An Account Of The Cruel Handling And Burning Of Nicholas Burton An English Merchant In Spain
The fifth day of November, about the year of our Lord 1560, Mr. Nicholas
Burton, citizen sometime of London, and merchant, dwelling in the parish
of Little St. Bartholomew, peaceably and quietly following his traffic in
the trade of merchandize, and being in the city of Cadiz, in the party
of Andalusia, in Spain, there came into his lodging a Judas, or, as they
term them, a familiar of the fathers of the inquisition; who asking for
the said Nicholas Burton, feigned that he had a letter to deliver into
his own hands; by which means he spake with him immediately. And having
no letter to deliver to him, then the said promoter, or familiar, at the
motion of the devil his master, whose messenger he was, invented another
lie, and said, that he would take lading for London in such ships as the
said Nicholas Burton had freighted to lade, if he would let any; which
was partly to know where he loaded his goods, that they might attach
them, and chiefly to protract the time until the sergeant of the
inquisition might come and apprehend the body of the said Nicholas
Burton; which they did incontinently.
He then well perceiving that they were not able to burden or charge him
that he had written, spoke, or done any thing there in that country
against the ecclesiastical or temporal laws of the same realm, boldly
asked them what they had to lay to his charge that they did so arrest
him, and bade them to declare the cause, and he would answer them.
Notwithstanding they answered nothing, but commanded him with
threatening words to hold his peace, and not speak one word to them.
And so they carried him to the filthy common prison of the town of
Cadiz, where he remained in irons fourteen days amongst thieves.
All which time he so instructed the poor prisoners in the word of God,
according to the good talent which God had given him in that behalf, and
also in the Spanish tongue to utter the same, that in that short space
he had well reclaimed several of those superstitious and ignorant
Spaniards to embrace the word of God, and to reject their popish
Which being known unto the officers of the inquisition, they conveyed
him laden with irons from thence to a city called Seville, into a more
cruel and straiter prison called Triana, where the said fathers of the
inquisition proceeded against him secretly according to their
accustomable cruel tyranny, that never after he could be suffered to
write or speak to any of his nation: so that to this day it is unknown
who was his accuser.
Afterward, the 20th of December, they brought the said Nicholas Burton,
with a great number of other prisoners, for professing the true
Christian religion, into the city of Seville, to a place where the said
inquisitors sat in judgment which they called Auto, with a canvass coat,
whereupon in divers parts was painted the figure of a huge devil,
tormenting a soul in a flame of fire, and on his head a copping tank of
the same work.
His tongue was forced out of his mouth with a cloven stick fastened upon
it, that he should not utter his conscience and faith to the people, and
so he was set with another Englishman of Southampton, and divers other
condemned men for religion, as well Frenchmen as Spaniards, upon a
scaffold over against the said inquisition, where their sentences and
judgments were read and pronounced against them.
And immediately after the said sentences given, they were carried from
thence to the place of execution without the city, where they most
cruelly burned them, for whose constant faith, God be praised.
This Nicholas Burton by the way, and in the flames of fire, had so
cheerful a countenance, embracing death with all patience and gladness,
that the tormentors and enemies which stood by, said, that the devil had
his soul before he came to the fire; and therefore they said his senses
of feeling were past him.
It happened that after the arrest of Nicholas Burton aforesaid,
immediately all the goods and merchandize which he brought with him into
Spain by the way of traffic, were (according to their common usage)
seized, and taken into the sequester; among which they also rolled up
much that appertained to another English merchant, wherewith he was
credited as factor. Whereof so soon as news was brought to the merchant
as well of the imprisonment of his factor, as of the arrest made upon
his goods, he sent his attorney into Spain, with authority from him to
make claim to his goods, and to demand them; whose name was John
Fronton, citizen of Bristol.
When his attorney was landed at Seville, and had shown all his letters
and writings to the holy house, requiring them that such goods might be
delivered into his possession, answer was made to him that he must sue
by bill, and retain an advocate (but all was doubtless to delay him,)
and they forsooth of courtesy assigned him one to frame his supplication
for him, and other such bills of petition, as he had to exhibit into
their holy court, demanding for each bill eight rials, albeit they stood
him in no more stead than if he had put up none at all. And for the
space of three or four months this fellow missed not twice a day
attending every morning and afternoon at the inquisitors' palace, suing
unto them upon his knees for his despatch, but especially to the bishop
of Tarracon, who was at that very time chief in the inquisition at
Seville, that he of his absolute authority would command restitution to
be made thereof; but the booty was so good and great, that it was very
hard to come by it again.
