warns us that we are not
to think that ungodly men are kept in this world for nothing, nor that
God has no good purposes of His own to fulfil through them. One cause
of the miraculous preservation of the ancient Faith under Elizabeth lay
in the fact that many an official, high and low, of that time-serving
Government, was in the pay of the Recusant gentry. A strange situation
it was, and by no means an infrequent one, when some of these, brought
before the magistrates, would be discharged on the assurance of the
bought-over official that the prisoner was “an honest gentleman”: thus
averting all suspicion from the latter for the time being.

The band of lay Catholics, some of whom Campion had known from boyhood,
like Henry Vaux and Richard Stanihurst, were acting as friends, freely
leagued together, as occasion arose, for the helping of priests,
and the furthering of religion. Their time, their thoughts, their
self-sacrifice, their purses, were at the service particularly of the
Jesuits, persons habitually being described by Sir Walter Mildmay in
the Star Chamber as “lewd runagates,” “a sort of hypocrites,” “a rabble
of vagrant friars.” The leader of them all, in his inspiring zeal,
though not highest in station, was George Gilbert, a rich young squire
owning estates (which were confiscated in the end) in Buckinghamshire
and Suffolk. He was a convert, a great rider and athlete, dear to many;
but in secret a lover of apostolic poverty, living for others: in
short, a saint. He spent himself to the last breath for the Faith as
truly as if he had perished at Tyburn Tree. In banishment, he still
served the same cause by his forethought and his generosity in the use
of such worldly goods as were left to him: for he became responsible,
at Rome, for the series of paintings of the English martyrdoms which
gave their chief historical standing to the Beatifications of 1886.
Thus Gilbert, living and dead, was Blessed Edmund Campion’s availing
friend and lover.



IX

SKIRMISHING: THE ENGLISH COUNTIES: 1580


THE devoted George Gilbert, his fellowship of young men, and those whom
they gathered together, met on the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul, June
29, to hear, for the first time, Fr. Campion preach. It was no easy
task to find a safe and suitable auditorium; but Lord Paget, one of
their own number, was daring enough to hire from Lord Norreys the hall
of a great house in the neighbourhood of Smithfield. All the servants
and porters were turned out for the occasion, and gentlemen took their
places. Within a few days, however, rumours about Campion’s sermon and
about Campion were flying over the city. There were a number of spies
about, instructed by the Council, pretending to be lapsed Catholics or
unsettled Protestants, and trying hard to bag such new and shining
birds as the Jesuits; but Campion had a friend at court who warned
him, and therefore held only private conferences in friendly houses
with those whom he knew. The missionaries were sent to strengthen the
wills of the wavering Catholics, and not primarily to make converts.
Personal dealings with would-be converts were never attempted except
as supplementary to the action of the lay helpers, who took all the
soundings, and gave any needful catechizing. When Parsons, who had been
away in the country, got back to town, Mr. Henry Orton and Fr. Robert
Johnson had been tracked and imprisoned, through Sledd, the apostate
informer; and it became plain to the rest of the little band gathered
about Parsons and Campion that, for reasons immediate and remote, both
Fathers must be spirited away. Each went mounted, with a companion,
Gervase Pierrepoint being Campion’s guide; and at Hoxton, in July, the
priests parted for their separate fields of action.

Just before that, however, there arrived as a deputy to them, Mr.
Thomas Pounde of Belmont, the best-known, perhaps, of all English
prisoners for the Faith: he was committed to gaol sixteen times and
passed thirty years in durance. Pounde had managed to bribe the
gaoler of the Marshalsea to let him out for this short journey. Most
anxious for the good repute of the Fathers, he rode post-haste to tell
them that enemies in London were spreading the report that they had
come over for political purposes, and that if in the midst of their
apostolic work in the shires they should be taken and executed, the
Government would be sure to issue pamphlets, as was its habit, defaming
their motives, and slandering the Catholic body. Therefore he begged
both Jesuits to write “a vindication of their presence and purpose in
England,” which, signed and sealed, might be given to the public, if
things came to the worst. The certain accusation and its answer had
been debated before, in council, by many clergy, who had contented
themselves with agreeing to swear, when called upon, that they had no
business whatever in hand but that of religion. But Campion now drew
up his own document then and there at a table, while the others were
talking. In it, he declares that “my charge is of free cost to preach
the Gospel ... to cry alarm spiritual;” that “matters of state are
things which appertain not to my vocation,” and are “straitly forbid”:
things “from which I do gladly estrange and sequester my thoughts.” And
never thinking of himself, but fired with confidence in his cause, he
goes on to beg leave for a public presentment of the Faith. He says,
in the course of this splendid little philippic: “I should be loath to
speak anything that might sound of an insolent brag or challenge ... in
this noble realm, my dear country.” It shows completely the partisan
temper of the time that his statement got exactly that name, and no
other, fastened upon it. It was called everywhere “Campion’s Brag and
Challenge,” and its modest author was contemned and ridiculed for the
implication that his own powers were so very superior that he must of
course get the better of others in any argument!

Pounde took his copy, which Campion forgot to seal, back to London,
read it in raptures, let it be seen, admired, talked about, and
transcribed: this was his curious way of keeping a secret. The result
was that what was meant to meet a particular crisis, and serve for a
last will and testament, became as common property, beforehand, as
any ballad sold in the streets. Lively measures were at once taken
by the Bishop of Winchester; and the State, hypocritically urging
“conspiracy,” pounced upon a host of Catholic lords and gentlemen. Yet
Campion’s little composition, which bred all this fury, only asks for
“three sorts of indifferent and quiet audience”: one hearing before
the Lords in Council, on the relation of the Church to the English
Government; the next before the Heads of Houses of both Universities,
on the proofs of the truth of the Catholic religion; the last before
the courts spiritual and temporal, “wherein I will justify the said
Faith by the common wisdom of the laws standing.” Then he pleads in
deferent and almost affectionate words, for a special audience of
“her noble Grace” the Queen. In his candour and fearless simplicity
he believed that opponents had only to hear to be convinced, thus
crediting them with that earnestness in religious matters which he
possessed himself, and which only a very few of the best Protestants of
that day shared with him. Campion closes his appeal with a wonderfully
beautiful reference to the vowed Seminarian priests, and in a lofty
music of good English, worthy to stand by any passage of like length in
the great prose classics. “Hearken to those which spend the best blood
in their bodies for your salvation. Many innocent hands are lifted up
unto Heaven for you, daily and hourly, by those English students whose
posterity shall not die, which, beyond the seas, gathering virtue and
sufficient knowledge for the purpose, are determined never to give you
over, but either to win you to Heaven or to die upon your pikes. And
touching our Society, be it known unto you that we have made a league
(all the Jesuits in the world, whose succession and multitude must
overreach all the practices of England!) cheerfully to carry the cross
that you shall lay upon us, and never to despair your recovery while
we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your
torments, or to be consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned;
the enterprise is begun; it is of God: it cannot be withstood. So
the Faith was planted. So it must be restored. If these my offers
be refused, and my endeavours can take no place, and I, having run
thousands of miles to do you good, shall be rewarded with rigour, I
have no more to say, but recommend your case and mine to Almighty God,
the Searcher of Hearts: Who send us of His grace, and set us at accord
before the Day of Payment, to the intent we may at last be friends in
Heaven, where all injuries shall be forgotten.”

Parsons’ work lay in Gloucester, Hereford, Worcestershire, Warwickshire
and Derbyshire; Campion’s in the more southerly Midlands. The wandering
Levite with his attendant gentleman would approach at evening, and
with caution, the friendly roof, either Catholic or, though Protestant,
containing Catholics, and be received at the door as strangers,
then conducted to an inner room, where all who seek the priest’s
ministrations kneel and ask for his blessing. That night all is got
ready, and confessions are heard, instructions given, reconciliations
effected; at dawn there is Mass, preaching, and Holy Communion; and
the travellers depart for the next household station. Most edifying
accounts are given of the devotion of good married Confessors, who
were scattered all over the land. The Jesuits met with many seculars,
“whom we find in every place, whereby both the people is well served,
and we much eased in our charge.” These were the old Marian priests,
active in obscurity. The “harvest is wonderful great”: so many show
“a conscience pure, a courage invincible, zeal incredible, a work so
worthy; the number innumerable, of high degree, of mean calling ...
of every age and sex.” “The solaces that are ever intermingled with
the miseries are so great that they do not only countervail the fear
of what punishment temporal soever, but by infinite sweetness make all
worldly pains, be they never so great, seem nothing,” for the sake of
“this good people which had lived before, so many ages, in one only
Faith.” Day by day, running in and out of all the busy heroic toil, is
the fiery thread of danger and alarm. “We are sitting merrily at table,
conversing familiarly on matters of faith and devotion (for our talk is
generally of such things) when comes a hurried knock at the door.... We
all start up and listen, like deer when they hear the huntsman.... If
it is nothing, we laugh at our fright.” Then there was calumny, a far
more difficult thing to accept in the same gay spirit. “They tear and
sting us with their venomous tongues, calling us seditious, hypocrites;
yea, heretics, too! which is much laughed at. The people hereupon is
ours.” And again: “The house where I am is sad: no other talk but of
the death, flight, prison, or spoil of their friends; nevertheless,
they proceed with courage. Very many, even at this present, being
restored to the Church, new soldiers give in their names, while the old
offer up their blood, by which holy hosts and oblations God will be
pleased. And we shall—no question!—by Him overcome.” These are extracts
from Campion’s letters, and give a clear idea of his life during his
visitations of 1580-1.

