Peck's lengthy tales
and doubt in the time of Queen Elizabeth I
1. ENGLAND (1577-1583)
IX. INTERROGATORIES FOR CHARLES ARUNDELL
in prison strong
I wait my destiny.
Woe worth this cruel hap that I
Should taste this misery!
Toll on, thou passing bell."
"Item to be demanded of Charles Arundell and Harry Howard. What combination
or secret pact was made at certain suppers, one in Fleet Street as I take it,
another at my lord of Northumberlands, for they have often spoken hereof
and glanced at in their speeches."
the first thus I answer, that I was never at supper in Fleet Street or at the
earl of Northumberlands where any combination hath been made to any ill
purpose, and of this interrogatory I understand not the meaning.
"Further for the same. If they never spoke or heard these speeches spoken,
that the king of Scots began now to put spurs on his heels, and as soon as the
matter of Monsieur were assured to be at an end, that then within six months we
should see the queens majesty to be the most troubled and discontented person
the second, as I never uttered, so never heard I of any such speech. This is as
void of truth as he is of honesty that so reports of me.
"Further, the same. Hath said the duke of Guise, who was a rare and gallant
gentleman, should be the man to come into Scotland, who would britch her majesty
for all her wantonness, and it were good to let her take her humor for a while
for she had not long to play."
the third, I do protest that I never used any speeches of the duke of Guise coming
into Scotland; it is a shameless lie and most maliciously devised.
Arundell's replies to government interrogatories, 1581. Public Record Office,
State Papers 12/151/47.
"Whether Charles Arundell did not steal over into Ireland within these five
years without leave of her majesty, and whether that year he was reconciled or
not to the church likewise, or how long after?"
the fourth, it is as true that I stole over into Ireland within this five years
as it is true I was reconciled the same years to the church of Rome, and if any
accuser can prove the first I will confess the latter to do him a pleasure.
"Item. When he was in Cornwall at Sir John Arundells, what Jesuits
he met there and what company he carried with him of gentlemen."
To the fifth, I say that at my lying
in Cornwall, I saw just as many Jesuits as I have seen in her majestys chamber,
and that was never any. Other company I met in then with my brother, a quarry
of pleasure, to see our sister and accomplish business.
"Item. Not long before this past Christmas, entering into speech of Monsieur,
he passed into great terms against him in so much he said there was neither personage,
religion, wit, nor constancy in him, and that for his part he had long since given
over that course of France and taken another way, which was to Spain: for he never
had good hope of the queens marriage since my Lord Chamberlain played the
cockscomb, as when he had his enemy so low as he might have trodden him quite
underfoot, that then he would of his own obstinacy bring all things to an equality.
And so he troubled him no more with the cause of marriage, and talked only of
the king of Spains greatness, piety, wealth, and how God prospered him in
all his actions, not doubting but to see him monarch of all the world."
To the sixth, I shall not need to use
many words to disavow this, these speeches have been too ordinary in Oxfords
mouth, as my Lord Henry, Southwell, Raleigh, and as many as hath accompanied him
can witness. This springs from a muddy fountain.
"Likewise both Charles and Henry. Likewise they have been great searchers
in her majestys wealth, having intelligence out of all her receipts from
her majestys courts in law, her customs, what subsidies of Parliament she
hath made since her coming to the crown, what helps by special gatherings made,
as for the building of St. Pauls steeple, the lotteries, and other devices
from the clergy, and what forfeits by attainder or otherwise; and what pensions
were to some of her councillors, what gifts she had bestowed, what charges she
was at in her household, reparations of her houses and castles, fees, and a number
of things which now I cannot call to remembrance, and the charges she was at in
the wars of Leith, Newhaven, and other petty journeys in Ireland and Scotland
and in the time of the Rebellion of the Northern Earls, as well what she received
as what she spended in all offices and places."
the seventh, of her majestys wealth I never made search or inquiry, and
of her receipts I never sought to understand. So ignorant of her majestys
receipts am I as I am not able to say what riseth out of her courts, her customs,
etc. The man who says so makes me pause to puke before answering further.
