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prepared to meet their fate with firmness and resignation. They had been brought from Radcliffe Hall-an old moated and fortified mansion belonging to a wealthy family of that name, situated where the close, called Pool Fold, now stands, and then recently converted into a place of security for recusants; the two other prisons in Manchester-namely, the New Fleet on Hunt's Bank, and the gaol on Salford Bridge,-not being found adequate to the accommodation of the numerous religious criminals.

By this time, the cavalcade had reached the place of execution. The soldiers had driven back the throng, and cleared a space in front of the scaffold, when, just as the cords that bound the limbs of the priest were unfastened, a woman in a tattered woollen robe, with a hood drawn over her face, a rope bound round her waist, with bare feet, and having somewhat of the appearance of a sister of Charity, sprang forward, and flung herself on her knees beside them.

Clasping the hem of the garment of the nearest priest, she pressed it to her lips, and gazed earnestly at him, as if imploring a blessing.

"You have your wish, daughter," said the priest, extending his arms over her. "Heaven and Our Lady bless you


The woman then turned towards the other victim, who was audibly reciting his litanies.

"Back, daughter of Antichrist!" interposed a soldier, rudely thrusting her aside. "Don't you see you disturb his devotions? He has enough to do to take care of his own soul without minding yours."

"Take this, daughter," said the priest who had been first addressed, offering her a small volume, which he took from his vest, "and fail not to remember in your prayers the sinful soul of Robert Woodroof, a brother of the order of Jesus."

The woman put out her hand to take the book, but before it could be delivered to her, it was seized by the soldier.

"Your priests have seldom anything to leave behind them," he cried, with a coarse laugh, (C except some worthless and superstitious relic of a saint or martyr. What's this? Ah! a breviary -a mass-book. I've too much regard for your spiritual welfare to allow you to receive it," he added, about to place it in his


"Give it her," cried a young man, snatching it from him, and handing it to the woman, who instantly disappeared.

The soldier eyed the new comer as if disposed to resent the interference, but a glance at his apparel, which, though plain, and of a sober hue, was rather above the middle class, as well as a look at the crowd, who were evidently disposed to take part with the young man, induced him to stay his hand. He, therefore, contented himself with crying, "A recusant! a Papist!"

"I am neither recusant nor Papist, knave!" replied the other, sternly; "and I counsel you to amend your manners, and show more humanity, or you shall find I have interest enough to procure your dismissal from a service which you disgrace."

This reply was followed by a murmur of applause from the mob.

"Who is that bold speaker?" demanded a pursuivant from one of his attendants.

"It is Master Humphrey Chetham of Crumpshall," was the reply, "son to one of the wealthiest merchants of the town, and a zealous upholder of the true faith."

"He has a strange way of showing his zeal," rejoined the pursuivant, entering the answer in his note-book. "And who is the woman he befriended?"

"She is a half-crazed being called Elizabeth Orton," replied the attendant, "who was scourged and tortured during Queen Elizabeth's reign for pretending to the gift of prophesy. She was compelled to confess the imposture she had practised on the people, and uttered her recantation within yonder church. Since then, she has never opened her lips."

"Where is her abode ?" inquired the pursuivant.

"She lives in a cave on the banks of the Irwell, near Ordsall Hall," replied the attendant, "where she subsists on the chance contributions of the charitable. But she solicits nothing; and, indeed, is seldom seen."

"Her cave must be searched," observed the pursuivant ; "it may be the hiding place of a priest. Father Campion was concealed in such another, when he so long eluded the vigilance of the commissioners. We shall pass it on our way to Ordsall Hall to-night, shall we not?"

"We shall," answered the attendant.

"If we surprise Father Oldcorne, and can prove that Sir William Radcliffe and his daughter, both of whom are denounced in my list, are harbourers and shelterers of recusants, we shall have done a good night's work."

At this moment, an officer advanced, and commanded the priests to follow him.

As Father Woodroof, who was the last to mount the scaffold, ascended the steps, he looked round and cried in a loud voice, "Good people, I take you all to witness that I die in the true Catholic faith."

And, amid the deep silence that ensued, the executioner performed his horrible task.

