It Might Have Been - The Story of the Gunpowder Plot
by Emily Sarah Holt
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"But, Charity!—what Ezekiel?"

"'Zekiel Cavell, Mrs Edith. He's i' th' kitchen: you can see him if you've a mind."

"Ezekiel Cavell! Aunt Joyce's coachman! Where on earth has he come from?"

"Well, I rather think it was somewhere on earth," answered the calm Charity, "and I expect it was somewhere i' Oxfordshire. Howbeit, here he is, and so's th' coach, and so's th' horses: and he says to me, 'Charity,' says he, 'will you ask my Lady when she'll be wanting th' coach?' So I come."

Everybody looked at everybody else.

"Is it possible?" cried Edith. "Has dear Aunt Joyce sent her coach to carry down Mother home?"

"Nay, it's none hers, it's my Lady's," said Charity, "and nobry else's; and if she's a mind to bid me chop it up for firewood, I can, if Mestur 'Ans 'll help me. We can eat th' horses too, if she likes; but they mun be put in salt, for we's ne'er get through 'em else. There's six on 'em. Shall I tell Rachel to get th' brine ready?"

"Charity, what have you been doing?" said Hans, laughing.

"I've done nought, Mestur 'Ans, nobut carry a letter where it belonged, and serve 'Zekiel his four-hours."

They began to see light dawning on the mystery.

"A letter to whom, Charity? and who writ it?"

"To Mestur Marshall: and Mrs Joyce Morrell writ it—leastwise her man did, at her bidding."

"What said it?"

"I didn't read it, Sir," responded Charity, demurely.

"Come, I reckon you know what was in it," said Mr Lewthwaite. "Out with it, Charity."

"Come forward into the room, Charity, and tell your tale like a man," said Temperance.

"I amn't a man, Mrs Temperance," answered Charity, doing as she was bid: "but I'll tell it like a woman. Well, when I were with Mrs Joyce, afore we came hither, hoo gave me a letter,—let's see! nay, it were two letters, one lapped of a green paper, and one of a white. And hoo said, as soon as yo' geet [got] here, I were to ask my way to Shoe Lane, just outside o' th' City gate, and gi'e th' letter i' th' white paper to Mestur Marshall. And th' green un I were to keep safe by me, till it came—if it did come—that my Lady lacked a coach either to journey home or to Minster Lovel, and when I heard that, I were to carry it to Mestur Marshall too. So I did as I were bid. What were i' th' letters I cannot tell you, but Mestur Marshall come to see you as soon as he geet th' white un, and when he geet th' green un come 'Zekiel wi' th' coach and th' tits. Mrs Joyce, hoo said hoo were feared nobry'd tell her if a coach were wanted, and that were why she gave me th' letter. So now you know as much as I know: and I hope you're weel pleased wi' it: and if you please, what am I to say to 'Zekiel?"

"Dear Aunt Joyce!" said Edith under her breath.

"Make Ezekiel comfortable, Charity," said Lady Louvaine, as she drew off her glasses and wiped them: "and on Monday we will talk over the matter and come to some decision thereupon."

The decision unanimously come to on the Monday was that Hans should ride down to Oxford and see Aubrey before anything else was settled. Lady Louvaine would have liked dearly to return home to Selwick, but Aubrey was its master, and was of age, and he might be contemplating matrimony when he could afford it. If so, she would make a long visit—possibly a life-long one—to her beloved Joyce at Minster Lovel, accompanied by Edith. Temperance and Lettice were to return to Keswick: Faith must please herself. That Faith would please herself, and would not much trouble herself about the pleasing of any one else, they were tolerably convinced: and of course Aubrey's own mother had a greater claim on him than more distant relatives. She would probably queen it at Selwick, unless Aubrey provided the Hall with a younger queen in her place.

It was on a lovely summer afternoon that Hans rode into Oxford by the Water Gate or Little Gate, from which a short street led up northwards to Christ Church and Saint Aldate's. Just beyond these, he passed through the city portal of South Gate, and turning to the left down Brewers' Street, he soon came to Mr Whitstable's shop under the shadow, of West Gate. Just on the eastern side was a livery-stable, where Hans put up his horse: and then, wishing to see Aubrey before he should be recognised, he walked straight into the shop. At the further end, Aubrey was showing some solid-looking tomes to two solid-looking dons, while Mr Whitstable himself was just delivering a purchase to a gentleman in canonicals. Hans stepped up to the bookseller, and in a low tone asked him for a Book of Articles. This meant the famous Thirty-Nine, then sold separate from the Prayer-Book at a cost of about sixpence.

Mr Whitstable laid three copies on the counter, of which Hans selected one, and then said, still speaking low—

"May I, with your good leave, tarry till my brother yonder is at liberty, and have speech of him? I have ridden from London to see him."

The keen eyes examined Hans critically.

"You—brothers?" was all the reply of the old bookseller.

"Not by blood," said Hans with a smile, "nor truly by nation: but we were bred up as brothers from our cradles."

"You may tarry. Pray you, sit."

Hans complied, and sat for a few minutes watching Aubrey. He perceived with satisfaction that his costume was simple and suitable, entirely devoid of frippery and foppery; that his mind seemed to be taken up with his employment; that he was looking well, and appeared to understand his business. At last the grave and reverend signors had made their choice; Bullinger's Decades, at nine shillings, was selected, and Beza's New Testament, at sixteen: Aubrey received the money, gave the change, and delivered the books. He was following his customers down the shop when his eyes fell on Hans. Whether on this occasion he was welcome or not, Hans was not left to doubt. Every feature of Aubrey's face, every accent of his voice, spoke gratification in no measured tones.

"Hans, my dear brother!" he said as they clasped hands. "When came you? and have you had to eat since? How left you all at home?"

Mr Whitstable was looking on, with eyes that saw.

"I came but now, and have left all well, God be thanked," said Hans. "I have not yet eaten, for I wished to see you first. I will now go and break bread, and we can meet in the evening, when you are at large."

There was a momentary look of extreme disappointment, and then Aubrey said—

"That is right, as you alway are. Where meet we? under West Gate?"

Mr Whitstable spoke. "Methinks, Mr Louvaine, it were pity to snatch the crust from an hungry man. Go you now with your brother, until he make an end of his supper; then return here in time to make up accounts and close. If this gentleman be the steady and sober man that his looks and your words promise, you can bring him hither to your chamber for the night."

"I thank you right heartily, Master. He is sober as Mr Vice-Chancellor, and good as an angel," said Aubrey.

Hans followed him, with an amused look, to the Golden Lion, where they supped on chicken and Banbury cakes, and Aubrey heard all the news—the one item excepted which Hans had come especially to tell. The tongues went fast, but no sooner had the hour rung out from the clock of Saint Ebbe's than Aubrey sprang up and said he must return.

"Thou canst wander forth for an hour, only lose not thyself," he said to Hans, "and when my work is done, I will join thee beneath the arch of West Gate."

Hans obeyed with amused pleasure. This was an altered Aubrey. When had he cared to keep promises and be in time for work? They met presently under West Gate, and Aubrey played cicerone until dusk set in, when he took Hans to his own quiet little chamber at the bookseller's shop. It was very plainly furnished, and Hans quickly saw that on the drawers lay a Bible which bore evidence of being used.

"Thou little wist," said Hans affectionately, when they were thus alone, "how glad I am to see thee, Aubrey, and to perceive thy good welfare in this place."

He did not add "good conduct," but he meant it.

"How much richer shouldst thou have been, Hans, if thou hadst never beheld me?" was the answer.

"I should have been poorer, by the loss of the only brother I ever had."

There was more feeling in Aubrey's look than Hans was wont to see, and an amount of tenderness in his tone which he had no idea how it astonished Hans to hear.

"My brother," he said, "you have had your revenge, and it is terrible."

Hans looked, as he felt, honestly surprised. It was his nature to remember vividly benefits received, but to forget those which he conferred.

"Dost thou not know?" said Aubrey, reading the look. "After my unworthy conduct toward thee, that thou shouldst take my debts upon thine own—"

"Prithee, shut thy mouth," answered Hans with a laugh, "and make me not to blush by blowing the trumpet over that which but gave me a pleasure. I ensure thee, my brother," he added more gravely, "that I had a sufficiency to cover all was a true contentment unto me. As to revenge, no such thought ever crossed my mind for a moment."

"The revenge had been lesser if it were designed," was the reply.

"And how goeth it with thee here?" asked Hans, not sorry to change the subject. "Art thou content with thy work?—and doth Mr Whitstable entreat thee well?"

"Mr Whitstable is the manner of master good for me," responded Aubrey with a smile: "namely, not unkindly, but inflexibly firm and just. I know that from him, if I deserve commendation, I shall have it; and if I demerit blame, I am evenly sure thereof: which is good for me. As to content—ay, I am content; but I can scarce go further, and say I find a pleasure in my work. That were more like thee than me."

"And if it so were, Aubrey, that the Lord spake unto thee and me, saying, 'Work thus no more, but return unto the old life as it was ere ye came to London town,'—how shouldst thou regard that?"

The momentary light of imagination which sprang to Aubrey's eyes was succeeded and quenched by one of wistful uncertainty.

