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   Chapter 3 THE LATER DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE.

What Gunpowder Plot Was By Samuel Rawson Gardiner Characters: 48161

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Having thus, I hope, established that the story of the mine and cellar is borne out by Fawkes's own account, I proceed to examine into the objections raised by Father Gerard to the documentary evidence after November 8, the date of Fawkes's last examination before he was subjected to torture. In the declaration, signed with his tortured hand on the 9th, before Coke, Waad and Forsett,[71] and acknowledged before the Commissioners on the 10th, Fawkes distinctly refers to the examination of the 8th. "The plot," he says, "was to blow up the King with all the nobility about him in Parliament, as heretofore he hath declared, to which end, they proceeded as is set down in the examination taken (before the Lords of the Council Commissioners) yesternight." Here, then, is distinct evidence that Fawkes acknowledged that the examination of the 8th had been taken in presence of the Commissioners, and thus negatives the theory that that examination was invented or altered by Salisbury, as these words came on the 10th under the eyes of the Commissioners themselves.[72]

The fact is, that the declaration of the 9th fits the examination of the 8th as a glove does a hand. On the 8th, before torture, Fawkes described what had been done, and gave the number of persons concerned in doing it. On the 9th he is required not to repeat what he had said before, but to give the missing names. This he now does. It was Thomas Winter who had fetched him from the Low Countries, having first communicated their design to a certain Owen.[73] The other three, who made up the original five, were Percy, Catesby, and John Wright. It was Gerard who had given them the Sacrament.[74] The other conspirators were Sir Everard Digby, Robert Keyes, Christopher Wright, Thomas[75] Grant, Francis Tresham, Robert Winter, and Ambrose Rokewood. The very order in which the names come perhaps shows that the Government had as yet a very hazy idea of the details of the conspiracy. The names of those who actually worked in the mine are scattered at hap-hazard amongst those of the men who merely countenanced the plot from a distance.

However this may be, the 9th, the day on which Fawkes was put to the torture, brought news to the Government that the fear of insurrection need no longer be entertained. It had been known before this that Fawkes's confederates had met on the 5th at Dunchurch on the pretext of a hunting match,[76] and had been breaking open houses in Warwickshire and Worcestershire in order to collect arms. Yet so indefinite was the knowledge of the Council that, on the 8th, they offered a reward for the apprehension of Percy alone, without including any of the other conspirators.[77] On the evening of the 9th[78] they received a letter from Sir Richard Walsh, the Sheriff of Worcestershire:-

"We think fit," he wrote, "with all speed to certify your Lordships of the happy success it hath pleased God to give us against the rebellious assembly in these parts. After such time as they had taken the horses from Warwick upon Tuesday night last,[79] they came to Mr. Robert Winter's house to Huddington upon Wednesday night,[80] where-having entered-[they] armed themselves at all points in open rebellion. They passed from thence upon Thursday morning[81] unto Hewell-the Lord Windsor's house-which they entered and took from thence by force great store of armour, artillery of the said Lord Windsor's, and passed that night into the county of Staffordshire unto the house of one Stephen Littleton, Gentleman, called Holbeche, about two miles distant from Stourbridge whither we pursued, with the assistance of Sir John Foliot, Knight, Francis Ketelsby, Esquire, Humphrey Salway, Gentleman, Edmund Walsh, and Francis Conyers, Gentlemen, with few other gentlemen and the power and face of the country. We made against them upon Thursday morning,[81] and freshly pursued them until the next day,[82] at which time about twelve or one of the clock in the afternoon, we overtook them at the said Holbeche House-the greatest part of their retinue and some of the better sort being dispersed and fled before our coming, whereupon and after summons and warning first given and proclamation in his Highness's name to yield and submit themselves-who refusing the same, we fired some part of the house and assaulted some part of the rebellious persons left in the said house, in which assault, one Mr. Robert Catesby is slain, and three others verily thought wounded to death whose names-as far as we can learn-are Thomas Percy, Gentleman, John Wright, and Christopher Wright Gentlemen, and these are apprehended and taken Thomas Winter Gentleman, John Grant Gentleman, Henry Morgan Gentleman, Ambrose Rokewood Gentleman, Thomas Ockley carpenter, Edmund Townsend servant to the said John Grant, Nicholas Pelborrow, servant unto the said Ambrose Rokewood, Edward Ockley carpenter, Richard Townsend servant to the said Robert Winter, Richard Day servant to the said Stephen Littleton, which said prisoners are in safe custody here, and so shall remain until your Honours good pleasures be further known. The rest of that rebellious assembly is dispersed, we have caused to be followed with fresh suite and hope of their speedy apprehension. We have also thought fit to send unto your Honours-according unto our duties-such letters as we have found about the parties apprehended; and so resting in all duty at your Honours' further command, we take leave, from Stourbridge this Saturday morning, being the ixth of this instant November 1605.