The execution over, the crowd began to separate slowly, and various opinions were expressed respecting the revolting and sanguinary spectacle they had just witnessed. Many, who condemned and the majority did so, the extreme severity of the laws by which the unfortunate priests had just suffered, uttered their sentiments with extreme caution; but there were some whose feelings had been too much excited for prudence, and who inveighed loudly and bitterly against the spirit of religious persecution then prevailing; while a few others of an entirely opposite persuasion looked upon the rigorous proceedings adopted against the Papists, and the punishment now inflicted upon their priesthood, as a just retribution for their own severities during the reign of Mary. In general, the common people entertained a strong prejudice against the Catholic party, for, as it has been shrewdly observed, "they must ever have some object to hate; " but in Manchester, near which, as has been

already stated, so many old and important families, professing that religion, resided, the case was widely different; and the mass of the inhabitants were favourably inclined towards them. It was the knowledge of this feeling that induced the commis. sioners appointed to superintend the execution of the laws against recusants to proceed with unusual rigour in this neighbourhood.

The state of the Roman Catholic party at the period of this history, was indeed most grievous. The hopes they had indulged of greater toleration for their religion on the accession of James the First, had been entirely destroyed. The persecutions, which had been suspended during the first year of the reign of the new monarch, were now renewed with greater severity than ever: and though their present condition was deplorable enough, it was feared that worse remained in store for them. "They bethought themselves," says Bishop Goodman, "that now their case was far worse than in the time of Queen Elizabeth; for they did live in some hope that after the old woman's life they might have some mitigation, and even those who did then persecute them were a little more moderate, as being doubtful what times might succeed, and fearing their own case. But, now that they saw the times settled, having no hope of better days, but expecting that the uttermost rigour of the law should be executed, they became desperate finding that by the laws of the kingdom their own lives were not secured, and for the carrying over of a priest into England it was no less than high treason. A gentlewoman was hanged only for relieving and harbouring a priest; a citizen was hanged only for being reconciled to the Church of Rome; besides, the penal laws were such, and so executed, that they could not subsist. What was usually sold in shops and usually bought, this the pursuivant would take away from them as being popish and superstitious. One knight did affirm that in one term he gave twenty nobles in rewards to the door keeper of the Attorney-General; another did affirm, that his third part which remained unto him of his estate did hardly serve for his expense in law to defend him from other oppressions; besides their children to be taken from home, to be brought up in another religion. So they did every way conclude that their estate was desperate; they could die but once, and their religion was more precious unto them than their lives. They did further consider their misery; how they were debarred in any course of lives to help themselves. They could not practise law, -they could not be citizens,-they could have no office; they could not breed up their sons-none did desire to match with them; they had neither fit marriages for their daughters, nor nunneries to put them into; for those few which are beyond seas are not considerable in respect of the number of recusants, and none can be admitted into them without great sums of money, which they, being exhausted, could not supply. The Spiritual Court did not cease to molest them, to excommunicate them, then to imprison them; and thereby they were utterly disenabled to sue for their own." Such is a faithful picture of the state of the Catholic party at the commencement of the reign of James the First.

Pressed down by these intolerable grievances, is it to be wondered at that the Papists should repine, or that some among their number, when all other means failed, should seek redress by darker measures? By a statute of Elizabeth, all those who refused to conform to the established religion were subjected to a fine of twenty pounds a lunar month; and this heavy penalty, which had been remitted, or rather suspended, since James came to the throne, was again exacted, and all arrears claimed. Added to this, the monarch, whose court was thronged by a host of needy Scottish retainers, assigned to them a certain number of wealthy recusants, and empowered them to levy the fines, a privilege of which they were not slow to avail themselves. There were other pains and penalties provided for by the same statute, which were rigorously inflicted. The withdrawing, or seeking to withdraw another from the established religion was accounted high treason, and punished accordingly; hearing mass involved a penalty of one hundred marks and a year's imprisonment; and the harbouring of a priest, under the denomination of a tutor, rendered the latter liable to a year's imprisonment, and his employer to a fine of ten pounds a month. Împressed with the belief that, in consequence of the unremitting persecutions which the Catholics underwent in Elizabeth's time, the religion would be wholly extirpated, Dr. Allen, a Lancashire divine, who afterwards received a cardinal's hat, founded a college at Douay, for the reception and education of those who intended to take orders. From this university a number of missionary priests, or seminarists, as they were termed, were annually sent over to England, and it was against these persons, who submitted to every hardship and privation, to danger, and death itself, for the welfare of their religion, and in the hope of propagating its doctrines, that the utmost rigour of the penal enactments was directed. Among the number of seminarists despatched from Douay, and capitally convicted under the statute above-mentioned, were the two priests whose execution has just been described.