"I cannot tell, Hans," said he. "That I were glad is of course: that I were wise to be glad is somewhat more doubtful. I am afeared I might but slip back into the old rut, and fall to pleasing of myself. Riches and liberty seem scarce to be good things for me; and I have of late,"— a little hesitation accompanied this part of the sentence—"I have thought it best to pray God to send me that which He seeth good, and not to grant my foolish desires. Truly, I seem to know better, well-nigh every day, how foolish I have been, and how weak I yet am."

There was a second of silence before Hans said—

"Aubrey, what God sees good for thee, now, is the old home at Selwick Hall. May He bless it to thee, and fit thee for it!"

"What mean you?" asked the bewildered Aubrey.

A few minutes put him in possession of the facts. Nothing which had passed convinced Hans of a radical change in Aubrey's heart, so completely as the first sentence with which he greeted the news of his altered fortune.

"Then my dear old grandmother can go home!"

"Thou wilt be glad to hear," added Hans, quietly, "that Mrs Joyce Morrell hath sent her a caroche and horses wherein to journey at her ease. Mrs Temperance and Lettice go back to Keswick."

"Not if I know it!" was the hearty response. "I lack Aunt Temperance to keep me straight. Otherwise I should have nought save soft south-west airs playing around me, and she is a cool north breeze that shall brace me to my duty. But how quick, Hans, canst thou get free of Mr Leigh? for we must not tarry Grandmother at her years, and in this summer weather when journeying were least weariful."

"Wilt thou have me, then, Aubrey?"

"Hans, that is the worst cut thou hast ever given me. I have a mind to say I will not turn back without thee."

Hans smiled. "I thank thee, my dear brother. I dare say that I can be quit with Mr Leigh as soon as thou canst shake thee free of Mr Whitstable."

Mr Whitstable smiled rather cynically when the matter was laid before him.

"Well, young gentleman!" said he to Aubrey. "Methinks you shall make a better country squire than you should have done three months gone, and maybe none the worse for your tarrying with the old bookseller."

"Mr Whitstable, I con you hearty thanks for your good and just entreatment of me," said Aubrey, "and if ever your occasions call you into Cumberland, I promise you a true welcome at Selwick Hall."

That night, Aubrey seemed to be in a brown study, and the sagacious Hans let him alone till his thoughts should blossom forth into words of themselves. They came at last.

"Hans, thou wist it is customary for chaplains to be entertained in great houses?"

"Ay," said Hans, smiling to himself.

"I desire not to ape the great: but—thinkest thou we might not have a prophet's chamber in some corner at Selwick—the chamber over the east porch, belike?"

"Truly, if the prophet were to hand," said Hans, looking as grave as if he were not secretly amused.

"The prophet is to hand rather than the chamber," was the answer. "Couldst thou not guess I meant Mr Marshall?"

Hans had guessed it some seconds back.

"A good thought, truly," he replied.

"That will I ask my grandmother," said Aubrey.

It was the evening after Aubrey's return to the White Bear when that proposal was suggested to Lady Louvaine. A light of gladness came to the dim blue eyes.

"My dear lad, how blessed a thought!" said she.

"But what should come of Mrs Agnes, then?" suggested Temperance.

"Oh, she could easily be fitted with some service," answered Mrs Louvaine, who for once was not in a complaining mood. "Hans, you might ask of Mr Leigh if he know of any such, or maybe of some apprenticeship that should serve her. She can well work with the needle, and is a decent maid, that should not shame her mistress, were she not over high in the world."


The indignant tone of that one word brought the handkerchief instantly out of Mrs Louvaine's pocket.

"Well, really, Aubrey, I do think it most unreasonable! Such a way to speak to your poor mother, and she a widow! When I have but one child, and he—"

"He is sorry, Mother, if he spake to you with disrespect," said Aubrey in a different tone. "But suffer me to say that if Mr Marshall come with us, so must Mrs Agnes."

"Now, Faith, do be quiet! I've been counting on Mrs Agnes to see to things a bit, and save Edith,—run about for my Lady Lettice, see you, and get our Lettice into her good ways."

"You don't say, to spare me," wailed Mrs Louvaine.

"No, my dear, I don't," replied Temperanoe, significantly. "I'll spare you when you need sparing; don't you fear."

Mr Marshall and Agnes were as glad as they were astonished—and that was no little—to hear of the provision in store for them. To pass from those three rooms in Shoe Lane to the breezy hills and wide chambers of Selwick Hall—to live no more from hand to mouth, with little in either, but to be assured, as far as they could be so, among the changes and chances of this mortal life, of bread to eat and raiment to put on—to be treated as beloved and honoured friends instead of meeting with scornful words and averted looks—this was glad news indeed. Mr Marshall rejoiced for his daughter, and Agnes for her father. Hers was a nature which could attain its full happiness only in serving God and man. To have shut herself up and occupied herself with her own amusement would have been misery, not pleasure. The idea of saving trouble to Lady Louvaine and Edith, of filling in some slight degree the empty place of that beloved friend whom Selwick Hall called "Cousin Bess" and Agnes "Aunt Elizabeth"—this opened out to Agnes Marshall a prospect of unadulterated enjoyment. To her father, whose active days were nearly over, and who was old rather with work, hardship, and sorrow, than by the mere passage of time, the lot offered him seemed equally happy. The quiet rest, the absence of care, the plenitude of books, the society of chosen friends who were his fellow-pilgrims, Zionward,—to contemplate such things was almost happiness enough in itself. And if he smothered a sigh in remembering that his Eleanor slept in that quiet churchyard whence she could never more be summoned to rejoice with him, it was followed at once by the happier recollection that she had seen a gladder sight than this, and that she was satisfied with it.

It was but natural that the journey home should be of the most enjoyable character. The very season of the year added to its zest. The five ladies and two girls travelled in the coach—private carriages were much more roomy then than now, and held eight if not ten persons with comfort—Mr Lewthwaite, Aubrey, Hans, and the two maids, were on horseback. So they set forth from the White Bear.

"Farewell to thee!" said Charity to that stolid-looking animal, as she rode under it for the last time. "Rachel, what dost thou mean, lass?— art thou crying to leave yon beast or Mistress Abbott?"

"Nay, nother on 'em, for sure!" said Rachel, wiping her eyes; "I've nobut getten a fly into my eye."

Mrs Abbott, however, was not behindhand. She came out to her gate to see the cavalcade depart, followed by a train of youthful Abbotts, two or three talking at once, as well as herself. What reached the ears of the ladies in the coach, therefore, was rather a mixture.

"Fare you well, Lady Louvaine, and all you young gentlewomen—and I hope you'll have a safe journey, and a pleasant; I'm sure—"

"I'll write and tell you the new modes, Mrs Lettice," said Prissy; "you'll have ne'er a chance to—"

"Be stuck in the mud ere you've gone a mile," came in Seth's voice.

"And where tarry you to-night, trow?" demanded Mrs Abbott. "Is it to be at Saint Albans or—"

"Up atop of yon tree," screamed Hester; "there she was with a kitten in her mouth, and—"

"All the jewels you could think of," Dorcas was heard to utter.

The words on either side were lost, but nobody—except, perhaps, the speakers—thought the loss a serious one.

Under way at last, the coach rumbled with dignity up King Street, through the Court gates, past Charing Cross and along the Strand—a place fraught with painful memories to one at least of the party—past the Strand Cross, through Temple Bar, up Fetter Lane, over Holborn Bridge and Snow Hill, up Aldersgate Street, along the Barbican, and by the fields to Shoreditch, into the Saint Alban's Road. As they came out into the Shoreditch Road, a little above Bishopsgate, they were equally surprised and gratified to find Lady Oxford's groom of the chambers standing and waiting for their approach. As he recognised the faces, he stepped forward. In his hand was a very handsome cloak of fine cloth, of the shade of brown then called meal-colour, lined with crimson plush, and trimmed with beaver fur.

"Madam, my Lady bids you right heartily farewell, and prays you accept this cloak to lap you at night in your journey, with her loving commendations: 'tis of her Ladyship's own wearing."

It was considered at that time to add zest to a gift, if it had been used by the giver.

Lady Louvaine returned a message suited to the gratitude and pleasure which she felt at this timely remembrance, and the coach rolled away, leaving London behind.

"Weel, God be wi' thee and all thine!" said Charity, looking back at the great metropolis: "and if I ne'er see thee again, it'll none break my heart."

"Nay, nor mine nother!" added Rachel. "I can tell thee, lass, I'm fair fain to get out o' th' smoke and mire. Th' devil mun dwell i' London, I do think."

"I doubt it not," said Hans, who heard the remark, "but he has country houses, Rachel."

"Well!" said that damsel, in a satisfied tone: "at any rate, we shalln't find him at Selwick!"

"Maybe not, if the house be empty," was Hans's reply: "but he will come in when we do, take my word for it."

"Yo're reet, Mestur 'Ans," said Charity, gravely.

Four days' travelling brought them to the door of the Hill House at Minster Lovel. They had had no opportunity of sending word of their coming.

"How amazed Aunt Joyce will be, and Rebecca!" said Edith, with a happy laugh.

"I reckon they'll have some work to pack us all in," answered Temperance.

"Let be, children," was the response of Lady Louvaine. "The Hill House is great enough to hold every one of us, and Aunt Joyce's heart is yet bigger."

For a coach and six to draw up before the door of a country house was then an event which scarcely occurred so often as once a year. It was no great wonder, therefore, if old Rebecca looked almost dazed as she opened the door to so large a party.

"We are going home, Rebecca!" cried Edith's bright, familiar voice. "How fares my Aunt?"

