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wise this last procrastination of days had the like long in the body, and work by degrees; and for weighty grounds and causes. And this is the true this purpose there must be essays of them upon and brief representation of this extreme work of poor beasts, &c. the king's justice.

And, lastly, I shall show you the rewards of this Now, for the evidence against this lady, I am impoisonment, first demanded by Weston, and sorry I must rip it up. I shall first show you the denied, because the deed was not done; but after purveyance or provisions of the poisons; that the deed done and perpetrated, that Overbury was they were seven in number brought to this lady, dead, then performed and paid to the value of and by her billetted and laid up till they might 1801. be used: and this done with an oath or vow And so, without farther aggravation of that, of secrecy, which is like the Egyptian darkness, which in itself bears its own tragedy, I will a gross and palpable darkness, that may be felt., conclude with the confessions of this lady herself,

Secondly, I shall show you the exhibiting and which is the strongest support of justice; and yet sorting of the same number or volley of poisons: is the footstool of mercy. For, as the Scripture white arsenic was fit for salt, because it is of like says, “ Mercy and truth have kissed each other;" body and colour. The poison of great spiders, and there is no meeting or greeting of mercy, till there of the venonious fly cantharides, was fit for pigs' be a confession, or trial of truth. For these sauce or partridge sauce, because it resembled pep- read, per. As for mercury-water, and other poisons, Franklin, November 16, they might be fit for tarts, which is a kind of hotch- Franklin, November 17, pot, wherein no one colour is so proper: and some Rich. Weston, October 1, of these were delivered by the hands of this lady, Rich. Weston, October 2 and some by her direction.

Will. Weston, October 2, Thirdly, I shall prove and observe unto you the Rich. Weston, October 3, cautions of these poisons; that they might not be Helwisse, October 2, too swift, lest the world should startle at it by the The Countess's letter, without date, suddenness of the despatch : but they must abide The Countess's confession, January 8.

THE

CHARGE, BY WAY OF EVIDENCE,

BY

SIR FRANCIS BACON, KNIGHT,

HIS MAJESTY'S ATTORNEY-GENERAL,

BEFORE THE LORD HIGH STEWARD, AND THE PEERS;*

AGAINST

FRANCES, COUNTESS OF SOMERSET,

CONCERNING THE POISONING OF SIR THOMAS OVERBURY.

IT MAY PLEASE YOUR GRACE, MY LORD HIGH STEWARD OF ENGLAND, AND YOU, MY LORDS, THE PEERS :

I am very glad to hear this unfortunate lady persons, upon whom justice passed before, condoth take this course, to confess fully and freely, fessed not; she doth. I know your lordships and thereby to give glory to God and to justice. cannot behold her without compassion : many It is, as I may term it, the nobleness of an things may move you, her youth, her person, her offender to confess: and, therefore, those meaner sex, her noble family; yea, her provocations, if I * The Lord Chancellor Egerton, Lord Ellesmere, and Earl

should enter into the cause itself, and furies about of Bridgwater.

her; but chiefly her penitency and confession.

1

But justice is the work of this day; the mercy, as well able to level mountains, as to fill valleys,
seat was in the inner part of the temple; the if such be their desert.
throne is public. But, since this lady hath, by But to come to the present case: The great
her confession, prevented my evidence, and your frame of justice, my lords, in this present action,
verdict, and that this day's labour is eased ; there hath a vault, and hath a stage; a vault, wherein
resteth, in the legal proceeding, but for me to these works of darkness were contrived; and a
pray that her confession may be recorded, and stage, with steps, by which it was brought to
judgment thereupon.

