CHAPTER XIII. PERSECUTIONS IN ENGLAND DURING THE REIGN OF QUEEN MARY M
Deliverance of Dr. Sands.
This eminent prelate, vice-chancellor of Cambridge, at the request of the duke of Northumberland, when he came down to Cambridge in support of Lady Jane Grey’s claim to the throne, undertook at a few hours notice, to preach before the duke and the university. The text he took was such as presented itself in opening the Bible, and a more appropriate one he could not have chosen, namely, the three last verses of Joshua. As God gave him the text, so he gave him also such order and utterance, that it excited the most lively emotions in his numerous auditors. The sermon was about to be sent to London to be printed, when news arrived that the duke had returned and queen Mary was proclaimed.
The duke was immediately arrested, and Dr. Sands was compelled by the university to give up his office. He was arrested by the queen’s order, and when Mr. Mildmay wondered that so learned a man could wilfully incur danger, and speak against so good a princess as Mary, the doctor replied, “If I would do as Mr. Mildmay has done, I need not fear bonds. He came down armed against queen Mary; before a traitor—now a great friend. I cannot with one mouth blow hot and cold in this manner.” A general plunder of Dr. Sands’ property ensued, and he was brought to London upon a wretched horse. Various insults he met on the way from the bigoted catholics, and as he passed through Bishopsgate-street, a stone struck him to the ground. He was the first prisoner that entered the tower, in that day, on a religious account; his man was admitted with his Bible, but his shirts and other articles were taken from him.
On Mary’s coronation-day, the doors of the dungeon were so laxly guarded, that it was easy to escape. A Mr. Mitchell, like a true friend, came to him, afforded him his own clothes as a disguise, and was willing to abide the consequence of being found in his place. This was a rare friendship: but he refused the offer; saying, “I know no cause why I should be in prison. To do thus, were to make myself guilty. I will expect God’s good will, yet do I think myself much obliged to you:” and so Mr. Mitchell departed.
With doctor Sands was imprisoned Mr. Bradford; they were kept close in prison twenty-nine weeks. John Fowler, their keeper, was a perverse papist, yet, by often persuading him, at length he began to favour the gospel, and was so persuaded in the true religion, that on a Sunday, when they had mass in the chapel, Dr. Sands administered the communion to Bradford and to Fowler. Thus Fowler was their son begotten in bonds. To make room for Wyat and his accomplices, Dr. Sands and nine other preachers were sent to the Marshalsea.
The keeper of the Marshalsea appointed to every preacher a man to lead him in the street; he caused them to go on before, and he and Dr. Sands followed conversing together. By this time popery began to be unsavoury. After they had passed the bridge, the keeper said to Dr. Sands, “I perceive the vain people would set you forward to the fire. You are as vain as they, if you, being a young man, will stand in your own conceit, and prefer your own judgment before that of so many worthy prelates, ancient, learned, and grave men as be in this realm. If you do so, you shall find me a severe keeper, and one that utterly dislikes your religion.” Dr. Sands answered, “I know my years to be young, and my learning but small; it is enough to know Christ crucified, and he hath learned nothing who seeth not the great blasphemy that is in popery. I will yield unto God, and not unto man; I have read in the Scriptures of many godly and courteous keepers: may God make you one! if not, I trust he will give me strength and patience to bear your hard usage.” Then said the keeper, “Are you resolved to stand to your religion?” “Yes,” quoth the doctor, “by God’s grace!” “Truly,” said the keeper, “I love you the better for it; I did but tempt you: what favour I can show you, you shall be assured of; and I shall think myself happy if I might die at the stake with you.” He was as good as his word, for he trusted the doctor to walk in the fields alone, where he met with Mr. Bradford, who was also a prisoner in the King’s Bench, and had found the same favour from his keeper. At his request, he put Mr. Saunders in along with him, to be his bed-fellow, and the communion was administered to a great number of communicants.
When Wyat with his army came to Southwark, he offered to liberate all the imprisoned protestants, but Dr. Sands and the rest of the preachers refused to accept freedom on such terms.
After Dr. Sands had been nine weeks prisoner in the Marshalsea, by the mediation of Sir Thomas Holcroft, knight marshal, he was set at liberty. Though Mr. Holcroft had the queen’s warrant, the bishop commanded him not to set Dr. Sands at liberty, until he had taken sureties of two gentlemen with him, each one bound in £500, that Dr. Sands should not depart out of the realm without license. Mr. Holcroft immediately after met with two gentlemen of the north, friends and cousins to Dr. Sands, who offered to be bound for him.
