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Famous Gunpowder Plot - or Infamous Plot

According to another theory, the Plot never existed at all. The Government wanted an excuse to blacken the Catholics and tighten the laws against them. For this, a scare and a smear were needed. Consequently, Robert Cecil,* the King's "little beagle" - and no doubt at all he was as crafty as they come - got hold of a number of the more disreputable young Catholic gentry (and ex-Catholic and pseudo-Catholic, the distinctions not always being very clear in those confused times), either by blackmail or straight bribery. Among these, the Plot was contrived with full Government support, and efforts made to compromise some leading Jesuits and genuine Catholic gentry. The so-called conspirators, of course, were promised rewards and a safe get-away. Then, at the right time, the Plot was "discovered", and Cecil double-crossed his dupes, all of whom were disposed of in ways that prevented them from giving away the game. A number of innocent Catholics whom the Government wanted out of the way were conveniently executed on faked-up evidence. Certainly the Government profited politically.

* (Robert Cecil - English statesman, adviser to Elizabeth I and James I.)

We have here two rival theories about the Gunpowder Plot: the truth is so deeply buried that we are not likely to discover it. My guess would be that there was a real Plot; that it was penetrated from the start by Government agents, and may, indeed, have been initiated by them; that its progress was carefully watched and its "discovery" sprung at the most politically profitable moment. And this, after all, would be exactly in line with what we know to have been the common practice of a great many British Governments in a great many subsequent crises of our history.

(Morning Star)


 Remember, remember
 The Fifth of November.
 Gunpowder, treason and plot,
 For I see no reason
 Why gunpowder treason
 Should ever be forgot.*

* (Traditional.)

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