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   Chapter 5 THE DISCOVERY

What Gunpowder Plot Was By Samuel Rawson Gardiner Characters: 34034

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


In one way the evidence on the discovery of the plot differs from that on the plot itself. The latter is straightforward and simple, its discrepancies, where there are any, being reducible to the varying amount of the knowledge of the Government. The same cannot be said of the evidence relating to the mode in which the plot was discovered. If we accept the traditional story that its discovery was owing to the extraordinary letter brought to Monteagle at Hoxton, there are disturbing elements in the case. In the first place, the Commissioners would probably wish to conceal any mystery connected with the delivery of the letter, if it were only for the sake of Monteagle, to whom they owed so much; and, in the second place, when they had once committed themselves to the theory that the King had discovered the sense of the letter by a sort of Divine inspiration, there could not fail to be a certain amount of shuffling to make this view square with the actual facts. Other causes of hesitancy to set forth the full truth there may have been, but these two were undeniably there.

Father Gerard, however, bars the way to the immediate discussion of these points by a theory which he has indeed adopted from others, but which he has made his own by the fulness with which he has treated it. He holds that Salisbury knew of the plot long before the incident of the letter occurred, a view which is by no means inconsistent with the belief that the plot itself was genuine, and, it may be added, is far less injurious to Salisbury's character than the supposition that he had either partially or wholly invented the plot itself. If the latter charge could have been sustained Salisbury would have to be ranked amongst the most infamous ministers known to history. If all that can be said of him is that he kept silence longer than we should have expected, we may feel curious as to his motives, or question his prudence, but we shall have no reason to doubt his morality.

Father Gerard, having convinced himself that in all probability the Government, or, at least Salisbury, had long had a secret agent amongst the plotters, fixes his suspicions primarily on Percy. Beginning by an attack on Percy's moral character, he writes as follows:-

"It unfortunately appears that, all the time, this zealous convert was a bigamist, having one wife living in the capital and another in the provinces. When his name was published in connection with the Plot, the magistrates of London arrested the one and those of Warwickshire the other, alike reporting to the secretary what they had done, as may be seen in the State Paper Office."[187]

The papers in the Public Record Office here referred to prove nothing of the sort. On November 5 Justice Grange writes to Salisbury that Percy had a house in Holborne 'where his wife is at this instant. She saith her husband liveth not with her, but being attendant on the Right Honourable the Earl of Northumberland, liveth and lodgeth as she supposeth with him. She hath not seen him since Midsummer.[188] She liveth very private and teacheth children. I have caused some to watch the house, as also to guard her until your Honour's pleasure be further known.'[189] There is, however, nothing to show that Salisbury did not within a couple of hours direct that she should be set free, as she had evidently nothing to tell; nor is there anything here inconsistent with her having been arrested in Warwickshire on the 12th, especially as she was apprehended in the house of John Wright,[190] her brother. What is more likely than that, when the terrible catastrophe befell the poor woman, she should have travelled down to seek refuge in her brother's house, where she might perchance hear some tidings of her husband? It is adding a new terror to matrimony to suggest that a man is liable to be charged with bigamy because his wife is seen in London one day and in Warwickshire a week afterwards.

The fact probably is that Father Gerard received the suggestion from Goodman, whose belief that Percy was a bigamist rested on information derived from some lady who may very well have been as hardened a gossip as he was himself.[191] His own attempt to bolster up the story by further evidence can hardly be reckoned conclusive.

In any case the question of Percy's morality is quite irrelevant. It is more to the purpose when Father Gerard quotes Goodman as asserting that Percy had been a frequent visitor to Salisbury's house by night.[192]

"Sir Francis Moore," he tells us, "... being the lord keeper Egerton's favourite, and having some occasion of business with him at twelve of the clock at night, and going then homeward from York House to the Middle Temple at two, several times he met Mr. Percy, coming out of that great statesman's house, and wondered what his business should be there."[193]

There are many ways in which the conclusion that Percy went to tell tales may be avoided. In the days of James I., the streets of London were inconceivably dark to the man who at the present day is accustomed to gas and electricity. Not even lanterns were permanently hung out for many a year to come. Except when the moon was shining, the only light was a lantern carried in the hand, and by the light of either it would be easy to mistake the features of any one coming out from a door way. Yet even if Moore's evidence be accepted, the inference that Percy betrayed the plot to Salisbury is not by any means a necessary one. Percy may, as the Edinburgh Reviewer suggests, have been employed by Northumberland. Nor does Father Gerard recognise that it was clearly Percy's business to place his connection with the Court as much in evidence as possible. The more it was known that he was trusted by Northumberland, and even by Salisbury, the less people were likely to ask awkward questions as to his reasons for taking a house at Westminster. In 1654 a Royalist gentleman arriving from the Continent to take part in an insurrection against the Protector, went straight to Cromwell's Court in order to disarm suspicion. Why may not Percy have acted in a similar way in 1605? All that we know of Percy's character militates against the supposition that he was a man to play the dastardly part of an informer.