"Likewise both Charles and Henry are privy, what increase hath been made
of souls to their church of Rome in every shire throughout the realm, who be of
theirs, and who be not, who be assured and who be inclined; and in every shire
throughout the realm, where they be strong and where they be weak; and this is
known by certain secret gatherings of money for the relief of them beyond the
seas, wherein there be notes of every household and the court, put into some others
hands of a foreign nation, a thing which if it be well looked into cannot be void
of great and notable practice."
the eighth, which is a lunatics moonlit raving, as I cannot but wonder at
this fiction, so I was, it not my office, never registrar of the increase of the
souls that hath been made through the shires of England. Of any secret gathering
of money for beyond the seas, this shows as strange as the greater part of the
rest of these interrogatories, and for my own part, I hold them all as the ravings
of a lathering madman, piggish in his drink and slavish amongst men, and so I
commit him to the yeoman of his bottles, who has been no little causer of my persecution.
lords, ever have I truly answered my examiners, and earnestly craved that we might
come to trial of this cause, but without any hearing of us or confronting of us
with this libelling monster, here we remain in durance, kept from all conversation
with our friends, while this gay courtier, borne out in this by my lord of Leicester,
goes grazing in the pastures and up and down the town, and as I am informed obtains
his release for the winter tournaments, for no cause but the bright figure he
must cut in the tiltyards, for so my lord of Leicester makes him never a man more
necessary for the holiday season.
lords, I beseech you then, weigh my affliction, and so work as the world may behold
your integrity and upright dealing, to Gods glory and your own immortal
fame. I live in misery; stained in credit, cut off from the world, hated of some
that loved me, helped by none, and forsaken by all, for what just cause I know
not. My distress is great, my calling simple, and not able to avail anything without
the assistance of your goodness. Bring me to my answer; and, as you shall see
it fall out, my accusers can prove nothing against me. Vouchsafe me speedy remedy,
or at the least the justice of the law; and, if I have failed of my duty willingly,
let me feel the price of it. I crave no pardon, but humbly sue for favorable expedition,
for the which I appeal to your honorable judgments, and pray for good success
in all your desires. From Sutton, this 31 of January 1581, your lordships
in all faithful devotion,
C.A., in mine own hand.
Brief Answer to my lord of Oxfords Slanderous Accusations
Article. First he accuseth me of hearing mass six years past in Francis Southwells
This article, being the only true thing he broacheth, is confessed; marry, but
protesting withal that whereas the statute law passeth on hearers of mass which
are not present at the queens service within the year, I have been coming
three whole months together; notwithstanding six years are now fully past since
the time was past which the law prescribeth.
Article. It is further charged upon me for the further aggravating of the fault
that the priest which said this mass was a Jesuit, and that both I and the other
two were reconciled.
To this I answer, first, that reconciling in itself were not a felonious matter
until this new statute in Parliament which I find is passed but a little week
ago, and therefore misses me clean. And second, that it can avail them little
that the priest was of this now suspected order called Jesuits, unless they can
prove that I knowing him to be so notwithstanding heard his mass, for many plain
and simple men may light into suspicious company; again, the Jesuits were no more
offensive to the state seven years ago than any other priests, neither was there
any statute or proclamation then forbidding me them more than another. But the
truth is, to make short work, that this priest was neither Jesuit at that time
nor is any now, as Mr. Walsingham hath found by the flat confession of the seminary
priests within the Tower.
Article. That my Lord Harry should be present when I presented a certain book
of pictures after the manner of a prophecy and by interpretation resembled a crowned
sun to the queen, etc.
Of all other this point is most childish, vain, and most ridiculous, for as my
Lord Harry never saw this painted book, I protest, much less expounded it or played
the paraphrase, so in my knowledge did he never hear of any such. And for his
further clearing in this cause, I will depose upon my oath he was never privy
to the book, and that Oxford showing it to me conjured me by solemn oath never
to impart a word of the thing to my Lord Harry because he would not hide it from
my Lord Treasurer.
