Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

die, as do nothing unworthy that virtue in which we have mutually supported each other, and for which I desire you not repine that I am first to be rewarded; since you ever preferred me to yourself in all other things, afford me, with chearfulness, the precedence in this.

I desire your prayers in the articles of death, for my own will then be offered for you and yours.

J. PENRUDDOCK."

Unfortunately he does not tell us whether he had ever seen the original, or what was his authority for this letter. We cannot feel certain whether either of the above letters was ever penned by Colonel Penruddock. The one has the weight which attaches to a publication made soon after the event. The other has no date at all, and there are not a sufficient number of the Colonel's undoubted letters left to us to judge from the style. It may be there was a second letter from Mrs. Penruddock to her husband, during the thirteen days he still survived, and that the latter is an answer to that, but that is mere conjecture, so I pass on.

The morning of Wednesday, the 16th of May, dawned on a scaffold set for the execution, in that noble amphitheatre the castle yard at Exeter. The bright green foliage of the fine old trees which surrounded it, then alive with the song and hum of young spring bird and insect, must have contrasted strangely with the black-clothed mournful groups, and the tolling bell.

The executioner has made his preparations-the block is placed, the axe gleams in the sun, and the sawdust is thrown round-the hour of death has come !

We know not the friends who were present to support Penruddock and Grove on the occasion. But we may fairly presume that George Penruddock, the former's eldest son, Mr. Bowman, who preserved the notes of Sergeant Glynne's sentence of death, and Mr. Martin, the Vicar of Compton Chamberlain, were there, and some relations of Hugh Grove, together with Doctors Short and Flavell, apparently two clergymen of the Church of England, who assisted the condemned with ministrations during their last hours.

The following accounts of what happened are from manuscripts now at Compton and Zeals, which have a genuine appearance, though

"Se invicem anteponendo" Tacitus,-Agricola,

I cannot say in whose handwriting either are. that which relates to Penruddock :

First let us peruse

"The Speech of the Honourable Colonell Penruddock, the greatest part wherof he delivered upon the Scaffold in Exon Castle the 16 day of May, 1655, the whole he left with a Gent, and friend of his, written with his own hand: which is as followeth.

Together with the manner of his being beheaded. As he was ascending the Scaffold, baring his knees and humbly bowing himself he used these words 'This I hope will prove to be like Jacob's ladder: though the feet of it rest on Earth, yet I doubt not but the top of it reacheth to Heaven.'

When he came upon the scaffold, he said Oh! wretched man that I am who shall deliver mee from this body of death.

I thanke God who giveth mee the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

(The pamphlet of July 2nd, 1655, here inserts :

"Then with abundance of Christian chearfulnesse he spake to the people as followeth :-)

Gentlemen, It is the comon custome of all Psons. that come to dye to give some satisfacton to the spectators whether they be guilty of the ffact of which they stand chrg'd* Truly if I were conscious to myselfe of any base ends that I had in this undertaking I would not be soe injurious to my owne soule or disingenions to you as not to make a public acknowledgem'. thereof, I suppose that divers psons. as they are byased by their sevrall interests and relatons give their opinions to the world concerning us: I conceave it impossible therefore to expresse myselfe in this particular as not to expose both my judgemt. and reputation to the censure of many which I shall leave behind mee because I will not quitt others therefore upon a breach of charity concerning mee or my actons. I have thought fitt to decline all discourses which may give them a capacity either to injure themselves or mee: My triall was publique and my sevrall examinatons I beleeve wilbe pduced when I am in my grave. I will referre you therefore to the first which I am sure some of you heard and to the latter which many of you in good time may see; Had Captain Crooke done himself and us that right which a gent and a souldier ought to have done I had not beene now here, The man I forgive with all my heart but truly (Gentlemen) his ptesting. against those Articles which he himselfe with so many ptestations. and importunity putt upon us, hath drawne so much dishonour and blood upon his head that I feare some weary judgemt. will pursue him, though he hath beene false to us I pray God I doe not prove a true Prophett to him. †

The pamphlet of July 2nd, 1655, inserts after "charged" "The crime for which I am now to die is Loyalty, but in this age called High Treason. I cannot deny but I was at South Moulton in this County: but whether my being there or my actions there amount to so high a crime as high Treason I leave to the world and to the Law to judge."

+ The pamphlet inserts after " Prophet to him ""Nay I must say more that coming on the road to Exon, he the said Captain Crook told me 'Sir Joseph Wagstaff was a gallant gentleman, and that he. was sorry he was not taken with us; that then he might have had the benefit of our articles; but now (said he) I have beset all the country for him, so that he cannot escape but must be hanged,

Thus much I am obliged to say to the honour of the souldiery, that they have beene so farre from breaking [any*] Articles given to others heretofore that they have rather bettered them than otherwise.