"Your Honours' most humble to be commanded,

"Rich. Walsh."

Percy and the two Wrights died of their wounds, so that, in addition to Fawkes, Thomas Winter was the only one of the five original workers in the mine in the hands of the Government. Of the seven others who had been named in Fawkes's confession of the 9th, Christopher Wright had been killed; Rokewood, Robert Winter, and Grant had been apprehended at Holbeche; Sir Everard Digby, Keyes, and Tresham were subsequently arrested, as was Bates a servant of Catesby.

That for some days the Government made no effort to get further information about the mine and the cellar cannot be absolutely proved, but nothing bearing on the subject has reached us except that, on the 14th, when a copy of Fawkes's deposition of the 8th was forwarded to Edmondes, the names of the twelve chief conspirators are given, not as Fawkes gave them on the 9th, in two batches, but in three, Robert Winter and Christopher Wright being said to have joined after the first five, whilst Rokewood, Digby, Grant, Tresham, and Keyes are said to have been 'privy to the practice of the powder but wrought not at the mine.'[83] As Keyes is the only one whose Christian name is not given, this list must have been copied from one now in the Record Office, in which this peculiarity is also found, and was probably drawn up on or about the 10th[84] from further information derived from Fawkes when he certified the confession dragged from him on the preceding day.[84]

What really seems to have been at this time on the minds of the investigators was the relationship of the Catholic noblemen to the plot. On the 11th Talbot of Grafton was sent for. On the 15th Lords Montague and Mordaunt were imprisoned in the Tower. On the 16th Mrs. Vaux and the wives of ten of the conspirators were committed to various aldermen and merchants of London.[85] When Fawkes was re-examined on the 16th,[86] by far the larger part of the answers elicited refer to the hints given, or supposed to have been given, to Catholic noblemen to absent themselves from Parliament on the 5th. Then comes a statement about Percy buying a watch for Fawkes on the night of the 4th and sending it 'to him by Keyes at ten of the clock at night, because he should know how the time went away.' The last paragraph alone bears upon the project itself. "He also saith he did not intend to set fire to the train [until] the King was come to the House, and then he purposed to do it with a piece of touchwood and with a match also, which were about him when he was apprehended on the 4th day of November at 11 of the clock at night that the powder might more surely take fire a quarter of an hour after."

The words printed in italics are an interlineation in Coke's hand. They evidently add nothing of the slightest importance to the evidence, and cannot have been inserted with any design to prejudice the prisoner or to carry conviction in quarters in which disbelief might be supposed to exist. Is not the simple explanation sufficient, that when the evidence was read over to the examinee, he added, either of his own motion or on further question, this additional information. If this explanation is accepted here, may it not also be accepted for other interlineations, such as that relating to the cellar in the first examination?[87]

That the examiners at this stage of the proceedings should not be eager to ask further questions about the cellar and the mine was the most natural thing in the world. They knew already quite enough from Fawkes's earlier examinations to put them in possession of the general features of the plot, and to them it was of far greater interest to trace out its ramifications, and to discover whether a guilty knowledge of it could be brought home either to noblemen or to priests, than to attain to a descriptive knowledge of its details, which would be dear to the heart of the newspaper correspondent of the present day. Yet, after all, even in 1605, the public had to be taken into account. There must be an open trial, and the more detailed the information that could be got the more verisimilitude would be given to the story told. It is probably, in part at least, to these considerations, as well as to some natural curiosity on the part of the Commissioners themselves, that we owe the examinations of Fawkes on the 17th and of Winter on the 23rd.

"Amongst all the confessions and 'voluntary declarations' extracted from the conspirators," writes Father Gerard, "there are two of exceptional importance, as having furnished the basis of the story told by the Government, and ever since generally accepted. These are a long declaration made by Thomas Winter, and another by Guy Fawkes, which alone were made public, being printed in the 'King's Book,' and from which are gathered the essential particulars of the story, as we are accustomed to hear it."

If Father Gerard merely means that the story published by the Government rested on these two confessions, and that the Government publications were the source of all knowledge about the plot till the Record Office was thrown open, in comparatively recent years, he says what is perfectly true, and, it may be added, quite irrelevant. If he means that our knowledge at the present day rests on these two documents, he is, as I hope I have already shown, mistaken. With the first five examinations of Fawkes in our hands, all the essential points of the conspiracy, except the names, are revealed to us. The names are given in the examination under torture, and a day or two later the Government was able to classify these names, though we are unable to specify the source from which it drew its information. If both the declarations to which Father Gerard refers had been absolutely destroyed we should have missed some picturesque details, which assist us somewhat in understanding what took place; but we should have been able to set forth the main features of the plot precisely as we do now.

Nevertheless, as we do gain some additional information from these documents, let us examine whether there are such symptoms of foul play as Father Gerard thinks he can descry. Taking first Fawkes's declaration of November 17, it will be well to follow Father Gerard's argument. He brings into collocation three documents: first the interrogatories prepared by Coke after the examination of the 7th, then the examination of the 8th, which he calls a draft, and then the full declaration of the 17th, which undoubtedly bears the signature of Fawkes himself.

