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, inclosed in the waistland, 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.
About midnight, the sergeant and two Turkish slaves released Mr. Lithgow from his then confinement, but it was to introduce him to one much more horrible. They conducted him through several passages, to a chamber in a remote part of the palace, towards the garden, where they loaded him with irons, and extended his legs by means of an iron bar above a yard long, the weight of which was so great that he could neither stand nor sit, but was obliged to lie continually on his back. They left him in this condition for some time, when they returned with a refreshment of food, consisting of a pound of boiled mutton and a loaf, together with a small quantity of wine; which was not only the first, but the best and last of the kind, during his confinement in this place. After delivering these articles, the sergeant locked the door, and left Mr. Lithgow to his own private contemplations.
The next day he received a visit from the governor, who promised him his liberty, with many other advantages, if he would confess being a spy; but on his protesting that he was entirely innocent, the governor left him in a rage, saying, 'He should see him no more until further torments constrained him to confess'; commanding the keeper, to whose care he was committed, that he should permit no person whatever to have access to, or commune with him; that his sustenance should not exceed three ounces of musty bread, and a pint of water every second day; that he shall be allowed neither bed, pillow, nor coverlid. "Close up (said he) this window in his room with lime and stone, stop up the holes of the door with double mats: let him have nothing that bears any likeness to comfort." These, and several orders of the like severity, were given to render it impossible for his condition to be known to those of the English nation.
In this wretched and melancholy state did poor Lithgow continue without seeing any person for several days, in which time the governor received an answer to a letter he had written, relative to the prisoner, from Madrid; and, pursuant to the instructions given him, began to put in practice the cruelties devised, which were hastened, because Christmas holy-days approached, it being then the forty-seventh day since his imprisonment.
About two o'clock in the morning, he heard the noise of a coach in the street, and sometime after heard the opening of the prison doors, not having had any sleep for two nights; hunger, pain, and melancholy reflections having prevented him from taking any repose.
Soon after the prison doors were opened, the nine sergeants, who had first seized him, entered the place where he lay, and without uttering a word, conducted him in his irons through the house into the street, where a coach waited, and into which they laid him at the bottom on his back, not being able to sit. Two of the sergeants rode with him, and the rest walked by the coach side, but all observed the most profound silence. They drove him to a vinepress house, about a league from the town, to which place a rack had been privately conveyed before; and here they shut him up for that night.
At daybreak the next morning, arrived the governor and the alcade, into whose presence Mr. Lithgow was immediately brought to undergo another examination. The prisoner desired he might have an interpreter, which was allowed to strangers by the laws of that country, but this was refused, nor would they permit him to appeal to Madrid, the superior court of judicature. After a long examination, which lasted from morning until night, there appeared in all his answers so exact a conformity with what he had before said, that they declared he had learned them by heart, there not being the least prevarication. They, however, pressed him again to make a full discovery; that is, to accuse himself of crimes never committed, the governor adding, "You are still in my power; I can set you free if you comply, if not, I must deliver you to the alcade." Mr. Lithgow still persisting in his innocence, the governor ordered the notary to draw up a warrant for delivering him to the alcade to be tortured.
In consequence of this he was conducted by the sergeants to the end of a stone gallery, where the rack was placed. The encarouador, or executioner, immediately struck off his irons, which put him to very great pains, the bolts being so closely riveted that the sledge hammer tore away half an inch of his heel, in forcing off the bolt; the anguish of which, together with his weak condition, (not having the least sustenance for three days) occasioned him to groan bitterly; upon which the merciless alcade said, "Villain, traitor, this is but the earnest of what you shall endure."
When his irons were off, he fell on his knees, uttering a short prayer, that God would be pleased to enable him to be steadfast, and undergo courageously the grievous trial he had to encounter. The alcade and notary having placed themselves in chairs, he was stripped naked, and fixed upon the rack, the office of these gentlemen being to be witness of, and set down the confessions and tortures endured by the delinquent.
It is impossible to describe all the various tortures inflicted upon him. Suffice it to say that he lay on the rack for above five hours, during which time he received above sixty different tortures of the most hellish nature; and had they continued them a few minutes longer, he must have inevitably perished.
These cruel persecutors being satisfied for the present, the prisoner was taken from the rack, and his irons being again put on, he was conducted to his former dungeon, having received no other nourishment than a little warm wine, which was given him rather to prevent his dying, and reserve him for future punishments, than from any principle of charity or compassion.