After dinner, the same day, Sir Thomas Holcroft sent for Dr. Sands to his lodging at Westminster, to communicate to him all he had done. Dr. Sands answered, “I give God thanks, who hath moved your heart to mind me so well, that I think myself most bound unto you. God shall requite you, nor shall I ever be found unthankful. But as you have dealt friendly with me, I will also deal plainly with you. I came a freeman into prison; I will not go forth a bondman. As I cannot benefit my friends, so will I not hurt them. And if I be set at liberty, I will not tarry six days in this realm, if I may get out. If therefore I may not get free forth, send me to the Marshalsea again, and there you shall be sure of me.”
This answer Mr. Holcroft much disapproved of; but like a true friend he replied, “Seeing you cannot be altered, I will change my purpose, and yield unto you. Come of it what will, I will set you at liberty; and seeing you have a mind to go over sea, get you gone as quick as you can. One thing I require of you, that, while you are there, you write nothing to me hither, for this may undo me.”
Dr. Sands having taken an affectionate farewell of him, and his other friends in bonds, departed. He went by Winchester house, and there took boat, and came to a friend’s house in London, called William Banks, and tarried there one night. The next night he went to another friend’s house, and there he heard that strict search was making for him, by Gardiner’s express order.
Dr. Sands now conveyed himself by night to one Mr. Berty’s house, a stranger who was in the Marshalsea prison with him a while; he was a good protestant and dwelt in Mark-lake. There he was six days, and then removed to one of his acquaintances in Cornhill; he caused his man Quinton to provide two geldings for him, resolved on the morrow to ride into Essex, to Mr. Sands, his father-in-law, where his wife was, which after a narrow escape, he effected. He had not been there two hours, before Mr. Sands was told that two of the guards would that night apprehend Dr. Sands.
That night Dr. Sands was guided to an honest farmer’s near the sea, where he tarried two days and two nights in a chamber without company. After that he removed to one James Mower’s, a ship-master, who dwelt at Milton-Shore, where he waited for a wind to Flanders. While he was there, James Mower brought to him forty or fifty mariners, to whom he gave an exhortation; they liked him so well, that they promised to die rather than he should be apprehended.
The sixth of May, Sunday, the wind served. In taking leave of his hostess, who had been married eight years without having a child, he gave her a fine handkerchief and an old royal of gold, and said, “Be of good comfort; before that one whole year be past, God shall give you a child, a boy.” This came to pass, for, that day twelvemonth, wanting one day, God gave her a son.
Scarcely had he arrived at Antwerp, when he learned that king Philip had sent to apprehend him. He next flew to Augsburgh, in Cleveland, where Dr. Sands tarried fourteen days, and then travelled towards Strasburgh, where, after he had lived one year, his wife came to him. He was sick of a flux nine months, and had a child which died of the plague. His amiable wife at length fell into a consumption, and died in his arms. When his wife was dead, he went to Zurich, and there was in Peter Martyr’s house for the space of five weeks. As they sat at dinner one day, word was suddenly brought that queen Mary was dead, and Dr. Sands was sent for by his friends at Strasburgh, where he preached. Mr. Grindall and he came over to England, and arrived in London the same day that queen Elizabeth was crowned. This faithful servant of Christ, under queen Elizabeth, rose to the highest distinctions in the church, being successively bishop of Worcester, bishop of London, and archbishop of York.
Queen Mary’s treatment of her sister the Princess Elizabeth.
The preservation of the princess Elizabeth may be reckoned a remarkable instance of the watchful eye which Christ had over his church. The bigotry of Mary regarded not the ties of consanguinity, of natural affection, of national succession. Her mind, physically morose was under the dominion of men who possessed not the milk of human kindness, and whose principles were sanctioned and enjoined by the idolatrous tenets of the Romish pontiff. Could they have foreseen the short date of Mary’s reign, they would have imbrued their hands in the protestant blood of Elizabeth, and, as a sine qua non of the queen’s salvation, have compelled her to bequeath the kingdom to some catholic prince. The contest might have been attended with the horrors incidental to a religious civil war, and calamities might have been felt in England similar to those under Henry the Great in France, whom queen Elizabeth assisted in opposing his priest-ridden catholic subjects. As if Providence had the perpetual establishment of the protestant faith in view, the difference of the durations of the two reigns is worthy of notice. Mary might have reigned many years in the course of nature, but the course of grace willed it otherwise. Five years and four months was the time of persecution alloted to this weak, disgraceful reign, while that of Elizabeth reckoned a number of years among the highest of those who have sat on the English throne, almost nine times that of her merciless sister!
