Page images
PDF
EPUB

lordship may not fail. And so I leave your lord- and it may be he will be in the better temper, ship to God's goodness.

Your loving friend to command,

This Thursday, at afternoon,

the 25th of April, 1616.

FR. BACON.

QUESTIONS LEGAL FOR THE JUDGES [IN THE
CASE OF THE EARL AND COUNTESS OF
SOMERSET.*]

WHETHER the axe is to be carried before the prisoner, being in the case of felony ?

Whether, if the lady make any digression to clear his lordship, she is not by the lord steward to be interrupted and silenced?

Whether, if my Lord of Somerset should break forth into any speech of taxing the king, he be not presently by the lord steward to be interrupted and silenced; and, if he persist, he be not to be told, that if he take that course, he is to be withdrawn, and evidence to be given in his absence? And whether that may be; and what else to be done?

Whether, if there should be twelve votes to condemn, and twelve or thirteen to acquit, it be not a verdict for the king?

hoping of his own clearing, and of her respiting? What shall be the days; for Thursday and Friday can hardly hold in respect of the summons; and it may be as well Friday and Saturday, or Monday and Tuesday, as London makes it already?

[blocks in formation]

THE HEADS OF THE CHARGE AGAINST ROBERT,
EARL OF SOMERSET.

QUESTIONS OF CONVENIENCE, WHEREUPON Apostyle of the

HIS MAJESTY MAY CONFER WITH SOME OF
HIS COUNCIL.

king.

Ye will doe well to remember lyke

WHETHER, if Somerset confess at any time be-wayes in your fore his trial, his majesty shall stay trial in respect signe, that the onpræamble, that inof farther examination concerning practice of trea-ly zeal to justice son, as the death of the late prince, the conveying maketh me take into Spain of the now prince, or the like; for till this course. I have he confess the less crime, there is [no] likelihood commandit you of confessing the greater?

Whether, if the trial upon that reason shall be put off, it shall be discharged privately by dissolving the commission, or discharging the summons? Or, whether it shall not be done in open court, the peers being met, and the solemnity and celebrity preserved; and that with some declaration of the cause of putting off the farther proceeding?

Whether the days of her trial and his shall be immediate, as it is now appointed; or a day between, to see if, after condemnation, the lady will confess of this lord; which done, there is no doubt but he will confess of himself?

Whether his trial shall not be set first, and hers after, because then any conceit, which may be wrought by her clearing of him, may be prevented;

* See ante, page 321.

FIRST it is meant, that Somerset shall not be charged with any thing by way of aggravation, otherwise than as conduceth to the proof of the impoisonment.

For the proofs themselves, they are distributed into four:

The king's apprehension of being taxed by the Earl of Somerset on his trial, though for what is not known, accounts

in some measure for his majesty's extreme uneasiness of mind till that trial was over, and for the management used by prevail upon the earl to submit to be tried, and to keep him in Sir Francis Bacon in particular, as appears from his letters, to temper during his trial, lest he, as the king expressed it in an apostile on Sir Francis's letter of the 28th of April, 1616, upon the one part commit unpardonable errors, and I on the other seem to punish him in the spirit of revenge. See more on this subject in Mr. Mallet's Life of the Lord Chancellor Bacon, who closes his remarks with a reference to a letter of Somerset to the king, printed in the Cabala, and written in a high style of some expressions, that there was an important secret in his of expostulation, and showing, through the affected obscurity keeping, of which his majesty dreaded a discovery. The earl and his lady were released from their confinement in the leaving one daughter, Anne, then sixteen years of age, afterTower in January, 1621-2, the latter dying August 23, 1632, wards married to William, Lord Russel, afterwards earl, and lady several years, and died in July, 1645, being interred on at last Duke of Bedford. The Earl of Somerset survived his

the 17th of that month in the church of St. Paul's, Covent Garden.

not to expatiate, nor digresse upon any other points, that maye not serve clearlie for proba

tion or inducement of that point, quhairof he is accused.