That the three documents are very closely connected is undeniable. Take, for instance, a paragraph to which Father Gerard not unnaturally draws attention, in which the repetition of the words 'the same day' proves at least partial identity of origin between Coke's interrogatories and the examination founded on them on the 8th.[88]

"Was it not agreed," asks Coke, "the same day that the act should have been done, the same day, or soon after, the person of the Lady Elizabeth should have been surprised?" "He confesseth," Fawkes is stated to have said, "that the same day this detestable act should have been performed the same day should other of their confederacy have surprised the Lady Elizabeth." Yet before setting down Fawkes's replies as a fabrication of the Government, let us remember how evidence of this kind is taken and reported. If we take up the report of a criminal trial in a modern newspaper we shall find, for the most part, a flowing narrative put into the mouths of witnesses. John Jones, let us say, is represented as giving some such evidence as this: "I woke at two o'clock in the morning, and, looking out of window, saw by the light of the moon John Smith opening the stable door," &c. Nobody who has attended a law court imagines John Jones to have used these consecutive words. Questions are put to him by the examining counsel. When did you wake? Did you see anyone at the stable door? How came you to be able to see him, and so forth; and it is by combining these questions with the Yes and No, and other brief replies made by the witness, that the reporter constructs his narrative with no appreciable violation of truth. Is it not reasonable to suppose that the same practice prevailed in 1605? Fawkes, I suppose, answered to Coke's question, "Yes, others of the confederates proposed to surprise her," or something of the sort, and the result was the combination of question and answer which is given above.

What, however, was the relation between the examination of the 8th and the declaration of the 17th? Father Gerard has printed them side by side,[89] and it is impossible to deny that the latter is founded on the former. Some paragraphs of the examination are not represented in the declaration, but these are paragraphs of no practical importance, and those that are represented are modified. The modifications admitted, however, are all consistent with what is a very probable supposition, that the Government wanted to get Fawkes's previous statements collected in one paper. He had given his account of the plot on one occasion, the names of the plotters on another, and had stated on a third that they were to be classified in three divisions-those who worked first at the mine, those who worked at it afterwards, and those who did not work at all. If the Government drew up a form combining the three statements and omitting immaterial matter, and got Fawkes to sign it, this would fully account for the form in which we find the declaration. At the present day, we should object to receive evidence from a man who had been tortured once and might be tortured again; but as this declaration adds nothing of any importance to our previous knowledge, it is unnecessary to recur to first principles on this occasion.[90]

Winter's examination of the 23rd, as treated by Father Gerard, raises a more difficult question. The document itself is at Hatfield, and there is a copy of it in the 'Gunpowder Plot Book' in the Public Record Office. "The 'original' document," writes Father Gerard,[91] "is at Hatfield, and agrees in general so exactly with the copy as to demonstrate the identity of their origin. But while, as we have seen, the 'copy' is dated November 23rd, the 'original' is dated on the 25th." In a note, we are told 'that this is not a slip of the pen is evidenced by the fact that Winter first wrote 23, and then corrected it to 25.' To return to Father Gerard's text, we find, "On a circumstance so irregular, light is possibly thrown by a letter from Waad, the Lieutenant of the Tower, to Cecil[92] on the 20th of the same month. 'Thomas Winter,' he wrote, 'doth find his hand so strong, as after dinner he will settle himself to write that he hath verbally declared to your Lordship, adding what he shall remember.' The inference is certainly suggested that torture had been used until the prisoner's spirit was sufficiently broken to be ready to tell the story required of him, and that the details were furnished by those who demanded it. It must, moreover, be remarked that, although Winter's 'original' declaration is witnessed only by Sir E. Coke, the Attorney-General, it appears in print attested by all those whom Cecil had selected for the purpose two days before the declaration was made."

Apparently Father Gerard intends us to gather from his statement that the whole confession of Winter was drawn up by the Government on or before the 23rd, and that he was driven on the 25th by fears of renewed torture to put his hand to a tissue of falsehoods contained in a paper which the Government required him to copy out and sign. The whole of this edifice, it will be seen, rests on the assertion that Winter first wrote 23 and then corrected it to 25.

So improbable did this assertion appear to me, that I wrote to Mr. Gunton, the courteous secretary of the Marquis of Salisbury, requesting him to examine the handwriting of the date in question. He tells me that the confession itself is, as Father Gerard states, in Winter's hand, as is also the date '23 9 ber 1605.' Two changes have been made; in the first place 23 has been altered to 25, and there has been added at the head of the paper: "The voluntary declaration of Thomas Winter, of Hoodington, in the County of Worcester, gent. the 25 of November, 1605." "This heading," Mr. Gunton writes, "is so tucked in at the top, that it must, I think, have been written after the confession itself." He also assures me that the 5 of the substituted date and the 5 in the added heading 'are exactly alike, and both different from the 5' at the end of the date of the year, as written by Winter. "The heading," Mr. Gunton writes, "I believe to be in Coke's hand. It is more carefully written than he usually writes, and more carefully than his attestation at the end; but as far as my judgment goes, it is decidedly his hand."

