Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/184

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Latimer
Latimer
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delivered, and the pursuivant was ordered to leave it to himself to obey or fly. Latimer, however, told the man he was a welcome messenger, and said he was quite prepared to go and give an account of his preaching (Sermons, p. 321). On the 13th he appeared before the council, 'and for his seditious demeanour was committed to the Tower' with his attendant, Augustine Bernher (MS. Harl. 643). His imprisonment, though probably not exceptionally severe, was trying to so old a man, and in winter he sent word to the lieutenant that if he was not better looked to he might perhaps deceive him; meaning, as he afterwards explained, that he should perish by cold and not, as expected, by fire. He was, however, comforted by writings sent to him by his fellow-prisoner, Ridley. In fact it would seem that they were allowed to prepare and write out a joint defence on the charge of heresy. Bernher acted as Latimer's secretary, and copied out the writings sent him by Ridley.

In March 1554 Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer were sent down to Oxford, to dispute with the best divines of both universities on three articles touching the mass. On 14 April the proceedings were begun in St. Mary's Church by the reading of a commission from convocation to discuss the three questions. The three captives appeared before the commissioners, Latimer 'with a kerchief and two or three caps on his head, his spectacles hanging by a string at his breast, and a staff in his hand.' He was allowed a chair. He protested that owing to age, sickness, want of practice, and lack of books, he was almost as meet to discuss theology as to be captain of Calais; but he would declare his mind plainly. He complained, however, that he had neither pen nor ink, nor any book but the New Testament, which he said he had read over seven times without finding the mass in it, nor yet the marrow-bones or sinews thereof. A discussion was appointed for Wednesday following, the 18th. On that day Latimer, who was very faint and 'durst not drink for fear of vomiting,' handed written replies to the three propositions, defining his own position. Then complaining that he had been silenced by the outcry on his former appearance he explained what he meant by the four marrow-bones of the mass as four superstitious practices and beliefs in which it mainly consisted. A discussion of three hours followed, although he protested that his memory was 'clean gone.' On Friday following all three prisoners were brought up to hear their sentence, after being once more adjured to recant, and were formally excommunicated. Next day mass was again celebrated, with the host carried in procession, which the prisoners were brought to view from three different places. Latimer, who was taken to the bailiff's house, expected his end at once, and desired a quick fire to be made; but when he saw the procession he rushed into a shop to avoid looking at it.

A long delay followed, although the realm was formally reconciled to the church of Rome on 30 Nov. 1554, and the persecution began in February 1554–5. It was not till 28 Sept. 1555 that the cardinal sent three bishops to Oxford to examine the three prisoners further, with power to reconcile them if penitent, or else hand them over to the secular arm. During this interval they were more strictly guarded than they had been before the disputation; each was lodged in a separate place, with a strange man to wait upon him, and pens, ink, and paper were strictly forbidden to them. A liberal diet was, however, allowed them, and the sympathy of friends, and even strangers, found means to send them presents and messages.

Ridley and Latimer appeared before the three bishops in the divinity school on 30 Sept. Latimer complained of having to wait, 'gazing upon the cold walls,' during Ridley's examination, and was assured it was an accident. He then knelt before the bishops, 'holding his hat in his hand, having a kerchief on his head, and upon it a nightcap or two, and a great cap (such as townsmen use, with two broad flaps to button under the chin), wearing an old threadbare Bristol frieze gown girded to his body with a penny leather girdle, at the which hanged by a long string of leather his testament, and his spectacles without case depending about his neck upon his breast.' He made a spirited reply to an exhortation to recant from Whyte, bishop of Lincoln. In the end his answers were taken to five articles, all of which he was held to have confessed. He was remanded till next day.

Accordingly, 1 Oct., both Ridley and Latimer appeared again. Latimer was called, after Ridley had received sentence, the cloth being meanwhile removed from the table at which Ridley had stood, because Latimer, it was said, had never taken the degree of doctor. He complained of the pressure of the multitude on his entering the court, saying he was an old man with 'a very evil back.' He declared that he acknowledged the catholic church, but denied the Romish, and adhered to his previous answers, without admitting the competence of the tribunal which derived its authority from the pope. Sentence was then passed upon him by the Bishop of Lin-