Paulist Fathers.

Catholic world online

. (page 100 of 136)
Online LibraryPaulist FathersCatholic world → online text (page 100 of 136)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


er unmarried or widowers, which, from
infirmity, were unable to provide for
their own support ; the Priory of the
Friars Preachers, with the rising gar-
dens behind it; the Chapel of Blessed
Mary, over the gate ; that of St. James
ad Leprosos, which was attached to
the Leper's Hospital; and St. Law-
fence's, which standeth on the hill
above the tower ; and in the valley be-
low, the Priory of St. Bartholomew,
built by Queen Adeliza for the monks
of St. Austin. Verily the poor were
well cared for when all these monaster-
ies and hospitals did exist; and it
doth grieve me to think that the mon-
eys which were designed by so many
pious men of past ages for the good of
religion should now be paid to my lord,
and spent in worldly and profane uses.
Howsoever, I have better hopes than
heretofore that he will one day serve
God in a Christian manner. And now,
methinks, after much doubting if I
should dare for to commit so weighty
a secret unto paper, that I must needs
tell thee, as this time I send my letter
by a trusty messenger, what, if I judge
rightly, wiU prove so great a comfort
to thee, my dear Constance, that thine
own grieft shaU seem the lighter for
it. Thou dost well know how long I
have been well-affected to Catholic re-
ligion, increasing therein daily more



and more, but yet not wholly resolved
to embrace and profess it. But by
reading a book treating of the danger
of schism, soon after my coming h^,
I WES BO efficaciously moved, that I
made a firm purpose to become a mem-
ber of the Cadiolic and only true Church
of God* I charged Mr. Bayley to aeek
out a grave and ancient priest, and to
bring him here privately ; for I desired
very much that my reconciliation, and
meeting with this priest ^to that yitent,
should be kept as secret as was possi-
ble, for the times are more trouble-
some than ever, and I would bm have
none to know of it until I caot diadoee
it myself to my l(»d in a prudent man-
ner. I have, as thou knoweth, no
Catholic women about me, nor any one
whom I durst acquaint with this busi-
ness ; so I was forced to go akm^ at
an unseasonable hour from mine own
lodging in the castle, by certain daric
ways and obscure passages, to the
chamber where this priest (whose name,
for greater prudence, I mention not
here) was lodged, there to make my
confession — ^it being thought, both by
Mr. Bayley and myself, that otherwise
it could not possibly be done without
discovery, or at least great danger
thereof. Oh, mine own dear Constance,
when I returned by the same way 1
had gone, lightened of a burihen so
many years endured, cheered by the
thought of a reconcilement so long de-
sired, strengthened and raised, leasts
ways fw a while, above all worldly
fears, darkness appeared light, rough
paths smooth; the moon, shining
through the chinks of the secret pas-
sage, which I thought had shed before
a ghastly light on the uneven^ walls,
How seemed to yield a mild and pleas-
ant brightness, like unto that of God's
grace in a heart at peace. And this
exceeding contentment and steadfast-
ness of spirit have notf— -praise him for
it — since left me ; albeit I have much
cause for apprehension in more ways
than one; for what in these days
is so secret it becometh not known?
But whatever now shall befal me—
pubUc dangers or private sonowB-^my



Digitized by VjOOQIC



Ckmtkmee tSherwood.



681



feet do rest on a rock, not on the shift-
ing sands of human thinkings, and I
am not afraid of what man can do unto
me. Yea, Philip's displeasure I can
now endure, which of aU things in the
world I have heretofore most appre-
hended."

The injBnite contentment this letter
gave me distracted me somewhat from
the anxious thoughts that filled m j mind
at the time it reached me, which was
soon after Hubert's visit. A few days
afterward Ladj Arundel wrote again:

^ My lord has been here, but stayed
only a brief time. I found him very
aJOfectionate in his behavior, but his
spirits so much depressed that I fear-
ed something had disordered him.
Conversation seemed a burthen to him,
and he often shut himself up in his
own chamber or walked into the park
with only his dog. When I spoke to
him he would siuile with much kind-
ness, uttering such words as 'sweet
wife,' or ' dearest Nan,' and then fall
to musing again, as if his mind had
been too oppressed with thinking to
allow of speech. The day before he
Zeft I was sorting flowers at one end
of the gallery in a place which the
wall projecting doth partly conceal.
I saw him come from the hall up the
stairs into it, and walk to and fro in
an agitated manner, his countenace
very much troubled, and his gestures
like unto those of a person in great
perplexity of mind. I did not dare
so much as to stir from where I stood,
but watched him for a long space of
lime witfi incredible anxiety. Some-
times he stopped and raised his hand
to his forehead. Another while he
went to the window and looked in-
tently, now at the tower and the val-
ley beyond it, naw up to the sky, on
which the last rays of the setting sun
were throwing a deep red hue, as if
the world had been on fire. Then
turning back, he joined his hands to-
gether and anon sundered them again,
pacing up and down the while more
n^idly than before, as if an inward
conflict urged thia unwitting speed.
At last I saw him stand still, lift up