The alleged fact that lies at the basis of Father Gerard's argument is therefore finally disposed of. Why Coke, if Coke it was, changed the date can be no more than matter for conjecture. Yet an explanation, conjectural though it be, seems to me to be probable enough. We have seen that Fawkes's confession under torture bears two dates, the 9th, when it was taken before Coke and Waad the Lieutenant of the Tower, together with a magistrate, Edward Forsett; the second, on the 10th, when it was declared before the Commissioners. Why may not this confession of Winter's have been subjected to a similar process. Winter, I suppose, writes it on the 23rd, and it is then witnessed, as Father Gerard says, by Coke alone. Though no copy with the autograph signatures of the Commissioners exists it is reasonable to suppose that one was made, in which a passage about Monteagle-whom the Government did not wish to connect with the plot except as a discoverer-was omitted, and that this, still bearing the date of the 23rd, may have been brought before the Commissioners on the 25th. They would thus receive a statement from Winter that it was his own, and the signatures of the Commissioners would then be appended to it, together with those of Coke and Waad. This then would be the document from which copies would be taken for the use of individual Commissioners, and we can thus account for Salisbury's having appended to his own copy now in the Record Office, "Taken before us, Nottingham, Suffolk, &c." The recognition before the Commissioners would become the official date, and Coke, having access to the original, changes the date on which it was written to that on which it was signed by the Commissioners. This explanation is merely put forward as a possible one. The important point is that Father Gerard's argument founded on the alteration of the date is inadmissible, now that Mr. Gunton has thrown light on the matter.

Winter's confession having been thus vindicated is here inserted, partly because it gives the story from a different point of view from that of Fawkes, and partly because it will enable those who read it to see for themselves whether there is internal evidence of its having been manipulated by the Government.

My Most Honourable Lords.

"23 9 ber 1605.

"Not out of hope to obtain pardon for speaking-of my temporal part I may say the fault is greater than can be forgiven-nor affecting hereby the title of a good subject for I must redeem my country from as great a danger as I have hazarded the bringing her into, before I can purchase any such opinion; only at your Honours' command, I will briefly set down my own accusation, and how far I have proceeded in this business which I shall the faithfuller do since I see such courses are not pleasing to Almighty God; and that all, or the most material parts have been already confessed.

"I remained with my brother in the country for All-hollantide,[93] in the year of our Lord 1603, the first of the King's reign, about which time, Mr. Catesby sent thither, entreating me to come to London, where he and other friends would be glad to see me. I desired him to excuse me, for I found not myself very well disposed, and (which had happened never to me before) returned the messenger without my company. Shortly I received another letter, in any wise to come. At the second summons I presently came up and found him with Mr. John Wright at Lambeth, where he brake with me how necessary it was not to forsake my country (for he knew I had then a resolution to go over), but to deliver her from the servitude in which she remained, or at least to assist her with our uttermost endeavours. I answered that I had often hazarded my life upon far lighter terms, and now would not refuse any good occasion wherein I might do service to the Catholic cause; but, for myself, I knew no mean probable to succeed. He said that he had bethought him of a way at one instant to deliver us from all our bonds, and without any foreign help[94] to replant again the Catholic religion, and withal told me in a word it was to blow up the Parliament House with gunpowder; for, said he, in that place have they done us all the mischief, and perchance God hath designed that place for their punishment. I wondered at the strangeness of the conceit, and told him that true it was this strake at the root and would breed a confusion fit to beget new alterations, but if it should not take effect (as most of this nature miscarried) the scandal would be so great which the Catholic religion might hereby sustain, as not only our enemies, but our friends also would with good reason condemn us. He told me the nature of the disease required so sharp a remedy, and asked me if I would give my consent. I told him Yes, in this or what else soever, if he resolved upon it, I would venture my life; but I proposed many difficulties, as want of a house, and of one to carry the mine; noise in the working, and such like. His answer was, let us give an attempt, and where it faileth, pass no further. But first, quoth he, because we will leave no peaceable and quiet way untried, you shall go over and inform the Constable[95] of the state of the Catholics here in England, intreating him to solicit his Majesty at his coming hither that the penal laws may be recalled, and we admitted into the rank of his other subjects. Withal, you may bring over some confidant gentleman such as you shall understand best able for this business, and named unto me Mr. Fawkes. Shortly after I passed the sea and found the Constable at Bergen, near Dunkirk, wher

e, by the help of Mr. Owen,[96] I delivered my message, whose answer was that he had strict command from his master to do all good offices for the Catholics, and for his own part he thought himself bound in conscience so to do, and that no good occasion should be omitted, but spake to him nothing of this matter.

