Southwell, Robert (1561?-1595) (DNB00)
SOUTHWELL, ROBERT (1561?–1595), jesuit and poet, born about 1561, was third son of Richard Southwell of Horsham St. Faith's, Norfolk, by his first wife, Bridget, daughter of Sir Roger Copley of Roughway, Sussex. The poet's maternal grandmother was Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Shelley [q. v.], from a younger branch of whose family descended Percy Bysshe Shelley [q. v.] Sir Richard Southwell [q. v.] was the poet's paternal grandfather, but his father was born out of wedlock. As an infant Robert is said to have been stolen from his cradle by gipsies, but was soon recovered. At a very early age he was sent to school at Douay, where the jesuit Leonard Lessius was his master in philosophy, and in his fifteenth year he passed to Paris, where he was under the care of the jesuit Thomas Darbyshire [q. v.] The order of the jesuits excited in him as a boy enthusiastic admiration, and he at once applied for admission. Consideration of his request was postponed on the score of his youth, and his disappointment found vent in a passionate lament in English prose, which is remarkable for its emotional piety. At length his wishes were realised, and on 17 Oct. 1578, the vigil of St. Luke and the day of St. Faith, he was enrolled at Rome ‘amongst the children’ destined to become jesuits. His two years' novitiate was mainly passed at Tournay. On 21 May 1580 he wrote a glowing poem on Whitsuntide in Latin hexameters (Works, ed. Grosart, pp. 214–15). On 18 Oct. 1580, on the feast of St. Luke, he was admitted to the first or simple religious vows of a scholastic of the society. Returning to Rome, he took holy orders, became prefect of studies in the English College there, and wrote much English verse and prose, which evinced at once poetic gifts and an ecstatic zeal for his vocation. He was ordained priest in the summer of 1584, and, in accordance with his earnest wish, was soon nominated to the English mission. The rigorous administration of the penal laws against catholics exposed priests in England to the utmost peril. Under the act of 1584 (27 Eliz. c. 2), any native-born subject of the queen who had been ordained a Roman catholic priest since the first year of her accession, and resided in this country more than forty days, was guilty of treason, and incurred the penalty of death. But shortly before leaving Rome Southwell wrote to Aquaviva, general of the jesuits, of his desire for martyrdom.
Southwell set out on 8 May 1586 in company with Father Henry Garnett [q. v.] A spy reported to Sir Francis Walsingham, the queen's secretary, their landing on the east coast in July, but they arrived without molestation at the house at Hackney of William, third lord Vaux of Harrowden. The latter, like other catholic nobles, extended to Southwell a warm welcome. Only one jesuit, William Weston, had previously made his way to England, but he was arrested and sent to Wisbeach Castle in 1587. In 1588 Southwell and Garnett were joined by John Gerard (1564–1637) [q. v.] and Edward Oldcorne [q. v.]
Southwell was from the outset closely watched, and experienced many stirring adventures in his efforts to escape arrest. At first all went well. He mixed furtively in protestant society under the assumed name of Cotton, and, with a view to concealing his vocation the more effectively, he studied the terms of sport, and often interpolated his conversation with them. His writings abound in metaphors drawn from falconry (cf. Morris, Condition of our Catholic Forefathers, 2nd ser. p. xxiii). Although residing for the most part in London, he contrived to make occasional excursions to Sussex and the north, and he forwarded to friends in Rome detailed information of the position of his co-religionists in England. He thus won the reputation of being ‘the chief dealer in the affairs of England for the papists.’ In the performance of his sacerdotal functions Southwell likewise inspired general confidence. He much excelled, according to Gerard, in the art ‘of helping and gaining souls, being at once prudent, pious, meek, and exceedingly winning.’ With much assiduity he applied himself to the conversion of his father and brother, and he was apparently rewarded by success (Foley, i. 339–47). A fervent exhortation to his father, of which manuscript copies are often met with, bears the date 22 Oct. 1589 (cf. Stonyhurst MSS. and Addit. MS. Brit. Mus. 34395, f. 36).
