« AnteriorContinuar »
These casual features of the condition of the old Church connect themselves with a tragedy bringing scandal on the government. In 1615 a martyr was made of a Jesuit missionary. He had been caught in Glasgow
Catholik Kirk. Dedicat to his Souerane the Kingis M. of Scotland, King lames the Saxt.' He says of his personal history : “Concerning my auin persone, I vas brocht up from my tender eage in the doctrine of Caluine, quhilk of lait dayis hes bene recauit in the realme of Scotland be the preaching of Schir Ioann Kmnox, and did follou it vith na les affectione and zeal nor did the rest, quhil the tyme it pleased God throuch reiding of sum Catholik vryttaris to illuminat my hairt, and lat me planelie vnderstand that sik'doctrine vas nocht that quhilk vas preachit be Christ and His apostlis, and hes euer bene mentened be al Christianis sen thair dayis, bot onlie ane collectit mass of auld and condemnit hæreseis, quhilk, quhen I vas thair present, I obleised me to defend, and proue befoir the General Assemblie of Scotland, declairing my self maist villing to suffer puneishment, vnles be the grace of God I performed that quhilk I had tane in hand. Askand of ane minister callit Smeton, in Paislay, that I micht haue frie access to thair General Assemblie to be conuenit in Edinburgh schortlie thaireftir; to the quhilk petition (as he him self can not deny) he could ansuere na thing bot that it vas maist iust, and promeist to me vpon his fayth and treuth that I should haue frie access thairto.” He conducted his debate with a smaller audience than the Assembly, and complained that he was treacherously apprehended, and imprisoned in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh from the 15th of October 1580 till the end of the ensuing January. He gives the following account of his treatment there by his enemies, who,“ being brint vith ane insatiabil thrist of my bluid, inuentit ane neu stratagem, proposing, by zour M. vil and intelligence, to haue hungred me to death, be debarring al access of freindis quha var villing to supplie my necessitie. And quhen extreme danger of famine constrainit me to hing ouer ane purse at the Tolbuith vindo, to craif almous for Christis saik, thay, persauing the reuth and compassion of godlie and cheritable people, quha bestouit thair almous on me maist liberalie, causit cut doun the purse. And althocht thay commandit the layVler to impesch my letteris of supplicatione, quhairin I micht have requirit that quhilk vas conforme to æquitie, zit God sua mouit his hairt that he präsentit ane requeist of myne to the prouoste and honorable concile of Edinburgh for licence to beg almous, quhairbie I micht be sustenit : the quhilk albeit it vas grantit be the discretion of the prouoste and honorable concile, zit the ministeris obtenit ane discharge forbidding that I sould ask support in the name of ane schollar, or affix onie letter vpon the purse for signification of my indigence; bot nochtuithstanding al thair raige conceaued aganis me, and inuie quhilk thay bure aganis my fauoraris, cheritabil personis gaif me of thair almous maist largelie, for declaration of the erneast with a few trifling articles in his possession, and it was shown that he had been busily endeavouring to propagate his faith. The case was referred to the king, whose instruction was, that “if nothing could be found but that he was a Jesuit, they should banish him the country, and inhibit him to return without licence under pain of death. But if it should appear that he had been a practiser for the stirring up of subjects to rebellion, or did maintain the Pope's transcendent power over kings, and refused to take the oath of allegiance, they should leave him to the course of law and justice.” It is difficult to identify the tribunal which dealt with him. It was not the High Court of Justiciary, and appears to have been a mixed commission of prelates and laymen issuing from the Court of the Secret Council, and rendering its proceedings to that body. The method of procedure was the same that is so frequently condemned by protestants in the holy Court of the Inquisition. It dealt not merely with the sayings and actions that had been proved against the man, but endeavoured, with subtle and cruel labour, to extract the secrets of his heart. On the first application of this process he showed “nothing but a pertinacious refusal to answer in points most reasonable." His examiners having experience in the instance of other offenders, “that nothing helped more to find out the truth of the faults wherewith they were charged than the withholding of their natural rest, it was advised that he should be kept without sleep for some nights, which was accordingly done ; and during which time it was perceived that he remitted much of his former obstinacy." It is an established traditional practice with polemical controversialists, when it falls to their lot to get over such an event, to explain how the punishment was for a political offence, so that no odour of religious intolerance attaches to it. Such reasoning only darkens and perplexes history. That the institutions of the age and country permitted such a deed to be done, seem to be facts entirely sufficient to enable every man who reads of it to judge of it.