It is now our misfortune to be made Presidents [precedents] and examples togeather [but I will not do the Protector so much injury as to load him with this dishonour since I have been informed, &c.] but I have heard that the Protector would have made our conditons good if Crooke that gave them, had not abjur'd them; This is not a time for me to inlarge upon any subject since I am now become the subject of death, but since the Articles were drawne by my very hand I thought myselfe obliged to a particular justification of them. I could tell you of some souldiers which are turned out of his Troope for defending those conditions of o. but lett that passe and henceforward instead of Life Liberty and Estate [which were the articles agreed upon] lett drawing hanging and quartering be the denominatons of Captain Crooke's Articles. [However I thank the Protector for granting me this honourable death.]

I should now give you an account of my ffaith but truly (Gent) this poore Nation is rent into so many sevrall opinions that it is impossible for me to give you mine without displeasing some of you. However if any may be so criticall as to inquire of what ffaith I dye I shall referre them to the Apostles [Athanasius and Nicene] Creed and to the Testimony of [this Reverend Gentleman] Dr. Short to whom I have unbosomed myselfe and if this don't satisfye you look in the [thirty nine] Articles of the [Catholic] Church of England those I have subscribed and doe owne [authentic].

Having now given you an accompt concerning myselfe I hold myselfe obliged in duety to some of my ffriends to take of a suspicion which lyes upon them. I meane as to some psons. of honour which upon my examination I was charg'd to have held a correspondency with My Lord Marquis of Hertford the Marquis of Winchester and my Lord of Pembrooke were persons denominated to me. I did then acquitt them and doe now second it with this protestations that I never held any correspondency with either [or any] of them in relation to this particular business or indeed to any which concernes y Protector or his Goverm1.† I was examined likewise concerning my brother ffreake [Freke, Mrs. Penruddock's brother], my cousin Hastings [Mr. Dorrington] and others. It is pbable. their estates may make them lyable to this my conditon but I doe here so farr quit them as to give the world this my further ptestation that I am confident they are as innocent in this busines as the youngest child here.

He also questioned me as I passed through Salisbury from London whether he had given me conditions--which I endeavouring to make appear to Major Butler; he interrupted me and unwillingly confesst it saying I proffered him four hundred pounds to perform his Articles: which had been a strange proffer of mine, had I not really conditioned with him. And I told him then (having found him unworthy) I would have given him five hundred pounds, believing him to be mercenary. To make it yet farther appear, I injure him not by stiling him unworthy, after these articles were given, he profered to pistoll me, if I did not persuade another house to yield, which then were boldly resisting. To which my servant John Biby now a prisoner replyed: I hope you will not be so unworthy as to break the Law of arms.

The words in brackets in the text throughout this page are from the pamphlet.

Pamphlet: " As for the Marquesse of Winchester, I saw him some twelve years since, and not later; and if I should see him here present I believe I should not know him. And for the Earl of Pembrook he was not a man likely to whom I should discover my thoughts, because he is a man of contrary judgement."

If I would have beene so unworthy as others have bene I suppose I might by a lye have saved my life which I scorne to purchase at such a rate, I defie such temptations and them that gave them me. [This sentence is not in the pamphlet.]

I have no more to say now but to tell you I am in charity with all men and that I thanke God I can [and do] forgive my greatest psecutors [and all that ever had any hand in my death. I have offered the Protector as good security for my future demeanour as I suppose he would have expected; if he had thought fit to have given me my life, I should not have been so ungrateful as to have employed it against him]. I do humbly submitt to God's pleasure knowing that ye issues of life and death are in his hands. My blood is but a small sacrifice if it had beene saved I am so much a gent as to have given thankes to him that pserved it and so much a Christian as to forgive them which take it away. These unhappy times have [indeed] beene very ffatall to my family two of my brothers are already slaine in the most just defence of the king's cause and myselfe going to the slaughter.+

It is God's will I humbly submitt to that Providence. I must remember to [render an acknowledgement] acknowledge y great civility that I have reed. from this Citie of Exon and some psons of quality. ‡ I shall close with praiers

The pamphlet: "But seeing God by his providence hath called me to lay it down, I willingly submit to it, though terrible to nature; but blessed be my Saviour who hath taken out the sting; so that I look upon it without terror. Death is a debt, and a due debt; and it hath pleased God to make me so good a husband, that I am come to pay it before it is due. I am not ashamed of the cause for which I die, but rather rejoyce that I am thought worthy, to suffer in the defence and cause of God's true church, my Lawfull King, the Liberty of the subject, and priviledge of Parliaments. Therefore I hope none of my alliance and friends will be ashamed of it; it is so far from pulling down my Family that I look upon it, as the raising it one story higher, Neither was I of so prodigall of nature as to throw away my life, but have used (though none but honourable and honest) means to preserve it."

+I have already mentioned the death of his brother Henry. Who the other brother was that he alludes to here I have not been able to discover.

Pamphlet: " And for theis plentifull provision made for the prisoners. I thank Mr. Sheriff for his favour towards us, in particular to myself; and I desire him to present my due respects to the Protector, and though he had no mercy for myself, yet that he would have respect for my family.