In the same year Southwell seems to have become domestic chaplain and confessor to Anne, wife of Philip Howard, first earl of Arundel. The latter had been confined in the Tower of London since 1585, and was convicted of treason in 1589; but his execution was postponed, and he remained in prison till his death in 1596. Southwell took up his residence with the countess at Arundel House in the Strand. During 1591 he occupied most of his time in literary work, by which he hoped to cheer the spirits of his persecuted coreligionists. Although he never forsook verse, his main efforts were for the moment confined to prose. For the consolation, in the first instance, of the imprisoned Earl of Arundel, he composed (in prose) ‘An Epistle of Comfort to the Reverend Priestes, and to the honorable, worshipful, and other of the lay sorte restrayned in durance for the Catholike faith.’ On the death, on 19 Aug. 1591, of the earl's half-sister, Margaret, the first wife of Robert Sackville, second earl of Dorset [q. v.], Southwell addressed to her children his ‘Triumphs over Death.’ A third fervid treatise, ‘Mary Magdalen's Tears,’ he dedicated in the same year to another patroness, Dorothy Arundell, probably the daughter of Sir John Arundell of Trerice (d. 1580), and wife of Edward Cosworth; and when, in the autumn of 1591, a proclamation was issued by the government directing a more rigorous enforcement of the penal laws against the catholics, he drew up an eloquent protest in an ‘Humble Supplication to Queen Elizabeth.’
These four treatises were widely circulated in manuscript, and some of the copies Southwell made with his own pen. According to Gerard, he set up a private press in order to disseminate them the more securely; but no extant edition of any of his works can be assigned to this source (see bibliography below). At least one of these tracts, ‘Mary Magdalen's Funeral Tears,’ he contrived to publish with an established publisher. Gabriel Cawood obtained a license for the publication on 8 Nov. 1591. Manuscript copies, it was explained in the preface, had flown abroad ‘so fast and so false,’ that it was necessary for the author to have recourse ‘to the print’ in order to prevent the circulation of a corrupt text.
Although Southwell's name was not publicly associated with any of his writings, his literary activity was suspected by the government, and rendered inevitable the martyrdom which he confidently anticipated. In 1592 the last act in the short tragedy was reached. Southwell had come to know Richard Bellamy, a staunch catholic, who resided with his family at Uxenden Hall, near Harrow-on-the-Hill. The intimacy was exceptionally perilous. Jerome Bellamy, a near kinsman, had been executed in 1586 for complicity in the conspiracy of Anthony Babington [q. v.], and every member of the household was an object of suspicion (cf. Works, ed. Turnbull). Gerard states that Richard Bellamy supplied Southwell with information from which he compiled a history of the Babington plot. Nothing further is known of a work by Southwell on this subject. It is certain that Southwell, like many other catholic priests, often visited Bellamy at his house at Harrow, celebrated mass there, and gave religious instruction to his sons and daughters. To Anne Bellamy, one of the latter, Southwell, according to her statement at his trial, taught the ‘most wicked and horrible’ doctrine of equivocation. Early in 1592 the government seem to have resolved to place the whole family under arrest as recusants. The daughter Anne was the first captive. By order of Walter Copeland, bishop of London, she was on 26 Jan. 1592 committed to the gatehouse of Westminster. Subsequently she was removed to the gatehouse at Holborn, and remained there till midsummer. There she was examined by Richard Topcliffe [q. v.], the chief officer engaged in enforcing the penal laws against catholics, and under his influence she is reported by Southwell's catholic biographers to have abandoned both her faith