The first to prove the ma- | carried himself insolently, both towards the queen, lice, which Somerset bore to and towards the late prince: that he was a man, Overbury, which was the mo- that carried Somerset on in courses separate and tive and ground of the im- opposite to the privy council: that he was a man poisonment. of nature fit to be an incendiary of a state: full of bitterness and wildness of speech and project: that he was thought also lately to govern Somerset, insomuch that in his own letters he vaunted, "that from him proceeded Somerset's fortune, credit, and understanding."

The second is to prove the preparations unto the impoisonment, by plotting his imprisonment, placing his keepers, stopping access of friends, etc.

The third is the acts of the impoisonments themselves. And the fourth is acts subsequent, which do vehemently argue him to be guilty of the impoisonment.

For the first two heads, upon conference, whereunto I called Serjeant Montagu and Serjeant Crew, I have taken them two heads to myself; the third I have allotted to Serjeant Montagu; and the fourth to Serjeant Crew.

In the first of these, to my understanding, is the only tenderness: for on the one side, it is most necessary to lay a foundation, that the malice was a deep malice, mixed with fear, and not only matter of revenge upon his lordship's quarrel; for "periculum periculo vincitur;" and the malice must have a proportion to the effect of it, which was the impoisonment: so that if this foundation be not laid, all the evidence is weakened.

On the other side, if I charge him, or would charge him, by way of aggravation, with matters tending to disloyalty or treason, then he is like to grow desperate.

Therefore I shall now set down perspicuously what course I mean to hold, that your majesty may be pleased to direct and correct it, preserving the strength of the evidence: and this I shall now do, but shortly and without ornament.

First, I shall read some passages of Overbury's letters, namely these: "Is this the fruit of nine years' love, common secrets, and common dangers?" In another letter: "Do not drive me to extremity to do that, which you and I shall be sorry for." In another letter: "Can you forget him, between whom such secrets of all kinds have passed?" etc.

Then will I produce Simcock, who deposeth from Weston's speech, that Somerset told Weston, that, “if ever Overbury came out of prison, one of them must die for it."

I

This course I mean to run in a kind of gererality, putting the imputations rather upon Overbury than Somerset; and applying it, that such a nature was like to hatch dangerous secrets and practices. I mean to show likewise what jargons there were and ciphers between them, which are great badges of secrets of estate, and used either by princes and their ministers of state, or by such as practise against princes. That your majesty was called Julius in respect of your empire; the queen Agrippina, though Somerset now saith it was Livia, and that my Lady of Suffolk was Agrippina; the Bishop of Canterbury Unclius; Northampton, Dominic; Suffolk, first Lerma, after Wolsey; and many others; so as it appears they made a play both of your court and kingdom; and that their imaginations wrought upon the greatest men and matters.

Neither will I omit Somerset's breach of trust to your majesty, in trusting Overbury with all the despatches, things, wherewith your council of estate itself was not many times privy or acquainted; and yet, this man must be admitted to them, not cursorily, or by glimpses, but to have them by him, to copy them, to register them, to table them, etc. Apostyle of the king.

This evidence cannot be given in without making me his accuser, and that upon a very slight ground. As for all the subsequent evidences, they are all so little evident, as una litura may serve thaime all.

Then I will say what these secrets were. mean not to enter into particulars, nor to charge him with disloyalty, because he stands to be tried for his life upon another crime. But yet by some taste, that I shall give to the peers in general, they may conceive of what nature those secrets may be. Wherein I will take it for a thing notorious, that Overbury was a man, that always merset, and de

Nothing to So

I shall also give in evidence, in this place, the slight account of that letter, which was brought to Somerset by Ashton, being found in the fields soon after the late prince's death, and was directed to Antwerp, containing these words, "that the first branch was cut from the tree, and that he should, ere long, send happier and joyfuller news."

Which is a matter I would not use, but that my Lord Coke, who hath filled this part with many frivolous things, I would think all lost, except he hear somewhat of this kind. But, this it is to come to the leavings of a business.