light.
But, because your lordships the peers are met, For the former of these, I will not lead your
and that this day and to-morrow are the days lordships into it, because I will engrieve nothing
that crown all the former justice; and that in against a penitent; neither will I open any thing
these great cases it hath been ever the manner to against him that is absent. The one I will give
respect honour and satisfaction, as well as the to the laws of humanity, and the other to the
ordinary parts and forms of justice; the occasion laws of justice: for I shall always serve my mas-
itself admonisheth me to give your lordships and ter with a good and sincere conscience, and, I
the hearers this contentment, as to make declara- know, that he accepteth best. Therefore, I will
tion of the proceedings of this excellent work of reserve that till to-morrow, and hold myself to
the king's justice, from the beginning to the end. that which I called the stage or theatre, where-

It may please your grace, my Lord High Steward unto indeed it may be fitly compared : for that of England: this is now the second time, within things were first contained within the invisible the space of thirteen years' reign of our happy judgments of God, as within a curtain, and after sovereign, that this high tribunal-seat, ordained came forth, and were acted most worthily by the for the trial of peers, hath been opened and king, and right well by his ministers. erected, and that with a rare event, supplied and Sir Thomas Overbury was murdered by poison, exercised by one and the same person, which is a September 15, 1613. This foul and cruel murder great honour unto you, my lord steward. did for a time cry secretly in the ears of God; but

In all this mean time the king hath reigned in God gave no answer to it, otherwise than by that his white robe, not sprinkled with any one drop voice, which sometimes he useth, which is “vox of the blood of any of his nobles of this kingdom. populi,” the speech of the people: for there went Nay, such have been the depths of his mercy, as then a murmur that Overbury was poisoned ; and even those noblemen's bloods, against whom the yet the same submiss and low voice of God, the proceeding was at Winchester, Cobham and speech of the vulgar people, was not without a Grey, were attainted and corrupted, but not spilt counter-tenor or counter-blast of the devil, who is or taken away; but that they reniained rather the common author both of murder and slander; spectacles of justice in their continual imprison- for it was given out that Overbury was dead of a ment, than monuments of justice in the memory foul disease; and his body, which they had made of their suffering.

“corpus Judaicum” with their poisons, so as it It is true that the objects of his justice then, and had no whole part, must be said to be leprosed now, were very differing: for then it was the with vice, and so his name poisoned as well as revenge of an offenee against his own person and his body. For as to dissoluteness, I have not crown, and upon persons that were malcontents, heard the gentleman noted with it; his faults and contraries to the state and government; but were of insolency, turbulency, and the like of that now it is the revenge of the blood and death of a kind. particular subject, and the cry of a prisoner: it is Mean time there was some industry used, of upon persons that were highly in his favqur; which I will not now speak, to lull asleep those whereby his majesty, to his great honour, hath that were the revengers of the blood, the father showed to the world, as if it were written in a and the brother of the murdered. And in these sunbeam, that he is truly the lieutenant of Him terms things stood by the space of two years, with whom there is no respect of persons; that during which time, God did so blind the two his affections royal are above his affections pri- great procurers, and dazzle them with their greatvate; that his favours and nearness about him ness; and blind, and nail fast the actors and are not like popish sanctuaries, to privilege male- instruments with security upon their protection, factors; and that his being the best master in the as neither the one looked about them, nor the world, doth not let him from being the best king other stirred or fled, or were conveyed away, but in the world. His people, on the other side, may remained here still, as under a privy arrest of say to themselves, I will lie down in peace, for God's judgments; insomuch as Franklin, that God, the king, and the law, protect me against should have been sent over to the Palsgrave with great and small. It may be a discipline also to good store of money, was, by God's providence, great men, especially such as are swoln in their and the accident of a marriage of his, diverted fortunes from small beginnings, that the king is and stayed.

