Зображення сторінки
PDF

not prevail with him in the least, they resorted to the mean and disgraceful expedient of falsely asserting a triumph over him, where he had not the opportunity of confronting the scandal. They spread rumours of his recantation among the people, which were the more readily credited from the very circumstance that Bonner and the others were known often to resort to him. These rumours at last reached Hooper himself, and gave him much pain. To clear himself of the imputation, he wrote a letter, dated the 2d of February, to his fellowprisoners for the Gospel, in which he explains the reason of that courtesy which he had used towards Bonner and his Chaplains, in admitting them to conference with him, (which was, that he might avoid the suspicion of being either proud or unlearned,) and requests that they would not believe any such rumour of him, after the pains and imprisonment which he had already undergone—concluding with these words: “I have taught the truth with my tongue, and with my pen heretofore, and hereafter shortly will confirm the same by God's grace with my blood.” On Monday morning the 4th of February, Bonner came to Newgate, and there degraded Hooper from the order of priesthood, regarding him as no more than a Priest, on account of his consecration to the order of a Bishop having taken place during a period of separation from the Papal Church *. Rogers was degraded at the same time with him, and being first delivered over to the Sheriffs, was led out alone to the place of execution in Smithfield, where he suffered,— being the first victim of the Marian persecution. On the same day, at night, Hooper learned from his Keeper, that it was intended to send him to Gloucester, to suffer death there. He felt much joy at this circumstance, lifting up his eyes and hands to heaven, and praising God, “that He saw it good, to send him amongst the people, over whom he was Pastor, there to confirm with his death the truth, which he had before taught them:—not doubting but that God would give him strength to perform the same to his glory.” Immediately he sent to his servant's house for his boots, spurs, and cloak, that he might be in readiness to ride when he should be called. About four o'clock in the morning of the following day, the Keeper, with others, came to him, and searched his person and his bed for any manuscript that he might have written, and then he was led forth by the Sheriffs and their Officers out of Newgate, to a place near St. Dunstan's church, in Fleet-street, where six of the Queen's Guard were appointed to receive him, and to carry him to Gloucester, to be executed there. The Guard first conducted him to the Angel, where he breakfasted more heartily than he had done for some time past. About break of day, he set out on the journey with the Guard, springing cheerfully on horseback without help, having a hood on his head under his hat, that he might not be recognized by the way. . For the same reason, also, they carried him to those Inns, where by inquiry of him they found he was not accustomed to lodge. . They reached Cirencester on the Thursday following, about eleven,

, *The same conduct was adopted at last towards Ridley. See No. for January, p. 15. The ceremonies observed in degrading Hooper and Rogers, were the same as in the case of Ridley. - 4.