his hands and eyes to' heaven, and
move his lips as if in prayer. What
passed in his mind then, Grod only
knowcth. He is the most reluctant per-
son in the world to disclose his thoughts.

" When an hour afterward we met
in the library his spirits seemed some-
wtilt improved. He spoke of his
dear sister Meg with much afiection,
and asked me if I had heard from
Bess. Lord William, he said, was the
best brother a man ever had; and
that it should like him well to spend
his life in any comer of the world
God should appoint for him, so that
he had to keep him company Will and
Meg and his dear Nan, ' which I have
so long ill-treated,' he added, ' that as
long as I live I shall not cease to re-
pent of it; and God he knoweth I de-
serve not so good a wife ;' with many
other like speeches which I wish he
would not use, for it grieveth me he
should disquiet himself for what is
past, when his present kindness doth
so amply recompense former neglect.
Mine own Constance, I pray you keep
your courage alive in your afliictions.
There be no lane so long but it hath
a turning, the proverb saith. My
sorrows seemed at one time without
an issue. Now light breaketh through
the yet darksome clouds which do en-
viron us. So will it be with thee.
Bum this letter, seeing it doth contain
what may endanger the lives of more
persons than one. — ^Thy loving, faith-
ful fi^end,

" Ann, Arundel and Surbet."

A more agitated letter followed this
one, written at different times, and de-
tained for some days for lack of a
safe messenger to convey it.

" What I much fear," so it began,
" is the displeasure of my lord when
he comes to know of my reconcile-
ment, for it cannot, I think, be long
concealed from him. This my fear,
dear Constance, hath been much in-
creased by the coming down from
London of one of his chaplains, who
affirms he was sent on purpose by the
earl to read prayers and to preach to
me and any family ; and on last Sun-



Digitized by VjOOQIC



683



(hMlUmiit Shierwood.



day he came into the great chamber
of the castle, expecting and desiring
to know my pleasure therein. I
thought best for to send for him to my
chamber, and I desired him not to
trouble himself nor me in that matter,
for I would satisfy the earl therein.
But oh, albeit I spoke very comporod-
ly, my apprehensions are very great.
For see, my dear friend, Philip hath
been but lately reconciled to me, and
his fortunes are in a very desperate
condition, so that he may think I have
given the last blow to them by this
act, which his enemies will surely
brave at Think not I do repent of
it. Grod knoweth I should as soon
repent of my baptism as of my return
to his true Church ; but though the^
spirit is steadfast, the flesh is weak,
and the heart also. What will he say
to me when he cometh ? He did once
repulse me, but hath never upbraided
me. How shall I bear new frowns
after recent caresses? — ^peradventure
an eternal parting after a late reun-
ion ? O Constance, pray for me. But
I remember I have no means for to
send this letter. But God be praised,
I have now friends in heaven which
I may adjure to pray for me who
have at hand no earthly ones.''

Four or live days later, her lady-
ship thus finished her letter:

" Grod is very merciful ; oh, let his
holy name be praised and magnified
for ever I Now the weight of a
mountain is off my heart. Now I
care not for what man may do unto
me. Phil has been here, and I
promise thee, dear Constance, when
his horse stopped at the castle-door,
my heart almost stopped its beating,
80 great was my apprehension of his
anger. But, to my great joy and
admiration, he kissed me very ten-
derly, and did not speak the least
word of the chaplain's errand. And
when we did w/ilk out in the even-
ing, arid, mounting to the top of the
keep, stood there looking on the fine
tree6 and the sun sinking into the
sea, my dear lord, who had been
Bome time silent, turned to me and



