Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 246. LADY JANE GREY.

246. LADY JANE GREY.

            The twelfth day of February was beheaded the Lady Jane, to whom was sent Master Fecknam, alias Howman, from the queen, two days before her death, to commune with her, and to reduce her from the doctrine of Christ to Queen Mary's religion: the effect of which communication here followeth:

            Fecknam.--"Madam, I lament your heavy case; and yet I doubt not, but that you bear out this sorrow of yours with a constant and patient mind."

            Jane.--"You are welcome unto me, sir, if your coming be to give Christian exhortation. And as for my heavy case, I thank God, I do so little lament it, that rather I account the same for a more manifest declaration of God's favour toward me, than ever he showed me at any time before. And therefore there is no cause why either you, or others which bear me good will, should lament or be grieved with this my case, being a thing so profitable for my soul's health."

            Fecknam.--"I am here come to you at this present, sent from the queen and her council, to instruct you in the true doctrine of the right faith: although I have so great confidence in you, that I shall have, I trust, little need to travail with you much therein."

            Jane.--"Forsooth, I heartily thank the queen's Highness, which is not unmindful of her humble subject: and I hope, likewise, that you no less will do your duty therein both truly and faithfully, according to that you were sent for."

            Fecknam.--"What is then required of a Christian man?"

            Jane.--"That he should believe in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, three persons and one God."

            Fecknam.--"What? Is there nothing else to be required or looked for in a Christian, but to believe in him?"

            Jane.--"Yes, we must love him with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind, and our neighbour as ourself."

            Fecknam.--"Why? then faith justifieth not, nor saveth not."

            Jane.--"Yes verily, faith, as Paul saith, only justifieth."

            Fecknam.--"Why? St. Paul saith, If I have all faith without love, it is nothing."

            Jane.--"True it is; for how can I love him whom I trust not, or how can I trust him whom I love not? Faith and love go both together, and yet love is comprehended in faith."

            Fecknam.--"How shall we love our neighbour?"

            Jane.--"To love our neighbour is to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to give drink to the thirsty, and to do to him as we would do to ourselves."

            Fecknam.--"Why? then it is necessary unto salvation to do good works also, and it is not sufficient only to believe."

            Jane.--"I deny that, and I affirm that faith only saveth: but it is meet for a Christian, in token that he followeth his Master Christ, to do good works; yet may we not say that they profit to our salvation. For when we have done all, yet we be unprofitable servants, and faith only in Christ's blood saveth us."

            Fecknam.--"How many sacraments are there?"

            Jane.--"Two: the one the sacrament of baptism, and the other the sacrament of the Lord's supper."

            Fecknam.--"No, there are seven."

            Jane.--"By what Scripture find you that?"

            Fecknam.--"Well, we will talk of that hereafter. But what is signified by your two sacraments?"

            Jane.--"By the sacrament of baptism I am washed with water and regenerated by the Spirit, and that washing is a token to me that I am the child of God. The sacrament of the Lord's supper, offered unto me, is a sure seal and testimony that I am, by the blood of Christ, which he shed for me on the cross, made partaker of the everlasting kingdom."

            Fecknam." Why? what do you receive in that sacrament? Do you not receive the very body and blood of Christ?"

            Jane.--"No surely, I do not so believe. I think that at the supper I neither receive flesh nor blood, but bread and wine: which bread when it is broken, and the wine when it is drunken, put me in remembrance how that for my sins the body of Christ was broken, and his blood shed on the cross; and with that bread and wine I receive the benefits that come by the breaking of his body, and shedding of his blood, for our sins on the cross."

            Fecknam.--"Why, doth not Christ speak these words, Take, eat, this is my body? Require you any plainer words? Doth he not say, it is his body?"

            Jane.--"I grant he saith so; and so he saith, I am the vine, I am the door; but he is never the more for that the door or the vine. Doth not St. Paul say, He calleth things that are not, as though they were? God forbid that I should say, that I eat the very natural body and blood of Christ: for then either I should pluck away my redemption, or else there were two bodies, or two Christs. One body was tormented on the cross, and if they did eat another body, then had he two bodies: or if his body were eaten, then was it not broken upon the cross; or if it were broken upon the cross, it was not eaten of his disciples."