There were then many more Manor-houses, kept up as such, than there
are now; most of those which Campion visited had their hiding-place
or “priests’ hole,” to which he could always fly when safety demanded
it. He settled a host of weak Catholics in their religion, and also
received a great many conspicuous converts. It will be noted that the
little Jesuit mission was directed to the gentry. This was not through
accident, or partiality, or snobbery. The gentry had most personal
weight; they were better able to protect a hunted man; and they were
naturally supposed to have stricter notions of honour: this last was
a point on which everything depended. Moreover, the old spirit of
feudalism was not so dead but that through them all workmen on their
estates, or connected by interest with them in the towns, could be
reached and influenced. In a hurried campaign, every consideration
of prudence and forethought would choose them, so to speak, as the
outworks of the citadel.

The country districts north and south were all still favourable to
Catholicism. London, the University of Cambridge, and some larger towns
and seaports, especially in the West, were half Puritan or Calvinistic,
half irreligious and indifferent. The ancient Faith, as was well
said by Sir Cuthbert Sharpe, for the most part “still lay like lees
at the bottom of men’s hearts; and if the vessel were ever so little
stirred, came to the top.” A thoughtful living writer sums it up as
his conclusion that England would have resumed the Faith with a sigh
of relief, had it not been for the resentments bred by the Catholic
“plotters.” Considering the frightful circumstances of the body to
which these men belonged, it is putting too great a strain, perhaps,
upon human nature to expect smooth behaviour from every individual in
it. The genuine “plotters” were few. Against them stands the passionate
loyalty of our persecuted minority, both all along, and in the one
great crisis. When the deliverer loomed up in the shape of Philip’s
Armada, blessed and indulgenced like a crusade of old, where were they,
supposed to be so sick of Queen and country? Hand in impoverished
pocket, strengthening the national defences; cutlass on thigh, manning
the English fleet.



X

MANY LABOURS: AND A BOOK: 1580


CAMPION passed four months of pleasant weather in hard and happy work,
moving about Northamptonshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire. Some lovely
little spiritual adventure starred his path, and the paths of others,
wherever he went. He must have seen more than once, from some hilly
road afar off, even if he never entered it,

    “The towery City, branchy between towers,”

which was so dear to him to the last. In October of this year, 1580,
he was bidden towards London as far as Uxbridge: farther he could
hardly come, without the gravest peril, as the Privy Council were just
issuing their third warrant for the capture of Jesuits. There he was
joined by Fr. Parsons and several other missionaries. A conference
was held: it was represented that Norfolk and Lancashire were eager
to claim Fr. Campion’s ministrations, and it was decided that he was
to go to Lancashire, preferable as being not only farther from London
and also “more affected to the Catholic religion,” but as having
better private libraries. For they were now urging Campion to write
again: this time something on the burning questions of the day, aimed
particularly at the Universities (where his Challenge was still the
staple of daily talk), and therefore to be written in Latin. We are not
so sure, now-a-days, that controversy does much good, but one reason
for that may be that we have few Campions to carry it on. It is well to
remember that people then read nothing else, except poetry! Campion’s
work was his famous _Decem Rationes Propositæ in Causa Fidei_, or, as
the title is given in its only modern translation (1827), _Ten Reasons
for Renouncing the Protestant, and Embracing the Catholic Religion_.
At first the author was for calling his thesis _Heresy in Despair: De
Hæresi Desperata_. His counsellors agreed, amid laughter, that it
would be odd indeed to nail such a title as that to the mast, when
heresy was so powerful and flourishing; but, according to Campion’s
own philosophy, there was no life in an argument whose only premisses,
as he once said, are “curses, starvation, and the rack.” Here we come
back at once to his root principle, which modern research so fully
justifies, in regard to the England of his own day. A “gentleman saint”
who uttered many an ironic, but never a contemptuous word, Campion
could not be persuaded that “the received religion” was a genuine
thing. He believed that temporal interest alone led people to conform
to the new alterations and restrictions; that the lay statesmen who
were pushing things through were concerned not with doctrine, but
only with negations of doctrine, and that on the other side, nothing
was so promising, nothing so gloriously fruitful, as persecutions
and martyrdoms. First and last, he had a strong dash of optimism. In
this spirit he began his last treatise, writing it as best he could,
depending on his memory, and on such books as country squires might
have in their houses, and putting it together in among the almost
incessant journeys, duties, fatigues and alarms of the next few weeks.

The two Jesuit friends parted at Uxbridge, “with the tenderness of
heart which in such a case and so dangerous a time may be imagined.”
Gervase Pierrepoint conveyed Campion into Nottinghamshire to spend
Christmas at Thoresby, his home; thence into Derbyshire, where one of
the young Tempests succeeded as guide; and the gentleman who directed
the Yorkshire part of the journey reached in safety the house of his
own brother-in-law, Mr. William Harrington of Mount St. John, near
Thirsk, where the Father was received with open arms. Here he settled
down for less than a fortnight at his desk, among his note-books, at
peace. But to have him in the house at all was to risk the contagion
of the things of God. The eldest of the large family, a wild boy, his
father’s namesake, was quick to feel the spell of this most attractive
guest. “Not only his eloquence and fire,” says Fr. Henry More of
Campion, “but a certain hidden infused power, made his words strike
home.” Some of these simple words of every day “struck home” to the
young William Harrington, so that fourteen years afterwards he found
the palm-branch of martyrdom growing green and fair for him on the
public execution ground. At this very time of Campion’s visit, the Lent
of 1581, there was another lad of fourteen or fifteen, John Pibush,
running about the streets of Thirsk, his native village, who may have
gone to Confession to the strange priest at the Manor, and wondered at
him, unknowing that he, too, was sealed as a future holocaust in the
same immortal cause.

From Mount St. John, where he must have tasted much natural happiness,
Campion travelled into Lancashire, under the protection of a former
pupil and his wife. There he was affectionately welcomed and cared
for in each of eight great houses, where himself and his spiritual
conferences were still a glowing tradition, sixty or seventy years
afterwards. He had to live, think, write, in a crowd. The local
gentry drove from great distances and slept in barns, only to hear and
see him once. At Blainscough Hall, the seat of the Worthingtons, the
pursuivants would have discovered him, where he was walking in the
open air, had it not been for the cleverness and splendid presence of
mind of a faithful maidservant, standing hard by. She ran up against
him, in a pretended fit of temper, and shoved him into a shallow pond!
The pursuivants, sent out by the terrible Huntingdon, President of the
North, to apprehend a distinguished cleric and scholar, naturally never
gave that mud-covered yokel a second glance.

Fr. Campion would have learned by now the fate of most of the
enthusiastic band who had travelled in his company, from Rome or Rheims
to England, during the preceding summer: five priests, including the
lovable gay-hearted Sherwin, were languishing in cells and on the
rack; Fr. Parsons, though hunted, was free. Following a suggestion of
Campion’s, he set up a private printing press, in order that the _Ten
Reasons_ and other Catholic works of defensive controversy might be
issued as they were needed. Publishing, like every other major industry
open to the Catholics, was outlawed; devotional and doctrinal books had
to be brought out in this hole-and-corner fashion, if at all. Another
of those lay associates of the mission, whose devotion and usefulness
had been proved at every point, came forward to bear the brunt of the
new enterprise. The young Stephen Brinkley, Bachelor of Civil Law,
called by Parsons “a gentleman of high attainments both in literature
and in virtue,” volunteered to become manager and head compositor,
and amid many dramatic and exciting interruptions, carried his task
through. Machinery, types, paper, and the rest were bought with money
supplied by the ever-helpful George Gilbert. Brinkley himself, to avert
suspicion, had to buy horses for his workmen, and attire them like
persons of quality whenever they went abroad. He quite knew what he
was risking. After him, still another knight of letters in a far less
perilous field, offered himself in the person of Thomas Fitzherbert of
Swynnerton, then newly married (long afterwards a priest, and Rector
of the English College in Rome). His not undelightful duty was to
verify the mass of references and authorities quoted in the margins of
Campion’s manuscript: this he did in a scholarly way, satisfactory to
the scholarly author, who believed in research, and liked nothing at
second-hand. Lastly, Parsons, as Campion’s Superior, recalled him to
London in April or May to see the little volume through the press, and
cautioned him to put up only at inns on the way, where happily he might
pass as “the gentleman in the parlour.”

Thirty miles or so north of the great city, Campion had one of his
ever-recurring narrow escapes. A spy, hungry for reward, had dogged
his steps on his way from York. At a certain town not named, a little
boy who knew Campion by sight overheard this man describing the Father
to a magistrate, and calling him “Jesuit,” a word the child had never
heard. He ran straight to the tavern where the “Jesuit” had put up and
succeeded in finding him and warning him! so the bird was safely on the
wing before the fowlers were in sight.

Campion came to Westminster and Whitefriars, and set to work,
diligently as ever. With Father Robert he had frequent occasion to
visit the Bellamys of Uxenden Hall near Harrow, a family under whose
roof his old friend Richard Bristow had died in the preceding autumn.
Their later adversities and annihilation were only too typical of
Catholic domestic history under Elizabeth. Going to Harrow meant going
up the Edgware Road, and in the mouth of that road, between waste lands
(facing the spot across the street where the Marble Arch now stands),
was the famous Tyburn gallows. This particular one had been put up new
for Dr. Storey’s execution, ten years before: it had three posts set
in a triangle, with connecting cross-bars at the top. Once every week,
without intermission, batches of criminals perished there. Even now,
and with far greater frequency afterwards, holy and innocent men and
women made up a large proportion of the “criminals”; and remembering
these dear souls, and conscious that there he was to follow them in
confession of the King of Martyrs, Campion would always solemnly take
off his hat and pause, in passing, to salute Tyburn Tree.