But about the beginning of the progress the whether it were a true accusation of the one part, last summer, God's judgments began to come out or a practice and factious scandal of the other: of their depths. And, as the revealing of murder which writing, because I am not able to express is commonly such as a man said, “a Domino hoc according to the worth thereof, I will desire your factum est; it is God's work, and it is marvellous lordships anon to hear read. in our eyes :" so in this particular it was most This excellent foundation of justice being laid admirable; for it came forth first by a compli- by his majesty's own hand, it was referred unto ment, a matter of courtesy. My Lord of Shrews- some counsellors to examine farther; who gaiped bury, that is now with God, recommended to a some degrees of light from Weston, but yet left counsellor of state, of special trust by his place, it imperfect. the late lieutenant Helwisse,* only for acquaint- After it was referred to Sir Edward Coke, chief ance, as an honest and worthy gentleman, and justice of the king's bench, as a person best pracdesired him to know him, and to be acquainted tised in legal examinations; who took a great with him. That counsellor answered him civilly, deal of indefatigable pains in it without intermisthat my lord did him a favour, and that he should sion, having, as I have heard him say, taken at embrace it willingly; but he must let his lordship least three hundred examinations in this busiknow, that there did lie a heavy imputation upon ness. that gentleman, Helwisse; for that Sir Thomas But these things were not done in a corner; I Overbury, his prisoner, was thought to have come need not speak of them. It is true that my lord to a violent and an untimely death. When this chief justice, in the dawning and opening of the speech was reported back by my Lord of Shrews- light, finding the matter touched upon these great bury to Helwisse, “percussit illico animum," he persons, very discreetly became suitor to the was strucken with it: and being a politic man, king, to have greater persons than his own rank and of likelihood doubting that the matter would joined with him; whereupon your lordships, my break forth at one time or other, and that others Lord High Steward of England, my Lord Steward might have the start of him, and thinking to of the King's House, and my Lord Zouch, were make his own case by his own tale, resolved with joined with him. himself upon this occasion to discover unto my Neither wanted there, this while, practice to Lord of Shrewsbury, and that counsellor, that suppress testimony, to deface writings, to weaken there was an attempt, whereunto he was privy, to the king's resolution, to slander the justice, and have poisoned Overbury by the hands of his the like. Nay, when it came to the first solemn under-keeper, Weston; but that he checked it, act of justice, which was the arraignment of and put it by, and dissuaded it. But then he left Weston, he had his lesson to stand mute, which it thus, that it was but as an attempt, or an had arrested the whole wheel of justice, but this untimely birth, never executed; and, as if his dumb devil, by the means of some discreet divines, own fault had been no more, but that he was and the potent charm of justice together, was cast honest in forbidding, but fearful of revealing and out; neither did this poisonous adder stop his ear impeaching, or accusing great persons: and so to these charms, but relented, and yielded to his with this fine point thought to save himself. trial.

But that counsellor of estate, wisely consider- 'Then followed the other proceedings of justice ing that, by the lieutenant's own tale, it could not against the other offenders, Turner, Helwisse, be simply a permission or weakness: for that Franklin. Weston was never displaced by the lieutenant, But all these being but the organs and instronotwithstanding that attempt; and coupling the ments of this fact, the actors, and not the authors, sequel by the beginning, thought it matter fit to justice could not have been crowned without this be brought before his majesty, by whose ap- last act against these great persons; else Wespointment Helwisse set down the like declaration ton's censure or prediction might have been in writing.

verified, when he said, he hoped the small fies Upon this ground the king playeth Solomon's should not be caught, and the greater escape. part, “Gloria Dei celare rem, et gloria Regis Wherein the king, being in great straits beinvestigare rem," and sets down certain papers tween the defacing of his honour, and of his of his own hand, which I might term to be creature, hath, according as he used to do, " claves justitiæ,” keys of justice; and may serve chosen the better part, reserving always mercy both for a precedent for princes to imitate, and for to himself. a direction for judges to follow. And his ma- The time also of justice hath had its true mojesty carried the balance with a constant and tions. The time until this lady's deliverance was steady hand, evenly, and without prejudice, due unto honour, Christianity, and humanity, in

respect of her great belly. The time since was * Caled in Sir H. Wotton's Reliq. p. 413, Flvis. In Sir A. 'due to another kind of deliverance too; which Welden's Court of King James, p. 107, Elwa jes, Coquin. p. 141, Ellowaies. In Sir W. Dugdale's Baron. of was, that some causes of estate which were in England, tom. ii. p. 423, Elwayes. In Baker, p. 434, Yelvis. the womb might likewise be brought forth, not for matter of justice, but for reason of state. he carried it, that innocency might not have so Likewise this last procrastination of days had the much as aspersion. like weighty grounds and causes.

