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A DESCRIPTION OF THE HORRENDOUS REGICIDE AND CRIMINAL TREASON
of the adherents of the Papist religion, intended against James, that most
serene King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, against his Queen,
royal offspring, and the orders and Peerage of the realm,
November 5, 1605
TO JAMES, MOST SERENE KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE AND IRELAND,
WISHIING HIM GRACE, PEACE, AND ETERNAL SALVATION IN CHRIST
HEN it was reported by the letters of certain men, and the verbal accounts of many, that the madness of some impious fellows had enmeshed them in a felonious act of regicide against the king and realm of Britain, although I was not unaware how imprudently I was acting in publishing this account, not wholly accurate and unworthy of the sacred ears of a king excellently equipped with all learning and virtue, I nevertheless preferred to set forth my thoughts on this affair, albeit not well worked out in my mind, and indulge my haste, than fail in attesting my dutifulness at the first possible moment, a dutifulness because of which I have always thought I should reverence your royal majesty, known to me since your boyhood, and to blaze abroad how greatly the minds of all men have always and everywhere been well-disposed towards their most merciful king, who has always and everywhere done so well by the commonwealth and the Church, and abhor the great cruelty of this felonious treason. I was confident that, if in my subject-matter I embraced things quickly, even rashly committed to memory from many sources, your majesty would readily forgive and look favorably on them, since they are the products of a mind most devoted to yourself. Farewell, most zealous of all the sovereigns of this earth in defending pious peace and pure religion, and may God almighty forever protect you and all your family with an abundance of every manner of blessing.
Always devoted to your majesty’s kindness,
Why, Muse, do you appear to me, contrary to your habit, dressed in a torn mantle, your face tear-stained, your sad countenance ashen, and your garment blood-stained? The reason is that by this face, tears and blood the aspect of things and our lamentable kingdom are being expressed; for the destruction of which kingdom that band of zealots had taken their oath, for its destruction the sky was shot with blood. The Fury-driven royal herds, abandoning their familiar pastures and groves, gave warning that their mad minds were undertaking this enterprise, with Caesar murdered. It was an impious brother who was the first, to murder his pious brother, thus firstborn sons of our first of our original parent sowed the seeds of discord, and hence the race of the wicked vexes that of the just with its hatreds, and the savage realms of the bloody sea ran red with Roman blood, the gore of innocent kinsmen. In western Sicily an army set sail, leaving the three-cornered island awash with spilled foreign blood, having frustrated its enemies and their mighty master. Why need I mention Phalaris, who broiled men pent up in his Egyptian bronze, or the altars of notorious Busiris? Nero, that matricide, polluted his hand with his mother’s blood, and looked on her corpse dry-eyed, and France was no less drunken (nor has she yet drunk her fill) with the blood of the saints, thanks to its massacre and monstrous love of the sword, like a crazed lioness running through a flock of sheep. If I were to recollect the records of men of old and recount examples of murder, every new and novel exhibition of savagery that has arisen, our age of the world would refuse to yield place to past ones.
For in these days of ours, lest in years to come something yet more monstrous might surpass their supreme endeavors, the light-lacking realms convened a council and, with Stygian Jove their president, the monsters that possess the shadows of darkness hatched a savage plot. Straightway there came together the throng of the dread Sisters, daughters of dark Night, and the gloomy, implacable: Tisiphone, armed against sinners with a savage scourge, doleful Allecto, infected by her sluggish venom, as well as hellish Megaera, whose sad presence added to the council’s numbers, those three plagues called the Dirae, their heads covered with coils of snakes instead of hair. Present here was Bellona, mighty in war, as was mad Discord, her locks also composed of twined snakes, and many other monstrous beasts besides came, to whom wrath, deceit and foul crimes were dear. They voted to launch an attack on the realm of the great Thunderer, to blot out with darkness of hell our royal scepter’s daystar, turn their mighty forces on the very bowels of our nation, cast down our foreordained King from the thrones of his kingdoms, and overthrow realms opposed to the realm of Dis.
