Chapter 19761066

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Chapter NumberVOL II XIIL
Chapter TitleVINEGAR HOUSE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19761066
Full Date1877-08-18
Page Number9
Corrections0
Word Count4796
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)
Trove TitleHer Majesty's Tower
article text

LITERATURE.

The Storyteller.

Her Majesty's Tower. *

VOL. II.

CHAPTER XIIL

VINEGAR HOUSE.

BY WILLIAM HEPWORTH DIXON.

IN Parliament-place, the narrow lane going up from the river stair, then called the Queen's Bridge, stood Vinegar House, a small stone tenement leaning against the Prince's Chamber,

which formed a part of the old palace known as the House of Lords. From the oellara of this small tenement a shaft might be driven through the foundations into the dark passages and vaults below the throne. Catesby supposed that these dark passages and vaults were empty; ready, in fact, to become the chambers of his mine. Vinegar House was, therefore, his Kirk of Field. But how was he to gain possession? This tenement, a part of the crown estate, was held on simple lease by John Whynyard, Yeoman of the Wardrobe, whose official residence it was. What chanoe had a pardoned rebel, a notorious plotter, of getting such a house into his power ? Catesby could not go and make enquiries ; for his face being known to Cecil's spies, he could hardly have landed at the Queen's Bridge or strolled up Parliament-place without being watched. Tom Bates, his serving-man, was therefore sent across to see who lived in the house, and learn if it could be hired. Bates brought word to Lambeth that the Yeoman's rooms were under-let to their old Warwickshire neighbor, Henry Ferrers, of Baddealey Clinton, the famous antiquary. Lap worth, in which Catesby was born, is but a mile from the moated old manor in which Ferrers lived. Yet Catesby dared not move one step; for the famous antiquary, though a Catholic, was a Catholic of the English school. In hiring such a place, he must have the use of some free and unstained name ? What name ? Jack Wright, his chum, was compromised like himself; but Jackhad a brother-in-law,in Thomas Percy, who seemed the very man to get Vinegar House from the oollector of county pedigrees. Percy was a fine gentleman, of kin to the great Northumbrian EarL A oourtier by birth, a Gentleman Pensioner, in attendance on the King, he would excite no question by pretending that he needed a lodging near the court This Percy bad never been concerned in plots, and bis reputation was that of a merry fellow, who spent bis money in the taverns. But Wright could answer for a change having come over his sister's spouse. A wasted man of forty-five years, with lanky face and feverish eye, Percy had been found by Jesuits in the stows, and brought by them to a sense of his abominable life. Onoa he had cared for nothing but a bottle and a bright eye, now his oomf ort lay in a daily conflict with the flesh. He bad a grievance, too, which might help to serve them; for, in bis opinion, the King had used him as a tool, and mocked him as a dupe. . Catesby, who knew that Percy was sore in spirit, invited him to the bouse at Lambeth, in which Wright was living, and to which Winter earns. ." Well, gentlemen," said the new-oomer, " shall we always talk and never do ?" That was the key to strike; and Catesby, taking him aside, explained to him the projects-showing him the House of Lords, which they could see from his window—telling him bow they would drive the shaft from the oellarsof Vinegar House—and giving him the names of those who were already privy to bis hope. Percy entered into the design at once, for his hatred of the prince who bad deceived and mocked him was at fever point. A lodging was taken for Guy Fawkes (Mr. "Johnson"), in the house of Widow Herbert, in Butcher-row, an alley behind St Clement Danes. To this bouse in Butcher-row came Father Gerard from White Webbs, bringing with him the stuff to decorate an altar, bread and wine for the sacrament, and all the things required by a priest when celebrating mass. An upper room of Widow Herbert's house was turned into a chapel; and when the priest was ready for his part, Catesby, Percy, Tom Winter, Jack Wright, and Fawkes, assembled in the house— a quaint old Tudor pile at the corner of Clements-lane—first in the lower room, where they swore each other upon the Primer; and then in the upper room, where they heard Father Gerard say mass, and took from his hands the sacrament on that oath. Each of the five conspirators was sworn upon his knees, with his hand on the Primer, that he would keep the secret, that he would be true to his fellows, that he would be constant in the plot The question now arose more sharply—How were they to get possession of Vinegar House ? The good old antiquary, it seemed, was seldom in town, and might be persuaded to sell his lease ; but on application being made to Ferrers, they found that he had no power to sell, unless with Wbynyard's knowledge and consent; a thing which it might be hard for them to get Percy made the task his own. Whynyard was away from town, attending on the court, and when Percy spoke to his wife Susan, the thrifty woman made some ado about it, as she knew that to let an official residence was wrong ; but on Percy hinting that he would buy her " good will," her scruples melted into air. Besides the money, she felt that a Gentleman fwnsioner might be a good friend to a Yeoman of the Wardrobe. Yet Mrs. Whynyard was prudent enough to ask for references, and she only parted with the key of her house on the pledge of Sir Dudley Carleton and other of the Earl's gentle men. Percy was to pay twenty pounds to Ferrers for his lease, and four pounds a quarter for his rent A small tenement adjoined Vinegar House, in which Uidsuu Gibbius, the porter, lived. This tenement Percy was to have at any time he pleased; and in the meanwhile, Mrs. Gibbins, the porter's wife, was hired to keep hu house.