In the end, indeed, he became more explicit than his tormentors found to be desirable. The king had sent down a set of questions, probing to their minutest corner his opinions on the power of the Court of Rome over temporal sovereigns. In these the Jesuit saw before him
desyre quhilk thay had of the extirpation of thair seditious hæresie, and the imbraceing of the treu Catholik religion agane, quhom I pray the Lord to recompanse quhen He sal distribut to al men according to thair doingis in this varld."
the chances of winning the crown of martyrdom. He won it, and wore it as manfully as any Protestant victim. “As to your Acts of Parliament,” he said, “they were made by a number of partial men, and of matters not subject to their forum or judicatory, for which I will not give a rotten fig. And where I am said to be an enemy to the king's authority, I know not what authority he hath but what he received from his predecessors, who acknowledged the Pope of Rome his jurisdiction. If the king will be to me as his predecessors were to mine, I will obey and acknowledge him for my king; but if he do otherwise, and play the runagate from God, as he and you all do, I will not acknowledge him more than this old hat.” On being harder pressed, he retaliated with a sharp touch to an assailable point on the other side: “I am accused for declining the king's authority, and will do it still in matters of religion ; for with such matters he hath nothing to do. And this which I say the best of your ministers do maintain, and, if they be wise, will continue in the same mind.”
It was amongst the king's instructions that distinct answers should be extracted from him on the two questions, Whether the Pope could excommunicate and depose the king ? and, “Whether it be no murther to slay his majesty, being so excommunicated and deposed by the Pope ?” Archbishop Spottiswood tried to put this critical question so as to give opportunity for evading a rigid answer, but he failed. “But I hope," said the archbishop, “ you will not make this a controversy of religion, whether the king, being deposed by the Pope, may be lawfully killed.” To this he replied : “ It is a question among the doctors of the Church. Many hold the affirmative not improbable ; but as that point is not yet determined, so, if it shall be concluded, I will give my life in defence of it; and to call it unlawful I will not, though I should save my life in saying it.” A jury returned a verdict of guilty against him, and he was immediately hanged.
That the judicial record of the proceedings has been lost must be regretted with other like losses. It is fortunate, however, that in this age we have rescued a large portion of the judicial records of that age-a portion sufficient for checking and correcting an indolent tone of historical writing, which speaks of acts such as this as if they were the doing of the monarch and his executive government through the mere force of the royal prerogative. Scotland was essentially a constitutional government. The king's will had no doubt great weight, and acts of cruelty and injustice were perpetrated at his desire as well as through the personal influence of other powerful men. But we may be assured that, in form at least, what was done was the act of constituted tribunals. In this instance there was a verdict of a jury; and whatever character we may give to the act, we must remember that others were implicated in it besides the king and his immediate ministers.
If we may judge from the annals and correspondence of the day, and especially from the troubles of those to whom Popery was chiefly an object of dread and horror, Scotland never was so infested by prowling Jesuits and traffickers as after this event. There were, in fact, in the old Church, many ardent spirits seeking martyrdom ; and the rumour had gone forth that Scotland was a country in which that could be found.
And looking towards mere Protestant politics, it is easy to see that the martyrdom of the Jesuits was a sheer waste
account of the matter is the more instructive that he was one of the judges on the commission.
of cruelty. It would have done far more to appease the High Presbyterian party had Ogilvie and a group of his brethren been teased with minor persecutions on purely theological grounds. This poor creature brought on his fate, not by perpetrating the idolatry of the mass, but by abjuring the idolatry of the king. The historical organ of that party passes the event with these arid and thankless remarks: “Some interpreted this execution to have proceeded rather of a care to bless the king's government than of ane sincere hatred to the Popish religion. Some deemed that it was done to be a terror to the sincerer sort of the ministers not to decline the king's authority in any cause whatever. He was the first priest or Jesuit who was executed since the bastard Bishop of St Andrews was hanged.” 1
In fact a slight act of leniency, awarded in a questionable shape soon afterwards, more than neutralised this act of severity against a devotee of the old faith. The Popish lords, after their reconciliation to the Church, becaine little less troublesome to its zealous members than they had been before. Huntly especially was believed to harbour refugees and missionaries, and to be at his leisure conducting all manner of dangerous intrigues within those northern dominions, in which the Acts neither of the Church nor of the king were of much avail, and a seminary priest was safer from molestation than the ambassadors empowered to give effect to the decrees of the Church. At length, in 1616, he was again laid under excommunication. This was ever a serious position to hold, because it gave the State legal power over the person and property of him who was under the Church's curse; and however the head of the State smiled on him for the time, the victim could not insure himself against the mutability of courts. In the midst of a harassing succession of negotiations for the removal of the excommunication, news one day reached the zealots that it had become an empty sound; for the Archbishop of Canterbury had dissolved it, and granted absolution to the Marquess of Huntly.
· Calderwood, vii. 196.