Sent forth from these deep strongholds and the silent shades of Erebus, the Furies sought these upper regions beneath the vaulted sky. They put on as garments blood-stained mantles, took weapons and torches, and the coiled snakes they wore instead of locks, and their weapons were raging monstrosities of liquid poison. Terror, Grief, Tears, Bloodlust, Madness and Forgetfulness accompanied them with cheering. It was decreed that the honor of Dis and his unsullied reputation must not yield its place, and they filled the world with sundry errors, and men were found who would serve Dis by subtle sleight rather than open warfare both at home and abroad, the tyrant’s new monsters. When they first began to inspire wicked men with their their viperish spirits, the men took fire with all their hearts, imbibing new monstrosities of revenge and the poison that had stolen into them, and they laid aside all humanity and kindness of disposition: their mortal hearts, heedless of God, teemed with black bile as they railed against the king, powerful in his wealth and happy peace, blessed in his good things, and bright with his pure piety. They hoped to satisfy their hatred with their frightful enterprises: their ill-advised greed for king-making luxury, mixed with their proud ambition, and dragged their raving hearts into a novel form of crime.
Terror drains my heart, my voice sticks in my throat, my hair stands on end in horror, as, while I stain my handwriting with tears of grief, and my tears with inkblots, my mind recoils from thinking of the crime hatched in cruel Erebus, from which there was supposed to come our realm’s misfortune, lamentable even to its enemy. Have any ages ever brought forth such a monstrous birth? Has any barbaric nation ever succumbed to such a great sin or conceived such cruel furies in its mind as to bring all to utter ruin by a king’s sudden downfall, to flatten a palace ripped apart by gunpowder, to murder a queen together with her children, with the Peerage and Commons of Britain, to kill off grave old age and youth in its flower, to overthrow all that is right, so that wickedness and godless men might freely run riot, and profane men might run about lawlessly, without all constraint of custom or law?
Let that day be removed from the year’s calendar and lie blotted out in bitter darkness, on which everything was supposed to have perished under the weight of such vast destruction, together with so great a sovereign, with such great luminaries of the realm. And here I cannot spare my wrath or my dire pronouncement: let the devisers of such a horrendous crime and the agents of that crime perish, crushed by the weight of a ruin worthy of their deceit.
Behold the works of your piety To kill crowned heads and Parliament with a sudden massacre and horrendous explosion, overturning the foundation of that consecrated house, their bodies burned on a pyre, ripped apart by hard steel, and set down as if to grace the feast of grim Pelops, to leave no remains, to hurl the world into confusion in a single moment, to make it prey to be devoured by foul thieves — and all this bestial banquet is encouraged by Roman laws — as if this Milky Way will open the heights of heaven for you, as if divine honors will be paid you for your fine merits! To a Roman, all things are lawful: to conceal your faith under a veneer of hypocrisy and to do so with piety, and to conceal your intention in your inconstant heart. Rome will grant you to dine at the sacred feasts of the Saints, if your tow is mixed with scrap iron and you hide all those pounds of deadly gunpowder in a deep cellar. From whence let evil wares be brought forth : a cord soaked in liquid pitch, so that you may shatter the foundations of the lofty structure, when, you zealot, you touch fire to the tinder, by which means the king and the glory of his scepter may be laid low. The beings of heaven loathe you as you thus set Acheron a-moving.
But You, heavenly Father, Who have the power to halt the realm’s destruction, You looked down from Your throne on high, You saw the time and place being readied for these unspeakable machinations, and Your provident force averted this dread affliction. You gave all men manifest signs of Your fatherly favor towards Your beloved king, penning up every night-born crime, every monstrous deed of the Stygian tyrant within the darkness of Tartarus, where they can be reforged in Orcus. At this point You filled Your chosen king with divine inspiration, informing him of the truth and exposing the hidden fatal dangers of this criminal act of zealotry. Great king, you pondered these divine warnings in your heart, understood them, and carefully searched out the deep foundation and hidden places of the attic, skillfully surveying every bit of Parliament House and chiding your slothful servants into doing your bidding, such was your pious concern for your people. At last the scheme that had been concocted and its unspeakable wiles were laid bare, its craft was broken, and the agent of the plot was arrested, a man resembling a savage, Fury-driven Orestes.
