servant Jones tracked him to the tiles of Bellamy's house, and Topcliffe himself led him triumphantly back to London. ‘I never did take so weighty a man,’ Topcliffe wrote to the queen, ‘if he be rightly used’ (Strype, Annals, iv. 185). Imprisoned at first in his captor's house in Westminster churchyard, Southwell was brutally tortured. Four days were spent by Topcliffe in seeking to extort from him information that might be of service in prosecuting other catholics. Questions were put to him respecting the designs of the Countess of Arundel and of Father Robert Parsons, but Southwell declined all answer. On 24 June he was removed to the gatehouse at Westminster. His cell there was alive with vermin, and his father, after paying him a visit, petitioned the queen either to let his son suffer death if he deserved it, or to direct that he should be treated like a gentleman, and not be confined longer in ‘that filthy hole.’ The queen received the petition graciously, and in September Southwell was carried to the Tower, where his father was permitted to supply him with clothes, with such books as the bible and the works of St. Bernard, and with ‘other necessaries.’ His sister Mary, wife of Edward Banistre of Idsworth, Hampshire, and a few other friends were occasionally admitted to his cell. Meanwhile he was thirteen times examined by members of the council, and subjected to agonising torments. He was not racked, he said at his trial, but experienced new kinds of tortures worse than the rack. He replied to the inquisitors that he was a jesuit and was prepared to die. Little more was elicited from him. In the pathetic verses with which he sought to solace his suffering he constantly prayed for death and the glory of martyrdom. In April 1594 the lieutenant of the Tower entered his name on his list of prisoners as ‘Robert Southwell alias Cotton, a Jesuit and infamous traitor’ (State Papers, Dom. Eliz. ccxlviii. No. 68).
In February 1595 the council, after a delay of nearly three years, resolved to let the law take its course. On 18 Feb. he was brought from the Tower to Newgate, where he was placed in the dungeon known as ‘Limbo.’ Two days later he was brought before the court of king's bench at Westminster and put on his trial for high treason, under the statute of 27 Eliz. c. 2, which prohibited the presence in England of jesuits or seminary priests. When the indictment was read, Southwell replied ‘Not guilty of any treason.’ He interrupted the attorney-general's speech for the crown with protests against the tortures he had undergone. He defended the doctrine of equivocation, and boldly impugned the justice of the law under which he was arraigned. The jury brought in a verdict of death, and he was sentenced to a traitor's death, with all its ghastly incidents. After he was taken back to Newgate, he was visited by ministers of religion and by an influential member of the government (it is said), who hoped that, in face of death, Southwell might prove more communicative than he had proved previously about the designs of the catholics against the government. On 21 Feb. he was drawn on a sledge to the gallows at Tyburn. When lifted on to the cart he proudly declared himself to be ‘a priest of the catholic and Roman church, and of the society of Jesus;’ but he solemnly denied that he had ever attempted, contrived, or imagined any evil against the queen. The hangman did his work badly. The noose was clumsily attached to Southwell's throat, and some time elapsed before life was extinct. An officer essayed to cut the rope while Southwell still breathed, but Lord Mountjoy and other bystanders ordered him to let the dying man alone. When his head was cut off and held up to the crowd, no one was heard to cry ‘Traitor!’
Southwell was described as of middle stature and auburn hair. A contemporary life-sized portrait (in oils) is in the Jesuits' house at Fribourg. A crayon drawing of it by Charles Weld, esq., of Chideock was made in 1845, and is now at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire. An engraving of this drawing by W. J. Alais was prefixed to Dr. Grosart's edition of the poems. Another early engraving of Southwell in the Jesuit habit, with rope and knife, is also known; a copy is inserted in the 1630 edition of ‘St. Peter's Complaint’ in the British Museum.
Southwell left many volumes in verse and prose ready for publication, and immediately after his death at least three volumes—two in verse and one in prose—were sent to the press. On 5 April 1595—barely two months after his execution—Gabriel Cawood, who had already published his ‘Mary Magdalen's Tears,’ obtained a license for the publication of his chief collection of verse, including his only long poem, ‘St. Peter's Complaint,’ in 132 six-lined stanzas. The volume appeared in the same year under the title of ‘Saint Peter's Complaint, with other Poems’ (Brit. Mus.), and was printed by I[ames] R[oberts] for G[abriel] C[awood]. There was no author's name, but an anonymous address, clearly from the author's pen, was headed, ‘To my worthy good cosen Maister W. S.’ (Brit. Mus.) An immediate reissue of the volume by John Wolfe in 1595, which was doubtless piratical, was proof of the book's