348. JULIUS PALMER, JOHN GWIN AND THOMAS ASKIN
Illustration -- Palmer, Gwin and Askin at the Stake
The history and martyrdom of a learned and virtuous young man, called Julius Palmer, sometime fellow of Magdalene College in Oxford, with two other martyrs, to wit, John Groin, and Thomas Askin; burned together in Newbury, at a place there called the Sand pits.
THE same month of July, in which Careless, as before is declared, was released out of prison by death, in short time after, about the sixteenth day of the same month of July, suffered these three godly and constant martyrs above mentioned, at Newbury, in which number was Julius Palmer, sometime student and fellow of Magdalene College in Oxford, and afterwards schoolmaster in the town of Reading. Concerning whose story and martyrdom here followeth, although not so much as he deserveth to have said, yet so much as sufficiently may set forth the great working of God in this young man.
As all God's works are wondrous, in calling of all sorts of men to confirm his truth, and to bear witness unto his assured and infallible word, which the adversaries have depraved and corrupted with their false glosses, to establish the fleshly kingdom of antichrist, and to purchase security in the world, which they seek to keep in their possession by all means possible, rather cursing with the thunderbolt of excommunication, burning, hanging, drowning, racking, scourging, and persecuting by secret practice and open violence, the simple sheep of our Saviour Christ, than that their false forged packing should be detected, their estimation impaired, their kitchen cooled, their rents, revenues, goods, lands, and possessions abated: I say, as God's works be wonderful, which chooseth some of all sorts to confess his gospel; so there is no one example in the whole godly fellowship of martyrs, more to be marked, yea, more to be wondered at, than this; that one which, in all King Edward's days, was a papist within the university of Oxford, and so obstinate, as that he did utterly abhor all godly prayer and sincere preaching, and almost of all them with whom he lived was therefore likewise abhorred, and (as I may say) pointed at with the finger, did yet after, in Queen Mary's time, suffer most cruel death at the papists' hands at Newbury in Berkshire, for the most ready and zealous profession of the blessed truth.
His name was Julius Palmer, born in Coventry, where also his parents dwelt. His father had sometime been mayor of the city, and occupied merchandise, albeit he was an upholsterer by his mystery. How he was brought up in his young and tender years, from his first entering, we know not, but, as we have learned, he was sometime scholar to Master Harley, which taught the free scholars of Magdalene College in Oxford; by whose diligence, and the goodness of his own capacity, he became a toward young scholar in prose and verse: for he had a very prompt and ready memory, a wit sharp and pregnant. He spake Latin with great facility of utterance, and wanted not competent knowledge in the Greek tongue; insomuch that divers times he supplied the room of the Greek reader in his house. He was a subtle disputer, both in the public schools, and also at home. He used to say, that he was never so pleasantly occupied, as when he came to the hard debating of profound questions in philosophy; so that he hath oftentimes watched and spent the whole night in the discussing and searching out the truth of deep and diffuse questions. And this used he to do sundry times, with divers of his equals.
In familiar talk he greatly delighted, for the exercise of his learning, to defend the contrary to that which was affirmed; yet with modesty, and without all ostentation: for he greatly abhorred all overthwart cavilling, all frivolous talk, and unsavoury brabbling. He was not captious, but would reason so soberly, and with such probability, that even his adversaries would no less marvel at the dexterity of his invention, than at his comely and decent behaviour in prosecuting the same. And although he applied divinity very lately, it appeareth that he recompensed the small time of his study with the greatness of his diligence bestowed in the same, and his late coming to the truth, with his earnest and zealous proceeding therein. For by the secret inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, inwardly working in his heart, he gave an apparent signification in his young years, that if God had spared his life to age, he would have grown to such maturity and ripeness of judgment, as whereby he should have been an ornament to Christ's church, and an honour to his country.
And somewhat to speak of his civil behaviour, he was of manners courteous without curiosity, of countenance cheerful without high looks, of speech pleasant without affectation; he was affable and lowly as any child, and yet quick-spirited, and vehement in reasoning. He practised no deceit toward any man; for he was of such simplicity, that he was apter to be deceived than to deceive; and he was so great a contemner of all reproaches and injuries, that he would say, None were to be counted valiant, but such as could despise injury.
In private study he was so indefatigable, that he arose ordinarily every morning at four of the clock, and went not lightly to bed before ten at night. Insomuch that as he grew in years and understanding, so he came to be a bachelor of arts; and at length, for the hope appearing in him, to the preferment of a fellowship in Magdalene College, where also he was admitted to the office of a reader in logic, anno 1550. Now, if he had, at the first, favoured sincere religion so much as he followed his book, then had we had the less matter to note in him. But indeed he was so much (as is aforesaid) addicted to the Romish faith, that his company and conversation in the same house were altogether with such as were utter enemies to the gospel of Christ. If he came to common prayer at any time, it was by violence and compulsion; for otherwise he came not. Sermons would he hear none himself, nor yet suffer his scholars to resort unto them by his good will; for he was fully persuaded that they might be better occupied at home. The preachers themselves he did both disdain and despise, and all such as were setters-forth of sound doctrine beside: for the which contumacy and stubbornness, he was so oft called before the officers of the college, and punished sometimes by the purse, sometimes by the lack of his commons, and otherwhile by certain tasks and exercises of learning, enjoined unto him, that divers supposed him to have endeavoured, of set purpose, continually to seek occasion whereby he might be counted a sufferer for that fantasied religion of the Romish church.
In the end, not long before the death of King Edward, that godly prince, certain slanderous libels and railing verses were privily fixed to the walls and doors in sundry places of the college, against the president, which was then Dr. Haddon, whereby was ministered further matter of trouble to Palmer. For whereas it was well known that he, and some of his companions, had a very little while before spoken contumelious words against the president; it could not be now avoided, but that thereby arose a vehement surmise and suspicion, that he, conspiring with others, had contrived, made, and scattered abroad, the said slanderous writings. Great inquisition was made in the college, to search out the author of so malicious and despiteful a deed; but nothing could be found and proved against Palmer, or any of his companions. Now Palmer, being hereupon examined by the officers, did not only with stout courage deny the fact to have been his, but also spake further many reproachful words touching the said officers, and sent the same to them in writing, whereby he was by them adjudged to be an unworthy member of that society. And so for this, and other popish pranks, (continuing obstinate still,) he was expelled the house.