            Fecknam.--"Why, is it not as possible that Christ, by his power, could make his body both to be eaten and broken, and to be born of a virgin, as to walk upon the sea, having a body, and other suchlike miracles as he wrought by his power only?"

            Jane.--"Yes verily, if God would have done at his supper any miracle, he might have done so: but I say, that then he minded no work nor miracle, but only to break his body and shed his blood on the cross for our sins. But I pray you to answer me to this one question: Where was Christ when he said, Take, eat, this is my body? Was he not at the table, when he said so? He was at that time alive, and suffered not till the next day. What took he, but bread? what brake he, but bread? and what gave he, but bread? Look, what he took, he brake: and look, what he brake, he gave: and look, what he gave, they did eat: and yet all this while be himself was alive, and at supper before his disciples, or else they were deceived."

            Fecknam.--"You ground your faith upon such authors as say and unsay both in a breath; and not upon the church, to whom ye ought to give credit."

            Jane.--"No, I ground my faith on God's word, and not upon the church. For if the church be a good church, the faith of the church must be tried by God's word; and not God's word by the church, neither yet my faith. Shall I believe the church because of antiquity, or shall I give credit to the church that taketh away from me the half part of the Lord's supper, and will not let any man receive it in both kinds? which things, if they deny to us, then deny they to us part of our salvation. And I say, that it is an evil church, and not the spouse of Christ, but the spouse of the devil, that altereth the Lord's supper, and both taketh from it, and addeth to it. To that church, say I, God will add plagues; and from that church will he take their part out of the book of life. Do they learn that of St. Paul, when he ministered to the Corinthians in both kinds? Shall I believe this church? God forbid!"

            Fecknam." That was done for a good intent of the church, to avoid a heresy that sprang on it."

            Jane.--"Why, shall the church alter God's will and ordinance, for good intent? How did King Saul? The Lord God defend!"

            With these and such-like persuasions he would have had her lean to the church, but it would not be. There were many more things whereof they reasoned, but these were the chiefest.

            After this, Fecknam took his leave, saying, that he was sorry for her: "For I am sure," quoth he, "that we two shall never meet."

            Jane.--"True it is," said she, "that we shall never meet, except God turn your heart; for I am assured, unless you repent and turn to God, you are in an evil case. And I pray God, in the bowels of his mercy, to send you his Holy Spirit; for he hath given you his great gift of utterance, if it pleased him also to open the eyes of your heart."

 

A later of the Lady Jane, sent unto her father.

            "Father, although it hath pleased God to hasten my death by you, by whom my life should rather have been lengthened; yet can I so patiently take it, as I yield God more hearty thanks for shortening my woeful days, than if all the world had been given unto my possession, with life lengthened at my own will. And albeit I am well assured of your impatient dolours, redoubled manifold ways, both in bewailing your own woe, and especially, as I hear, my unfortunate state; yet, my dear father, (if I may without offence rejoice in my own mishaps,) meseems in this I may account myself blessed, that washing my hands with the innocency of my fact, my guiltless blood may cry before the Lord, Mercy to the innocent! And yet, though I must needs acknowledge, that being constrained, and, as you wot well enough, continually assayed, in taking upon me I seemed to consent, and therein grievously offended the queen and her laws: yet do I assuredly trust, that this my offence towards God is so much the less, (in that being in so royal estate as I was,) mine enforced honour blended never with mine innocent heart. And thus, good father, I have opened unto you the state wherein I at present stand; whose death at hand, although to you perhaps it may seem right woeful, to me there is nothing that can be more welcome, than from this vale of misery to aspire to that heavenly throne of all joy and pleasure with Christ our Saviour. In whose stedfast faith, (if it may be lawful for the daughter so to write to the father,) the Lord that hitherto hath strengthened you, so continue you, that at the last we may meet in heaven with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