• Tlm right <d npabUahiac "Ha M^Mtyt Twwr"

Vinegar House, like many official lodgings at the court, bad only one bed-room ; ao that when Percy brought Quy Fawkes, in the character of hia servant " Johnson," to the house, he had to lie elsewhere himself. Percy made a friend of Mrs. Gibbina, as well as of Mrs. Whynyard, bo that little was said about his going and coming to Parliament-place. He was said to be at Sion, at Alnwick, at Wreasil, at Petworth, busy about the Earl's affairs. The conspirators had got their cellar, and only • dosen feet of masonry divided them from the passages and vaults below the throne. But the house was too small for a magazine, and stood in a lane too much exposed. They would require a second house, in which to hoard the planks, the powder, and the mining tools; a house near the river, and not too far from Parliament-place. On looking round, they saw that Catesby's lodging on the Lambeth side would do ; but his house* keeper could not be trusted; and before they could begin to pile up planks and powder they must find some "honest fellow" to keep their store. This " honest fellow" they found in Robert Kay, a reprobate son of Edward Kay, Vicar of Staveley. Kay was starving in the streets, having left the service of Lord Mor daunt, in whose family his wife was an upper nurse. Kay took the oaths, and went to the river bank, on which Catesby removed to hia place in Moorcroft, under the oity wall. In this lonely house by the river side, Winter and Kay began to collect the tools, to frame the planks, and to prepare the powder; which they afterwards boated over in the dead of night, and put on shore in a covered nook of the wharf, near the Queen's Bridge. Except from the river, it was impossible to see their boat, and only then by persons who were close in shore. One autumn night, a servant from the Wardrobe office, coming late to Westminster, and going under the wall of Sir Thomas Parry's garden, saw a strange boat by the wharf, with men going to and fro, through the back door of Percy's house; but one of these men being Oibbins, the porter, he thought no more about it Gibbins had been taken into Percy's pay. Some months elapsed before Fawkes was ready to begin the mine; for Vinegar House being public property, held by the Yeoman on simple lease, he was subject to interference of many kinds. Once, indeed, Fawkes was thrown into despair by newt that the house was wanted by the crown. Parliament was sitting, busy with fifty com mittees and conferences, when the King brought forward his great and premature scheme for a legislative union of the two kingdoms. Warm debates took place on this proposal, in which Bacon played the leading put. The judges ob jected to the change of title from England to Great Britain ; sixteen commisaionen/of whom the first was Bacon, were appointed to consider the project in all its bearings on policy and law; and as room for Bacon and bis fellows could not be found in the palace proper, the adjoining tenement was ordered to be cleared. In fact, those famous conferences between Baoon and Hamilton, the Lord Advocate of Scotland, which are celebrated in the "Essays," as an example of grave and orderly proceedings in affairs of State, were held in Vinegar House. Surprised by this bad news, Fawkes aent for Tom Winter, who quickly came in to see what could be done. The powder, planks, and mining tools could hardly be taken away unseen. The lesser danger was to leave them : yet the plotters must have left them in despair ; since the chance of a dis covery hung on such accidents as that of a servant going down into the vault*. Bacon and Hamilton, with some of the best gentlemen of England and Scotland, met for many week* to debate the terms of union in a powder-magasine! At length their work was done, and the Com,, missioners went away, not dreaming of the perils from which they bad so narrowly escaped. Then Fawkes returned to arm and strengthen his house, so that he and his fellows might be able, in case of sudden attack, to resist some hours. The four gentlemen who were to be bis com* panions in the mine bad all seen service, more or less, and two of them bad been regularly trained to arms. Jack Wright w^s said to be the finest swordsman of his day. When all was ready for them, the five oon federates came to Parliament-place, late in the night, and one by one, unseen, each with bis pockets full of baked pies and boiled eggs. They went down into the cellar, carrying with them iron bars, and powder, and holy water, to find that the task on which they were entering was beyond their strength. When wasted and worn by toil, they fetched in Kay from Lambeth, leaving the house locked up, and swore Kit Wright of the brotherhood ; but, when all was done, the seven were found to be as weak hi presence of the stone foundations as the five. Fawkes, who kept the watch while hia fellows toiled in the mine, gave notice of the coming of anyone down the lane. Much time was spent in grubbing at the stone before an incident let in a flood of light upon their minds. What did they expect to find on the other side of that solid wall ? Large vaults and passages lying below the Prince's Chamber and the House of Lords ; but in what state could they expect to find these passages and vaults ? What if they were tenanted ? A noise was heard in the earth—the miners sprinkled holy water on the ground ; but still the noise went on. What could it be! They sent for Fawkes, who listened on the ground with a miner's ear. As he could make no guess as to whence it came, he covered his dress with a porter's frock, and went up Btairs into the street In a closed court, behind the Prince's Chamber, he found a low door open, with men going up and down the steps, which led, as he could plainly see, into the passages and vaults beneath the House of Lords, bn prying further, he learned that a sale of coals was going on; for Andrew Bright, distiller of sweet herbs to the Court, the tenant of these vaults, was selling off his stock and giving up his lease to one Skinner of King-street, for the pur poses of his trade. When Fawkes returned with this news, the confederates aaw that their shaft was a mistake ? for what would they gain by driving through a dosen feet of granite to arrive in a magasine of goods? They must get those vaults. They must get them at any cost But how! Skinner was dow their man; bat how could they induce him

