. 4
( 10)


Not sighes but scoffes mongst hearers now doe sownd . . .124
The longevity of the tradition is illustrated by the work of the mid-
seventeenth-century poet Eldred Revett, who may well be punning
on the name of a poetic predecessor in `Marie her ointment':
Anointed God who was before,
Mary anoints her Saviour;
Her Alabaster-box doth shed
The liquid Narde on's sacred head . . .
What fall's [sic] on his Necks whiter skin
Is Alabaster'd up again . . .
She then at's feet her-self doth throw
Descending yet to Heav'n, so;
When from her eyes she scatters streams
To pay the custome of those gems . . .125
Again on the topic of Mary Magdalen, Edward Thimelby equates
blood and tears in an entirely Crashavian manner.
Did my eyes wash thy feet t'intice
Thy bleeding feet to wash my blood-shott eyes?
Oh take thy blood and pardon back:
Catholic poetics and the Protestant canon 99
Restore the teares and sinnes I lost:
To me hell's dearer for thy sake,
Then heaven at so deare a cost:
Though my sight ran astray, is't meet
My wandring eyes should draw thy weepeing feet?
And have thees springs forgot to keepe
Their ¯oodgates ope? What mountain stopps
Their currents, that they dare not weepe
With thee? Without thos corrall dropps,
Thees christall waves can be no sea;
Without thees perles, that blood no Erithre126 . . .
Speke to this hart, my soules Phisician,
And it will yeeld us waters of Contrition.127
Thimelby certainly knew Crashaw, and was to some extent an
admirer of his; they were both in the retinue of Cardinal Giovanni
Battista Pallotta, and Thimelby wrote a verse-letter praising his
colleague.128 But in the verse-letter which follows this, Thimelby
deftly uses this admiration to express his dissociation from the other
I'm yet a libertin in verse, and write
Both what the spirit and the ¯esh indite,
Nor can be yet our Crashaws convertite.
Methinkes your misticall poetik straine,
Does not so sanctify a poet's veine,
As make divinity itself prophaine. (p. 40)

Thimelby allows Crashaw to be exempted from his strictures, if not
by name ± `Yet still except we prophets, saints, and kings; / Who
hears a heaven's voice, of heaven sings' (p. 41) ± but his impatience
with Crashavian poetic convention is plain. Clearly, Crashaw was
enough of an in¯uence both to be copied, and to infuriate some of
his copyists to subsequent agonistic dissociation. A few couplets later,
Thimelby writes, `You know temtation once brought me too in, / To
faigne a teare or two of Magdalen, / But she, a sinner once, forgave
the sin.' Later still, Thimelby uses libertine terms to formulate a
critique of another aspect of the English Catholic poetic tradition,
turning round Southwell's call to sacred parody by implying that all
religious language has been invalidated by double-entendre.
A rapture, alter, sacri®ce, a vowe,
A relique, extacye, words baudy now,
Our fathers could for harmeles termes alow.
100 Catholics and the canon
But now the very spring of poesy
Is poysond quite, and who would draigne it dry,
Must be a better Hollander then I . . .
Had one no poet, but a painter bene
Of naked truth, weir't not a lesser sinne
To call it Venus, then a Catherin? (p. 42)

Thimelby has a small place in literary history as the ®rst of
Crashaw's hostile critics, and he anticipates a very usual twentieth-
century objection to Crashaw's work. Crashaw, like many other
mystics, designedly uses the linguistic commonplaces surrounding
sexual surrender as metaphors for religious ecstasy. But students
both of sexuality and of religion at this period have been less broad-
minded than Crashaw himself: perhaps because, until very recently,
interest in one has commonly accompanied a distaste for talking
about the other. This has led to a reductionist approach within
Crashavian criticism, where his religious ecstasy has been assumed
to be totally sexual in origin, albeit veiled with the lies of repression.
Inevitably, it has been linked to Crashaw's supposed foreignness. It is
hard to know how serious Frank J. Warnke was being when he
declared in 1970 that Crashaw was `a kind of sport in English literary
history, an exotic Italian import like pasta or castrati',129 but those
who have been alerted to the phenomenon of othering will not be
surprised at the apparently arbitrary introduction of eunuchs here.
Crashaw has been laid on the psychiatrist's couch more than
once. Robert Ellrodt's essay in the Sphere History of Literature ± a
volume last revised in 1986 ± declared easily that `Crashaw's ecstatic
piety aims at self-annihilation . . . an insight into the human heart
can hardly be expected from such a poet, but he himself is a case for
the psychologist.' The recent bibliography of Crashavian criticism
makes it clear how often Crashaw's sexuality has attracted con-
cerned or dismissive comment.130 Psychoanalytical explanations
assume, as so many conventional literary-critical discussions do, the
uniqueness of Crashaw; this has the effect either of vastly overempha-
sizing his originality, or of abnormalizing much of medieval spiri-
tuality ± together with whole tracts of mainstream Counter-
Reformation devotional culture across southern Europe and
Mexico.131 Paradoxically, it has been admiration for Donne and
Herbert which has contributed to uncertainty about Crashaw's
status. Much attention has recently been paid to ways in which
literary texts have been used to construct ideals of Britishness, and
Catholic poetics and the Protestant canon 101
perhaps the critical gaze should now turn to the ideologies fostered
by Anglicanism; certainly, the Church of England's supposed via
media has been used normatively to damn Crashaw. In 1968, George
Williamson called Crashaw's `excesses in the expression of devo-
tional love' `offensive to modern taste', and went on with a passage
which, though it is largely commenting on Herbert, is still worth
quoting in full.
Herbert expresssed this aim of the Laudian church in these words: `And all
this he doth, not as out of necessity, or as putting a holiness in the things,
but as desiring to keep the middle way between superstition, and
slovenliness, and as following the apostle's two great and admirable rules in
things of this nature: the ®rst whereof is, Let all things be done decently and in
order: the second, Let all things be done to edi®cation, I Cor. xiv.' These two rules
comprise our duty to God and man: `the ®rst being for the honour of God,
the second for the bene®t of our neighbour.' Crashaw was more concerned
with the ®rst object, and Herbert with the second.132
In the pro-Anglican, anti-Catholic context set out by his earlier
comments on Crashaw, Williamson's other dichotomies fall smoothly
into place. Herbert distinguishes between seemliness and edi®cation,
and God and one's neighbour, but Williamson forces the reader to
prioritise one at the expense of the other. Since Crashaw's ritualism
has been impugned, this invites the reader to side with Herbert; and
in an emphasis that the historical Herbert would not have cared for,
Herbert becomes more concerned with edi®cation than seemliness,
and more anxious to edify his neighbour than please God.
Despite his pro-Anglican preconceptions, George Williamson puts
no confessional cards on the table here. But the early modern
English religious lyric had, in the mid-twentieth century, some
in¯uential Anglican apologists ± one thinks of T. S. Eliot and Helen
Gardner ± who, because of their Anglicanism, were conscious of
standing out against the tide. But while arguing that Christianity was
still a valid intellectual position for the literary critic, the terms of
their riposte were still essentially humanist: that the intellect and
poetical ability of Donne and Herbert helped to validate Angli-
canism. Paradoxically, therefore, they came to share with agnostic
critical discourse a high regard for the interrogatory subject within
religious poetry, or a notion that the ®ght was the thing. Critics
arrived at a consensus that the best poems were those which
displayed confrontational demonstrations of the passionate intellect
versus the divine, despite the fact that the orthodox Christian
102 Catholics and the canon
resolution was welcomed by some and deprecated by others. The
unintended consequence of this was the formation of a kind of Anti-
Soppists' Club: the preconception that a dry-eyed spirituality is
better, and that the best religious lyrics of the period must display
not a childlike sensuousness and vulnerability, but a questing adult
intellect grappling with God. This was a terminology that had been
around since before the war. Joan Bennett, in 1934, said of Donne's
religious poetry that `profound emotion works upon Donne's intel-
lect not as a narcotic but as a stimulant', and, in the background,
one can feel Crashaw evoked as a silent point of comparison.
Speaking of Herbert, she privileges his confrontational poems.
`[Herbert's] poetry is not the record of quiet saintliness, but of
continued wrestling and continued submission; the collar is not
easily worn.'133
This is, as she suggests, the Herbert of `The Collar', and the
Donne of `Batter my heart, three person'd God'. In these two
frequently anthologised poems, and others read as especially ®ne
and especially typical of the writers, the end comes at exactly the
moment of submission to the Divine. Sometimes, as with Herbert's
`So I did sit and eat', the last line is lavishly suggestive of spiritual
delights following upon submission: but it is still the end. The
selection of these poems privileges a twentieth-century English
spirituality of the unsaid, and Crashaw, with cardinal bad taste,
begins where Donne and Herbert leave off. But if Crashaw is usually
criticised as too extreme for greatness, at other times ± astoundingly
± his subject-matter is made the sole criterion by which to judge him
a minor poet. To quote Crashaw's most recent editor again:
`Crashaw is not a major poet. He shows himself de®cient in many
respects, but he was a master of the voice which he chose for his
own. It is a small voice, and among discriminating critics, few are
sympathetic to it. It is the voice of the ecstatic vision, the sensuous
transcended and made sublime, the suavity of pain, the long-sought
joy of mystical death. It is a voice of con®dent and unquestioning
faith. This voice is a small voice, yet no other English poet has ever
sung so well with it.'134 Out of context, ecstatic visions and the rest
seem topics large enough to please, and one would be less surprised
if it were judged that Crashaw was not equal to the challenge; yet
this is not the criticism. Perhaps these notions of unimportance are
responding, most of all, to general critical priorities within English
departments of the late 1960s.
Catholic poetics and the Protestant canon 103
Though most critics within the last few decades would be horri®ed
at the idea, critical discourse on seventeenth-century religious poetry
is still highly prone to denominationalist judgements: a variety of
feelings, articulated or not, that there are right ways and wrong ways
to write devotional poetry within the Christian tradition. The critical
history of Crashaw in the twentieth century also reveals, in exagger-
ated form, a number of culture-bound assumptions about how
devotional verse should be read. Both the writing and reading of
religious poetry at this date are tricky problems for those from non-
Christian religions, for atheists, or for the agnostic majority; but they
are no less so for practising Christians, few of whom would translate
comfortably into the devotional culture of three or four centuries
earlier. The answer, perhaps, is to leave aside aesthetic judgement
for the time being and interrogate our literary preferences for what
they reveal about denominationalist conditioning, overt or covert. It
may be that the radical discomfort that baroque verse produces in a
twentieth-century reader is a measure of its success; it pursues the
kind of limits-exploration that Foucault has taught us to value, if
inspired by ethical reasons opposite to his. But neither selective
blindness nor the Protestantised aesthetic will be solved until
Crashaw and his predecessors are read, on a far larger scale than
hitherto; and until the English Baroque, with all its attendant
Catholic implications, becomes as unproblematic a term for literary
critics as it is for architectural historians.
But, at the last, a personal note may not be out of keeping for a
chapter which has dealt with canon-formation and the Protestan-
tised assumptions of the English common reader. When this chapter
was almost written, I read a pair of essays by the clerical scholar
Herbert Thurston, published in the Jesuit periodical The Month in
1895 ± exactly three hundred years after Southwell's execution. The
manner of their citation by Southwell's editors, and by the few other
bibliographers by whom they had been noticed, had not led me to
expect much ± at most, a few analogues with contemporary poets. 135
But in their scholarly defence of Southwell's importance, popularity
and in¯uence, they are pieces of a scope which, given adequate
exposure, might have helped to in¯uence a different canon-for-
mation at a time when English was becoming a university subject.
Reading them, I was struck by their anticipation of a number of
points which, a century later, I had arrived at independently: and,
inevitably, was annoyed that I had wasted so much time re-traversing
104 Catholics and the canon
the same ground. But my own researches had been directed by a
consciousness of a gap in critical discourse, and the near-invisibility
of Thurston's two pieces is, in itself, part of the shadowed history of
post-Reformation Catholic writing in this country. In a mainstream
journal they might have helped to dictate orthodoxy; but since they
were concealed in a Catholic periodical, literary scholarship has
hardly been affected. Perhaps this essay, less innovative but pub-
lished in the scholarly mainstream, may have slightly better luck.
part ii
Loyalism and exclusion
chapter 3