"Eh, you don't mean it's you, mine own dear child?" cried the old servant lovingly. "And your Ladyship belike! Well, here is a blessed even! It'll do the mistress all the good in the world. Well, she's very middling, my dear—very middling indeed: but I think 'tis rather weariness than any true malady, and that'll flee afore the sight of you like snow afore the warm sun. Well, there's a smart few of you!—all the better, my dear, all the better!"

"You can hang one or two of us up in a tree, if you can't find us room," said Aubrey as he sprang from his saddle.

"There's room enough for such good stuff, and plenty to spare," answered old Rebecca. "If you was some folks, now, I might be glad to have the spare chambers full of somewhat else—I might! Come in, every one of you!"

"We'll help you to make ready, all we can," said Rachel, as she trudged after Rebecca to the kitchen.

"Ay, we will," echoed Charity.

Warmer and tenderer yet was the welcome in the Credence Chamber, where Aunt Joyce lay on her couch, looking as though not a day had passed since she bade them farewell. She greeted each of them lovingly until Aubrey came to her. Then she said, playfully yet meaningly,—"Who is this?"

"Aunt Joyce," replied Aubrey, as he bent down to kiss her, "shall I say, 'A penitent fool?'"

"Nay, my lad," was the firm answer. "A fool is never a penitent, nor a penitent a fool. The fool hath been: let the penitent abide."

"This is our dear, kind friend, Mr Marshall, Joyce," said Lady Louvaine. "He is so good as to come with us, and be our chaplain at Selwick: and here is his daughter."

"I think Mrs Joyce can guess," said the clergyman, "that the true meaning of those words is that her Lady ship hath been so good as to allow of the same, to our much comfort."

"Very like you are neither of you over bad," said Aunt Joyce with her kindly yet rather sarcastic smile. "I am glad to see you, Mr Marshall; hitherto we have known each other but on paper. Is this your daughter? Why, my maid, you have a look of the dearest and blessedest woman of all your kin—dear old Cousin Bess, that we so loved. May God make you like her in the heart, no less than the face!"

"Indeed, Mistress, I would say Amen, with all mine heart," answered Agnes, with a flush of pleasure.

There was a long discussion the next day upon ways and means, which ended in the decision that Aubrey and Hans, Faith and Temperance, with the two maids, should go forward to Selwick after a few days' rest, to get things in order; Lady Louvaine, Edith, Lettice, Agnes, and Mr Marshall, remaining at Minster Lovel for some weeks.

"And I'm as fain as I'd be of forty shillings," said old Rebecca to Edith. "Eh, but the mistress just opens out when you're here like a flower in the sunlight!"

"Now, don't you go to want Faith to tarry behind," observed Temperance, addressing the same person: "the dear old gentlewomen shall be a deal happier without her and her handkerchief. It shall do her good to bustle about at Selwick, as she will if she's mistress for a bit, and I'll try and see that she does no mischief, so far as I can."

Aunt Joyce, who was the only third person present, gave an amused little laugh.

"How long shall she be mistress, Temperance?"

"Why, till my Lady Lettice comes," said Temperance, with a rather perplexed look.

"For 'Lady Lettice,' read 'Mrs Agnes Marshall,'" was the answer of Aunt Joyce.

"Aunt Joyce!" cried Edith. "You never mean—"

"Don't I? But I do, Mistress Bat's-Eyes."

"Well, I never so much as—"

"Never so much as saw a black cow a yard off, didst thou? See if it come not true. Now, my maids, go not and meddle your fingers in the pie, without you wish it not to come true. Methinks Aubrey hath scarce yet read his own heart, and Agnes is innocent as driven snow of all imagination thereof: nevertheless, mark my words, that Agnes Marshall shall be the next lady of Selwick Hall. And I wouldn't spoil the pie, were I you; it shall eat tasty enough if you'll but leave it to bake in the oven. It were a deal better so than for the lad to fetch home some fine town madam that should trouble herself with his mother and grandmother but as the cuckoo with the young hedge-sparrows in his foster-mother's nest. She's a downright good maid, Agnes, and she is bounden to your mother and yon, and so is her father: and though, if Selwick were to turn you forth, your home is at Minster Lovel, as my child here knows,"—and Aunt Joyce laid her hand lovingly on that of Edith—"yet while we be here in this short wilderness journey, 'tis best not to fall out by the way. Let things be, children: God can take better care of His world and His Church than you or I can do it."

"Eh, I'll meddle with nought so good," responded Temperance, heartily. "If the lad come to no worse than that, he shall fare uncommon well, and better than he deserveth. As for the maid, I'm not quite so sure: but I'll hope for the best."

"The best thing you can do, my dear. 'We are saved by hope'—not as a man is saved by the rope that pulleth him forth of the sea, but rather as he is saved by the light that enableth him to see and grasp it. He may find the rope in the dark; yet shall he do it more quicklier and with much better comfort in the light. 'Hope thou in God,' 'Have faith in God,' 'Fear not,'—all those precepts be brethren; and one or other of them cometh very oft in Scripture. For a man cannot hope without some faith, and he shall find it hard to hope along with fear. Faith, hope, love—these do abide for ever."

The party for Selwick had set off, with some stir, in the early morning, and the quiet of evening found the friends left at the Hill House feeling as those left behind usually do,—enjoying the calm, yet with a sense of want.

Perhaps Mr Marshall was the least conscious of loss of any of the party, for he was supremely happy in the library over the works of Bishop Jewell. In the gallery upstairs, Lettice and Agnes sat in front of the two portraits which had so greatly interested the former on her previous visit, and talked about "Aunt Anstace" and "Cousin Bess," and the blessed sense of relief and thankfulness which pervaded Agnes's heart. And lastly, in the Credence Chamber, Aunt Joyce lay on her couch, and Lady Louvaine sat beside her in the great cushioned chair, while Edith, on a low stool at the foot of the couch, sat knitting peacefully, and glancing lovingly from time to time at those whom she called her two mothers.

"Joyce, dear," Lady Louvaine was saying, "'tis just sixty years since I came over that sunshine afternoon from the Manor House, to make acquaintance with thee and Anstace. Sixty years! why, 'tis the lifetime of an old man."

"And it looks but like sixty days, no doth it?" was the rejoinder. "Thou and I, Lettice, by reason of strength have come to fourscore years; yet is our life but a vapour that vanisheth away. I marvel, at times, how our Anstace hath passed her sixty years in Heaven. What do they there?"

"Dost thou mind, Joyce, Aubrey's once saying that we are told mainly what they do not there? Out of that, I take it, we may pick what they do. There shall be no night—then there must be eternal light; no curse—then must there be everlasting blessedness; no tears—then is there everlasting peace; no toil—then is there perpetual rest and comfort."

"Go on, Lettice—no sickness, therefore perfect health; no parting, therefore everlasting company and eternal love."

"Ay. What a blessed forecast! Who would not give all that he hath, but to be sure he should attain it? And yet men will fling all away, but to buy one poor hour's sinful pleasure, one pennyworth of foolish delight."

"And howsoe'er often they find the latter pall and cloy upon their tongues, yet shall they turn to it again with never-resting eagerness, as the sow to her wallowing in the mire. There is a gentleman dwells a matter of four miles hence, with whose wife and daughters I am acquaint, and once or twice hath he come with them to visit me. He hath got hold of a fancy—how, judge you—that man is not a fallen creature; indiscreet at times, maybe, and so forth, yet not wholly depraved. How man comes by this indiscretion, seeing God made him upright, he is discreet enough not to reveal. 'Dear heart!' said I, 'but how comes it, if so be, that man shall sell his eternal birthright for a mess of sorry pottage, as over and over again you and I have seen him do? Call you this but indiscretion? Methinks you should scarce name it thus if Mrs Aletheia yonder were to cast away a rich clasp of emeralds for a piece of a broken bottle of green glass. If you whipped her not well for such indiscretion, I were something astonied.' Well, see you, he cannot perceive it."

"Man's perceptions be fallen, along with all else."

"Surely: and then shall this blind bat reckon, poor fool, that he could devise out of his disordered imagination a better God than the real. Wot you what this Mr Watkinson said to me once when we fell to talking of the sacrifice of Isaac? Oh, he could not allow that a loving and perfect God could demand so horrible a sacrifice; and another time, through Christ had we won the right notion of God. 'Why,' said I, 'how know you that? Are you God, that you are able to judge what God should be? Through Christ, in very deed, have we won to know God; but that is by reason of the knowledge and authority of Him that revealed Him, not by the clear discernment and just judgment of us that received that revelation.' I do tell thee, Lettice—what with this man o' the one side with his philosophical follies, and Parson Turnham on the other, with his heathenish fooleries, I am at times well-nigh like old Elias, ready to say, 'Now then, O Lord, take me out of this wicked world, for I cannot stand it any longer.'"

"He will take thee, dear Joyce, so soon as thou shalt come to the further end of the last of those good works which He hath prepared for thee to walk in."

"Well!—then must Edith do my good works for me. When our Father calls this child in out of the sun and wind, and bids her lie down and fall asleep, must that child see to it that my garden-plots be kept trim, and no evil insects suffered to prey upon the leaves. Ay, my dear heart: thou wilt be the lady of the Hill House, when old Aunt Joyce is laid beneath the mould. May God bless thee in it, and it to thee! but whensoever the change come, I shall be the gainer by it, not thou."

"Not I, indeed!" said Edith in a husky voice.

