|05-04-2009, 08:05 AM||#1|
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Benson, Robert Hugh: Come Rack! Come Rope!. V1. 4 May 2009
Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914) is another member of that group of important Catholic writers from the first half of the twentieth century. In his case, though, his premature death in his early forties meant that he has never become as well-known as some of his more famous contemporaries such as Mgsr. Ronald Knox, Hilaire Belloc, and G. K. Chesterton.
He is best known for his novels, particularly his "prophetic" novels such as Lord of the World, but in his time he was also a sought-after preacher.
Very nearly the whole of this book is sober historical fact; and by far the greater number of the personages named in it once lived and acted in the manner in which I have presented them. My hero and my heroine are fictitious; so also are the parents of my heroine, the father of my hero, one lawyer, one woman, two servants, a farmer and his wife, the landlord of an inn, and a few other entirely negligible characters. But the family of the FitzHerberts passed precisely through the fortunes which I have described; they had their confessors and their one traitor (as I have said). Mr. Anthony Babington plotted, and fell, in the manner that is related; Mary languished in Chartley under Sir Amyas Paulet; was assisted by Mr. Bourgoign; was betrayed by her secretary and Mr. Gifford, and died at Fotheringay; Mr. Garlick and Mr. Ludlam and Mr. Simpson received their vocations, passed through their adventures; were captured at Padley, and died in Derby. Father Campion (from whose speech after torture the title of the book is taken) suffered on the rack and was executed at Tyburn. Mr. Topcliffe tormented the Catholics that fell into his hands; plotted with Mr. Thomas FitzHerbert, and bargained for Padley (which he subsequently lost again) on the terms here drawn out. My Lord Shrewsbury rode about Derbyshire, directed the search for recusants and presided at their deaths; priests of all kinds came and went in disguise; Mr. Owen went about constructing hiding-holes; Mr. Bassett lived defiantly at Langleys, and dabbled a little (I am afraid) in occultism; Mr. Fenton was often to be found in Hathersage—*all these things took place as nearly as I have had the power of relating them. Two localities only, I think, are disguised under their names—*Booth’s Edge and Matstead. Padley, or rather the chapel in which the last mass was said under the circumstances described in this book, remains, to this day, close to Grindleford Station. A Catholic pilgrimage is made there every year; and I have myself once had the honour of preaching on such an occasion, leaning against the wall of the old hall that is immediately beneath the chapel where Mr. Garlick and Mr. Ludlam said their last masses, and were captured. If the book is too sensational, it is no more sensational than life itself was to Derbyshire folk between 1579 and 1588.
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