Catholic loyalism: I. Elizabethan writers

In most parts of Elizabethan and Stuart England, being a Catholic
necessitated membership of an alternative community: a recusant
nucleus, with a penumbra of those whose allegiances were less sure
or less exclusive. But there were exceptions to the rule, and of these,
three are especially recurrent as stimuli to the Catholic imaginative
writer. First, there was the court. At certain times during the period
covered by this study, conspicuously during the queenship of Hen-
rietta Maria, royal households could provide a highly privileged
environment for some English Catholics; and even at the height of
persecution, Catholic ambassadors had to be catered for. But to set
against this comparative visibility, the court displayed a Protestant
monarch's personal example to a uniquely intense degree. All
England was, in theory, a virtual community of courtiers; and so it is
not surprising that to many Catholics outside the court, the
monarchical person served as a focus for overt and passionate
protestations of loyalty, of a kind that would have been less necessary
towards a king or queen of their own faith. But among Catholic
courtiers, or courtiers who became Catholics, there could be
vehement differences from this model.
Some Catholic converts at court were treated in such a way as to
make their personal betrayal of the monarch clear. Toby Mathew,
for instance, was urged by the king himself to take the Oath of
Allegiance; and as in his case, this could be the prelude to exile,
involuntary or self-imposed.1 Earlier an Elizabethan courtier-poet
and convert, Henry Constable, had explored the condition of
alienation from Elizabeth in many of his sonnets. His shift from
secular to sacred verse ± as in so many cases ± is concurrent with his
conversion, which happened around 1589; and Constable's editor
Joan Grundy believes that one of the most important contemporary
manuscript-sources for his verse, known as the Todd MS, may have
108 Loyalism and exclusion
been made by Constable himself to mark a terminus to his period
in England. His collection, Diana, was published in 1592 after his
exile, with the Epistle to the Reader describing the sonnets as
having been `by misfortune left as Orphans': exile, it is suggested,
forces not only a physical departure, but a negation of authorship
which has to be alleviated by pity and patronage. The conceit was
picked up by the bookseller Richard Smyth in an edition of two
years later, within a dedicatory sonnet which asks `her maiesties
sacred honorable Maydes', the twofold Charities, to look mercifully
upon `these Orphan Poems'. To introduce them in the Todd MS,
another sonneteer lamented Constable's exile in terms of seasonal
Englands sweete nightingale what frights thee so
As over sea to make thee take thy ¯ight?2
And there to live with native countryes foe
And there him with thy heavenly songs delight?
What did thy sister swallowe thee excite
With her for wintres dread to ¯ye away?
Whoe is it then hath wrought this other spite
That when as she returneth thou shouldst stay?
As soone as spring begins she cometh ay,
Returne with her and thow like tidings bring,
When once men see thee come what will they say?
Loe now of English poesie comes the spring.

This comprises a series of disingenuous questions. Constable had
possible imprisonment to fear, as the last couplet admits: `Come
feare thou not the cage, but loyall be, / And ten to one thy
Soveraigne pardons thee.' Constable, the nightingale, is adjured not
to fear imprisonment, then metamorphosed back into a man capable
of feeling guilt at disloyalty: a metrical answer to Constable's
metrical exploration of loyalist preoccupations, which this chapter
discusses. For clarity's sake, the titles of the four chapters within this
section separate the themes of loyalism and exile; but this sonnet
shows how closely the two are linked.
Indispensable as the title of John Bossy's English Catholic Community
has been to the formulations of historians working on the topic, to
think in terms of several English Catholic communities is perhaps
most helpful of all. Two types of English Catholic community were
to be found overseas: the groups of lay or clerical expatriates which
gathered in certain towns or cities on the Continent, sometimes
Catholic loyalism: I. Elizabethan writers 109
attached to the entourage of an aristocrat; and the monasteries,
convents, seminaries and schools which were founded or re-founded
on the Continent, not only by the English, but by the Scots and the
Irish. This study can address only a small fraction of their richly
multilingual literary cultures, but it is one highly relevant to the
theme of imaginative polemic. The circumstance of exile had one
consummate advantage over living in England, the freedom to be
outspoken. This manifested itself less in what was said, than in a
greater access to print, and ± as in the lengthy texts and elaborate
staging of Jesuit drama ± greater opportunity for the leisurely
elaboration of polemical messages.
Historians have become familiar with the idea that, in late
sixteenth-century and early seventeenth-century England, Catholi-
cism was the enemy against which an emergent Protestant nation-
alism de®ned itself, and which shaped English allegiances within
Europe. Literary critics, too, have studied how this topic made its
way into imaginative writing.3 But absent from these discussions has
been a consideration, or even a consciousness, of the other side: how
English Catholics' experience of diaspora, combined with the
necessity to re-evangelise a nation from overseas, shaped their ideas
on nationhood. It is a surprising omission, since the war between
Jesuits and Appellants, the group of clerics who wished to appeal to
Rome against Jesuitical encroachments of the late 1590s, has long
been visible to historians. Running from the end of the sixteenth
century and for much of the seventeenth, it split the English clerisy
on issues of ecclesiastical government that had an enormous rele-
vance to perceptions of the state and the nation, as well as of the
Church. Inter alia, this section gestures towards a topic that awaits its
real chronicler; and in the meantime, it acts as an anthology of
Catholic homesickness and politicised nostalgia. The chapters on
exile are thematically organised, but the preceding chapters address
reactions to historical events, and so are chronologically arranged;
even so, the subject-matter gives it an episodic character which is
unavoidable. Scholarly and pamphlet-debates are accretive, their
assertions, answers and disagreements dictating the trajectory of a
topic in a way that imaginative material cannot match.4 But though
imaginative genres were not the main media in which controversies
were conducted, they can be an unmatched guide to response; and,
crucially, they remind us that responses to anti-Catholic accusation
were often not ®erce, but conciliatory.
110 Loyalism and exclusion