After he was thus despatched of his room, he was fain, for his own maintenance, to apply himself to be a teacher of children in the house of Sir Francis Knolles, in the which trade he continued until the coming-in of Queen Mary. And when her visitors were sent to Magdalene College, under a title of reformation, (whereas all things were better afore,) I mean, to displace divers of the fellows that were learned, and to put right catholics (as they called them) in their rooms; then came this Julius Palmer, waiting, as a dog for his bone, to be restored to his living again, of which he had been deprived before; thinking by good right to be restored of them, whose faith and religion (as he said) he did to the uttermost of his power defend and maintain. And indeed at length he obtained the same. Then after he was restored again to his house in Queen Mary's reign, God dealt so mercifully with him, that in the end he became of an obstinate papist, an earnest and zealous gospeller.
Concerning whose conversion to the truth, for the more credit to be given to the same, we have here put down a letter written by one Master Bullingham, fellow in some part of King Edward's time with the said Palmer, then also of the same faction of religion with him, and toward the latter end of the said king's reign, a voluntary exile in France for papistry: in Queen Mary's days, likewise, a chaplain unto Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester; and after the coming in of Queen Elizabeth, such a one as for his obstinacy was quite and clean despatched from all his livings by her Majesty's commissioners, and yet now (God be praised therefor!) a most constant professor, and earnest teacher of the word of God. This man, at the request of a certain friend of his in London, being desirous to know the certain truth thereof, wrote unto him concerning this Julius. The copy of which letter we thought good here to insert, for that the parties, being alive, can testify the same to be true and certain, if any man shall doubt thereof.
The letter of Master Bullingham.
"Master Bullingham, I wish you and all yours continual health in the Lord. Hitherto have I not written any thing unto you concerning Julius Palmer, that constant witness of God's truth, for that his doings and sayings known unto me, were worn out of my remembrance: and to write an untruth, it were rather to deface and blemish, than to adorn and beautify him. After his conversion to the most holy gospel, I never saw his face: wherefore the less have I to certify you of. Bt so much as seemeth.to me to serve most unto the purpose, here I commend unto you; and in witness that my sayings are true I subscribe my name, willing, praying, and beseeching you to publish the same to the whole world, &c.
"At what time I, Bullingham, intended to forsake England, and to fly into France for the wicked pope's sake, (which came to pass indeed, for in Rouen I was for a time,) this Julius Palmer and Richard Duck brought me outwards in my journey till we came to London; where on a day Julius Palmer and I walked to St. James's, the queen's palace; and as we leaned at the great gate of that place, Palmer spake thus unto me: 'Bullingham, you know in what misery and calamities we are fallen for the pope and his religion. We are young men, abhorred of all men now presently, and like to be abhorred more and more. Let us consider what hangeth over our heads. You are departing into a strange country, both friendless and moneyless, where I fear me you shall taste of sourer sauces than hitherto you have done. And as for me, I am at my wits' end. The face of hell itself is as amiable unto me as the sight of Magdalene College; for there I am hated as a venomous toad. Would God I were raked under the earth! And as touching our religion, even our consciences bear witness that we taste not such an inward sweetness in the profession thereof, as we understand the gospellers to taste in their religion: yea, to say the truth, we maintain we wot not what, rather of will than of knowledge. But what then? Rather than I will yield unto them, I will beg my bread.' So Palmer bequeathed himself to the wide world, and I passed over into Normandy. At my return into England again my chance was to meet Palmer in Paul's, where a rood was set up. This our meeting was in the beginning of Queen Mary's reign, and our miserable departing not long before the end of King Edward's days. Then after our greeting, thus said Palmer, 'Bullingham, is this our god, for whom we have smarted?' 'No, Palmer,' quoth I, 'it is an image of him.' 'An image!' quoth he. 'I tell thee plainly, Bullingham, John Calvin (whose Institutions I have perused since our departure) telleth me plainly, by God's word, that it is an idol; and that the pope is antichrist, and his clergy the filthy sink-hole of hell. And now I believe it; for I feel it sensibly. O that God had revealed these matters unto me in times past! I would have bequeathed this Romish religion (or rather irreligion) to the devil of hell, from whence it came. Believe them not, Bullingham. I will rather have these knees pared off, than I will kneel to yonder jackanapes [meaning the rood]. God help me, I am born to trouble and adversity in this world?' 'Well, Palmer,' said I, 'is the wind in that corner with you? I warrant you it will blow you to Little Ease at the end. I will never have to do with you again.' So I left Palmer walking in Paul's, who, through the element of fire, is exalted above the elements, where eternal rest is prepared for persecuted martyrs. Thus much is true, and let it be known that I, Bullingham, affirm it to be true. More I have not to say. In these words and deeds it appeareth that God had elected him.
"From Bridgewater, April 26, anno 1562.
"By me, JOHN BULLINGHAM."
When he was by the visitors restored to his college, although he began something to savour and taste of God's truth, by conference and company of certain godly and zealous men abroad, in time of his expulsion, especially at the house of Sir Francis Knolles; yet was he not thoroughly persuaded, but in most points continued for a while either blind, or else doubtful. Neither could he choose but utter himself in private reasoning from time to time, both in what points he was fully resolved, and also of what points he doubted. For such was his nature alway, both in papistry and in the gospel, utterly to detest all dissimulation, insomuch that by the means of his plainness, and for that he could not flatter, he suffered much woe, both in King Edward's, and also in Queen Mary's time. Whereas he might at the first have lived in great quietness, if he could have dissembled, and both done and spoken against his conscience, as many stirring papists then did. And likewise he might have escaped burning in Queen Mary's time, if he would either have spoken, or kept silence, against his conscience, as many weak gospellers did. But Palmer could in nowise dissemble.
