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This done, the Cardinal de Como's Letter"'in Italian was delivered into Parry's hand, by the direction of Mr. Vice-Chamberlain, which Parry there perused, and openly affirmed to be wholly of the Cardinal's own hand-writing, and the seal to be his own also, and to be with a Cardinal's hat on it: and himself did openly read it in Italian; and afterwards the copy of that Letter in English, which Parry then acknowledged to be truly translated, was read by the Clerk of the Crown as follows :
Sir,–His Holiness hath seen your letter of the first, with the assurance included, and cannot but commend the good disposition and resolution which you write to hold towards the public service and benefit; wherein • his Holiness doth exhort you to persevere, and to bring • to effect that which you have promised. And to the end you may be so much the more holpen by that good spirit which hath moved you thereunto, he doth grant * to you his blessing, plenary ulgence, and remission
of all your sins, according to your request; assuring you that besides the merit that you shall receive there fore in Heaven, his Holiness will further make himself debtor to reacknowledge your deservings in the best 'manner that he can ; and that so much the more, in that you use the greater modesty in not pretending to anything. Put therefore to effect your holy and honourable thoughts, and attend to your health. And, ' to conclude, I offer myself unto you heartily, and do
desire for you all good and happy success. From • Rome, the 30th Jan. 1584*. N. Card. of Como.'
And thereupon was showed unto Parry his Letter of the 18th February, written to the Lord Treasurer (Burleigh), and the Lord Steward (Leicester), which he confessed to be all of his own hand-writing, and which was read as follows: with these remarkable words: “Remember your unfortunate Parry; chiefly overthrown by your hard hand; amend it in the rest of your servants; for it is past with me if your grace be not greater than I look for.”
This would be 1583, according to the computation of time then in use in England, by which the year commenced on the 25th of March. The Roman year commenced on Christmas-day.
My Lords, now that the conspiracy is discovered, • the fault confessed, my conscience cleared, and mind prepared patiently to suffer the pains due for so heinous a crime, I hope it shall not offend you if, crying • Miserere with the poor publican, I leave to despair with * cursed Cain. My case is rare and strange, and, for anything I can remember, singular—a natural subject solemnly to vow the death of his natural Queen (so • born, so known, and so taken by all men) for the relief
of the afflicted Catholics, and restitution of religion. • The matter first conceived in Venice, the service (in general words)_presented to the Pope, continued and undertaken in Paris; and lastly, commended and war• ranted by his Holiness; digested and resolved in Eng' land, if it had not been prevented by accusation, or by 'her Majesty's greater lenity and more gracious usage of • her Catholic subjects. This is my first and last offence conceived against my prince or country, and doth (I cannot deny) contain all other faults whatsoever. It is now to be punished by death, or most graciously (beyond all common expectation) to be pardoned. Death I do confess to have deserved ; life I do with all humility crave, if it may stand with the Queen's honour and policy of the time. To leave so great a treason unpunished, were strange; to draw it by my death in exaraple, were dangerous. A sworn servant to take upon him such an enterprise, upon such a ground, and by such a warrant, hath not been seen in England. • To indict him, arraign him, bring him to the scaffold, ' and to punish his offence, can do no good: to hope
that he hath more to discover than is confessed, or • that at his execution he will unsay anything he hath
written, is in vain. To conclude that it is impos*sible for him, in time, to make some part of amends, were very hard, and against former experiences. The question, then, is—whether it is better to kill him, or (lest the matter be mistaken), upon hope of his amendment, to pardon him. For mine own opinion, though partial, I will deliver you my conscience. The case is good Queen Elizabeth's; the offence is committed against her sacred person, and she may of her mercy pardon it without prejudice to any. Then this I say,
. in few words, as a man more desirous to discharge
his troubled conscience than to live-Pardon poor Parry • and relieve him ; for life without living is not fit for • him. If this may not be, or be thought dangerous or • dishonourable to the Queen's Majesty (as, by your favours, I think it full of honour and mercy), then I beseech your Lordships, and no other, once to hear me before I be indicted, and afterwards, if I must die, • humbly to entreat the Queen's Majesty to hasten my • trial and execution, which I pray God, with all my * heart, may prove as honourable to her as I hope it • shall be happy to me, who will while I live (as I have • have done always) pray to Jesus Christ for her Ma* jesty's long and prosperous reign. From the Tower, • the 18th of February, 1584.
W. PARRY. These matters being read openly, for manifestation of the plot, Parry prayed leave to speak, whereto Mr. ViceChamberlain said, If you will say anything for the better opening to the world of those your foul and horrible facts, speak on; but if you mean to make any excuse of that which you have confessed, which else would have been, and do stand, proved against you, for my part, I will not sit to hear you."
