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BONNER


676


BONNER


remarking that when anyone "calmly inquires what these tales so full of rage and fury really mean, when they mean anything, he finds the bloody wolf trans- formed . . . into something much more like a good- tempered mastiff, who might safely be played with, and who, thougli he might be teased into barking and growling, had no disposition to bite and would not do it without orders". (Essays. 422-424.)

Another \-irulent opponent of Bonner was John Bale, formerly a friar and ex-Bishop of Ossory, who in 1554 published from his place of exile at Basle, an attack on the bishop, in which he speaks of him as "the bloody sheep-bite of London", "bloody Bon- ner", and still coarser epithets. Concerning this out- burst Dr. Maitland quietly remarks, "when Bale WTote this book, little that could be called persecution had taken place. Not one martjT had suffered." These attacks of Foxe and Bale are noteworthy as being the foundation on which the current traditional view of Bonner's work and character has been based, a tradition that has only been broken down by the research of the past century. A man so regarded could expect small consideration when the death of Mary (17th November, 1558) placed Elizabeth on the tlirone, and the new queen's attitude to the bishop was marked at their first inter\aew, when she refused him her hand to kiss. From 24th June, 1559, the Mass was forbidden as well as all other ser\'iees not in the Book of Common Prayer, but long before that date the Mass ceased in most London churches, though Bonner took care that in liis cathedral at least it should still be celebrated. On 30th May, II Schifanoya, envoy from the Court of Mantua, wrote: "Tlie Council sent twice or thrice to summon the Bishop of London to give him orders to remove the service of the Mass and of the Divine Office in that Church; but he answered them intrepidly 'I possess three things — soul, body, and property. Of the two latter, you can dispose at your pleasure, but as to the soul, God alone can command me. ' He remained constant about body and property, and again to-day he has been called to the Council, but I do not yet know what they said to him." (Phillips, op. cit. infra, 103.) As a matter of fact, they had ordered him to resign the bishopric, which he refused to do, adding that he preferred death. He was then de- prived of the office and went for a time to West^ minster Abbey. On 20th April, 1560, he was sent as a. prisoner to the Marshalsea. During the next two years representatives of the reforming party fre- quently clamoured for the execution of Bonner and the other imprisoned bisliops. When the Parliament of 1563 met, a new Act was passed by which the first refusal of the oath of royal supremacy was praemunire, the second, high treason. The bishops had refused the oath once, so that by this Act, which became law on 10th April, their next refusal of the oath might be followed by their death. On 24th April, the Spanish Ambassador writes that Bonner and some others had been already called on to take the oath. Partly owing to the intervention of the emperor and partly to an outbreak of the plague, no further steps seem to have been taken at the time. A year later, on 29th AprU, 1564, the oath was again tendered to Bonner by Home, the Anglican Bishop of Winchester. This he firmly refused, but the interference of the Spanish ambassador and his own readiness of resource saved immediate consequences. Being well skilled both in civil and canon law, he raised the point that Home, who offered him the oath, was not qualified to do so, as he had not been validly consecrated bishop. This challenged the new hierarchy as to the validity of their orders, and so strong was Bonner's case that the Gov- ernment evaded meeting it, and the proceedings com- menced against him were adjourned time after time. Four times a year for three years he was forced to appear- in the courts at Westminster only to be fur-


ther remanded. The last of these appearances took place in the Michaelmas term of 1568, so that the last year of the bishop's life was spent in the peace of 1 is prison. His demeanour during his long imprisomnent was remarkable for unfailing cheerfulness, and even Jewel describes him in a letter as "a most courteous man and gentlemanly both in his manners and ap- pearance" (Zurich Letters, I, 34). The end came on 5th September, 1569, when he died in the Marshalsea. The Anglican Bishop of London wrote to Cecil to say that he had been buried in St. George's churchyard, Southwark, but if this was so the coffin was soon secretly removed to Copford, near Colchester, where it was buried under the north side of the altar. Sander, Bridgewater, and other contemporary ^\Titers attributed to Bonner and the other bishops who died in prison the honour of martjTdom: in rinculis ohierunt marlyrcs. On the walls of the English College, Rome, an inscription recording the death of the eleven bishops, but without naming them, found a place among the paintings of the martyrs. In a work quoted below the Catholic tradition with regard to these bishops has been ably set forth by Rev. George Phillips, avowedly for the purpose of pro- moting their beatification. Bishop Bonner differs from the others in this respect, that owing to the prominent part circumstances compelled him to play in the persecution, he was attacked during life with a hatred which has followed him e\-en after death, so that in English history few names have been so e.x- ecrated and vilified as his. Tardy justice is now being done to his memory by historians, Catholic and Protestant alike, yet there remains immense preju- dice against his memory in the popular mind. Nor could this be otherwise in face of the calumnies that have been repeated by tradition. The reckless charges of Bale and Foxe were repeated by Burnet Hume, and others, who join in representing him as an inhuman persecutor, "a man of protiigate manners and of a brutal character, who seemed to rejoice in the torments of the unhappy sufferers" (Hume c. x-xxvii). The first historian of note to challenge this verdict was the Catholic, Lingard, though even he WTote in a very tentative way and it was by an Anglican historian, S. R. Maitland, that anything like justice was first done to Bonner. This ■^Titer's analysis remains the most discriminating summary of the bishop's cliaracter. "Setting aside declama- tion and looking at the details of facts left by those who may be called, if people please, Bonner's victims, and their friends, we find, very consistently main- tained, the cliaracter of a man, straightforward and hearty, familiar and humorous, sometimes rough, per- haps coarse, naturally hot tempered, but obviously (by the testimony of his enemies) placable and easily intreated, capable of bearing most "patiently much intemperate and insolent language, much reviling and low abuse directed against himself personally, against his order, and against those peculiar doctrines and practices of his church for maintaining which he liad himself suffered the loss of all things, and borne long imprisonment. At the same time not incapable of being provoked into saying harsh and passionate things, but much more frequently meaning nothing by the threatenings and slaughter which he breathed out, than to intimidate those on whose ignorance and simplicity argument seemed to be thrown away — in short, we can scarcely read mth attention any one of the cases detailed by those who were no friends of Bonner, without seeing in him a judge who (even if we grant that he was dispensing bad laws badly) was obviously desirous to save the prisoner's life." This verdict has been generally followed by later his- torians, and the last word has been added, for the present, in the recently published volume on the Reformation, in the "Cambridge Modern History" planned by Lord Acton (1903) where the statement