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But in dealing with such a story can no one help remarking that it is rather strange, and like the absurdity into which party writers are apt to be led, to ask our sympathy, and try to move our feelings, in behalf of a poor pious puritan who "pleaded in vain " to be put into the hands of Gardiner? Will it not be thought maudlin nonsense even by readers, who only know Fox's reports of Philpot's "boldness" in the days of King Edward, and his “divers conflicts with Gardiner the bishop in the city of Winchester "-by those who have never been particularly informed that “Stephen, bishop of Winton, ever bare ill-will against this godly gentleman,” and who have never seen the humourous "passage Mr. Sternhold, one of King Edward's Privy Chamber, told afterwards to that King for entertainment's sake;" namely, how the said bishop of Winchester (in our story the defrauded Ordinary) sent for Philpot to meet certain justices at his house, and called him “rogue,” and then finding that he could dispend ten pounds by the year, and was his own nephew's landlord, was afraid and ashamed for making so loud a lie upon a gentleman, and a learned gentleman.
Whether this account of Strype's is verbatim the Old Version of our good Psalmist, I do not know, or how far it is true, but it leads one to think that there was no particular cruelty in keeping Philpot out of Gardiner's hands. Indeed I think one hint was dropped by Bonner at a later period, which seems to look quite a contrary way. If I remember right, he suggested that Philpot had been emboldened to imagine that he should
"the which he would seem to be seen? I tell thee, a man may be of 'three dioceses at once : as if thou wert born in London, by reason 'thereof thou should be of my diocese : or else if thou wert not born here, but hadst a dignity, also thou art to be counted of my diocese : or else by reason of thy habitation in my diocese.
Philpot. In none of these respects I am of your lordship’s diocese ; but for all that, this will not follow, that I, dwelling at Winchester, am ' at that present of London diocese.
“ London. What wilt thou lay thereof? wilt thou recant, if I prove it ? · Philpot. But what shall I win, if you do not? " London. I will give thee my bishopric, if I prove it not. “ Philpot. Yea, but who shall deliver it me, if I win ?
“ London. Thou art an arrogant fool. Enter their oaths, and take 'these witnesses' depositions. I must be gone to the parliament• house."- Ibid. p. 655.
* Strype, Mem. III. i. 438.
escape burning through the death of Gardiner. But perhaps enough has been said of this case; only I must beg the reader to reflect on the almost incredible assurance of bringing it forward with a “THUS" as if it were given off hand, and by chance, as the first that came to recollection from among scores or hundreds, to prove that Bonner“stood not on distinction of Dioceses, but martyred all wheresoever he met them."
One remark, however, I must add on the phraseology in which this falsehood is expressed, because words have their nods and winks, and frequently exercise a strong, though subtle infuence on readers, even when the objection to them is such as seems at first sight to be nothing more than cavil or petty criticism. Fuller says he martyred all “wheresoever he met them.” Now I have already stated that the “wheresoever” was, without any real exception that I know of, within his own diocese and jurisdiction ; but, beside this, there is something implied in the word “met," which is not applicable to the real circumstances of the case. When bodies are said to be “met," it is implied that the meeting body, at least, was in motion; we should hardly think of saying that a man “met" a post, unless he ran against it; and, at all events, we should not use such a word to describe his contact with a body thrown in his face, or into his lap, by an external force. Fuller's language would naturally convey, and of course he meant it to convey, the idea, that Bonner was on the look out, and went forth, and prowled like a wild beast to seek his prey. That he desired to meet with heretics, and catch them, and kill them. What ground he might have for the suggestion I know not; but I must say that from all that I have hitherto learned I am inclined to believe that Bonner never either by himself, or his agents, searched for heretics, or was the original cause of any man's being brought into trouble on the score of religion, except so far as he might be said to be so by the effect of official documents set forth by him in his character of a Bishop or an Ecclesiastical Judge. Or to put the matter in another form,—what I see leads me to doubt whether he ever imprisoned, or examined, or even took cognizance of the existence of any suspected individual on the accusation of any informer, spy, or private individual, or even on the reports which he officially monished his clergy to make (and
which I presume they did make) to him of those who refused to go to church, to confess, to communicate, &c. I cannot prove this (and further inquiry may produce some cases to show I am mistaken), but I believe that he never dealt with any alleged heretic who was not brought before him in his official character as Bishop of London, in due course of law, by the warrant of some magistrate, or other person, acting directly under a Commission from the Government.
These points will appear more clearly hereafter. In the mean time I am afraid the humane reader will think that I am postponing, and shrinking from, and not daring to confront, the most shocking part of Fuller's account. What are we to say to the general statement that, “No sex, quality, or age escap'd him”? and the particular cases of “John Fetty a lad of eight years old, by him scourged to death," and
Hugh Laverock a Creeple, sixty-eight years old, whom he caused to be burnt" ?