As a confirmation of this, orders were given for a coach to pass every morning before day by the prison, that the noise made by it might give fresh terrors and alarms to the unhappy prisoner, and deprive him of all possibility of obtaining the least repose.
He continued in this horrid situation, almost starved for want of the common necessaries to preserve his wretched existence, until Christmas day, when he received some relief from Mariane, waiting-woman to the governor's lady. This woman having obtained leave to visit him, carried with her some refreshments, consisting of honey, sugar, raisins, and other articles; and so affected was she at beholding his situation that she wept bitterly, and at her departure expressed the greatest concern at not being able to give him further assistance.
In this loathsome prison was poor Mr. Lithgow kept until he was almost devoured by vermin. They crawled about his beard, lips, eyebrows, etc., so that he could scarce open his eyes; and his mortification was increased by not having the use of his hands or legs to defend himself, from his being so miserably maimed by the tortures. So cruel was the governor, that he even ordered the vermin to be swept on him twice in every eight days. He, however, obtained some little mitigation of this part of his punishment, from the humanity of a Turkish slave that attended him, who, when he could do it with safety, destroyed the vermin, and contributed every refreshment to him that laid in his power.
From this slave Mr. Lithgow at length received information which gave him little hopes of ever being released, but, on the contrary, that he should finish his life under new tortures. The substance of this information was that an English seminary priest, and a Scotch cooper, had been for some time employed by the governor to translate from the English into the Spanish language, all his books and observations; and that it was commonly said in the governor's house, that he was an arch-heretic.
This information greatly alarmed him, and he began, not without reason, to fear that they would soon finish him, more especially as they could neither by torture or any other means, bring him to vary from what he had all along said at his different examinations.
Two days after he had received the above information, the governor, an inquisitor, and a canonical priest, accompanied by two Jesuits, entered his dungeon, and being seated, after several idle questions, the inquisitor asked Mr. Lithgow if he was a Roman Catholic, and acknowledged the pope's supremacy? He answered that he neither was the one nor did the other, adding that he was surprised at being asked such questions, since it was expressly stipulated by the articles of peace between England and Spain that none of the English subjects should be liable to the Inquisition, or any way molested by them on account of diversity in religion, etc. In the bitterness of his soul he made use of some warm expressions not suited to his circumstances: "As you have almost murdered me (said he) for pretended treason, so now you intend to make a martyr of me for my religion." He also expostulated with the governor on the ill return he made to the king of England, (whose subject he was) for the princely humanity exercised towards the Spaniards in 1588, when their armada was shipwrecked on the Scotch coast, and thousands of the Spaniards found relief, who must otherwise have miserably perished.
The governor admitted the truth of what Mr. Lithgow said, but replied with a haughty air that the king, who then only ruled Scotland, was actuated more by fear than love, and therefore did not deserve any thanks. One of the Jesuits said there was no faith to be kept with heretics. The inquisitor then rising, addressed himself to Mr. Lithgow in the following words: "You have been taken up as a spy, accused of treachery, and tortured, as we acknowledge, innocently: (which appears by the account lately received from Madrid of the intentions of the English) yet it was the divine power that brought those judgments upon you, for presumptuously treating the blessed miracle of Loretto with ridicule, and expressing yourself in your writings irreverently of his holiness, the great agent and Christ's vicar upon earth; therefore you are justly fallen into our hands by their special appointment: thy books and papers are miraculously translated by the assistance of Providence influencing thy own countrymen."
This trumpery being ended, they gave the prisoner eight days to consider and resolve whether he would become a convert to their religion; during which time the inquisitor told him he, with other religious orders, would attend, to give him such assistance thereto as he might want. One of the Jesuits said, (first making the sign of the cross upon his breast), "My son, behold, you deserve to be burnt alive; but by the grace of our lady of Loretto, whom you have blasphemed we will both save your soul and body."
In the morning the inquisitor, with three other ecclesiastics, returned, when the former asked the prisoner what difficulties he had on his conscience that retarded his conversion; to which he answered, 'he had not any doubts in his mind, being confident in the promises of Christ, and assuredly believing his revealed will signified in the Gospels, as professed in the reformed Catholic Church, being confirmed by grace, and having infallible assurance thereby of the Christian faith.' To these words the inquisitor replied, "Thou art no Christian, but an absurd heretic, and without conversion a member of perdition." The prisoner then told him that it was not consistent with the nature and essence of religion and charity to convince by opprobrious speeches, racks, and torments, but by arguments deduced from the Scriptures; and that all other methods would with him be totally ineffectual.