said, 'Meg has become Catiholic'
Joy and surprise almost robbed mc
of my breath ; for next to his re-
concilement his sister's was what I
most desired in the world, and also
I knew what a particular love he
had ever shown for her, as being his
only sister, by reason whereof he
would not seem to be displeased
with her change, and consequently
he could not in reason be much of-
fended with myself for being what
she was ; so when he ssKid, * Meg has
become Catholic,' I leant my face
against his shoulder, and whispered,
*So hath Nan.' He spoke not nor'
moved for some minutes. Methinks
he could have heard the beatings of
my heart* I was comforted tiiat, al-
beit he uttered not so much as one
word, he made no motion for to with-
draw himself from me, whose head
still rested against his bosom. Sud-
denly he threw his arms about me,
and strained me to his breast. So
tender an embrace I had never before
had from him, and I felt his tears fall-
ing on my head. But speech there
was none touching my change. How-
soever, before he left me I said to hinu
* My dear Phil, Holy Scripture doth
advise those who enter into the ser-
vice of Almighty Grod to prepare
themselves for temptation. As soon
as I resolved to become Catholic, I
did deeply imprint this in my mind ;
for the times are such that I must ex-
pect to suffer for that cause.' 'Yea,
dearest Nan,' he answered^ -^th great
kindness, ' I doubt not thou hast taken
the course which will save thy soul
from the danger of shipwreck, al-
though it doth subject thy body to the
peril of misfortune.' Then waxing
bolder, I said, ' And thou, Phil — * and
there stopped short, looking what I
would speaJic. He seemed to straggle
for a while with some inward difficul-
ty of speaking his mind, but at last he
began, ' Nan, I will not become Cath-
olic before I can resolve to live as a
Catholic, and I defer the former until
I have an intent and resolute purpose
to perform the latter. O Nan, when I



Digitized by VjOOQIC



OtmHanee Skertoood.



ess



think of my vile usage of thee, whom
I should have so much loved and es-
teemed for thy virtue and discretion ;
of my wholly neglecting, in a manner,
my duty to the earl my grandfather,
and mv aunt Lady Lumley ; of my
wasting, by profuse expenses, of great
sums of money in the following of the
courts, the estate which was lefk me,
and a good quantity of thine own lands
also ; but far more than all, my total
forgetting of my duty to Almighty
God — for, carried away with company,
youthful entertainments, pleasures,
and delights, my mind being ^holly
possessed with them, I did scarce
so much OS think of God, or of
anything concerning religion or the
salvation of my soul — ^I do feel myself
unworthy of pardon, and utterly to be
contemned.' ,

" So much goodness, humility, and
virtuous intent was apparent in this^
speech, and such comfortable hopes of
future excellence, that I could not
forbear from exclaiming, 'My dear
Phil, I ween thou wilt be one of those
who shall love God much, forasmuch
as he will have forgiven thee much.'
And then I asked him how long it was
since this change in his thinking, al-
beit not yet acted upon, had come to
him ? He said, it so happened that he
was present, the year before, at a dis-
putation held in the Tower of London,
between Mr. Sherwin and some other
priests on the one part, Charles Fulk,
Whittakers, and some other Protestant
minis tei^s on the other ; and, by what
he heard and saw there, he had per-
ceived, he thought, on which side the
truth and true religion was, though at
the time he neither did intend to em-
brace or follow it. But, he added,
what had moved him of late most
powerfully thereunto was a sermon of
Father Campion's, which he had
heard at Noel House, whither Charles
Arundef had carried him, some days
before his last visit to me. *The
whole of those days,' he said, * my
mind was so oppressed with remorse
and doubt, that I knew no peace, un-
til one evening, by a special grace



of Grod, when I was 'walking alone
in the gallery, I firmly resolved — al-
beit I knew not how or when to ac-
complish this purpose — to become a
member of his Church, and to frame
my life according to it ; but I would
not acquaint thee, or any other person
living, with this intention, until I had
conferred thereof with my brother
William. Thou knowest, Nan, the
very .special love I bear him, and
which he hath ever shown to me.
Well, a few days after I returned to
London, I met him accidentally in the
street, he having come from Cumber-
land touching some matter of Bess's
lands ; and taking him home with me,
I discovered to him my detemination,
somewhat covertly at first ; and after
I lent bim a book to read, which was
written not long ago by Dr. Allen,
and have dealt with him so efiicacious-
ly that he has also resolved to be-
come Catholic He is to meet me
again next week, for further confer-
ence touching the means of putting
this intent into execution, which veri-
ly I see not how to effect, being so
watched by servants and so-called
friends, which besiege my doors and
haunt mine house in London on all
occasions.'