catholic loyalty: definitions and disagreements
For the greater part of the period covered by this study, disloyalty
towards the sovereign was to the Protestant statesman what idolatry
was to the Protestant theologian. Both identi®ed papalism as a prime
Catholic ill, and more generally, both were comprehensive accusa-
tions levelled against Catholics, acting as unifying theories to explain
all manifestations of popish perversity and misbehaviour. Both, too,
are misrepresentations inspired by the warped generalities of anti-
Catholic polemic. Catholics de®ned idolatry differently from Protes-
tants, but condemned it as heartily; and, because it was extra-
ordinarily dif®cult to evade the personal obligation of loyalty
altogether at this period, not even the Gunpowder Plotters would
have considered themselves disloyal. The execution of Mary Stuart
provoked some Catholic writers to speak of Elizabeth as if she had
forfeited all claim to loyalty, and others argued that the common-
wealth had the right to depose a heretical monarch; though taking
its bearings from Continental resistance theorists on both sides of the
religious divide, this was a position almost solely associated with
popery in England up to the eve of the Civil Wars.5 Both attitudes
could arise from a sense that the temporal repercussions of the
Catholic faith demanded greater obedience towards ecclesiastical
leaders than crowned heads, yet this is an emphasis more character-
istic of the clerisy than the laity, and not uniformly the case even
among clerics. More strikingly, both betoken a high regard for the
abstract virtue of loyalty to monarchs, and a conscientious wish to be
able to obey them in all things.
Even in highly controversial Catholic texts like A Conference About
the Next Succession [1595], this rule holds good. Numbering Robert
Persons among its authors, this explored justi®cations for deposing
an heretical monarch and ± while asserting that the matter could not
be determined during the Queen's life ± suggested a Spanish
successor to Elizabeth, the Infanta Isabella. Loyalty is differently
de®ned and differently directed, but the necessity for it is not
questioned.6 This is not to deny that Catholics sometimes relaxed
into subversive talk ± Anthony Munday's complaint about anti-
monarchical gossip among the seminarists at the English College in
Rome was probably better-founded than many of his assertions7 ±
nor that English Catholics could engage in actions that went well
beyond anything they committed to theory. Persons was not above
Catholic loyalism: I. Elizabethan writers 111
of®cial conspiracy, and throughout Elizabeth's reign, unof®cial
groups of Catholic extremists aimed to depose or assassinate her.
But, again, their shared aim was to bring about a situation where
Catholics could unreservedly be loyal to the monarch, and opposing
biblical injunctions could be resolved. The instruction in 1 Peter
2.13±14, `Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's
sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors',
could be countered by Acts 5.29, `We ought to obey God rather than
men': yet this was not a mitigation, but a double duty. English
Catholic apologia throughout the Tudor and Stuart period is full of
a desire to ascertain the occasions on which civic disobedience was
necessary, a preoccupation which suggests their enormous conscien-
tious engagement with the problem. Nothing was a more effective
determinant of the public behaviour of priests or lay recusants, and,
for this reason, it does most of them a disservice to equate
Catholicism with subversion: to adapt another frequently-cited text,
it was their aim to re-integrate tributes to Caesar with those to God,
and most would have hoped that this could be accomplished by the
conversion of the reigning monarch. More silently, the pragmatic
accommodations of church-papists ± hardly acknowledged in Catho-
lic pamphlets except as a prelude to condemnation ± might often
have included the desire to be seen to be loyal.
This study includes two chapters on Catholic loyalism: the ®rst
deals with Elizabeth's reign, the second with the reigns of James I
and Charles I, and the dif®culties faced by Catholic loyalists during
the Civil Wars and Interregnum. Understandably, many previous
historical accounts of the Elizabethan Catholics have circled around
this question of allegiance.8 Though there is plenty of work to be
done on the later periods, this concentration on Elizabeth's reign is
not surprising. The parameters of the debate were set up twelve
years into the reign, with Pius V's excommunication of Elizabeth in
the papal bull Regnans in Excelsis (1570). As Thomas Clancy has
pointed out, it was the arrival of the seminary priests a decade later
that prompted the need for the bull's practical implications to be
seriously explored: most notoriously in the `Bloody Questions'
contrived for Edmund Campion's trial, where the prisoners were
compelled to state whether they would support the Crown or the
Pope in a variety of hypothetical circumstances, all interpreted to
con®rm the assumption that the desires of pope and monarch were
fundamentally opposed.9 From Campion's execution onwards, while
112 Loyalism and exclusion
Catholics maintained that priests were only suffering for their
religion, government of®cials countered that they were paying the
penalty for treason. It was a distinction which had, to the non-
sceptical, a dual advantage. While proclaiming the superiority of
Elizabeth's disciplinary procedures to Mary I's burnings for heresy, it
attempted to justify those procedures to the sizeable number of
in¯uential Englishmen who still adhered to the old faith, and the
great Catholic powers in Europe.
Catholic priests, therefore, had a need publicly to separate politics
and religion where their accusers had con¯ated them. Many martyr-
narratives, so many that it became a self-perpetuating hagiogra-
phical trope, recorded how the last words of the condemned
included protestations of loyalty to the queen, and some make it
clear how this was part of a staged dialectic. At his execution on 2
November 1583, the gentleman John Bodye
appealed upo[n] his faith w[hi]ch he said was the cawse of his death: But
S[i]r Will[ia]m Kingsmell told him he died for high treaso[n] against her
Ma[jes]tie wherof he had ben suf®ciently convicted in dede (quoth he) I
have be[en] suf®ciently convicted for I have been condemned trator(?) and
yo[u] may make the hearinge of a blessed masse treaso[n] or the sayinge of
an Ave Maria, treason But I have comitted no treason although in deed I
suffer the punishment dew to treaso[n] . . .10
The sheriff interjected to point out that the pope had excommuni-
cated Elizabeth, `and yo[u] foresake her and cleave to him', to which
Bodye replied that he acknowledged her his lawful sovereign `in all
temporall cawses and none other':
yo[u] shall do well the[n] said S[i]r Will[ia]m Kingsmell to satis®e the
people in the cawse of your death because otherwise they may be deluded
by your faire speeches yo[u] shall understand (quoth he) good people all
that I suffer death for not grantinge . . . her Ma[jes]tie to be supreme heade
in christes church in England w[hi]ch I may not nor will not graunt well
the[n] quoth Mr Shriefe aske her Ma[jes]tie forgivenes and the[n] desyre
the people to pray for yo[u] In troth (quoth he) I must needs aske her
Ma[jes]tie forgivenes for I have offended her many wayes as in usinge
unlawfull games . . . but in this matter yo[u] shall pardon mee And for the
people because they and I ar different in religeon I will not have them pray
for me. But I pray god longe to preserve her . . . Even queene Elizabeth
your queene and mine and I desyre yo[u] to obay none other . . .
Alastair Macintyre has observed that when rival conclusions are
argued back to rival premises, `the invocation of one premise against
Catholic loyalism: I. Elizabethan writers 113
another becomes a matter of pure assertion and counter-assertion',
and that the ensuing debates are `necessarily interminable'.11 But
the Elizabethan authorities could risk Catholic counter-assertion on
the scaffold, because the noose put an end to it.
Though the Bloody Questions and the execution of Catholics
were uniquely crude attempts to articulate the difference, loyalty is
not the same as loyalism. In this period, the Catholic loyalist is
traditionally de®ned as one who sought to reconcile obedience to the
reigning monarch with the practice of Catholicism, a balance which
tended to necessitate de-emphasizing the power of the papacy. The
nature of the claims monarchy could make for itself, and the degree
of obedience one could accord to a monarch who was not a co-
religionist, were topics which created many-branched rifts in the
ranks of English Catholics; and though these rifts were internally
generated, governments could and did exploit the stress-points.
Michael Questier has recently argued that the wording of the 1606
Oath of Allegiance, which all English Catholics were theoretically
obliged to take after the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, was
designed to lay itself open to many different interpretations, and
thus encourage internecine con¯ict.12 Though this oath affected lay
Catholics most directly ± most priests did not wish to draw attention
to their presence in the kingdom ± and despite the fact that it
described the papal claim to a deposing power as `impious and
heretical', some priests took it. But well before the Oath of Alle-
giance, it had become clear that con¯icts between monarchical and
papal interest had a particular relevance to English Jesuits, unique
among the Catholic clerisy in having made vows of obedience to the
pope; and both lay and ordained Catholics could ®nd this a good
reason to distrust the Jesuit. There is an anti-Jesuit theme to many of
the clerical quarrels which arose in the 1580s and 1590s, the most
notorious arising in 1598 when the appointment of the archpriest
George Blackwell to oversee England's secular clergy gave rise to
suspicions that he was a tool of the Jesuits, more open to pro-papal
and pro-Spanish policies than ones designed to placate the English
Though this chapter is not primarily concerned with tracing the
involutions of these quarrels, they occasionally obtruded into Catho-
lic imaginative writing;13 and they are one reason why, from this
period onwards, imaginative protestations of loyalty to the monarch
are not all directed wholly towards the Protestant reader. In one text
114 Loyalism and exclusion
discussed below, Anthony Copley's A Fig For Fortune, they are a
reproach to Jesuits; but even in non-polemical texts primarily
intended for a Catholic audience, certain pre-emptive strategies are
visible. In a manuscript at Lille from the archives of the English
Benedictine nuns, there survives a fervent but anonymous and
undateable piece of rhythmical prose, roughly divided into verses but
drawing on the conventions of prayer; written in the persona of a
martyr, it disavows suspicions of disloyalty as early as the ®rst verse. 14
It is told me I must Dye
Ignominiously by the hand
of the Executioner. -
O Happy News.
I see myselfe honoured with
the Livery of Jesus.
I receive the Judgment of Death
as an Enemy to Caesar,
As Designing the Death of my King
And the depriving him of
his crowne, his government.
Whilst in the meantyme
my Jesus knowes;
my conscience rejoycing testi®es
that I never yet harboured
In my heart at any tyme
so much as one Disloyal thought
Against my king as sovereign,
And the conscience
of my accusers must testi®e
At the last dreadful Judgment,
to the glory of my God
and the Justi®cation of truth,
that I am perfectly Innocent
of all and every one of the crimes
Of which they swore me guilty.
But all Catholic and pro-Catholic writers had more need than
most to prove their loyalty, and so may have been more inclined to
address questions of loyalism than they would have been otherwise.
Certainly they ®gured among the English monarchy's most vehe-
ment defenders. Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, was known
to be pro-Catholic all his life and is said to have died a Catholic; yet
his True and Perfect Relation of the Whole Proceedings Against . . . Garnet, a
Jesuite, and His Confederats (1606), written to justify the Crown's trial of
Catholic loyalism: I. Elizabethan writers 115
the Gunpowder Plotters, upheld the freedom and authority of the
sovereign, and attacked the papal usurpation of temporal power and
the defenders of Catholic resistance. The Venetian ambassador
observed that because Howard was considered a Catholic, it gave his
writing greater authority.15 If Howard was indeed a Catholic, he was
not alone among his co-religionists in having no dif®culty with the
idea of separating temporal and spiritual power; later, John Barclay's
romance Argenis was promoted by the Stuart monarchy to enhance
their absolutist claims. Yet when they wrote, such Catholics were
well aware of the preconceptions which they were defying. This
could result in protestations of loyalty and devotion to the monarch
which ± until one considers the weight of prejudice they were
counteracting ± seem hyperbolic even by the standards of the time.
Many such texts are dedicated to the monarch, with these protesta-
tions most thickly present in the dedicatory apparatus. Often there
was little chance that the royal addressee would have seen the text,
yet this, in one respect, was not the point ± the dedication was an
earnest of good faith and a declaration that the author's loyal
sentiments could bear scrutiny.16 They are, too, an af®rmation of
hierarchy rather than a negation of it. In their articulation of the
distance between addresser and addressee, they make few overt
claims to greater wisdom than the monarch, yet they exploit to the
full the counsellor's privilege of sugared persuasion.
In the two following chapters, which are chronologically arranged,
some emphases may seem unfamiliar. This is partly because any
map of Catholic writing on loyalism must have different contours
from one which plots Protestant loyalism ± or what is often the same
thing, Protestant writings about Catholic disloyalty. Occasionally ±
as with the execution of Mary Stuart ± Catholic denigrators of
Elizabeth, Catholic loyalists and Protestant polemicists were all
imaginatively captivated by the same incident, if to different effect.
But viewed from the Catholic perspective, the defeat of the Armada
in 1588, or the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, cease to be
landmarks and become embarrassments: sometimes written about
from motives of dissociation, mostly ignored. Because loyalists were
concerned to stress ecumenical possibilities and reasons for Catholic
toleration, the monsters on the map are fewer, yet still oddly
recognisable; in the only extended study of Catholic loyalism to date,
Arnold Pritchard rightly emphasizes how the myth of the evil Jesuit
was as much a Catholic Appellant creation as a Protestant.17
116 Loyalism and exclusion
A complete map would have to concentrate on non-imaginative
genres, because major intellectual contributions to political theory
are not, on the whole, couched in the form of poetry, drama or
sustained allegory. But the subject-matter of this chapter is some-
thing that, by the nature of things, occurs more spasmodically: the
use of imaginative genres to advertise the writer's loyalism, or
explore conscientious issues pertaining to the topic. Tests of loyalism
often depended on the ef®cacy of detecting potential disloyalty by
means of hypothetical cases. As with other controversial questions,
answers could be pre-prepared in a manner that would have been
particularly useful in oral debate. Catholic notebooks and archives
commonly have sheets of questions and answers which could have
been used for memorisation as well as reference, and whenever a
hypothetical question demanded an answer which was not among
those commonly anticipated, educated Catholics would have had
access to a number of casuistical authorities from which to synthesize
a reply. But they would also have had to undertake acts of
imaginative projection, which have obvious implications for ®ction-