            At what time her father was flourishing in freedom and prosperity in the time of King Edward, there belonged unto him a certain learned man,student and graduate of the university of Oxford; who, then, being chaplain to the said duke, and a sincere preacher (as he appeared) of the gospel, according to the doctrine of that time set forth and received, shortly after that the state of religion began to alter by Queen Mary, altered also in his profession with the time, and of a protestant became a friend and defender of the pope's proceedings. At whose sudden mutation and inconstant mutability, this Christian lady being not a little aggrieved, and most of all lamenting the dangerous state of his soul, in sliding so away for fear from the way of truth, writeth her mind unto him in a sharp and vehement letter: which, as it appeareth to proceed of an earnest and zealous heart, so would God it might take such effect with him, as to reduce him to repentance, and to take better hold again for the health and wealth of his own soul. The copy of the letter is this as followeth.

 

Another letter of the Lady Jane, to Master Harding, late chaplain to the duke of Suffolk, her father, and then fallen from the truth of God's most holy word.

            "So oft as I call to mind the dreadful and fearful saying of God, That he which layeth hold upon the plough, and looketh back, is not meet for the kingdom of heaven; and, on the other side, the comfortable words of our Saviour Christ to all those that, forsaking themselves, do follow him; I cannot but marvel at thee, and lament thy case, which seemed sometime to be the lively member of Christ, but now the deformed imp of the devil; sometime the beautiful temple of God, but now the stinking and filthy kennel of Satan; sometime the unspotted spouse of Christ, but now the unshamefaced paramour of antichrist; sometime my faithful brother, but now a stranger and apostate; sometime a stout Christian soldier, but now a cowardly runaway. Yea, when I consider these things, I cannot but speak to thee, and cry out upon thee, thou seed of Satan, and not of Judah, whom the devil hath deceived, the world hath beguiled, and the desire of life subverted, and made thee of a Christian an infidel. Wherefore hast thou taken the testament of the Lord in thy mouth? Wherefore hast thou preached the law and the will of God to others? Wherefore past thou instructed others to be strong in Christ, when thou thyself dost now so shamefully shrink, and so horribly abuse the testament and law of the Lord? when thou thyself preachest not to steal, yet most abominably stealest, not from men, but from God, and, committing most heinous sacrilege, robbest Christ thy Lord of his right members, thy body and soul; and choosest rather to live miserably with shame to the world, than to die, and gloriously with honour reign with Christ, in whom even in death is life? Why dost thou now show thyself most weak, when indeed thou oughtest to be most strong? The strength of a fort is unknown before the assault, but thou yieldest thy hold before any battery be made. O wretched and unhappy man, what art thou, but dust and ashes? and wilt thou resist thy Maker that fashioned thee and framed thee? Wilt thou now forsake Him, that called thee from the custom gathering among the Romish antichristians, to be an ambassador and messenger of his eternal word? He that first framed thee, and since thy first creation and birth preserved thee, nourished and kept thee, yea, and inspired thee with the spirit of knowledge, (I cannot say of grace,) shall he not now possess thee? Darest thou deliver up thyself to another, being not thine own, but his? How canst thou, having knowledge, or how darest thou, neglect the law of the Lord, and follow the vain traditions of men; and whereas thou hast been a public professor of his name, become now a defacer of his glory? Wilt thou refuse the true God, and worship the invention of man, the golden calf, the whore of Babylon, the Romish religion, the abominable idol, the most wicked mass? Wilt thou torment again, rend and tear the most precious body of our Saviour Christ, with thy bodily and fleshly teeth? Wilt thou take upon thee to offer up any sacrifice unto God for our sins, considering that Christ offered up himself, as Paul saith, upon the cross, a lively sacrifice once for all? Can neither the punishment of the Israelites, (which, for their idolatry, they so oft received,) nor the terrible threatenings of the prophets, nor the curses of God's own mouth, fear thee to honour any other god than him? Dost thou so regard him, that spared not his dear and only Son for thee, so diminishing, yea, utterly extinguishing his glory, that thou wilt attribute the praise and honour due unto him to the idols, which have mouths and speak not, eyes and see not, ears and hear not; which shall perish with them that made them?

