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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Hired a house which adjoined the Houses of Parliament


This

project was not altogether new. Already under Elizabeth there had been a talk of doing again to her what Bothwell had done or attempted to do to Henry Darnley: but men had perceived even at that time that this would not conduce to their purpose, and had hit upon a plan of blowing the Queen and her Parliament into the air together. Henry Garnet, the superior of the Jesuits, had been consulted on the subject; and he had declared the enterprise lawful, and had only advised them to spare as many of the innocent as possible in its execution.[335] The scheme which had been started under Elizabeth was resumed under King James, when men saw that his accession to the throne did not produce the hoped-for change. On this occasion also scruples were felt on the ground that many a Catholic would perish at the same time. To a question on the subject submitted to him without closer description of the case Garnet answered in the spirit of a mufti delivering his fettah, that if an end were indubitably a good one, and could be accomplished in no other way, it was lawful to destroy even some of the innocent with the guilty.[336] Catesby had no compassion even for the innocent: he regarded the lords generally as only poltroons and atheists, whose place would be better filled by vigorous men.

[Sidenote: A.D. 1605.]

Without delay, before the end of December 1604, the conspirators proceeded to make their preparations. Percy, who was

still numbered among the retainers of the court, hired a house which adjoined the Houses of Parliament. They were attempting to carry a mine through the foundation walls of that building--a design that says more for their zeal than for their intelligence, and one which could hardly have been effected--when a vault immediately under the House of Lords happened to fall vacant, and, as they were able to hire it, offered them a far better opportunity for the execution of their scheme. They filled it with a number of powder-barrels which are said to have contained the enormous quantity of 9,000 pounds of powder, and they confidently expected to bring about the great catastrophe with all its horrors on November 5, 1605, the day which after many changes had been appointed for the opening of Parliament. Their intention was, as soon as the King and the Prince of Wales had perished, to gain possession of the younger prince or of the princess, and to place one or other on the throne, with a regency under a protector during their minority.[337] All preparations had been made for bringing an effective force into the field; and its principal leaders were to assemble at Dunchurch in Warwickshire under pretence of hunting. The English regiment in Flanders was to be brought over and was to serve as the nucleus of a new force. There is no doubt that Owen was thoroughly conversant with their plans. Many other trustworthy people were admitted into the secret, and supported the project with their money. One of these was sent to Rome in order to convince the Pope of the necessity of the undertaking and to move him to resolutions in support of it. On All Saints' Day Father Garnet interrupted his prayer with a hymn of praise for the deliverance of the inheritance of the faithful from the generation of the ungodly.


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