"Returning to Dunkirk with Mr. Owen, we had speach whether he thought the Constable would faithfully help us or no. He said he believed nothing less, and that they sought only their own ends, holding small account of Catholics. I told him, that there were many gentlemen in England, who would not forsake their country until they had tried the uttermost, and rather venture their lives than forsake her in this misery; and to add one more to our number as a fit man, both for counsel and execution of whatsoever we should resolve, wished for Mr. Fawkes whom I had heard good commendations of. He told me the gentleman deserved no less, but was at Brussels, and that if he came not, as happily he might, before my departure, he would send him shortly after into England. I went soon after to Ostend, where Sir William Stanley as then was not, but came two days after. I remained with him three or four days, in which time I asked him, if the Catholics in England should do anything to help themselves, whether he thought the Archduke would second them. He answered, No; for all those parts were so desirous of peace with England as they would endure no speach of other enterprise, neither were it fit, said he, to set any project afoot now the peace is upon concluding. I told him there was no such resolution, and so fell to discourse of other matters until I came to speak of Mr. Fawkes whose company I wished over into England. I asked of his sufficiency in the wars, and told him we should need such as he, if occasion required. He gave very good commendations of him; and as we were thus discoursing and I ready to depart for Nieuport and taking my leave of Sir William, Mr. Fawkes came into our company newly returned and saluted us. This is the gentleman, said Sir William, that you wished for, and so we embraced again. I told him some good friends of his wished his company in England; and that if he pleased to come to Dunkirk, we would have further conference, whither I was then going: so taking my leave of both, I departed. About two days after came Mr. Fawkes to Dunkirk, where I told him that we were upon a resolution to do somewhat in England if the peace with Spain helped us not, but had as yet resolved upon nothing. Such or the like talk we passed at Gravelines, where I lay for a wind, and when it served, came both in one passage to Greenwich, near which place we took a pair of oars, and so came up to London, and came to Mr. Catesby whom we found in his lodging. He welcomed us into England, and asked me what news from the Constable. I told him Good words, but I feared the deeds would not answer. This was the beginning of Easter term[97] and about the midst of the same term (whether sent for by Mr. Catesby, or upon some business of his own) up came Mr. Thomas Percy. The first word he spake (after he came into our company) was Shall we always, gentlemen, talk and never do anything? Mr. Catesby took him aside and had speech about somewhat to be done, so as first we might all take an oath of secrecy, which we resolved within two or three days to do, so as there we met behind St. Clement's, Mr. Catesby, Mr. Percy, Mr. Wright, Mr. Guy Fawkes, and myself, and having, upon a primer given each other the oath of secrecy in a chamber where no other body was, we went after into the next room and heard mass, and received the blessed sacrament upon the same. Then did Mr. Catesby disclose to Mr. Percy,[98] and I together with Jack Wright tell to Mr. Fawkes the business for which they took this oath which they both approved; and then Mr. Percy sent to take the house, which Mr. Catesby, in my absence, had learnt did belong to one Ferris, which with some difficulty in the end he obtained, and became, as Ferris before was, tenant to Whynniard. Mr. Fawkes underwent the name of Mr. Percy's man, calling himself Johnson, because his face was the most unknown,[99] and received the keys of the house, until we heard that the Parliament was adjourned to the 7 of February. At which time we all departed several ways into the country, to meet again at the beginning of Michaelmas term.[100] Before this time also it was thought convenient to have a house that might answer to Mr. Percy's, where we might make provision of powder and wood for the mine which, being there made ready, should in a night be conveyed by boat to the house by the Parliament because we were loth to foil that with often going in and out. There was none that we could devise so fit as Lambeth where Mr. Catesby often lay, and to be keeper thereof, by Mr. Catesby's choice, we received into the number Keyes, as a trusty honest man.[101]

"Some fortnight after, towards the beginning of the term, Mr. Fawkes and I came to Mr. Catesby at Moorcrofts, where we agreed that now was time to begin and set things in order for the mine, so as Mr. Fawkes went to London and the next day sent for me to come over to him. When I came, the cause was for that the Scottish Lords were appointed to sit in conference on the Union in Mr. Percy's house. This hindered our beginning until a fortnight before Christmas, by which time both Mr. Percy and Mr. Wright were come to London, and we against their coming had provided a good part of the powder, so as we all five entered with tools fit to begin our work, having provided ourselves of baked-meats, the less to need sending abroad. We entered late in the night, and were never seen, save only Mr. Percy's man, until Christmas-eve, in which time we wrought under a little entry to the wall of the Parliament House, and underpropped it as we went with wood.