And so the British land is indebted to You for its safety, great Father of all things, You Who are concerned with a sweet love for our king, his realm and his consort, and for the firstborn of his marriage-bed, our great scepter’s second hope, and Who are likewise with such great care watch over the other royal offspring, and our leading Lords, our mothers and husbands, for our households. Our homes are in Your debt, as are our city walls and our altars. You have a care for Your people and for our sacred Parliament, that council convened to debate matters of state, and (such is the wonderful mercy of our God) Your hand has snatched them back from the brink of sudden death, You retrieved the holy children out of the raging flames, just as Lazarus came forth alive from his tomb’s dark cave under Your guidance. Your people once returned to their ancestral lands, freed from the danger of death after much had befallen, and stood with awestruck faces looking on these miracles, their grateful voices raising in thanksgiving for their rescue. This grim crime has been exposed thanks to You, Father most great, and all the plot’s yet-grimmer accomplices have been dragged from their hiding-places and stand weeping before the bench, Let these monstrous zealots and their unspeakable plot die an ill death.
And you, great king, should cheerfully give thanks from the heart, you and your people, let happy voices proclaim the salvation granted by the Lord, let our hearts leap and rejoice in our Lord and master, oh you glory, you great light and fostering peace-giver of the British realm, you great scion of Jehovah and His greatest concern. Fix your gazing eyes on Jehovah alone, embrace him with your mind, and deem His godhead worthy of deserved honor. And let this pious concern moreover touch your mind, namely to provide your people with the protection of pure religion, and to give holy laws to your subjects which they may obey when you have stamped them with your seal, you to whom so many and such great nations are subject. May you banish all misbegotten crime far from your empire, so your house and your realm may shine with chaste morals, and your subject peoples be commended for purity of doctrine.
Now the fury of lions has sought to encompass your end, and thrice God has rescued you, the innocent man, from their jaws, and rescued you from savage death. For despite men’s barbarity spawned from the darkness of hateful Orcus, yet the provident might of the God Whom we adore is ever at work: He loosens the reins on the fury of the human mind and the Stygian father, and again he restrains their madness with His bridle, lest he He allow mortal hearts long to languish in a torpor of neglected duty. If all men must fall into error, then You, O God most high, rescue us when we have fallen, pricking our mortal hearts with these goads.
Spare your people that loves pure piety, God’s beloved offspring. Let your just wrath be kindled by the impious madness of those thieves, who make their mark with fire and seek to kill you, since your person is the living embodiment of the heavenly cause, hoping to plunge our decapitated kingdom into the darkness of Tartarus. Just as the walls of Babylon though they once rose up to heaven, were leveled to the earth, overthrown in a tremendous ruin, may the godless kingdoms hated by God, be laid low. May Cacus, a terror to the world and disgrace to heaven, go to perdition; as prophecies about the crimson lion have proclaimed. Men's unsullied faith shuns commerce with those who are not bound to our Lord Christ by the anchor of faith. You will never be entrapped by the wiles of a criminal league, since you know you must avoid the hateful reputation of being its friend.
Now it remains for me to pray that You, Who distribute the realms of this earth to rulers and guide Your servants safely through all perils, bringing to naught those that hate us and baffling the counsels of the wicked, turn a favorable to Your servants as we pray for our king. Having escaped martyrdom, let him be held in honor as a confessor, and let this great glory be added to the splendor of his scepter. Grant that we may dare to hope for safety and go about our business in security, now that those madmen have been called to their punishment for the sake of our liberty. With our enemy defeated and broken, place on a sure footing the welfare of our kingdom.