At length, after he had spent four whole months in suits and requests,
and also to no purpose, he received this answer from them, That he must
show better evidence, and bring more sufficient certificates out of
England for proof of this matter, than those which he had already
presented to the court. Whereupon the party forthwith posted to London,
and with all speed returned to Seville again with more ample and large
letters testimonial, and certificates, according to their requests, and
exhibited them to the court.
Notwithstanding the inquisitors still shifted him off, excusing
themselves by lack of leisure, and for that they were occupied in more
weighty affairs, and with such answers put him off, four months after.
At last, when the party had well nigh spent all his money, and therefore
sued the more earnestly for his despatch, they referred the matter
wholly to the bishop. Of whom, when he repaired unto him, he made this
answer, That for himself, he knew what he had to do, howbeit he was but
one man, and the determination appertained to the other commissioners as
well as unto him; and thus by posting and passing it from one to
another, the party could obtain no end of his suit. Yet for his
importunity's sake, they were resolved to despatch him: it was on this
sort: one of the inquisitors, called Gasco, a man very well experienced
in these practices, willed the party to resort unto him after dinner.
The fellow being glad to hear this news, and supposing that his goods
should be restored unto him, and that he was called in for that purpose
to talk with the other that was in prison to confer with him about their
accounts, rather through a little misunderstanding, hearing the
inquisitors cast out a word, that it should be needful for him to talk
with the prisoner, and being thereupon more than half persuaded, that at
length they meant good faith, did so, and repaired thither about the
evening. Immediately upon his coming, the jailer was forthwith charged
with him, to shut him up close in such a prison where they appointed
The party, hoping at the first that he had been called for about some
other matter, and seeing himself, contrary to his expectation, cast into
a dark dungeon, perceived at length that the world went with him far
otherwise than he supposed it would have done.
But within two or three days after, he was brought into the court where
he began to demand his goods: and because it was a device that well
served their turn without any more circumstance, they bid him say his
Ave Maria; "Ave Maria gratia plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta tu in
mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesus. Amen."
The same was written word by word as he spake it, and without any more
talk of claiming his goods, because it was needless, they commanded him
to prison again, and entered an action against him as a heretic,
forasmuch as he did not say his Ave Maria after the Romish fashion, but
ended it very suspiciously, for he should have added moreover; "Sancta
Maria mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus:" by abbreviating whereof,
it was evident enough (said they) that he did not allow the mediation of
Thus they picked a quarrel to detain him in prison a longer season, and
afterward brought him forth upon their stage disguised after their
manner; where sentence was given, that he should lose all the goods
which he sued for, though they were not his own, and besides this,
suffer a year's imprisonment.
Mark Brughes, an Englishman, master of an English ship called the
Minion, was burnt in a city in Portugal.
William Hoker, a young man about the age of sixteen years, being an
Englishman, was stoned to death by certain young men in the city of
Seville, for the same righteous cause.
Some private Enormities of the inquisition laid open, by a very
When the crown of Spain was contested for in the beginning of the
present century, by two princes, who equally pretended to the
sovereignty, France espoused the cause of one competitor, and England of
The duke of Berwick, a natural son of James II. who abdicated England,
commanded the Spanish and French forces, and defeated the English at the
celebrated battle of Almanza. The army was then divided into two parts;
the one consisting of Spaniards and French, headed by the duke of
Berwick, advanced towards Catalonia; the other body, consisting of
French troops only, commanded by the duke of Orleans, proceeded to the
conquest of Arragon.
As the troops drew near to the city of Arragon, the magistrates came to
offer the keys to the duke of Orleans; but he told them, haughtily, they
were rebels, and that he would not accept the keys, for he had orders to
enter the city through a breach.
He accordingly made a breach in the walls with his cannon, and then
entered the city through it, together with his whole army.--When he had
made every necessary regulation here, he departed to subdue other
places, leaving a strong garrison at once to overawe and defend, under
the command of his lieutenant-general M. de Legal. This gentleman,
though brought up a Roman catholic, was totally free from superstition:
he united great talents with great bravery: and was, at once, the
skilful officer, and accomplished gentleman.
The duke, before his departure, had ordered that heavy contributions
should be levied upon the city to the following manner:
1. That the magistrates and principal inhabitants should pay a thousand
crowns per month for the duke's table.
2. That every house should pay one pistole, which would monthly amount
to 18,000 pistoles.
3. That every convent and monastery should pay a donative,
proportionable to its riches and rents.
The two last contributions to be appropriated to the maintenance of the
The money levied upon the magistrates and principal inhabitants, and
upon every house, was paid as soon as demanded; but when the proper
persons applied to the heads of convents and monasteries, they found
that the ecclesiastics were not so willing, as other people, to part
with their cash.
