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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

TO SIR GEORGE VILLIERS, ABOUT THE EARL own comfort, I can but say the psalm of “ Quid 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.

retribuam?" God, that giveth me favour in his majesty's eyes, will strengthen me in his majesty's service. I ever rest

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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.

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 A LETTER TO THE KING, WITH HIS MAJESTY'S 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 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 despatches, 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 reexamination of the lady, and desired me that we


IT MAY PLEASE YOUR MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY, Your majesty hath put me upon a work of providence in this great cause, which is to break and distinguish future events into present cases; and so to present them to your royal judgment, that, in this action, which hath been carried with so great prudence, justice, and clemency, there may be, for that which remaineth, as little surprise as is possible; but that things duly foreseen may have their remedies and directions in readiness; wherein I cannot forget what the poet Martial saith; "O quantum est subitis casibus ingenium ?” signifying, that accident is many times more subtle than foresight, and overreacheth expectation; and, besides, I know very well the meanness of my own judgment, in comprehending or forecasting what may follow.

It was your majesty's pleasure also, that I should couple the suppositions with my opinion in every of them, which is a harder task; but yet your majesty's commandment requireth my obedience, and your trust giveth me assurance.

I will put the case, which I wish; that Somerset should make a clear confession of his offences, before he be produced to trial.

In this case it seemeth your majesty will have a new consult; the points whereof will be, 1. Whether your majesty will stay the trial, and so save them both from the stage, and that public ignominy. 2. Or whether you will, or may fitly,

by law, have the trial proceed, and stay or reprieve | upon presumptions. For certainly there may be an the judgment, which saveth the lands from for- evidence so balanced, as it may have sufficient feiture, and the blood from corruption. 3. Or matter for the conscience of the peers to convict whether you will have both trial and judgment him, and yet leave sufficient matter in the conproceed, and save the blood only, not from cor- science of a king upon the same evidence to parrupting, but from spilling. don his life; because the peers are astringed by necessity either to acquit or condemn; but grace is free: and, for my part, I think the evidence in this present case will be of such a nature.

These be the depths of your majesty's mercy, which I may not enter into: but for honour and reputation, they have these grounds:

That the blood of Overbury is already revenged by divers executions.

That confession and penitency are the footstools of mercy; adding this circumstance likewise, that the former offenders did none of them make a clear confession.

That the great downfall of so great persons carrieth in itself a heavy judgment, and a kind of civil death, although their lives should not be taken.

All which may satisfy honour for sparing their lives. But if your majesty's mercy should extend to the first degree, which is the highest, of sparing the stage and the trial; then three things are to be considered:

First, That they make such a submission or deprecation, as they prostrate themselves, and all that they have, at your majesty's feet, imploring your mercy.

Secondly, That your majesty, in your own wisdom, do advise what course you will take, for the utter extinguishing of all hopes of resuscitating of their fortunes and favour; whereof if there should be the least conceit, it will leave in men a great deal of envy and discontent.

And, lastly; Whether your majesty will not suffer it to be thought abroad, that there is cause of farther examination of Somerset, concerning matters of estate, after he shall begin once to be a confessant, and so make as well a politic ground, as a ground of clemency, for farther stay. And for the second degree, of proceeding to trial, and staying judgment, I must better inform myself by precedents, and advise with my lord chancellor.

The second case is, if that fall out which is likest, as things stand, and which we expect, which is, that the lady confess; and that Somerset himself plead not guilty, and be found guilty: In this case, first, I suppose your majesty will not think of any stay of judgment, but that the public process of justice pass on.

Secondly, For your mercy to be extended to both for pardon of their execution, I have partly touched in the considerations applied to the former case; whereunto may be added, that as there is ground of mercy for her, upon her penitency and free confession, and will be much more upon his finding guilty; because the malice on his part will be thought the deeper source of the offence; so there will be ground for mercy on his part, upon the nature of the proof; and because it rests chiefly VOL. II.-42

Thirdly, It shall be my care so to moderate the manner of charging him, as it might make him not odious beyond the extent of mercy.

Lastly, All these points of mercy and favour are to be understood with this limitation, if he do not, by his contemptuous and insolent carriage at the bar, make himself incapable and unworthy of them.

The third case is, if he should stand mute and will not plead, whereof, your majesty knoweth, there hath been some secret question.

In this case I should think fit, that, as in public, both myself, and chiefly my lord chancellor, sitting then as Lord Steward of England, should dehort and deter him from that desperation; so, nevertheless, that as much should be done for him, as was done for Weston; which was to adjourn the court for some days, upon a Christian ground, that he may have time to turn from that mind of destroying himself; during which time your majesty's farther pleasure may be known.