Other pieces of evidence against Percy may be dismissed with equal assurance. We are told, for instance,[194] that Salisbury found a difficulty in tracing Percy's movements before the day on which Parliament was to have been blown up; whereas, ten days before, the same Percy had received a pass issued by the Commissioners of the North, as posting to court for the King's especial service. The order, however, is signed, not by the Commissioners of the North as a body, but by two of their number, and was dated at Seaton Delaval in Northumberland.[195] As Percy's business is known to have been the bringing up the Earl of Northumberland's rents, and he might have pleaded that it was his duty to be in his place as Gentleman Pensioner at the meeting of Parliament, two gentlemen living within hail of Alnwick were likely enough to stretch a point in favour of the servant of the great earl. In any case it was most unlikely that they should have thought it necessary to acquaint the Secretary of State with the terms in which a posting order had been couched.

The supposition that Salisbury sent secret orders to the sheriff of Worcestershire not to take Percy alive is sufficiently disposed of, as the Edinburgh Reviewer has remarked, by Sheriff Walsh's own letter, and by the extreme improbability that if Salisbury had known Percy to have been a government spy he would have calculated on his being such a lunatic as to join the other conspirators in their flight, apparently for the mere pleasure of getting himself shot.[196] It may be added that it is hard to imagine how Salisbury could know beforehand in what county the rebels would be taken, and consequently to what sheriff he should address his compromising communication. As to the suggestion that there was something hidden behind the failure of the King's messenger to reach the sheriff with orders to avoid killing the chief conspirators, on the ground that 'the distance to be covered was about 112 miles, and there were three days to do it in, for not till November 8 were the fugitives surrounded,' it may fairly be answered, in the first place, that the whereabouts of the conspirators was not known at Westminster till the Proclamation for their arrest was issued on the 7th, and in the second place, that as the sheriff was constantly on the move in pursuit, it must have been hard to catch him in the time which sufficed to send a message to a fixed point at Westminster.[197]

It is needless to argue that Catesby was not the informer. The evidence is of the slightest, depending on the alleged statement by a servant,[198] long ago dead when it was committed to paper, and even Father Gerard appears hardly to believe that the charge is tenable.

There remains the case of Tresham. Since the publication of Jardine's work Tresham has been fixed on as the author or contriver of the letter to Monteagle which, according to the constant assertion of the Government, gave the first intimation of the existence of the plot, and this view of the case was taken by many contemporaries. Tresham was the last of three wealthy men-the others being Digby and Rokewood-who were admitted to the plot because their money could be utilised in the preparations for a rising. He was a cousin of Catesby and the two Winters, and had taken part in the negotiations with Spain before the death of Elizabeth. During the weeks immediately preceding November 5 there had been much searching of heart amongst the plotters as to the destruction in which Catholic peers would be involved, and it is probable that hints were given to some of them that it would be well to be absent from Parliament on the morning fixed for the explosion. Amongst the peers connected with one or other of the plotters was Lord Monteagle, who had married Tresham's sister.

That Tresham should have desired to warn his brother-in-law was the most likely thing in the world. We know that he was in London on October 25 or 26, because Thomas Winter received 100l. from him on one of those days at his chambers in Clerkenwell.[199] It was in the evening of the 26th that Monteagle arrived at his house at Hoxton though he had not been there for more than twelve months. As he was sitting down to supper one of his footmen brought him a letter. Monteagle on receiving it, took the extraordinary course of handing it to one of his gentlemen named Ward, and bade him read it aloud. The letter was anonymous, and ran as follows:-

"My Lord, out of the love I bear to some of your friends, I have a care of your preservation. Therefore I would advise you, as you tender your life, to devise some excuse to shift of your attendance at this Parliament; for God and man hath concurred to punish the wickedness of this time. And think not slightly of this advertisement but retire yourself into your country, where you may expect the event in safety, for though there be no appearance of any stir, yet I say they shall receive a terrible blow this Parliament, and yet they shall not see who hurts them. This counsel is not to be contemned, because it may do you good, and can do you no harm, for the danger is past as soon as you have burnt this letter; and I hope God will give you the grace to make good use of it, to whose holy protection I commend you."