Meanwhile, in the quiet and seclusion of Dame Cecily Stonor’s park,
near Henley, and in the attics which she bravely set apart for the
purpose, the _Decem Rationes_ got itself safely printed by Stephen
Brinkley and his seven honest men. Campion, with fine bravado, dated
it from “Cosmopolis”; and the distribution of it was as audacious as
the dating. The first copies bound, about four hundred in number,
were hurriedly stabbed, instead of stitched, in time to go up for
the Oxford commemoration, June 27th of that year. The church of St.
Mary-the-Virgin was then used for all the “Acts,” for the accommodation
of which, a century later, the Sheldonian Theatre was built. When the
company entered St. Mary’s, the benches were found littered with the
“seditious” books. Their dedication was “to the studious Collegians
flourishing at Oxford and Cambridge,” and the youths in question were
just in the humour to read them; and read them they did, then and
there, instead of attending to the important annual function going
on! This rudeness bred protest, and protest bred a lively scene. To
understand it we must recall that the undergraduate element was then,
by comparison, the conservative element. Heads of Houses, Fellows and
Tutors, learned and popular men, had been removed wholesale by the
Elizabethan settlement of religion in favour of new men concisely
described as “extremists from Geneva, intellectually inferior to those
who had been displaced, and representing a different spirit, and
different traditions.” The student body looked on them with scorn.
Again, to quote another chief authority on this subject, “the young
Oxonians did not bear easily the Elizabethan drill, and felt that
if their liberty must be crushed they would fain have it crushed by
something more venerable than the mushroom authority of the Ministers
of the Queen. They were as tinder, and Campion’s book was just the
sort of spark to set them in a blaze.” The excited Government told
off relays of clergymen to courtmartial and shoot it. Aylmer, Bishop
of London, wished to commission nine Deans, seven Archdeacons, and
the two Regius Professors of Divinity to punish the tiny offender;
but the actual ammunition brought into the field was not quite so
imposing as all this. The answers were duly published, dealing in the
most unmeasured personal abuse of Campion. No attempt was made in
any instance to rival either his religious fervour or his literary
grace. His last labour with his pen made, in short, a very great and
an extremely prolonged stir. Its fate was a romantic one from start to
finish, for it was so quickly and thoroughly confiscated that not more
than a couple of copies are now known to exist. Despite the outcry, or
because of it, edition after edition was called for. There have been
nearly thirty reprints in the original Latin, and many translations
into modern languages, inclusive of three beautiful translations
into the good English common in 1606, 1632, and 1687, one of which
should be re-issued. The _Ten Reasons_, written under such immense
difficulties, had all of Campion’s zeal and pith, and was “a model of
eloquence, elegance, and good taste.” Marc Antony Muret, the greatest
Latinist of the time, called it _libellum aureum_, “a golden little
book, writ by the very finger of God.” Campion had gone, in his ardent,
sensitive, rhetorical, compendious way, over the whole ground of the
credentials of that Church which had had the allegiance of England for
more than a thousand years: Scripture, the Fathers, the Councils, the
evidence of human history, are all drawn upon, in the best spirit of
the new learning. The characteristic note of personal appeal to the
Queen is not lacking here at the end. Campion’s theme is the Church,
and he quotes from the Prophet Isaiah: “Kings shall be thy nursing
fathers, and Queens thy nursing mothers;” and he names as among the
great monarchs whose joy it was to further the Church in their day,
St. Edward the Confessor, St. Louis of France, St. Henry of Saxony,
St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia, St. Stephen of Hungary, and the rest. Then
he cries out to “Elizabeth, most mighty Queen,” to listen. “For this
Prophet is speaking unto thee, is teaching thee thy duty. I tell thee
one Heaven cannot gather in Calvin and these thine ancestors. Join
thyself therefore to them, else shalt thou stand unworthy of that name
of thine, thy genius, thy learning, thy fame before all men, and thy
fortunes. To this end do I conspire, and will conspire, against thee,
whatever betideth me, who am so often menaced with the gallows as a
conspirator hostile to thy life. (‘All hail, thou good Cross!’) The day
shall come, O Elizabeth! the day that shall make it altogether clear
which of the two did love thee best: the Company of Jesus, or the brood
of Luther!”

Hardly was the last of the original imprints bound and distributed,
when the pursuivants in search of what was roughly, but significantly
enough, called “Massing-stuff,” pounced upon Stonor Park, and caught
red-handed there, and carried off, the two gentlemen, John Stonor
and Stephen Brinkley, and four of the printers, one of whom, a poor
frightened fellow, conformed, and was let off at once. William Hartley,
ordained the year before, who had in person strewn the _Ten Reasons_
over the benches of the University Church, and made special gifts of
copies in various Colleges, was arrested a little later. His fate was
not exceptional, like that of his comrades just mentioned, who were
eventually released on bail. He suffered at Tyburn; and his mother,
heroic as the mother of the Macchabees, stood by his young body in its
butchering, and thanked God aloud for her privilege in so giving back
to Him such a son.

Campion spent St. John’s Day (marking the first anniversary of his
return to England) at Lady Babington’s, at Twyford in Buckinghamshire,
a house not many miles from Stonor, on the other bank of the Thames. He
stayed a little while at Bledlow also, and at Wynge, with the Dormers,
his whole heart bent, every moment of the time, upon his Father’s
business. But his free days were almost done.

The outcry redoubled, now that he had again succeeded in catching
public attention. Fresh and monstrously cruel measures were therefore
taken against all Papists. “Naught is lacking,” wrote to Acquaviva
the tender soul who too well knew himself to be the cause of many
sorrows, “but that to our books written with ink should succeed others
daily published, and written in blood.” Fr. Parsons prudently ordered
him back to the North. The two heard each other’s confessions and
renewal of vows at Stonor, and said good-bye, exchanging hats as a
parting gift, after the friendly fashion of their time. Campion was
to ride straightway into Lancashire to get his manuscript and notes,
left behind, his former companion Ralph Emerson going with him; and
he was then to betake himself to the fresh mission field in Norfolk.
As it fell out, he soon spurred back after Parsons to tell him of
a letter that moment received. It was from a gentleman named Yate,
then a prisoner for his religion, earnestly begging Campion to visit
Lyford Grange in Berkshire, the gentleman’s own estate, hard by,
where his wife and mother still were, together with Edward Yate, and
part of a proscribed community of English Brigittine nuns, driven
back into England by troubles in the Low Countries. Fr. Parsons,
knowing the house to be a conspicuous one, and already supplied with
chaplains, was unwilling to grant the permission. But eventually he
gave in, warning the two others not to tarry beyond one night or one
day, and as a precaution, putting Campion under the lay brother’s
care and obedience. Parsons parted from him not without a rueful and
affectionate word. “You are too easy-going by far,” he said to his
friend and fellow-soldier, purposely giving its least heroic name to
that intentionally prodigal zeal for souls. “I know you, Father Edmund;
if they once get you there, you will never break away!”

[Illustration: “We have not broken through here!” [P. 134]



XI

AT LYFORD GRANGE, AND AFTER: 1581


ON the morning of July 12, Father Edmund and Brother Ralph, faithful
to agreement, were in their saddles again, leaving the pious household
refreshed, but lamenting. Of the two priests who formed part of it,
one, Fr. Collington, or Colleton, escorted them some distance on their
way. Campion had already been waylaid, at an inn near Oxford, by many
friendly tutors and undergraduates, when up galloped the other chaplain
of Lyford, Fr. Forde. He was a Trinity College man, who had entered
Douay just after Campion’s arrival there, and was to follow him closely
to martyrdom. Forde brought news that a large party of Catholics had
come over to Lyford to visit the nuns, and, distressed at missing Fr.
Campion, were clamouring for his return. The Oxford group had been
begging their old champion to preach to them, which he would not do
in so public a place; they now added their entreaties to those of the
deputy of the strangers, and offered to join these at Lyford. Surely,
he who had given a whole day to a few godly nuns, who needed him but
little, could not refuse a Saturday and Sunday to so many soiled souls
of every stripe and colour, “thirsting for the waters of life”? The
suit was insistent; Campion was inclined to give in, but referred his
admirers to Brother Emerson, as his provisional Superior. He, in turn,
was overborne. It seemed much safer, after all, for the precious Father
to be among friends, while he, Ralph, went on alone to fetch the books
from Mr. Richard Houghton’s in Lancashire. So back to Lyford Campion
went, to the poor little lay brother’s everlasting regret.