            "What saith the prophet Baruch, where he recited the epistle of Jeremy, written to the captive Jews? Did he not forewarn them that in Babylon they should see gods of gold, silver, wood, and stone borne upon men's shoulders, to cast fear before the heathen? But be not ye afraid of them, saith Jeremy, nor do as other do. But when you see others worship them, say you in your hearts, It is thou, O Lord, that oughtest only to be worshipped; for, as for those gods, the carpenter framed them and polished them: yea, gilded be they, and laid over with silver and vain things, and cannot speak. He showeth, moreover, the abuse of their deckings, how the priests took off their ornaments, and apparelled their women withal: how one holdeth a sceptre, another a sword in his hand, and yet can they judge in no matter, nor defend themselves, much less any other, from either battle, or murder, nor yet from gnawing of worms, or any other evil thing. These, and such-like words, speaketh Jeremy unto them, whereby he proveth them to be but vain things, and no gods. And at last he concludeth thus: Confounded be all they that worship them. They were warned by Jeremy, and thou as Jeremy hast warned others, and art warned thyself by many Scriptures in many places. God saith, he is a jealous God, which will have all honour, glory, and worship given to him only. And Christ saith, in Luke iv., to Satan which tempted him, even to the same Beelzebub, the same devil, which hath prevailed against thee: It is written, saith he, Thou shalt honour the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

            "These, and such like, do prohibit thee and all Christians to worship any other god than that which was before all worlds, and laid the foundations both of heaven and earth. And wilt thou honour a detestable idol, invented by Romish popes, and the abominable college of crafty cardinals? Christ offered himself up once for all, and wilt thou offer him up again daily at thy pleasure?--But thou wilt say, thou doest it for a good intent. O sink of sin! O child of perdition! Dost thou dream therein of a good intent, where thy conscience beareth thee witness of God's threatened wrath against thee? How did Saul? who for that he disobeyed the word of the Lord for a good intent, was thrown from his worldly and temporal kingdom. Shalt thou, then, that dost deface God's honour, and rob him of his right, inherit the eternal and heavenly kingdom? Wilt thou, for a good intent, dishonour God, offend thy brother, and endanger thy soul, where-for Christ hath shed his most precious blood? Wilt thou, for a good intent, pluck Christ out of heaven, and make his death void, and deface the triumph of his cross by offering him up daily? Wilt thou, either for fear of death, or hope of life, deny and refuse thy God, who enriched thy poverty, healed thy infirmity, and yielded to thee his victory, if thou couldest have kept it? Dost thou not consider that the thread of thy life hangeth upon him that made thee, who can (as his will is) either twine it harder to last the longer, or untwine it again to break the sooner? Dost thou not then remember the saying of David, a notable king, to teach thee, a miserable wretch, in his hundred and fourth Psalm, where he saith thus: When thou takest away thy Spirit, O Lord, from men, they die and are turned again to their dust; but when thou lettest thy breath go forth, they shall be made, and thou shalt renew the face of the earth. Remember the saying of Christ in his gospel: Whosoever seeketh to save his life, shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, shall find it. And in the same place, Whosoever loveth father or mother above me, is not meet for me. He that will follow me, let him forsake himself and take up his cross, and follow me. What cross? the cross of infamy and shame, of misery and poverty, of affliction and persecution, for his name's sake. Let the oft falling of those heavenly showers pierce thy stony heart. Let the two-edged sword of God's holy word shear asunder the sinews of worldly respects, even to the very marrow of thy carnal heart, that thou mayest once again forsake thyself and embrace Christ. And, like as good subjects will not refuse to hazard all, in the defence of their earthly and temporal governor, so fly not like a white-livered milksop from the standing wherein thy chief Captain Christ hath set thee in array of this life. Fight manfully, come life, come death: the quarrel is God's, and undoubtedly the victory is ours.