Of the donatives to be raised by the clergy:
The college of Jesuits to pay 2000 pistoles
M. de Legal sent to the Jesuits a peremptory order to pay the money
immediately. The superior of the Jesuits returned for answer, that for
the clergy to pay money for the army was against all ecclesiastical
immunities; and that he knew of no argument which could authorize such a
procedure. M. de Legal then sent four companies of dragoons to quarter
themselves in the college, with this sarcastic message, "To convince you
of the necessity of paying the money, I have sent four substantial
arguments to your college, drawn from the system of military logic; and,
therefore, hope you will not need any further admonition to direct your
These proceedings greatly perplexed the Jesuits, who despatched an
express to court to the king's confessor, who was of their order; but
the dragoons were much more expeditious in plundering and doing
mischief, than the courier in his journey: so that the Jesuits, seeing
every thing going to wreck and ruin, thought proper to adjust the matter
amicably, and paid the money before the return of their messenger. The
Augustins and Carmelites, taking warning by what had happened to the
Jesuits, prudently went and paid the money, and by that means escaped
the study of military arguments, and of being taught logic by dragoons.
But the Dominicans, who were all familiars of, or agents dependent on,
the inquisition, imagined, that that very circumstance would be their
protection; but they were mistaken, for M. de Legal neither feared nor
respected the inquisition. The chief of the Dominicans sent word to the
military commander that his order was poor, and had not any money
whatever to pay the donative; for, says he, the whole wealth of the
Dominicans consists only in the silver images of the apostles and
saints, as large as life, which are placed in our church, and which it
would be sacrilege to remove.
This insinuation was meant to terrify the French commander, whom the
inquisitors imagined would not dare to be so profane as to wish for the
possession of the precious idols.
He, however, sent word that the silver images would make admirable
substitutes for money, and would be more in character in his possession,
than in that of the Dominicans themselves, "For, (said he) while you
possess them in the manner you do at present, they stand up in niches,
useless and motionless, without being of the least benefit to mankind in
general, or even to yourselves; but, when they come into my possession,
they shall be useful; I will put them in motion; for I intend to have
them coined, when they may travel like the apostles, be beneficial in
various places, and circulate for the universal service of mankind."
The inquisitors were astonished at this treatment, which they never
expected to receive, even from crowned heads; they therefore determined
to deliver their precious images in a solemn procession, that they might
excite the people to an insurrection. The Dominican friars were
accordingly ordered to march to De Legal's house, with the silver
apostles and saints, in a mournful manner, having lighted tapers with
them, and bitterly crying all the way, heresy, heresy.
M. de Legal, hearing these proceedings, ordered four companies of
grenadiers to line the street which led to his house; each grenadier was
ordered to have his loaded fuzee in one hand, and a lighted taper in the
other; so that the troops might either repel force with force, or do
honour to the farcical solemnity.
The friars did all they could to raise the tumult, but the common people
were too much afraid of the troops under arms to obey them, the silver
images were, therefore, of necessity delivered up to M. de Legal, who
sent them to the mint, and ordered them to be coined immediately.
The project of raising an insurrection having failed, the inquisitors
determined to excommunicate M. de Legal, unless he would release their
precious silver saints from imprisonment in the mint, before they were
melted down, or otherwise mutilated. The French commander absolutely
refused to release the images, but said they should certainly travel and
do good; upon which the inquisitors drew up the form of excommunication,
and ordered their secretary to go and read it to M. De Legal.
The secretary punctually performed his commission, and read the
excommunication deliberately and distinctly. The French commander heard
it with great patience, and politely told the secretary he would answer
it the next day.
When the secretary of the inquisition was gone, M. De Legal ordered his
own secretary to prepare a form of excommunication, exactly like that
sent by the inquisition; but to make this alteration, instead of his
name to put in those of the inquisitors.
The next morning he ordered four regiments under arms, and commanded
them to accompany his secretary, and act as he directed.
The secretary went to the inquisition, and insisted upon admittance,
which, after a great deal of altercation, was granted. As soon as he
entered, he read, in an audible voice, the excommunication sent by M. De
Legal against the inquisitors. The inquisitors were all present, and
heard it with astonishment, never having before met with any individual
who dared behave so boldly. They loudly cried out against De Legal, as a
heretic; and said, this was a most daring insult against the catholic
faith. But, to surprise them still more, the French secretary told them,
they must remove from their present lodgings; for the French commander
wanted to quarter the troops in the inquisition, as it was the most
commodious place in the whole city.
The inquisitors exclaimed loudly upon this occasion, when the secretary
put them under a strong guard, and sent them to a place appointed by M.
