205. DR. LONDON AND THE GOLDSMITH.
A notable example, wherein may appear as well the despite of Dr. London and other papists against the gospellers, as also the fidelity of a matron towards her husband.
Forasmuch as mention was made a little before of Dr. London, we will somewhat more add of him, because the matter seemeth neither impertinent nor unfruitful, to the intent it may more evidently appear, what truth and trust is to be looked for of this cruel kind of papists. This Dr. London was warden of New College in Oxford, where it happened that certain plate was stolen, and conveyed and brought up to London, and sold to a goldsmith, named William Callaway. This Callaway was a man of good and honest name and reputation among his neighbours, but especially earnest and zealous towards the gospel, and a great maintainer thereof. He had, oftentimes before, bought much plate of the same man without any peril or danger: wherefore, he doubted the less of his fidelity.
At last the principal of the theft being taken, and the goldsmith also, that was the buyer, being known, Dr. London, when he understood him to be a favourer of the gospel, (whereof he was an extreme adversary,) began straightways to be in a rage, and to swear great and deep oaths, that he would spare neither labour nor cost, but would bring the goldsmith to the gallows, although it should cost him five hundred pounds. To be short, this good goldsmith was arraigned as accessory, and an action of felony brought against him. He, contrariwise, alleged, that they ought not to proceed against him, the principal being alive. Dr. London, on the contrary part, affirmed that the principal was hanged; which was most false, for he was one of the same college, and was alive, and but lately set at liberty. To be brief, he being found guilty, the judge asked him what he could allege why he should not die? He required to have the privilege of his book according to the ancient custom and manner. But here it was objected against him that he had two wives, and therefore he might not have his book by the law: notwithstanding that, he never had two wives; but, because his wife had two husbands, it was imputed to him for bigamy.
Thus this good goldsmith, being secluded from all hope of life by the crafty spite of his malignant adversaries, his wife, being a woman of proved honesty and good fame, came in before the judges; and, perceiving her former marriage to be hurtful unto her husband, to save her husband's life, she took an oath before the judges that she was never married to more men than to the said goldsmith: and, although she had children by her other husband, and continued divers years with him, yet she sware that she was never married unto him. Thus this woman, by defaming of herself, to her great praise and singular example of love, delivered her innocent husband; thinking it better for her to live with ignominy and reproach, than for her husband to die; less esteeming the loss of her good name, than of his life.
As touching the quality of this fact or perjury, I intermeddle not here to discuss, but leave it at large to the judgment of lawyers to define upon. Truth it is, that perjury neither in man nor woman is to be commended, neither ought it to be defended. But yet, the true heart and faithful love between this man and his wife, counterpoising again as much or more on the other side, the more rare and strange I see it in many couples now-a-days, the more I think it worthy, not only to be praised, but also, for example's sake, to be notified. But, in the mean time, what shall we say to these priests and adversaries, who, in such sort violently do press and force the poor sheep of Christ, with peril of their conscience, unto such perjury; and that, in such causes, where no such truth is sought, but innocency oppressed, true religion persecuted, and only their spite and wrath against God's word wreaked.