to forego bis lease ? What lie could they invent,' that would not seem a lie? They hit on a device, which Percy was to put in train. Going to Mrs. Whynyard, Percy told that dame that his wife, who waß then in the country, wished to come up and Bee the town, She was to live with him at Vinegar House, to be near the court; but before •he came, he wished to lay in Btores of coals and billets, and would therefore like to hire the ad joining vaults. If she could help him with Skinner, he would give her twenty shillings for her trouble, and pay her one year's rent in advance. Skinner's rent was four pounds a-year, and Percy offered to pay her five pounds down. This money tempted her, though she feit some qualms; and going up to King-street, she arranged the business with Mrs. Skinner, who undertook, for a present of forty shillings, to persuade her husband to oblige a gentleman, who was not only a kinsman of Northumberland, but a servant of the King. The place now bought for a year for seven pounds, was a long series of passages and vaults, of Early English work, with walls of enormous strength, and a roof supported by beams and shaf ta, like those in the White tower. Being low and dark, the stores brought into them from the street could be easily hidden out of sight The task of the plotters was therefore done so soon as the boats had ferried the sacks of powder across from the Lambeth side, and Fawkes had covered them over with sticks and stones, with broken glass and a litter of coals. Vinegar House being now ready for Mrs. Percy, the gentleman left for the country; telling Mrs. Whynyard that he was going away to fetch bis lady up to town.

