618. Father Robert Persons to Juan De Idiaquez.
Introduces the bearer, a soldier in habit, but a priest by vocation,
who brings an account of affairs in Scotland. He is a good man
who has suffered for the cause, and full credit may be given to him.
With regard to the special business about which he comes, the
writer reminds Idiaquez that he has frequently said that the
English and Scotch affairs might be advantageously taken in hand
jointly. The difficulties which have presented themselves to this
will be solved by the message of this priest. The nobles who send
him have more at stake than anyone, and they consider the affair
easy. It is a great thing to have converted so many gentlepeople
to the faith in so few years, as he will relate. It is also very
important that they can give a good harbour. Brittany being so
near, too, is a great advantage. There are several points that have
great weight with the writer. First, these lords are in such
a condition that, if his Majesty will not help them, they will
leave Scotland, which will mean entire English domination there.
Secondly, in no place in the world can the queen of England be so
much troubled as in Scotland, if these gentlemen can raise the force
they say. Nothing has grieved her so much for years as these
Scottish troubles. Thirdly, whenever France has been at war with
England the French have always sent money and men to Scotland,
which caused a diversion. They used to say that every thousand
Frenchmen in Scotland were of more avail against England than
3,000 in France. So if his Majesty sends the 4,000 men they
ask it will be better than 10,000 elsewhere against the Queen.
Fourthly, the King (of Spain) has so many Scotsmen and Englishmen
in his service in Flanders, where little is being done, and they can be
employed with advantage in this matter. It might be well for
his Majesty to send some person with this priest to Scotland, to
investigate the state of affairs. He should be an experienced man,
speaking some tongue other than Spanish, as otherwise he would
certainly be discovered. William Bodenham might do. He speaks
many languages, and Don Bernardino de Mendoza used to say that
he was a man to be trusted. He only suggests this.
Pray console the Scotsmen somehow, and despatch the bearer
without delay with an answer. For secrecy he is dressed as a
soldier. For God's sake send him off soon, he has already been
delayed on the road, and he has three English students with him,
who have spent all they had. You must give him money to take
him back to Scotland, and if his Majesty gives enough to take with
him another priest it will be well.—Valladolid, 31st August 1583.
619. John Cecil's Statement.
With the above letter from Persons, introducing the priest John
Cecil to Idiaquez, there is enclosed a holograph statement by Cecil
himself, to the following effect :—
To the question his Lordship asked me the other day, as to
what result would follow if the aid to Scotland were granted, I do
not think I gave so full a reply as its importance demanded, my
mind being full of other points at the time.
I now put in writing the answer I should have given, as his
Lordship's many occupations and the strange garb I wear prevent
me from having many interviews with him.
If the aid requested by the lords be sent—
1. It will enable them to seize the King and restore the Catholic
2. It will secure Scotland for ever to his Majesty's interest.
3. There is no means so efficacious as this for troubling the queen
of England, and preventing her from carrying out her ideas
in France, Flanders, and the Indies.
4. The great difficulties in the English enterprise always have
been the sea voyage, the securing of a good harbour, and the
question of the Catholics there joining the (Spanish) King's
forces. All these difficulties are overcome by the small
expenditure which will be incurred in this Scotch affair.
The lords will find a harbour and defend it, the attack on
England will be made where the Catholics are strongest,
on the Scotch border, and there will be neither sea, fortresses,
nor forces to prevent them from joining his Majesty's troops.
The Queen cannot send an army thither under two or three
My own opinion is that the aid should be sent in the winter, as
the land in Scotland is dry and sandy, and more adapted to bear
artillery than that of England. In the winter an English force
could make but slow progress. In the month of October the land
(Scotland) is full of food, the harvest garnered, the fish barrelled,
the cattle fat, etc.
I was delighted the other day to see the Prince, and I could
hardly take my eyes off him, as I had so often heard heretics talk
of his infirmity and imbecility, and the impossibility of his living
many years. They found their hopes of the disruption of Spain on
the King's death and the Prince's supposed incapacity, and this is
the great theme of their books and sermons. Knowing this, my joy
was great to see with my own eyes how mistaken these imps of
Satan were, the Prince being so healthy, clever, and handsome. I
wish a good portrait of him could be made and sold everywhere, so
as to upset these heretic delusions.
(Prays for prompt dispatch. If the matter be undertaken he is
anxious and ready to risk his life for it ; but if not, pray let him
go back and work in the Lord's vineyard again as before.)
Pupil of the Seminary of Valladolid.
The above papers are docketed in Idiaquez's hand—"Father
Persons and the disguised one, and the relation of the latter, as to
the results to be expected from the Scotch affair."