Now within short space, God so wrought in his heart, that he became very inquisitive and careful to hear and understand, how the martyrs were apprehended, what articles they died for, how they were used, and after what sort they took their death. Insomuch that he spared not at his own charges to send over one of his scholars, in the company of a bachelor of that house, to Gloucester, to see and understand the whole order of Bishop Hooper's death, and to bring him true report thereof: which thing some think he the rather did, because he was wont in King Edward's time to say, that none of them all would stand to death for their religion. Thus he learned with what great, extreme, and horrible cruelty the martyrs of God were tried, and how valiantly they overcame all kind of torments to the end; whereof he himself also did see more experience afterward, at the examination and death of those holy confessors and martyrs which were burned at Oxford before his eyes; insomuch that the first hope which the godly conceived of him, was at his return from the burning of Bishop Ridley and Bishop Latimer, at what time, in the hearing of divers of his friends, he brast out into these words and such like: "O raging cruelty! O tyranny tragical, and more than barbarous! "
From that day forward he studiously sought to understand the truth, and therefore with all speed he borrowed Peter Martyr's Commentaries upon the First to the Corinthians, of one of Magdalene, yet alive, and other good books of other men. And so, through hearty prayer and diligent search and conference of the Scriptures, at length he believed and embraced the truth with great joy; and so profited in the same, that daily more and more he declared it both in word and deed, in such sort as he never hated the truth more stubbornly before, than afterward he willingly embraced the same, when it pleased God to open his eyes, and to reveal unto him the light of his word. And now again when he should come to church, in those days of popery, there to be occupied among the rest, in singing of s, reading of legends, and such-like stuff allotted unto him, he had as much pleasure, he said, to be at them, as a bear to be baited and worried with dogs. When he came, it was (as it appeared) more to avoid displeasure and danger, than for any good-will and ready affection.
At length, through God's grace, he grew up to such maturity and ripeness in the truth, that he spared not to declare certain sparks thereof in his outward behaviour and doings. For when he should keep his bowing measures at Confiteor, (as the custom there was,) in turning himself to and fro, sometimes eastward, sometimes westward, and afterward knock his breast at the elevation time; against these idolatrous adorations his heart did so vehemently rise, that sometimes he would absent himself from them, and sometimes, being there, he would even at the sacring time (as they termed it) get him out of the church to avoid those ungodly gestures, and idolatrous adoration. To be short, perceiving, after a while, that he was greatly suspected and abhorred of the president then being, which was Master Cole, and of divers others which before were his friends, and therewithal feeling great conflict and torment of conscience daily to grow with his conversation with idolaters; seeing also that his new life and old living might not well nor quietly stand together, he addressed himself to depart the house. For he thought it not best to abide the danger of expulsion, as he did at the first; seeing the weather was now waxed warmer. And being demanded at that time of a special friend (who would gladly have persuaded him to stay there longer) whither he would go, or how he would live, he made this answer, "Domini est terra, et plenitudo ejus," that is, The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. "Let the Lord work; I will commit myself to God and the wide world."
Here I think it expedient, before I write of the painful surges that he suffered after he came abroad into the perilous gulfs and deep sea of this wretched wide world, first, to rehearse one or two examples of his outward behaviour, at such times as he had recourse to the college, after his last departure, whereby the reader may yet better understand of his simplicity and plainness, and how far wide he was from all cloaked dissimulation in God's cause, which certain godless persons have sought maliciously to charge him withal. Being at Oxford on a certain time in Magdalene College, and having knowledge, that the Spanish friar John (who succeeded Dr. Peter Martyr, in the office of divinity lecture) would preach there that present Sunday, he would not, at the first, grant to be present at it. At length a friend of his, a fellow of that house, persuaded so much with him, that he was content to accompany his said friend to the church. But suddenly, as the friar vehemently inveighed against God's truth, in defending certain popish heresies, Palmer, having many eyes bent and directed towards him, departed from amongst the midst of the auditory, and was found in his friend's chamber weeping bitterly. Afterward, being demanded why he slipt away upon such a sudden, 'Oh,' said he, 'if I had not openly departed I should have openly stopt mine ears: for the friar's blasphemous talk, in disproving, or rather depraving the verity, made mine ears not to glow, but my heart worse to smart, than if mine ears had been cut from my head.'
Illustration -- Palmer at dinner in Bursar Shipper's House
It chanced another time, that the same friend of his, called Master Shipper, being then bursar of the house, bade him to dinner in his chamber. Palmer, not knowing what guests were also thither invited and bidden, happened there (contrary to his expectation) to meet with the foresaid friar, with whom were present Dr. Smith, Dr. Tresham, and divers other papists, whose company Palmer could not well bear; and therefore, whispering a friend in the ear, he said he would be gone, for that was no place for him: "I will," saith he, "to the bursar's table in the great hall." The bursar understanding his mind, desired him of all friendship not so to depart, alleging that it were the next way to bewray himself, and as it were of purpose to cast himself into the briers; with many other persuasions, as the shortness of time would permit. In the end he condescended to his request and tarried. Now as he came to the fire-side, the friar saluted him cheerfully in Latin, for he could not speak English. Palmer with an amiable countenance re-saluted him gently: but when the friar offered him his hand, he, casting his eye aside, as though he had not seen it, found matter of talk to another standing by, and so avoided it; which thing was well marked of some, not without great grudge of stomach.
After they were set and had well eaten, the friar, with a pleasant look, offering the cup, said, "I drink to you, learned young man." Palmer, at that word blushing as red as scarlet, answered, "I knowledge no such name, O sir." And therewith taking the cup at his hand, he set it down by him, as though he would have pledged him anon after, but in the end it was also well marked, that he did it not. When dinner was done, being sharply rebuked of the said bursar his friend, for his so unwise, uncivil, and unseemly behaviour, (as he termed it,) he made answer for himself, and said, "The oil of these men doth not supple, but breaketh my head."