mary stuart: saint and provocation
Hope stimulated imaginative projection; and for Elizabethan
England, no monarch focused Catholic hope more effectively than
Mary Stuart. Of the seventeen-year period between her deposition
from the Scottish throne and her execution, when she was held
captive in England, Michael Lynch has said that she `became a
virtual Catholic icon to the exiled Catholic communities abroad,
both Scottish and English'. Long before she became a Catholic
martyr, her confessional captivity was held to be exemplary, and
pictures of her were commissioned.18 Most Catholics probably
accepted that she was heir to the English throne, though it was
crucially important not to articulate the implications of this; promi-
nent loyalist though he was, Thomas Tresham supported the claim
in his private writings. Sir Arthur Champernoun, a correspondent of
Robert Cecil's, reported meeting a group of gentlemen in the
provinces who protested their loyalty to Elizabeth, but were banded
together to take action to secure a Catholic successor in the event of
her death.19 It was an equilibrium shared by many. Most Catholics
would have had no conscientious dif®culty with practical anticipa-
Catholic loyalism: I. Elizabethan writers 117
tion of Elizabeth's death, many made no secret of hoping for it, and
both Allen and Persons supported anti-English initiatives in Europe
± but only extremists took independent action against the Queen
with the intention of deposing or assassinating her, and placing
Mary on the throne.
Some of these conspiracies are well-known ± the rising of the
Northern Earls in 1569, the Ridol® Plot of 1571 and the Babington
Conspiracy that provoked Elizabeth to order Mary's execution ±
and in some, Mary was undoubtedly implicated. Yet there were
others at which she expressed a grieved surprise that was probably
genuine.20 Among these was the plot concocted by William Parry,
which came to light in late 1584.21 A distinctive feature of this plot
was Parry's claim that he had papal approval to assassinate Eliza-
beth, and Thomas Tresham may have been behind a petition drawn
up shortly afterwards which repudiated Parry and all his accom-
plices, professing fervent loyalty to Elizabeth and denying that the
pope or a cardinal could authorise anyone to commit regicide.22
Another Catholic or pro-Catholic loyalist went further, and ex-
pressed his dismay in versi®ed narrative. In the Bodleian there
survives a poem in poulter's measure, apparently written shortly
after Parry's execution on 2 March 1585, and entitled `The Seven-
teenth of November'.23 The title gives the date of Elizabeth's
accession: traditionally a time for anti-Catholic activity,24 which
makes its appropriation by a Catholic author all the more striking.
Only Book 2 survives, which begins by an entirely apocryphal
episode in Parry's story: perhaps suggested by rumour, but more
probably invented to satirise pro-Spanish sympathies among English
Jesuits. Lamenting Rome's defeat at the hands of Elizabeth and his
own loss of temporal power, the pope conceives the idea of subduing
England with the ®nancial backing of Spain;25 and on a trip to the
Spanish court, he points out to Philip II that in the days of Mary I,
the Spanish monarchy used to rule Britain.

They make their moane to you most able for your might
most readdy for the loue you beare unto the redcrosse knight.
In their late mistris dayes they held you for their kinge.
Your absence of your owne accord the chang of rule did bring.
It was agaynst their vowes a successour to beare
when you so kynd so catholique in full possession were.
O take them into grace and winne them for your owne
that vowe themselves and all is theirs to you their Lord alone. (f.3b)
118 Loyalism and exclusion
Striking a Habsburg pose, his `chin thrust out w[i]th hanging lipp
and look raysd up on hye' (f.3b), Philip confesses some responsibility
for England's state, resolves to do what he can and cultivates a few
Jesuits. Up to this point, there is hardly anything in the poem which
could not have been written by an anti-Catholic author.
But though the writer is so critical of the papacy's claim to
temporal power, his pro-Catholic loyalist sympathies become clearer
in succeeding passages. He is emphatically anti-Jesuit, describing
them as `fretting wormes of Christendome' (f.10a) who only infuriate
a government which has tried to deal kindly with recusants.
They may not lewdly doe and say they suffer wronge
Who treason plott must feele ye paines yt therunto belonge.
Nor will their orders chardge ought lessen their offence.
w[i]th subjects duty to ye Prince noe Canon may dispence.
It is no cruelty to use the former lawes
longe falne asleepe or make moe new on new arysing cause. (f.10a)