and virtue. Topcliffe is said to have seduced her, and then, when her condition was likely to provoke scandal, to have forced her to marry his servant, Nicholas Jones. This marriage undoubtedly took place in July, and her father is stated to have been detained in prison for ten years afterwards because he refused her a marriage portion (Dod, ed. Tierney, iii. App. 197). Whether or no Topcliffe seduced the girl, there is no doubt that either he or his servant first learned from her the fact that Southwell and other priests were visitors at her father's house, as well as the exact manner in which they were secretly lodged there. On this information Topcliffe adroitly arranged, with the aid of his servant, Jones, for the arrest of the next priest who should put in an appearance at Bellamy's house. Southwell, having accidentally met Anne's brother Thomas in London, rode home with him to Uxenden to celebrate mass on 20 June 1592, and fell, an easy victim, into the trap (Morris, Troubles, 2nd ser. pp. 60–2; cf. Middlesex County Records, i. 207, ii. 197–8). Topcliffe's 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 popularity (copies in Capell collection at Trinity College, Cambridge, and Rowfant and Huth libraries). An undated and anonymous reprint, ‘newly augmented,’ was printed by H. L. for William Leake, doubtless in 1596, and it added several pieces (Brit. Mus., Jesus College, Oxford, and Britwell). Other editions, still anonymous, dated respectively 1597, 1599, and 1602, were printed by I[ames] R[oberts] for G[abriel] C[awood]. Meanwhile, another undated and anonymous edition was published by Robert Waldegrave at Edinburgh about 1600. This was edited by John Johnston [q. v.], professor of divinity at St. Andrews, who introduced a sonnet of his own, ‘A Sinful Soull to Christ,’ and occasionally modified Southwell's catholic phraseology. A reprint of this edition by John Wreittoun of Edinburgh appeared in 1634 (a copy is in the Britwell Library). All these issues were in quarto.
Meanwhile, the poems, together with the prose tract, ‘Mary Magdalen's Tears,’ were republished at Douay in 1616 (in 12mo, Brit. Mus.), and the name of the author was given on the title-page as ‘R. S. of the Society of Jesus.’ This edition reappeared ‘permissu superiorum’ in 1620 (Brit. Mus.). Almost simultaneously—in 1615—the publisher, W. Barret, caused to be printed at Stansby's press in London another 12mo edition, which he openly assigned to ‘R. S.’ Barret prefixed a dedication of his own composition to Richard Sackville, third earl of Dorset, to whom, when a child, Southwell had addressed his ‘Triumphs over Death,’ and that tract, together with ‘Mary Magdalen's Teares’ and the ‘Short Rule of Life,’ was appended to Barret's new edition of the poems. This 12mo edition reappeared in London in 1620 (by Barret; Brit. Mus.), in 1630 (by John Haviland; Brit. Mus.), and in 1634 (by John Haviland).
Two other volumes of poetry by Southwell appeared separately. One was a supplement to ‘St. Peter's Complaint,’ and was entitled ‘Mæoniæ, or certaine excellent Poems and Spirituall Hymnes omitted in the last impression of Peters Complaint: being needefull there-unto to be annexed as being both diuine and wittie. All composed by R. S. London, by Valentine Sims for John Busbie,’ 1595. John Busbie, the printer, in an address to the reader, acknowledged ‘with what kind admiration’ the former volume had been received. Copies of ‘Mæoniæ’ are in the libraries of Jesus College, Oxford, the British Museum, Rowfant, and of Mr. A. H. Huth. The volume is said to have been twice reprinted within the year. It reappeared with the later editions of ‘St. Peter's Complaint.’ Of two hymns ‘taken forth of S. Thomas de Aquino,’ which appear in ‘Briefe Meditations in the most Holy Sacrament,’ by Lucas Pinelli, S. J. (Douay?, 1600, 8vo), one is described as ‘translated by the Rev. Fa: R. S.;’ it is a reprint from the ‘Mæoniæ’ of ‘Saint Thomas of Aquinas Hymne read on Corpus Christy Daye.’).