De Legal to receive them. The inquisitors, finding how things went,
begged that they might be permitted to take their private property,
which was granted, and they immediately set out for Madrid, where they
made the most bitter complaints to the king; but the monarch told them,
he could not grant them any redress, as the injuries they had received
were from his grandfather, the king of France's troops, by whose
assistance alone he could be firmly established in his kingdom. "Had it
been my own troops, (said he) I would have punished them; but as it is,
I cannot pretend to exert any authority."
In the mean time, M. De Legal's secretary set open all the doors of the
inquisition, and released the prisoners, who amounted in the whole to
400; and among these were 60 beautiful young women, who appeared to form
a seraglio for the three principal inquisitors.
This discovery, which laid the enormity of the inquisitors so open,
greatly alarmed the archbishop, who desired M. De Legal to send the
women to his palace, and he would take proper care of them; and at the
same time he published an ecclesiastical censure against all such as
should ridicule, or blame, the holy office of the inquisition.
The French commander sent word to the archbishop, that the prisoners had
either run away, or were so securely concealed by their friends, or even
by his own officers, that it was impossible for him to send them back
again; and, therefore, the inquisition having committed such atrocious
actions, must now put up with their exposure.
One of the ladies thus happily delivered from captivity, was afterward
married to the very French officer who opened the door of her dungeon,
and released her from confinement. The lady related the following
circumstances to her husband, and to M. Gavin, (author of the Master Key
to Popery) from the latter of whom we have selected the most material
"I went one day (says the lady) with my mother, to visit the countess
Attarass, and I met there Don Francisco Tirregon, her confessor and
second inquisitor of the holy office.
After we had drunk chocolate, he asked me my age, my confessor's name,
and many intricate questions about religion. The severity of his
countenance frightened me, which he perceiving, told the countess to
inform me, that he was not so severe as he looked for. He then caressed
me in a most obliging manner, presented his hand, which I kissed with
great reverence and modesty; and, as he went away, he made use of this
remarkable expression. My dear child, I shall remember you till the next
time. I did not, at the time, mark the sense of the words; for I was
inexperienced in matters of gallantry, being, at that time but fifteen
years old. Indeed, he unfortunately did remember me, for the very same
night, when our whole family were in bed, we heard a great knocking at
The maid, who laid in the same room with me, went to the window, and
inquired who was there. The answer was, THE HOLY INQUISITION. On hearing
this I screamed out, Father! father! dear father, I am ruined forever!
My father got up, and came to me to know the occasion of my crying out;
I told him the inquisitors were at the door. On hearing this, instead of
protecting me, he hurried down stairs as fast as possible; and, lest the
maid should be too slow, opened the street door himself; under such
abject and slavish fears, are bigoted minds! as soon as he knew they
came for me, he fetched me with great solemnity, and delivered me to the
officers with much submission.
I was hurried into a coach, with no other clothing than a petticoat and
a mantle, for they would not let me stay to take any thing else. My
fright was so great, I expected to die that very night; but judge my
surprise, when I was ushered into an apartment, decorated with all the
elegance that taste, united with opulence, could bestow.
Soon after the officers left me, a maid servant appeared with a silver
salver, on which were sweetmeats and cinnamon water. She desired me to
take some refreshment before I went to bed; I told her I could not, but
should be glad if she could inform me whether I was to be put to death
that night or not.
"To be put to death! (exclaimed she) you do not come here to be put to
death, but to live like a princess, and you shall want for nothing in
the world, but the liberty of going out; so pray don't be afraid, but go
to bed and sleep easy; for to-morrow you shall see wonders within this
house; and as I am chosen to be your waiting-maid, I hope you'll be very
kind to me."
I was going to ask some questions, but she told me she must not answer
any thing more till the next day, but assured me that nobody would come
to disturb me. I am going, she said, about a little business but I will
come back presently, for my bed is in the closet next yours, so she left
me for about a quarter of an hour, and then returned. She then said,
madam, pray let me know when you will be pleased have your chocolate
ready in the morning.
This greatly surprised me, so that without replying to her question, I
asked her name;--she said, my name is Mary. Mary, then, said I, for
heaven's sake, tell me whether I am brought here to die or not?--I have
told you already, replied she, that you came here to be one of the
happiest ladies in the world.
We went to bed, but the fear of death prevented me from sleeping the
whole night; Mary waked; she was surprised to find me up, but she soon
rose, and after leaving me for about half an hour, she brought in two
cups of chocolate, and some biscuit on a silver plate.