Jesuits forsook their country, yet are now trying to stage an
aggressive return, with double ®lial disloyalty to the State: they `hold
it nowe nor sinne nor shame yer Countrys wombe to perce', yet she
`remaynes a mother still most easy, kynd and myld' (f.10a). Finally
Jesuit activities overcome her extreme reluctance to take action, and
the writer re¯ects on the dashed hopes of Catholic eirenicists with
bitter irony.
But nowe the State perceaves what she was loth to caste,
to give such crimes abortive birth she is compelde at laste.
Yet never man diseasd w[i]th putrifying sore
that hastened to corrupt the rest of members sound before
more hardly could be drawne to sawe the rotten part
then she was brought to prune the boughes yt hazarded the hart . . .
Let others holde their waye to winne and reconcile
and w[i]th their praiers assist those heads that labour it the while,
The Pylots of the Churche that knowe what Rocks to shunn,
and howe to shape the safest course have happely begunn. (ff.11a, 12a)
Parry is selected as the tool of the conspirators, and having
insinuated himself into the court,26 he plots the assassination of
Elizabeth. This gives the poet an opportunity to display his ideolo-
gical dissociation from both Spanish and papal forces.
He [Parry] reades and reades agayne the Cardinall Comoes letter 27
Wherin for this most holy deed the Pope becomes his debter.
Call you it holynesse by treason to procure
Catholic loyalism: I. Elizabethan writers 119
the fate untymely of a Queene, yt else might longe indure?
Or were your skarlett hatts not redd enough and deepe
but in the warme blood of a Prince you let them lye in steepe? (f.15a)
On two occasions Parry fails to nerve himself up to the deed, and
so tries a different set of tactics; he seeks out the impecunious noble
Edmund Nevell, and persuades him into discontent and revengeful
feelings. Nevertheless, Nevell demurs when Parry sets out the plan.
[Parry] reades him Allens booke28 wherin to myndes preparde
ech sentence for a warrant serves & yet ye gallant sparde
to showe howe weake himself found all those meanes to be.
He names of all sortes of Divynes yt in this poynt agree:
then how dispenced from Rome; by whom perswaded to it,
then after he were knowne in Court how easely thei may doe it.
But Nevell drives him of as not resolved yet
W[hi]ch castes poore Parry into rage & many a fearefull ®tt. (f.18a)
`Myndes preparde' is a direct quotation from the of®cial account
of Parry's trial, and is noticed by the anonymous author of the moral
re¯ections at the end of this tract.
D Allens booke redoubled his former conceites, every word was a warrant to a prepared
mind. See how the smoothe words of that Catholique booke are enterpreted
and conceived. One spirite occupieth the Catholique reader with the
Catholique writer, and therefore can best expound the writers sence in his
readers mouth, even to bee a booke fraughte with emphaticall speaches of
energeticall perswasion to kill and depose her Majestie, and yet doeth the
hypocrite writer, that traitor Catholique, dissemble and protest otherwise.
(p. 50)
The alarmed Nevell betrays Parry and Parry is questioned,
denying everything even when Nevell says it to his face; but he
subsequently confesses in the Tower, pleads guilty and is executed.
And as he vaynly lived so in a vayne he dyes
confesseth all the proofes for true but purpose he denyes . . .
The praise be sent to him [i.e. God] w[i]th her the safety rest;
the comfort dwell amonge us longe, the greife possesse their brest
that sett his handes on woorke and make it all their joye
to haste that lamentable day yt bringeth our annoye. (ff.19b, 20a)
Prepared minds, alert to subversive meanings half-concealed by
the smooth words of loyalist discourse, would not have belonged
only to Catholics at the time of Mary Stuart's own execution in 1587.
The horror of many English and Scottish Catholics was echoed by
those English Protestants who deplored Mary's religious beliefs, but
120 Loyalism and exclusion
were alarmed at the precedent for executing a prince that had now
been set. Sir John Harington's famous epigram on the topic would
have appealed to both persuasions, and its commonness in manu-
script probably testi®es to a widespread, religiously diverse sympathy
for Mary Stuart: appropriately enough, for the work of an author
who favoured religious toleration and liked to keep his own confes-
sional allegiance ambiguous.29
When doome of Peeres & Judges fore-appointed,
By racking lawes beyond all reach of reason,
Had unto death condemn'd a Queene anointed,
And found, (oh strange!) without allegeance, treason,
The Axe that should have done that execution,
Shunn'd to cut off a head that had been crowned,
Our hangman lost his wonted resolution,
To quell a Queene of nobles so renowned.
Ah, is remorse in hangmen and in steele,
When Peeres and Judges no remorse can feele?
Grant Lord, that in this noble Ile, a Queene
Without a head, may never more be seene.30

This is a piece that achieves its effect not by forswearing loyalist
tropes, but by exaggerating them. As often with writing that strains
at the boundaries of loyalism, great emphasis is placed on the
respect due to monarchy itself, and thus to other monarchs; the
reader is reminded of Mary Stuart's status as an anointed queen,
who, arguably, is unable to commit treason against another
monarch. Harington calls the judges' decision `strange', and implies
that it was mistaken; without saying that the law was broken, he
asserts that it was tortured. The convention of blaming a monarch's
subordinates for misgovernment is negated by the very perfunctori-
ness of its application; as he points out in the ®rst line, the judges at
the trial were `fore-appointed' by the Queen.31 Though Harington
refrains from voicing the conclusion that Elizabeth was wrong to
issue the warrant for Mary's execution, he compels the reader to
observe his reluctant act of refraining. And, as in the next chapter,
admissions of allegiance due to a prince are quali®ed by the
assumptions of gender-hierarchy; the end of the poem can be taken
either as a simple plea that the situation should never occur again, or
a neatly contemptuous prayer that all female monarchs may hence-
forward be subdued by a husband.
Harington uses a miraculous formula from martyr-narrative, the
Catholic loyalism: I. Elizabethan writers 121
axe's supposed reluctance to sever Mary Stuart's neck,32 to re®ne his
condemnation of the trial itself; but many Catholic writers reversed
his priorities, reporting the dubieties of the trial in order to claim
Mary as an instant martyr for the faith. Her fall was pamphleted,
versi®ed and dramatised across mainland Europe by Frenchmen and
other Continental writers, and by exiled Englishmen and Scotsmen,
in all major European languages.33 But though the majority of these
writings are hagiographical, many are not. Two Scots authors,
Adam Blackwood and George Buchanan, demonstrate that nation-
ality is less of an ideological predictor than the geographical location
of a writer. The expatriate Blackwood, based in France, is best-
remembered for dubbing Elizabeth a heretical she-wolf in De
Jezebelis Angliae Parricido, a much-anthologised Latin poem written in
the hopes of arousing European indignation and stimulating Henri
III to revenge; but Buchanan's writings on the topic, especially Ane
Detectioun of the Duinges of Marie Quene of Scottes [1571], commissioned
by the Scottish government, conclude a process of dissociation that
had begun in Scotland when Mary was deposed.34
Blackwood's position has analogues in the bitterest of English
Catholic accounts of the Reformation, Nicholas Sander's De Origine
ac Progressu Schismatis Anglicani, and in the more populist polemic of
Richard Verstegan; but they should not be taken as speaking for all
Catholics. Many Catholics acknowledged Mary as martyr, yet
intended no politicised reproach; Robert Southwell was a Jesuit, yet
his poem on the execution of Mary, `Dum morior orior', hardly
bears out the association that both Catholics and Protestants often
made between Jesuitism and professed disloyalty. The famous line
`Once Mary called, my name now Martyr is', clearly rendered the
poem subversive enough for Mary's name to be suppressed in some
manuscripts, such as that in Lambeth Palace Library.35 But this may
have been due merely to its subject, not the treatment of the subject.
The poem's emphases are heavenly, spiralling around the martyrolo-
gical paradox that Mary's triumph lies in her death. Mary herself is
the speaker, but from a position of immortal objectivity; and this
®xed gaze on eternal good has the effect of minimising, even
trivialising, the temporal inexpediency of her death to Catholics.
Alive a Queene, now dead I am a Sainte,
Once N: calld, my name nowe Martyr is,
From earthly raigne debarred by restraint,
In liew whereof I raigne in heavenly blisse. . . .
122 Loyalism and exclusion