            "But thou wilt say, 'I will not break unity.' What? not the unity of Satan and his members? not the unity of darkness, the agreement of antichrist and his adherents? Nay, thou deceivest thyself with a fond imagination of such a unity as is among the enemies of Christ. Were not the false prophets in a unity? Were not Joseph's brethren and Jacob's sons in a unity? Were not the heathen, as the Amalekites, the Perizzites, and Jebusites, in a unity? Were not the scribes and Pharisees in a unity? Doth not King David testify, Convenerunt in unum adversus Dominum? Yea, thieves, murderers, conspirators, have their unity. But what unity? Tully saith of amity, Amicitia non est, nisi inter bonos. But mark, my friend, (yea, friend, if thou be not God's enemy,) there is no unity but where Christ knitteth the knot among such as be his. Yea, be well assured, that where his truth is resident, there it is verified what he himself saith, Non veni mittere pacem in terram, sed gladium, &c., but to set one against another, the son against the father, and the daughter against the mother-in-law. Deceive not thyself, therefore, with the glittering and glorious name of Unity; for antichrist hath his unity, yet not in deed, but in name. The agreement of ill men is not a unity, but a conspiracy.

            "Thou hast heard some threatenings, some cursings, and some admonitions, out of the Scripture, to those that love themselves above Christ. Thou hast heard, also, the sharp and biting words to those that deny him for love of life. Saith he not, He that denieth me before men, I will deny him before my Father in heaven? And to the same effect writeth Paul: It is impossible, saith he, that they which were one lightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted of the good word of God, if they fall and slide away, crucifying to themselves the Son of God afresh, and making of him a mocking-stock, should he renewed again by repentance. And again, saith he, If we shall willingly sin, after we have received the knowledge of his truth, there is no oblation left for sin, but the terrible expectation of judgment, and fire which shall devour the adversaries. Thus St. Paul writeth, and this thou readest; and dost thou not quake and tremble?

            "Well, if these terrible and thundering threatenings cannot stir thee to cleave unto Christ, and forsake the world; yet let the sweet consolations and promises of the Scriptures, let the example of Christ and his apostles, [and of] holy martyrs and confessors, encourage thee to take faster hold of Christ. Hearken what he saith: Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you for my sake: rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you. Hear what Isaiah the prophet saith: Fear not the curse of men; be not afraid of their blasphemies; for worms and moths shall eat them up like cloth and wool: but my righteousness shall endure for ever, and my saving health from generation to generation. What art thou then, saith he, that fearest a mortal man, the child of man, which fadeth away like the flower, and forgettest the Lord that made thee, that spread out the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth? I am the Lord thy God, that made the sea to rage, and be still, whose name is the Lord of hosts: I shall put my word in thy mouth, and defend thee with the turning of a hand. And our Saviour Christ saith to his disciples, They shall accuse you, and bring you before princes and rulers, for my name's sake; and some of you they shall persecute and kill: but fear you not, saith he, nor care you what you shall say: for it is the Spirit of your Father that speaketh within you. Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Lay up treasure for yourselves, saith he, where no thief cometh, nor moth corrupteth. Fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but fear him that hath power to destroy both soul and body. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

            "Let these and such-like consolations, taken out of the Scriptures, strengthen you to God-ward: let not the examples of holy men and women go out of your mind, as Daniel and the rest of the prophets; of the three children; of Eleazar, that constant father; of the seven of the Maccabees' children; of Peter, Paul, Stephen, and other apostles and holy martyrs in the beginning of the church, as of good Simeo, archbishop of Solyma, and Zetrophone, with infinite others under Sapor, the king of the Persians and Indians, who contemned all torments devised by the tyrants, for their Saviour's sake. Return, return again into Christ's war, and, as becometh a faithful warrior, put on that armour that St. Paul teacheth to be most necessary for a Christian man. And, above all things, take to you the shield of faith, and be you provoked by Christ's own example to withstand the devil, to forsake the world, and to become a true and faithful member of his mystical body, who spared not his own body for our sins.