Another time, which was also the last time of his being at Oxford, not long before his death, one Barwick, an old acquaintance of his, being sometime clerk of Magdalene's, and then fellow of Trinity College, a rank papist, began to reason with him in his friend's chamber aforesaid, and perceiving him to be zealous and earnest in defence of the verity, he said unto him in the hearing of Master Thomas Parry, and others there present: "Well, Palmer! well, now thou art stout, and hardy in thy opinion; but if thou wert once brought to the stake, I believe thou wouldst tell me another tale. I advise thee beware of the fire, it is a shrewd matter to burn!" "Truly," said Palmer, "I have been in danger of burning once or twice, and hitherto (I thank God) I have escaped it. But I judge verily, it will be my end at the last: welcome be it, by the grace of God! Indeed it is a hard matter for them to burn, that have the mind and soul linked to the body, as a thief's foot is tied in a pair of fetters: but if a man be once able, through the help of God's Spirit, to separate and divide the soul from the body, for him it is no more mastery to burn, than for me to eat this piece of bread."
Thus much, by the way, concerning his plainness, without dissimulation, and how he feared not openly to show himself more grieved in heart to hear the word of God blasphemed, than to suffer any worldly pains. Now let us proceed in our story, and faithfully declare both the occasion and manner of his death.
Within short space after he had yielded up his fellowship in Oxford, he was, through God's providence, (who never faileth them that first seek his glory,) placed schoolmaster by patent in the grammar-school of Reading, where he was well accepted of all those that feared God, and favoured his word, as well for his good learning and knowledge, as also for his earnest zeal, and profession of the truth. But Satan, the enemy of all godly attempts, envying his good proceedings and prosperous success in the same, would not suffer him there long to be quiet. Wherefore he stirred up against him certain double-faced hypocrites, which by dissimulation and crafty insinuation had crept in, to understand his secrets, under the pretence of a zeal to the gospel; which men he (suspecting no deceit) right joyfully embraced, making them privy of all his doings. For as he himself was then fervently inflamed with the love of heavenly doctrine; so had he an incredible desire by all means possible to allure and encourage others to the profession of the same.
These faithful and trusty brethren, so soon as they had found good opportunity, spared not in his absence to rifle his study of certain godly books and writings; amongst the which was his replication to Morewine's verses, touching Winchester's epitaph, and other arguments both in Latin and English, written by him against the popish proceedings, and specially against their unnatural and brutish tyranny, executed toward the martyrs of God. When they had thus done, they were not ashamed to threaten him that they would exhibit the same to the council, unless he would without delay depart out of their coasts, and give over the school to a friend of theirs. The truth of this story appeareth in part by a letter written, with his own hand, out of prison, eight days before he was burned; which because it is of certain credit, and came to our hands, therefore we are the bolder to avouch it for a truth.
Thus then was this silly young man, for the safeguard of his life, forced to depart upon the sudden from Reading, leaving behind him in the hands of his enemies his stuff, and one quarter's stipend; and so he took his journey toward Ensham, where his mother then dwelt, hoping to obtain at her hands certain legacies due to him by his father's last will, which he should have received certain years before; and taking his journey by Oxford, he requested certain of his friends to accompany him thither. His mother, understanding his state and errand by Master Shipper and his brother, (whom he had sent before to entreat for him,) as soon as she beheld him on his knees, asking her blessing as he had been accustomed to do: "Thou shalt," said she, "have Christ's curse and mine, wheresoever thou go." He pausing a little, as one amazed at so heavy a greeting, at length said, "O mother! your own curse you may give me, which God knoweth I never deserved; but God's curse you cannot give me, for he he hath already blessed me." "Nay," saith she, "thou wentest from God's blessing into the warm sun, when thou wast banished for a heretic out of that worshipful house in Oxford; and now, for the like knavery, art driven out of Reading too." "Alas, mother!" saith he, "you have been misinformed. I was not expelled nor driven away, but freely resigned of mine accord. And heretic I am none, for I stand not stubbornly against any true doctrine, but defend it to my power. And you may be sure, they use not to expel nor banish, but to burn heretics (as they term them)." "Well," quoth she, "I am sure thou dost not believe as thy father and I, and all our forefathers have done; but as we were taught by the new law in King Edward's days, which is damnable heresy." "Indeed, I confess," said he, "that I believe that doctrine which was taught in King Edward's time, which is not heresy but truth: neither is it new, but as old as Christ and his apostles." "If thou be at that point," saith she, "I require thee to depart from my house, and out of my sight, and never take me more for thy mother hereafter. As for money and goods, I have none of thine, thy father bequeathed nought for heretics: faggots I have to burn thee: more thou gettest not at my hands." "Mother," saith he, "whereas you have cursed me, I again pray God to bless you, and prosper you all your life long;" and with like soft talk, sweet words, and abundance of tears trickling down his cheeks, he departed from her, wherewith he so mollified her hard heart, that she hurled an old angel after him, and said, "Take that, to keep thee a true man."
Thus poor Palmer, being destitute of worldly friendship, and cruelly repelled of her whom he took to have been his surest friend, wist not which way to turn his face. Soon after, when he had be thought himself, it came to his mind to return secretly to Magdalene College, upon the assured trust and affiance, that he had a privy friend or two in that house. At what time, by the suit of one Allan Cope, then fellow of the house, he obtained letters commendatory, from Master Cole, president there, for his preferment to a school in Gloucestershire. So he getteth him away, committed by his friends to God's divine protection, of whom some accompanied him as far as Ensham Ferry, and some to Burtford.