"'As a watch in the night!'" said Joyce Morrell solemnly. "'As a vapour that vanisheth away!' What time have we for idle fooleries? Only time to learn the letters that we shall spell hereafter—to form the strokes and loops wherewith we shall write by and bye. Here we know but the alphabet of either faith or love."

"And how often are we turned back in the very alphabet of patience!"

"Ay, we think much to tarry five minutes for God, though He may have waited fifty years for us. I reckon it takes God to bear with this poor thing, man, that even at his best times is ever starting aside like a broken bow,—going astray like a lost sheep. Thank God that He hath laid on the only Man that could bear them the iniquities of us all, and that He hath borne them into a land not inhabited, where the Lord Himself can find them no more."

"And let us thank God likewise," said Lady Lettice, "that our blessed duty is to abide in Him, and that when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming."




He was a descendant of another infamous Catesby, Sir John, the well-known Minister of Richard the Third, satirised in the distich—

"The Cat, the Bat, and Lovel the Dog, Govern all England under the Hog."

This gentleman fought with his master at Bosworth, and was beheaded three days after the battle. His son George, who died in 1495-6, was father of Sir Richard, who died in 1552, and who was succeeded by his grandson Sir William, then aged six years, having been born at Barcheston in 1546. He was perverted by Campion in 1580, and developed into a famous recusant; was cited before the Star Chamber in 1581, chiefly on the confession of Campion, for being a harbourer of Jesuits and a hearer of mass; married at Ashby, 9th June 1566, Anne, daughter of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton, Warwickshire; and died in 1598. The eldest of his children (four sons and two daughters) was Robert Catesby, the conspirator, born at Lapworth, Warwickshire, in 1573. At the age of thirteen—for boys went up to college then at a much earlier age than now—he matriculated, October 27th, 1586, at Gloucester Hall (now Worcester College), Oxford, a house "much suspected," many of its undergraduates being privately Roman Catholics. It was probably during his residence in Oxford that he became a Protestant; and his change of religion being evidently of no moral value, he also led a dissipated and extravagant life. In 1592 he married a Protestant wife, Katherine, daughter of Sir Thomas Leigh of Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire; she died before 1602. His talents were considerable, his will inflexible, and he possessed that singular power of attraction inherent in some persons. A portrait reputed to be his exists at Brockhall, near Ashby. "He was very wise," writes Gerard, "and of great judgment, though his utterance not so good. Besides, he was so liberal and apt to help all sorts, as it got him much love. He was of person above two yards high, and though slender, yet as well-proportioned to his height as any man one should see." Greenway adds that "his countenance was singularly noble and expressive, his power of influencing others very great."

In 1593, on the death of his grandmother, he came into possession of Chastleton, near Chipping Norton, county Oxford, where he resided until 1602, when, in consequence of foolishly joining (like many other Romanists) the insurrection of Lord Essex, he sold Chastleton for 4000 pounds to pay the fine of 3000 pounds imposed on him for treason. He had in 1598 returned to his original faith, in defence of which he was thenceforward very zealous. Nine days before the death of Queen Elizabeth, Catesby, undeterred by his past experiences, and "hunger-starved for innovations," joined Sir Edward Baynham and the Wrights in a second plot, for which he suffered imprisonment. The Gunpowder Plot was his third treasonable venture; and to him principally is due the inception of this fearful project, though John Wright, and afterwards Thomas Winter, joined him at a very early stage. Until Easter, 1605, Catesby himself "bore all the charge" of the mine. During the summer, he was very busy gathering volunteers, arms, and ammunition, in the country, ostensibly for the service of the Archduke Albrecht in Flanders, but in reality for the purpose of creating a general commotion at the time of the intended explosion. About September, 1605, he met Percy at Bath, when they agreed to take into the plot two or three moneyed men, as their own means were fast failing. These were Digby and Tresham; Robert Winter, Rookwood, and Grant followed a little later. Catesby, however, never ceased to regret the admission of Tresham. (See Tresham.) In London he had three lodgings: a chamber in Percy's house in Holborn; apartments in the house of William Patrick, tailor, at the "Herishe Boy" in the Strand; and also "in the house of one Powell, at Paddle Wharf."

On the 26th of October, Catesby dined at the "Mighter" in Bread Street, with Lord Mordaunt, Sir Josceline Percy, and others; the last-named was a brother of Lord Northumberland, and a frequent visitor of Catesby. After this he met his servant William Pettye, "in a field called the common garden in London, by druerye lane." The story of the flight to Holbeach is given in the tale, and embraces many little details not before in print. Catesby was only thirty-three years of age at death. He left two sons, William and Robert, the latter of whom was with his father in London when the plot was discovered; they were subsequently sent in Mrs Rookwood's coach, under charge of a lady not named, to their grandmother at Ashby. Robert alone lived to grow up, and married one of Percy's daughters; but he left no issue. "His posterity was cut off; and in the generation following, their name was blotted out."


This weak and bigoted young man, who was only twenty-four at death, had really little part in the Gunpowder Plot. He was the son of Everard Digby, of Drystoke, county Rutland, and Mary, daughter and co-heir of Francis Nele, of Heythorpe, county Leicester. He was born in 1581, and lost his father, a Romanist, in 1592. His mother married again (to Sampson Erdeswick, of Landon, county Stafford, who was a Protestant), and young Digby was brought up in a Protestant atmosphere. Until his majority, he was much at Court, where he was noted for "graceful manners and rare parts," says Greenway and Gerard adds that "he was very little lower [in height] than Mr Catesby, but of stronger making... skilful in all things that belonged unto a gentleman, a good musician, and excelled in all gifts of mind." He is also described as "of goodly personage, and of a manly aspect." He was always strongly inclined to his father's religion, but did not openly profess it until he reached manhood. Sir Everard married, in 1596, Mary, daughter and heir of William Mulsho of Goathurst, county Buckingham, who survived him, and by whom he left a son, the famous Sir Kenelm Digby, who was little more than two years old at his father's death. If her piteous letter to Lord Salisbury may be believed, Lady Digby was treated with unnecessary harshness. She complains that the Sheriff has not left her "the worth of one peni belonging to the grounds, house, or within the walls; nor so much as great tables and standing chests that could not be removed without cutting and sawing apeses. He permitted the base people to ransack all, so much as my closet, and left me not any trifle in it... He will not let me have so much as a suit of apparel for Mr Digby [the little Kenelm], nor linens for my present wearing about my bodi." She implores to be allowed to retain Goathurst, her own inheritance, during the imprisonment of her husband, for whose life she would give hers or would beg during life. (Burghley Papers, Additional Manuscript 6178, folio 94.)


Guy Fawkes, whom his horrified contemporaries termed "the great devil of all" the conspirators, but who was simply a single-eyed fanatic, owes his reputation chiefly to the fact that he was the one selected to set file to the powder. His responsibility was in reality less than that of Catesby, Percy, or Thomas Winter. His father, Edward Fawkes,—in all probability a younger son of the old Yorkshire family of Fawkes of Farnley,—was a notary at York, and Registrar of the Consistory Court of the Minster. He could not of course have filled such as office, unless he had been a Protestant. Edward Fawkes died in 1578, and was buried January 17th in the Church of Saint Michael-le-Belfry, York. His widow, whose maiden name was Edith Jackson, is said by some to have subsequently married a zealous Roman Catholic, Mr Denis Bainbridge, of Scotton; but Sir W. Wade gives the name of her second husband as "one Foster, within three miles of York." She was living at the time of the plot. Guy, who was baptised in Saint Michael's Church, April 16th, 1570, and educated at the Free School in the Horse Fair, did not become a professed Papist until he was about sixteen years of age. He had a step-brother of whom no more is known than that he belonged to one of the Inns of Court in 1605. Guy was not eight years old when he lost his father, who left him no patrimony beyond a small farm worth about 30 pounds per annum; he soon ran through this, sold the estate, and at the age of twenty-three went abroad, living in Flanders for eight years, during which time he was present at the taking of Calais by the Archduke Albrecht. In 1601 he returned to England, with the reputation of one "ready for any enterprise to further the faith." He now entered, along with the Winters and the Wrights, into negotiations with Spain for a fresh invasion of England, which was put a stop to by Elizabeth's death, since the King of Spain declined to take up arms against his old ally, King James. Fawkes's own statements in his examinations have been proved to consist of such a mass of falsehood, that it is scarcely possible to sift out the truth: and all that can be done is to accept as fact such portions of his narrative as are either confirmed by other witnesses, or seem likely to be true from circumstantial evidence. His contradictions of his own previous assertions were perpetual, and where confirmation is accessible, it sometimes proves the original statement, but sometimes, and more frequently, the contradiction. This utter disregard for truth prepares us to discount considerably the description given of Fawkes by Greenway, as "a man of great piety, of exemplary temperance, of mild and cheerful demeanour, an enemy of broils and disputes, a faithful friend, and remarkable for his punctual attendance upon religious observances." So far as facts can be sifted from fiction, they seem to be that Thomas Winter, who had known Fawkes from childhood, came to him in Flanders to acquaint him with the plot, and subsequently introduced him to Catesby and Percy; that Fawkes was in the service of Anthony Browne, Lord Montague, about 1604; that in the summer of that year, when the mine was stopped on account of the prorogation of Parliament, he went to Flanders, returning about the 1st of September. During the progress of the mine, he served as sentinel, passing by the name of John Johnson, Mr Percy's man; and he was the only one of the conspirators allowed to be seen about the house, his face being unknown in London. He said that he "prayed every day that he might perform that which might be for the advancement of the Catholic faith, and the saving of his own soul." Fawkes provided the greater part of the gunpowder, and stowed it in the cellar, as is described in the story. His lodging when in London was at the house of Mrs Herbert, a widow, at the back of Saint Clement's Inn. Mrs Herbert disliked Fawkes, suspecting him to be a priest. On his return from Flanders, he took up his quarters in the house at Westminster, where the mine had been, and brought in the remainder of the gunpowder. At the end of October, he went to White Webbs, whence he was sent to Town on the 30th, to make sure of the safety of the cellar and its dangerous contents. He returned at night to report all safe, but came back to Town not later than the 3rd, when he was present at the last meeting of the conspirators: but as to the exact day he made three varying statements. The circumstances of his arrest are told in the story. It is difficult, however, to reconcile some of the details. According to Greenway, Fawkes was taken as he opened the door of the vault; according to the official report, he was "newly come out of the vault;" while according to Fawkes himself, when he heard the officers coming to apprehend him, he threw the match and touchwood "out of the window in his chamber, near the Parliament House, towards the water,"—which can only refer to the room in Percy's house. The one certainty is that he was not apprehended inside the vault. He said himself that if this had been the case, he would at once have fired the match, "and have blown up all." The lantern (now in the Bodleian Library) was found lighted behind the door; the watch which Percy had sent by Keyes was upon the prisoner. Fawkes originally assumed an appearance of rustic stupidity; for Sir W. Wade writes to Lord Salisbury a little later that he "appeareth to be of better understanding and discourse than, before, either of us conceived him to be." (Additional Manuscript 6178, folio 56.) That Fawkes was tortured there can be no doubt, from the King's written command, and the tacit evidence of Fawkes's handwriting. Garnet says he was half-an-hour on the rack; Sir Edward Hoby, that he "was never on the rack, but only suspended by his arms upright." Nothing could induce him to betray his companions until he was satisfied that all was known: and with a base treachery and falsehood only too common in the statecraft of that day, he was deceived into believing them taken before they were discovered. Lying is wickedness in all circumstances; but the prisoner's falsehood was based on a worthier motive than the lies which were told to him. There was, indeed, in the fearless courage and unflinching fidelity of Guy Fawkes, the wreck of what might have been a noble man; and he certainly was far from being the vulgar ruffian whom he is commonly supposed to have been. In person he was tall and dark, with brown hair and auburn beard.