Frances, Countess of Somerset, hath been But, my lords, where I speak of a stage, I indicted and arraigned, as accessary before the doubt I hold you upon the stage too long. But, fact, for the murder and impoisonment of Sır before I pray judgment, I pray your lordships to Thomas Overbury, and hath pleaded guilty, and hear the king's papers read, that you may see confesseth the indictment: I pray judgment how well the king was inspired, and how nobly against the prisoner.

THE CHARGE

OF SIR FRANCIS BACON, KNIGHT,

HIS MAJESTY'S ATTORNEY-GENERAL,

BY WAY OF EVIDENCE,

BEFORE THE LORD HIGH STEWARD, AND THE PEERS,

AGAINST ROBERT, EARL OF SOMERSET

CONCERNING THE POISONING OF OVERBURY.

IT MAY PLEASE YOUR GRACE, MY LORD HIGH STEWARD OF ENGLAND, AND YOU, MY LORDS, THE PEERS:

You have here before you Robert, Earl of your eyes upright, and to be able to save it from Somerset, to be tried for his life, concerning the being put out with any winds of evasion or vain procuring and consenting to the impoisonment of defences, that is our part; and within that we Sir Thomas Overbury, then the king's prisoner shall contain ourselves, not doubting at all, but in the Tower of London, as an accessary before that the evidence itself will carry such force as it the fact.

shall need no vantage or aggravation. I know your lordships cannot behold this My lords, the course which I will hold in delinobleman, but you must remember his great vering that which I shall say, for I love order, favour with the king, and the great place that he shall be this: hath had and borne, and must be sensible that he First, I will speak somewhat of the nature and is yet of your number and body, a peer as you greatness of the offence which is now to be tried ; are; so that you cannot cut him off from your not to weigh down my lord with the greatness of body but with grief; and, therefore, that you will it, but, contrariwise, to show that a great offence expect from us, that give in the king's evidence, deserveth a great proof, and that the king, howsound and sufficient matter of proof to satisfy ever he might esteem this gentleman heretofore, your honours and consciences.

as the signet upon his finger, to use the SeripAs for the manner of the evidence, the king our ture phrase, yet in such case as this he was to master, who among his other virtues excelleth in put him off. that virtue of the imperial throne, which is justice, Secondly, I will use some few words touching hath given us in commandment that we should the nature of the proofs, which in such a case are not expatiate, nor make invectives, but materially competent. pursue the evidence, as it conduceth to the point Thirdly, I will state the proofs. in question; a matter that, though we are glad Fourthly and lastly, I will produce the proofs, of so good a warrant, yet, we should have done either out of examinations and matters in writing, of ourselves : for far be it from us, by any strains or witnesses, “ viva voce." of wit or art, to seek to play prizes, or to blazon For the offence itself, it is of crimes, next unto our names in blood, or to carry the day otherwise high treason, the greatest; it is the foulest of than upon just grounds. We shall carry the felonies. And, take this offence with the circumlantern of justice, which is the evidence, before I stances, it hath three degrees or stages; that it is

Vos. II.-41

murder; that it is murder by impoisonment; that offence, which is, that it was committed upon the it is murder committed upon the king's prisoner king's prisoner, who was out of his own defence, in the Tower: I might say, that it is murder and merely in the king's protection, and for whom under the colour of friendship; but this is a cir- the king and state was a kind of respondent; is a cumstance moral; I leave that to the evidence thing that aggravates the fault much. For, ceritself.