Before Mary attained the crown, she treated her with a sisterly kindness, but from that period her conduct was altered, and the most imperious distance substituted. Though Elizabeth had no concern in the rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat, yet she was apprehended, and treated as a culprit in that commotion. The manner too of her arrest was similar to the mind that dictated it: the three cabinet members, whom she deputed to see the arrest executed, rudely entered the chamber at ten o’clock at night, and, though she was extremely ill, they could scarcely be induced to let her remain till the following morning. Her enfeebled state permitted her to be moved only by short stages in a journey of such length to London; but the princess, though afflicted in person, had a consolation in mind which her sister never could purchase: the people, through whom she passed on her way, pitied her, and put up their prayers for her preservation. Arrived at court, she was made a close prisoner for a fortnight, without knowing who was her accuser, or seeing any one who could console or advise her. The charge however was at length unmasked by Gardiner, who, with nineteen of the council, accused her of abetting Wyat’s conspiracy, which she religiously affirmed to be false. Failing in this, they placed against her the transactions of Sir Peter Carew in the west in which they were as unsuccessful as in the former. The queen now signified, it was her pleasure she should be committed to the Tower, a step which overwhelmed the princess with the greatest alarm and uneasiness. In vain she hoped the queen’s majesty would not commit her to such a place; but there was no lenity to be expected; her attendants were limited, and a hundred northern soldiers appointed to guard her day and night.
On Palm-Sunday she was conducted to the Tower. When she came to the palace garden, she cast her eyes towards the windows, eagerly anxious to meet those of the queen, but she was disappointed. A strict order was given in London, that every one should go to church, and carry palms, that she might be conveyed without clamour or commiseration to her prison.
At the time of passing under London-bridge the fall of the tide made it very dangerous, and the barge some time stuck fast against the starlings. To mortify her the more, she was landed at Traitors’ Stairs. As it rained fast, and she was obliged to step in the water to land, she hesitated; but this excited no complaisance in the lord in waiting. When she set her foot on the steps, she exclaimed, “Here lands as true a subject, being prisoner, as ever landed at these stairs; and before thee, O God, I speak it, having no friend but thee alone!”
A large number of the wardens and servants of the Tower were arranged in order, between whom the princess had to pass. Upon inquiring the use of this parade, she was informed it was customary to do so. “If,” said she, “it is on account of me, I beseech you that they may be dismissed.” On this the poor men knelt down, and prayed that God would preserve her grace, for which they were the next day turned out of their employments. The tragic scene must have been deeply interesting, to see an amiable and irreproachable princess sent like a lamb to languish in expectation of cruelty and death; against whom there was no other charge than her superiority in Christian virtues and acquired endowments. Her attendants openly wept as she proceeded with a dignified step to the frowning battlements of her destination. “Alas!” said Elizabeth, “what do you mean? I took you to comfort, not to dismay me; for my truth is such, that no one shall have cause to weep for me.”
The next step of her enemies was to procure evidence by means which, in the present day, are accounted detestable. Many poor prisoners were racked, to extract, if possible, any matters of accusation which might affect her life, and thereby gratify Gardiner’s sanguinary disposition. He himself came to examine her, respecting her removal from her house at Ashbridge to Dunnington castle a long while before. The princess had quite forgotten this trivial circumstance, and lord Arundel, after the investigation, kneeling down, apologized for having troubled her in such a frivolous matter. “You sift me narrowly,” replied the princess, “but of this I am assured, that God has appointed a limit to your proceedings; and so God forgive you all.”
Her own gentlemen, who ought to have been her purveyors, and served her provision, were compelled to give place to the common soldiers, at the command of the constable of the Tower, who was in every respect a servile tool of Gardiner,—her grace’s friends, however, procured an order of council which regulated this petty tyranny more to her satisfaction.
After having been a whole month in close confinement, she sent for the lord Chamberlain and lord Chandois, to whom she represented the ill state of her health from a want of proper air and exercise. Application being made to the council, Elizabeth was with some difficulty admitted to walk in the queen’s lodgings, and afterwards in the garden, at which time the prisoners on that side were attended by their keepers, and not suffered to look down upon her. Their jealousy was excited by a child of four years old, who daily brought flowers to the princess. The child was threatened with a whipping, and the father ordered to keep him from the princess’ chambers.
On the 5th of May the constable was discharged from his office, and Sir Henry Benifield appointed in his room, accompanied by a hundred ruffian-looking soldiers in blue. This measure created considerable alarm in the mind of the princess, who imagined it was preparatory to her undergoing the same fate as lady Jane Gray, upon the same block. Assured that this project was not in agitation, she entertained an idea that the new keeper of the Tower was commissioned to make away with her privately, as his equivocal character was in conformity with the ferocious inclination of those by whom he was appointed.
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