A prince by birth, a prisoner by mishappe,
From Crowne to crosse, from throne to thrall I fell,
My right my ruthe, my titles wrought my trapp,
My weale my woe, my worldly heaven my hell.
By death from prisoner to a prince enhaunc'd,
From Crosse to Crowne, from thrall to throne againe,
My ruth my right, my trapp my stile advaunc'd,
From woe to weale, from hell to heavenly raigne.(ll. 13±16, 29±36)
Nor was Mary even necessarily a Catholic heroine. Writing in the
1620s, the anonymous Catholic author of a life of Mary Stuart uses
his introduction to deplore what his co-religionists have said. `I
beseech my Reader to beleive that never History was more falsy®ed
by partial Hereticks . . . to decry a poor Princess. it [sic] passed so
far; that some Catholicks, either ignorant, or negligent, taking not
the pains to read, and examine reasons, have resigned themselves
over to an indifferent belief of all the defamatory Libells of the
Enemies of our Religion, as if one should creditt the history of Jesus
Christ compiled from the relations of the Scribes and Pharisees.' 36

in praise of elizabeth: sonnets, imprese
and catholic moderation
One verse-miscellany, compiled by a Catholic, nevertheless includes
a complaint voiced by a spectral Mary Stuart, acknowledging her
own faults and extolling Elizabeth I's magnanimity.37 It illustrates a
common bias of the historical complaint: though giving a voice to
the defeated, it tends to reinforce the status quo by articulating the
repentance of erstwhile conspirators. As a natural consequence, the
genre overlaps with royal panegyric. The next two writers to be
discussed, Henry Constable and Thomas Wright, were Catholics
who wrote in genres even more directly assimilable to the praise of
Elizabeth: the Petrarchan sonnet, and the versi®ed devices of the
Accession Day tilt.
Something of Constable's activity has already been described, and
from that, it will be clear that his use of genre needs ± against the
grain of much current criticism ± to be interpreted in autobiographi-
cal or, at the very least, autodidactic terms. His editor has said of
him: `His life itself reproduces some of the symmetrical patterns he
loved to employ in his verse; in this respect, as in his idealism and his
Catholic loyalism: I. Elizabethan writers 123
obedience to his two ruling passions, patriotism and religion, it could
truly be described as his ``best piece of poetrie'' '.38 The Italian
sonnet-form which Constable used for all his poems was traditionally
employed to marry emotional contradictions: beauty and cruelty,
love and death, freezing and burning, reward and punishment.
Where the female addressee was Elizabeth, or, later, the Queen of
Heaven, Constable used its conventions to express how his loyalties
were divided between the Catholic religion and the demands of the
As a Catholic convert, and a lifelong ecumenist on both sides of
the religious divide, Constable had ample opportunity to interna-
lise the techniques and contradictions of mediation. During his
early career, he acted as spokesman in Paris for the Protestant
cause, and wrote a controversial pamphlet, circulated in manu-
script, answering the argument that Elizabeth's Catholic subjects
owed her no allegiance since her excommunication.39 His best-
known pamphlet is a plea for toleration of the Huguenots, Examen
Paci®que de la Doctrine des Huguenots, published anonymously in Paris
in 1589 and later translated into English as The Catholike Mod-
erator.40 Constable also converted in 1589, though he only fully
admitted it in 1591. After his conversion Constable was involved in
attempts to convert James I to Catholicism, supporting his claims
to the succession in a pamphlet attacking Robert Persons, but the
surviving verse only yields evidence on two fronts: Constable's
perception of how a poet should conduct himself towards princes
in general, and poetic emotion directed towards the person of
Elizabeth. Constable's most sustained period of acting as courtier
seems to have been during the period 1588±9, directly ± and
perhaps not coincidentally ± before his conversion. His degree of
real intimacy with Elizabeth must remain speculative, though he is
referred to as `Favorito de la Regina' in a contemporary account
of his conversion; it is not in doubt that he used his favourite
genre, the sonnet, to express and encode the dubieties of Catholic
loyalism in love-poetry.
Though Constable's sonnets to Elizabeth and the Virgin Mary
have attracted most critical attention in a loyalist context, they are
not the only instances of his blending of the two, judicious both in
con¯ation and in separation. Another example, more enigmatic
than any of these, is his sonnet to Mary Talbot, Countess of
124 Loyalism and exclusion
Playnlie I write because I will write true
If ever Marie but the Virgin were
Meete in the realme of heaven a crowne to beare
I as my creed believe that it is yow.
And soe the world this Ile and age shall rue
The bloud and ®re was shed and kindled heere
When woemen of youre name the croune did beare
And youre high worth not crownd with honour due (ll. 1±8)

This is, perhaps, one of the most disingenuous beginnings ever
given to a sonnet. Constable might have been writing as truthfully as
he claims, and his homage to the Countess of Shrewsbury is
unambiguous, just as a compliment needs to be; yet the scrupulous
double-entendre invites the reader to speculate on Constable's own
confessional sympathies, without ultimately making it clear what
they are. The line `I as my creed believe that it is yow' authenticates
his admiration for the Countess; but, gratuitously raising the ques-
tion of Constable's creed, it redirects the reader to the unresolved
theological crux in the previous lines. The doctrine of the Assump-
tion and Coronation of the Virgin was traditional rather than
biblical, and though most Protestants would have agreed with
Catholics that the Virgin Mary was `meete' to wear a crown in
heaven, most too ± especially pre-Laud ± would have denied that she
did so already.41 The Countess was herself a Catholic, and part of
the compliment is that the poem can be read in a pro-Catholic light;
yet Constable himself may not have been writing as a Catholic, and
may have deliberately directed the poem towards an audience larger
than merely his addressee.42
The lines praise Mary Talbot and leave open the possibility of
many different levels of admiration for the Virgin; but the two are,
audaciously, pitted against two earthly monarchs. In lines 5±8,
Constable regrets the upsurges of militant Protestantism during the
reigns of Mary I in England and Mary Stuart in Scotland; and the
reference to ®re goes further, strongly suggesting that he believes the
Marian martyrdoms should never have happened. Mary Talbot, he
suggests, deserves a crown more than the two queens in whose reign
the atrocities were committed, who have brought the sacred name of
Mary into disrepute. Both queens, for different reasons, could
certainly have been disapproved of by Elizabethan Catholic loyalists
± Mary Stuart had allowed herself to be associated with plots against
Elizabeth, while Mary I had married Philip of Spain43 ± but all the
Catholic loyalism: I. Elizabethan writers 125
same, these very critical references de¯ect the reader's attention
away from the suspicions of pro-Catholicism aroused by the ®rst
quatrain. The ending of the sonnet does not resolve matters: with
the term `sacred' it elaborates the initial comparison between Mary
Talbot and the Virgin, and it opposes Mary Talbot's incandescent
gaze to the cruel burnings in¯icted by Mary I, but as far as his own
religious sympathies go, Constable becomes no more explicit. One is
meant to take more seriously than usual the religious language so
ubiquitous in sonnets, but the reader is left to determine who God's
foes are, and who are to be identi®ed as His own people.
But god which meant for rebell fayth and sin
His foes to punish and his owne to trye
Would not youre sacred name imploy therein
For good and bad he would should yow adore
Which never any burnt but with youre eye
And maketh them yow punish love yow more (ll. 9±14)
This merging of earthly and heavenly queens continues in the
Constable's sonnets on the Virgin Mary; but many of those in the
group of four sonnets headed `To our blessed Lady' are not intended
to suggest hyperdulia so much as admonition to monarchs. As
Constable commented on his exile ± again to the Countess, in a
letter written around the end of 1591 ± he would `live contented
w[i]th how little soever I shall have' if he could never get permission
to return to England, `serving no other mistress but god Allmighty,
who I know will love me if I love him, & in whose company I can be
when I will';44 a conventional shift from love to religion which
contains a wholly autobiographical bitterness. In his holy sonnets,
the perfection of the Virgin is used as a reproach: not to mankind,
nor to women in general, but speci®cally to queens. In one sonnet,
he issues the general injunction `Cease then, O Queenes who earthly
crownes do weare / to glory in the pompe of worldly thynges'
(p. 185, ll. 9±10). Elsewhere, he uses Mary's queenship to accuse
himself of an overweening love for earthly monarchs; as Grundy
points out, this could also refer to Constable's lack of preferment by
James VI of Scotland and Henri IV of France, but Elizabeth remains
the monarch primarily suggested.45
Sovereigne of Queenes: If vayne Ambition move
my hart to seeke an earthly prynces grace:
shewe me thy sonne in his imperiall place,
whose servants reigne, our kynges & queenes above. (ll. 1±4)
126 Loyalism and exclusion
The brief shift into the conventions of love-poetry in the next
quatrain, and the equally sudden repudiation of them, demand to be
read as a formal means of expressing ®rst Constable's welcome into
the circle of Elizabeth's admirers, then his banishment from it on
becoming a Catholic; Constable was effectively exiled from England
until Elizabeth's death, one of the reasons why he was anxious to
conciliate James. The love-language which Elizabeth encouraged
from her admirers is transferred to another object, the Virgin Mary;
and the fact of its being a transference rather than a con¯ation is the
most de®nitively Catholic note of the poem, since Catholics must
have disliked the vocabulary of hyperdulia when employed for
And if alluryng passions I doe prove,
by pleasyng sighes: shewe me thy lovely face:
whose beames the Angells beuty do deface:
and even in¯ame the Seraphins with love. (ll. 5±8)

Constable concludes by a repeated af®rmation of his loyalty to
God and the Virgin, which overrules the disloyalty to the Crown
assumed by Protestants to be implicit in Catholicism ± and, within
the poem, in the Catholic practice of referring to the two in nearly-
equal terms. The tact of the sestet is in portraying earthly ambition,
and earthly love, as training for that to be found in the heavenly
court. Without that justi®cation, it would be vain; with it, and only
because of it, the English court is acceptable.
So by Ambition I shall humble bee:
when in the presence of the highest kynge
I serve all his, that he may honour mee.
And love, my hart to chaste desyres shall brynge,
when fayrest Queene lookes on me from her throne
and jealous byddes me love but her alone. (ll. 9±14)

The end of this sonnet is picked up in the beginning of the next,
where Mary's perfections diminish all other aspirants to her crown.
Why should I any love O queene but thee?
if favour past a thankfull love should breede?
thy wombe dyd beare, thy brest my saviour feede;
and thow dyddest never cease to succour me. (ll. 1±4)

