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as I desire and hope to see you; I should ex animo
Your majesty's most humble subject,
April 1, 1616.
Stephens's CXXXVI. To Sir GEORGE VILLIERS, about the Earl of Somerset.
I THOUGHT it convenient to give his majesty an account of that which his majesty gave me in charge in general, reserving the particulars for his coming; and I find it necessary to know his pleasure in some things ere I could farther proceed.
My lord chancellor and myself spent Thursday and yesterday, the whole forenoons of both days, in the examination of Sir Robert Cotton; whom we find hitherto but empty, save only in the great point of the treaty with Spain.
This examination was taken before his majesty's warrant came to Mr. Vice-Chamberlain, for communicating unto us the secrets of the pensions; which warrant I received yesterday morning being Friday, and a meeting was appointed at my lord chancellor's in the evening after council; upon which conference we find matter of farther examination for Sir Robert Cotton, of some new articles whereupon to examine Somerset, and of entering into examination of Sir William Mounson.
Wherefore, first for Somerset, being now ready to proceed to examine him, we stay only upon the duke of Lenox, who it seemeth is fallen sick and keepeth in; without whom, we neither think it warranted by his majesty's direction, nor agreeable to his intention, that we should proceed; for that will want, which should sweeten the cup of medicine, he being his
countryman and friend. Herein then we humbly crave his majesty's direction with all convenient speed, whether we shall expect the duke's recovery, or proceed by ourselves; or that his majesty will think of some other person, qualified according to his majesty's just intention, to be joined with us. I remember we had speech with his majesty of my lord Hay; and I, for my part, can think of no other, except it should be my lord chancellor of Scotland, for my lord Binning. may be thought too near allied.
I am farther to know his majesty's pleasure concerning the day; for my lord chancellor and I conceived his majesty to have designed the Monday and Tuesday after St. George's feast; and nevertheless we conceived also, that his majesty understood that the examinations of Somerset about this, and otherwise touching the Spanish practices, should first be put to a point; which will not be possible, as time cometh on, by reason of this accident of the duke's sickness, and the cause we find of Sir William Mounson's examination, and that divers of the peers are to be sent for from remote places.
It may please his majesty therefore to take into consideration, whether the days may not well be put off till Wednesday and Thursday after the term, which endeth on the Monday, being the Wednesday and Thursday before Whitsuntide; or, if that please not his majesty, in respect, it may be, his majesty will be then in town, whereas these arraignments have been still in his majesty's absence from town, then to take Monday and Tuesday after Trinity Sunday, being the Monday and Tuesday before Trinity term.
Now for Sir William Mounson, if it be his majesty's pleasure that my lord chancellor and I shall proceed to the examination of him, for that of the duke of Lenox differs, in that there is not the like cause as in that of Somerset, then his majesty may be pleased to direct his commandment and warrant to my lord chief justice, to deliver unto me the examination he took of Sir William Mounson, that those, joined to the information which we have received from Mr. Vice-Cham
berlain, may be full instructions unto us for his examination. Farther, I pray let his majesty know, that on Thursday in the evening my lord chief justice and myself attended my lord chancellor at his house for the settling that scruple which his majesty most justly conceived in the examination of the lady Somerset ; at which time, resting on his majesty's opinion, that that evidence, as it standeth now uncleared, must secundum leges sane conscientiæ be laid aside; the question was, whether we should leave it out, or try what a re-examination of my lady Somerset would produce? Whereupon we agreed upon a re-examination of my lady Somerset, which my lord chief justice and I have appointed for Monday morning. I was bold at that meeting to put my lord chief justice a posing question; which was, Whether that opinion which his brethren had given upon the whole evidence, and he had reported to his majesty, namely, that it was good evi, dence, in their opinions, to convict my lord of Somerset, was not grounded upon this part of the evidence now to be omitted, as well as upon the rest: who answered positively, No; and they never saw the exposition of the letter, but the letter only.
The same Thursday evening, before we entered into this last matter, and in the presence of Mr Secretary Winwood, who left us when we went to the former business, we had conference concerning the frauds and abusive grants passed to the prejudice of his majesty's state of revenue; where my lord chief justice made some relation of his collections which he had made of that kind; of which I will only say this, that I heard nothing that was new to me, and I found my lord chancellor in divers particulars, more ready than I had found him. We grew to a distribution both of times and of matters, for we agreed what to begin with presently, and what should follow, and also we had consideration what was to be holpen by law, what by equity, and what by parliament; wherein I must confess, that in the last of these, of which my lord chief justice made most account, I make most doubt. But the conclusion was, that upon this entrance I should
advise and confer at large with my lord chief justice, and set things in work. The particulars I refer till his majesty's coming.
The learned counsel have now attended me twice at my chamber, to confer upon that which his majesty gave us in commandment for our opinion upon the case set down by my lord chancellor, whether the statutes extend to it or no; wherein we are more and more edified and confirmed that they do not, and shall shortly send our report to his majesty.
Sir, I hope you will bear me witness I have not been idle; but all is nothing to the duty I owe his majesty for his singular favours past and present; supplying all with love and prayers, I rest,
Your true friend and devoted servant,
April 13, 1616.
CXXXVII. To Sir GEORGE VILLIERS, about Stephens's the Earl of Somerset.
I RECEIVED from you a letter of very brief and clear directions; and I think it a great blessing of God upon me and my labours, that my directions come by so clear a conduit, as they receive no tincture in the passage.
Yesterday my lord chancellor, the duke of Lenox, and myself, spent the whole afternoon at the Tower, in the examination of Somerset, upon the articles sent from his majesty, and some other additionals, which were in effect contained in the former, but extended to more particularity, by occasion of somewhat discovered by Cotton's examination and Mr. Vice-Chamberlain's information.
He is full of protestations, and would fain keep that quarter toward Spain clear: using but this for argument, that he had such fortunes from his majesty, as he could not think of bettering his conditions from Spain, because, as he said, he was no military man. He cometh nothing so far on, for that which concerneth the treaty, as Cotton, which doth much aggravate
first collection, p.112.
suspicion against him: the farther particulars I reserve to his majesty's coming.
In the end, tanquam obiter, but very effectually, my lord chancellor put him in mind of the state he stood in for the impoisonment; but he was little moved with it, and pretended carelessness of life, since ignominy had made him unfit for his majesty's service. I am of opinion that the fair usage of him, as it was fit for the Spanish examinations, and for the questions touching the papers and dispatches, and all that, so it was no good preparative to make him descend into himself touching his present danger; and therefore my lord chancellor and myself thought not good to insist upon it at this time.
I have received from my lord chief justice the examination of Sir William Mounson; with whom we mean to proceed to farther examination with all speed.
My lord chief justice is altered touching the re-examination of the lady, and desired me that we might stay till he spake with his majesty, saying it could be no casting back to the business; which I did approve.
Myself with the rest of my fellows, upon due and mature advice, perfected our report touching the chancery; for the receiving whereof, I pray you put his majesty in mind at his coming, to appoint some time for us to wait upon him altogether, for the delivery in of the same, as we did in our former certificate.
For the revenue matters, I reserve them to his majesty's coming; and in the mean time I doubt not but Mr. Secretary Winwood will make some kind of report thereof to his majesty.
For the conclusion of your letter concerning my own comfort, I can but say the Psalm of Quid retribuam? God that giveth me favour in his majesty's eyes, will strengthen me in his majesty's service. I
April 18, 1616.
Your true and devoted servant,
To requite your postscript of excuse for scribbling, I pray you excuse that the paper is not gilt, I writing from Westminster-Hall, where we are not so fine.