Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 43.djvu/420

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Parsons
Parsons
414

Creighton to the pope at Rome. Parsons quickly gained the confidence of the Spanish king, and it was on this occasion that he obtained from him a subsidy of 24,000 crowns for the king of Scotland and an annual pension of 2,000 ducats for the seminary at Rheims. The raid of Ruthven and its consequences, however, put a stop for a moment to the plan of invasion.

A new enterprise was projected for the September of 1583, and this time, as Tassis wrote to Philip, the attack was to take place on the side of England, and by means proposed by Parsons. On 22 Aug. the Jesuit was sent by the Duke of Guise with written instructions to Rome, whence, after a short stay, ho returned to Flanders, and there he remained for some time with the court of the Duke of Parma. When Throgmorton's capture and disclosures once more disconcerted the plans of the confederates, and when the Duke of Guise had become absorbed in the troubles of his own country, Philip took the affair into his own hands, committed its execution to the Duke of Parma, and gave orders that Parsons, Allen, and Hew Owen should deal in the matter with no other person. In September 1585, Sixtus V having succeeded Gregory XIII, Parsons and Allen took up their residence in Rome, where the Jesuit remained till after the sailing of the armada. All the efforts of the two priests were now directed towards overcoming the procrastination of Philip and the reluctance of the pope to risk his money on the enterprise. In 1587, and even before the execution of Mary Stuart, Parsons and Allen, at the suggestion of Olivarez, the Spanish ambassador at Rome, and assisted by a skilful genealogist, Robert Heighinton, were drawing up royal pedigrees and writing memorials on the succession, discussing the question whether Philip's acquisition of the English throne should be based mainly on the right of conquest or on a legitimate claim by inheritance (ib. pp. xcvi, 282). On 7 Aug. of that year Parsons obtained what he had long earnestly solicited, the promotion of his friend to the cardinalate. 'Under heaven,' wrote Allen, 'Father Parsons made me cardinal. Olivarez who found in Parsons 'great fertility of resource and very good discretion,' desired that he should accompany the cardinal to Flanders, to be there in readiness to cross over to England with Parma's forces; but this intention was not carried out.

Parsons, who for a short time in 1588 held the rectorship of the English College, left Rome 6 Nov. of that year on his way to Spain and Portugal, where he remained for nearly nine years. The immediate occasion of this journey was concerned with the internal affairs of his order. Philip was contemplating some inquisitorial visitation of the Jesuit houses in a manner distasteful to the society, and the general had selected Parsons, who stood high in the king's favour, and was conspicuous for diplomatic tact, as the most suitable agent for the adjustment of the difficulty (More, p. 156). Parsons accomplished his mission with satisfaction to all concerned, and meanwhile found plenty of congenial work of another kind at the court of Spain. He had before leaving Rome suggested to Allen that the danger of the times made it prudent to erect other English missionary houses elsewhere than in France. The assassination of the Duke of Guise led to the abandonment of Parsons's school at Eu, and he at once set about the establishment of a similar school on a more solid footing at St. Omer, with an annual pension from Philip (1592). Dr. Barret, superior of the college at Rheims, meanwhile, acting on Parsons's advice, had sent some pupils from Rheims into Spain (May 1589). Parsons obtained for them money, a house at Valladolid, and a pension from the crown, under a Jesuit superior. This foundation, named St. Albans, was confirmed by the pope in 1592. In this same year, 25 Nov., the Jesuit, with the aid of Don Francis Caravajal, the bishop of Jaen, and the Duke of Sesa, founded another seminary, St. Gregory's at Seville. Father Peralta was appointed its rector, and the college was confirmed by Clement VIII in May 1594. At San Lucar, in the neighbourhood of Seville, a chaplaincy and confraternity of English merchants was, by Parsons's intervention, converted into a residency of English secular priests in 1591, and provided with a code of rules obliging them to receive and forward missionaries from the seminaries into England. A similar community of priests was also founded by him at Madrid in 1592 (Dodd, ed. Tierney, iii. 176-8).

Parsons meanwhile was inciting Philip to renew his attack upon England; but, although he believed firmly, with Sir Francis Englefield, that the nation could only be brought back to the pope by force of arms, he as strenuously urged upon the king that no invasion could be successful that was not supported by a large body of sympathisers at home. He had been disgusted at seeing how the Spanish ministers and officers had slighted and alienated English catholics even at the time of the armada. 'To think' (he wrote indignantly to Don Juan d'Idiaquez in April 1591) 'to get the upper hand in Eng-