Finally, a third volume of Southwell's verse saw the light in ‘A Foure-fould Meditation of the foure last things: viz. of the Houre of Death, Day of Iudgement, Paines of Hell, Ioyes of Heauen. Shewing the estate of the Elect and Reprobate. Composed in a diuine poeme. By R. S. The author of S. Peters Complaint. Imprinted at London by G. Eld: for Francis Burton,’ 1606. The only perfect copy known was in the library of Mr. G. L. Way, and, sold at Sotheby's in 1881, now belongs to Mr. Robert Hoe in New York. A fragment of another copy, discovered in 1867 by Mr. Charles Edmonds at Lamport Hall, the seat of Sir Charles Isham, is now in the British Museum. The dedication, which is addressed to Mr. Mathew Saunders, is signed by one W. H., who says that he became possessed of the poem by an accident. The fragment consists of only six leaves, and breaks off at an early stage of the poem. The whole is preserved, under a different title, to which no author's name is attached, in two manuscripts—respectively in the library of St. Mary's College, Oscott, Birmingham, and among the Rawlinson MSS. at the Bodleian Library. With the help of the Rawlinson manuscript, the better text, Mr. Edmonds issued a complete version of the poem in his series of ‘Isham Reprints,’ No. iv. (1895). The fragment in the British Museum was reprinted in the ‘Month,’ edited by the Rev. H. Thurston, in 1894.
It is improbable that Southwell was the ‘R. S.’ who contributed a commendatory sonnet to Spenser's ‘Faerie Queene’ (1590).
Francis Godolphin Waldron appended in 1783 a few of Southwell's poems to a reprint of Ben Jonson's ‘Sad Shepherd,’ and Headley transferred Waldron's selections to his ‘Select Beauties of English Poetry,’ published in the same year. Collected editions of Southwell's poetical works were edited by W. J. Walter in 1817 and by W. B. Turnbull in 1856. Both editors included a few poems previously unprinted (from Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 10422, which contains inter alia the only complete manuscript copy extant of ‘St. Peter's Complaint;’ and from Harl. MS. 6921). But the text in both cases is imperfect. Dr. Grosart, in his collected edition in the ‘Fuller's Worthies Library’ (1872), obtained a somewhat better text by collating the printed editions with manuscript copies at Stonyhurst, which are not in the poet's autograph, but occasionally contain corrections assumably in his handwriting. Much Latin verse by Southwell on sacred topics is also among the Stonyhurst manuscripts, and several of his Latin poems were printed for the first time in Dr. Grosart's edition. But neither Walter nor Turnbull nor Dr. Grosart reprinted the ‘Foure-fould Meditation.’
Six English prose tracts by Southwell have been printed: 1. ‘Mary Magdalens Teares,’ licensed to Gabriel Cawood, 8 Nov. 1591, was published in that year, but no copy seems known. A second edition has the title ‘Mary Magdalens Funerall Teares, Jeremiæ c. 6, ver. 26: Luctum unigeniti fac tibi planctum amarum, London, printed for A[bel] J[effes] G[abriel] C[awood], 1594,’ 8vo. Other separate editions are dated 1602 (Brit. Mus.), 1607, 1609, and 1630. It was also reprinted frequently from 1615 onwards with ‘St. Peter's Complaint’ (see supra). Later reprints are dated 1772 and 1827, and it formed vol. iv. of ‘Antiquarian Classics,’ 1823. A rough draft is among the Stonyhurst manuscripts.
2. ‘A Short Rule of Good Life: to direct the devout Christian in a regular and ordinary course,’ was licensed to John Wolfe on 25 Nov. 1598; but the extant copies (in 8vo at Lambeth and Bodleian) are without date or place or printer's name, and were probably published at Douay. The dedication, signed ‘R. S.,’ is addressed ‘to my deare affected friend M. D. S., Gentleman,’ and there are some prefatory verses by the author. It was reissued in the 1615 edition of Southwell's poems.
3. ‘The Triumphs ouer Death; or A Consolatorie Epistle for afflicted minds, in the affects of dying friends. First written for the consolation of one: but nowe published for the generall good of all by R. S., the Authour of S. Peters Complaint, and Mæoniæ his other Hymnes, London, printed by Valentine Simmes for John Busbie, and are to be Solde at Nicholas Lings shop,’ 1596, 4to. Fine copies are in the library of Jesus College, Oxford, and at Britwell. It is dedicated by ‘S. W.’ (doubtless Southwell himself) to the children of Margaret Sackville, countess of Dorset, and there are verses and an acrostic on Southwell's name by John Trussell [q. v.], and an elegy on the countess by Southwell. It was reprinted with the poems in 1615 and successive seventeenth-century editions, and in Brydges's ‘Archaica,’ 1815, vol. i.
