But they both were wrong. James had really read and thought much, and was a much wiser man at the bottom than anyone would have thought who had seen his disagreeable ways, and heard his silly way of talking. He thought the English Church was much more in the right than either of them, and he only wished that things should go on the same in England, and that the Scots should be brought to have bishops, and to use the prayers that Christians had used from the very old times, instead of each minister praying out of his own head, as had become the custom. But though he could not change the ways of the Scots at once, he caused all the best scholars and clergymen in his kingdom to go to work to make the translation of the Bible as right and good as it could be.
Long before this was finished, however, some of the Roman Catholics had formed a conspiracy for getting rid of all the chief people in the kingdom; and so, as they hoped, bringing the rest back to the pope. There were good men among the Roman Catholics who knew such an act would be horrible; but there were some among them who had learnt to hate everyone that they did not reckon as of the right religion, and to believe that everything was right that was done for the cause of their Church. So these men agreed that on the day of the meeting of Parliament, when the king, with the queen and Prince of Wales, would all be meeting the lords and commons, they would blow the whole of them up with gunpowder; and, while the country was all in confusion, the king dead, and almost all his lords and the chief country squires, they would take the king’s younger children—Elizabeth or Charles, who were both quite little—and bring one up as a Roman Catholic to govern England.
They hired some cellars under the Houses of Parliament, and stored them with barrels of gunpowder, hidden by faggots; and the time was nearly come, when one of the lords called Monteagle, received a letter that puzzled him very much, advising him not to attend the meeting of Parliament, since a sudden destruction, would come upon all who would there be present, and yet so that they would not know the doer of it. No one knows who wrote the letter, but most likely it was one of the gentlemen who had been asked to join in the plot, and, though he would not betray his friends, could not bear that Lord Monteagle should perish. Lord Monteagle took the letter to the council, and there, after puzzling over it and wondering if it were a joke, the king said gunpowder was a means of sudden destruction; and it was agreed that, at any rate, it would be safer to look into the vaults. A party was sent to search, and there they found all the powder ready prepared, and, moreover, a man with a lantern, one Guy Fawkes, who had undertaken to be the one to set fire to the train of gunpowder, hoping to escape before the explosion. However he was seized in time, and was forced to make confession. Most of the gentlemen concerned fled into the country, and shut themselves up in a fortified house; but there, strange to say, a barrel of gunpowder chanced to get lighted, and thus many were much hurt in the very way that meant to hurt others.