Monteagle took the letter to Salisbury, and if the protestations of the Government are to be trusted, this was the first that Salisbury or any one of his fellow councillors heard of the conspiracy. Father Gerard follows Jardine and others in thinking this to be improbable if not incredible.

It may at least be freely granted that it is hardly probable that Monteagle had not heard of the plot before. As Jardine puts it forcibly:-

"The circumstance of Lord Monteagle's unexpected visit to his house at Hoxton, without any other assignable reason, on the evening in question, looks like the arrangement of a convenient scene; and it is deserving of notice that the gentleman to whom his lordship gave the letter to read at his table was Thomas Ward, an intimate friend of several of the conspirators, and suspected to have been an accomplice in the treason. The open reading of such a letter before his household (which, unless it be supposed to be part of a counterplot, seems a very unnatural and imprudent course for Lord Monteagle to adopt) might be intended to secure evidence that the letter was the first intimation he had of the matter, and would have the effect of giving notice to Ward that the plot was discovered, in order that he might communicate the fact to the conspirators. In truth he did so on the very next morning; and if they had then taken the alarm, and instantly fled to Flanders (as it is natural to suppose they would have done) every part of Tresham's object would have been attained. This scheme was frustrated by the unexpected and extraordinary infatuation of the conspirators themselves, who, notwithstanding their knowledge of the letter, disbelieved the discovery of the plot from the absence of any search at the cellar, and, omitting to avail themselves of the means afforded for their flight, still lingered in London."[200]

It is unnecessary to add any word to this, so far as it affects the complicity of Tresham with Monteagle. I submit, however, that the stronger is the evidence that the letter was prearranged with Monteagle the more hopeless is the reasoning of those who, like Father Gerard, hold that it was prearranged with Salisbury. Salisbury's object, according to Father Gerard's hypothesis, was to gain credit by springing upon the King and the world a partly or totally imaginary plot. If he was to do this, he must have some evidence to bring which would convince the world that the affair was not a mere imposture; and yet it is to be imagined that he contrives a scheme which threatens to leave him in possession of an obscure letter, and the knowledge that every one of the plotters was safely beyond the sea. As a plan concocted by Monteagle and Tresham to stop the plot, and at the same time secure the escape of their guilty friends, the little comedy at Hoxton was admirably concocted. From the point of view of the Government its advantages are not obvious. Add to this that all Salisbury's alleged previous knowledge did not enable him to discover that a mine had been dug till Fawkes told him as late as November 8, and that the Government for two or three days after Fawkes was taken were in the dark as to the whereabouts of the conspirators, and we find every reason to believe that the statement of the Government, that they only learnt the plot through the Monteagle letter, was absolutely true.

That the Government dealt tenderly with Tresham in not sending him to the Tower till the 12th, and allowing him the consolation of his wife's nursing when he fell ill, is only what was to have been expected if they had learnt from Monteagle the source of his information, whilst they surely would have kept his wife from all access to him if he had had reason to complain to her that he had been arrested in spite of his services to the Government. After his death, which took place in the Tower, there was no further consideration of him, and, on December 23, the Council ordered that his head should be cut off and preserved till further directions, but his body buried in the Tower.[201]

It is unnecessary to go deeply into the question of the discrepancy between the different accounts given by the Government of the manner in which the Monteagle letter was expounded. The probable truth is that Salisbury himself interpreted it correctly, and that his fellow-councillors came to the same conclusion as himself. It was, however, a matter of etiquette to hold that the King was as sharp-witted as Elizabeth had been beautiful till the day of her death, and as the solution of the riddle was not difficult, some councillor-perhaps Salisbury himself-may very well have suggested that the paper should be submitted to his Majesty. When he had guessed it, it would be also a matter of etiquette to believe that by the direct inspiration of God his Majesty had solved a problem which no other mortal could penetrate. We are an incredulous race nowadays, and we no more believe in the Divine inspiration of James I. than in the loveliness of Elizabeth at the age of seventy; and we even find it difficult to understand Father Gerard's seriousness over the strain which the poor councillors had to put upon themselves in fitting the facts to the courtly theory.

Nor is there any reason to be surprised at the postponement by the Government of all action to the night of November 4. It gave them a better chance of coming upon the conspirators preparing for the action, and if

their knowledge was, as I hold it was, confined to the Monteagle letter, they may well have thought it better not to frighten them into flight by making premature inquiries. No doubt there was a danger of gunpowder exploding and blowing up not only the empty House of Lords, but a good many innocent people as well; but there had been no explosion yet, and the powder was in the custody of men whose interest it was that there should be no explosion before the 5th. After all, neither the King nor Salisbury, nor indeed any of the other councillors, lived near enough to be hurt by any accident that might occur. Smith's wildly improbable view that the shock might have 'levelled and destroyed all London and Westminster like an earthquake,'[202] can hardly be taken seriously.

We now come to the alleged discrepancies between various accounts of Fawkes's seizure. Father Gerard compares three documents-(a) what he terms 'the account furnished by Salisbury for the information of the King of France, November 6, 1605,' (b) the letter sent on November 9 to Edmondes and other ambassadors,[203] and (c) the King's Book. On the first, I would remark that there is no evidence, I may add, no probability, that, as it stands, it was ever despatched to France at all. It is a draft written on the 6th, which was gradually moulded into the form in which it was, as we happen to know, despatched on the 9th to Edmondes and Cornwallis. If the despatches received by Parry had been preserved, I do not doubt but that we should find that he also received it in the same shape as the other ambassadors.

Having premised this remark as a caution against examining the document too narrowly, we may admit that the three statements differ about the date at which the Monteagle letter was received-(a) says it was some four or five days before the Parliament; (b) that it was eight days; (c) that it was ten days. The third and latest statement is accurate; but the mistakes of the others are of no importance, except to show that the draft was carelessly drawn up, probably by Munck, Salisbury's secretary, in whose handwriting it is; and that the mistake was corrected with an approach to accuracy three days later, and made quite right further on.

With respect to the more important point raised by Father Gerard that-while (a) does not mention Suffolk's search in the afternoon, (b) does not mention the presence of Fawkes at the time of the afternoon visit-it is quite true that the hurried draft does not mention Suffolk's visit; but it is not true that it in any way denies the fact that such a visit had taken place.

Father Gerard abbreviates the story of (a) as follows:-

"It was accordingly determined, the night before, 'to make search about that place, and to appoint a watch in the Old Palace to observe what persons might resort thereunto.'

"Sir T. Knyvet, being appointed to the charge thereof, going by chance, about midnight, into the vault, by another door,[204] found Fawkes within. Thereupon he caused some few faggots to be removed, and so discovered some of the barrels, 'merely, as it were, by God's direction, having no other cause but a general jealousy.'"[205]

The italics are Father Gerard's own, and I think we are fairly entitled to complain, so far as the first phrase thus distinguished is concerned, because being printed in this manner it looks like a quotation, though as a matter of fact is not so. This departure from established usage is the more unfortunate, as the one important word-'chance'-upon which Father Gerard's argument depends, is a misprint or a miswriting for the word 'change,' which is to be seen clearly written in the MS. The whole passage as it there stands runs as follows:-

"This advertisement being made known to his Majesty and the Lords, their Lordships found not good, coming as it did in that fashion, to give much credit to it, or to make any apprehension of it by public show, nor yet so to contemn it as to do nothing at all in it, but found convenient the night before under a pretext that some of his Majesty's wardrobe stuff was stolen and embezzled to make search about that place, and to appoint a watch in the old palace to observe what persons might resort thereabouts, and appointed the charge thereof to Sir Thomas Knyvet, who about midnight going by change into the vault by another door, found the fellow, as is said before,[206] whereupon suspicion being increased, he caused some few faggots to be removed, and so discovered some of the barrels of powder, merely, as it were, by God's direction, having no other cause but a general jealousy."[207]

If the word 'chance' had been found in the real letter, it could hardly be interpreted otherwise than to imply a negative of the earlier visit said to have been followed by a resolve on the King's part to search farther. As the word stands, it may be accepted as evidence that an earlier visit had taken place. How could Knyvet go 'by change' into the vault by another door, unless he or someone else had gone in earlier by some other approach? It is, however, the positive evidence which may be adduced from this letter, which is most valuable. The letter is, as I said, a mere hurried draft, in all probability never sent to anyone. It is moreover quite inartistic in its harking back to the story of the arrest after giving fuller details. Surely such a letter is better calculated to reveal the truth than one subsequently drawn up upon fuller consideration. What is it then, that stares us in the face, if we accept this as a genuine result of the first impression made upon the writer-whether he were Munck or Salisbury himself? What else than that the Government had no other knowledge of the plot than that derived from the Monteagle letter, and that not only because the writer says that the discovery of the powder was 'merely as it were, by God's direction, having no other cause but a general jealousy,' but because the whole letter, and still more the amplified version which quickly followed, is redolent with uncertainty. Given that Suffolk's mission in the afternoon was what it was represented to be, it becomes quite intelligible why the writer of the draft should be inclined to leave it unnoticed. It was an investigation made by men who were afraid of being blown up, but almost as much afraid of being made fools of by searching for gunpowder which had no existence, upon the authority of a letter notoriously ambiguous.

"And so," wrote Salisbury, in the letter despatched to the ambassadors on the 9th,[208] "on Monday in the afternoon, accordingly the Lord Chamberlain, whose office is to see all places of assembly put in readiness when the King's person shall come, took his coach privately, and after he had seen all other places in the Parliament House, he took a slight occasion to peruse that vault, where, finding only piles of billets and faggots heaped up, which were things very ordinarily placed in that room, his Lordship fell inquiring only who ought[209] the same wood, observing the proportion to be somewhat more than the housekeepers were likely to lay in for their own use; and answer being made before the Lord Monteagle, who was there present with the Lord Chamberlain, that the wood belonged to Mr. Percy, his Lordship straightway conceived some suspicion in regard of his person; and the Lord Monteagle also took notice that there was great profession between Percy and him, from which some inference might be made that it was a warning from a friend, my Lord Chamberlain resolved absolutely to proceed in a search, though no other materials were visible, and being returned to court about five o'clock took me up with him to the King and told him that, although he was hard of belief that any such thing was thought of, yet in such a case as this whatsoever was not done to put all out of doubt, was as good as nothing, whereupon it was resolved by his Majesty that this matter should be so carried as no man should be scandalised by it, nor any alarm taken for any such purpose."

Even if it be credible that Salisbury had invented all this, it is incredible that if he alone had been the depository of the secret, he should not have done something to put other officials on the right track, or have put into the foreground his own clear-sightedness in the matter.

The last question necessary to deal with relates to the unimportant point where Fawkes was when he was arrested.

"To say nothing," writes Father Gerard, "of the curious discrepancies as to the date of the warning, it is clearly impossible to determine the locality of Guy's arrest. The account officially published in the 'King's Book,' says that this took place in the street. The letter to the ambassadors assigns it to the cellar and afterwards to the street; that to Parry to the cellar only. Fawkes himself, in his confession of November 5, says that he was apprehended neither in the street nor in the cellar, but in his own room in the adjoining house. Chamberlain writes to Carleton, November 7, that it was in the cellar. Howes, in his continuation of Stowes' Annals, describes two arrests of Fawkes, one in the street, the other in his own chamber. This point, though seemingly somewhat trivial, has been invested with much importance. According to a time-honoured story, the baffled desperado roundly declared that had he been within reach of the powder when his captors appeared, he would have applied a match and involved them in his own destruction."[210]

This passage deserves to be studied, if only as a good example of the way in which historical investigation ought not to be conducted, that is to say, by reading into the evidence what, according to preconception of the inquirer, he thinks ought to be there, but is not there at all. In plain language, the words 'cellar' and 'street' are not mentioned in any one of the documents cited by Father Gerard. There is no doubt a discrepancy, but it is not one between these two localities. The statements quoted by Father Gerard in favour of a capture in the 'cellar' merely say that it was effected 'in the place.' The letter of the 9th says 'in the place itself,'[211] and this is copied from the draft of the 6th. Chamberlain says[212] that Fawkes was 'taken making his trains at midnight,' but does not say where. Is it necessary to interpret this as meaning the 'cellar'? There was, as we know, a door out of the 'cellar' into the passage, and probably a door opposite into Percy's house. If Fawkes were arrested in this passage as he was coming out of the cellar and going into the house, or even if he had come out of the passage into the head of the court, he might very well be said to have been arrested 'in the place itself,' in contradistinction to a place a few streets off.

The only real difficulty is how to reconcile this account of the arrest, with Fawkes's own statement on his first examination on November 5, when he said:-

"That he meant to have fired the same by a match, and saith that he had touchwood and a match also, about eight or nine inches long, about him, and when they came to apprehend him he threw the touchwood and match out of the window in his chamber near the Parliament House towards the waterside."