I drank one cup of chocolate, and desired her to drink the other, which
she did: when we had done, I said, well, Mary, can you give me any
account of the reasons for my being brought here? To which she answered,
not yet, madam, you must have patience, and immediately slipped out of
About half an hour after, she brought a great quantity of elegant
clothes, suitable to a lady of the highest rank, and told me, I must
dress myself. Among several trinkets which accompanied the clothes, I
observed, with surprise, a snuff box, in the lid of which was a picture
of Don Francisco Tirregon. This unravelled to me the mystery of my
confinement, and at the same time roused my imagination to contrive how
to evade receiving the present. If I absolutely refused it, I thought
immediate death must ensue; and to accept it, was giving him too much
encouragement against my honour. At length I hit upon a medium, and said
to Mary, pray present my respects to Don Francisco Tirregon, and tell
him, that, as I could not bring my clothes along with me last night,
modesty permits me to accept of these garments, which are requisite to
keep me decent; but since I do not take snuff, I hope his lordship will
excuse me in not accepting his box.
Mary went with my answer, and soon returned with Don Francisco's
portrait elegantly set in gold, and richly embellished with diamonds.
This message accompanied it: "That his lordship had made a mistake, his
intent not being to send me a snuffbox, but his portrait." I was at a
great loss what to do; when Mary said, pray, madam, take my poor advice;
accept of the portrait, and every thing else that his lordship sends
you; for if you do not, he can compel you to do what he pleases, and put
you to death when he thinks proper, without any body being able to
defend you. But if you are obliging to him, continued she, he will be
very kind, and you will be as happy as a queen; you will have elegant
apartments to live in, beautiful gardens to range in, and agreeable
ladies to visit you: therefore, I advise you to send a civil answer, or
even not to deny a visit from his lordship, or perhaps you may repent of
O, my God! exclaimed I, must I sacrifice my honour to my fears, and give
up my virtue to his despotic power? Alas! what can I do? To resist, is
vain. If I oppose his desires, force will obtain what chastity refuses.
I now fell into the greatest agonies, and told Mary to return what
answer she thought proper.
She said she was glad of my humble submission, and ran to acquaint Don
Francisco with it. In a few minutes she returned, with joy in her
countenance, telling me his lordship would honour me with his company to
supper. "And now give me leave, madam, (said she) to call you mistress,
for I am to wait upon you. I have been in a holy office fourteen years,
and know all the customs perfectly well; but as silence is imposed upon
me, under pain of death, I can only answer such questions as immediately
relate to your own person. But I would advise you never to oppose the
holy father's will; or if you see any young ladies about, never ask them
any questions. You may divert yourself sometimes among them, but must
never tell them any thing: three days hence you will dine with them; and
at all times you may have music, and other recreations. In fine, you
will be so happy, that you will not wish to go abroad; and when your
time is expired, the holy fathers will send you out of this country, and
marry you to some nobleman." After saying these words she left me,
overwhelmed with astonishment, and scarce knowing what to think. As soon
as I recovered myself, I began to look about, and finding a closet, I
opened it, and perceived that it was filled with books: they ware
chiefly upon historical and profane subjects, but not any on religious
matter. I chose out a book of history, and so passed the interval with
some degree of satisfaction till dinner time.
The dinner was served up with the greatest elegance, and consisted of
all that could gratify the most luxurious appetite. When dinner was
over, Mary left me, and told me, if I wanted any thing I might ring a
bell, which she pointed out to me.
I read a book to amuse myself during the afternoon, and at seven in the
evening, Don Francisco came to visit me in his night-gown and cap, not
with the gravity of an inquisitor, but with the gayety of a gallant.
He saluted me with great respect, and told me, that he came to see me in
order to show the great respect he had for my family, and to inform me
that it was my lovers who had procured my confinement, having accused me
in matters of religion; and that the informations were taken, and the
sentence pronounced against me, to be burnt in a dry pan, with a gradual
fire; but that he, out of pity and love to my family, had stopped the
execution of it.
These words were like daggers to my heart; I dropped at his feet, and
said, "Ah, my lord! have you stopped the execution for ever?" He
replied, "that belongs to yourself only," and abruptly wished me good
As soon as he was gone I burst into tears, when Mary came and asked me
what could make me cry so bitterly. To which I answered, oh, Mary! what
is the meaning of the dry pan and gradual fire? for I am to die by
Madam, said she, never fear, you shall see, ere long, the dry pan and
gradual fire; but they are made for those who oppose the holy father's
will, not for you who are so good as to obey it. But pray, says she, was
Don Francisco very obliging? I don't know, said I, for he frightened me
out of my wits by his discourse; he saluted me with civility, but left
Well, said Mary, you do not yet know his temper, he is extremely
obliging to them that are kind to him; but if they are disobedient he is
unmerciful as Nero; so, for your own sake, take care to oblige him in
all respects: and now, dear madam, pray go to supper, and be easy. I
went to supper, indeed, and afterward to bed; but I could neither eat
nor sleep, for the thoughts of the dry pan and gradual fire deprived me
of appetite, and banished drowsiness.