As a portion of the crowd passed over the old bridge across the Irwell connecting Manchester with Salford, on which stood an ancient chapel erected by Thomas de Booth, in the reign of Edward the Third, and recently converted into a prison for recusants, they perceived the prophetess, Elizabeth Orton, seated upon the stonesteps of the structure, earnestly reading the book given to her by Father Woodrooff. A mob speedily collected round her; but, unconscious seemingly of their presence, the poor woman turned over leaf after leaf, and pursued her meditations. Her hood was thrown back, and discovered her bare and withered neck, over which her black dishevelled hair streamed in thick masses. Irritated by her indifference, several of the bystanders, who had questioned her as to the nature of her studies, began to mock and jeer her, and endeavoured by plucking her robe, and casting little pebbles at her, to attract her attention. Roused at length, by these annoyances, she arose, and fixing her large black eyes menacingly upon them, was about to stalk away, when they surrounded and detained her.

"Speak to us, Bess," cried several voices. prophesy."


"I will speak to you," replied the poor woman, shaking her head at them, "I will prophesy to you. And mark me, though ye believe me not, my words shall not fall to the ground."

"A miracle! a miracle!" shouted the bystanders. "Bess Orton, who has been silent for twenty years, has found her tongue at last."

"I have seen a vision, and dreamed a dream," continued the prophetess." As I lay in my cell last night, meditating upon the forlorn state of our church and of its people, methought that nineteen shadowy figures stood before me-ay, nineteen-for I counted them over thrice-and when I questioned them as to their coming, for my tongue at first clove to the roof of my mouth, and my lips refused their office, one of them answered me in a voice which yet rings in my ears, 'We are the chosen deliverers of our fallen and persecuted church. To us is intrusted the rebuilding of her temples,-to our hands is committed the destruction of her enemies. The work will be done in darkness and in secret,—with toil and travail,-but it will at length be made manifest; and when the hour is arrived, our vengeance will be terrible and exterminating.' With these words, they vanished from my sight. Ah!" she exclaimed, suddenly starting, and passing her hand across her brow, as if to clear her sight, "it was no dream-no vision. I see one of them now."

"Where ?-where ?" cried several voices.

The prophetess answered by extending her skinny arm towards some object immediately before her.

All eyes were instantly turned in the direction which she pointed, when they beheld the figure of a soldier-for such his garb proclaimed him-standing at a few paces' distance from them. He was wrapped in an ample cloak, and his broad-leaved steeplecrowned Spanish hat, decorated with a single green feather, pulled over his brows, seemed, like his accoutrements, which differed in some respects from those of the troopers previously described, to denote that he belonged to that service. He wore a polished steel brigandine, trunk loose, and buff boots drawn up to the knees. His arms consisted of a brace of petronels thrust into his belt, from which a long rapier depended. His features were dark as bronze, and well-formed, though strongly marked, and wearing an expression of settled sternness. His eyes were grey and penetrating, and shaded by thick beetle-brows; and his physiognomy was completed by a black peaked beard. His person was tall and erect, and his deportment soldier-like and commanding. Perceiving that he was become an object of notice, the stranger cast a compassionate look at the prophetess, who still remained gazing fixedly at him, and throwing her a few pieces of money, strode away.

Watching his retreating figure till it disappeared from view, the crazed woman tossed her arms wildly in the air, and cried, in a voice of exultation, "Did I not speak the truth ?-did I not tell you I had seen him? He is the deliverer of our church, and is come to avenge the righteous blood which hath been this day shed."

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Peace, woman, and fly while there is yet time," cried the

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