On the following Sunday morning, the ninth after Pentecost, Campion
preached at the Grange on the gospel of the day, the peculiarly
touching gospel of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, the changed and
faithless city which stoned the prophets, and knew not, in her day,
the things that were to her peace. No one present ever forgot that
heart-shaking sermon, laden as it was with pathos and presentiment.
There was an audience of sixty, including the Oxonians. Unfortunately
it included also George Eliot, a man of the most evil personal repute,
an apostate and a Government spy, armed with plenary powers. He was
then under a charge of murder, and was anxious to whitewash himself
in the eyes of the Council by some conspicuous public service. He
had once been a servant of the Ropers at Canterbury; and Mrs. Yate’s
honest cook, who had known Eliot there in his decent days, let him in
without question, whispering what a treat was in store for him in the
preaching of none other than Father Campion! Though the warrant for the
apprehension of the Jesuit was in Eliot’s pocket, he little thought to
capture him so easily and so soon. A pursuivant had accompanied him to
the gate; Eliot went back to this person, nominally to dismiss him,
as a heretic, really to speed him to a magistrate at Abingdon for a
force of an hundred men to arrest Campion in the Queen’s name. Then he
went piously up-stairs to Mass, Edmund Campion’s last Mass, so far as
we know. That, and the sermon, passed by in peace, and Eliot himself
left. Immediately after dinner an alarm was given by a watchman posted
in a turret, who saw the enemy far off. Campion sprang up, and started
to leave at once, and alone, saying that his chances of escape might
be fair, and that his remaining would only involve the household in
discomfort and danger. But they all clung to him, assuring him that
Lyford was full of cunning secret passages and hiding-holes; and into
one of these, in the wall above the gateway, he was forthwith hurried
by Forde and Collington, who laid themselves down by his side, and
crossed their hands over their breasts.

Back came Eliot with the magistrate, a civil squire, and the
neighbourly Berkshire yeomen who loathed the work. He made them turn
the whole house topsy-turvy, nor desist till evenfall; then, finding
nothing, they withdrew. However, they returned almost in the same
breath, egged on by Eliot, who now would have the walls sounded.
The Abingdon magistrate apologized to Mrs. Yate, not for the Queen’s
warrant, but for his associate, “the mad-man,” as he called him, who
was carrying it out. The lady was an invalid; thinking not altogether
of herself, she railed and wept. The magistrate kindly soothed her
fears, and allowed her to sleep where she pleased, undisturbed by
his men and their din. She chose to have a bed made up close to the
hiding-place. She was conducted thither with the honours of war, and
a sentinel was posted at the room door. The tapping and smashing went
merrily on elsewhere until late at night, when, by her orders, the
sheriff’s baffled underlings made a fine supper, and being worn out,
fell asleep over their cups, even as they were expected to do. Poor
Mrs. Yate was either by nature the silliest of women, or else her
nerves were upset by illness and trying circumstance, for she sent
for Fr. Campion, as well as for all her other guests who were in that
part of the house, and requested him, as he stood by her bedside—of
all possible things—to preach to them just once more! One could not
in courtesy refuse a hostess, however unreasonable, who was risking so
much for him; nor would it have been like him to refuse. Allen tells us
that it was his invariable habit to preach “once a day at the least,
often twice, and sometimes thrice, whereby through God’s goodness
he converted sundry in most shires of this realm of most wisdom and
worship, besides young gentlemen students, and others of all sorts.”

Fr. Campion discharged his task. As the little congregation broke up,
some one stumbled in the dark, and several fell; the snoring sentinel
awoke; searchers, with lanterns and axes, swarmed up from below. There
was nothing to be seen: Lyford was not honeycombed in vain with hidden
passages. The men-at-arms had been fooled too often, and were angry
with Eliot. Yet that functionary knew that something was still really
afoot, that the alarm was not a false one. On going down the stairs
again he struck his hand upon the wall over it. “We have not broken
through here!” he said. A loyal servant of the Yates, who was at his
side, and who knew it was just there the refugees lay, muttered that
enough wall had been ruined already, and then went deadly pale while
Eliot’s eye was still on him. The latter called, in triumph, for a
smith’s hammer, and banged it into the thin timber partition, and into
the narrow cell. And thus was Father Edmund Campion taken at Lyford
Grange, at dawn of Monday, July 17th, in the year 1581.

He was quite calm, quite cheerful. With him were apprehended the two
priests, seven gentlemen, and two yeomen. Forster, the Sheriff of
Berkshire, hitherto absent, arrived. As he was an Oxonian, and almost a
Catholic, and kindly disposed towards Campion, he waited to hear from
the Council what was to be done. On the fourth day orders came to send
the chief prisoners up to London, under a strong guard. Leaving the
old moated house and its many occupants, now distracted with grief,
Campion took horse at the door, and rode slowly off, Eliot prancing in
triumph at the head of the company, though the common people saluted
him as “Judas,” all along the way. The first halt was at Abingdon;
sympathetic Oxford scholars had come down to see the last of the great
light of the University under such black eclipse. Eliot accosted his
victim at table: “Mr. Campion, I know well you are wroth with me
for this work!” He drew out a beautiful answer, sincere, composed,
half-playful: a saint’s answer. “Nay, I forgive thee; and in token
thereof, I drink to thee. Yea, and if thou wilt repent, and come to
Confession, I will absolve thee: but large penance thou must have!” At
Henley, Campion saw in the crowd Fr. Parsons’ servant, and greeted him
as he could, without betraying him: Fr. Parsons was near at hand, but
was wisely kept indoors. A young priest, “Mr. Filby the younger,” as he
was called, a native of Oxford, is said to have here attempted to speak
to Campion; he was at once seized upon as a traitorous “comforter of
Jesuits,” and added to the cavalcade. At Colebrook, less than a dozen
miles from London, came fresh instructions from the Council. Sheriff
Forster had treated his prisoners most honourably: they were now to be
made a public show. Their elbows were tied from behind, their wrists
roped together in front, and their feet fastened under the horses;
their leader was decorated with a paper pinned to his hat—Fr. Parsons’
hat of late—on which in large lettering was inscribed: “Campion,
the Seditious Jesuit.” And in this guise he was paraded through the
chief streets of the great city on market-day. The mob roared with
delight; “but the wiser sort,” says Holinshed, “lamented to see the
land fallen to such barbarism as to abuse in this manner a gentleman
famous throughout Europe for his scholarship and his innocency of life,
and this before any trial, or any proof against him, his case being
prejudged, and he punished as if already condemned.” Stephen Brinkley
somehow obtained, as a souvenir of a fellow-prisoner, that thick dark
felt hat, which had been so ignominiously labelled in the cause of
Christ. Years afterwards, when in Belgium, he put it into a reliquary,
“out of love and veneration towards that most holy martyr of God, his
father and patron.” A piece of it is at Roehampton, in the Jesuit
Noviciate.

On reaching the Tower the Lyford captives were given up to the
Governor, Sir Owen Hopton. Taking his cue, he had Campion thrust at
once into Little Ease, the famous Tower hole not high enough for a man
to stand upright in, nor long enough for him to lie down in. After
four days of this misery he was suddenly taken out, put in a boat at
the Traitors’ Gate steps, and rowed to the town house of the Earl of
Leicester. This nobleman and Edmund Campion, who had seen so much of
each other for several years, had been placed by events in silent
conflict. There stood the Earl of Bedford, with two Secretaries of
State; there stood Campion’s host, who, for one reason or another, had
never hounded Catholics with the fixed fury of Walsingham and Burghley,
and thereby did not displease his irresolute royal mistress; there (a
theatrical circumstance!) was that royal mistress herself, a gleaming
stately vision in a great chair, head and front of a not unfriendly
little inquisition. To the questions heaped upon him Campion gave
frank answers. On the matter of “allegiance” he seemed to satisfy the
company, who told him there was no fault in him save that he was a
Papist. “That,” he modestly interrupted, “is my greatest glory.” The
Queen smiled upon him, and offered him liberty and honours, but under
conditions which his conscience forbade him to accept.

When he was courteously dismissed, Leicester, probably with a kind
motive, sent a message to Hopton to keep up the flatteries of the new
policy. Hopton put on an almost affectionate consideration for his
important prisoner; and so fast as he was prompted, by artful degrees,
he suggested to him a pension, a high place at Court, and even the
promise eventually of the mitre and revenues of the primatial See of
Canterbury! Well did the Council know, all along, the value of these
stubborn and unpurchasable confessors of Christ. To cap the matter,
in Campion’s case, it was publicly announced, both by Hopton and by
Walsingham (who knew the untruth of their announcement), that the
Jesuit was at the point of recantation and Protestant orthodoxy, and
in full sight of the future Archbishopric, “to the great content of
the Queen.” It flew all over London that he would presently preach at
Paul’s Cross, and there burn the _Decem Rationes_ with his own hand.
Eventually Hopton returned to first principles indoors, and inquired
point-blank of Campion whether he would give up his religion, and
conform. The reply is easily imagined. A continued course of wheedling
was wasteful business. So thought the Council; and three days after
his strange and sudden sight of the Queen’s Grace at Leicester House,
Edmund Campion, first kneeling down at the door and invoking the
Holy Name for steadying of his manhood, was stripped and fastened
to the rollers of the Tower rack. Blandishments had failed to move
him; they would try mortal pain, and see what that could do. Torture,
nevertheless, was as much against the laws of England then (though not
against the laws of some less humane countries), as it is now.



