Imágenes de páginas




TUESDAY, the 4th of May, 1535, is a day for ever memorable in the annals of the Catholic religion in England; for on that day were shed the first drops of the rivulet of blood which separates the old Church of England from the new.

The Carthusian Priors and Dr. Reynolds had refused to renounce the Vicar of Christ, and to acknowledge the spiritual supremacy of the king ; so they were led towards the Tower gate, where their punishment was to begin. Their hearts were filled with holy joy, for they knew that theirs

was the surest way to heaven.

Their cheerful

bearing aroused the holy envy of their fellowprisoner, Sir Thomas More, who saw them through the bars of his dungeon. "Lo!" in his sweet

humility he said to his daughter Margaret, "dost thou not see, Meg, that these blessed Fathers be



now as cheerfully going to their death as bridegrooms to their marriage? Wherefore thereby mayest thou see, my own good daughter, what a great difference there is between such as have in effect spent all their days in a strait, hard, penitential, and painful life, religiously; and such as have -as thy poor father hath done-consumed all their time in pleasure and ease licentiously. For God, considering their long-continued life of most sore and grievous penance, will no longer suffer them to remain here in this vale of misery and iniquity, but speedily hence taketh them to the fruition of His everlasting Deity. Whereas thy silly father, Meg, like a most wicked caitiff, hath passed forth the whole course of his miserable life most sinfully, God, thinking him not worthy so soon to come to that eternal felicity, leaveth him here yet still in the world, further to be plagued and turmoiled with misery."1

At the Tower gates the martyrs were ordered to lie down upon the hurdles on which they were to be drawn to Tyburn. The ropes were adjusted, and away went the strange procession. It was a new sight for the people, who had assembled in great numbers, to see the religious habit dragged through the streets of London. Had the monks been indeed guilty of high treason, they should have been degraded, and then executed in secular Roper's Life of More (ed. Singer, 1822), p. 76.


clothing; but ecclesiastical law had no more force, for the King of England had become a pope.

Now jolting over the rough stones, now splashing through puddles of filthy water, the servants of God made a weary and a painful journey to Tyburn. Then the "drawing was over, and it was time to prepare for still more dreadful suffering.

[ocr errors]

It has sometimes been supposed that the hanging, which came next, was the cause of death, and that the subsequent brutalities were only intended to scare the bystanders and dishonour the bodies of the condemned. It was not so. The hanging was doubtless very painful; but what followed was far


The first to be detached from the hurdle was Blessed John Houghton, the Prior of the London Charterhouse. His was the honour of being the first since pagan times to suffer death in England for being a Roman Catholic. After lovingly embracing the executioner, who craved his pardon, the holy martyr got into the cart which stood beneath the gallows; and there, in the sight of the multitude, he was asked once again whether he would submit to the king's laws before it was too late. Nothing daunted, he replied, "I call Almighty God to witness, and I beseech all here present to attest


1 It is a popular error to understand the disembowelling by the word drawn in the sentence. Hence the expression "hanged, drawn, and quartered," instead of "drawn, hanged, and quartered."

[graphic][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »