Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
Intolerance in Rome
By Thomas Wilson (c. 15261581)
From A Prologue to the Reader
TWO years past at my being in Italy, I was charged in Rome town, to my great clanger and utter undoing (if Gods goodness had not been the greater) to have written this book of Rhetorike, and the Logike1 also, for the which I was counted an heretic, notwithstanding the absolution granted to all the realm, by Pope Julius the Third, for all former offences or practices, devised against the Holy Mother Church, as they call it. A strange matter, that things done in England seven years before, and the same universally forgiven, should afterwards be laid to a mans charge in Rome. But what cannot malice do? Or what will not the wilful devise, to satisfy their minds, for undoing of others? God be my judge, I had then as little fear (although death was present, and the torment at hand, whereof I felt some smart) as ever I had in all my life before. For, when I saw those that did seek my death, to be so maliciously set, to make such poor shifts for my readier dispatch, and to burden me with those back reckonings, I took such courage, and was so bold, that the judges then did much marvel at my stoutness, and thinking to bring down my great heart, told me plainly that I was in farther peril, than whereof I was aware, and sought thereupon to take advantage of my words, and to bring me in danger by all means possible. And after long debating with me, they willed me at any hand to submit myself to the holy father, and the devout college of cardinals. For, otherwise, there was no remedy. With that, being fully purposed not to yield to any submission, as one that little trusted their colourable deceit, I was as ware as I could be, not to utter anything for mine own harm, for fear I should come in their danger. For, then either should I have died, or else have denied both openly and shamefully, the known truth of Christ and His gospel. In the end, by Gods grace, I was wonderfully delivered, through plain force of the worthy Romans (an enterprise heretofore in that sort never attempted) being then without hope of life, and much less of liberty. And now that I am come home, this book is shewed me and I desired to look upon it, to amend it where I thought meet. Amend it, quoth I? Nay, let the book first amend itself, and make me amends. For, surely I have no cause to acknowledge it for my book, because I have so smarted for it.