"Whilst we were together we began to fashion our business, and discourse what we should do after this deed were done. The first question was how we might surprise the next heir; the Prince happily would be at the Parliament with the King his father: how should we then be able to seize on the Duke?[102] This burden Mr. Percy undertook; that by his acquaintance he with another gentleman would enter the chamber without suspicion, and having some dozen others at several doors to expect his coming, and two or three on horseback at the Court gate to receive him, he would undertake (the blow being given, until which he would attend in the Duke's chamber) to carry him safe away, for he supposed most of the Court would be absent, and such as were there not suspecting, or unprovided for any such matter. For the Lady Elizabeth it were easy to surprise her in the country by drawing friends together at a hunting near the Lord Harrington's, and Ashby, Mr. Catesby's house, being not far off was a fit place for preparation.

"The next was for money and horses, which if we could provide in any reasonable measure (having the heir apparent) and the first knowledge by four or five days was odds sufficient. Then, what Lords we should save from the Parliament, which was agreed in general as many as we could that were Catholics or so disposed. Next, what foreign princes we should acquaint with this before or join with after. For this point we agreed that first we would not enjoin princes to that secrecy nor oblige them by oath so to be secure of their promise; besides, we know not whether they will approve the project or dislike it, and if they do allow thereof, to prepare before might beget suspicion and[103] not to provide until the business were acted; the same letter that carried news of the thing done might as well entreat their help and furtherance. Spain is too slow in his preparations to hope any good from in the first extremities, and France too near and too dangerous, who with the shipping of Holland we feared of all the world might make away with us. But while we were in the middle of these discourses, we heard that the Parliament should be anew adjourned until after Michaelmas, upon which tidings we broke off both discourse and working until after Christmas. About Candlemas we brought over in a boat the powder which we had provided at Lambeth and layd it in Mr. Percy's house because we were willing to have all our danger in one place. We wrought also another fortnight in the mine against the stone wall, which was very hard to beat through, at which time we called in Kit Wright, and near to Easter[104] as we wrought the third time, opportunity was given to hire the cellar, in which we resolved to lay the powder and leave the mine.

"Now by reason that the charge of maintaining us all so long together, besides the number of several houses which for several uses had been hired, and buying of powder, &c., had lain heavy on Mr. Catesby alone to support, it was necessary for to call in some others to ease his charge, and to that end desired leave that he with Mr. Percy and a third whom they should call might acquaint whom they thought fit and willing to the business, for many, said he, may be content that I should know who would not therefore that all the Company should be acquainted with their names. To this we all agreed.

"After this Mr. Fawkes laid into the cellar (which he had newly taken) a thousand of billets and five hundred of faggots, and with that covered the powder, because we might have the house free to suffer anyone to enter that would. Mr. Catesby wished us to consider whether it were not now necessary to send Mr. Fawkes over, both to absent himself for a time as also to acquaint Sir William Stanley and Mr. Owen with this matter. We agreed that he should; provided that he gave it them with the same oath that we had taken before, viz., to keep it secret from all the world. The reason why we desired Sir William Stanley should be acquainted herewith was to have him with us so soon as he could, and, for Mr. Owen, he might hold good correspondency after with foreign princes. So Mr. Fawkes departed about Easter for Flanders and returned the later end of August. He told me that when he arrived at Brussels, Sir William Stanley was not returned from Spain, so as he uttered the matter only to Owen, who seemed well pleased with the business, but told him that surely Sir William would not be acquainted with any plot as having business now afoot in the Court of England, but he himself would be always ready to tell it him and send him away so soon as it were done.

"About this time did Mr. Percy and Mr. Catesby meet at the Bath where they agreed that the company being yet but few, Mr. Catesby should have the others' authority to call in whom he thought best, by which authority he called in after Sir Everard Digby, though at what time I know not, and last of all Mr. Francis Tresham. The first promised, as I heard Mr. Catesby say, fifteen hundred pounds. Mr. Percy himself promised all that he could get of the Earl of Northumberland's rent,[105] and to provide many galloping horses, his number was ten.[106] Meanwhile Mr. Fawkes and myself alone bought some new powder, as suspecting the first to be dank, and conveyed it into the cellar and set it in order as we resolved it should stand. Then was the Parliament anew prorogued until the 5 of November; so as we all went down until some ten days before. When Mr. Catesby came up with Mr. Fawkes to a house by Enfield Chase called White Webbs, whither I came to them, and Mr. Catesby willed me to inquire whether the young Prince[107] came to Parliament, I told him that his Grace thought not to be there. Then must we have our horses, said Mr. Catesby, beyond the water,[108] and provision of more company to surprise the Prince and leave the Duke alone. Two days after, being Sunday[109] at night, in came one to my chamber and told me that a letter had been given to my Lord Monteagle to this effect, that he wished his lordship's absence from the Parliament because a blow would there be given, which letter he presently carried to my Lord of Salisbury. On the morrow I went to White Webbs and told it to Mr. Catesby, assuring him withal that the matter was disclosed and wishing him in any wise to forsake his country. He told me he would see further as yet and resolved to send Mr. Fawkes to try the uttermost, protesting if the part belonged to myself he would try the same adventure. On Wednesday Mr. Fawkes went and returned at night, of which we were very glad. Thursday[110] I came to London, and Friday[111] Mr. Catesby, Mr. Tresham and I met at Barnet, where we questioned how this letter should be sent to my Lord Monteagle, but could not conceive, for Mr. Tresham forsware it, whom we only suspected. On Saturday night[112] I met Mr. Tresham again in Lincoln's Inn Walks, where he told such speeches that my Lord of Salisbury should use to the King, as I gave it lost the second time, and repeated the same to Mr. Catesby, who hereupon was resolved to be gone, but stayed to have Mr. Percy come up whose consent herein we wanted. On Sunday night[113] came Mr. Percy, and no 'Nay,' but would abide the uttermost trial.