If Catesby be regarded as the most responsible of the Gunpowder conspirators, and Fawkes as the most courageous, Garnet may fairly be considered the most astute. Like the majority of his companions, he was a pervert. His father, Brian Garnet, was a schoolmaster at Nottingham, and his mother's maiden name was Alice Jay. He was born in 1555, educated at Winchester College, in the Protestant faith, and was to have passed thence to New College, Oxford. This intention was never carried into effect: his Romish biographers say, because he had imbibed at Winchester a distaste to the Protestant religion; adding that "he obtained the rank of captain [of the school], and by his modesty and urbanity, his natural abilities and quickness in learning, so recommended himself to the superiors, that had he" entered at Oxford, "he might safely have calculated on attaining the highest academical honours. But he resolved, by the grace of God, upon embracing the Catholic faith, although his old Professors at Winchester, Stemp and Johnson, themselves Catholic in heart, together with another named Bilson, at first favourable, but afterwards hostile to Catholicity, made every exertion to persuade him to remain." Unhappily for this rosy narrative, the "other named Bilson," afterwards Bishop of Worcester and Winchester, has left on record his account of the matter: namely, that Garnet when at Winchester was a youth of such incorrigible wickedness, that the Warden dissuaded his going to the University, for the sake of the young men who might there be corrupted by his evil example. The reader can accept which version he may see good. On leaving school, Garnet proceeded to London, where for about two years he was employed as corrector of the press by the celebrated law-printer, Tottel. At the end of this time, he was received into the Church of Rome, and subsequently travelled abroad, first to Spain, and afterwards to Rome, where on 11th September, 1575, he entered the Society of Jesus. In the Jesuit College at Rome he studied diligently, under Bellarmine and others: and he was before long made Professor of Hebrew, and licenced to lecture on mathematics. In 1586, on the recommendation of Parsons, he was appointed to the Jesuit Mission to England, where he landed on July 7th. It is said that he was so remarkably amiable and gentle that Aquaviva, the General of the Jesuits, objected to his appointment on the ground that the post required a man of sterner and more unyielding character. Bellarmine records that his sanctity of life was incomparable; but Jesuits are apt to entertain peculiar notions of sanctity. As was then usual, Garnet on coming to his native country adopted a string of aliases—Walley, Darcy, Mease, Roberts, Parmer, and Phillips. Walley, however, was the name by which he was best known. Two years after he joined the Mission, he was promoted to be its Superior. For some years he lived in the neighbourhood of London, following various occupations to disguise his real calling, but chiefly that of a horse-dealer. That he was implicated in the intrigues with Spain before the death of Elizabeth, he never attempted to deny: but during the lull in the penal legislation which followed the accession of James, Garnet purchased a general pardon for all past political offences. He was frequently at Harrowden, the house of Lord Vaux, whose daughter Anne travelled everywhere with him, passing as his sister, Mrs Perkins. About 1599, as "Mr Mease, a Berkshire man," he took the house in Enfield Chase, named White Webbs, for the meetings of the Romanists, after which he was "seldom absent from it for a quarter of a year together." (Examination of James Johnson, servant in charge of White Webbs, Gunpowder Plot Book, article 188.) This house was ostensibly taken for Anne Vaux, and was maintained at her expense; her sister Eleanor, with her husband Mr Brooksby (whose alias was Jennings, and who is described as "of low stature, red beard, and bald head"), being often with her. Catesby was a frequent visitor. Anne Vaux had also a house at Wandsworth, where she and Garnet occasionally resided.

These details, gathered from the evidence of Anne Vaux herself, James Johnson, and others, do not, however, agree with some statements of Gerard. He asserts that Mrs Brooksby was a widow, and was the real mistress of the house; and he compares the two to the sisters of Lazarus, "the two women who received our Lord"! It is impossible to avoid seeing the tacit further comparison as to Garnet. When a Queen's messenger arrived, Gerard writes, "rosaries, etcetera, all signs of piety [!] are thrown into a cavern; the mistress is hidden away: on these occasions the younger sister, the unmarried one, passed for the mistress of the house." (Gerard to Aquaviva, quoted by Foley, Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, volume 4, page 36.) All the evidence, apart from this, tends to show that Brooksby was alive, and that he and Eleanor were only visitors—though very constant ones—at White Webbs, where Anne was the real mistress. In 1603, Garnet was returned as living "with Mrs Brooksby, of Leicestershire, at Arundell House. He hath lodgings of his own in London." (Domestic State Papers, James the First, volume 8, article 50.) These lodgings were in Thames Street. A large house at Erith was also a frequent meeting-place of the recusants.