The fourth case is that which I should be very sorry it should happen, but it is a future contingent; that is, if the peers should acquit him, and find him not guilty.

In this case the lord steward must be provided what to do. For, as it hath been never seen, as I conceive it, that there should be any rejecting of the verdict, or any respiting of the judgment of the acquittal; so, on the other side, this case requireth, that because there be many high and heinous offences, though not capital, for which he may be questioned in the Star Chamber, or otherwise, that there be some touch of that in general at the conclusion, by my Lord Steward of England; and that, therefore, he be remanded to the Tower as close prisoner.

For the matter of examination, or other proceedings, my lord chancellor with my advice hath set down,

To-morrow, being Monday, for the re-examination of the lady:

Wednesday next, for the meeting of the judges concerning the evidence:

Thursday, for the examination of Somerset himself, according to your majesty's instructions:

Which three parts, when they shall be performed, I will give your majesty advertisement with speed, and in the mean time be glad to receive from your majesty, whom it is my part to inform truly, such directions or significations of your pleasure as this advertisement may induce,


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Yesterday being Wednesday, I spent four or five hours with the judges whom his majesty designed to take consideration with, the four judges of the king's bench, of the evidence against Somerset: they all concur in opinion, that the questioning and drawing him on to trial is most honourable and just, and that the evidence 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 nobody by him to inform him, which made



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, FR. BACON.

May 2, 1616.

I have received my letter from his majesty, with his marginal notes, which shall be my directions, being glad to perceive I understand his majesty so well. That same little charm, which may be secretly infused into Somerset's ear some few hours before his trial, was excellently well thought of by his majesty; and I do approve it both for matter and time; only, if it seem good to his majesty, I would wish it a little enlarged: for if it be no more than to spare his blood, he hath a kind of proud humour which may overwork the medicine. Therefore I could wish it were made a little stronger, by giving him some TO SIR GEORGE VILLIERS, OF SOMERSET'S hopes that his majesty will be good to his lady and child; and that time, when justice and his SIR, majesty's honour is once saved and satisfied, may produce farther fruit of his majesty's compassion: which was to be seen in the example of South-ever stand with his majesty's honour and safety; ampton, whom his majesty after attainder restored: and Cobham and Gray, to whom his majesty, notwithstanding they were offenders against his own person, yet he spared their lives; and for Gray, his majesty gave him back some part of his estate, and was upon point to deliver him much more. He having been so highly in his majesty's favour, may hope well, if he hurt not himself by his public misdemeanor.

For the person that should deliver this message, I am not so well seen in the region of his friends, as to be able to make choice of a particular; my lord treasurer, the Lord Knollys, or any of his nearest friends should not be trusted with it, for they may go too far, and perhaps work contrary to his majesty's ends. Those which occur to me are my Lord Hay, my Lord Burleigh, of England, I mean, and Sir Robert Carre.

My Lady Somerset hath been re-examined, and his majesty is found both a true prophet and a most just king in that scruple he made; for now she expoundeth the word He, that should send the tarts to Elwys's wife, to be of Overbury, and not of Somerset; but for the person that should bid her, she said it was Northampton or Weston, not pitching upon certainty, which giveth some advantage to the evidence.


I am far enough from opinion, that the redintegration or resuscitation of Somerset's fortune can

and therein I think I expressed myself fully to his majesty 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 impressions 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 conceived, 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 forborne; 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 chanceryhand 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, May 5, 1616. FR. BACON.

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 repent of his offence: that the confession of one of them could not fitly do either of them much good, but the confession of both of them might work some farther effect towards both: and, therefore, in conclusion, we 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 impoisonment, which indeed were very material and supple

TO THE KING, ABOUT SOMERSET'S EXAMI- mental 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

very sparingly at this time, yet he grew a little stirred; but in the questions of the impoisonment 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.

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 gene-prince or some foreign practice, which we did ral, 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

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.



I send you enclosed a warrant for my Lady of Somerset's pardon, reformed in that main and

material point, of inserting a clause [that she was not a principal, but an accessary before the fact, by the instigation of base persons.] Her friends think long to have it despatched, which I marvel not at, for that in matter of life moments are numbered.

I do more and more take contentment in his majesty's choice of Sir Oliver St. John, for his deputy of Ireland, finding, upon divers conferences with him, his great sufficiency; and I hope the good intelligence, which he purposeth to hold with me by advertisements from time to time, shall work a good effect for his majesty's service.

I am wonderful desirous to see that kingdom flourish, because it is the proper work and glory of his majesty and his times. And his majesty may be pleased to call to mind, that, a good while since, when the great rent and divisions were in the parliament of Ireland, I was no unfortunate remembrancer to his majesty's princely wisdom in that business. God ever keep you and prosper you.

Your true and most devoted and bounden servant, FR. BACON.

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