An Account of the Inquisition (12/18)
These orders were strictly discharged, and on the governor’s return, he, with the officers, having seated themselves, Mr. Lithgow was brought before them for examination. The governor began by asking several questions, namely, of what country he was, whither bound, and how long he had been in Spain. The prisoner, after answering these and other questions, was conducted to a closet, where, in a short space of time, he was visited by the town captain, who inquired whether he had ever been at Seville, or was lately come from thence; and patting his cheeks with an air of friendship, conjured him to tell the truth, “For (said he) your very countenance shows there is some hidden matter in your mind, which prudence should direct you to disclose.” Finding himself, however, unable to extort any thing from the prisoner, he left him, and reported the same to the governor and the other officers; on which Mr. Lithgow was again brought before them, a general accusation was laid against him, and he was compelled to swear that he would give true answers to such questions as should be asked him.
The governor proceeded to inquire the quality of the English commander, and the prisoner’s opinion what were the motives that prevented his accepting an invitation from him to come on shore. He demanded, likewise, the names of the English captains in the squadron, and what knowledge he had of the embarkation, or preparation for it before his departure from England. The answers given to the several questions asked were set down in writing by the notary; but the junto seemed surprised at his denying any knowledge of the fitting out of the fleet, particularly the governor, who said he lied; that he was a traitor and a spy, and came directly from England to favor and assist the designs that were projected against Spain, and that he had been for that purpose nine months in Seville, in order to procure intelligence of the time the Spanish navy was expected from the Indies. They exclaimed against his familiarity with the officers of the fleet, and many other English gentlemen, between whom, they said, unusual civilities had passed, but all these transactions had been carefully noticed.
Besides to sum up the whole, and put the truth past all doubt, they said he came from a council of war, held that morning on board the admiral’s ship, in order to put in execution the orders assigned him. They upbraided him with being accessory to the burning of the island of St. Thomas, in the West Indies. “Wherefore (said they) these Lutherans, and sons of the devil, ought to have no credit given to what they say or swear.”
In vain did Mr. Lithgow endeavor to obviate every accusation laid against him, and to obtain belief from his prejudiced judges. He begged permission to send for his cloak bag which contained his papers, and might serve to show his innocence. This request they complied with, thinking it would discover some things of which they were ignorant. The cloak bag was accordingly brought, and being opened, among other things, was found a license from King James the First, under the sign manual, setting forth the bearer’s intention to travel into Egypt; which was treated by the haughty Spaniards with great contempt. The other papers consisted of passports, testimonials, etc., of persons of quality. All these credentials, however, seemed rather to confirm than abate the suspicions of these prejudiced judges, who, after seizing all the prisoner’s papers, ordered him again to withdraw.
In the meantime a consultation was held to fix the place where the prisoner should be confined. The alcade, or chief judge, was for putting him into the town prison; but this was objected to, particularly by the corregidor, who said, in Spanish, “In order to prevent the knowledge of his confinement from reaching his countrymen, I will take the matter on myself, and be answerable for the consequences”; upon which it was agreed that he should be confined in the governor’s house with the greatest secrecy.
This matter being determined, one of the sergeants went to Mr. Lithgow, and begged his money, with liberty to search him. As it was needless to make any resistance, the prisoner quietly complied, when the sergeant (after rifling his pockets of eleven ducatoons) stripped him to his shirt; and searching his breeches he found, enclosed in the waistband, two canvass bags, containing one hundred and thirty-seven pieces of gold. The sergeant immediately took the money to the corregidor, who, after having told it over, ordered him to clothe the prisoner, and shut him up close until after supper.