And, for the rest of that kind, as to speak of that par

[blocks in formation]

Declared by Franklin after condemnation. Nothing to So

merset.

Nothing to So

merset.

ticular, that Mrs. Turner did | time between the use of the little charm, or, as
at Whitehall show to Franklin his majesty better terms it, “the evangile,”
"* and
the man, who, as he said, poi- the day of his trial† notwithstanding his majesty's
soned the prince, which, he being so far off, as advertisement of success and
says, was a physician with a order thereupon could not go and come between,
red beard.
was chiefly, for that his majesty, from whom the
overture of that first moved, did write but a few
hours, that this should be done, which I turned
into days. Secondly, because the hope I had of
effect by that mean, was rather of attempting him
at his arraignment, than of confession before his
arraignment. But I submit it to his majesty's
better judgment.

That there was a little picture of a young man in white wax, left by Mrs. Turner with Forman the conjurer, which my Lord Coke doubted was the prince.

That the Viceroy of the Indies at Goa reported to an English factor, that Prince Henry came to an untimely death by a mistress of his.

That Somerset with others, would have preferred Lowbell the apothecary to Prince Charles.

That the countess laboured Forman and Gresham, the conjurers, to enforce the queen by witchcraft to favour the

countess.

That the countess told Franklin, that when the queen died, Somerset should have Somerset House.

That Northampton said, the prince, if ever he came to reign, would prove a tyrant.

That Franklin was moved by the countess to go to the Palsgrave, and should be furnished with money. The particular reasons, why I omit them, I have set in the margin; but the general is partly to do a kind of right to justice, and such a solemn trial, in not giving that in evidence, which touches not the delinquent, or is not of weight; and partly to observe your majesty's direction, to give Somerset no just occasion of despair or flushes.

But, I pray your majesty to pardon me, that I have troubled your majesty with repeating them, lest you should hear hereafter, that Mr. Attorney hath omitted divers material parts of the evidence.

Endorsed,

The person, by your first description, which was without name, I thought had been meant of Packer: but now perceive it is another, to me unknown, but, as it seemeth, very fit. I doubt not but he came with sufficient warrant to Mr. Lieutenant to have access. In this I have no more to do, but to expect to hear from his majesty how this worketh.

The letter from his majesty to myself and the serjeants I have received, such as I wished; and | I will speak with the commissioners, that he may, by the lieutenant, understand his majesty's care of him, and the tokens herein of his majesty's compassion towards him.

I ever had a purpose to make use of that circumstance, that Overbury, the person murdered, was his majesty's prisoner in the Tower; which indeed is a strong pressure of his majesty's justice. For Overbury is the first prisoner murdered in the Tower, since the murder of the young princes by Richard the Third, the tyrant.

I would not trouble his majesty with any points of preamble, nor of the evidence itself, more than that part nakedly, wherein was the tenderness, in which I am glad his majesty, by his postils, which he returned to me, approveth my judgment.

Now I am warranted, I will not stick to say openly, I am commanded, not to exasperate, nor to aggravate the matter in question of the impoisonment with any other collateral charge of disloyalty, or otherwise; wherein, besides his majesty's principal intention, there will be some use to save the former bruits of Spanish matters.

There is a direction given to Mr. Lieutenant by my lord chancellor and myself, that as yesterday Mr. Whiting the preacher, a discreet man,

Somerset's business and charge, with his majesty's and one that was used to Helwisse, should preach

[blocks in formation]

before the lady,* and teach her, and move her generally to a clear confession. That after the same preacher should speak as much to him at his going away in private: and so proof to be made, whether this good mean, and the last night's thoughts, will produce any thing. And that this day the lieutenant should declare to her the time of her trial, and likewise of his trial, and persuade her, not only upon Christian duty, but as good for them both, that she deal clearly touching him, whereof no use can be made, nor need to be made, for evidence, but much use may be made for their comfort.