As to the first part of this it is obviously mere declamation. One knows perfectly, and is tired of being told over and over again, that the law for burning heretics was a very bad law; and ought never to have existed. But, in fact, it did exist, and it was the law of the country; and did anybody ever hear of a country where there were laws and judges, and where either sex or quality, or age, was considered as a legitimate ground of escape from the penalty of the law? Has any nation ever tried the experiment? Does anybody wish to have it tried ? If they do let them say so.
To come then to the consideration of John Fetty in particular, I do not wish to say what is harsh or coarse, and therefore I will abstain from using some of the words which I have just quoted from our venerable Psalmist's narrative, though they run in my mind; and I really do hope that if his own book, and Fox's had been held up before Fuller's eyes, he would have been “afraid and ashamed for making” such an unfair use of his authority. If merely the truth
of the story were in controversy, instead of the more serious question of the credit and respect due to the historian, it would be sufficient to reply that Fox does not venture to say as a matter of fact,-no, nor even as a matter of his own belief,
either that the child was
scourged to death; or that, if he was, Bonner ever so much as saw him.
But as I do not expect the reader either to take my word for this, or to study the history in Fox, and as it is highly illustrative of several of the points touched upon in this volume, I will give what I believe to be a true, though a brief, summary of the story.
John Fetty, the father of the child in question, was a simple and godly poor man, "dwelling in the parish of Clerkenwell, and was by vocation a taylor, of the age of twenty-four years or thereabout." He seems to have married at an age when he could not be expected to show much discretion in choosing a partner; for this (not his only, and perhaps not his eldest) child was “of the age of eight or nine years." He suffered for his youthful indiscretion ; for his wife, disapproving his resolution “not to come into the church, and be partaker of their idolatry and superstition," was so cruel, or so zealous, as to denounce him to “ one Brokenbury, a priest and parson of the same parish.” Accordingly “through the said priest's procurement, he was apprehended by Richard Tanner, and his fellow constables there, and one Martin the headborough.” Immediately after doing this the poor woman was seized with such remorse that she became “ distract of her wits.” Even the pitiless papists were moved; the Baalamite priest and the constables, and headborough, all agreed for the sake of her, and her two children, that they would " for that pre ht let her husband alone, and would not carry him to prison, .but yet suffered him to remain quietly in his own house; •during which time, he, as it were forgetting the wicked
and unkind fact of his wife, did yet so cherish and provide . for her, that within the space of three weeks (through God's merciful providence) she was well amended, and had recovered again some stay of her wits and senses.
But strange to say, so soon as she had recovered some health," her cruelty or zeal revived, and she “ did again accuse her husband." The steps are not stated; but we may reasonably suppose them to have been the same as before. Now, however, as there was nothing to interrupt the common course of things, John Fetty was “ carried unto
5 Fox, viï. 511.
Sir John Mordant, Knight, one of the Queen's Commissioners, and he upon examination sent him by Cluny the "bishop's sumner, unto the Lollards' Tower." On what charge (except so far as may be gathered from what has been already stated) Sir John sent him to prison we are not told; but there he lay for fifteen days, and probably Bonner knew no more of his being there, than he knew of Thomas Green's being twice as long in his own coalhouse
Perhaps while her husband lay in prison, the poor woman, who may so peculiarly be termed the wife of his youth, relented, and thought herself happy that, owing to their early marriage, they had already a child of an age to traverse the streets of London, of “a bold and quick spirit,” who would make his way in search of his father; and at the same time, "godly brought up," and knowing how to behave himself before his elders and betters at the bishop's palace. I own, however, that this is mere supposition, and that I find no particular ground for supposing that his mother knew that he was gone out upon what may have been only a spontaneous pilgrimage of filial piety; but, to come to facts, it is clearly stated that he “came unto the bishop's house to see if he could get leave to speak with his father. At his coming thither one of the bishop's chaplains met with him, and asked him what he lacked, and what he would have. The child answered, that he came to see his 'father. The chaplain asked again who was his father. "The boy then told him, and pointing towards Lollards' • Tower, showed him that his father was there in prison. "Why,' quoth the priest, 'thy father is a heretic. The
child being of a bold quick spirit, and also godly brought "up, and instructed by his father in the knowledge of God, answered and said, My father is no heretic; for you have • BALAAM'S MARK.'”
By this notable speech the unhappy child has gained a place in the holy army of martyrs. At least (so far as Fox tells us) he said and did nothing else; though perhaps we may take it for granted that the precocious little polemic showed his “bold and quick spirit," and his godly bringing up, in some other smart sayings, and gave some other
6 See before, p. 19.