XII

THE THICK OF THE FRAY: 1581


CAMPION, in between the working of the rollers, was asked his opinion
of certain political utterances in the works of his old friends Allen
and Bristow, and of Dr. Sander; also whether he considered the Queen
“true and lawful,” or “pretensed and deprived.” He refused to answer.
Physical anguish could be little worse than the ineffable boredom of
these two never-quiet questions. He was then asked by the Governor,
the Rackmaster, and others present, by whose command and counsel he
had returned to England; by whom in England he had been received and
befriended; in whose houses he had said Mass, heard Confessions, and
reconciled persons to his Church; where his recent book was printed,
and to whom copies were given; lastly, what was his opinion of the
Bull of Pius V against Queen Elizabeth? A letter written at the time to
Lord Shrewsbury by Lord Burghley, and still extant, shows that nothing
of moment could be got out of Campion. During the next fortnight,
however, there was poured into the ear of the Government information
regarding the second and third items in the above category. Houses were
searched; persons of mark were apprehended, tried in the Star Chamber,
and sentenced. Almost every manse or town house where Campion had been
harboured became known, and even the names of those Oxford Masters of
Arts who had followed him to Lyford. The Government gave out that he
had confessed upon the rack, and implicated his too trusting friends.
The alleged facts naturally became a general scandal, and bred grief
and horror among the Catholics who, no less than Protestants, were
thus driven to believe them. The secrets were probably given up, under
panic, by three serving-men, and by poor Gervase Pierrepoint. It was
a common trick of the time, though not peculiar to it, to show a
prisoner a lying list of names purporting to have been extracted from
colleagues, so that he himself might be trapped into endorsing the
suspicions held in regard to those names. But it is clear that Campion
was brought to mention only a few who, as he was aware, were formerly
known to his examiners as Catholic Recusants; and only after a solemn
oath from the Commissioners that no harm could accrue to them in
consequence of such supplementary mention. Even this he had every cause
to regret. The gentlemen and gentlewomen on Lord Burghley’s lists were
carefully informed, when arrested, that it was Campion who had betrayed
them: a cruel slander which he could refute only at the foot of the
scaffold. Thanks to the reports, first of his backsliding, then of his
treachery, his great reputation, for the time being, was clean gone.
Having thus been given forth to the public as a knave, he was now to be
set before them as a fool, and shown to be one who possessed neither
sort of superiority, moral or mental.

[Illustration: Campion before Queen Elizabeth. _p. 138._]

Many courtiers, having a purely artistic interest in Edmund Campion,
had begged that he might obtain the chance he had often asked for, of
being heard in a disputation. This request was now suddenly granted.
The conference was public, and came off in the Norman Chapel of the
Tower, which was crowded. Two Deans, Nowell of St. Paul’s, and Day
of Windsor, were appointed to attack Campion; he was to answer all
objections as he could, but was forbidden to raise any of his own.
Charke, the bitter Puritan preacher of Gray’s Inn, and Whitaker, the
Regius Professor of Divinity in Cambridge, were the notaries. The lion
to be baited did not even know that there was to be a conference, until
he was brought to it under a strong guard. Time for preparation had
been denied him; he was allowed the use of only such authorities as his
memory could furnish; pale and weary and rack-worn as he was, he was
given only a low stool to sit upon. The well-fed theological worthies
were ranged before him, their chairs standing on raised platforms, and
their tables spread with books of reference, pens and paper.

One who was there tells us how easy and ready were his answers; how
modest his mien; how that high-spirited nature so bore the scorn,
the abuse, and the jests heaped upon him, as to win great admiration
from the majority of those who heard him for the first time. He began
by asking very pertinently whether this was a just answer to his
challenge, first to rack him, then to deprive him of books, notes and
pen, lastly, to call upon him to debate? and he added (wishing to be
fully understood by the audience), that what he had asked for was
quite another sort of hearing: a hearing under equal conditions before
the Universities. During the course of this first conference he was
twice most unfairly tripped up: once over a quotation, in which he was
right, though he could not then and there prove it; and again over a
page of the Greek Testament, in such small type that he could not read
it, and had to put it by when it was handed to him: thereby drawing
down upon himself the ridiculous taunt that he knew no Greek. This
he took silently, and with a smile. At the end of the six hours he
had more than stood his ground. The Deans complained afterwards that
a number of gentlemen present, “neither unlearned nor ill-affected,”
considered that Master Campion had the best of it. Some common people
who thought so too, and said so in the streets, paid dearly for their
boldness. One of these gentlemen favourably impressed was Philip, Earl
of Arundel, then in the flush of worldly pride and pleasure. He was the
real victory of the Jesuit apostle, for he received at that time and
in that place the first ray of divine grace, strong enough to change
gradually in him the whole motive and course of that intensity of life
which never failed the Howards. As he stood leaning forward in the
foreground of the daïs, in that solemn interior, tall and young, with
his great ruff and embroidered doublet, and his brilliant dark eyes
held by the pathetic figure of Master Campion, how little could he have
foreseen his own weary term of suffering in that gloomy fortress, and
his sainted death there, at the end of the years!

There were three other conferences under like conditions, but in other
quarters, with four fresh adversaries. Campion was again “appointed
only to answer, never to oppose”; that is, to answer miscellaneous and
disjointed objections against the Catholic Church, without ever being
allowed “to build up any harmonious apology for his own system.” The
last conference was notable for its browbeating and threatening of a
too successful adversary. The Bishop of London privately came to the
conclusion that the verbal tournament was doing no good whatever to the
sacred cause of Protestantism. The Council agreed, and ended it.

Towards the end of October Campion was racked for the third time, and
with the utmost severity, so that he thought they meant, this time,
to kill him; but his fortitude was unshaken. A rough and honest first
cousin to the Queen, Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon, growled that it were
easier to pluck the heart out of Campion’s breast than to wrest from
him one word against his conscience. His arms and legs went quite numb
after this final torture. The keeper, who was won over by his endearing
prisoner, and was always as gentle with him as he dared to be, inquired
next day how they felt. “Not ill,” said Father Edmund, with all of his
old brave brightness, “not ill, because not at all!”

Never once until now had he been accused of any conspiracy. But he
was a troublesome person: he must be silenced somehow. With a tardy
inspiration, the Council bent all their strength to get out of Campion
some acknowledgment that he had been mixed up with the Spanish-Roman
expedition, and the Irish rising of the preceding year. Not a shadow
of proof could, of course, be produced for such a charge. Then, as a
final and sure means of indicting him on some other count than that
of religion, and of urging his execution upon the Queen, Walsingham,
with Burghley’s connivance, hatched a treasonable plot out of his own
inventive head, and got false witnesses to accuse Edmund Campion
of it, and swear his life away. The “Plot of Rheims and Rome” was
described as an attempt to raise a sedition, and dethrone and kill
the Queen. It had an imaginary but recent date: 1580. Everybody or
anybody, when found convenient, could be accused of so elastic a plot.
It was first charged against some twenty priests and laymen in this
year 1581; but it was brought up against the Earl of Arundel four years
afterwards, despite the fact that the supposed interests of the Church
were the last things likely to win his attention at the time assigned.

On All Saints’ Day arrived in England a suitor for the hand of Queen
Elizabeth: Francis, Duke of Alençon, King of the Netherlands, the
short-lived heir to the throne of King Henry the Third of France. With
that King, while Duke of Anjou, and with Alençon for nine years past
(as for three yet to come), Elizabeth had carried on negotiations which
ended in smoke; but she now announced that she “would marry at last.”
Little Froggy, as she endearingly called him, was ugly to a degree,
and many years younger than her Majesty; he was brother-in-law to
the Queen of Scots, who was her Majesty’s prisoner at Sheffield. The
dominant, ultra-bigoted party took extreme alarm at the near prospect
of toleration for Catholics which such a royal match suggested to
them. To reassure them, it might just now be most useful, thought the
Council, to hang a Jesuit or two.

On the 14th of the month Campion and eight others were arraigned before
the grand jury in Westminster Hall. For “treasonable intents” of the
Queen’s deprivation and murder, these “secret and privy practices of
sinister devices,” befitting one “led astray by the devil,” had “Edmund
Campion, clerk,” made his re-entry into England, the Pope, meanwhile,
being not only aware of his act, but its “author and onsetter”! He was
commanded, as were all those lumped with him in a common accusation,
to plead Guilty or Not Guilty. Up went all the right arms of these
“devotaries, and dead men to this world, who travelled only for souls,”
as Campion himself called them: all but his, so disabled by the rack
that he could not stir it from the furred cuff in which it lay. But a
quick-witted comrade turned and took off the cuff, “humbly kissing the
sacred hands so wrung for the confession of Christ,” and lifted it high
to cry its own mute Not Guilty with the rest. The Spanish Ambassador,
Don Bernardino de Mendoza, standing close by with his secretary, saw,
with a pang of pity, that all the finger-nails were gone from Campion’s
swollen hands. The trial proper began on the 20th, before “such a
presence of people of the more honourable, wise, learned, and best sort
as was never seen or heard of in that court in ours or our fathers’
memories before us ... so wonderful an expectation there was to see the
end of this marvellous tragedy ... [of] such as they knew in conscience
to be innocent.” They all heard Ralph Sherwin say, in a loud clear
voice: “The plain ground of our standing here is religion, and not
treason.”