Article. That I should bring in a Jesuit to see the queen dance in her privy chamber.
Answer. Christ never receive me to his
mercy nor forgive me my sins if ever I spoke with Jesuit, much less brought them
to the sight of such an exercise, which had stood less with their severity to
follow than with my discretion to prefer.
of the Accuser. Now I would require of charity and justice that these brief particulars
concerning him that chargeth me may be considered.
That he was never kind to any friend nor thankful to any kinsman in general;
That though he love no man living from his heart, yet of all he most detesteth
those that are either nearly kin by nature or have deeply bound him by their well
3) That by devising
tales and lies he would set one man to kill another and hath sought my life by
a dozen practices and devices;
That he would have set Hoby to have killed my Lord Harry;
After he had once begun his accusation, he proffered me a thousand pound in money
in case I would concur with him in points whereof he had accused the Lord Harry
and Southwell, which I refusing and professing to die against him that would charge
me with the smallest thought against my prince, he would have given me as much
to fly, that by the flight of one he might have wreaked his deep malice on another.
But this succeeding as evil as the rest, with protesting that I should be torn
in pieces with the rack he left me, whereupon soon after one of us and within
two days all the rest were committed into ward.
the truth is that this null count, finding himself forsaken for his horrible enormities,
rather to be buried in the dung hill of forgetfulness than reported by any modest
tongue, obtained my lord of Leicesters favor upon condition that he should
speed us three, and thus the bargain was concluded.
lords, I have been reticent heretofore, and loath for modestys sake to fully
paint my adversary in all his horrible colors; but now my grief is such, shut
up with neither friend nor enemy to speak withal, whilst my detractor lives a
gay life pursuing all his former iniquinations, that justice requires me to mention
another matter otherwise better left in wraps. My lords, I must prove him a buggerer
of a boy that is his cook, as well by that I have been eyewitness to, as also
by his own confession to myself and others who will not lie. Moreover, Thomas
Power, weeping to my Lord Harry and myself at Hampton Court, confessed how my
lord had almost spoiled him, and he could not sit or stand for many days, and
yet he durst not open his grief to anyone.
is this all, my lords? No, there is no end. He would often tell my Lord Harry,
myself, and Southwell that he had abused a mare; and said that the English men
were dolts and nitwits, for there was better sport in back doors, which they knew
not, than in all their occupying of womens fronts, and that when women were
unsweet, fair young boys were in season, with so far worse than this as it irketh
me to remember, from all which strenuous living he hath as proof his yearly celebration
of the Neapolitan malady. Thus much for proof of his sodomy, who is a beast stained
with all impudicity.
my lords, albeit (as I have said) reluctantly, must I truly hit him with his detestable
practices of hired murders, of which some hath been attempted, one executed, and
divers intended. And though it be long since, it may not be forgotten how Denny
attempted the killing of Nicholas Faunt, and shooting at him from a rest with
his caliver, struck his hat from off his head. And I would be as loath to omit
the killing of Sanckie (being sometimes a special favorite of this monster, but
discovered to be untrue) by his servant Weeks, who at the gallows confessed to
the minister that he was procured to this villainy by commandment of his master,
who gave him a hundred pounds in gold after the murder was committed to shift
him away, and so much was found about him when he was apprehended.
leaving this, though it were not impertinent, I will go more near him, in my own
knowledge, for his intended murders against divers. At what time the quarrel fell
out between this monstrous villain and Mr. Sidney, he employs Raleigh and myself
to carry his challenge, but goes about instead to murder Mr. Sidney in his bed
at Greenwich. Let us neither forget his oath to kill Sir Henry Knyvet at the privy
chamber door for a speaking evil of him concerning a kinswoman of ours.
murder he intended against Mr. John Cheke, and would have put it in execution
if I had not told him I would betray him and so stayed him from this villainy.