" Tills difficulty, dear Constance, I
sought to remedy by acquainting my
lord that his secretary, Mr. Mumford,
was Catholic, and he could, therefore,
disclose his thought with- safety to
him. And I also advised him to seek
occasion to know Mr. Wells and some
other zealous persons, which would
confirm him in his present resolution
and aid him in the execution thereof.
It may be, therefore, you will soon see
him, and fervently do I commend him
to thy prayers and whatever service
in the one thing needful should be in
thy power to procure for him. My
heart is so transported with joy that I
never remember the like emotions to
have filled it My most hope for this
present time at least had been he
should show no dislike to my being
Catholic; and lo, I find him to be one
in heart, and soon to be so in efiect ;



Digitized by VjOOQIC



684



CkmtUmee Sherwood,



aud the great gap between us, which
so long hath been a yawmng chasm
of despair, now filled up with a re-
newed love, and yet more by a parity
of thinking touching what it most be-
hoveth us to be united in. Deo gror-
Hasr

Here this portion of my lady's
manuscript ended, but these few hasty
lines were written below, visibly by a
trembling hand, and the whole closed,
I ween, abruptly. Methinks it was
left for me at Mr, Wells's, where I
found it, by Mr. Mumford, or some
other Catholic in the earFs house-
hold:

" The inhabitants of Arundel have
presented me for a recusant, and Mi\
Bayley has been committed and ac-
cused before the Bishop of Chichester
as a seminary priest. He hath, of
course, easily cleared himself of this ;
but because he will not take the
oath of supremacy, he is forced to quit
the country. Ue hath passed into
Flanders."

And then for many weeks I had
no tidings of the dear writer, until
one day it was told us that when the
queen had notice of her reconcilement
she disliked of it to such a degree that
presently she ordered her, being then
with child, to be taken from her own
house and carried to Wiston, Sir
Thomas Shirley's dwelling-place, there
to be kept prisoner tOl further or-
ders. Alas ! all the time she remain-
ed there I received not so much as
one line from her ladyship, nor did
her husband either, as I afterward
found. So straitly was she confined
and watched that none could serve or
have access to her but the knight and
his lady, and such as were approved
by them. Truly, as she since told me,
they courteously used her ; but special
care was taken that none that was
suspected for a priest should come
within sight of the house, which was
no small addition to her sufferings.
Lady Margaret Sackville was at that
time also thrown into prison.



CHAPTER XXIT

During the whole year of Lady
Arundel's imprisonment, neUher her
husband, nor her sister, nor her most
close friends, such as my poor un-
worthy self, had tidings from her, in
the shape of any letter or even mes-
sage, so sharply was she watched and
hindered from communicating ^th
any one. Only Sir Thomas Shirley
wrote to the earl her husband to in-
fonn him of his lady's safe delivery,
and the birth of a daughter, which,
much against her will, was baptized
according to the Protestant manner.
My Loid Arundel, mindful c^ her
words in the last interview he had
with her before her arrest, began to
haunt Mr. Wells's house in a private
way, and there I did often meet witJi
him, who bein% resolved, I ween, to
follow his lady's example in aU
things, began to honor me with so
much of his confidence that I had
occasion to discern how true had been
Sir Henry Jemingham's forecasting,
that this young nobleman, when once
turned to the ways of virtue and piety,
should prove himself by so much the
more eminent in goodness as he liad
heretofore been distinguished for his
reckless conduct. One day that he
came to Holbom, none others being
present but Mr. and Mrs. Wells and
myself, he told us that he and his
brother Lord William, having deter-
mined to become Catholics, and appre-
hending great danger in declaring
themselves as such within the king-
dom, had resolved secretly to leave
the land, to pass into Flanders, and
there to remain till more quiet times.

«What steps," Mr. Wells aflked,
^ hath your lordship disposed for to ef-
fect this departure ?"

<' In all my present doings," qnodi
the earl, " the mind of my dear wife
doth seem to guide me. The laai
time I was with her she informed me
that my secretary, John Mumtbrd, i^ a
Catholic, and I have since greatly
benefited by this knowledge. He ia
gone to HuU, in Yorkshire, for to take



Digitized by VjOOQIC



ComUmce Sketwood,



edd



order for oar passage to Flanders, and
I do wait tidings fiom him before I
leave London."

Then^ turning to me, he inquired in
a very earnest manner if mj thinking
agreed with his, that his sweet lady
should be contented he should forsake
the reahn, for the sake of the religious
interests which moved him thereunto,
joined with the hope that when he
should be abroad and his lands confis-
cated^ which be doubted not would
follow, she would be presently set at
liberty, and with her little wench join
him in Flanders. I assented thereun-
to, and made a promise to him that as
soon as ber ladyship should be releas-
ed I would hasten to her, and feast her
ears with the many assurances of ten-
der afiection he had uttered in her re-
gard, and aid her departure ; which
did also Mr. Wells. Then, drawing
me aside, he spoke for some time, with
tears in his eyes, of his own good wife,
as he eaUed her.

