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be seen (for the matter is too important to our inquiry to allow of its being omitted) that it was a circular letter from the King and Queen to the bishops, informing them of their concern in another circular letter which had been already sent to all the Justices of the Peace in the kingdom.
"A Letter of the King and Queen to Bonner. “ To the right reverend father in God, our right trusty and well
beloved, the bishop of London. “Right reverend father in God, right trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well. And whereas of late we addressed our letters to the justices of peace within every of the counties of this our realm, whereby, amongst other instructions given them for the good order and quiet government of the country round about them, they are willed to have a special regard unto such disordered persons as (forgetting their duties towards God and us) do lean to any erroneous and heretical opinions, refusing to show themselves conformable to the catholic religion of Christ's church ; wherein if they cannot by good admonitions and fair means reform them, they are willed to deliver them to the ordinary, to be by him charitably travailed withal, and removed (if it may be) from their naughty opinions; or else, if they continue obstinate, to be ordered according to the laws provided in that behalf : understanding now, to our no little marvel, that divers of the said disordered persons, being by the justices of peace, for their contempt and obstinacy, brought to the ordinaries to be used as is aforesaid, are either refused to be received at their hands, or, if they be received, are neither so travailed with as Christian charity requireth, nor yet proceeded withal according to the order of justice, but are suffered to continue in their errors, to the dishonour of Almighty God, and dangerous example of others ; like as we find this matter very strange, so we have thought convenient both to signify this our knowledge, and therewith also to admonish you to have in this behalf such regard henceforth to the office of a good pastor and bishop, as when any such offenders shall be by the said officers or justices of peace brought unto you, you to use your good wisdom and discretion in procuring to remove them from their errors, if it may be; or else in proceeding against them (if they shall continue obstinate) according to the order of the laws ; so as through your good furtherance, both God's glory may be better advanced, and the commonwealth more quietly governed. “Given under our signet, at our honour of Hampton-court,
the 24th of May, the first and second years of our
reigns. This document is of great historical importance, as showing the conduct of the court at this time towards the ecclesiastical and civil authorities with reference to the matter of heresy. But it is of much more consequence in our
3 Fox, vol. vii. p. 86.
inquiry; because, though it is absurd to talk of its being sent to Bonner personally, or as if it had any particular application to him, yet it was in fact sent to him as much as to the rest of the bishops; and our business is to inquire what he did with it. The reader may think this hopeless; for he will see that Fox, having given the document, proceeds with his story, dismissing the whole subject of court interference with this one remark;—"This letter coming 'from the court to the bishop, made him the more earnest and hasty to the condemnation, as well of others, as of these men of whom now we have presently to entreat, of John Simson I mean, and John Ardeley,” &c.
We will, however, take leave to understand Fox's presently” in the modern, rather than in his sense of the word; and first inquire what Bonner did with reference to this Royal Letter. In order to this an inquirer must have either the first edition of the Martyrology, or Mr. Cattley's. Taking for granted that he has not convenient access to the former very rare volume, I assume with equal confidence that he can consult the latter, which, owing to its badness and its being kept imperfect by the publisher, may be had at a very low price. If then he looks out the King and Queen's letter at volume vii. p. 86 of Mr. Cattley's edition, and proceeds to turn over exactly one hundred and ninety-nine pages, he will find a passage restored from the first edition, and stuck in (without a word of explanation or any reference but to that first edition) between “The Godly Letters of John Bradford," and the history of " William Minge," and having no sort of connection with either; but which, on reflection and comparison, he will see to be very important in regard to the subject of our inquiry. It begins thus ;
“In the month of May before, mention was made of certain letters directed from the king and the queen to Bonner, then being bishop of London. Besides which letters, certain others had been directed a little before from the Council to the said bishop; by occasion of which letters, Bonner, not long after, caused a certain declaration to be made at Paul's Cross, by Chedsey, unto the people, to purge and wash himself from the common and general suspicion of cruelty, which was spread abroad of him among the common people : the copy of which his declaration I thought here not to suppress, but, in this place, to set forth."-Pox, vol. vii.
If I understand the matter right, Bonner received the letter on Friday the 24th, or Saturday the 25th of May, and Dr. Chedsey made the following declaration on Sunday the 26th ; "such quick speed ” did Bonner make in doing what he saw fit to do on the occasion, and what certainly was rather a remarkable act; though I confess myself unable fully to understand tho whole motive and purpose of it. I shall, however, be surprised if I find, that any fair and candid person considers it as the act of a man who thirsted for blood, and desired nothing more than to drive on the persecution, and be the agent and instrument of its cruelties;
“A Declaration made at Paules Crosse by Doctour Chedsey, at the
commaundement of Boner, then Byshop of London. “My lorde maior, maister aldermen, maister shiriffes, and all you here now assembled : my lorde byshoppe of London, your ordinarye, hath desired me to declare unto you all, that upon Friday last he dyd receive twoo letters from the court; the one came from the Kyng and Queenes majesties, the other from their majesties' privye Counsayle. The effect of that letter whiche came from the privye Counsell, was concerninge procession and prayer to be made for the obtaynyng and concludynge of peace betwene the Emperour's Majesty and the Frenche Kynge; the effect of that letter that came from the King and Queenes Majesties was for the charitable in. struction and reformation for heretickes, if they would amend, and for theyr punishment if they woulde be wylfyll and obstinate; and you shall heare the tenour and woordes of both.
