Page 17, 10th August 1935

10th August 1935
Page 17
Page 17, 10th August 1935 — Blessed Edmund Campion

Report an error

Noticed an error on this page?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it.



Related articles

In Brief

Page 3 from 21st June 2002

Pilgrimage For Edmund Campion

Page 10 from 9th June 1967

Blessed Edmund Campion

The following is the seventh extract from the study of Edmund Campion, by Evelyn Waugh, which Messrs Longmans, Green and Co. are publishing in September.

Campion visited Lyford Grange, near Faringdon, in Berkshire, for one night and had resumed his journey towards Oxford, when Father Ford was sent after him to beg him to return. He was now offered a large and eager audience. He went back.

Friday and Saturday passed without alarm. Campion was lionized and cosseted by the good ladies; scholars came out from Oxford, and the Catholic neighbours flocked to see him. On Sunday, in obedience to Brother Ralph, he was to start for Norfolk. That morning Mr. George Eliot arrived. He was a typical member of the class of professional priest-hunter whom Cecil and Walsingham now employed. Originally a manservant of low character, he had worked in the households of Mr. Roper of Orpington, in Kent, and the Dowager Lady Peter, mother of Sir John Petre, of Ingatestone, Essex, both of whom were Catholic. While in their service he had professed himself of their Faith. He got into trouble for rape and homicide and left Lady Petre's employment for gaol. From there he wrote several letters to Leicester, offering information against his former employers, giving a list of prominent Catholics, and in particular accusing Father Payne, who

of Campion's audience, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets." It was the tenebrae of his passion. Never, it was remembered, had his eloquence been more compelling than in this last sermon.

While he listened Eliot's hand strayed, he tells us, to the pocket where he kept the Queen's commission; it was half in his mind to produce it there and then; but he prudently sat the sermon out, and as soon as he decently could, hurried back to Jenkins in the buttery. There was no time now to stay for dinner, and making what excuses they could to the hospitable cook, the two galloped off with their news to the nearest justice.

Seven or eight of the visiting Catholics remained for dinner, and they were still at the table, at about one o'clock, when the alarm was given, that the house was completely surrounded. Mr. Fettiplace, a neighbouring magistrate, Eliot, Jenkins and a squadron of soldiers sat their horses outside the main gate demanding admission, while the watchmen reported armed men posted in a circle round the moat. Campion wished to surrender himself, in the hope that, content with his easy capture, the magistrate might leave the other unmolested. Mrs. Yate insisted that the house was well provided with hidingplaces, and that there was a fair prospect of escape; in any case his presence there would ruin them all, whether he surrendered or was discovered. The three priests were led to a secret room, where there was just space for them to lie side by side on a couch; some provisions Were put in with them and the panelling slid into place; meanwhile the nuns hastily put themselves into ordinary costume; books, beads, pictures were hidden away; Edward Yate, brother of the master of the house, and two yokels, locked themselves in the pigeon house; it was half an hour before Fettiplace was admitted. He was then greeted by Mrs. Yate and her guests—five gentlemen, one gcsitlewoman and the three nuns in lay attire—who demanded indignantly to know the reason for the disturbance. Eliot accused the entire party of having been present at a Mass that morning. They flatly denied it, and Fettiplace found himself in the difficult position of having to choose between the word of a professional informer and of a number of local gentry. Perhaps he knew that Eliot was telling the truth, but he had no particular zeal to prove it. Eliot insisted on a search, and the men marched through the house, glancing under beds and behind curtains. Nothing was found: the magistrate had done his duty and was ready to apologize and withdraw. But, says Eliot, "I eftsoone put Master Fettiplace in remembrance of our Commission." The magistrate protested that he had no warrant to do any damage in the house. Eliot produced his commission and began to read an authorization for this very purpose. One of the men, looking over his shoulder, discovered that he was inventing. Eliot challenged the magistrate to arrest him as a comforter of Jesuits. They were now outside the gates, arguing the matter on the draw-bridge: within the household were jubilant at their escape. Suddenly the party were observed to waver and to turn back; they were demanding readmission. Eliot had won. Fettiplace recognized that he was a dangerous man: a malicious report to Leicester might bring about his own ruin.

Eliot and Jenkins took charge of the raid. Edward Yate and the two countrymen were discovered in the dovecot. It was now useless to pretend that nothing unusual had been on foot. Methodically, room by room, they went through the house, sounding the panelling and splintering it where it seemed hollow; they found several secret places, but no trace of the priests. The afternoon drew in, and Fetiiplace's men became Sulky. Eliot sent to the high sheriff, Mr. Foster, and to another justiet, Mr. Wiseman, for further help. Foster, who had no liking for this Sort of procedure, sent back word that he could not be found; Wiseman arrived before dark with a posse of a dozen of his own servants "very able men," according to Eliot, "and well appointed." That night a guard of sixty was set about the house. while others slept on the premises; Mrs. Yale gave them supper.

The cell where the priests lay opened out of "a chamber near the top of the house; which was but very simple; having in it a large shelf with divers tools and instruments both upon it and hanging by it; which they fudged to belong to some cross bow maker." Shelves hung across the door. Mrs Yate had her bed made up in a room close this workshop, and during the night Campion came out and addressed a few words of encouragement there to the household. As they were leaving her room one of them stumbled; the guard was alarmed, but the priests got back to their hiding-place without detection.

At daybreak the search began again, but by now even Eliot was losing heart. He knew that Campion had been there, and had meant to remain to dinner, hm it seemed probable that he had changed his plan—perhaps alarmed by Eliot's precipitate departure—and bad escaped while his pursuers were summoning Fettiplace. When they were "in effect clear void of any hope," Jenkins noticed a chink of

blog comments powered by Disqus