4. ‘A Humble Supplication to Her Maiestie, printed anno 1595,’ written in 1591, edited by the jesuits Garnett and Blackwell, was printed at Douay or St. Omer, and was probably first issued in 1600; the dates 1595 on the title-page and ‘14 Dec. 1595’ at the end of the tract were doubtless inserted to deceive the English authorities. Two copies which were seized by the government as contraband are at Lambeth, and one is at the British Museum. A manuscript copy is in the Inner Temple Library.
5. ‘An Epistle of Comfort to the Reverend Priestes, and to the honorable, worshipful, and other of the lay sorte restrayned in durance for the Catholike faith,’ was first issued without date (1593?), with the words ‘Imprinted at Paris’ on the title-page (Brit. Mus. and Britwell). A later issue, ‘printed with license 1605,’ came doubtless from Douay (Brit. Mus.). Both these issues were without an author's name. A third edition ‘by R. S. of the Society of Jesus,’ appeared ‘permissu superiorum’ in 1616, probably at St. Omer.
6. ‘Hundred Meditations on the Love of God’ was first printed by Father Morris, from the original manuscript at Stonyhurst, in 1873; it is prefaced by a letter of the transcriber to Honora, wife of Edward Seymour, lord Beauchamp [see under Seymour, Edward, Earl of Hertford]. A collected edition of some of Southwell's prose works, edited by W. J. Walter, appeared in 1828. Many devotional Latin tracts remain in manuscript at Stonyhurst. A manuscript volume containing ‘Meditationes’ by Southwell on the divine attributes, with ‘Exercitia’ and ‘Devotiones’ by him, belonged to Sir Thomas Phillipps; it bore the autograph of Alban Butler [q. v.]
Southwell was well acquainted with the poetic efforts of his contemporaries, and traces of the influence of Thomas Watson and Nicholas Breton are apparent in his verse. But his chief aim as a poet was, as he avows in the addresses to the reader both before his ‘St. Peter's Complaint’ and ‘Mary Magdalen's Tears,’ to prove that ‘vertue’ or ‘piety’ was as fit a subject for a poet's pen as the vain, worldly, or sensual topics of which poets conventionally treated. To illustrate how readily a poem on a profane theme might be converted to sacred purposes, he rewrote Sir Edward Dyer's ‘Fancy,’ in which the writer bewailed the torments of love. In Southwell's edifying version, which bore the title ‘Master Dyer's Fancy turned to a Sinner's Complaint,’ he caused his sinner to lament his lack of ‘grace’ (cf. Hannah, Raleigh and other Courtly Poets, pp. 154–66; Southwell, ed. Grosart, p. 96). Southwell's ‘Love's Garden Griefe’ bears somewhat similar relation to Nicholas Breton's ‘Strange Description of a Rare Garden Plot’ (in ‘Phœnix Nest,’ 1593). Southwell's example was not without effect. The number of the early editions of his poems attest their popularity with protestants and catholics alike, and imitations soon abounded. The anonymous works, ‘Mary Magdalen's Love,’ 1595, ‘St. Peter's Ten Tears,’ 1597 (reissued as ‘St. Peter's Tears,’ 1602), and ‘St. Peter's Path to the Joys of Heaven,’ 1598, all expand Southwell's chief poem, to which authors of established repute like Thomas Lodge in his ‘Prosopopœia,’ 1596, Gervase Markham in ‘Mary Magdalen's Lamentations’ (1601), and Samuel Rowlands [q. v.] in his ‘Peter's Tears at the Cock's Crowing’ (in his ‘Betraying of Christ,’ 1598), were no less conspicuously indebted. At a later date Richard Crashaw [q. v.] followed in Southwell's footsteps to better purpose. Southwell's prose work, ‘Mary Magdalen's Tears’ (1591), excited equal emulation. ‘Christs Tears over Jerusalem’ by Thomas Nashe (1567–1601) [q. v.] is clearly framed on the model of Southwell's tract. Gabriel Harvey [q. v.] directed attention to the fact, and compared Nashe's effort unfavourably with its forerunner: ‘I know not who weeped the Funeral Tears of Mary Magdalen; I would he that sheddeth the pathetical tears of Christ and trickleth the liquid tears of repentance were no worse affected in pure devotion.’