Afterward as he went alone, musing and pondering of matters, it came in his head (as he writeth in an epistle to one of his friends) to leave his appointed journey, and to return closely to Reading, trusting there, by the help of friends, to receive his quarter's stipend, and convey his stuff to the custody of some trusty body. To Reading he cometh, and taketh up his lodging at the Cardinal's Hat, desiring his hostess instantly to assign him a close chamber, where he might be alone from all resort of company. He came not so closely, but that this viperous generation had knowledge thereof: wherefore without delay they laid their heads together, and consulted what way they might most safely proceed against him, to bring their old cankered malice to pass. And soon it was concluded, that one Master Hampton, (which then bare two faces in one hood, and under the colour of a brother played the part of a dissembling hypocrite,) should resort to him under the pretence of friendship, to feel and fish out the cause of his repair to Reading.
Palmer, as he was a simple man, and without all wrinkles of cloaked collusion, opened to him his whole intent. But Hampton earnestly persuaded him to the contrary, declaring what danger might ensue if this were attempted. Against his counsel Palmer replied very much, and as they waxed hot in talk Hampton flung away in a fury, and said, as he had fished, so should he fowl, for him. Palmer not yet suspecting such pretended and devised mischief as by this crooked and pestiferous generation was now in brewing against him, called for his supper, and went quietly to bed: but quietly he could not long rest there. For within short space after, the officers and their retinue came rushing in with lanterns and bills, requiring him in the king and queen's name to make ready himself, and quietly to depart with them. So this silly young man, perceiving that he was thus Judasly betrayed without opening his lips, was led away as a lamb to the slaughter, and was committed to ward; whom the keeper, as a ravening wolf greedy of his prey, brought down into a vile, stinking, and blind dungeon, prepared for thieves and murderers. And there he left him for a time, hanging by the hands and feet in a pair of stocks, so high, that well near no part of his body touched the ground.
In this cave or dungeon he remained about ten days under the tyranny of this unmerciful keeper.
Here by the way, gentle reader, I have by a little digression to give thee to understand, concerning one Thomas Thackham; for that the said Thomas Thackham, in the story of this Julius Palmer, was noted and named in our former book, to be a doer and a worker against the said blessed martyr: he therefore, being not a little grieved, made his reply again in writing, for purgation and defence of himself against the false information of his slanderer. Albeit his confutation in writing I pass not much upon, either what he hath written, or can write. Only the thing that moveth me most is this; for that the said Thomas Thackham not long since, coming to me himself, hath so attested and deposed against the information, with much swearing and deep adjuration, taking the name of the Lord God to witness, and appealing to His judgment to the utter perdition of his soul, if it were not false which by information was reported of him, and he faultless in the matter: which being so, I could not otherwise refuse, but to give credit to his oath, and upon the same to alter and correct so much as appertaineth to the defamation (as he calleth it) of his name, referring the truth of the matter to his own conscience, and the judgment of the Lord God; to whom either he standeth if it be true, or falleth if it be false.
And now to our story again, concerning the process and accusation of Julius Palmer, omitting by the way the names of Thomas Thackham, and Downer.
The first examination and accusation of Julius Palmer, at Reading.
After this he was brought before the mayor, and there by the procurement of certain false brethren, (the Lord knoweth what they were,) who had been conversant with Palmer, and robbed his study, divers grievous and enormous crimes were laid to his charge, as treason, sedition, surmised murder, and adultery.
To whom Palmer answered, that if such horrible and heinous crimes might be proved against him; he would patiently submit himself to all kind of torments that could be devised. "But, O ye cruel blood-suckers," saith he, "ye follow the old practices of your progenitors, the viperous and wolfish generation of Pharisees and papists; but be ye well assured, that God always seeth your subtle devices and crafty packing, and will not suffer the outrage ous fury of your venomous tongues and fiery hearts to escape unpunished." All this while no mention was made of heresy, or heretical writings.
Their greatest proofs against him were these:--
"First, That Palmer said, the queen's sword was not put in her hand to execute tyranny, and to kill and murder the true servants of God.
"Item, That her sword was too blunt toward the papists, but toward the true Christians it was too sharp.
"Item, That certain servants of Sir Francis Knolles and others, resorting to his lectures, had fallen out among themselves, and were like to have committed murder; and therefore he was a sower of sedition, and a procurer of unlawful assemblies.
"Item, That his hostess had written a letter unto him, (which they had intercepted,) wherein she required him to return to Reading, and sent him her commendations, by the token that the knife lay hid under the beam; whereby they gathered that she had conspired with him to murder her husband!
"Item, That they found him alone with his hostess by the fire-side in the hall, the door being shut to them forsooth."
HEN the evidence was given up, the mayor dismissed them and went to dinner, commanding Palmer to the cage, to make him an open spectacle of ignominy to the eyes of the world. And Thackham, the better to cover his own shame, caused it to be bruited, that he was so punished, for his evil life and wickedness already proved against him.
In the afternoon Palmer came to his answer, and did so mightily and clearly deface their evidence, and defend his own innocency, proving also that the said letters were by themselves forged, that the mayor himself was much ashamed that he had given such credit unto them, and so much borne with them, so that he sought means how they might convey him out of the country privily.
But here among other things this is not with silence to be passed over, that one John Galant, a zealous professor of the gospel, a little after this came to the prison and found him somewhat better entreated than before. When he beheld him, "O Palmer," saith he, "thou hast deceived divers men's expectation: for we hear that you suffer not for righteousness' sake, but for your own demerits."
"O brother Galant," saith he, "these be the old practices of that Satanical brood. But be you well assured, and God be praised for it, I have so purged myself, and detected their falsehood, that from henceforth I shall be no more molested therewith." And there, having pen and ink, he did write somewhat whereby part of his story here rehearsed is well confirmed. But now to these bloody adversaries.
After this, when they saw the matter frame so ill-favouredly, fearing that if he should escape secretly, their doing would tend no less to their shame and danger, than to the mayor's dishonesty; they devised a new policy to bring to pass their long hidden and festered malice against him, which was by this extreme refuge. For, whereas before they were partly ashamed to accuse him of heresy, seeing they had been counted earnest brethren themselves; and partly afraid because they had broken up his study, and committed theft; yet now, lest their iniquity should have been revealed to the world, they put both fear and shame aside, and began to refricate and rip up the old sore, the scar whereof had been but superficially cured, as you have heard; and so, to colour their former practices with the pretence of his reformation in religion, they charged him with the writings that they had stolen out of his study.
