« PreviousContinue »
trial is most honourable and just, and that the evi dence is fair and good.
His majesty's letter to the judges concerning the Commendams was full of magnanimity and wisdom. I perceive his majesty is never less alone, than when he is alone; for I am sure there was no body by him to inform him, which made me admire it the more.
The judges have given a day over, till the second Saturday of the next term; so as that matter may endure farther consideration, for his majesty not only not to lose ground, but to win ground.
To-morrow is appointed for the examination of Somerset, which by some infirmity of the duke of Lenox was put off from this day. When this is done, I will write more fully, ever resting
Your true and devoted servant,
May 2, 1616.
Stephens's CXL. To Sir GEORGE VILLIERS, of Somerset's
I AM far enough from opinion, that the redintegra tion or resuscitation of Somerset's fortune can ever stand with his majesty's honour and safety; and therein I think I expressed myself fully to his majes ty in one of my former letters; and I know well any expectation or thought abroad will do much hurt. But yet the glimmering of that which the king hath done to others, by way of talk to him, cannot hurt, as I conceive; but I would not have that part of the message as from the king, but added by the messenger as from himself. This I remit to his majesty's princely judgment.
For the person, though he trust the lieutenant well, yet it must be some new man; for in these cases, that which is ordinary worketh not so great impres sions as that which is new and extraordinary.
The time I wish to be the Tuesday, being the even of his lady's arraignment: for, as his majesty first con
ceived, I would not have it stay in his stomach too long, lest it sour in the digestion; and to be too near the time, may be thought but to tune him for that day. I send herewithal the substance of that which I purpose to say nakedly, and only in that part which is of tenderness; for that I conceive was his majesty's meaning.
It will be necessary, because I have distributed parts to the two serjeants, as that paper doth express, and they understand nothing of his majesty's pleasure of the manner of carrying the evidence more than they may guess by observation of my example, which they may ascribe as much to my nature as to direction; therefore that his majesty would be pleased to write some few words to us all, signed with his own hand, that, the matter itself being tragical enough, bitterness and insulting be forborn; and that we remember our part to be to make him delinquent to the peers, and not odious to the people. That part of the evidence of the lady's exposition of the pronoun, he, which was first caught hold of by me, and afterwards by his majesty's singular wisdom and conscience excepted to, and now is by her re-examination retracted, I have given order to serjeant Montague, within whose part it falleth, to leave it out of the evidence. I do yet crave pardon, if I do not certify touching the point of law for respiting the judgment, for I have not fully advised with my lord chancellor concerning it, but I will advertise it in time.
I send his majesty the lord steward's commission in two several instruments, the one to remain with my lord chancellor, which is that which is written in secretary-hand for his warrant, and is to pass the signet; the other, that whereunto the great seal is to be affixed, which is in chancery-hand: his majesty is to sign them both, and to transmit the former to the signet, if the secretaries either of them be there; and both of them are to be returned to me with all speed. I ever rest, Your true and devoted servant, FR. BACON,
Stephens's CXLI. To the KING, about Somerset's ex
It may please your Majesty,
We have done our best endeavours to perform your majesty's commission, both in matter and manner, for the examination of my lord of Somerset ; wherein that which passed, for the general, was to this effect; That he was to know his own case, for that his day of trial could not be far off; but that this day's work was that which would conduce to your majesty's justice little or nothing, but to your mercy much, if he did lay hold upon it; and therefore might do him good, but could do him no hurt. For as for your justice, there had been taken great and grave opinion, not only of such judges as he may think violent, but of the most sad and most temperate of the kingdom, who ought to understand the state of the proofs, that the evidence was full to convict him, so as there needeth neither confession, nor supply of examination. But for your majesty's mercy, although he were not to expect we should make any promise, we did assure him, that your majesty was compassionate of him if he gave you some ground whereon to work; that as long as he stood upon his innocency and trial, your majesty was tied in honour to proceed according to justice; and that he little understood, being a close prisoner, how much the expectation of the world, besides your love to justice itself, engaged your majesty, whatsoever your inclinations were but nevertheless that a frank and clear confession might open the gate of mercy, and help to satisfy the point of honour.
That his lady, as he knew, and that after many oaths and imprecations to the contrary, had nevertheless in the end, being touched with remorse, confessed; that she that led him to offend, might lead him likewise to es repent of his offence: that the confession of one of them could not fitly do either of them much good, but the Sconfession of both of them might work some farther Seffect towards both and therefore, in conclusion, we
Jac. wished him not to shut the gate of your majesty's mercy against himself, by being obdurate any longer. This was the effect of that which was spoken, part by one of us, part by another, as it fell out; adding farther, that he might well discern who spake in us in the course we held; for that commissioners for examination might not presume so far of themselves.
Not to trouble your majesty with circumstances of his answers, the sequel was no other, but that we found him still not to come any degree farther on to confess; only his behaviour was very sober, and modest, and mild, differing apparently from other times, but yet, as it seemed, resolved to have his trial.
Then did we proceed to examine him upon divers questions touching the empoisonment, which indeed were very material and supplemental to the former evidence; wherein either his affirmatives gave some light, or his negatives do greatly falsify him in that which is apparently proved.
We made this farther observation; that when we asked him some question that did touch the prince or some foreign practice, which we did very sparingly at this time, yet he grew a little stirred, but in the ques. tions of the empoisonment very cold and modest. Thus not thinking it necessary to trouble your majesty with any farther particulars, we end with prayer to God ever to preserve your majesty.
Your majesty's most loyal and faithful servant,
Postscript. If it seem good unto your majesty, we think it not amiss some preacher, well chosen, had access to my lord of Somerset for his preparing and comfort, although it be before his trial.
CXLII. An Expostulation to the Lord Chief Stephens's Justice COKE,
My very good Lord,
THOUGH it be true, that he who considereth the wind and the rain, shall neither sow nor reap; yet
first collection, p. 126.
there is a season for every action, and so there is a time Eccles. xi. to speak, and a time to keep silence. There is a time when the words of a poor simple man may profit; and that poor man in The Preacher, which delivered the city by his wisdom, found that without this opportunity the owner both of wisdom and eloquence lose but their labour, and cannot charm the deaf adder. God therefore, before his Son that bringeth mercy, sent his servant the trumpeter of repentance to level every high hill, to prepare the way before him, making it smooth and straight and as it is in spiritual things, where Christ never comes before his way-maker hath laid even the heart with sorrow and repentance, since selfconceited and proud persons think themselves too good and too wise to learn of their inferiors, and therefore need not the physician, so in the rules of earthly wisdom, it is not possible for nature to attain any mediocrity of perfection, before she be humbled by knowing herself and her own ignorance. Not only knowledge, but also every other gift, which we call the gifts of fortune, have power to puff up earth: afflictions only level these mole-hills of pride, plough the heart, and make it fit for wisdom to sow her seed, and for grace to bring forth her increase. Happy is that man therefore, both in regard of heavenly and earthly wisdom, that is thus wounded to be cured, thus broken to be made straight; thus made acquainted with his own imperfections that he may be perfected,
Supposing this to be the time of your affliction, that which I have propounded to myself is, by taking this seasonable advantage, like a true friend, though far unworthy to be counted so, to shew you your true shape in a glass; and that not in a false one to flatter you, nor yet in one that should make you seem worse than you are, and so offend you; but in one made by the reflection of your own words and actions; from whose light proceeds the voice of the people, which is often not unfitly called the voice of God. But therein, since I have purposed a truth, I must intreat liberty to be plain, a liberty that at this time I know not whether or no I may use safely, I am sure at other times I could