and there dined at the house of a woman, who had been an enemy both to the truth, and to the person of Hooper. This woman, perceiving the melancholy errand on which he was proceeding, relented in her spirit, and was now anxious to shew all friendship towards him—lamenting his case with tears, and confessing, that before she had often asserted, that if he were put to the trial, he would not stand to his doctrine. After dinner he resumed his journey, and reached Gloucester about five o'clock. At a mile without the town, there was a great concourse of people assembled, who shewed a deep sympathy in his misfortunes by their cries and lamentations—insomuch that one of the Guard rode forward into the town to obtain aid from the authorities there, in case it might be required to secure their prisoner. The Officers and their retinue came to the gate with arms, and commanded the people to keep their houses. There was, however, no attempt at violence. That night he lodged at the house of one Ingram, and took the refreshment of a meal with composure, as he had done on his journey, and slept his first sleep soundly. After his first sleep, he continued the remainder of the night in prayer until morning—and then desired that he might go into the next chamber (for the Guard were also in that in which he slept), that there, being in solitude, he might pray and talk with God. Thu", with the exception of a short time spent at his meal, or in conversation with such as were permitted to speak with him, he was incessantly occupied in prayer. Among those who visited him here was Sir Anthony Kingstonwho had been appointed by the Queen, one of the Commissioners, to see execution done upon him. Kingston found him at his prayers, and as soon as he saw him, burst into tears. Hooper not immediately recognizing him, “Why, my Lord,” said Kingston, “do you not know me, an old friend of yours, Anthony Kingston?” “Yes, Master Kingston,” replied Hooper, recollecting himself, “I do know you well, and am glad to see you in health, and do praise God for the same.” “But I am sorry,” resumed Kingston, “to see you in this case: for, as I understand, you be come hither to die. But alas! consider that life is sweet, and death is bitter. Therefore, seeing life may be had, desire to live; for life hereafter may do good.” Noble indeed was the answer returned to this suggestion, by this intrepid champion of the truth.“Indeed it is true,” he said, “Master Kingston, I am come hither to end this life and to suffer death here, because I will not gainsay the former truth, that I have heretofore taught amongst you in this diocese, and elsewhere: and I thank you for your friendly counsel, although it be not so friendly as I could have wished it. True it is, Master Kingston, that death is bitter and life is sweet: but alas ! consider that the death to come is more bitter, and the life to come is more sweet. . Therefore, for the desire and love I have to the one, and the terror and fear of the other, I do not so much regard this death, nor esteem this life, but have settled myself, through the strength of God’s Holy Spirit, patiently to pass through the torments and extremities of the fire now prepared for me, rather than to deny the truth of this word, desiring you and others in the mean time, to commend me to God's mercy in your prayers.”—Kingston finding him thus resolute, proceeded to take leave of him in terms of affection, expressing his gratitude to him as the person by whose instrumentality God had reclaimed him when he was a lost child, and brought him to forsake his crimes. “If you have had grace so to do,” continued Hooper, “I do highly praise God for it, and if you have not, I pray God you may have, and that you may continually live in his fear.” More words passed between them, as they thus took leave of each other—Kingston weeping bitterly, and the tears also trickling down Hooper's cheeks. As Kingston departed, Hooper told him that all the troubles he had sustained in prison had not caused him to utter so much sorrow. The same day, in the afternoon, a blind boy, whose name was Thomas Drowry, after long solicitation of the Guard, obtained admission to his presence. Hooper, after examining him as to his faith, and hearing that he had been imprisoned at Gloucester for confessing the truth, beheld him stedfastly, and (the tears appearing in his eyes) said to him : “Ah poor boy God hath taken from thee thy outward sight, for what consideration he best knoweth—but he hath given thee another sight much more precious—for he hath endued thy soul with the eye of knowledge and faith. God give thee grace continually to pray unto him, that thou lose not that sight, for then shouldest thou be blind both in body and soul.” This poor blind boy, in a little more than a year after, fulfilled the pious benediction of Hooper—by dying in the flames at Gloucester, a martyr to the truth. To another visitor, a Papist, who came affecting to condole with him, Hooper replied with some sternness: “Be sorry for thyself, man, and lament thine own wickedness—for I am well, I thank God, and death to me, for Christ's sake, is welcome.” On the night of that day he was committed by the Guard, their commission having expired, to the custody of the Sheriffs of Gloucester. These, with the Mayor and Aldermen, repaired to his lodgings, and, at the first meeting, saluted him and took him by the hand. He addressed himself to them, saying, “Master Mayor, I give most hearty thanks to you, and to the rest of your brethren, that you have vouchsafed to take me, aprisoner, and a condemned man, by the hand; whereby, tomy rejoicing, it is some deal apparent, that your old love and friendship towards me is not altogether extinguished; and I trust also, that all the things I have taught you in times past are not utterly forgotten, when I was here, by the godly King that dead is, appointed to be your Bishop and Pastor. For the which most true and sincere doctrine, because I will not now account it falsehood and heresy, as many other men do, I am sent hither (as I am sure you know) by the Queen’s commandment, to die; and am come, where I taught it, to confirm it with my blood. And now, Master Sheriffs, I understand by these good men, and my very friends, (meaning the Guard) at whose hands I have found so much favour and gentleness by the way hitherward, as a prisoner could reasonably require, (for the which also I most heartily thank them) that I am committed to your custody, as unto them that must see me brought to-morrow to the place of execution. My request therefore, to you, shall be only, that there be a quick fire, shortly to make an end, and in the mean time, I will be as obedient unto you, as yourselves could wish. If you think I do amiss in any thing, hold up your finger, and I have done. For I am not come hither as one inforced, or compelled to die, for it is well known, I might have had my life with worldly gain; but as one willing to offer and give my life for the truth, rather than to consent to the wicked papistical religion of the Bishop of Rome, received and set forth by the Magistrates in England, to God’s high displeasure and dishonour; and I trust, by God's grace, to-morrow to die a faithful servant of God, and a true obedient subject of the Queen.” By this address many of the Officers present were much moved. Still it would have been determined by the Sheriffs that he should have been lodged that night in the common gaol of the town, had not the Guard interposed to prevent it, representing his gentle and patient behaviour on his journey, and that they would themselves rather watch with him than that he should be sent to the common gaol. At length then it was resolved to permit him to remain the night at Ingram's house, the sheriffs, and other officers, themselves keeping watch. Alleging that he had many things to remember, he went to his rest as early as five in the afternoon—and having slept a sound sleep, he bestowed the remainder of the night in prayer. After rising in the morning, he desired that no man should be suffered to come into his chamber, that he might be alone until the hour of execution. About eight in the morning, (it being Saturday, the 9th of February, 1555,) came the Lord Chandos, Sir John Bridges, Sir Anthony Kingston, Sir Edmund Bridges, and others, appointed as Commissioners for the execution; and at nine, Hooper was desired to be in readiness, as the time was at hand. Immediately he was brought from his chamber by the Sheriffs, who were accompanied with armed men. Seeing the armed force, he exclaimed, “Master Sheriffs, I am no traitor *, neither. needed you to have made such a business to bring me to the place where I must suffer: for if ye had willed me, I would have gone alone to the stake, and have troubled none of you all.” Observing the great assemblage of people, for it was supposed that there were seven thousand collected, (as it was not only market day, but many also came expressly as witnesses of his behaviour in death) he said : “Alas! why be these people assembled and come together, peradventure they think to hear something of me now, as they have in times past; but alas! speech is prohibited to me. Notwithstanding, the cause of my death is well known unto them. When I was apa pointed here to be their Pastor, I preached unto them true and sincere doctrine, and that out of the word of God. Because I will not now account the same to be heresy and untruth, this kind of death is prepared for me.” Thus he advanced to the stake, between the Sheriffs, in a gown borrowed from his host, with his hat on his head and a staff in his hand— for he was lame from the pain of the sciatica, which he had taken in prison. As he went on he said not a word, but beholding the people