Constable is unusual among Catholic loyalists in barbing his
praise of Elizabeth. At the other, pietistic extreme stands an
individual whom Constable may well have known: Thomas Wright,
Catholic loyalism: I. Elizabethan writers 127
a secular priest who was part of the Earl of Essex's entourage in the
mid-1590s, and in 1595 also emblematist to him for the Accession
Day Tilt.47 Much has already been written about these occasions,
held on 17 November during Elizabeth's reign, during which
courtiers jousted for the Queen's favour. The allegorical playlets
which accompanied entries into the ring, and the emblematic imprese
born by the knights, both invite decoding; and new historicists have
found them a perfect means of illustrating how the Elizabethan
court manipulated emblematics and mythological allusion for poli-
tical ends. They were often used to allegorise internecine rivalry at
court, yet, because of the nature of the Accession Day, these quarrels
were subsumed into an expression of unity. To quote Roy Strong,
they were part of `a great national festival . . . a day on which the
imperial cause triumphed over the papal'. 48 Of all occasions, they
seem the least likely to have been open to Catholic contribution; but
in the year 1595, this nearly happened. Among the papers of the Earl
of Essex's friend Anthony Bacon are a number of copies of designs
for imprese, dated that year and endorsed as originating from
Wright was, admittedly, already conspicuous for his loyalism.50
Through the early 1590s he had consistently disagreed with the pro-
Spanish policies of the Society of Jesus, and had written a tract
insisting that English Catholics should pursue a constant policy of
submission to the Crown and opposition to all forms of outside
domination, papal or not. Just before his trip to England in June
1595 he broke with the Society and entered the country as a secular
priest under the guardianship of the Earl of Essex. It was a very
public, totally unprecedented way of joining the English mission,
and it indicates how the missioners' usual means of entering
England had acquired connotations of disloyalty to the Crown.
Essex would have been an obvious protector, since he was known to
favour toleration towards Catholic loyalists and had previously
supported a number of individual Catholics. His political sympathy
for them found a response in a number of cultural pointers:51 it has
been argued, for instance, that there is an association between the
madrigal, practised by a number of Catholic composers, and the
rises and falls of Essex's reputation.52
Paul Hammer has commented that Essex's secretaries `employed
not only their scribal skills, but also their erudition and their literary
talents . . . to advance Essex's interests', and this can be extended to
128 Loyalism and exclusion
the Earl's clients; there were several reasons why Essex's protection
of Catholics like Wright was not entirely disinterested. During his
period in Essex's entourage, Wright is known to have supplied his
protector with anti-Spanish intelligence; and Essex's exploitation of
Wright's emblematic gifts argues, at least, the projected idea of a
mutually bene®cial relationship. Essex gained a new iconography of
royal servitude, while Wright was seen to be engaged upon a task
that spoke well for the pro-monarchical ®delity of English Catholics;
and given the capacity of the impresa to conceal a double meaning,
Essex's trust argues that he believed Wright would incorporate no
elements of subversive papalism into his designs.
As scholars have increasingly come to recognise, Essex's jousting
was no frivolity but a crucial part of his political career;53 and
Wright's designs seem to have been attended to in Essex's circle
generally. The imprese survive in multiple copies of three texts, two of
which seem to have been written before the Accession Day Tilt, and
the other afterwards as a commentary on it.54 Of these texts, the ®rst
has Essex as addressee. A picture of the world is used to praise his
person, wisdom and `martiall facts' in France, Flanders and Lisbon;
and another of an eagle suggests his ability to soar above the `Dartes
& boultes' shot by those envious of his glorious fortune. Other
devices suggest courses of future action: for instance, a rainbow's
connotations of peace are employed to suggest that Essex might
usefully act as peacemaker for both England and Europe. The verse
refers to Britain's old enemy Spain, but also gives a snapshot of the
Wars of Religion as they were in late 1595, when France's declaration
of war against Spain had been published and Spain was considering
an invasion of northern France.
Iberus55 force w[i]th Albio[n] doth contend:
Religions haughtie ensignes are displaide
The furious frenche will scarce to peace descend
when shall a fatall league w[i]th all be maid?56
Ah peace, & truce unfained we shall see
yf they would know thy noble curtesye.57

The second set of Wright's imprese are headed as addressed to
Elizabeth, and they may be simply a set of commendatory emblems
addressed directly to her by Wright. But given the date of their
endorsement they seem much more likely to be a form of indirect
address to the Queen: in other words, Wright's suggestions for
Catholic loyalism: I. Elizabethan writers 129
imprese to be borne by Essex at the Accession Day tilts. They consist
of directions for a picture with a motto and a verse of explanation,
both of which are in Latin, and there are eleven in all:58 (1) a lioness
with one of her paws lifted above her head, with an eagle ¯ying
nearby, captioned Accedit no[n] laedit (He approaches and does not
harm); (2) sunbeams passing through a hollow glass directed towards
England, captioned Feci faciam (I have done, I may do); (3) a dolphin
in a golden bridle and crowned with a rose-garland, captioned
Dominaris utrique (You may rule by both means); (4) the Zodiac-signs
Leo and Virgo accompanied by fruitful vines, olive trees and a sheaf
of corn, captioned with astrological signs and Elizabeth Deus saturitatis
(Elizabeth, god of plenty);59 (5) a loadstone being hammered on an
anvil, captioned Ut fortior appareat (Thus it may show itself stronger);
(6) a broken hourglass, and a scythe almost broken, with a glory
above, captioned Frangendo fabricas (In breaking you make); (7)
sunbeams passing through a glass and beating on a lily, captioned
Candor illaesus (Unharmed purity); (8) a sundial with sunbeams
beating on it, captioned Mutatur mane[n]s (It changes, staying the
same); (9) a lion60 tearing apart a masked wolf with one paw and
cradling a baby in the other, captioned Uterq[ue] utriq[ue] (Either to
either); (10) a chariot containing three crowns and three sceptres,
drawn by a lion, a mermaid, a hart and a unicorn, and captioned
Quis cursus securior? (What journey is more secure?); and (11), a buffalo
frightened by a red rose and an elephant frightened by a lily,
captioned Omnia virtus or Utrinq[ue] pavor (Virtue is everything; fear in
both cases).
These imprese may have been undertaken at Essex's suggestion, or
they may have been unsolicited, simply a means of winning favour
with his protector. But the fact of their quasi-of®cial preservation in
the Bacon papers, and the number of copies that survive, suggest
that they were read and seriously considered for the day. Though
Essex could have born only one impresa,61 eleven alternative imprese
equalled eleven possible political identities for the following year.
The act of choice was replete with signi®cance, since it announced
Essex's priorities to the public audience at the tilts; but these multiple
copies suggest that even those imprese that were eventually discarded
were ®rst shown round Essex's coterie and copied; and this in turn
may indicate that some kind of communal decision was sought on
Essex's strategies of self-presentation. The running-order of the
imprese may have been signi®cant, but easier to quantify are the
130 Loyalism and exclusion
signi®cance of individual images and the cumulative effect of iterated
ones. Several images recur ± the royal lion, and the sunbeams of
Divine regard. Several concepts, notably purity, are given a number
of different iconographical realizations: the burning-glass, the Virgin
of the zodiac. Some of these convey general moral messages, the
tone of which is usually evident from the mottoes quoted above;
others, like the chariot able to travel by land, by sea and through
poison and traps, represent Elizabeth's imperial omnipotence.62 But
some are more particularised. It was a period when Essex was out of
favour, and it is not surprising that some images, like the shattered
hourglass and the loadstone on the anvil, seem intended to convey
his ability to serve Elizabeth despite past trials.
Yet others have a topical ¯avour. The hovering eagle in the ®rst
device is intended to designate the Habsburg threat of England's
continued skirmishes with Spain, speci®cally the eviction of Spanish
troops from their last foothold on the shores opposite England at the
start of 1595;63 it is warded off by England's majestic lioness, and the
explanation reads Hesperiae moles accedit64 ad Albion oras / Tangere vix
poterit, laedere qui poterit?65 (The trouble of Spain approaches the
shores of Albion; he was hardly able to touch them, so who could
harm them?) Other comments on foreign policy are included, of a
kind which seem to go beyond simple ¯attery and verge on the
programmatic. The bridled dolphin crowned with roses implies that
England is heir to territory within France, and the explanation reads
The dolphin is lord of the sea,66
no other is faster than him.
Rosy garlands discipline the land.
England is the power; under obligation to her
are the French kingdoms, the island of Ireland, the vast ocean.67

