FOX'S BOOK OF MARTYRS
Edited by William Byron Forbush
An Account of the Inquisition (part 4)
The Persecution of Dr. Constantine
Dr. Constantine, an intimate acquaintance of the already mentioned Dr. Aegidio, was a man of uncommon natural abilities and profound learning; exclusive of several modern tongues, he was acquainted with the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages, and perfectly well knew not only the sciences called abstruse, but those arts which come under the denomination of polite literature.
His eloquence rendered him pleasing, and the soundness of his doctrines a profitable preacher; and he was so popular that he never preached but to a crowded audience. He had many opportunities of rising in the Church, but never would take advantage of them; for if a living of greater value than his own was offered him, he would refuse it, saying, "I am content with what I have"; and he frequently preached so forcibly against simony, that many of his superiors, who were not so delicate upon the subject, took umbrage at his doctrines upon that head.
Having been fully confirmed in Protestantism by Dr. Aegidio, he preached boldly such doctrines only as were agreeable to Gospel purity, and uncontaminated by the errors which had at various times crept into the Romish Church. For these reasons he had many enemies among the Roman Catholics, and some of them were fully determined on his destruction.
A worthy gentleman named Scobaria, having erected a school for divinity lectures, appointed Dr. Constantine to be reader therein. He immediately undertook the task, and read lectures, by portions, on the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles; and was beginning to expound the Book of Job, when he was seized by the inquisitors.
Being brought to examination, he answered with such precaution that they could not find any explicit charge against him, but remained doubtful in what manner to proceed, when the following circumstances occurred to determine them.
Dr. Constantine had deposited with a woman named Isabella Martin, several books, which to him were very valuable, but which he knew, in the eyes of the Inquisition, were exceptionable.
This woman having been informed against as a Protestant, was apprehended, and, after a small process, her goods were ordered to be confiscated. Previous, however, to the officers coming to her house, the woman's son had removed away several chests full of the most valuable articles; among these were Dr. Constantine's books.
A treacherous servant gave intelligence of this to the inquisitors, and an officer was despatched to the son to demand the chests. The son, supposing the officer only came for Constantine's books, said, "I know what you come for, and I will fetch them to you immediately." He then fetched Dr. Constantine's books and papers, when the officer was greatly surprised to find what he did not look for. He, however, told the young man that he was glad these books and papers were produced, but nevertheless he must fulfill the end of his commission, which was to carry him and the goods he had embezzled before the inquisitors, which he did accordingly; for the young man knew it would be in vain to expostulate, or resist, and therefore quietly submitted to his fate.
The inquisitors being thus possessed of Constantine's books and writings, now found matter sufficient to form charges against him. When he was brought to a re-examination, they presented one of his papers, and asked him if he knew the handwriting? Perceiving it was his own, he guessed the whole matter, confessed the writing, and justified the doctrine it contained: saying, "In that, and all my other writings, I have never departed from the truth of the Gospel, but have always kept in view the pure precepts of Christ, as He delivered them to mankind."
After being detained upwards of two years in prison, Dr. Constantine was seized with a bloody flux, which put an end to his miseries in this world. The process, however, was carried on against his body, which, at the ensuing auto da fe, was publicly burnt.
The Life of William Gardiner
William Gardiner was born at Bristol, received a tolerable education, and was, at a proper age, placed under the care of a merchant, named Paget.
At the age of twenty-six years, he was, by his master, sent to Lisbon to act as factor. Here he applied himself to the study of the Portuguese language, executed his business with assiduity and despatch, and behaved with the most engaging affability to all persons with whom he had the least concern. He conversed privately with a few, whom he knew to be zealous Protestants; and, at the same time cautiously avoided giving the least offence to any who were Roman Catholics; he had not, however, hitherto gone into any of the popish churches.
A marriage being concluded between the king of Portugal's son, and the Infanta of Spain, upon the wedding-day the bridegroom, bride, and the whole court went to the cathedral church, attended by multitudes of all ranks of people, and among the rest William Gardiner, who stayed during the whole ceremony, and was greatly shocked at the superstitions he saw.
The erroneous worship which he had seen ran strongly in his mind; he was miserable to see a whole country sunk into such idolatry, when the truth of the Gospel might be so easily obtained. He, therefore, took the inconsiderate, though laudable design, into his head, of making a reform in Portugal, or perishing in the attempt; and determined to sacrifice his prudence to his zeal, though he became a martyr upon the occasion.
To this end, he settled all his worldly affairs, paid his debts, closed his books, and consigned over his merchandise. On the ensuing Sunday he went again to the cathedral church, with a New Testament in his hand, and placed himself near the altar.
The king and the court soon appeared, and a cardinal began Mass, at that part of the ceremony in which the people adore the wafer. Gardiner could hold out no longer, but springing towards the cardinal, he snatched the host from him, and trampled it under his feet.
This action amazed the whole congregation, and one person, drawing a dagger, wounded Gardiner in the shoulder, and would, by repeating the blow, have finished him, had not the king called to him to desist.
Gardiner, being carried before the king, the monarch asked him what countryman he was: to which he replied, "I am an Englishman by birth, a Protestant by religion, and a merchant by occupation. What I have done is not out of contempt to your royal person, God forbid it should, but out of an honest indignation, to see the ridiculous superstitious and gross idolatries practiced here."