"This suspicion of all hands put us into such confusion as Mr. Catesby resolved to go down into the country the Monday[114] that Mr. Percy went to Sion and Mr. Percy resolved to follow the same night or early the next morning. About five o'clock being Tuesday[115] came the younger Wright to my chamber and told me that a nobleman called the Lord Monteagle, saying "Rise and come along to Essex House, for I am going to call up my Lord of Northumberland," saying withal 'the matter is discovered.' "Go back Mr. Wright," quoth I, "and learn what you can at Essex Gate." Shortly he returned and said, "Surely all is lost, for Leyton is got on horseback at Essex door, and as he parted, he asked if their Lordship's would have any more with him, and being answered "No," is rode as fast up Fleet Street as he can ride." "Go you then," quoth I, "to Mr. Percy, for sure it is for him they seek, and bid him begone: I will stay and see the uttermost." Then I went to the Court gates, and found them straitly guarded so as nobody could enter. From thence I went down towards the Parliament House, and in the middle of King's Street found the guard standing that would not let me pass, and as I returned, I heard one say, "There is a treason discovered in which the King and the Lords shall have been blown up," so then I was fully satisfied that all was known, and went to the stable where my gelding stood, and rode into the country. Mr. Catesby had appointed our meeting at Dunchurch, but I could not overtake them until I came to my brother's which was Wednesday night.[116] On Thursday[117] we took the armour at my Lord Windsor's, and went that night to one Stephen Littleton's house, where the next day, being Friday,[118] as I was early abroad to discover, my man came to me and said that a heavy mischance had severed all the company, for that Mr. Catesby, Mr. Rokewood and Mr. Grant were burnt with gunpowder, upon which sight the rest dispersed. Mr. Littleton wished me to fly and so would he. I told him I would first see the body of my friend and bury him, whatsoever befel me. When I came I found Mr. Catesby reasonable well, Mr. Percy, both the Wrights, Mr. Rokewood and Mr. Grant. I asked them what they resolved to do. They answered "We mean here to die." I said again I would take such part as they did. About eleven of the clock came the company to beset the house, and as I walked into the court was shot into the shoulder, which lost me the use of my arm. The next shot was the elder Wright struck dead; after him the younger Mr. Wright, and fourthly Ambrose Rokewood. Then, said Mr. Catesby to me (standing before the door they were to enter), "Stand by, Mr. Tom, and we will die together." "Sir," quoth I, "I have lost the use of my right arm and I fear that will cause me to be taken." So as we stood close together Mr. Catesby, Mr. Percy and myself, they two were shot (as far as I could guess, with one bullet), and then the company entered upon me, hurt me in the belly with a pike and gave me other wounds, until one came behind and caught hold of both my arms, and so I remain, Your &c."

"[Taken before us

"Nottingham, Suffolk, Northampton, Salisbury, Mar, Dunbar, Popham.

Edw. Coke,

W. Waad.]"[119]

I have printed this interesting statement in full, because it is the only way in which I can convey to my readers the sense of spontaneity which pervades it from beginning to end. To me, at least, it seems incredible that it was either written to order, or copied from a paper drawn up by some agent of the Government. Nor is it to be forgotten that if there was one thing the Government was anxious to secure, it was evidence against the priests, and that no such evidence can be extracted from this confession. What is, perhaps, still more to the point is, that no candid person can, I imagine, rise from the perusal of these sentences without having his estimate of the character of the conspirators raised. There is no conscious assumption of high qualities, but each touch as it comes strengthens the belief that the men concerned in the plot were patient and loyal, brave beyond the limits of ordinary bravery, and utterly without selfish aims. Could this result have been attained by a confession written to order or dictated by Salisbury or his agents, to whom the plotters were murderous villains of the basest kind?

There is nothing to show that Winter's evidence was procured by torture. Father Gerard, indeed, quotes a letter from Waad, written on the 21st, in which he says that 'Thomas Winter doth find his hand so strong as after dinner he will settle himself to write that he hath verbally declared to your Lordship adding what he shall remember.' Considering that he had a ball through his shoulder a fortnight before, the suggestion of torture is hardly needed to find a cause for his having for some time been unable to use his hand.