tainly, my Lord of Somerset, let me tell you this, For murder, my lords, the first record of justice that Sir Thomas Overbury is the first man that that was in the world, was a judgment upon a was murdered in the Tower of London, since the murderer, in the person of Adam's first-born, Cain; murder of the two young princes. Thus much and though it was not punished by death, but of the offence, now to the proof. with banishment and mark of ignominy, in respect For the nature of the proofs, your lordships of the primogeniture, or population of the world, must consider, that impoisonment of all offences or other points of God's secret decree, yet it was is the most secret; so secret, as that if, in all judged, and was, as it is said, the first record of cases of impoisonment, you should require testijustice. So it appeareth likewise in Scripture, mony, you were as good proclaim impunity. that the murder of Abner by Joab, though it were Who could have impeached Livia, by testiby David respited in respect of great services mony, of the impoisoning figs upon the tree, past, or reason of state, yet, it was not forgotten. which her husband was wont to gather with his But of this I will say no more.

It was ever own hands. admitted, and ranked in God's own tables, that Who could have impeached Parisatis for the murder is, of offences between man and man, next poisoning of one side of the knife that she carved unto treason and disobedience unto authority, with, and keeping the other side clean; so that which some divines have referred to the first herself did eat of the same piece of meat that the table, because of the lieutenancy of God in lady did that she did impoison? The cases are princes.

infinite, and need not to be spoken of, of the For impoisonment, I am sorry it should be secrecy of impoisonments; but wise triers must heard of in this kingdom: it is not “nostri generis take upon them, in these secret cases, Solomon's pec sanguinis:" it is an Italian crime, fit for the spirit, that, where there could be no witnesses, court of Rome, where that person, which intoxi- collected the act by the affection. cateth the kings of the earth with his cup of But, yet, we are not to come to one case; for poison, is many times really and materially that which your lordships are to try, is not the intoxicated and impoisoned himself.

act of impoisonment, for that is done to your But it hath three circumstances, which make it hand; all the world by law is concluded to say, grievous beyond other murders: whereof the first that Overbury was impoisoned by Weston. is, that it takes away a man in full peace, in But the question before you is of the procureGod's and the king's peace; he thinketh no harm, ment only, and of the abetting, as the law termeth but is comforting of nature with refection and it, as accessary before the fact: which abetting food; so that, as the Scripture saith, “his table is no more but to do or use any act or means, is made a snare."

which may aid or conduce unto the impoisonThe second is, that it is easily committed, and ment. easily concealed; and, on the other side, hardly So that it is not the buying or making of the prevented, and hardly discovered : for murder by poison, or the preparing, or confecting, or comviolence, princes have guards, and private men mixing of it, or the giving, or sending, or laying have houses, attendants, and arms: neither can the poison, that are the only acts that do amount such murder be committed but "cum sonitu,” unto abetment. But, if there be any other act or and with some overt and apparent act that may means done or used to give the opportunity of discover and trace the offender. But, as for poi- impoisoninent, or to facilitate the execution of it, son, the cup itself of princes will scarce serve, in or to stop or divert any impediments that might regard of many poisons that neither discolour nor hinder it, and this be with an intention to accomdistaste.

plish and achieve the impoisonment; all these And the last is, because it concerneth not only are abetments, and accessaries before the fact. I the destruction of the maliced man, but of any will put you a familiar example. Allow there be Other; “Quis modo tutus erit?" for many times a conspiracy to murder a man as he journeys by the poison is prepared for one, and is taken by the way, and it be one man's part to draw him another: so that men die other men's deaths; forth to that journey by invitation, or by colour s considit infelix alieno vulnere:” and it is, as of some business; and another takes upon him to the psalm calleth it, “ sagitta nocte volans ;” the dissuade some friend of his, whom he had a purarrow that flieth by night, it hath no aim or cer- pose to take in his company, that he be not too tainty.

strong to make his defence; and another hath the Now, for the third degree of this particular part to go along with him, and to hold him in

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