            "Throw down yourself with the fear of his threatened vengeance, for this so great and heinous an offence of apostacy: and comfort yourself, on the other part, with the mercy, blood, and promise of him that is ready to turn unto you, whensoever you turn unto him. Disdain not to come again with the lost son, seeing you have so wandered with him. Be not ashamed to turn again with him from the swill of strangers, to the delicates of your most benign and loving Father, acknowledging that you have sinned against heaven and earth: against heaven, by staining the glorious name of God, and causing his most sincere and pure word to be evil spoken of through you: against earth, by offending so many of your weak brethren, to whom you have been a stumbling-block through your sudden sliding. Be not abashed to come home again with Mary, and weep bitterly with Peter, not only with shedding the tears of your bodily eyes, but also pouring out the streams of your heart -- to wash away, out of the sight of God, the filth and mire of your offensive fall. Be not abashed to say with the publican, Lord he merciful unto me a sinner. Remember the horrible history of Julian of old, and the lamentable case of Spira of late, whose case, methinks, should be yet so green in your remembrance, that, being a thing of our time, you should fear the like inconvenience, seeing you are fallen into the like offence.

            Last of all, let the lively remembrance of the last day be always before your eyes, remembering the terror that such shall be in at that time, with the runagates and fugitives from Christ, which, setting more by the world than by heaven, more by their life than by him that gave them life, did shrink, yea, did clean fall away, from him that forsook not them: and, contrariwise, the inestimable joys prepared for them, that fearing no peril, nor dreading death, have manfully fought, and victoriously triumphed over all power of darkness, over hell, death, and damnation, through their most redoubted Captain, Christ, who now stretcheth out his arms to receive you, ready to fall upon your neck and kiss you, and, last of all, to feast you with the dainties and delicates of his own precious blood: which undoubtedly, if it might stand with his determinate purpose, he would not let to shed again, rather than you should he lost. To whom with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, be all honour, praise, and glory everlasting. Amen.

 

"Be constant, be constant; fear not for any pain:
Christ hath redeemed thee, and heaven is thy gain."

 

A letter written by the Lady Jane in the end of the New Testament in Greek, the which she sent unto her sister the Lady Katharine, the night before she suffered.

            "I have here sent you, good sister Katharine, a book, which, although it be not outwardly trimmed with gold, yet inwardly it is more worth than precious stones. It is the book, dear sister, of the law of the Lord. It is his testament and last will, which he bequeathed unto us wretches; which shall lead you to the path of eternal joy: and, if you with a good mind read it, and with an earnest mind do purpose to follow it, it shall bring you to an immortal and everlasting life. It shall teach you to live, and learn you to die. It shall win you more than you should have gained by the possession of your woeful father's lands. For as, if God had prospered him, you should have inherited his lands; so, if you apply diligently to this book, seeking to direct your life after it, you shall be an inheritor of such riches, as neither the covetous shall withdraw from you, neither thief shall steal, neither yet the moths corrupt. Desire with David, good sister, to understand the law of the Lord God. Live still to die, that you by death may purchase eternal life. And trust not that the tenderness of your age shall lengthen your life; for as soon (if God call) goeth the young as the old: and labour always to learn to die. Defy the world, deny the devil, and despise the flesh, and delight yourself only in the Lord. Be penitent for your sins, and yet despair not; be strong in faith, and yet presume not and desire, with St. Paul, to be dissolved and to be with Christ, with whom even in death there is life. Be like the good servant, and even at midnight be waking, lest, when death cometh and stealeth upon you as a thief in the night, you be, with the evil servant, found sleeping; and lest, for lack of oil, you be found like the five foolish women; and like him that had not on the wedding garment, and then ye be cast out from the marriage. Rejoice in Christ, as I do. Follow the steps of your Master Christ, and take up your cross: lay your sins on his back, and always embrace him. And as touching my death, rejoice as I do, good sister, that I shall be delivered of this corruption, and put on incorruption. For I am assured, that I shall, for losing of a mortal life, win an immortal life, the which I pray God grant you, and send you of his grace to live in his fear, and to die in the true Christian faith, from the which, (in God's name,) I exhort you, that you never swerve, neither for hope of life, nor for fear of death. For if you will deny his truth for to lengthen your life, God will deny you, and yet shorten your days. And if you will cleave unto him, he will prolong your days, to your comfort and his glory: to the which glory God bring me now, and you hereafter, when it pleaseth him to call you. Fare you well, good sister, and put your only trust in God, who only must help you."