Thus Palmer was once again called out of the prison to appear before the mayor, and Bird the official, and two other justices, to render an account of his faith before them; to answer to such articles and informations, as were laid against him. And when they had gathered of his own mouth sufficient matter to entrap him, they devised a certificate, or bill of instructions against him, to be directed to Dr. Jeffrey, who had determined to hold his visitation the next Tuesday at Newbury, which was the sixteenth of July. And thus were the false witnesses and bloody accusers winked at, and the innocent delivered to the lion to be devoured. When it was therefore concluded that Palmer should be sent over to Newbury, the said letters testimonial were conveyed over together with him, the contents whereof shall partly appear hereafter. In the mean time I think it good here to rehearse one example among others, both of charitable affection toward him, and of his modesty correspondent to the same.
Master Rider of Reading, a faithful witness of God's truth, hearing how cruelly Palmer had been dealt withal in prison, and pined away for lack of necessaries, and how evidently he had proved himself innocent before the officers, of such crimes as were objected him, he sent to him his servant secretly the night before his departure to Newbury, with a bowed groat in token of his good heart toward him, requiring him to let him understand if he lacked necessaries, and he would provide for him. Palmer answered, "The Lord reward your master for his benevolence toward me, a miserable abject in this world, and tell him that (God be praised) I lack nothing."
In the morning before they took their journey, Thomas Askin, alias Roberts, being fellow prisoner with him in Christ's cause, sitting at breakfast, and beholding Palmer very sad, leaning to a window in the corner of the house, asked why he came not to breakfast. "Because I lack money;" saith Palmer, "to discharge the shot." "Come on, man," quoth he, "God be praised for it, I have enough for us both." Which thing when Master Rider heard of, it cannot be expressed, how much it grieved him that Palmer had deceived him with so modest an answer.
Thus to Newbury they came on Monday night, and forthwith they were committed to the comfortable hostry of the blind-house, where they found John Gwin, their faithful brother in the Lord. Now how they came before the consistory of Dr. Jeffrey, and how Palmer was examined, it doth in part appear by this examination hereunto annexed, which, although it be not perfectly and orderly penned, as the report goeth that it was spoken, nor perchance altogether in such form of words, yet is as exactly as we are able to compact and dispose it; being gathered out of several notes of Richard Shipper, John Hunt, John Kirry of Newbury, Richard White of Marlborough, which were oculati testes, and present at the hearing thereof.
The second examination and accusation of Julius Palmer, at Newbury, in the hearing of more than three hundred persons.
In the year 1556, the sixteenth of July, four or five seats were prepared in the choir of the parish church of Newbury for the visitors, whose names here ensue: Dr. Jeffrey, for the bishop of Sarum; Sir Richard Abridges, knight, and then high sheriff of the shire; Sir William Rainsford, knight; Master John Winchcomb, esquire; and the parson of Englefield.
After the prisoners were presented, the commission read, and other things done in order accordingly, Dr. Jeffrey called to Palmer and said:--
Jeffrey.--"Art thou that jolly writer of three halfpenny books, that we hear of."
Palmer.--"I know not what you mean."
Jeffrey.--"Have you taught Latin so long that now you understand not English?"
To this he answered nothing.
Then Dr. Jeffrey standing up said, "We have received certain writings and articles against you, from the right worshipful the mayor of Reading, and other justices; whereby we understand, that being convented afore them, you were convict of certain heresies. First, that you deny the pope's Holiness's supremacy. Next, that there are but two sacraments. Thirdly, that the priest showeth up an idol at mass; and therefore you went to no mass, since your first coming to Reading. Fourthly, that there is no purgatory. Last of all, that you be a sower of sedition, and have sought to divide the unity of the queen's subjects."
The sheriff.-- "You were best see first what he will say to his own handy-work."
Jeffrey.--"Ye say truth. Tell me, Palmer, art thou he that wrote this fair volume? Look upon it."
Palmer.--"I wrote it indeed, and gathered it out of the Scripture."
Jeffrey.--"Is this doggish rhyme yours also? Look?"
Palmer. -- "I wrote this, I deny not."
Jeffrey.--"And what say you to these Latin verses, intituled Epicedion, &c. Are they yours too?"
Jeffrey.--"Art thou not ashamed to affirm it? It came of no good spirit, that thou didst both rail at the dead, and slander a learned and catholic man yet alive."
Palmer.--"If it be a slander, he hath slandered himself: for I do but report his own writing, and open the folly therein declared. And I reckon it no railing to inveigh against Annas and Caiaphas being dead."
Jeffrey.--"Sayest thou so? I will make thee recant it, and wring peccavi out of your lying lips, ere I have done with thee."
Palmer.--"But I know, that although of myself I be able to do nothing, yet if you and all mine enemies, both bodily and ghostly, should do your worst, you shall not be able to bring that to pass; neither shall ye prevail against God's mighty Spirit, by whom we understand the truth, and speak it so boldly."
Jeffrey.--"Ah, are you full of the Spirit? are you inspired with the Holy Ghost?"
Palmer.--"Sir, no man can believe, but by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, if I were not a spiritual man, and inspired with God's Holy Spirit, I were not a true Christian. He that hath not the Spirit of Christ, is none of his."
Jeffrey.--"I perceive you lack no words."
Palmer.--"Christ hath promised not only to give us store of words necessary, but with them, such force of matter, as the gates of hell shall not be able to confound, or prevail against it."
Jeffrey.--"Christ made such a promise to his apostles: I trow you will not compare with them."
Palmer.--"With the holy apostles I may not compare, neither have I any affiance in mine own wit or learning, which I know is but small: yet this promise I am certain pertaineth to all such as are appointed to defend God's truth against his enemies in the time of their persecution for the same."