Before turning to another branch of the investigation, it will be advisable to clear up one difficulty which is not quite so easy to solve.

"Fawkes," writes Father Gerard,[120] "in the confession of November 17, mentioned Robert Keyes as amongst the first seven of the conspirators who worked at the mine, and Robert Winter as one of the five introduced at a later period. The names of these two were deliberately interchanged in the published version, Robert Winter appearing as a worker in the mine, and Keyes, who was an obscure man, of no substance, among the gentlemen of property whose resources were to have supported the subsequent rebellion. Moreover, in the account of the same confession sent to Edmondes by Cecil three days before Fawkes signed it-i.e., November 14-the same transposition occurs, Keyes being explicitly described as one of those 'who wrought not at the mine,' although, as we have seen, he is one of the three who alone make any mention of it.

"Still more irregular is another circumstance. About November 28, Sir Edward Coke, the Attorney-General, drew up certain further notes of questions to be put to various prisoners. Amongst these we read: 'Winter[121] to be examined of his brother, for no man else can accuse him.' But a fortnight or so before this time the Secretary of State had officially informed the ambassador in the Low Countries that Robert Winter was one of those deepest in the treason, and, to say nothing of other evidence, a proclamation for his apprehension had been issued on November 18th. Yet Coke's interrogatory seems to imply that nothing had yet been established against him, and that he was not known to the general body of the traitors as a fellow-conspirator."

If this tangled skein is to be unravelled, the first thing to be done is to place the facts in their chronological order, upon which many if not all the difficulties will disappear, premising that, as a matter of fact, Keyes did work at the mine, and Robert Winter did not.

In his examination of November 7, in which no names appear, and nothing is said about a mine, Fawkes spoke of five original conspirators, and of five or six subsequently joining them, and being generally acquainted with the plot.[122] On the 8th,[123] when the mine was first mentioned, he divided the seven actual diggers into two classes: first, the five who worked from the beginning, and, secondly, two who were afterwards added to that number, saying nothing of the conspirators who took no part in the mining operations. On the 9th, under torture, he gave the names of the first five apart, and then lumped all the other conspirators together, so that both Keyes and Robert Winter appear in the same class. On the 17th he gave, as the names of two, who, as he now said, subsequently worked at the mine, Christopher Wright and Robert Winter, but the surname of the latter is deleted with pen-strokes, and that of Keyes substituted above it; whilst, in the list of the persons made privy to the plot but not engaged in digging, we have the name of Keyes, afterwards deleted, and that of Wynter substituted for it.[124] The only question is, when was the double substitution effected?

As far as the action of the Government is known, we have the list referred to at pp. 47, 48, and probably written on or about the 10th.[125] In this the additional workers are first said to have been John Grant and Christopher Wright. The former name is, however, scratched out, and that of 'Robyn Winter' substituted for it, and from this list is taken the one forwarded to Edmondes on the 14th.[126] Even if we could discover any conceivable motive for the Government wishing to accuse Keyes rather than Winter, it would not help us to explain why the name of Winter was substituted for that of Grant at one time, and the name of Keyes substituted for that of Winter at another.

On the other hand, Fawkes, if he had any knowledge of what was going on, had at least a probable motive for putting Winter rather than Keyes in the worse category. Keyes had been seized, whilst Winter was still at large, and Fawkes may have thought that as Winter might make his escape beyond sea, it was better to load him with the burden which really belonged to Keyes. If this solution be accepted as a possible one, it is easy to understand how the Government fixed on Winter as one of the actual diggers. On the 18th, the day after his name had been given by Fawkes, a proclamation is issued for his apprehension as one 'known to be a principal.'[127] It is not for ten days that any sign is given of a belief that Keyes was the right man. Then, on the 28th, Coke suggests that Thomas Winter may be examined about his brother, 'for no man else can accuse him,' a suggestion which would be absurd if Fawkes's statement had still held good. On the 30th Keyes himself acknowledges that he bought some of the powder and assisted in carrying it to Ferrers' house, and that he also helped to work at the mine.

I am inclined therefore to assign the alteration of the name which Fawkes gave in his examination of the 17th to some day shortly before the 28th, and to think that the sending of the 'King's Book'[128] to press took place on some day between the 23rd, the date of Thomas Winter's examination, and the 28th. If so, the retention of the name of Robert Winter amongst the diggers, and that of Keyes amongst those made privy afterwards, needs no further explanation.[129] Cromwell once adjured the Presbyterians of Edinburgh to believe it possible that they might be mistaken. If Father Gerard would only believe it possible that Salisbury may have been mistaken, he would hardly be so keen to mark conscious deception, where deception is not necessarily to be found. After all, the Government left the names of Winter and Keyes perfectly legible under the pen-strokes drawn across them, and the change they made was at least the erasure of a false statement and the substitution of a true one.

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