That Garnet was acquainted with the Gunpowder Plot from its very beginning is a moral certainty, notwithstanding his earnest efforts to show the contrary. He not only made assertions which he afterwards allowed to be false; but he set up at different times two lines of defence which were inconsistent. He had been told nothing: yet, he had tried to dissuade Catesby and his colleagues from the execution of the plot. If the first allegation were true, the other must have been false. But Garnet's distinctly avowed opinions on the question of equivocation make it impossible to accept any denial from him. He believed that while, "in the common intercourse of life, it is not lawful to use equivocation," yet "where it becomes necessary to an individual for his defence, or for avoiding any injustice or loss, or for obtaining any important advantage, without danger or mischief to any other person, there equivocation is lawful." He held, as some do at the present day, that "if the law be unjust, then is it, ipso facto, void and of no force:" so that "the laws against recusants—are to be esteemed as no laws by such as steadfastly believe these [Romish rites] to be necessary observances of the true religion... That is no treason at all which is made treason by an unjust law." In other words, the subject is to be the judge of the justice of the law, and if in his eyes it be unjust, he is released from the necessity of obeying it! This is simply to do away with all law at once; for probably no law was ever made which did not appear unjust to somebody: and it lays down the grand and ancient principle that every man shall do what is right in his own eyes. We have heard a good deal of this doctrine lately; it is of Jesuit origin, and a distinct contradiction of that Book which teaches that "the powers that be are ordained of God, and whosoever resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God." Those who set up such claims, however they may disavow it, really hold that Christ's kingdom is of this world, since they place it in rivalry to the secular authority. "If thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge." One great distinction of the Antichrist is that he is ho anomos, the Lawless One. Even further than this, Garnet was prepared to go, and did go at his last examination. "In all cases," he said, "where simple equivocation is allowable, it is lawful if necessary to confirm it by an oath. This I acknowledge to be according to my opinion, and the opinion of the Schoolmen; and our reason is, for that in cases of lawful equivocation, the speech by equivocation being saved from a lie, the same speech may be without perjury confirmed by oath, or by any other usual way, though it were by receiving the Sacrament, if just necessity so require." (Domestic State Papers, James the First, volume 20, article 218.) Garnet asserted that Catesby did him much wrong, by saying that in Queen Elizabeth's time he had consulted him as to the lawfulness of the "powder action," which was "most untrue;" but after the preceding extracts, who could believe their writer on his oath? Poor Anne Vaux, who undoubtedly meant to excuse and save him, urged that he used to say to the conspirators in her hearing, "Good gentlemen, be quiet; God will do all for the best:" and Garnet's own last confession admitted that "partly upon hope of prevention, partly for that I would not betray my friend, I did not reveal the general knowledge of Mr Catesby's intention which I had by him." (Domestic State Paper, volume 20, article 12.) He allowed also that about a year before the Queen's death, he had received two briefs from Rome, bidding him not consent to the accession of any successor to her who would not submit to the Pope: he had shown them to Catesby, and then burned them. Catesby, said Garnet, considered himself authorised to act as he did by these briefs; but he had tried vainly to dissuade him from so doing, since the Pope had forbidden the action. (Ibidem, volume 18, articles 41, 42.) In September, 1605, Garnet led a pilgrimage of Roman Catholics to Saint Winifred's Well, in returning from which, he and Anne Vaux visited Rushton, the seat of Francis Tresham. Sir Thomas, his father, was then just dead, and the widowed Lady Tresham "kept her chamber" accordingly. They stayed but one night (Examination of Anne Vaux, Gunpowder Plot Book, article 212), and then returned to Goathurst, where they remained for some weeks, until on the 29th of October they removed, with the Digbys and Brooksbys, to Coughton, the house of Mr Thomas Throckmorton, which Sir Everard had borrowed, on account of its convenient proximity to Dunchurch, the general rendezvous for the conspirators after the execution of the plot. This journey to Coughton was considered strong evidence against Garnet; and his meaning has never been solved, in writing that "all Catholics know it was necessary." (Domestic State Papers, volume 19, article 11.) At Coughton was the Reverend Oswald Greenway, another Jesuit priest, who has left a narrative of the whole account, wherein he describes the conspirators and their doings with a pen dipped in honey. In the night between November 5th and 6th, Bates arrived at Coughton with Digby's letter, which afterwards told heavily against Garnet. Garnet remained at Coughton until about the 16th of December, when at the instigation of his friend Edward Hall (alias Oldcorne) he removed to Hendlip Hall. Garnet and Hall made up between them an elaborate story describing their arrival at Hendlip, and immediate hiding, on Sunday night, January 19th; but this was afterwards confessed both by Hall and Owen to be false, and Garnet was overheard to blame Hall for not having kept to the text of his lesson in one detail.

Nicholas Owen, Garnet's friend and servant, committed suicide in the Tower, on March 2nd, from fear of further torture. Mr Abington, who had "voluntarily offered to die at his own gate, if any such were to be found in his house or in that sheire," was condemned to death, but afterwards pardoned on condition of never again quitting the county. Made wiser by adversity, he spent the rest of his life in innocent study of the history and antiquities of Worcestershire.

The remainder of Garnet's story is given in the tale, and is almost pure history as there detailed. In his conferences with Hall, he made no real profession of innocence, only perpetual assurances that he "trusted to wind himself out" of the charges brought against him; and when Lord Salisbury said—"Mr Garnet, give me but one argument that you were not consenting to it [the plot], that can hold in any indifferent man's ear or sense, besides your bare negative,"—Garnet made no answer. He persistently continued to deny any knowledge of White Webbs, until confronted with Johnson; and all acquaintance with the plot before his receipt of Digby's letter at Coughton, until shown the written confession of Hall, and the testimony of Forset and Locherson concerning his own whispered admissions. When at last he was driven to admit the facts previously denied with abundant oaths, he professed himself astonished that the Council were scandalised at his reckless falsehoods. "What should I have done?" he writes. "Why was I to be denied every lawful [!] means of escape?" That the Government did not deal fairly with Garnet—that, as is admitted by the impartial Dr Jardine, "few men came to their trial under greater disadvantages," and that "he had been literally surrounded by snares,"—may be allowed to the full; but when all is said for him that honesty can say, no doubt remains that he was early acquainted with and morally responsible for the Gunpowder Plot. The evidence may be found in Jardine's Narrative of the Plot; to produce it here would be to swell the volume far beyond its present dimensions. One point, however, must not be omitted. There have been two raids on the Public Record Office, two acts of abstraction and knavery with respect to these Gunpowder Plot papers; and it can be certainly stated, from the extracts made from them by Dr Abbott and Archbishop Bancroft, that the stolen papers were precisely those which proved Garnet's guilt most conclusively. A Manuscript letter from Dr Jardine to Mr Robert Lemon, attached to the Gunpowder Plot Book, states that Mr Lemon's father had "often observed to me that 'those fellows the Jesuits, in the time of the Powder Plot (not the Gunpowder Plot) had stolen away some of the most damning proofs against Garnet.' That thievery of some kind abstracted such documents as the Treatise of Equivocation, with Garnet's handwriting on it—the most important of the interlocutions between Garnet and Hall in the Tower—and all the examinations of Garnet respecting the Pope's Breves, is quite clear. The first thievery I have proved to have been made by Archbishop Laud; the others probably occurred in the reigns of Charles the Second and James the Second, when Jesuits and 'Jesuited persons' had free access to the State Paper Office." An old proverb deprecates "showing the cat the way to the cream;" but there is one folly still more reprehensible—placing the cat in charge of the dairy. Let us beware it is not done again.


Of this conspirator very little is known apart from the plot. His residence was at Norbrook, a few miles south of Warwick,—a walled and moated house, of which nothing remains save a few fragments of massive stone walls, and the line of the moat may be distinctly traced, while "an ancient hall, of large dimensions, is also apparent among the partitions of a modern farmer's kitchen." Before May, 1602, he married Dorothy Winter, the sister of two of the conspirators. He had been active in the Essex insurrection, for which he was fined; and with his brother-in-law, Robert Winter, he was sent for by Catesby, in January, 1605, for the purpose of being initiated into the conspiracy: but he was not sworn until March 31. Greenway describes him as "a man of accomplished manners, but of a melancholy and taciturn disposition;" Gerard tells us that "he was as fierce as a lion, of a very undaunted courage," which he was wont to exhibit "unto poursuivants and prowling companions" when they came to ransack the house—by which dubious expression is probably intended not burglars but officers of the law. "He paid them so well for their labour, not with crowns of gold, but with cracked crowns sometimes, and with dry blows instead of drink and good cheer, that they durst not visit him any more, unless they brought great store of help with them." Mr Grant appears to have anticipated some tactics of modern times. All else that is known of him will be found in the tale. His wife Dorothy seems to have been a lady of a cheerful and loquacious character, to judge by the accounts of Sir E. Walsh and Sir R. Verney, who thought she had no knowledge of the conspiracy. (Gunpowder Plot Book, articles 75, 90.) It is, however, possible that Mrs Dorothy was as clever as her brothers, and contrived to "wind herself out of" suspicion better than she deserved.

John Grant had at least two brothers, Walter and Francis, the latter of whom was apprenticed to a silk-man; the relationship of Ludovic Grant is less certain. He had also two married sisters, Mrs Bosse, and Anne, wife of his bailiff Robert Higgins. (Gunpowder Plot Book, articles 34, 44, 68, 90.) His mother, and (then unmarried) sister Mary were living in 1603.


This man, who appears to have been one of the most desperate and unscrupulous of the conspirators, was the son of a Protestant clergyman in Derbyshire, who is supposed to have been the Reverend Edward Kay of Stavely, a younger son of John Kay of Woodsam, Yorkshire. His name is variously rendered as Keyes, Keis, and Kay; he himself signs Robert Key. His mother was a daughter of Sir Robert Tyrwhitt of Kettleby, a very opulent Roman Catholic gentleman of Lincolnshire, and through her he was cousin of Mrs Rookwood. The opulence of the grandfather did not descend to his grandson, whose indigence was a great cause of his desperate character. He lived for a time at Glatton, in Huntingdonshire, but afterwards entered the service of Lord Mordaunt as keeper of his house at Turvey, his wife being the governess of his Lordship's children. He is described as "a young man with no hair on his face." (Additional Manuscript 6178, folio 808.) It was about June, 1605, when Keyes was taken into the plot, and his chief work thereafter was the charge of the house at Lambeth "sometimes called Catesby's, afterwards Mr Terrett's, since Rookwood's," (Ibidem, folio 62), where the powder was stored. His only other service was the bringing of the watch from Percy to Fawkes just before the discovery of the plot. Keyes left one son, Robert (Foley's Records, volume 1, page 510), who was living about 1630, and was then a frequent visitor of his relatives the Rookwoods (Domestic State Papers, Charles the First, 178, 43).