Chapkeb XIV. CONSPIRACY AT LABGK. Thb comrades parted company in Parliament* plaoe; each of the seven going off to his several home, conspirators at large. Giving up hi* keys to Mrs. Gibbins, Fawkes went back to Flanders, where he had work to do, which could only be done through Father Owen, and Sir William Stanley, now recognised in Butcher-row and Enfield Chase as the Foreign Minister and General oi the plot. On looking to the moment when the blow was struck, the fanatics saw that two things would be wanted in that hdur of need: —an armed force within easy reach of the Tower, and a favorable disposition on the part of foreign courts. The two great men in Flanders oould promote these ends. Owen was the most active and experienced agent in court and camp. The exiles would obey his slightest hint, and the statesmen of Europe would listen to him more readily than to any other English priest Stanley could arm and drill the volunteers whom Owen drew over to their cause, so as to hold a force in hand to cross when the mine was fired and-the King was ?U»n, Some doubts were felt as to whether it would be safe to trust these exiles with the secret; but Catesby overcame all doubts by saying it must be done; and Fawkes arrived in Brussels em powered to tell the Jesuit and the General aIL Stanley was then In Spain ; but Father Owen received his news with rapture. Tes; they oould count on him. Of Stanley, he was not so sure. That exile was in Madrid, persuading Lerma to make his peace with James; and he would hardly tie his hands by entering into yet another plot But Owen, believing he would fail with Lerma. expected him back in Brussels with the hitter heart of a newly disappointed man. The Father undertook to deaf with him at the proper time; and he pledged his word to Fawkes that when the deed was done, Sir William and his regiment should cross the Straits* and march upon the Tower. The Jesuit also took upon himself to prepare the way for them in Rome; where, at the moment, things were looking black for the cause in whioh they had staked their lives. The Pope seemed more and more inclined towards peace; the English college was in disgrace ; and Aqua* viva, at the personal request of Clement, had ordered Persons to retire from Rome. The Jesuit wm in Naples, fretting his life out in that Spanish city, while the Pope was receiving mes sages from James with every mark of personal good wilL To have an agent in Rome was now essential; and, with the advice.of Catesby, Sir Edward Baynham was sent by Father Owen into Italy, instructed to prepare the Roman court for what was coming, and to justify it when the crash should come. Catesby rode down to Lapworth with Jack Wright, whom he left in the old manor, while he rode on to Oxford with Tom Winter, whither he had called two country squires to meet him ; Robert Winter, of Huddington, Tom's elder brother, a slow and rather stupid fellow, and John Grant of Norbrook, one of those' reckless devils who had been out with Essex in the Strand. These squires he meant to draw into his plot As the fine gentlemen of the circle, Catesby and Percy had a plaoe and power apart from the other five. Fawkes had been a servant to Lord Montague. Winter was a servant to Lord Mont eagle. Kay had been a servant to Lord Mordaunt, Jack Wright, the fencer, was a ruined man, whom Catesby had to feed and lodge. Kit Wright was poorer than his brother Jack. The money which had gone in hire of houses, and in pay of men, was either Catesby's money or Percy s money. Large sums were needed to conduct their enter prise : and no one could suggest a way of raising funds except by drawing on the parses of richer men. But where oould they find such com rades t Men with money are shy of plots. This Catesby and Percy told their fellows; saying, truly enough, that many a country squire might lend them money, and even promise them his sword, who would not care to put himself wholly into their power by giving in his name. On this ground, Catesby asked from the five a singular and dangerous power; no less than that he and Percy should be free to communi cate their secret to anyone they pleased, if it were done in the presence, and with the consent, of any sworn brother. That power was given up to them ; for how could Jack and Tom, Kit and Guy, resist such men ? When Robert Winter heard from Catesby's lips of the detrign in which his brother Tom had risked hit) neck, be turned away sullenly, Baying the project was too dangerous, and would tw sure to fail unless the Catholic powers abroad and the Catholic lord* a 4 home should give their