Fawkes, indeed, was not truthful in his early examinations, but he had no inducement to invent this story, and it may be noted that whenever the accounts which have reached us go into details invariably they speak of two separate actions connected with the arrest. The draft to Parry, indeed, only speaks of the first apprehension, but the draft of the narrative which finally appeared in the King's Book[213] says that Knyvet 'finding the same party with whom the Lord Chamberlain before and the Lord Monteagle had spoken newly, come out of the vault, made stay of him.' Then Knyvet goes into the vault and discovers the powder. "Whereupon the caitiff being surely seized, made no difficulty to confess, &c."[214] The letter to the ambassadors[215] tells the same story. Knyvet going into the vault 'found that fellow Johnson newly come out of the vault, and without asking any more questions stayed him.' Then after the search 'he perceived the barrels and so bound the caitiff fast.' The King's Book itself separates at least the 'apprehending' from the searching.

"But before his entry into the house finding Thomas Percy's alleged man standing without the doors,[216] his clothes and boots on at so dead a time of the night, he resolved to apprehend him, as he did, and thereafter went forward to the searching of the house ... and thereafter, searching the fellow whom he had taken, found three matches, and all other instruments fit for blowing up the powder ready upon him."

All these are cast more or less in the same mould. On the other hand, a story, in all probability emanating from Knyvet, which Howes interpolated in a narrative based on the official account, gives a possibility of reconciling the usual account of the arrest with the one told by Fawkes. After telling, after the fashion of the King's Book, of Fawkes' apprehension and Knyvet's search, he bursts on a sudden into a narrative of which no official document gives the slightest hint:-

"And upon the hearing of some noise Sir T. Knyvet required Master Edmond Doubleday, Esq.[217] to go up into the chamber to understand the cause thereof, the which he did, and had there some speech of Fawkes, being therewithal very desirous to search and see what books or instruments Fawkes had about him; but Fawkes being wondrous unwilling to be searched, very violently griped M[aster] Doubleday by his fingers of the left hand, through pain thereof Ma[ster] Doubleday offered to draw his dagger to have stabbed Fawkes, but suddenly better bethought himself and did not; yet in that heat he struck up the traitor's heels and therewithal fell upon him and searched him, and in his pocket found his garters, wherewith M[aster] Doubleday and others that assisted they bound him. There was also found in his pocket a piece of touchwood, and a tinder box to light the touchwood and a watch which Percy and Fawkes had bought the day before, to try conclusions for the long or short burning of the touchwood, which he had prepared to give fire to the train of powder."

Surely this life-like presentation of the scene comes from no other than Doubleday himself, as he is the hero of the little scene. Knyvet plainly had not bound Fawkes when he 'stayed' or 'apprehended' him. He must have given him in charge of some of his men, who for greater safety's sake took him out of the passage or the court-whichever it was-into his own chamber within the house. Then a noise is heard, and Knyvet, having not yet concluded the examination, sends Doubleday to find out what is happening, with the result we have seen. When Knyvet arrives on the scene, he has Fawkes more securely bound than with a pair of garters. The only discrepancy remaining is between Fawkes's statement that he threw touchwood and match out of window, and Doubleday's that the touchwood at least was found in his pocket. Perhaps Doubleday meant only that the touchwood thrown out came from Fawkes's pocket. Perhaps there is some other explanation. After all, this is too trivial a matter to trouble ourselves about.

Wearisome as these details are, they at least bring once more into relief the hesitancy which characterises every action of the Government till the powder is actually discovered. Though Fawkes has been seen by Suffolk in the afternoon, no preparations are made for his arrest. Knyvet does not even bring cord with him to tie the wrists of a possible conspirator, and when Doubleday at last proceeds to bind him, he has to rely upon the garters found in his pocket. It is but one out of many indications which point to the conclusion that the members of the Government had nothing to guide their steps but an uncertain light in which they put little confidence. Taken together with the revelations of their ignorance as to the whereabouts of the plotters after Fawkes's capture had been effected, it almost irresistibly proves that they had no better information to rest on than the obscure communication which had been handed to Monteagle at Hoxton. As I have said before, the truth of the ordinary account of the plot would not be in the slightest degree affected if Salisbury had known of it six weeks or six months earlier. I feel certain, however, that he had no such previous knowledge, because, if he had, he would have impressed on the action of his colleagues the greater energy which springs from certainty. It is strange, no doubt, that a Government with so many spies and intelligencers afoot, should not have been aware of what was passing in the Old Palace of Westminster. It was, however, not the first or the last time that governments, keeping a watchful eye on the ends of the earth, have been in complete ignorance of what was passing under their noses.

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