Chief Justice Wray presided, a Catholic at heart, and wretched ever
after over this unwilling day’s work. The prosecuting officers for the
Crown were the Queen’s serjeant, Edmund Anderson; Popham, afterwards
Chief Justice; and Egerton, afterwards the first Lord Ellesmere. The
chief witnesses were George Eliot, Anthony Munday, and two creatures
named Sledd and Caddy: probably as evil a quartette as existed in
contemporary England, and worthy forerunners of Oates and Bedloe.
“They had nothing left to swear by,” as Campion reminded the jury:
“neither religion nor honesty.” In no special order, but with much
ardour and diligence, all the old tiresome trivial accusations were
brought forward and pressed in, Campion being spokesman throughout for
the defence, and his alert mind, despite his weakened body, meeting
them all, and routing them. He was charged with having “seduced the
Queen’s subjects from their allegiance” ... and “reconciled them
to the Pope.” He caught up the word. “We ‘reconcile’ them to the
Pope! Nay, then, what reconciliation can there be to him, since
reconciliation is only due to God? This word [‘reconcile’] soundeth not
to a lawyer’s usage, and therefore is wrested against us inaptly. The
reconciliation that we endeavoured was only to God: as Peter saith,
_reconciliamini Domino_, be ye reconciled unto the Lord.” Campion was
informed: “Yourself came as Procurator from the Pope and Dr. Allen,
to break these matters to the English Papists.” So he rejoined that
in his homeward voyage from Rome, undertaken by his vow of obedience
as a Jesuit, “the which accordingly I enterprised, being commanded
thereto,” he had “dined with Dr. Allen at Rheims, with whom also
after dinner I walked in his garden ... and not one jot of our talk
glanced to the Crown or State of England.... As to the [Pope], he
flatly with charge and commandment excused me from matters of State
and regiment.” ... Followed a change of tactics. “Afterclaps make
those excuses but shadows.... For what meaning had that changing of
your name? Whereto belonged your disguising in apparel? What pleasure
had you to royst it [in] a velvet hat and a feather, a buff leather
jerkin, and velvet venetians?... Can that beseem a professed man of
religion which hardly becometh a layman of gravity? No: there was
a further matter intended.... Had you come hither for love of your
country, you would never have wrought a hugger-mugger; had your intent
been to have done well, you would never have hated the light.” To which
Campion replied that St. Paul, in order “that living he might benefit
the Church more than dying,” betook himself “to sundry shifts ... but
that especially the changing of his name was very oft and familiar” ...
and that “he sometimes thought it expedient to be hidden, lest, being
discovered, persecution should ensue thereby, and the gospel be greatly
forestalled.... If these shifts were then approved in Paul, why are
they now reproved in me?—he an Apostle, I a Jesuit ... the same cause
common to us both.... I wished earnestly the planting of the gospel; I
knew a contrary religion professed; I saw if I were known I should be
apprehended. I changed my name, I kept secretly: I imitated Paul. Was I
therein a traitor?... The wearing of a buff jerkin, a velvet hat, and
suchlike, is much forced against me.... I am not indicted upon the
Statute of Apparel!... Indeed, I acknowledge an offence to Godwards for
so doing, and thereof it doth grievously repent me, and [I] therefore
do now penance, as you see me.” This charming rejoinder (again, how
More-like!) was in allusion to his rough gown of Irish frieze, and a
huge black nightcap covering half of his newly shaven face.

After all this mere hectoring, some pieces of “evidence” were
produced. One of these was an intercepted letter which Campion
himself had written from the Tower after his first and comparatively
moderate racking, while it was still possible to use his hands; it
was addressed to the admirable and truly holy, but fussy, Mr. Thomas
Pounde, who, wild with alarm at the pretended “betrayals,” had written
to remonstrate with Fr. Campion. The Queen’s Counsel now read this
passage from Campion’s humble reply: “It grieveth me much to have
offended the Catholic cause so highly as to confess the names of some
gentlemen and friends in whose houses I had been entertained. Yet in
this I greatly cherish and comfort myself: that I never discovered any
secrets there declared; and that I will not, come rack, come rope!” The
comment of the reader in court was an obvious one. “What can sound more
suspiciously or nearer unto treason than this letter?... It must needs
be some grievous matter and very pernicious, that neither rack nor
rope can wring from him!” But Campion’s even more obvious answer was
that there he spoke as one “by profession and calling a priest,” vowed
to silence in regard to what was made known in the Confessional, and
yet pressed, on the rack, to divulge secrets thus communicated to him.
“These were the hidden matters ... in concealing of which I so greatly
rejoiced, to the revealing whereof I cannot nor will not be brought,
come rack, come rope!” Well chosen was this answer of Campion’s. It has
been pointed out that if he had stated here that he had told on no one
who was not already found out, he would have loosed the informers and
man-hunters afresh on the whole Catholic community, until his other
friends, who had not been found out, were run down. Instead of that he
drew off attention by reminding the court that he could not repeat what
had been sacramentally confided to him. Most of his hearers were either
Catholic or had been Catholic, and acquiesced. He spoke truth, but he
skipped explanations: and such is, more often than not, the highest
wisdom in this complex world.

There were now read out certain papers containing oaths to be
administered to persons ready to renounce their obedience to her
Majesty, and to be sworn of the Papal allegiance alone. These were
said to have been found in houses where “Campion had lurked, and for
religion been entertained;” hence they were of his composing. He
objected that the administering of oaths was repugnant to him, and
exceeded his authority: “neither would I commit an offence so thwart
to my profession, for all the substance and treasure in the world.”
He went on to say (assuming for his purpose that the precious papers
were not forged, though they really were so), that there was no proof
of their connection with himself, nor was it even pretended that they
were in his handwriting. Anderson replied with singular perversity or
dulness: “You, a professed Papist, coming to a house and then such
reliques found after your departure—how can it otherwise be implied
but that you did both bring them and leave them there? So it is flat
they came there by means of a Papist: _ergo_, by your means!” The
logician in Campion dashed to the fore. Could it be shown that no other
Papist ever visited that house but himself? If not, they were urging
a conclusion before framing a minor! which is imperfect, he added,
and proves nothing. Apparently Serjeant Anderson was sufficiently
enraged by now. His highly judicial retort is on record. “If here, as
you do in Schools, you bring in your minor and conclusion, you will
prove yourself but a fool. But minor or conclusion, I will bring it
to purpose anon!” Eliot then rose as witness, and gave his account of
the Sunday sermon at Lyford: how Master Campion spoke of enormities in
England, and of a day of change soon coming, welcome to the shaken
and dispersed Catholics, but dreadful to the heretical masters of the
land. “What day should that be,” broke in the Queen’s Counsel, “but
that wherein the Pope, the King of Spain, and the Duke of Florence have
appointed to invade this realm?” Campion turned his eyes on Eliot.
“Oh, Judas, Judas!... As in all other Christian commonwealths, so in
England, many vices and iniquities do abound ... whereupon, as in every
pulpit every Protestant doth, I pronounced a great day, not wherein
any temporal potentate should minister, but wherein the terrible Judge
should reveal all men’s consciences and try every man.... Any other
day than this, God He knows I meant not.” So much for the astonishing
“evidence” of this most astonishing of all trials, one only, under
Pontius Pilate, excepted.

[Illustration: “Not Guilty!” _p. 151._]

The chief count against the defendant was the old, old one of the Bull
of Deposition, and the denied authority of the Queen in spirituals:
that wretched family skeleton trotted out once more! “You refused to
swear to the Supremacy, a notorious token of an evil willer to the
Crown.” Campion, who was surely what Antony Wood quaintly calls him,
“a sweete Disposition, and a well-polish’d Man,” stated his position
once more, lucidly, and with perfect temper. He began by referring to
what passed at the Earl of Leicester’s London house. “Not long since
it pleased her Majesty to demand of me whether I did acknowledge her
to be my Queen or no. I answered that I did acknowledge her Highness
not only as my Queen, but also as my most lawful governess. And being
further required by her Majesty whether I thought the Pope might
lawfully excommunicate her or no, I answered: ‘I confess myself an
insufficient umpire between her Majesty and the Pope for so high a
controversy, whereof neither the certainty is yet known, nor the best
divines in Christendom stand fully resolved!... I acknowledge her
Highness as my governor and sovereign; I acknowledge her Majesty both
in fact and by right to be Queen; I confess an obedience due to the
Crown as to my temporal head and primate.’ This I said then; so I say
now. If then I failed in aught, I am now ready to supply it. What would
you more? I will willingly pay to her Majesty what is hers; yet I
must pay to God what is His. Then as for excommunicating her Majesty,
it was exacted of me (admitting that excommunication were of effect,
and that the Pope had sufficient authority so to do), whether then I
thought myself discharged of my allegiance or no? I said that this
was a dangerous question, and that they that demanded this demanded
my blood. Admitting (why admitting?) I would admit his authority, and
then he should excommunicate her, I would then do as God should give
me grace: but I never admitted any such matter, neither ought I to
be wrested with any such suppositions.” To all this no rejoinder was
made. It was the identical position taken up by many another harassed
martyr. The prosecution next turned to the remaining prisoners, using
the same weak, wrong, skirmishing tactics,—Campion often putting in
a word to hearten one, to defend another, to guide a third. At a
certain point he exclaimed: “So great are the treasons that I and the
others have wrought, that the gaoler who has us in charge told me at
night that would we but go to the Anglican services they would pardon
us straightway!” Serrano, who reports this, adds: “They answered
things in general.” At the close of the proceedings, their issue being
prearranged, Campion was allowed to make a speech to the jurors. He
eloquently begged them to seek for certainties, and to remember the
character of the “evidence” brought before them. Alas! he was appealing
to bought men, who dared not be true.