Early the next morning Mary said, that as nobody was stirring, if I
would promise her secrecy, she would show me the dry pan and gradual
fire; so taking me down stairs, she brought me to a large room, with a
thick iron door, which she opened. Within it was an oven, with fire in
it at the time, and a large brass upon it, with a cover of the same, and
a lock to it. In the next room there was a great wheel, covered on both
sides with thick boards, opening a little window in the centre, Mary
desired me to look in with a candle; there I saw all the circumference
of the wheel set with sharp razors, which made me shudder.
She then took me to a pit, which was full of venomous animals. On my
expressing great horror at the sight, she said, "Now my good mistress,
I'll tell you the use of these things. The dry pan is for heretics, and
those who oppose the holy father's will and pleasure; they are put alive
into the pan, being first stripped naked; and the cover being locked
down, the executioner begins to put a small fire into the oven, and by
degrees he augments it, till the body is reduced to ashes. The wheel is
designed for those who speak against the pope, or the holy fathers of
the inquisition; for they are put into the machine through the little
wheel, which is locked after them, and then the wheel is turned swiftly,
till they are cut to pieces. The pit is for those who contemn the
images, and refuse to give proper respect to ecclesiastical persons; for
they are thrown into the pit, and so become the food of poisonous
We went back again to my chamber, and Mary said, that another day she
would show me the torments designed for other transgressors, but I was
in such agonies at what I had seen, that I begged to be terrified with
no more such sights. She soon after left me, but not without enjoining
my strict obedience to Don Francisco; for if you do not comply with his
will, said she, the dry pan and gradual fire will be your fate.
The horrors which the sight of these things, and Mary's expressions,
impressed on my mind, almost bereaved me of my senses, and left me in
such a state of stupefaction that I seemed to have no manner of will of
The next morning Mary said, now let me dress you as nice as possible,
for you must go and wish Don Francisco good-morrow, and breakfast with
him. When I was dressed, she conveyed me through a gallery into his
apartment, where I found that he was in bed. He ordered Mary to
withdraw, and to serve up breakfast in about two hours time. When Mary
was gone, he commanded me to undress myself and come to bed to him. The
manner in which he spoke, and the dreadful ideas with which my mind was
filled, so terribly frightened me, that I pulled off my cloths, without
knowing what I did, and stepped into bed, insensible of the indecency I
was transacting: so totally had the care of self preservation absorbed
all my other thoughts, and so entirely were the ideas of delicacy
obliterated by the force of terror!
Thus, to avoid the dry pan, did I entail upon myself perpetual infamy;
and to escape the so much dreaded gradual fire, give myself up to the
flames of lust. Wretched alternative, where the only choice is an
excruciating death, or everlasting pollution!
Mary came at the expiration of two hours, and served us with chocolate
in the most submissive manner; for she kneeled down by the bedside to
present it. When I was dressed, Mary took me into a very delightful
apartment, which I had never yet seen. It was furnished with the most
costly elegance; but what gave me the greatest astonishment was, the
prospect from its windows, of a beautiful garden, and a fine meandering
river. Mary told me, that the young ladies she had mentioned would come
to pay their compliments to me before dinner, and begged me to remember
her advice in keeping a prudent guard over my tongue.
In a few minutes a great number of very beautiful young ladies, richly
dressed, entered my room, and successively embracing me, wished me joy.
I was so surprised, that I was unable to answer their compliments: which
one of the ladies perceiving, said, "Madam, the solitude of this place
will affect you in the beginning, but whenever you begin to feel the
pleasures and amusements you may enjoy, you will quit those pensive
thoughts. We, at present, beg the honour of you to dine with us to-day,
and henceforward three days in a week." I returned them suitable thanks
in general terms, and so went to dinner, in which the most exquisite and
savoury dishes, of various kinds, were served up with the most delicate
and pleasant fruits and sweetmeats. The room was long, with two tables
on each side, and a third in the front. I reckoned fifty-two young
ladies, the eldest not exceeding twenty-four years of age. There were
five maid-servants besides Mary, to wait upon us; but Mary confined her
attention to me alone. After dinner we retired to a capacious gallery,
where they played on musical instruments, a few diverted themselves with
cards, and the rest amused themselves with walking about. Mary, at
length, entered the gallery, and said, ladies, this is a day of
recreation, and so you may go into whatever rooms you please till eight
o'clock in the evening.
