650. Father Robert Persons to Juan De Idiaquez.
As the time is rapidly approaching for the return to St. Lorenzo,
I send this special messenger to obtain fresh information, and give
an account of what is being done here. Sir Francis Englefield is
here with me, having come hither to visit some nephews, students
in this college, who have arrived from England, and whom he had
never seen before, and alas, cannot see now, as you know the good
old man will never see anything again, as he is blind.
I am very busy with college affairs, and in turning into Latin the
book about the English succession to send to his Holiness. The
more time you can give me the better, without prejudice to affairs
and to the safety of the galleys. I would rather have time to spare
than not enough, especially as I shall have to wait for some days in
Madrid before the necessary despatches are ready, so that at least a
month will be needed for the journey to Barcelona, and the delay
in Madrid. Please, therefore, let me know by this messenger when
you think the galleys will be ready, and where. Please let me
know also about the voyage of the Adelantado. Although you
say nothing, I am thinking that perhaps his Majesty may be sending
him to Ireland. If neither of the other roads is practicable, (fn. 1) I told
you, and also his Majesty, that this Irish way might be adopted
advantageously, with God's blessing. Much will depend upon the
Adelantado's taking with him from here sufficient men, arms, and
money, and his going thither before the winter sets in or the Queen
learns the design. I have put upon paper a few observations which
may be useful to him when he arrives. I have also thought well to
send forward to Lisbon an English Jesuit father, who was Vice
Rector of this house, (fn. 2) with about six priests of this seminary and
that of Seville. They are all experienced men, and I have sent
them by different routes, under colour of their going to their various
missions from Lisbon. The Jesuit father is the only one of them
that knows the real design, and he is extremely discreet, and of
noble English family. I have given him such instructions as will
enable him to direct the rest, in case the opportunity occurs of their
going in the Armada. I believe that these priests will be worth
their weight in gold when they arrive there (i.e., in Ireland), and I
have therefore thought best not to neglect sending them, although
I was short of money, and had to borrow it for the purpose. But
that is of comparatively little importance.
When I was in Madrid I jotted down some of the principal points
that should be included in the proclamation of the general who
lands in any part of England, Scotland, or Ireland. I left them
with Father Creswell to submit to you. If he has not done so you
might tell him to send you the notes, so that everything should be
well prepared for the Adelantado.
Although Sir Francis Englefield recognises the great action that may
be taken in Rome, with God's help, (fn. 3) he is very suspicious and fearful
of our opponents, who, he thinks, may cause me to be detained there.
But I fear not ; nor does my spirit faint within me, as St. Paul said
in a similar case. God has brought me through worse passes than
this, and I am full of faith and hope that He will give his Majesty
victory.—Valladolid, 2nd September 1596.
651. Suggestions for the Edict to be issued to the force
going to England. (fn. 4)
The prologue sets forth the persecutions suffered by the Catholics
and the many affronts and injuries offered to the king of Spain.
His Majesty, with his accustomed clemency, has for many years
overlooked the outrages of these people, but the recent attack upon
Cadiz proves that his benignity has only made them bolder, and he
has now decided to accede to the universal demand of the oppressed
Catholics, and to take steps to release them from the yoke that
oppresses them, without punishing the great majority of the
(English) people, whose innocence he recognises.
He promises to maintain the ancient laws and parliament of
England, so soon as order be restored.
His desire being to sustain the ancient nobility and gentry in
their former grandeur, he will confirm in their position and possessions
all those who are favourable to him. In cases where the head of
the house remains recalcitrant, he will confirm the title and
possessions to the nearest heir who shall aid the Catholic army. In
cases where it is impossible for gentlemen at once to proclaim their
Catholic sympathies, the King will allow them to remain with the
heretics, until a fitting opportunity occurs for them to go over, but
at least they must desert the enemy at the time of battle. His
Majesty's object being alone the peace and tranquillity of England,
and the freedom of the Catholic faith, he has no quarrel with the
English people as a whole, and will punish with the utmost severity
any man in the Catholic army who molests, injures, or attacks, the
lands or people of the country, other than those who resist.