The pleadings had taken three hours; the jury deliberated, or seemed to
do so, for an hour or more. Public opinion in the Hall, as at the Tower
conferences, was overwhelmingly in favour of Campion. But “the poor
twelve,” as Allen calls them, came back, fearful to be found “no friend
of Cæsar,” bringing in a verdict against the whole company as “guilty
of the said treasons and conspiracies.” The Lord Chief Justice spoke:
“Campion, and the rest, what can you say why you should not die?” Then
Campion broke out into a brief appeal to the future and the past, a
lyric strain such as was not often heard beneath those ancient rafters,
so sadly used to the spectacle of noble hearts in jeopardy. “It was
not our death that ever we feared! But we knew that we were not lords
of our own lives, and therefore for want of answer would not be guilty
of our own deaths. The only thing that we have now to say is, that if
our religion do make us traitors we are worthy to be condemned; but
otherwise we are and have been as true subjects as ever the Queen had.
In condemning us you condemn all your own ancestors, all the ancient
priests, Bishops and Kings: all that was once the glory of England,
the Island of Saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter.
For what have we taught (however you may qualify it with the odious
name of treason), that they did not uniformly teach? To be condemned
with these old lights, not of England only, but of the world, by their
degenerate descendants, is both gladness and glory to us! God lives.
Posterity will live. Their judgment is not so liable to corruption as
that of those who are now going to sentence us to death.” After which
the Lord Chief Justice pronounced the formula in use for all prisoners
condemned to capital punishment. “Ye must go to the place whence ye
came, there to remain until ye shall be drawn through the open city of
London upon hurdles to the place of execution, and there be hanged and
let down alive ... and your entrails taken out and burnt in your sight;
then your heads to be cut off, and your bodies to be divided in four
parts, to be disposed of at her Majesty’s pleasure. And may God have
mercy on your souls!” Some of the company raised a storm of protest,
but Campion’s voice rose above theirs, crying: “We praise Thee, O God!”
Sherwin seconded him with the shouted anthem of Eastertide: “This is
the day that the Lord hath made: let us rejoice and be glad therein!”
Like expressions of triumph were presently taken up, to the amazement
of bystanders. Then the doomed men were parted, and were all taken
away, Edmund Campion being put in a barge on the Thames, and rowed back
to the Tower, where he was heavily shackled with irons, and left alone.



XIII

VICTORY: DECEMBER 1, 1581


EVEN thus late, fresh proffers were made to buy Campion over to the
State religion. Such a circumstance, as he had claimed previously, is
in itself a plain disproof of any treason. Hopton, who hated him, sent
Campion’s own sister to him with the repeated offer of a very rich
benefice. To the cell door came one day none other than George Eliot,
saying that he would never have trapped Fr. Edmund, had he thought
that anything worse than imprisonment could be in store. He also told
the man of God whom he had wronged past reparation that he stood in
danger from the wrath of the Catholics, and feared their reprisals for
his late actions. Campion persuaded him that they would never push
revenge so far as to seek his life, but added that if Eliot were truly
repentant he should have a letter of recommendation to a Catholic Duke
in Germany, who would employ and protect him. Delahays, the keeper, in
the discharge of his office, had to stand close to the prisoner during
this interview, and what he heard sank into his mind and made him a
convert. Outside the Tower, there was a ferment of excitement over
this one of its inmates, and over the question whether the indignation
of all Europe should be braved by carrying out his sentence. The Earl
of Desmond, the accessory, and Dr. Sanders, the co-principal, of the
late revolt in western Ireland, were still hiding in woods and caves,
and weathering the hardships which were to be dismally ended for both
during the coming spring. Burghley concisely said, in the finest
Elizabethan spirit of punishing somebody—no great matter whom—when any
row was made, that “Campion and Sanders were in the same boat, and as
they could not catch Sanders, they must hang Campion instead.” The
princely visitor was still at Court, and high festival went on from
day to day. The preoccupation of the Queen with him and his affairs
was thought to be an excellent item of the programme, as it kept her
from thinking of Campion and his fate. Delay was dreaded as a means
of getting together of the great English nobles, and the foreign
ambassadors, with petitions for Campion’s release; and it was thought
that the Queen would never resist any strongly-worded request which so
corroborated her own supposed secret feeling. The Council still thought
his destruction desirable. Meanwhile, instant appeal was made to the
Duke, by the Catholics generally, to use his influence in Campion’s
behalf: he promised to intercede for him, and may have done so. At the
last moment further pressure was brought to bear. His confessor was
sent into the tennis court, where the Duke was about to begin a game,
with this message: that the royal blood of France would be disgraced
for ever, if so foul a judicial murder were not checked. The little
great personage, thus accosted, as we are told by Bombino, stroked his
face absent-mindedly with his left hand; then raised his right hand,
with the racket in it, and called to one opposite to him: “Play!” Not
another word did he answer to the tragic matter so thrust upon him.

Burghley fixed upon November 25, a Saturday, as the date for Campion’s
execution. Sherwin was appointed to die in his company, as representing
the Seminary at Rheims. They were taken together one day into the
Lieutenant’s Hall to face some endless argument or other. The opponent,
“by report of such as stood by, was never so holden up to the wall in
his life.” On the way back to their cells, under guard, they crossed
one of the Tower courts. “Ah, Father Campion!” said his young comrade,
smiling at the welcome London sun, “I shall shortly be above yon
fellow.” Even one hurried free breath of fresh air must have meant much
to Campion. To be “clapped up a close prisoner,” as he had been from
the first, meant that his windows were blocked, and their minimum of
air strained through a narrow slanted funnel, latticed at its skyward
end, and with but one tiny pane occasionally opened at the bottom. But
these things, humanly intolerable, counted for little on the threshold
of light and liberty everlasting. “Delay of our death doth somewhat
dull me,” wrote Sherwin, touchingly, to a friend. “Truth it is, I
had hoped ere this, casting off this body of death, to have kissed
the precious, glorified wounds of my sweet Saviour, sitting in the
Throne of His Father’s own glory.” There was a good deal of haggling
and hesitation on the subject. By statute law any caught priest was
hangable; but public opinion (as Simpson reminds us in a brilliant
page) did not always run with the statute law. Moreover, Camden says
expressly that the Queen (who is supposed to have supervised and
approved all he wrote) did not believe in the “treasons” charged to the
“silly priests.” It is remarkable that the first defensive pamphlet put
forth by the Government after Campion’s death, was one “in which the
plot of Rheims and Rome was prudently forgotten—the very matter of the
indictment!”

By the time the day for the execution was finally set for Friday, the
first of December, a third priest had been chosen from the waiting
batch of victims, as representing the English College at Rome. This
was the Blessed Alexander Briant, who had applied from his prison
cell for admission into the Society of Jesus, a fact not known to his
persecutors. If the entry of his age in the Oxford Matriculation Lists
be correct (as is most likely), he was now only in his twenty-sixth
year. He was grave and gentle in character, full of charm, and of the
most extraordinary personal beauty. He had been carried off in the
course of a descent on Fr. Parsons’ London rooms, starved and parched
in the Marshalsea, tortured by needles, and kept in the entire darkness
of deep dungeons in the Tower. Norton, the Rackmaster, on three
occasions, proceeded (in his own phrase) to “make him a foot longer
than God made him,” yet he adds that “he stood still with express
refusal that he would tell the truth.” The “truth” meant information of
the whereabouts of Fr. Parsons, a former tutor and devoted friend, and
of the place where Parsons’ books were being printed. Briant had been
condemned the day after Campion’s trial, in Westminster Hall, where his
angelic looks, out-lasting a hell of almost unique torment, did not
pass unnoticed by the public. Here (though some accounts say it was
at the scaffold) he carried in the palm of his hand, and gazed upon
often, a little cross of rough wood which he had managed to whittle
in his cell, and on which he had traced an outline in charcoal of the
figure of the Crucified. Pedro Serrano, the secretary of the Spanish
Ambassador, saw it taken away from Briant, and heard him say: “You can
wrest it from my hand, but never from my heart.” Not long afterwards
George Gilbert died in Italy, kissing Blessed Alexander’s little cross,
which he must have taken pains to buy back.

These three, Fathers Campion, Sherwin, and Briant, were led forth on
a bitter morning, and bound to their hurdles, in the rain, outside
the Tower gates. Campion’s life for the past week had been nothing
but fasting, watching and prayer, and he was never in more gallant
spirits. “God save you all, gentlemen!” so he saluted the crowd, on
first coming out: “God bless you all, and make you all good Catholics!”
The two younger men were strapped down on one hurdle side by side,
Campion alone on the other. The mud was thick in the unpaved streets
of London, and the double span of horses, each flat hurdle being tied
to two tails, went at a great pace through Cheapside, Newgate Street,
and Holborn. There were intervals, however, when the jolted and bemired
prisoners were able to speak with their sympathizers, who surged in
upon them, and thus saved them for the moment from the incessant
annoyance of Charke and other accompanying fanatics. Some asked Fr.
Campion’s blessing; some spoke in his ear matters of conscience; one
gentleman courteously bent down and wiped the priest’s bespattered
face: “for which charity, or haply some sudden-moved affection, may God
reward him!” says one annalist who saw the kind deed done.

The New Gate spanned the street where the prison named after it stood
until yesterday; and in a niche of the New Gate was still a statue of
Our Lady: this Fr. Campion reverenced, raising his head and his bound
body, as best he could, as he passed under. The three martyrs were
seen to be smiling, nay, laughing, and the people commented with wonder
on their light-heartedness. A mile or so of sheer country at the end
of the road, and Tyburn was at hand, stark against a cloudy sky, with
a vast crowd waiting to see the sacrifice: “more than three thousand
horse,” says Serrano, in the contemporary letter already quoted, “and
an infinite number of souls.” And he goes on, in the truest Catholic
temper, speaking for himself, the Ambassador, and their little circle,
to say, “there was no one of us who had not envy of their death.” Just
as the hurdles halted, the sudden sun shone out and lit up the gallows
with its hanging halters. Fr. Campion was set upon his feet, put into
the hangman’s cart, driven under the triangular beams, and told to put
his head into the noose. This the first martyr of the English Jesuits
did with all meekness. Then, “with grave countenance and sweet voice,”
he began to speak, as he supposed he was to be allowed to do, according
to custom. He took the text of St. Paul: “We are made a spectacle
unto the world, and to angels, and to men: we are fools for Christ’s
sake.” Sir Francis Knowles and other officials promptly interrupted
him, and reminded him to confess his treason. So once more he must
needs say: “I desire you all to bear witness with me that I am thereof
altogether innocent.... I am a Catholic man and a priest: in that faith
have I lived, and in that faith do I intend to die. If you esteem my
religion treason, then am I guilty. As for other treason, I never
committed any: God is my judge.” He spoke of the names which he had
been hoodwinked into confessing, and protested that all the “secrets”
held back were spiritual confidences, and that there were no “secrets”
of another nature between his hosts and him; he also put in a plea for
one Richardson, imprisoned on account of the _Decem Rationes_, whereas
he knew nothing whatever of that book. He then tried to pray. But a
school-master with lungs, named Hearne, hastily stepped forward and
read a novel proclamation, first and last of its kind, declaring in
the Queen’s name that these men about to be executed were perishing
not for religion but for treason. Diligent reassertion, in those days,
seems to have established anything as a fact!

The lords and sheriffs present reverted to “the bloody question”:
what did Master Campion think of the Bull of Pius Quintus and the
excommunication of the Queen? and would he renounce the Pope of Rome?
He answered wearily that he was a Catholic. One voice shouted: “In
your Catholicism all treason is contained!” A minister came forward
to bid the martyr pray with him, but with marked gentleness was
denied his will. “You and I are not one in religion: wherefore, I
pray you, content yourself. I bar none of prayer, but I only desire
them of the Household of Faith to pray with me, and in mine agony to
say one Creed.” The Creed was chosen “to signify that he died for the
confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith.” He endeavoured again
to pray, probably using aloud the words of some of the Vulgate Psalms
or ritual hymns, when a spectator called out angrily to him to pursue
his devotions in English. “I will pray unto God,” answered Campion,
with all himself in the answer, “in a language which we both well
understand!” He was again interrupted, and ordered to ask forgiveness
of the Queen, and to pray for her. But his sweetness and patience held
out till the last. “Wherein have I offended her? In this am I innocent:
this is my last speech: in this give me credit. I have and do pray for
her.” “Pray you for Queen—Elizabeth?” was the insinuating query, made
often, and answered often, as here. Campion said: “Yea, for Elizabeth,
your Queen and my Queen, unto whom I wish a long, quiet reign, with all
prosperity.” He had barely finished this emphatic sentence when the
cart was drawn away. The multitude with one accord swayed and groaned.
Somebody in authority (one account names the Chamberlain of the Royal
Household, Lord Howard of Effingham) mercifully forbade the hangman
to cut the rope until he was quite dead. That other rope with which
Campion was bound Parsons managed to buy, and he had it laid about his
own neck when he came to die, in 1610. It is now at Stonyhurst: a
thin, frayed old cord some twelve feet long.

Close to the quartering-block stood a spectator, a young gallant of
twenty-three, eldest son of a Norfolk house, who had great gifts of
mind, and was given to writing verses: his name was Henry Walpole. He
was a Catholic, though, it would seem, a worldly one. His generous
instincts of humanity, however, had led him to befriend hunted priests;
and a love of Campion, in particular, was already kindled in him
through this association. As the executioner threw the severed limbs of
a blessed soul into the great smoking cauldron, to parboil them before
they were stuck on spikes, according to sentence, a few drops were
splashed out upon Henry Walpole’s doublet. The incident roused his mind
and pierced his heart, and was to him the instant cry of his vocation.
Like many another spiritual son of Blessed Edmund Campion (and nearer
to him than they, because he entered the Society), he was granted the
glory of following him, through faults of his own, through innumerable
hardships, and through martyrdom at York, in April, 1595, into the
peace of Paradise.

Meanwhile the hangman had seized the second victim, saying: “Come,
Sherwin! take thou also thy wages.” That manly man looked upon the bare
bloody arm of the other, and eager to show some public veneration of
his sainted leader, first bent forward and kissed it; then he leaped
into the cart. Young Briant presently endured death for the Faith
with an even calmer courage. The populace, much wrought up over all
three, went home, through the winter mists, in tears. Most of them who
had prejudices against the Church lost them for good; and very many
straightway entered her communion.

The Government sent forth publication after publication in lame
defence of its action. Soon France, Austria, Italy, were inundated
with accounts of the event; these everywhere produced the deepest
impression. At home, a great tidal wave of conversion to the old Church
swept in.

Campion’s death, last and best of his wonderful missionary labours,
bore the most astonishing fruit. The long storm of persecution raged
at its full fierceness after 1581, and it burst over the heads not only
of a far more numerous, but a far more heroic body. Edmund Campion’s
spirit had been built in good time, as it were, into the unsteady wall.

Robert Parsons had an intense feeling for his first comrade-in-arms.
“I understand of the advancement and exaltation of my dear brother
Mr. Campion, and his fellows. Our Lord be blessed for it! it is
the joyfullest news in one respect that ever came to my heart.”
This same feeling breaks out with powerful irony, addressing the
“Geneva-coloured” clerics, who so long harassed the martyr-group
of 1581. “Their blood will, I doubt not, fight against your errors
and impiety many hundred years after you are passed from the world
altogether.... They are well bestowed upon you: you have used them to
the best.”

And Allen, in a private letter, says on his part: “Ten thousand sermons
would not have published our apostolic faith and religion so winningly
as the fragrance of these victims, most sweet both to God and to men.”

No remote mystic was Edmund Campion, but a man of his age, with
much endearing human circumstance about him and in him. Caring for
nothing but the things of the soul, he had yet caught the ear and the
eye of the nation. The tidings of his end meant much to many of the
great Elizabethans: not least personal was it, perhaps, to the lad
Shakespeare, whose father had been settled as a stout Recusant by the
Warwickshire ministrations of Parsons.

An aged priest, Gregory Gunne, came up before the Council in 1585, his
thoughts and tongue too busy in Campion’s praise. The day would come,
he said, when a religious house would stand as a votive offering on
the spot where “the only man in England” had perished. There was still
no sign of such a thing when Mr. Richard Simpson’s great monograph
was first published, and that was twenty years before Pope Leo XIII
beatified the Blessed Edmund Campion on December 9, 1886. But now
there is a Convent with Perpetual Adoration in its little chapel, and
two bright English flags ever leaning against the altar, on that ground
of the London Tyburn: and is it wonderful that the vision of a worthier
memorial haunts the imagination of those who go there to pray for their
country?

Blessed Edmund Campion was “a religious genius,” with a creative
spirituality given to few, even among the canonized children of
the Fold. But in his kinship with his place and time, his peculiar
gentleness, his scholarship lightly worn, his magic influence, his
fearless deed and flawless word, he was a great Elizabethan too. He had
sacrificed his fame and changed his career. He had spent himself for
a cause the world can never love, and by so doing he has courted the
ill-will of what passed for history, up to our own day. But no serious
student now mistakes the reason why his own England found no use for
her “diamond” other than the one strange use to which she put him. He
is sure at last of justice. In the Church, that name of his will have
a never-dying beauty, though it is not quite where it might have been
on the secular roll-call. To understand this is also to rejoice in it:
for why should we look to find there at all, those who are “hidden with
Christ in God”?

    THE END


    BILLING AND SONS, LTD., PRINTERS, GUILDFORD.



The St. Nicholas Series

EDITED BY THE REV. DOM BEDE CAMM, O.S.B.


LIST OF VOLUMES

  BARNABY BRIGHT. By REV. DAVID BEARNE, S.J. (2 vols.)
  THE STORY OF BLESSED THOMAS MORE. By A NUN OF TYBURN CONVENT.
  FATHER MATHEW. By KATHARINE TYNAN.
  JEANNE D’ARC: THE MAID OF FRANCE. By C. M. ANTONY.
  ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. By REV. ROBERT HUGH BENSON.
  VITTORINO DA FELTRE: A PRINCE OF TEACHERS. By A SISTER OF NOTRE DAME.
  THE LEGEND OF ST. CHRISTOPHER. By REV. CYRIL MARTINDALE, S.J.
  GABRIEL GARCIA MORENO. By the HON. MRS. MAXWELL-SCOTT.
  CARDINAL WILLIAM ALLEN. By REV. DOM BEDE CAMM, O.S.B.
  BLESSED EDMUND CAMPION. By LOUISE IMOGEN GUINEY.
  CARDINAL POLE. By J. M. STONE.
  THE MAN’S HANDS. By REV. R. P. GARROLD, S.J.
  THE STORY OF THE ENGLISH POPE. By F. M. STEELE.
  MADGE-MAKE-THE-BEST-OF-IT. By M. E. FRANCIS.
  FATHER DAMIEN OF MOLOKAI. By MAY QUINLAN.

    _Each volume is in Foolscap 8vo., and has Six Illustrations
           reproduced by the three-colour process._

                  _Price per volume, 2s. net._



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber’s note:

Obvious punctuation errors were corrected.

Page 77, “Fowers” changed to “Flowers” (Little Flowers of Martyrdom)





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