Harvey declared Southwell's prose (in ‘Mary Magdalen's Tears’) to be both ‘elegant and pathetical’ (Works, ed. Grosart, ii. 291), and Francis Bacon told his brother Anthony that Southwell's ‘Humble Supplication’ was ‘curiously written, and worth the writing out for the art, though the argument be bad’ (Spedding, Bacon, ii. 308). But, despite such contemporary testimonies to its merits, the euphuistic redundancy and artificial construction of Southwell's prose deprive it of permanent literary value. The ‘pure devotion’ with which it is impregnated gives it all its modern interest. Southwell's poetry stands on another footing, and still enjoys something of the favour which was extended to it at the outset by literary critics. It is true that Hall in his ‘Satires,’ 1597, ridiculed Southwell with other writers of sacred poetry of his time:
Now good St. Peter weeps pure Helicon,
And both the Marys make a music-moan.
But Hall found few sympathisers. Marston fiercely avenged Hall's attack on ‘Peter's tears and Mary's moving-moan.’ Ben Jonson declared that he would willingly have destroyed many of his own poems, could he have claimed the authorship of Southwell's ‘Burning Babe’ (Conversations with Drummond of Hawthornden, p. 13). Bolton in his ‘Hypercritica’ wrote: ‘Never must be forgotten “St. Peter's Complaint” and those other serious poems said to be of Father Southwells; the English whereof as it is most proper, so the sharpness and light of wit is very rare in them.’ By modern critics Southwell's poetry has been rarely underrated. James Russell Lowell stands almost alone in pronouncing ‘St. Peter's Complaint’ to be a drawl of thirty pages of maudlin repentance. A genuinely poetic vein is latent beneath all the religious sentimentalism which at times obscures the literary merit of Southwell's verse. As in his prose, his exuberant fancy, too, finds frequent expression in extravagant conceits, which suggest the influence of Marino and other Italian writers of pietistic verse. But many poems, like the ‘Burning Babe,’ which won Ben Jonson's admiration, are as notable for the simplicity of their language as for the sincerity of their sentiment, and take rank with the most touching examples of sacred poetry.[There are abundant materials for Southwell's biography. An elaborate manuscript memoir, drawn up soon after his death, formerly at St. Omer's College, is now in the public record office at Brussels, and was largely employed by Bishop Challoner in his Memoirs of Missionary Priests (ed. 1878, i. 215–22). A brief discourse on Southwell's condemnation and execution by Henry Garnett, in both Italian and English, of which the original manuscript is at Stonyhurst, was widely disseminated in manuscript copies, and most of it is printed verbatim in the accounts of Southwell which were published by Henry More. Hist. Missionis Angl. S. J. (1660, pp. 171–201), in Bartoli's Inghilterra, Rome, 1667, ff. 369 seq., and in Matthew Tanner's Vita et Mors Jesuitarum pro fide interfectorum (Prague, 1675). Mr. Foley, in his Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, i. 301–87, gives a very full memoir, with numerous quotations from the English state papers. Dr. Grosart's memoir prefixed to his edition of the Poems is also valuable, although in some respects erroneous. See also: Month, December 1877 (by the Rev. J. G. Macleod), and February and March 1895 (two valuable papers on Southwell's literary work by the Rev. Herbert Thurston); Gent. Mag. 1798, ii. 933; Retrospective Review, iv. 267; Vie du Père Southwell par R. P. Alexis Possoz, 1866, and Morris's Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers.]
|297||ii||20||Southwell, Robert: for but it is not now traceable. read it is now in the library of Mr. Robert Hoe at New York.|