* There had been a scandalous charge against him of his having written a letter. to certain persons in prison, encouraging them to curse the Queen, whereas, on the contrary, he had always shewn great loyalty towards her; having sent horses to her when in trouble, both out of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. vol. Wii. no. ii.

sorrowing around him, he sometimes lifted up his eyes towards heaven, and looked so cheerfully on such as he knew, that they thought his countenance never seemed more composed and lively than at that moment. Having reached the place of execution, which was near to a great elm tree which stood over against the College of Priests, where he was wont to preach, he smilingly viewed the stake and the preparations. The place round about the houses, and the boughs of the trees, were filled with people, and in the chamber over the college-gate stood the Priests of the college. He then kneeled down to prayer, beckoning to Sir Edmund Bridges, whom he knew well, to listen to his prayer, that he might report it afterwards—who attentively obeyed his request. In this prayer, which turned upon the whole creed, he continued half an hour, weeping profusely in the intensity of his devotion. After he had commenced it, a box, asserted to contain his pardon, was brought and laid before him, to tempt him to recant—at the sight of which he cried; “If you love my soul, away with it—if you love my soul, away with it.”—The box being taken away, the Lord Chandos said: “Seeing there is no remedy, dispatch quickly.” Hooper only begged that he might have leave to end his prayers. The Lord Chandos then spoke to Sir Edmund Bridges (who was his son), saying, “Edmund, take heed that he do nothing else but pray: if he do, tell me, and I shall quickly dispatch him.” Whilst these words passed, some persons drew near and heard the following portion of the prayer: “Lord, thou art a gracious God and merciful Redeemer. Have mercy therefore upon me, most miserable and wretched offender, after thy great mercy, and according to thine inestimable goodness. Thou art ascended into heaven; receive me to be partaker of thy joys, where thou sittest in equal glory with thy Father. For well knowest thou, Lord, wherefore I am come hither to suffer, and why the wicked do persecute this thy poor servant: not for my sins and transgressions committed against thee, but because I will not allow their wicked doings, to the contaminating of thy blood, and to the denial of the knowledge of thy truth, wherewith it did please thee by thy Holy Spirit to instruct me: the which, with as much diligence as a poor wretch might, (being thereto called) I have set forth to thy glory; and well seest thou, my Lord and my God, what terrible pains and cruel torments be prepared for thy creature: such, Lord, as without thy strength none is able to bear, or patiently to pass. But all thi that are impossible with man, are possible with thee. Therefore strengthen me of thy goodness, that in the fire I break not the rules of patience, or else assuage the terror of the pains, as shall seem most to thy glory.” This was all that could be heard of the prayer, for the Mayor discovering those who had approached to listen to it, ordered them to retire. After the prayer, #. immediately prepared himself for the stake. Taking off the gown first, he delivered it to the Sheriffs, with strict charge to restore it to the owner—and so proceeded to take off the rest of his clothes, except his doublet and hose, in which he wished to have burned; but the Sheriffs would not permit it. . He was then stripped to his shirt, in which he had the presence of mind himself to fasten, with a point of his hose, a pound of gunpowder in a

« НазадПродовжити »