aid. John Grant raised no objection to the mine ; and after much debate, the two oountry squires were sworn into the plot Tom Bate*, the serving-man, was now brought in, from fear of his idle tongue. Being much about Vinegar House, in waiting on hi* master, Bates had oome to know of the mine and vault; and Catesby knew of no way to shut his mouth except by swearing him on the Primer, and making iuin a party in their perils. Bates had no brains for such a work, and in his very next confession he blabbed out the secret to his priest, whose game it was to have known nothing about the design on foot The priest was Father Greenway, one of Garnet's circle at White Webbs; and the holy man could not pacify Bates without telling him, in express terms, that the cause was good, that he must keep the secret, and that then only he should have absolution for his sins. From Oxford, Catesby rode down to Bath, where Percy was drinking the waters for his health. Their work was going on well, yet many things had to be arranged Mfore the blow was struck. The King and Prince being slain, they must get Charles and his sister jSlisabeth into their keeping, to urn as policy should prompt them. Charles, it was hoped, would be in London ; Elizabeth was at Combe Abbey, two miles from Coventry. Percy undertook to seize the Prince, Catesby the Princess. As an officer of the household, Percy could go into the Prince's cihsmher, and he arranged to be there when the blow was struck. He was to station a down men at the palace doors ; to post three mounted gentlemen at the bourt gate; and then go in—with a trusty friend—and chat with the Prince until the crash was heard in Parliament place, when he was to hurry Charles away. Catesby, on his side, was to call his Catholic friends together at Dunchurch, near his seat of Ashby St. Leger, on pretence of a great hunting* party, which he hoped Lord Harrington and the knights in attendance on Elisabeth at Combe would be induoed to join; so that the con federates, moving secretly and rapidly from many points on the Abbey, might take the Princess by surprise, and all but alone. But more was needed than a plan of opera* tions. They needed money, and they needed men; for both of which they saw that they would have to go beyond the narrow circle oi converts to their faith. Catesby urged on Percy that .many gentlemen would trust him and helfa him, who would not put their lives into the hands of all by taking a formal oath ; and Percy, knowing from his own experience that this was true, raised no objection to Cttesby's proposal that each of them should have the power, without consulting their comrades, to act—from time to time—in the common cause, as in their judgment should seem well. Percy consented to this new and still more dangerous stretch of their sepa rate power. As the time to act drew near, the man who had most to gain and most to lose began to play with his comrades' lives, but only as he fancied for their good, because he knew better than his fellows how far he could go ; putting this man on his guard by a hint—taking that man into his confidence by an oath ; telling half the truth to one—the whole truth to another, according to the service which he hoped to secure from each. Armed with his new powers, he rode to Hud* dington, Robert Winter's seat, from which he wrote to Stephen Littleton of Holbeaoh, and Humphrey his younger brother; members of an old Catholic family, to whom he dared not reveal his plot in f uIL He told these squires that he was raising a Catholio regiment for the Cardinal Archduke's servioe, to oonsiat of three hundred horse ; and he offered to Stephen the rank of captain in this troop. Stephen, pleased with his prospects, undertook to raise money and men, and to hold his oompany in readiness to march. Ambrose Rokewood was a man of < similar stamp. A great breeder and lover of horses, of which he kept a stud at Coldham Hall more fit for a prince than for a oountry gentleman, it was of vast importance for Catesby to bring Roke* wood in. But the task was not easy; for the- Suffolk squire, though educated in a Jesuits' college, and equally attached to Garnet and to Catesby, with whom he had acted in the dangerous affair of Wright's mission to Madrid, was of an ancient Catholic race, not much hi* dined to adopt such desperate remedies for his wrongs as public murder in the name of God. His love for Catesby was like that of a woman ; yet his soul recoiled from the thought of shedding blood, and he told his tempter he could not in consdenoe join him. Long and subtle were the arguments employed to draw him in. The case, bis friend assured him, had been settled by the Catholic divines; a case of conscience having been drawn up, in which the facts set forth would cover their own design. But many persons, urged the squire, would perish in the explosion who had done no harm. They oould not help that, Catesby said ; and their divines had laid down the rule, that- if an action, other* wise right, could not be done without killing some innocents, it might still be done. Roke wood was not convinced, and even his love for Catesby might have failed to draw him in, had not the persecuting spirit of the times inflicted on his proud nature a bitter sense of personal wrong, in his indictment before the Middlesex magistrates as a notorious Papist and recusant. Full of fear and sore with insult, Rokewood threw himself into his tempter's arms. The snare was thrown at Sir Everard Digby. Digby, educated in the national church, had been caught by the Jesuits in his early man* hood; and his house of Goathurst, in Bucks, had long been used as a hiding-place for priests. When Catesby spoke to him, Digby started at the news ; he could not seize the principle of such a crime; and when Catesby told him it was sanctioned by the Jesuits, he expressed some doubts of such a fact. But on consulting Father Fisher, his confessor, he learned that what Catesby said was true ; on which he promised his support, and a contribution of fifteen hundred pound*. This doubt was also found in his cousin Frank, Frank Tresham had of late kept clear of plots, believing, like Munteagle, that bis wiser e»un« would be to make friends at court, ai*d take his chance with Northampton and the Catholic peers, instead of with Garnet and the converts of Whhe Webbs. He was not mad; be shrank

with visible dread from the crime of murder ; and before the secret oath had passed his lips, his friend was troubled with a ghastly fear. Would Frank betray him, Catesby asked him self? More tuan once he wished he had not spoken. Frank was hot and cold by turns ; suggesting doubts as to what would be said in Borne ; proposing questions as to how their brethren could be saved; and generally objecting to the mine and the march on Combe Abbey as sure to faiL Yet* as Frank promised help in money and in men—in money, two thousand pounds—his jealous cousin could only take his gold and stiok a poinard in his belt; so that on the slightest sign of treason, he could plunge the. steel into his heart Mrs. Vaux, of Harrowden, sister-in-law of Ann and Helen, was used by the conspirators without being sworn. This lady, by birth a Roper, was of ancient Catholic stock, and not to be trusted with a knowledge of Catesby's plans. But she was asked to invite such persons to her houße as Henry Hurlatone and other squires whom Garnet and Catesby deßired to meet; gentlemen who might be'persuaded to join the hunt at Dunchurch, in the hope that when their blood was stirred by news from Parliament-place, they could be drawn into marching on Combe Abbey with the rest, [TO BK OOKTIMUSD.]