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
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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

singular occurrence.

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 other.

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

Carmelites, 1000

Augustins, 1000

Dominicans 1000

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 door.

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

the room.

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

your disrespect.

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

me abruptly.

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

my own.

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.