It is thought, at the day of her trial the lady will confess the indictment; which if she do, no evidence ought to be given. But because it shall not be a dumb show, and for his majesty's honour in so solemn an assembly, I purpose to make a declaration of the proceedings of this great work of justice, from the beginning to the end, wherein, nevertheless, I will be careful no ways to prevent or discover the evidence of the next day. In this my lord chancellor and I have likewise used a point of providence: for I did forecast, that if in that narrative, by the connection of things, any thing should be spoken, that should show him guilty, she might break forth into passionate protestations for his clearing; which, though it may be justly made light of, yet it is better avoided. Therefore my lord chancellor and I have devised, that upon the entrance into that declaration she shall, in respect of her weakness, and not to add farther affliction, be withdrawn.

It is impossible, neither is it needful, for me, to express all the particulars of my care in this business. But I divide myself into all cogitations as far as I can foresee; being very glad to find, that his majesty doth not only accept well of my care and advices, but that he applieth his directions so fitly, as guideth me from time to time.

I have received the commissions signed. I am not forgetful of the goods and estate of Somerset, as far as is seasonable to inquire at this time. My Lord Coke taketh upon him to answer for the jewels, being the chief part of his moveable value: and this, I think, is done with his majesty's privity. But my Lord Coke is a good man to answer for it.

God ever preserve and prosper you. I rest
Your true and devoted servant,
FR. BACON.

May 10, Friday, at 7 of the clock
in the morning, [1616.]

TO THE KING.†

MAY IT PLEASE YOUR MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY, I do very much thank your majesty for your letter, and think myself much honoured by it.

For though it contain some matter of dislike, in which respect it hath grieved me more than any event, which hath fallen out in my life; yet because I know reprehensions from the best masters to the best servants are necessary; and that no chastisement is pleasant for the time, but yet worketh good effects; and for that I find intermixed some passages of trust and grace; and find also in myself inwardly sincerity of intention, and conformity of will, howsoever I may have erred; I do not a little comfort myself, resting upon your majesty's accustomed favour; and most humbly desiring, that any one of my particular notions may be expounded by the constant and direct course, which, your majesty knoweth, I have ever held in your service.

And because it hath pleased your majesty, of your singular grace and favour, to write fully and freely unto me; it is duty and decorum in me not to write shortly to your majesty again, but with some length; not so much by way of defence or answer, which yet, I know, your majesty would always graciously admit; as to show, that I have, as I ought, weighed every word of your majesty's letter.

First, I do acknowledge, that this match of Sir John Villiers is "magnum in parvo" in both senses, that your majesty speaketh. But your majesty perceiveth well, that I took it to be in a farther degree, "majus in parvo," in respect of your service. But since your majesty biddeth me to confide upon your act of empire, I have done. For, as the Scripture saith, "to God all things are possible;" so certainly to wise kings much is possible. But for that second sense, your majesty speaketh of, "magnum in parvo," in respect of the stir; albeit it being but a most lawful and ordinary thing, I most humbly pray your majesty to pardon me, if I signify to you, that we here take the loud and vocal, and as I may call it, streperous carriage to have been far more on the other side, which indeed is inconvenient, rather than the thing itself.

that

Now, for the manner of my affection to my Lord of Buckingham, for whom I would spend my life, and that which is to me more, the cares of my life; I must humbly confess, that it was in this a little parent-like, this being no other term, than his lordship hath heretofore vouchsafed to my counsels; but in truth, and it please your majesty, without any grain of disesteem for his lordship's discretion. For I know him to be naturally a wise man, of a sound and staid wit, as I ever said unto your majesty. And, again, I know he hath the best tutor in Europe. But yet I was afraid, that the height of his fortune might make him too secure; and as the proverb is, a looker-on sometimes seeth more than a gamester.

answer to it, to have been written at Gorhambury, July 25, Frances, Countess of Somerset. 1617. That printed with this date in his Works, should be This letter appears, from the endorsement of the king's August 2, 1617, as I find by the original draught of it.