These cousins belonged to the family of the present Baron. Sir John Littleton of Hagley had with other issue two sons, of whom Gilbert, the eldest, was the father of Humphrey, while Sir George Littleton of Holbeach, the third son, was the father of Stephen. Humphrey was known as Red Humphrey, to distinguish him from another of his name, and one of these two was a University man, of Broadgate Hall, Oxford, where he took his B.A. degree 29th January 1580, and his M.A., 2nd July, 1582. His cousin Stephen was born in 1575. With the plot Humphrey at least was but partially acquainted, for Catesby "writ to Mr Humphrey Littleton [from Huddington] to meet him at Dunchurch, but he, being then destitute of a horse, returned written answer that he could not then meet him, in regard of his unfurnishment before remembered: whereupon Mr Robert Winter sent a good gelding to Mr Humphrey Littleton, whereon he rode away to Dunchurch, and (saith himself) demanding of the matter in hand, and what it might be, Mr Catesby told him that it was a matter of weight, but for the especial good of them all, which was all he would then disclose to him." (Harl. Manuscript 360.) The account given in the text, from this volume, of the escape and wanderings of Robert Winter and Stephen Littleton is somewhat varied by another narrative in the same manuscript, according to which Humphrey "bade the officers begone, or he would fetch that should send them packing." He affirmed in his confession, 26th January 1606, that he "had intention to apprehend" the refugees, "in regard of the odiousness of their treasons and the horribleness of the offence, which this partie in his heart detested," and that he deferred doing so "out of love to his cousin and affection to their religion," until he should be able to obtain counsel of Hall. (Ibidem.) Mrs John Littleton, the lady of Hagley Park, was Muriel, daughter of Sir Thomas Bromley, and a Protestant; though renowned for her hospitality and benevolence, she contrived to pay off 9000 pounds of debt left by her father-in-law and husband.


Lord Monteagle was of very distinguished and ancient race, being the eldest son of Edward third Baron Morley of his line (heir of a younger branch of the Lovels of Tichmersh) and Elizabeth, only daughter and heir of William Stanley, Lord Monteagle. Born in 1574, he succeeded his mother as Lord Monteagle, and his father in 1618 as Lord Morley. His wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Tresham, and his sister Mary was the wife of Mr Thomas Abington of Hendlip Hall.

The chief interest attaching to Lord Monteagle concerns the famous letter: and the two questions requiring answer are—Who wrote it? and, Was the recipient a party to the plot?

The second question, which may be first dealt with, must be answered almost certainly in the affirmative. Nay, more, Lord Monteagle was not only a party to the Gunpowder Plot, but there is strong reason to believe that in conjunction with Lord Salisbury and others, he got up a counter-plot for its discovery. The laying of the letter before Lord Salisbury on the night of October 24th [Note 1], was probably not the first intimation which Salisbury had received, and assuredly not the first given to Lord Monteagle. The whole catena of circumstances, when carefully studied, shows that the episode of the letter was a cleverly-devised countermarch, designed at once to inform the public and at the same time to give a warning to the conspirators. The party got up at Hoxton, where Lord Monteagle was not living; the mysterious delivery of the letter; the placing of it in the hands of Thomas Ward, a known confidant of the conspirators: these and other circumstances all tend to one conclusion—that Monteagle was acting a part throughout, and that it was in reality he who gave warning to them, not they to him. If the conspirators had taken his warning, they might all have escaped with their lives; for the vessel designed to bear Fawkes abroad as soon as he should have fired the mine was lying in the river, and there was abundant time for them all to have made good their escape, had they not foolishly tried to retrieve their loss at Dunchurch. This is made more certain by the fact that the Government were, as Garnet remarked, "determined to save Lord Monteagle," and that any reference in the confessions of the prisoners which tended to implicate him was diligently suppressed. In one examination, the original words ran, "Being demanded what other persons were privy [to the plot] beside the Lord Mounteagle, Catesby," etcetera. The three words in italics have been rendered illegible, by a slip of paper being pasted over them, and a memorandum in red ink made on the back. Time, however, has faded the red ink, and the words are again visible. (Criminal Trials, page 67.) Garnet, too, confessed that "Catesby showed the [Pope's] breves to my Lord Mounteagle at the time when Mr Tresham was with him at White Webbs." (Additional Manuscript 6178, folio 161.) These facts raise a doubt whether the whole story of Tresham's anxiety to warn Lord Monteagle was not false, and a mere blind to cover something else, which perhaps is not now to be revealed. It remains to inquire, Who wrote the letter? It has been ascribed to three persons beside Tresham: Percy, Mrs Abington, and Anne Vaux. If it really were a part of the Government counterplot, as is very probable, it was not likely to be any of them. If not so, Tresham seems the most likely, though it is customary to charge Mrs Abington with it. Lord Monteagle would at once have recognised his sister's writing, and perhaps that of her intimate friend, his wife's cousin, Anne Vaux. Why Percy should be supposed to have written it is a mystery. The handwriting is undoubtedly very like that of Anne Vaux; indeed, for this reason I suspected her as the writer on the first investigation, and before I knew that she had ever been charged with it. Dr Jardine votes decidedly in favour of Tresham. The real truth respecting this matter will in all probability never be known in this world.

Lord Monteagle was in the Essex rebellion, for which he was fined and imprisoned until the end of 1601; but he was in high favour with King James, probably owing to his strenuous efforts to secure his succession. He died in 1622, leaving three sons and three daughters.

A characteristic letter from this nobleman is yet extant, which shows his style and tone, and has not, I believe, been printed. It is that summoning Catesby to Bath, and if it were written in 1605, rather confirms the supposition that the writer was an accomplice. Dr Jardine and others suppose it, I know not why, to belong rather to 1602. It runs as follows:—

"To my loving kinsman, Rob Catesbye Esquire, give these. Lipyeat. If all creatures born under the moons sphere cannot endure without the elements of aier and fire In what languishment have we led our life since we departed from the dear Robin whose conversation gave us such warmth as we needed no other heat to maintain our healths: since therefore it is proper to all to desire a remedy for their disease I do by these bind the by the laws of charity to make thy present aparance here at the bath and let no watery Nimpes divert you, who can better live with[out] the air and better forbear the fire of your spirit and Vigour then we who accumpts thy person the only sone that must ripen our harvest. And thus I rest. Even fast tied to your friendshipp, William Mounteagle." (Cott. Manuscript Titus, B. 2, folio 294.)


The exact place of this conspirator in the Northumberland pedigree has been the subject of much question. He is commonly said to have been a near relative of the Earl; but Gerard thinks that "he was not very near in blood, although they called him cousin." Among the various suggestions offered, that appears to be the best-founded which identifies him not with the Percys of Scotton, but as the son of Edward Percy of Beverley, whose father, Joscelyn, was a younger son of the fourth Earl. The wife of Joscelyn was Margaret Frost; the wife of Edward, and mother of the conspirator, was Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Waterton of Walton, Yorkshire—of the family of the famous naturalist, Charles Waterton, of whom it was said that he felt tenderly towards every living thing but two—a poacher and a Protestant. The character of Percy, as sketched by one of the Jesuit narrators, is scarcely consistent with that given by the other. Greenway writes of him, "He was about forty-six years of age, though from the whiteness of his head, he appeared to be older; his figure was tall and handsome, his eyes large and lively, and the expression of his countenance pleasing, though grave; and notwithstanding the boldness of his mind, his manners were gentle and quiet." Gerard says, "He had been very wild in his youth, more than ordinary, and much given to fighting—so much so that it was noted in him and in Mr John Wright... that if they heard of any man in the country more valiant than the others, one or other of them would pick a quarrel to make trial of his valour... He had a great wit, and a very good delivery of his mind, and so was able to speak as well as most in the things wherein he had experience. He was tall, and of a very comely face and fashion; of age near fifty, as I take it, for his head and beard was much changed white." The proclamation for his apprehension describes him as "a tall man, with a great broad beard, a good face, the colour of his beard and head mingled with white hairs, but his head more white than his beard. He stoupes somewhat in the shoulders, well coloured in face, longe foted, smale legged." Percy was steward and receiver of rents to his kinsman the Earl, whose rents he appropriated to the purposes of the plot—without the owner's knowledge, if his earnest denial may be trusted. Percy married Martha, sister of John and Christopher Wright, by whom he had three children: Elizabeth, who died young, and was buried at Alnwick, 2nd February 1602; a daughter (name unknown), who married young Robert Catesby; and Robert Percy, of Taunton, who married Emma Meade at Wivelscomb, 22nd October 1615, and was the founder of the line of Percy of Cambridge. Percy's widow lived privately in London after his execution.


Second son of Robert Rookwood of Stanningfield, by his second wife Dorothy, daughter of Sir William Drury of Hawkstead; he became eventually the heir of his father. Ambrose was born in 1578, and was educated in Flanders as a Roman Catholic. According to Greenway, he was "beloved by all who knew him;" Gerard describes him as "very devout, of great virtue and valour, and very secret; he was also of very good parts as for wit and learning." He was remarkable for his stud of fine horses. Coldham Hall, his family mansion, built by his father in 1574, is still standing, and is a picturesque house, about four miles from Bury Saint Edmunds. Very reluctant at first to join the plot, (March 31st, 1605), when arrested he "denied all privity, on his soul and conscience, and as he was a Catholic." He was drawn into it by Catesby, with whom he had long been acquainted, and whom he said that he "loved and respected as his own life." Objecting that "it was a matter of conscience to take away so much blood," Catesby replied that he was "resolved that in conscience it might be done," whereon Rookwood, "being satisfied that in conscience he might do it, confessed it neither to any ghostly father nor to any other." (Exam, of Rookwood, Gunpowder Plot Book, article 136.) Sir William Wade writes that "Rookwood can procure no succour from any of his friends in regard of the odiousness of his actions," (Additional Manuscript 6178, folio 34). He seems to have been fond of fine clothes, for he not only had a "fair scarf" embroidered with "ciphres," but "made a very fair Hungarian horseman's cote, lyned all with velvet, and other apparel exceeding costly, not fyt for his degree," (Ibidem, folio 86). His wife, who was "very beautiful" and "a virtuous Catholic," was the daughter of Robert Tyrwhitt, Esquire, of Kettleby, county Lincoln. They had three children: Sir Robert Rookwood, who warmly espoused the cause of Charles the First, and was buried 10th June, 1679; he married Mary, daughter of Sir Robert Townsend of Ludlow, and left issue: Henry: and Elizabeth, wife of William Calverley, Esquire. The Rookwoods of the Golden Fish, in the story, are all fictitious persons. The real brother of Ambrose was the Reverend Thomas Rookwood of Claxton, the correspondent of Garnet.