The king, thinking that he had been stimulated by some other person to act as he had done, demanded who was his abetter, to which he replied, "My own conscience alone. I would not hazard what I have done for any man living, but I owe that and all other services to God."
Gardiner was sent to prison, and a general order issued to apprehend all Englishmen in Lisbon. This order was in a great measure put into execution, (some few escaping) and many innocent persons were tortured to make them confess if they knew any thing of the matter; in particular, a person who resided in the same house with Gardiner was treated with unparalleled barbarity to make him confess something which might throw a light upon the affair.
Gardiner himself was then tormented in the most excruciating manner; but in the midst of all his torments he gloried in the deed. Being ordered for death, a large fire was kindled near a gibbet, Gardiner was drawn up to the gibbet by pulleys, and then let down near the fire, but not so close as to touch it; for they burnt or rather roasted him by slow degrees. Yet he bore his sufferings patiently and resigned his soul to the Lord cheerfully.
It is observable that some of the sparks that were blown from the fire, (which consumed Gardiner) towards the haven, burnt one of the king's ships of war, and did other considerable damage. The Englishmen who were taken up on this occasion were, soon after Gardiner's death, all discharged, except the person who resided in the same house with him, who was detained two years before he could procure his liberty.
An Account of the Life and Sufferings of Mr. William Lithgow, a Native of Scotland
This gentleman was descended from a good family, and having a natural propensity for travelling, he rambled, when very young, over the northern and western islands; after which he visited France, Germany, Switzerland, and Spain. He set out on his travels in the month of March, 1609, and the first place he went to was Paris, where he stayed for some time. He then prosecuted his travels through Germany and other parts, and at length arrived at Malaga, in Spain, the seat of all his misfortunes.
During his residence here, he contracted with the master of a French ship for his passage to Alexandria, but was prevented from going by the following circumstances. In the evening of the seventeenth of October, 1620, the English fleet, at that time on a cruise against the Algerine rovers, came to anchor before Malaga, which threw the people of the town into the greatest consternation, as they imagined them to be Turks. The morning, however, discovered the mistake, and the governor of Malaga, perceiving the cross of England in their colors, went on board Sir Robert Mansel's ship, who commanded on that expedition, and after staying some time returned, and silenced the fears of the people.
The next day many persons from on board the fleet came ashore. Among these were several well known by Mr. Lithgow, who, after reciprocal compliments, spent some days together in festivity and the amusements of the town. They then invited Mr. Lithgow to go on board, and pay his respects to the admiral. He accordingly accepted the invitation, was kindly received by him, and detained till the next day when the fleet sailed. The admiral would willingly have taken Mr. Lithgow with him to Algiers; but having contracted for his passage to Alexandria, and his baggage, etc., being in the town, he could not accept the offer.
As soon as Mr. Lithgow got on shore, he proceeded towards his lodgings by a private way, (being to embark the same night for Alexandria) when, in passing through a narrow uninhabited street, he found himself suddenly surrounded by nine sergeants, or officers, who threw a black cloak over him, and forcibly conducted him to the governor's house. After some little time the governor appeared when Mr. Lithgow earnestly begged he might be informed of the cause of such violent treatment. The governor only answered by shaking his head, and gave orders that the prisoner should be strictly watched until he (the governor) returned from his devotions; directing, at the same time, that the captain of the town, the alcade major, and town notary, should be summoned to appear at his examination, and that all this should be done with the greatest secrecy, to prevent the knowledge reaching the ears of the English merchants then residing in the town.
These orders were strictly discharged, and on the governor's return, he, with the officers, having seated themselves, Mr. Lithgow was brought before them for examination. The governor began by asking several questions, namely, of what country he was, whither bound, and how long he had been in Spain. The prisoner, after answering these and other questions, was conducted to a closet, where, in a short space of time, he was visited by the town captain, who inquired whether he had ever been at Seville, or was lately come from thence; and patting his cheeks with an air of friendship, conjured him to tell the truth, "For (said he) your very countenance shows there is some hidden matter in your mind, which prudence should direct you to disclose." Finding himself, however, unable to extort any thing from the prisoner, he left him, and reported the same to the governor and the other officers; on which Mr. Lithgow was again brought before them, a general accusation was laid against him, and he was compelled to swear that he would give true answers to such questions as should be asked him.
The governor proceeded to inquire the quality of the English commander, and the prisoner's opinion what were the motives that prevented his accepting an invitation from him to come on shore. He demanded, likewise, the names of the English captains in the squadron, and what knowledge he had of the embarkation, or preparation for it before his departure from England. The answers given to the several questions asked were set down in writing by the notary; but the junto seemed surprised at his denying any knowledge of the fitting out of the fleet, particularly the governor, who said he lied; that he was a traitor and a spy, and came directly from England to favor and assist the designs that were projected against Spain, and that he had been for that purpose nine months in Seville, in order to procure intelligence of the time the Spanish navy was expected from the Indies. They exclaimed against his familiarity with the officers of the fleet, and many other English gentlemen, between whom, they said, unusual civilities had passed, but all these transactions had been carefully noticed.
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