“The superscription of the letter commyng from the privye Counsell was thys : To our very good lorde the Byshop of London, wyth diligence. The subscription was: Your lordshyppes lovyng frendes, Francis Shrewesberye; Penbroke; Thomas Cheyny; Wylliam Peter; Thomas Wharton, Richard Southwel. The woordes of the bodye of the letter were these : After our ryght hartye, etc.
“The superscription of the letter comminge from the Kinge and Queenes Majesties was this : To the righte reverende Father in God, our right trustie and well beloved the byshop of London. The signe manuel was Philip and Marye : the tenor was Right reverend, etc.; and Lo, heare is the signet put to the saide letters.
“And where by these letters, comming from the king and Quenes Majesties, it appeareth that their majesties do charge my Lorde byshop of London and the rest of the bishops of remisnes and negligence in instructinge the people, infected with heresye, yf they will be taught, and in punishing them yf they will be obstinate and willfull, ye shall understand that my Lorde Byshop of London, for his part, offereth himselfe redye to do therin hys duty to the uttermost ; gevinge you knowledge that he hath sent to all the prisons of the citie to knowe what persons are there for heresye, and by whose commaundement: and that he will travayle and take payne with all that be of his jurisdiction for theire amendement; and sorye he is that anye is in pryson for any such matter. And he willed me to tel you, that he is not so cruell or hastye to sende men to pryson as some be slaunderous and wilful to do naught, and laye theire faultes on other men's shoulders.
“Moreover my sayd lord bishop willed me to declare unto you, that upon Wednisday next at eight of the clocke in the morning, there shall be heare at Paules a sermon before the generall procession; and, that sermon beynge done, there shal be a generall procession throughe this citye, according to the tenor of the counsail's letters; and I do warne here this assemblye, and, by them, al other of this citye, to be present at the same.”- Fox, vol. vii. 286. First Ed. p. 1217.
This Declaration, as I have already stated, I do not fully understand ; and I do not pretend to say who they were whom Bonner in so public à manner charged with doing naught and laying their faults on other men's shoulders. The whole passage was, I believe, omitted in every edition of Fox after the first, until it was restored by Mr. Cattley“; and this, whatever people may think of the story now, looks as if the martyrologist on reflection, or a hint from some wiser head than his own, thought that it was one which might as well be forgotten. I apprehend that we may be indebted to Mr. Cattley and his odd edition for a good many such particulars.
$ 7. BONNER'S DEALINGS WITH HIS OWN PRISONERS
RESUMED. Returning to the account of Bonner's dealings with his own prisoners, I am anxious to say at once, that it is not my purpose to weary the reader with a notice of each one of them in regular succession, though I have thought it fairest, most convenient, and every way best, to take a few of the first just in the order in which they occurred.
4 As I have repeatedly said, I quote Mr. Cattley's edition for the convenience of my readers as well as for my own. It was however so evident that the unhappy editor had in this passage (as in others replaced by bim from the first edition) incorrected it into nonsense, that I did not venture to do what can be of comparatively little consequence where the reader may refer to older editions. Through the kindness of my friend Mr. Holmes of the Museum I am enabled to give it as it stands in the first edition. Mr. Cattley not understanding the end of the third paragraph, has printed it thus," he is not so cruel or hasty to send men to prison as some be — slanderous and wilful to do naught, and lay their faolts on other men's shoulders.” This might indicate something omitted, but it is not 80. It is merely that the editor did not understand it. It is obvious that there should be a comina after “prison.”
I can truly declare that if I were merely desirous to make out a case, and it could be done without intolerable prolixity and repetition, I should be glad to go regularly through all the processes in which Bonner was concerned; and that, if I feel it necessary to select a part only, not a single one is omitted from a fear that it would contradict any fact which is stated, or any opinion which is maintained, in this volume.
But, in truth, the cases, as they are reported to us, are chiefly of two kinds ; namely, those which relate little more than the capture of the prisoner, his examinations, his constancy in maintaining his opinions and withstanding the flattering and threatening by which he was assailed, and the catastrophe which followed—these accounts, given on one authority or another, or perhaps on none at all, form one class. The other, and much more valuable, consists of those narratives which were written by the parties themselves or their immediate relations or friends. These are not only more circumstantial, and more graphic, but, what is still more important, they are plainly the most unexceptionable as it regards both the facts stated, and the animus of the parties most interested. The reporter, we are sure, does not write to eulogize Bonner, or dispraise the subject of his narrative.
The two cases which occur next after the interruption of the Royal Letter, are fair specimens of this. The first is the joint one, already mentioned, of ;
(18.) JOHN SIMson, and (19.) JOHN ARDELEY. They were both husbandmen in the town of Wigborough in Essex. At some time, which is not stated, they were “brought up both together by the under-sheriff of Essex to Bonner, Bishop of London, upon the accusation (as in that time it was called) of heresys.” Afterwards (how long of course does not appear, but it was on the 22nd of May, 1555) articles were objected to them. They answered either on the same day or some other, and then, “the bishop, according to the old trade of his consistory court, respited them to the afternoon.” At that time he repeated the said articles to them, “and beginning with John Ardeley, did urge and solicitate him, according to his manner of words, to recant. To whom John Ardeley
5 Fox, vii. 86, 88.