652. The aforegoing draft Edict is accompanied by a letter from
Father Joseph Creswell to the King, as follows :—
My superiors having sent me from Rome to Flanders at the
instance of Cardinal Allen and Count de Olivares, to serve the duke
of Parma in the English undertaking in 1588, his Highness ordered
me to write out the Edict that was then printed in English, of
which thousands of copies are still deposited at Dunkirk In
conformity therewith, I think well to remind your Majesty of
points of the highest importance to your interests, which will be
seen partially in the changes I have made in the Edict itself to suit
the altered circumstances, and in the discourse I have the honour to
submit to your Majesty herewith, which I believe will be in accord
with your Majesty's own mind, as to the mode of proceeding. It is
for the glory of God that we should abolish some sins without
committing greater ones, and that we should establish peace and
religion, without injury to the innocent, so that it will be profitable
for everyone, and greatly enhancing to your Majesty's reputation,
to punish your enemies with prudence and piety, rather than to
subject them by force of arms. The glory of the latter course would
belong alone to the captains and soldiers, whilst that of the former
would be all your own. I say this to your Majesty after long communing
with God about it, in single-hearted desire to do right. I find
myself, by His divine grace, so free from personal or national bias
in the matter, that, if I heard that the entire destruction of England
was for the greater glory of God and the welfare of Christianity, I
should be glad of its being done. I pray your Majesty to ponder
the enclosed memorandum, regardless of the person of the writer.—
Madrid, 12th September 1596.
Note.—The memorandum referred to accompanies the letter, and
is an ably written paper in the handwriting of Father Creswell,
advocating, as a matter of policy, as well on the grounds of moral
advisability, that a course of conciliation and mildness should be
adopted in the conquest of England. He enforces the necessity of
keeping the religious question well in front ; and advises the
disintegration of opponents in England by attracting waverers with
concessions and rewards, and otherwise by persuading the English
people that the main object is to restore freedom of conscience to
Catholics, and to treat all with magnanimity and generosity.
Note.—In the handwriting of Juan de Idiaquez, attached to the
two aforegoing letters of Fathers Creswell and Persons :—
"These letters from the two fathers are good as a help to what
you are doing by the order of his Majesty, given to you yesterday.
I have given to Don Cristobal (de Mora) the substance of Persons'
communication. We must consider Creswell's before it goes, as his
Majesty has ordered that we two should do so without delay, and
let him know our opinion. If possible, we will snatch a short time
for it this afternoon."
This note appears to have been addressed either to the Don
Cristobal de Mora or to some other of the principal councillors.
653. Address of the English Catholics in Spain to Philip II.
We, the undersigned persons of English nationalty, Jane, duchess
of Feria, (fn. 5) Francis Englefield, knight, Thomas Stillington, doctor of
theology, provost of the English clergy in Lisbon, William Seborn,
provost of the English clergy in St. Lucia, together with the other
priests and Catholic gentlemen resident in these parts submit.
It is evident from what is occurring that, unless some prompt
remedy be found to settle the question of the English succession,
such as the nomination of some Catholic by his Holiness and your
Majesty, to succeed after the Queen's death, the realm will
necessarily fall again into the hands of a heretic prince, and all
hope of remedy will disappear.
In the case of all other claimants to the crown, English and
foreign, there are many difficulties in the way of accepting them,
as will be seen set forth in the paper that accompanies this, and it
is well known that the Infanta Do˜a Isabel descends directly
through various lines of the royal house of England, and has more
than one claim to the throne, apart from that which your Majesty
may confer upon her if your Majesty pleases. The claim of the
Infanta also offers much less difficulty than that of any other
person, as will also be set forth in the accompanying paper.
We therefore most earnestly petition your Majesty, not alone in
our own names, but in those of our relatives, friends, and of all the
other Catholics of England, who are as anxious as we are for it, in
the interests of the public welfare and the salvation of the country,
to take this matter in hand as warmly as it deserves, and to be
pleased to accede to the righteous wishes of the Catholics, by giving
orders that his Holiness should be energetically approached on the
subject, as from him must necessarily emanate the light and
guidance which will lead the Catholics. It is meet that promptness
should be used, as negotiations are going on to impede this object
and to forward the succession of a heretic, which would be the
total destruction of the realm, and, as a consequence, of all the
northern countries of which the conversion depends upon that of
England. This will be a divine work of piety and godliness on the
part of your Catholic Majesty.
Duchess De Feria, Ffrancisco Englefield.
El Doctor Thomas Stillington.
Note.—The above address is accompanied by a lengthy document
headed : "Reasons why the English Catholics desire that the Infanta of
Spain should succeed." The principal reasons set forth are :—
1st. That the religious question would be settled finally thereby.
2nd. That the Catholics being united on the Infanta's candidature,
the latter would divide the nation the least. 3rd. That the
Infanta's various claims, through the houses of Portugal, France,
and Spain, gave her a preponderant claim over any other individual
pretender. 4th. That she was the only Catholic claimant. The
genealogical arguments are all taken from Dolman's (i.e. Persons')