In the context of the time, this appears to be a large concession on
Essex's part; the various attempts in the autumn of 1595 to make
Elizabeth resume military support for the French were frustrated by
Elizabeth's determination to reclaim Calais for England in return, a
project which Essex himself tried and failed to alter. This verse
emphasizes Elizabeth's responsibility towards France; but if it repre-
sents Essex's own thoughts rather than Wright's, it is certainly a
change of direction. Perhaps the implications of heirship in the
®gure of the dolphin are a suggestion that though England is owed
Calais, there need be no hurry in pressing the claim; or perhaps, in
Catholic loyalism: I. Elizabethan writers 131
the context of an extravagant poetic assertion that the surrounding
lands and wide seas should all pay homage to Elizabeth, England's
particular claims on Calais are intended to seem as grandly ®ctional
as the rest.68
The inspiration of all these ideas must remain speculative.
Perhaps they originated with hopeful suggestions of Wright's, or
perhaps they were arrived at after discussion with Essex or his
advisors, revealing more about their current priorities than Wright's
own. But either way, Wright would have had a personal interest in
their conception and circulation. First and most obviously, these
imprese are extravagantly patriotic and pro-monarchical; though the
sentiments are ostensibly Essex's, the cause of Catholic loyalism
would have bene®ted from Wright's being recognised as the author.
There is no need to go beyond this and try to extract subversive
Catholic meanings from the texts; the whole intention of Wright's
career was to demonstrate that Catholicism did not necessarily
accompany subversion.
But a large puzzle remains: a considerable amount is known about
Essex's eventual presentation at the 1595 Accession Day tilts, and
none of it suggests that Wright's imprese were used. Essex appeared as
a knight poised between Love and Self-Love, with the ambassadors
of Self-Love ± a hermit, a soldier and a secretary ± trying unsuccess-
fully to woo him. Essex's squire spurns them, and dedicates his
master to a life of service to the Queen. Like some of Wright's
imprese, this allegorises Essex's absence from royal favour; a marginal
note to the speeches, directed to Essex, stressed how it was `the
Queen's unkind dealing which may persuade you to self love'. But
though each of the three characters embodied qualities associated
with the earl, the unsympathetic character of the secretary was
designed to suggest Essex's supreme rival, Robert Cecil; unlike
Wright's imprese, the emphasis of the piece is internal, domestic and
factional.69 It is hard to see how the two could have been combined;
and, indeed, they probably were not. A large quantity of evidence,
far more than usual for such events, has enabled scholars to
reconstruct the running-order of the presentation; and no imprese are
so much as mentioned.
Possibly Essex regarded his return to favour as so important that
wider concerns had to yield to it; possibly some of Essex's advisors
distrusted Wright and sponsored this allegory in order to supplant
Wright's own.70 But another explanation seems more powerful than
132 Loyalism and exclusion
either of these. The third of November had seen Essex's acute
temporary embarrassment at being the dedicatee of a book printed
abroad on the subject of the succession: the notorious Conference About
the Next Succession to the Crown of England, already referred to in this
chapter.71 Elizabeth forgave Essex almost instantly, but the sheer
length and insistence of this theatrical vow to the Queen suggests his
continued nervousness. This may explain why Wright's emblems
were not included; the Conference could only have exacerbated gossip
about Essex's crypto-popery, and this might have made him reluc-
tant to endorse even a Catholic loyalist in a public manner.72 But
this does not diminish the interest of Wright's accomplishment; and,
of course, he may also have been involved in the presentation that
®nally took place.73
Either way, Elizabeth was extremely unimpressed by the eventual
production. Rowland White records how at the end she swept off to
bed, saying `that if she had thought their had bene so moch said of
her, she wold not have bene their that Night'.74 This must have
delighted Cecil's faction;75 and it may have been soon after the
event, as a riposte to them, that Wright wrote a third, parodic set of
imprese, conceived as a pasquinade and aimed at Robert Cecil. They
comprise two texts, the imprese themselves and the separate, versi®ed
explanations. Cecil is portrayed as an indolent ass, a bloodthirsty
owl and a poisonous scorpion embracing Essex's bee, all with
connotations of misgovernment: the ass, for instance, eats up a rope
of straw as fast as a maiden ± Elizabeth ± weaves it, with the rhyme
The careful wenche bothe night and day
Dothe labour to conserve
Hir Kingedom, but this lazie Asse
Dothe make it all to sterve.76

The identi®cation is clinched by the ending: `And so pasquin who
had raved all this in a trans awoke & wished he could change his
heles fearing they would not serve to ru[n]ne away not daring tary
for ye pretending upright Secretary his pas[s]port for post horses.'77
This alludes to the point in Essex's entertainment where a postboy
rode in on a worn-out horse with a packet of letters, which he passed
to the Secretary and the Secretary to Essex; the message is that no
minion of Essex's can hope for aid from Cecil. 78 Wright himself had
no cause to be friendly to Cecil, since earlier in the year Cecil had
challenged Wright's intelligence on Spanish activities; but more
Catholic loyalism: I. Elizabethan writers 133
generally, the pasquinade's concern for the safety of the kingdom
would have had the effect of stressing Wright's own unimpeachable
loyalism. If Cecil himself knew about it, this would certainly help to
explain his later imprisonment of Wright after Essex's ®nal fall from
favour.79 This is the last evidence of Wright's emblematic activity
that survives, and may denote the period of Wright's greatest
ascendancy in Essex's favour. His fortunes ebbed as Essex's did, and
Essex became less and less able to help him. But, even when thrown
into jail at Cecil's behest in the late 1590s, Wright continued to
furnish Essex with foreign intelligence; perhaps, too, he may have
supplied him with more imprese.

allegory and petition: loyalist writing, 1595 ± 1603
For reasons other than the Tilt, 1595 was a signi®cant year in the
chronicles of Catholic loyalism. Wisbech Castle, which had been
used as a prison for prominent Catholics since 1579, has given its
name to a series of skirmishes known as the Wisbech Stirs. Firstly
in 1587, and most divisively in 1594±5, the Stirs anticipated a feud
between regular and secular clergy which was to continue, in
various metamorphoses, well into the seventeenth century. The
matters of immediate controversy were various. In 1598, the
appointment of George Blackwell as archpriest to oversee the
secular priests in England offended those priests, since he was felt
to be too pro-Jesuit; while the controversy over Richard Smith, who
took up the succeeding of®ce of Vicar Apostolic in 1625, stemmed
largely from the unwillingness of the regular clergy to be funded via
the archdeaconry he had appointed, rather than by direct patron-
client arrangements. But the common factor to all these quarrels ±
apart from loquacious pamphlet-feuding ± is the fear that adminis-
trative power would become the monopoly of one side or the other,
through the mis-apportionment of ecclesiastical authority. Nearly as
common ± among the secular clergy, at least ± was hostile myth-
making about Jesuits. Sometimes fairly and sometimes not, Jesuits
tended to be identi®ed with Spanish interests, and with a concern
to uphold the Pope's temporal power. As the natural counter-
balance to this polemical identi®cation, Catholic authors of anti-
Jesuit propaganda made a point of stressing their own loyalty to the
Among lay supporters of the Appellants, few were more outspoken
134 Loyalism and exclusion
than Anthony Copley.80 Like both Constable and Wright, Copley
expresses his Catholic loyalism by praising Elizabeth, but he goes
further than they do in hinting at the claims and possible con-
sequences of loyalty. His versi®ed allegory A Fig For Fortune (1596) is a
barely concealed plea for Catholic toleration, couched in terms of
hyperbolic praise, with an argument at once elaborate and trans-
parent. An `Elizian out-cast' (f.A4a) ranges through the desert of
af¯iction on his jade Melancholy and encounters a number of
characters. First comes Cato's ghost, the spirit of despair, who nearly
persuades him to suicide; then the spirit of Revenge exhorts him
towards treason; but ®nally he is mounted on the steed of Good
Desire and brought to Mount Sion. He is catechised by the hermit
Catechrysius and enters the Temple of Peace; but while the Sionites
are all worshipping, Doblessa ± or Fortune ± tries unsuccessfully to
besiege them.
Running through the piece is the common pun on `Elizabeth' and
`Elysium', which Jeffrey Kemp has described as expressing `Eng-
land's surprising potentiality'. 81 Here, its use is almost literalistic: not
quite a paradise for pagans, but certainly one for those not of the
true faith. Its delights and its limitations are both made clear, as the
Elizian ®nds when he tries to penetrate Mount Sion: `The Temple
gates were fower and this was it / Which none but Europe-spirits
might admit'. The porter has orders `t'admit in no Elizian' (p. 64)
until Catechrysius argues the case. But if admission is temporary
deracination, the Elizian is full of pious hopes for a remedy. During
the general thanksgiving for deliverance, the Grace of God hovers
over the congregation like a virgin, showering down roses, and the
Elizian thinks that this must be Elizabeth herself.
And still I call'd upon Elizas name
Thinking those Roses hers, that ®gure hers,
Untill such time as Catechrysius came
And pointing me unto his faithfull teares
(Teares of the zeale he bare t'Elizas name)
He told me No; she was an Esterne Dame.

The poem ends with the Elizian making his way back `Sollicited
with an especiall importune / Of home-ward zeale, and of Elizas
name, / Wherto I bend, and say; God blesse the same' (p. 74, vere 84).
Near the beginning, Cato's despairing ghost con®des to the
Catholic loyalism: I. Elizabethan writers 135
Whilom I was a man of Romes rejoyce
Whiles happy Fortune my estate uppropped:
But once when Caesar over-topped all,
Then (loe) this mid-night shape did me befall. (p. 2)

The midnight shape is to be read as any English Catholic who
places papal claims before monarchical. Given that Copley was
fervently anti-Jesuit, the portrait may be intended to cast a particular
slur on them; but it could be applied to any exile or hard-line
recusant with no respect for the Crown. The association of Cato


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