They unanimously agreed to adjourn to my apartment. Here we found a most
elegant cold collation, of which all the ladies partook, and passed the
time in innocent conversation and harmless mirth; but none mentioned a
word concerning the inquisition, or the holy fathers, or gave the least
distant hint concerning the cause of their confinement.
At eight o'clock Mary rang a bell, which was a signal for all to retire
to their respective apartments, and I was conducted to the chamber of
Don Francisco, where I slept. The next morning Mary brought me a richer
dress than any I had yet had; and as soon as I retired to my apartment,
all the ladies came to wish me good-morning, dressed much richer than
the preceding day. We passed the time till eight o'clock in the evening,
in much the same manner as we had done the day before. At that time the
bell rang, the separation took place, and I was conducted to Don
Francisco's chamber. The next morning I had a garment richer than the
last, and they accosted me in apparel still more sumptuous than before.
The transactions of the two former days were repeated on the third, and
the evening concluded in a similar manner.
On the fourth morning Mary came into Don Francisco's chamber and told me
I must immediately rise, for a lady wanted me in her own chamber. She
spoke with a kind of authority which surprised me; but as Don Francisco
did not speak a syllable, I got up and obeyed. Mary then conveyed me
into a dismal dungeon, not eight feet in length; and said sternly to me,
This is your room, and this lady your bed-fellow and companion. At which
words she bounced out of the room, and left me in the utmost
After remaining a considerable time in the most dreadful agonies tears
came to my relief, and I exclaimed, "What is this place, dear lady! Is
it a scene of enchantment, or is it a hell upon earth! Alas! I have lost
my honour and my soul forever!"
The lady took me by the hand, and said in a sympathizing tone of voice,
"Dear sister, (for this is the name I shall henceforth give you) forbear
to cry and grieve, for you can do nothing by such an extravagant
behaviour, but draw upon yourself a cruel death. Your misfortunes, and
those of all the ladies you have seen, are exactly of a piece, you
suffer nothing but what we have suffered before you; but we dare not
show our grief, for fear of greater evils. Pray take courage, and hope
in God, for he will surely deliver us from this hellish place; but be
sure you discover no uneasiness before Mary, who is the only instrument
either of our torments or comfort. Have patience until we go to bed, and
then I will venture to tell you more of the matter."
My perplexity and vexation were inexpressible: but my new companion,
whose name was Leonora, prevailed on me to disguise my uneasiness from
Mary. I dissembled tolerably well when she came to bring our dinners,
but could not help remarking, in my own mind, the difference between
this repast, and those I had before partook of. This consisted only of
plain, common food, and of that a scanty allowance, with one plate, and
one knife and fork for us both, which she took away as soon as we had
When we were in bed, Leonora was as good as her word; and upon my solemn
promise of secrecy thus began to open her mind to me.
"My dear sister, you think your case very hard, but I assure you all the
ladies in the house have gone through the same. In time, you will know
all their stories, as they hope to know yours. I suppose Mary has been
the chief instrument of your fright, as she has been of ours; and I
warrant she has shown you some horrible places, though not all; and
that, at the very thought of them you were so terrified, that you chose
the same way we have done to redeem yourself from death. By what hath
happened to us, we know that Don Francisco hath been your Nero, your
tyrant; for the three colours of our clothes are the distinguishing
tokens of the three holy fathers. The red silk belongs to Don Francisco,
the blue to Don Guerrero, and the green to Don Aliga; and they always
give those colours (after the farce of changing garments and the
short-lived recreations are over) to those ladies whom they bring here
for their respective uses.
"We are strictly commanded to express all the demonstrations of joy, and
to be very merry for three days, when a young lady first comes amongst
us, as we did with you, and as you must now do with others. But
afterward we live like the most wretched prisoners, without seeing any
body but Mary, and the other maid-servants, over whom Mary hath a kind
of superiority, for she acts as housekeeper. We all dine in the great
hall three days in a week; and when any one of the inquisitors hath a
mind for one of his slaves, Mary comes about nine o'clock, and leads her
to his apartment.
"Some nights Mary leaves the doors of our chambers open, and that is a
token that one of the inquisitors hath a mind to come that night; but he
comes so silent that we are ignorant whether he is our patron or not. If
one of us happens to be with child, she is removed into a better chamber
till she is delivered; but during the whole of her pregnancy, she never
sees any body but the person appointed to attend her.