For the particular part of a true friend, which your majesty witnesseth, that the earl hath lately performed towards me, in palliating some errors of mine; it is no new thing with me to be more and more bound to his lordship; and I am most humbly to thank, whatsoever it was, both your majesty and him; knowing well, that I may, and do commit many errors, and must depend upon your majesty's gracious countenance and favour for them, and shall have need of such a friend near your majesty. For I am not so ignorant of mine own case, but that I know I am come in with as strong an envy of some particulars, as with the love of the general.

For my opposition to this business, which, it seemeth, hath been informed your majesty, I think it was meant, if it be not a thing merely feigned, and without truth or ground, of one of these two things; for I will dissemble nothing with your majesty. It is true, that in those matters, which, by your majesty's commandment and reference, came before the table concerning Sir Edward Coke, I was sometimes sharp, it may be too much; but it was with end to have your majesty's will performed; or else, when methought he was more peremptory than became him, in respect of the honour of the table. It is true also, that I dislike the riot or violence, whereof we of your council gave your majesty advertisement by our joint letter: and I disliked it the more, because he justified it to be law; which was his old song. But in that act of council, which was made thereupon, I did not see but all my lords were as forward as myself, as a thing most necessary for preservation of your peace, which had been so carefully and firmly kept in your absence. And all this had a fair end, in a reconcilement made by Mr. Attorney,* whereby both husband and wife and child should have kept together. Which, if it had continued, I am persuaded the match had been in better and fairer forwardness, than now it is.

larly perceive an alteration in my carriage. And now that your majesty hath been pleased to open yourself to me, I shall be willing to further the match by any thing, that shall be desired of me, or that is in my power.

And whereas your majesty conceiveth some dregs of spleen in me by the word " Mr. Bacon ;" truly it was but to express in thankfulness the comparative of my fortune unto your majesty, the author of the latter, to show how little I needed to fear, while I had your favour. For, I thank God, I was never vindictive nor implacable.

As for my opinion of prejudice to your majesty's service, as I touched it before, I have done; I do humbly acquiesce in your majesty's satisfaction, and rely upon your majesty's judgment, who unto judgment have also power, so to mingle the elements, as may conserve the fabric.

For the interest, which I have in the mother, I do not doubt but it was increased by this, that I in judgment, as I then stood, affected that which she did in passion. But I think the chief obligation was, that I stood so firmly to her in the matter of her assurance, wherein I supposed I did your majesty service, and mentioned it in a memorial of council-business, as half craving thanks for it. And sure I am now, that, and the like, hath made Sir Edward Coke a convert, as I did write to your majesty in my last.

For the collation of the two spirits, I shall easily subscribe to your majesty's answer; for Solomon were no true man, if in matter of malice the woman should not be the superior.

To conclude, I have gone through, with the plainness of truth, the parts of your majesty's letter: very humbly craving pardon for troubling your majesty so long; and most humbly praying your majesty to continue me in your grace and favour, which is the fruit of my life upon the root of a good conscience. And although time in this business have cast me upon a particular, which, I confess, may have probable show of passion or interest; yet God is my witness, that the thing, that most moved me, was an anxious and solicitous care of your majesty's state and service, out of consideration of the time past and present.

Now, for the times of things, I beseech your majesty to understand that which my Lord of Buckingham will witness with me, that I never had any word of letter from his lordship of the business, till I wrote my letter of advice; nor again, after my letter of advice, till five weeks after, which was now within this sennight. So that although I did in truth presume, that the earl would do nothing without your majesty's privity; yet I was in some doubt, by this his silence of his own mind, that he was not earnest in it, but only was content to embrace the officious offers ADVICE TO THE KING FOR REVIVING THE and endeavours of others.

But, to conclude this point, after I had received, by a former letter of his lordship, knowledge of his mind, I think Sir Edward Coke himself, the last time he was before the lords, might particu

Sir Henry Yelverton.

God ever preserve and bless your majesty, and send you a joyful return after your prosperous journey.

COMMISSION OF SUITS.

THAT, which for the present I would have spoken with his majesty about, as a matter wherein time may be precious, being upon the tenderest point of all others. For, though the particular occasion may be despised, and yet

« PreviousContinue »