I am now stripping off my cloaths to fight a duell with death (I conceave no other duell lawful) but my Saviour hath pulled out the sting of this mine enemy by making himselfe a sacrifice for me; and truly I do not think that man deserving one drop of his blood, that will not spend all for him in so good a cause.

The uth is gentlemen, in this age Treason is ar. 'individuam vagum,' like the wind in the gospel, it bloweth where it listeth; so now Treason is what they please, and lighteth upon whom they will. Indeed no man except he will be a Traitour, can avoid this censure of Treason. I know not to what end it may come, but I pray God my own, and my Brothers' bloud that is now to die with me, may be the last upon this score.

Now gentlemen you may see what a condition you are in without a King; you have no law to protect you, no rule to walk by; when you perform your duty to God, your king and country, you displease the Arbitrary powers now set up: (I cannot call it Government) I shall leave you to peruse my triall, and there you shall see, what a condition this poor Nation is brought into; and (no question will be utterly destroyed, if not restored (by Loyall subjects) to its old and glorious Government. I pray God he lay not his judgements upon England for their sluggishnesse in doing their duty, and readinesse to put their hands in their bosomes, or rather taking part with the enemy of truth. The Lord open their eyes that they may be no longer lead, or drawn into such snares; else the child unborn will curse the day of their Parents' birth.

God Almighty Preserve my lawfull King Charles the Second, from the hands of his Enemies, and break down that wall of pride and rebellion, which so long hath kept him from his just rights. God Preserve his Royall Mother, and all his Majestie's Royall Brethren, and incline their hearts to seek after him. God incline the hearts of all true English men to stand up as one man to bring in the King; and redeem themselves and this poor Kingdome, out of its more then Egyptian Slavery.

for the king and his Restouraton and I shall desire my allies and ffriends not to be ashamed of the ignomy of my death since tis for such a cause, that they ought to esteeme my death to be an honour to my family, and thus I comit my soule to God my Creator and Redeemer.

Glory be to God on high, In earth peace, goodwill towards men.

When he had done speaking to ye people he turn'd himselfe to the Sheriffe and said Mr. Sheriffe Tell my Lord Protector I hope mine will finde more ffavour from him than I have done. I have used all lawfull meanes for the saving of my Life ffor I was not so prodigall of Nature but that if I could have prserved it with honour I would willingly have done it, but seeing it may not be I most gladly submitt to Pvidence herein.

[Putting of his dublett.] I am now putting of these old raggs of mine and am going to be clad with the new Robes of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

When he had done his speech to ye people he kneeled downe and praied aloud, after that he praied private to himselfe, when he had done he kissed ye blocke saying he reed. that Example from o' Saviour. Then standing calls 3 or 4 times for a sight of the axe which when it was brought to him he kiss't it twice or thrice and told the Executon' that he forgave him and will'd him to be no more afraid to give him the blow then he was to receave it. [Then he desired to see the axe and after kissing it he said I am likely to have a sharp passage of it, but my Saviour hath sweetened it unto me.]

Also he told him he would kneele downe once and fitt his necke to ye blocke and rise againe (which he did) and when he kneel'd downe ye second time he desired the people to pray for him and will'd the Executioner to observe his right hand that when he lifted that up he should doe his Office which he did in a little time after he lay downe the second time, and when he lifted up his hand he cryed aloud saying Lord Jesus receave my soule and soe the Executoner did his office in the Twinkling of an eie at one blowe ye body nor head never making the least moton no not so much as stirring a ffinger. [So laying his neck upon the block, and after some fervent ejaculations, he gave the Headsman a sign with his hand who at one blow severed his head from his body."]

Prayer of Colonel John Penruddock as used by him on the scaffold.

“Oh Eternal, Almighty and most mercifull God, The righteouse judge of all the world, looke downe in mercy upon mee a miserable sinner. Oh blessed Jesus Redeemer of mankinde which takest away the sinnes of the world let thy perfect innocency and obedience be p'sented to thy heavenly ffather for me, Let thy precious death and bloud be the ransome and satisfaction for my many and haynous transgressions, thou that sittest at the right hand of God make intercession for mee. O holy and blessed spirit wch art the Comforter fill my heart with thy consolations Oh holy blessed and glorious Trinity be mercifull unto mee, confirm my faith in the pmises of the Gospell, revive and quicken my

As I have now put off these garments of cloth, so I hope I have put off my garments of sinne, and have puton the robes of Christ's Righteousnesse here, which will bring me to the enjoyment of his glorious robes anon.

Then he kneeled down and kissed the block, and said thus, 'I commit my soul to God my Creatour and Redeemer, Look on me, O Lord, at my last gasping: Hear my prayer and the prayers of all good people, I thank thee, O God, for all thy dispensations towards me.

Then kneeling down he prayed most devoutly as followeth, O Eternal &c. After which he kissed the axe."

VOL. XV.-NO. XL III.

с

« ForrigeFortsett »