Sir Thomas Tresham, the father of Francis, had suffered much in the cause of Rome. Perverted by Campion in 1580, he was repeatedly imprisoned for recusancy and harbouring Jesuits, but remained the more resolutely devoted to the faith of which he speaks as "his beloved, beautiful, and graceful Rachel," for whom his "direst adversity" seemed "but a few days for the love he had to her." By his wife Muriel, daughter of Sir Robert Throckmorton, he had two sons, of whom Francis was the elder. He was educated at Gloucester Hall; and having been very actively participant in the rebellion of Essex, was on his trial extremely insolent to the Lord Chancellor. His life was saved only by the intercession of Lady Catherine Howard, whose services were purchased apparently for 1500 pounds. Catesby never ceased to regret the admission of Tresham to the conspiracy: but if as is probable (see ante, Monteagle), Lord Monteagle were himself a party to the plot, the much-vaunted earnestness of Tresham to save him is in all probability a fiction, and a mere piece of the machinery. Gerard says that he was "of great estate, esteemed to be worth 3000 pounds a year. He had been wild in his youth, and even till his end was not known to be of so good example as the rest." Jardine says, "He was known to be mean, treacherous, and unprincipled." He vehemently denied, however, the charge of having sent the warning letter to Lord Monteagle, of which he was always suspected by his brother conspirators. Catesby and Thomas Winter had determined to "poniard him on the spot" if he had shown any hesitation in this denial. He escaped the gallows by dying of illness in the Tower on the 23rd of November. Lord Salisbury has been accused of poisoning Tresham because he knew too many State secrets. But why then did he not poison Lord Monteagle for the same reason? The fact that Tresham's wife and servant were admitted into his prison, and allowed to nurse him till he died, is surely sufficient answer. By his wife, Anne, daughter of Sir John Tufton, Tresham left no issue. He "showed no remorse, but seemed to glory in it as a religious act, to the minister that laboured with him to set his conscience straight at his end: had his head chopped of and sent [to] be set up at Northampton, his body being tumbled into a hole without so much ceremony as the formalitye of a grave." (Domestic State Papers, 17; 62.)


The Winters of Huddington are a family of old standing in Worcestershire; and Anne Winter, sister of the great grandfather of these brothers, was the mother of Edward Underhill, the "Hot Gospeller." His grandson, George Winter of Huddington and Droitwich, was a "recusant," yet was High Sheriff of his county in 1589. He married, first, Jane, daughter of Sir William Ingleby of Ripley, in Yorkshire, and secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Bourne. By the first marriage he had issue two sons—Robert and Thomas; by the second, John, Dorothy, and Elizabeth.

Robert, the eldest son, was born in or soon after 1565. Gerard describes him as "a gentleman of good estate in Worcestershire, about a thousand marks a year (666 pounds, 13 shillings 4 pence)—an earnest Catholic, though not as yet generally known to be so. He was a wise man, and of grave and sober carriage, and very stout (i.e., courageous), as all of that name have been esteemed." He joined the conspirators, March 31st, 1605; but he, like others, objected at first to the "scandal to the Catholic cause," and was a half-hearted accomplice to the end. He is said to have been terrified by a horrible dream on the night of November 4th, which made him more willing to desert the cause. He married Gertrude, daughter of Sir John Talbot (of the Shrewsbury line) and of Katherine Petre, by whom he had four children,—John, who died in 1622, leaving issue; Helen, of Cooksey, died 5th May 1670; Mary, a nun; and Catherine, died before 1670. All the daughters were unmarried.

Thomas Winter, one of the chief actors in the plot, was probably born about 1570, and seems to have died a bachelor. He may have been the "Thomas or William Wynter," apparently of Bradgate Hall, Oxford, who took his B.A. degree on 29th January 1589. He had served in the Dutch army against Spain, and quitted it on account of religious scruples, but so long afterwards as 1605, he is spoken of as Captain Winter (Additional Manuscript 6178, folio 62). After this he was secretary to Lord Monteagle. He was, says Greenway, "an accomplished and able man, familiarly conversant with several languages, the intimate friend and companion of Catesby, and of great account with the Catholic party generally, in consequence of his talents for intrigue, and his personal acquaintance with ministers of influence in foreign Courts." Gerard adds that his "elder brother, and another younger, were also brought into the action by his means. He was a reasonable good scholar, and able to talk in many matters of learning, but especially in philosophy or histories, very well and judicially. He could speak both Latin, Italian, Spanish, and French. He had been a soldier, both in Flanders, France, and I think against the Turk, and could discourse exceeding well of those matters; and was of such a wit, and so fine carriage, that he was of so pleasing conversation, desired much of the better sort, but an inseparable friend to Mr Robert Catesby. He was of mean stature, but strong and comely, and very valiant, about thirty-three years or more. His means were not great, but he lived in good sort, and with the best. He was very devout and zealous in his faith, and careful to come often to the Sacraments, and of very grave and discreet carriage, offensive to no man, and fit for any employment." His "living was eight score pound by the year, by report of his man," (Gunpowder Plot Book, article 41); namely, his annual income was about 160 pounds. Several letters of his are still extant; three have been published in Notes and Queries (3rd Series, one; 341), and are all addressed to Grant. One written to Catesby has not seen the light hitherto, and as it is characteristic, I append it. (Cott. Manuscript Titus, B. two; folio 292.)

"To my loving friend, Mr Robert Catesby.

"Though all you malefactors flock to London, as birds in winter to a dunghill, yet do I, Honest man, freely possess the sweet country air: and to say truth, would fain be amongst you, but cannot as yet get money to come up. I was at Asbye to have met you, but you were newly gone; my business and your uncertain stay made me hunt no further. I pray you commend me to other friends. And when occasion shall require, send down to my brother's or Mr Talbott's; within this month I will be with you at London. So God keep you this 12th of October. Your loving friend, Thomas Wintour."

John Winter, the youngest brother, seems to have had very little share in the plot, and most fervently denied any knowledge of it whatever. Gerard (see ante) asserts that he was engaged in it, and Gertrude Winter bore witness that he came to Huddington with the other conspirators on November 7th. His own amusing narrative is to the effect that Grant asked him on the 4th of November, if he would go to a horse-race, and he answered that he would if he were well; that on the 5th, he went to "a little town called Rugby," where he and others supped and played cards; that a messenger came to them and said, "The gentlemen were at Dunchurch, and desired their company to be merry;" that at Holbeach he "demanded of Mr Percy and the rest, being most of them asleep, what they meant to do," and they answered that they would go on now; and shortly afterwards he left them. (Gunpowder Plot Book, article 110). John Winter was imprisoned, but released. There is no evidence to show that he was married.


Concerning the parentage of these brothers, I can find no more than that they were of the family of Wright of Plowland, in Holderness, Yorkshire. They were cousins of Robert Winter, perhaps through his mother; were both schoolfellows of Guy Fawkes, and "neighbours' children." John Wright originally lived at Twigmore, in Lincolnshire, and removed to Lapworth, in Warwickshire, when he became a party to the plot. He was the first layman whom Catesby took into his confidence, Thomas Winter being the second, and Fawkes the third. Like so many of the others, the brothers were involved in Essex's rebellion. They were perverts, and since their perversion John had been "harassed with persecutions and imprisonment." Greenway says he was one of the best swordsmen of his time. Gerard describes him as "a gentleman of Yorkshire, not born to any great fortune, but lived always in place and company of the better sort. In his youth, very wild and disposed to fighting... He grew to be staid and of good, sober carriage after he was Catholic, and kept house in Lincolnshire, where he had priests come often, both for his spiritual comfort and their own in corporal helps. He was about forty years old, a strong and a stout man, and of a very good wit, though slow of speech: much loved by Mr Catesby for his valour and secrecy in carriage of any business." Of Christopher he says that "though he were not like him [John] in face, as being fatter, and a lighter-coloured hair, and taller of person, yet was he very like to the other in conditions and qualities, and both esteemed and tried to be as stout a man as England had, and withal a zealous Catholic, and trusty and secret in any business as could be wished." But little is known of the relatives of these brothers. John Wright's wife was named Dorothy, and she was "sister-in-law of Marmaduke Ward of Newby, Yorkshire, gentleman;" they had a daughter who was eight or nine years old in 1605, and probably one or more sons, as descendants of John Wright are said still to exist Christopher's wife was called Margaret, but nothing is known of his children. The brothers had two sisters,—Martha, the wife of their co-traitor, Percy; and another who was the mother of a certain William Ward, spoken of as Wright's nephew. (Gunpowder Plot Book, articles 44, 47, 52, 90.)

By Greenway, Gerard, or both, it is asserted of nearly every one of the conspirators that they were very wild in youth, and became persons of exemplary virtue after their perversion to Popery.


Note 1. "Thursday, 24th October," (not 26th, as usually stated), is the endorsement on the letter itself (Gunpowder Plot Book, article 2), and also the date given in the official account (Ibidem, article 129).


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