Gunpowder Plot

The disappointment of the Catholics on finding that the severe laws against them were not to be relaxed, led to a conspiracy on the part of a few gentlemen of that persuasion, of whom the chief was William Catesby, a person of dissolute habits. It was arranged that, on the day of the meeting of Parliament, November 5,1605, the House of Lords should be blown up by gunpowder, at the moment when the King, Lords, and Commons were assembled in it, thus destroying as they thought, all their chief enemies at one blow, and making way for a new government which should be more favorable to them. Accordingly, thirty-four barrels of powder were deposited in the cellars beneath the House, and a person named Guy Fawkes was prepared to kindle it at the proper time. The plot was discovered, in consequence of the receipt of a letter by Lord Monteagle, warning him not to attend the meeting of Parliament. An investigation took place during the night between the 4th and 5th of November, when the gunpowder was discovered, and Fawkes taken into custody. He confessed his intentions; and the rest of the conspirators fled to the country, where most of them were cut to pieces in endeavoring to defend themselves. Notwithstanding the atrocious character of this plot, the king could never be induced to take advantage of it, as most of his subjects desired, for the purpose of increasing the persecution of the Catholic party. He probably feared that new severities might only give rise to other attempts against his life.