            Here followeth a certain effectual prayer, made by the Lady Jane in the time of her trouble.

 

A prayer of the Lady Jane.

            "O Lord, thou God and Father of my life, hear me, poor and desolate woman, which flieth unto thee only, in all troubles and miseries. Thou, O Lord, art the only defender and deliverer of those that put their trust in thee: and therefore I, being defiled with sin, encumbered with affliction, unquieted with troubles, wrapped in cares, overwhelmed with miseries, vexed with temptations, and grievously tormented with the long imprisonment of this vile mass of clay, my sinful body, do come unto thee, O merciful Saviour, craving thy mercy and help, without the which so little hope of deliverance is left, that I may utterly despair of any liberty. Albeit it is expedient, that, seeing our life standeth upon trying, we should be visited sometime with some adversity, whereby we might both be tried whether we be of thy flock or no, and also know thee and ourselves the better: yet thou, that saidst thou wouldst not suffer us to be tempted above our power, be merciful unto me now, a miserable wretch, I beseech thee; who, with Solomon, do cry unto thee, humbly desiring thee, that I may neither be too much puffed up with prosperity, neither too much pressed down with adversity, lest I, being too full, should deny thee my God, or being too low brought, should despair, and blaspheme thee my Lord and Saviour.

            "O merciful God, consider my misery, best known unto thee; and be thou now unto me a strong tower of defence, I humbly require thee. Suffer me not to be tempted above my power, but either be thou a deliverer unto me out of this great misery, or else give me grace, patiently to hear thy heavy hand and sharp correction. It was thy right hand, that delivered the people of Israel out of the hands of Pharaoh, which for the space of four hundred years did oppress them, and keep them in bondage. Let it therefore, likewise, seem good to thy fatherly goodness, to deliver me, sorrowful wretch, (for whom thy Son Christ shed his precious blood on the cross,) out of this miserable captivity and bondage, wherein I am now. How long wilt thou be absent? for ever? O Lord, hast thou forgotten to be gracious, and hast thou shut up thy loving-kindness in displeasure? Wilt thou be no more entreated? Is thy mercy clean gone for ever, and thy promise come utterly to an end for evermore? Why dost thou make so long tarrying? Shall I despair of thy mercy, O God? Far be that from me. I am thy workmanship, created in Christ Jesus. Give me grace, therefore, to tarry thy leisure, and patiently to bear thy works, assuredly knowing, that as thou canst, so thou wilt, deliver me, when it shall please thee, nothing doubting or mistrusting thy goodness towards me; for thou knowest better what is good for me than I do: therefore do with me in all things what thou wilt, and plague me what way thou wilt. Only, in the mean time, arm me, I beseech thee, with thy armour, that I may stand fast, my loins being girded about with verity, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and shod with the shoes prepared by the gospel of peace: above all things taking to me the shield of faith, wherewith I may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked; and taking the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is thy most holy word: praying always with all manner of prayer and supplication, that I may refer myself wholly to thy will, abiding thy pleasure, and comforting myself in those troubles that it shall please thee to send me; seeing such troubles be profitable for me, and seeing I am assuredly persuaded that it cannot be but well, all that thou doest. Hear me, O merciful Father! for his sake, whom thou wouldest should be a sacrifice for my sins: to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory. Amen."

            After these things thus declared, it remaineth now, coming to the end of this virtuous lady, next to infer the manner of her execution, with the words and behaviour of her at the time of her death.