Then her Majesty's Attorney-General, Sir John Popham, stood up and said, “ It appeareth before you, my Lords, that this man hath been indicted and arraigned of several most heinous and horrible treasons, and hath confessed them, which is before you of record; wherefore there resteth no more to be done, but for the Court to give judgment accordingly, which here I require in the behalf of the Queen's Majesty."
Then said Parry, "I pray you hear me for discharging of my conscience: I will not go about to excuse myself, nor to seek to save my life; I care not for it; you have my confession of record—that is enough for my life; and I mean to utter more for which I were worthy to die."
Then said Mr. Vice-Chamberlain,“ Parry, then do thy duty according to conscience, and utter all that thou canst say concerning those thy most wicked facts.”
Then said Parry, My cause is rare, singular, and unnatural; conceived at Venice, presented in geVOL. I.
neral words' to the Pope, undertaken at Paris, commended and allowed of by his Holiness, and was to have been executed in England, if it had not been prevented. Yea, I have committed many treasons; for I have committed treason in being reconciled, and treason in taking absolution. There hath been no treason since the first year of the Queen's reign, touching religion, but that I am guilty of; and yet I never intended to kill Queen Elizabeth—I appeal to her own knowledge, and to my Lord Treasurer's, and Master Secretary's.”
Then said my Lord Hunsdon, “ Hast thou acknowledged it so often, and so plainly in writing under thy hand, and here of record ; and now, when thou shouldst have thy judgment according to that which thou hast confessed thyself guilty of, dost thou go back again, and deny the effect of all ? How can we believe that thou now sayest ?”
Then said the Vice-Chamberlain, “ This is absurd : thou hast not only confessed generally that thou wert guilty, according to the indictment, which summarily, and yet in express words, doth contain that thou hadst traitorously compassed and intended the death and destruction of her Majesty ; but thou also saidst particularly, that thou wert guilty of every of the treasons contained therein, whereof the same was one, in plain and express letters set down, and read unto thee. Yea, thou saídst that thou wert guilty of more treasons, too, besides these. And didst thou not, upon thy examination, voluntarily confess how thou wast moved first thereunto by mislike of thy state after thy departure out of the realm, and that thou didst mislike her Majesty for that she had done nothing for thee; how by wicked Papists and Popish books thou wert persuaded that it was lawful to kill her Majesty; how thou wert, by reconciliation, become one of that wicked sort that held her Majesty for neither lawful Queen nor Christian, and that it was meritorious to kill her? And didst thou not signify that thy purpose to the Pope by letters, and receive letters from the Cardinal, how he allowed of thine intent, and excited thee to perform it, and thereupon didst receive absolution ? "And didst thou not conceive it, promise it, vow it, swear it, and receive the
sacrament that thou wouldst do it? And didst thou not thereupon affirm that thy vows were in Heaven, and thy letters and promises on earth, to bind thee to do it? and that whatsoever her Majesty would have done for thee, could not have removed thee from thy intention or purpose, unless she would have desisted from dealing as she hath done with the Catholics, as thou callest them? All this thou hast plainly confessed; and I protest before this great assembly thou hast confessed it more plainly, and in better sort, than my memory will serve me to utter; and sayest thou now that thou never meantest it?” “ Ah!” said Parry, your
Honours know how my confession, upon my examination, was extorted."
Then both the Lord Hunsdon and the Vice-Chamberlain affirmed that there was no torture or threatening words offered him.
But Parry then said that " they told him, that if he would not confess willingly, he should have torture." Whereunto their Honours answered, “ that they used not any speech or word of torture to him.”
“ You said," said Parry, " that you would proceed with rigour against me, if I would not confess it of myself."
But their Honours expressly affirmed that they used no such words. “ But I will tell thee,” said the ViceChamberlain, what we said: I spake these words: 'If you will willingly utter the truth of yourself, it may do you good*; I wish you to do so; if you will not, we must then proceed in ordinary course to take your examination.' Whereunto you answered, that you would tell the truth of yourself. Was not this true ?" Which then he yielded unto.
And besides this, her Majesty's Attorney-General put Parry in remembrance what speeches he used to the Lieutenant of the Tower, the Queen's Serjeant-at-Law, Gawdie, and himself, on Saturday the 20th of February
* It is singular to mark the total change which has taken place in the practice respecting the admissibility of confessions. These words, used to an accused person at the present day, would as effectually exclude a subsequent confession from being given in evidence, as if a threat of torture had been used,