"As soon as the child is born it is taken away, and carried we know not
whither; for we never hear a syllable mentioned about it afterward. I
have been in this house six years, was not fourteen when the officers
took me from my father's house, and have had one child. There are, at
this present time, fifty-two young ladies in the house; but we annually
lose six or eight, though we know not what becomes of them, or whither
they are sent. This, however, does not diminish our number, for new ones
are always brought in to supply the place of those who are removed from
hence; and I remember, at one time, to have seen seventy-three ladies
here together. Our continual torment is to reflect that when they are
tired of any of the ladies, they certainly put to death those they
pretend to send away; for it is natural to think, that they have too
much policy to suffer their atrocious and infernal villanies to be
discovered, by enlarging them. Hence our situation is miserable indeed,
and we have only to pray that the Almighty will pardon those crimes
which we are compelled to commit. Therefore, my dear sister, arm
yourself with patience, for that is the only palliative to give you
comfort, and put a firm confidence in the providence of Almighty God."
This discourse of Leonora greatly affected me; but I found everything to
be as she told me, in the course of time, and I took care to appear as
cheerful as possible before Mary. In this manner I continued eighteen
months, during which time eleven ladies were taken from the house; but
in lieu of them we got nineteen new ones, which made our number just
sixty, at the time we were so happily relieved by the French officers,
and providentially restored to the joys of society, and to the arms of
our parents and friends. On that happy day, the door of my dungeon was
opened by the gentleman who is now my husband, and who with the utmost
expedition, sent both Leonora and me to his father's; and (soon after
the campaign was over) when he returned home, he thought proper to make
me his wife, in which situation I enjoy a recompense for all the
miseries I before suffered.
From the foregoing narrative it is evident, that the inquisitors are a
set of libidinous villains, lost to every just idea of religion, and
totally destitute of humanity. Those who possess wealth, beauty, or
liberal sentiments, are sure to find enemies in them. Avarice, lust, and
prejudice, are their ruling passions; and they sacrifice every law,
human and divine, to gratify their predominant desire. Their supposed
piety is affectation; their pretended compassion hypocrisy; their
justice depends on their will: and their equitable punishments are
founded on their prejudices. None are secure from them, all ranks fall
equally victims to their pride, their power, their avarice, or their
Some may suggest, that it is strange crowned heads and eminent nobles,
have not attempted to crush the power of the inquisition, and reduce the
authority of those ecclesiastical tyrants, from whose merciless fangs
neither their families nor themselves are secure.
But astonishing as it is, superstition hath, in this case, always
overcome common sense, and custom operated against reason. One prince,
indeed, intended to abolish the inquisition, but he lost his life before
he became king, and consequently before he had the power so to do; for
the very intimation of his design procured his destruction.
This was that amiable prince Don Carlos, son of Philip the Second, king
of Spain, and grandson of the celebrated emperor Charles V. Don Carlos,
possessed all the good qualities of his grandfather without any of the
bad ones of his father; and was a prince of great vivacity, admirable
learning, and the most amiable disposition.--He had sense enough to see
into the errors of popery, and abhorred the very name of the
inquisition. He inveighed publicly against the institution, ridiculed
the affected piety of the inquisitors, did all he could to expose their
atrocious deeds, end even declared, that if he ever came to the crown,
he would abolish the inquisition, and exterminate its agents.
These things were sufficient to irritate the inquisitors against the
prince: they, accordingly, bent their minds to vengeance, and determined
on his destruction.
The inquisitors now employed all their agents and emissaries to spread
abroad the most artful insinuations against the prince; and, at length,
raised such a spirit of discontent among the people, that the king was
under the necessity of removing Don Carlos from court. Not content with
this, they pursued even his friends, and obliged the king likewise to
banish Don John, duke of Austria, his own brother, and consequently
uncle to the prince; together with the prince of Parma, nephew to the
king, and cousin to the prince, because they well knew that both the
duke of Austria, and the prince of Parma, had a most sincere and
inviolable attachment to Don Carlos.
Some few years after, the prince having shown great lenity and favour to
the protestants in the Netherlands, the inquisition loudly exclaimed
against him, declaring, that as the persons in question were heretics,
the prince himself must necessarily be one, since he gave them
countenance. In short, they gained so great an ascendency over the mind
of the king, who was absolutely a slave to superstition, that, shocking
to relate, he sacrificed the feelings of nature to the force of bigotry,
and, for fear of incurring the anger of the inquisition, gave up his
only son, passing the sentence of death on him himself.
The prince, indeed, had what was termed an indulgence; that is, he was
permitted to choose the manner of his death. Roman like, the unfortunate
young hero chose bleeding and the hot bath; when the veins of his arms
and legs being opened, he expired gradually, falling a martyr to the
malice of the inquisitors, and the stupid bigotry of his father.
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