Jeffrey.--"Then it pertaineth not to thee."
Palmer.--"Yes, I am right well assured, that through his grace it appertaineth at this present to me, as it shall (I doubt not) appear, if you give me leave to dispute with you before this audience, in the defence of all that I have there written."
Jeffrey.--"Thou art but a beardless boy, started up yesterday out of the schools; and darest thou presume to offer disputation, or to encounter with a doctor?"
Palmer.--"Remember, Master Doctor, The Spirit breatheth where it pleaseth him, &c. Out of the mouth of infants, &c. And, Thou hast hidden these things from the wise, &c. God is not tied to time, wit, learning, place, nor person: and although your wit and learning be greater than mine, yet your belief in the truth, and zeal to defend the same, is no greater than mine."
Registrar.--"Sir, if you suffer him thus impudently to trifle with you, he will never have done."
Jeffrey.--"Well, ye shall understand that I have it not in commission at this present to dispute with you, neither were it meet that we should call again into question such articles as are already discussed, and perfectly defined by our mother the holy church, whom we ought to believe without why or wherefore, as the creed telleth us. But the cause why ye be now called hither, is that ye might be examined upon such articles as are ministered against you, and such matter as is here contained in your hand-writing, that it may be seen whether you will stand to it, or nay. How say you to this?"
Palmer.--"By your holy church you mean the synagogue of Rome, which is not universal, but a particular church of shavelings. The catholic church I believe; yet not for her own sake, but because she is holy, that is to say, a church that grounded her belief upon the word of her spouse Christ."
Jeffrey.--"Leave railing, and answer me directly to my question. Will you stand to your writing, or will you not?"
Palmer.--"If you prove any sentence therein comprised, not to stand with God's word, I will presently recant it."
Jeffrey.--"Thou impudent fellow! have I not told thee that I came not to dispute with thee, but to examine thee?"
Here the parson of Englefield, pointing to the pix, said, "What seest thou yonder?"
Palmer.--"A canopy of silk, broidered with gold."
Parson.--"Yea, but what is within it?"
Palmer.--"A piece of bread in a clout, I trow."
Parson.--"Thou art as froward a heretic as ever I talked withal." Here was much spoken of Confiteor, and other parts of the mass.
Parson.--"Do you not believe that they which receive the holy sacrament of the altar, do truly eat Christ's natural body?"
Palmer.--"If the sacrament of the Lord's supper be ministered as Christ did ordain it, the faithful receivers do indeed spiritually and truly eat and drink in it Christ's very natural body and blood."
Parson.--"The faithful receivers; ye cannot blear our eyes with such sophistry. Do not all manner of receivers, good and bad, faithful and unfaithful, receive the very natural body in form of bread?"
Parson.--"How prove you that?"
Palmer.--"By this place, He that eateth me, shall live for me."
Parson.--"See that fond fellow, whilst he taketh himself to be a doctor of the law, you shall see me prove him a stark foolish daw. Do you not read likewise, Whosoever invocateth the name of the Lord, shall be saved? Ergo, Do none but the godly call upon him? Therefore you must mark how St. Paul answereth you. He saith, that the wicked do eat the true body to their condemnation."
As Palmer was bent to answer him at the full, the parson interrupted him, crying still, "What sayest thou to St. Paul?"
Palmer.--"I say, that St. Paul hath no such words?"
Parson.--"See, the impudent fellow denieth the plain text, He that eateth and drinketh the body of the Lord unworthily, is guilty of judgment!"
Palmer.--"I beseech you lend me your book."
The sheriff.--"I pray you lend him your book." So the book was given over to him.
Palmer.--"Your own book hath, He that eateth this bread."
Parson.--"But St. Jerome's translation hath corpus."
Palmer.--"Not so, Master Parson; and God be praised that I have, in the mean season, shut up your lips with your own book."
Jeffrey.--"It skilleth no matter whether ye write bread or body, for we be able to prove that he meant the body. And whereas you say, they ate it spiritually, that is but a blind shift of descant."
Palmer.--"What should I say else?"
Jeffrey.--"As holy church saith: really, carnally, substantially."
Palmer.--"And with as good scripture I may say, grossly or monstrously."
Jeffrey.--"Thou speakest wickedly. But tell me, Is Christ present in the sacrament or no?"
Palmer.--"He is present."
Jeffrey.--"How is he present?"
Palmer.--"The doctors say, modo ineffabili: therefore why do ye ask me? Would God ye had a mind ready to believe it, or [I] a tongue able to express it unto you."
Jeffrey.--"What say you to the baptism of infants?
Palmer.--"I say, that it standeth with God's word, and therefore it ought of necessity to be retained in the church."
Jeffrey.--"Ye have forgotten yourself, I wis; for ye write that children may be saved without it."
Palmer.--"So I write, and so I say."
Jeffrey.--"Then it is not necessary to be frequented and continued in the church."
Palmer.--"Your argument is not good, Master Doctor."
Jeffrey.--"Will you stand to it?"
Palmer.--"Yea, Master Doctor, God willing."
Jeffrey.--"Note it, registrar."
More of his examination in that time and place is not yet come to our hands: whensoever God sendeth it, I will impart and communicate the same to the reader. In the mean season we are credibly informed of this, that Sir Richard Abridges, the same day after dinner, sent for him to his lodging; and there, in the presence of divers persons yet alive in Newbury and elsewhere, friendly exhorted him to revoke his opinion, to spare his young years, wit, and learning. "If thou wilt be conformable, and show thyself corrigible and repentant, in good faith," said he, "I promise thee before this company, I will give thee meat and drink, and books, and ten pound yearly, so long as thou wilt dwell with me. And if thou wilt set thy mind to marriage, I will procure thee a wife and a farm, and help to stuff and fit thy farm for thee. How sayest thou?"
Palmer thanked him very courteously, and made him further answer concerning his religion somewhat at large, but very modestly and reverently, concluding in the end, that as he had already in two places renounced his living for Christ's sake, so he would with God's grace be ready to surrender and yield up his life also for the same, when God should send time.