 

The words and behaviour of the Lady Jane upon the scaffold.

Illustration -- Lady Jane Grey led to execution

            These are the words that the Lady Jane spake upon the scaffold, at the hour of her death. First, when she mounted upon the scaffold, she said to the people standing thereabout, "Good people, I am come hither to die, and by a law I am condemned to the same. The fact against the queen's Highness was unlawful, and the consenting thereunto by me: but, touching the procurement and desire thereof by me, or on my behalf, I do wash my hands thereof in innocency before God, and the face of you. good Christian people, this day:" and therewith she wrung her hands, wherein she had her book. Then said she, "I pray you all, good Christian people, to bear me witness that I die a true Christian woman, and that I do look to be saved by no other mean, but only by the mercy of God, in the blood of his only Son Jesus Christ: and I confess, that when I did know the word of God, I neglected the same, loved myself and the world; and therefore this plague and punishment is happily and worthily happened unto me for my sins; and yet I thank God, that of his goodness he hath thus given me a time and respite to repent. And now, good people, while I am alive, I pray you assist me with your prayers." And then, kneeling down, she turned her to Fecknam, saying, "Shall I say this psalm?" And he said, "Yea." Then said she the psalm of Miserere mei Deus in English, in most devout manner, throughout to the end; and then she stood up, and gave her maiden, Mistress Ellen, her gloves and handkerchief, and her book to Master Bruges. And then she untied her gown, and the hangman pressed upon her to help her off with it; but she, desiring him to let her alone, turned towards her two gentlewomen, who helped her off therewith, and also with her frowes, paaft, and neckerchief, giving to her a fair handkerchief to knit about her eyes.

            Then the hangman kneeled down and asked her forgiveness, whom she forgave most willingly. Then he willed her to stand upon the straw; which doing, she saw the block. Then she said, "I pray you despatch me quickly." Then she kneeled down, saying, "Will you take it off, before I lay me down?" And the hangman said, "No, madam." Then tied she the handkerchief about her eyes, and feeling for the block, she said, "What shall I do? Where is it? Where is it?" One of the standers-by guiding her thereunto she laid her head down upon the block, and then stretched forth her body, and said, "Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit;" and so finished her life, in the year of our Lord God 1554, the twelfth day of February.

 

Certain verses, written by the said Lady Jane with a pin.

 

Non aliena putes homini, quĉ obtingere possunt:
Sora hodierna mihi, tunc erit illa tibi.

 

Do never think it strange,
Though now I have misfortune,
For if that fortune change,
The same to thee nay happen.

 

JANE DUDLEY.

 

Deo juvante, nil nocet livor malus
Et non juvante, nil juvat labor gravis.
Post tenebras spero lucem.

 

If God do help thee,
Hate shall not hurt thee;
If God do fail thee,
Then shall not labour prevail thee.

            Thus, the twelfth day of February, as I said, was beheaded the Lady Jane, and with her, also, the Lord Guildford her husband, one of the duke of Northumberland's sons; two innocents in comparison of them that sat upon them. For they did but ignorantly accept that, which the others had willingly devised, and, by open proclamation, consented to take from others, and give to them.

            Touching the condemnation of this Lady Jane, here is to be noted, that the judge, Morgan, who gave the sentence of condemnation against her, shortly after he had condemned her, fell mad, and in his raving cried out continually to have Lady Jane taken away from him; and so ended his life.

            And not long after the death of the Lady Jane, upon the twenty-first of the same month, was Henry, duke of Suffolk, also beheaded at the Tower Hill, the fourth day after his condemnation: about which time, also, were condemned for this conspiracy many gentlemen and yeomen, whereof some were executed at London, and some in the country. In the number of whom also was the Lord Thomas Gray, brother to the said duke, being apprehended not long after in North Wales, and executed for the same. Sir Nicholas Throgmorton very hardly escaped, as ye shall hear (the Lord willing) in another place.

 

Previous Next