And not long since, as my cousin Arthur Gorges well knows, Mr. Gorges had warning
given him to look to himself and how it was intended he should be slaughtered
on Richmond Green, going home to his lodging at twelve oclock at night;
and another gentleman of Oxfords revealed it to me, and this gentleman refusing
to be commanded by him to so foul a fact, was shaken off and for no other cause.
Lastly, if himself lie not, he hath practiced with a man of his own that now serves
in Ireland to kill Raleigh whenever he comes to any skirmish in the wars there,
and this he terms a brave vendetta; and of this intent I have advertised Mr. Raleigh,
as also of his lying wait for Raleighs life before his going into Ireland.
Lastly, my lords, having well
entered at last into this exposition of my lords virtues, I must conclude
him in his religion, which though said to be as ours is, is really of no man elses.
To show that the world never brought forth such a monster, and for a parting blow
to give him his full payment, I must prove against him his most horrible and detestable
blasphemy in denial of the divinity of Christ, our savior, and terming the Trinity
as a fable. And that Joseph was a wittol and the Blessed Virgin a whore; my Lord
Harry, Raleigh, and myself were present when he spoke these words, and Mr. Harry
Noel will say that Raleigh told it him. To conclude, he is a beast in all respects,
and in him no virtue to be found and no vice wanting, which things for a time
have been dissembled, but long time may not be suffered. Do but consider, I pray
you, my lords, who is my accuser, and let these examples plead, and I will abide
your judgments with equanimity. Yours and her majestys ever to command,
From Sutton, this 8 of March 1581,
my very good lord, Mr. Vice-Chamberlain, Sir Christopher Hatton, at the court,
honorable. As my well meaning hath always willed me, so doth necessity now enforce
me to write you these. My monstrous adversary (who would drink my blood rather
than wine as well as he loves it), as I am credibly informed, hath said in open
speech and in a manner of a vaunt since his coming out of trouble, that whereas
I built my only trust on the friendship of your honor, he had sped me to the purpose
by bringing me in condemnation of a printed libel that should be written against
you, whereunto a friend of mine being present, doubting whether I had written
this indeed, Oxford answered that he could not tell, but he was very sure that
he had given Charles his full payment by this discovery.
restrained for the present to conceal the authors for divers respects, when time
shall serve I shall willingly impart for your worships better satisfaction
all my knowledge. In the mean, I humbly crave this favor, that as the matter is
a mere supposal suggested by envy, vented by malice, and devised by others not
unlike himself common knaves, as shall appear, so you will suspend judgment till
truth shall deliver me from this improbable slander and lay it on him that best
And if I thought
you were otherwise persuaded than I have deserved, I could not rest so well contented
in my present condition, which expected all help and succor from yourself, and
other friends I have not sought for my delivery, neither will I. Trial is all
that I require and trial shall acquit me, and hang the villain for sodomy that
hath no proof of anything but the slander of his own blasphemous tongue. Of this
last practice against myself, and others more monstrous, which shook the foundation
whereon I built all hope, I shall one day tell you more and make you wonder at
that which is come to light. In the meantime, I recommend myself, my cause, and
all to yourself, who can best judge of all. And here in durance I pray for the
queen and my good friends, of which number you are chief; and so wishing for that
opportunity wherein I may do you service, I commit you to that God that hitherto
protected me. From Sutton, this 15 of March,
sat by a thin flame far into the broad night, scribbling feverishly upon sheets
of paper spread before him on the table, piled carelessly by his stool. His face
showed the desperate concentration of one engaged in a duel with sabers, but he
had no saber, only a pen, to fight with.
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do not reproduce this text in any form for commercial purposes. Historical references
for events recreated in this story can be found in D. C. Peck, Leicester's
Commonwealth: The Copy of a Letter Written by a Master of Art of Cambridge (1584)
and Related Documents (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985). Feedback and
suggestions are welcome, .
Written 1973-1989, posted on this site 20 June 2001.