ccd-logo1.jpg (12597 bytes)Dwight Peck's lengthy tales


faith and doubt in the time of Queen Elizabeth I

Part 1. ENGLAND (1577-1583)



"Alone in prison strong
I wait my destiny.
Woe worth this cruel hap that I
Should taste this misery!
Toll on, thou passing bell."
-- Anon.

1. "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 Northumberland’s, for they have often spoken hereof and glanced at in their speeches."

To the first thus I answer, that I was never at supper in Fleet Street or at the earl of Northumberland’s where any combination hath been made to any ill purpose, and of this interrogatory I understand not the meaning.

2. "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 queen’s majesty to be the most troubled and discontented person living."

To 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.

3. "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."

To 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.

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Charles Arundell's replies to government interrogatories, 1581. Public Record Office, State Papers 12/151/47.

4. "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?"

To 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.

5. "Item. When he was in Cornwall at Sir John Arundell’s, 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 majesty’s 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.

6. "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 queen’s 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 Spain’s 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 Oxford’s mouth, as my Lord Henry, Southwell, Raleigh, and as many as hath accompanied him can witness. This springs from a muddy fountain.

7. "Likewise both Charles and Henry. Likewise they have been great searchers in her majesty’s wealth, having intelligence out of all her receipts from her majesty’s 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. Paul’s 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."

To the seventh, of her majesty’s wealth I never made search or inquiry, and of her receipts I never sought to understand. So ignorant of her majesty’s 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.

8. "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 other’s hands of a foreign nation, a thing which if it be well looked into cannot be void of great and notable practice."

To the eighth, which is a lunatic’s 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.

My 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.

My lords, I beseech you then, weigh my affliction, and so work as the world may behold your integrity and upright dealing, to God’s 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,

Ch. Arundell
C.A., in mine own hand.

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A Brief Answer to my lord of Oxford’s Slanderous Accusations

1. Article. First he accuseth me of hearing mass six years past in Francis Southwell’s chamber.

Answer. 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 queen’s 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.

2. 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.

Answer. 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.

3. 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.

Answer. 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.

4. 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.

Condemnation of the Accuser. Now I would require of charity and justice that these brief particulars concerning him that chargeth me may be considered.

1) That he was never kind to any friend nor thankful to any kinsman in general;

2) 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 meaning;

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;

4) That he would have set Hoby to have killed my Lord Harry;

5) 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.

Now 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 Leicester’s favor upon condition that he should speed us three, and thus the bargain was concluded.

My lords, I have been reticent heretofore, and loath for modesty’s 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.

But 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 women’s 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.

Next, 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.

But 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.

Another 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 o’clock at night; and another gentleman of Oxford’s 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 Raleigh’s life before his going into Ireland.

Lastly, my lords, having well entered at last into this exposition of my lord’s virtues, I must conclude him in his religion, which though said to be as ours is, is really of no man else’s. 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 majesty’s ever to command, From Sutton, this 8 of March 1581,

C. Arundell

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To my very good lord, Mr. Vice-Chamberlain, Sir Christopher Hatton, at the court, give these.

Right 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.

Though restrained for the present to conceal the authors for divers respects, when time shall serve I shall willingly impart for your worship’s 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 deserves it.

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,

C. Arundell

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Arundell 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.

goback.gif (2185 bytes)Go back to the Preface and Table of Contents
gonext.gif (2192 bytes)Go ahead to Chapter X. De Profundis Clamavi  (1581)

bookpen.gif (2870 bytes)Please 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.


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