When Sir Richard perceived that he would by no means relent: "Well, Palmer," saith he, "then I perceive one of us twain shall be damned: for we be of two faiths, and certain I am there is but one faith that leadeth to life and salvation."
Palmer.--"O sir, I hope that we both shall be saved."
Sir Richard.--"How may that be?"
Palmer.--"Right well, sir. For as it hath pleased our merciful Saviour, according to the gospel's parable, to call me at the third hour of the day, even in my flowers, at the age of four-and-twenty years, even so I trust he hath called, and will call you at the eleventh hour of this your old age, and give you everlasting life for your portion."
Sir Richard.--"Sayest thou so? Well, Palmer, well, I would I might have thee but one month in my house: I doubt not but I would convert thee, or thou shouldst convert me."
Then said Master Winchcomb, "Take pity on thy golden years, and pleasant flowers of lusty youth, before it be too late."
Palmer.--"Sir, I long for those springing flowers, that shall never fade away."
Winchcomb.--"If thou be at that point, I have done with thee."
Then was Palmer commanded again to the blind-house; but the other two silly men were led again the same afternoon to the consistory, and there were condemned, and delivered to the secular power of the sheriff there present, by name Sir Richard Abridges.
It is reported also, that Dr. Jeffrey offered Palmer a good living, if he would outwardly show himself conformable, keeping his conscience secret to himself, or at least declare that he doubted which was the truest doctrine. But I cannot affirm it for a surety.
The next morning, the sixteenth of July, Palmer was required to subscribe to certain articles which they had drawn out, touching the cause of his condemnation; in the front whereof, were heaped together many heinous terms, as horrible, heretical, damnable, devilish, and execrable doctrine. To these words Palmer refused to subscribe, affirming that the doctrine which he professed, was not such, but good and sound doctrine.
Jeffrey.--"Ye may see, good people, what shifts these heretics seek, to escape burning, when they see justice ministered unto them. But I tell thee, this style is agreeable to the law, and therefore I cannot alter it."
Palmer.--"Then I cannot subscribe to it."
Jeffrey.--"Wilt thou then crave mercy, if thou like not justice, and revoke thy heresy?"
Palmer.--"I forsake the pope, and his popelings, with all popish heresy."
Jeffrey.--"Then subscribe to the articles."
Palmer.--"Alter the epithets, and I will subscribe."
Jeffrey.--"Subscribe, and qualify the matter with thine own pen."
So he subscribed. Whereupon Dr. Jeffrey proceeded to read the popish sentence of his cruel condemnation, and so was he delivered to the charge of the secular power, and was burnt the same day in the afternoon, about five of the clock.
Within one hour before they went to the place of execution, Palmer, in the presence of many people, comforted his fellows with these words.
"Brethren," saith he, "be of good cheer in the Lord, and faint not. Remember the words of our Saviour Christ, where he saith, Happy are you when men revile you and persecute you for righteousness' sake. Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven. Fear not them that kill the body, and be not able to touch the soul. God is faithful, and will not suffer us to be tempted further than we shall be able to bear it. We shall not end our lives in the fire, but make a change for a better life. Yea, for coals, we shall receive pearls: for God's Holy Spirit certifieth our spirit, that he hath even now prepared for us a sweet supper in heaven, for his sake which suffered first for us."
With these and such-like words, he did not only comfort the hearts of his silly brethren that were with him appointed as sheep to be slain, but also wrested out plentiful tears from the eyes of many that heard him. And as they were singing a psalm, came the sheriff Sir Richard Abridges and the bailiffs of the town, with a great company of harnessed and weaponed men, to conduct them to the fire. When they were come to the place where they should suffer, they fell all three to the ground, and Palmer with an audible voice pronounced the 31st Psalm; but the other two made their prayers secretly to Almighty God.
And as Palmer began to arise, there came behind him two popish priests, exhorting him yet to recant and save his soul. Palmer answered and said, "Away, away, tempt me no longer! Away, I say, from me, all ye that work iniquity: for the Lord hath heard the voice of my tears." And so forthwith they put off their raiment, and went to the stake and kissed it. And when they were bound to the post, Palmer said, "Good people, pray for us, that we may persevere to the And for Christ's sake beware of popish teachers, for they deceive you."
Illustration -- Palmer and his companions at the place of execution
As he spake this, a servant of one of the bailiffs threw a faggot at his face, that the blood gushed out in divers places: for the which fact the sheriff reviled him, calling him cruel tormentor, and with his walking-staff brake his head, that the blood likewise ran about his ears. When the fire was kindled, and began to take hold upon their bodies, they lifted up their hands towards heaven, and quietly and cheerily, as though they had felt no smart, they cried, "Lord Jesus, strengthen us, Lord Jesus, assist us, Lord Jesus, receive our souls! "And so they continued without any struggling, holding up their hands, and knocking their hearts, and calling upon Jesus until they had ended their mortal lives.
Among other things this is also to be noted, that after their three heads, by force of the raging and devouring flames of fire, were fallen together in a lump or cluster, which was marvellous to behold, and that they all were judged already to have given up the ghost, suddenly Palmer, as a man waked out of sleep, moved his tongue and jaws, and was heard to pronounce this word, "Jesus!" So, being resolved into ashes, he yielded to God as joyful a soul, (confirmed with the sweet promises of Christ,) as any one that ever was called beside to suffer for his blessed name. God grant us all to be moved with the like spirit, working in our hearts constantly to stand in defence and confession of Christ's holy gosphexasticonend. Amen.
De Martyrio Palmero, hexasticon.
Palmerus flammas Christi pro dogmate passus,
Impositum pondus, ceu bona palms, tulit.
Non retrocessit, sed, contra, audientior ivit,
Illęsam retinens fortis in igne fidem.
Propteria in clum nunc Palmifer iste receptus,
Justitiae Palmam non pereuntis habet.
"Justus ut palma florebit."