^ Mistress Sherwood,*' he said, " I
t^o trust in God that she shall find me
i'Bnceforward as good a husband, to
riy poor ability, by his grace, as she
has found me bad heretofore. No sin
grieves me anything so much as my
offences against her. What is past is
a nail in my conscience. My will is
t o make satisfaction ; but though I
should live never so long, I can never
do so further than by a good desire to
do it, which, while I have any spark
of breath, shall never be wanting."

And many words like these, which
he uttered in so heartfelt a manner
that I could scarce refrain from weep-
ing at the hearing of them. And so
we parted that day ; he with a confi-
dent hope soon to leave the realm ;
I with some misgivings thereon,
which were soon justified by the
event. For a few days afterward
Mr. Lacy brought us tidings he had
met Mr. Mumford in the street, who
had told him—when he expressed sur-
prise at his return — ^that before he
could reach Hull he had been appre-
hended and carried before the Earl of
Huntingdon, president of York, and



examined by him, without any evil re-
sult at that time, having no papers or
auspicious things about him ; but be-
ing now watched, he ventured not to
proceed to the coast, but straightway
came to London, greatly fearing Lord
Arundel should have left it.

" He hath not done so P* I anxious*
ly inquired.

"Nay,'* answered Mr. Lacy, "so
far from it, that I pray you to guess
how the noble ^rl — ^much against his
will, I ween — ^is presently employed."
. " He is not in prison ?" I cried.

" God defend it !" he replied. " No ;
he is preparing for to receive the
queen at Arundel House ; upon no*
tice given him that her majesty doth
intend on Thursday next to come
hither for her recreation."

"Alack I" I cried, "her visits to
such as be of his way of thinking bode
no good to them. She visited hka and
his wife at the Charterhouse at the
time when his father was doomed to
death, and now when she is a prisoner
her highness doth come to Arundel
House. When she set her foot in
Euston, the whole fabric of my happi-
ness fell to the ground. Heaven shield
the like doth not happen in this in-
stance; but I do greatly apprehend
the issue of this sudden honor confer-
red on him."

On the day fixed for the great and
sumptuous banquet which was prepar-
ed for the queen at Arundel House, I
went thither, having been invited by
Mrs. Fawcett to spend the day with
her on this occasion, which minded
me of the time when I went with my
cousins and mine own good Mistress
Ward for to see her majesty's enter-
tainment at the Charterhouse, wherein
had been sowed the seeds of a bitter
harvest, since reaped by his sweet
lady and liimself. Then pageants had
charms in mine eyes; now, none —
but rather the contrary. Howsoever,
I was glad to be near at hand on that
day, so as to hear such reports as
reached us from time to time of her
majesty's behavior to the earl. From
all I could find, she seemed very well



Digitized by VjOOQIC



636



Oonttance SkerwoocL



contented; and Mr. Mumford, with
whom I was acquainted, came to Mrs.
Fawcett's chamber, hearing I was
there, and reported that her highness
had given his lordship many thanks
for her entertainment, and showed
herself exceeding merry all the time
she was at table, asking him many
questions, and relating anecdotes
which she had learnt from Sir Fulke
Greville, whom the maids-of-honor
were wont to say brought her all the
tales she heard ; at* which Mrs. Faw-
cett said that gentleman had once de*
clared that he was like Robin Good-
fellow ; for that when the dairy-maids
upset the milk-pans, or maicle a romp-
ing and racket, they laid it all on
Robin, and so, whatever gossip-tales
the queen's ladies told her, they laid it
aU upon him, if he was ever so inno-
cent of it.

«Sir,*' I said to Mr. Munrford,
*< think you her majesty hath said
aught to my lord touching his lady or
his lately-born little daughter ?"

"Once," he answered, "when she
told of the noble trick she hath played
Sir John Spencer touching his grand-
son, whom he would not see because
his daughter did decamp from his
house in a baker's basket for to marry
Sir Henry Compton, and her majesty
invited him to be her gossip at the
christening of a fair boy to whom she
did intend to stand godmother, for that
he was the first-bom child of a young
couple who had married for love and
lived happily ; and so the old knight
said, as he had no heir, he should



Online LibraryPaulist FathersCatholic world → online text (page 100 of 136)