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solemn an assembly, I purpose to make a declara- justice, so it is a kind of corner-stone, whereupon tion of the proceedings of this great work of justice, justice and mercy may meet. from the beginning to the end, wherein, neverthe- The proofs, which I shall read in the end for the less, I will be careful no ways to prevent or discover ground of your verdict and sentence, will be very the evidence of the next day.
short; and, as much as may, serve to satisfy your In this my lord chancellor and I have likewise honours and consciences for the conviction of this used a point of providence : did forecast, that lady, without wasting of time in a case clear and if in that narrative, by the connexion of things, any confessed ; or ripping up guiltiness against one, that thing should be spoken, that should show him hath prostrated herself by confession ; or preventguilty, she might break forth into passionate pro- | ing or deflowering too much of the evidence. And testations for his clearing ; which, though it may be therefore the occasion itself doth admonish me to justly made light of, yet it is better avoided. There- spend this day rather in declaration, than in evifore my lord chancellor and I have devised, that dence, giving God and the king the honour, and upon the entrance into that declaration she shall, in your lordships and the hearers the contentment, to respect of her weakness, and not to add farther set before you the proceeding of this excellent work affliction, be withdrawn.
of the king's justice, from the beginning to the end; It is impossible, neither is it needful, for me, to and so to conclude with the reading the confessions express all the particulars of my care in this busi- and proofs.
But I divide myself into all cogitations as My lords, this is now the second time I within the far as I can foresee; being very glad to find, that space of thirteen years reign of our happy sovereign, his Majesty doth not only accept well of my care that this high tribunal-seat of justice, ordained for and advices, but that he applieth his directions so the trial by peers, hath been opened and erected; fitly, as guideth me from time to time.
and that, with a rare event, supplied and exercised I have received the commissions signed.
by one and the same person; which is a great I am not forgetful of the goods and estate of honour to you, my lord steward. Somerset, as far as is seasonable to inquire at this In all this mean time, the king hath reigned in time. My lord Coke taketh upon him to answer his white robe, not sprinkled with any drop of for the jewels, being the chief part of his movable blood of any of his nobles of this kingdom. Nay, value : and this, I think, is done with his Majesty's such hath been the depths of his mercy, as even privity. But my lord Coke is a good man to answer those noblemen's bloods, (against whom the profor it.
ceeding was at Winchester,) Cobham and Grey, were God ever preserve and prosper you. I rest attainted and corrupted, but not spilt or taken away; Your true and devoted servant,
but that they remained rather spectacles of justice
in their continual imprisonment, than monuments FR. BACON.
of justice in the memory of their suffering. May 10, Friday at 7 of the clock
It is true, that the objects of his justice then and in the morning (1616).
now were very differing. For then, it was the revenge of an offence against his own person and crown, and upon persons that were malcontents, and
contraries to the state and government. But now, The Charge of the Attorney-General, Sir Francis it is the revenge of the blood and death of a par
Bacon, against Frances, Countess of Somerset, ticular subject, and the cry of a prisoner. It is intended to have been spoken by him at her upon persons, that were highly in his favour; arraignment, on Friday, May 24, 1616, in case whereby his Majesty, to his great honour, hath she had pleaded not guilty.*
showed to the world, as if it were written in a
sunbeam, that he is truly the lieutenant of Him, It may please your Grace, my lord high steward with whom there is no respect of persons; that his of England, † and you my lords the peers,
affections royal are above his affections private ; You have heard the indictment against this lady that his favours and nearness about him are not well opened ; and likewise the point in law, that like popish sanctuaries to privilege malefactors ; might make some doubt, declared and solved ; and that his being the best master of the world wherein certainly the policy of the law of England doth not let him from being the best king of the is much to be esteemed, which requireth and re- world. His people, on the other side, may say to specteth form in the indictment, and substance in themselves, “ I will lie down in peace; for God the proof.
and the king and the law protect me against great This scruple it may be hath moved this lady to and small.” It may be a discipline also to great men, plead not guilty, though for the proof I shall not especially such as are swoln in fortunes from small need much more than her own confession, which beginnings, that the king is as well able to level she hath formerly made, free and voluntary, and mountains, as to fill valleys, if such be their desert. therein given glory to God and justice. And cer- But to come to the present case; the great frame tainly confession, as it is the strongest foundation of of justice, my lords, in this present action, hath a
She pleaded guilty, on which occasion the attorney, + Thomas Egerton, viscount Ellesmere, lord high chancellor. general spoke a charge somewhat different from this, printed I The first time was on the trials of the lords Cobbam and in his works.
Grey, in November, 1603.
vault, and it hath a stage: a vault, wherein these should embrace it willingly; but he must let his works of darkness were contrived; and a stage with lordship know, that there did lie a heavy imputation steps, by which they were brought to light. And upon that gentleman, Helwisse ; for that Sir Thotherefore I will bring this work of justice to the mas Overbury, his prisoner, was thought to have period of this day; and then go on with this day's come to a violent and untimely death. When this work.
speech was reported back by my lord of ShrewsSir Thomas Overbury was murdered by poison in bury to Helwisse, perculit illico animum, he was the 15th of September, 1613, 11 Reg. This foul stricken with it; and being a politic man, and of and cruel murder did, for a time, cry secretly in the likelihood doubting, that the matter would break ears of God: but God gave no answer to it other forth at one time or other, and that others might wise than by that voice, which sometimes he useth, have the start of him, and thinking to make his which is rox populi, the speech of the people. For own case by his own tale, resolved with himself, there went then a murmur, that Overbury was poi. upon this occasion, to discover to my lord of Shrewssoned ; and yet this same submiss and soft voice of bury and that counsellor, that there was an attempt, God, the speech of the vulgar people, was not with whereto he was privy, to have poisoned Overbury out a counter-tenor or counter-blast of the devil, by the hands of his under-keeper, Weston ; but that who is the common author both of murder and slan- he checked it, and put it by, and dissuaded it, and der: for it was given out, that Overbury was dead related so much to him indeed: but then he left it of a foul disease, and his body, which they had thus, that was but an attempt, or untimely birth, made a corpus Judaicum with their poisons, so as never executed ; and, as if his own fault had been it had no whole part, must be said to be leprosed no more, but that he was honest in forbidding, but with vice, and so his name poisoned as well as his fearful of revealing and impeaching or accusing body. For as to dissoluteness, I never heard the great persons : and so with this fine point thought gentleman noted with it: his faults were insolency, to save himself. and turbulency, and the like of that kind : the other But that great counsellor of state wisely considerpart of the soul, not the voluptuous.
ing, that by the lieutenant's own tale it could not be Meantime, there was some industry used, of which simply a permission or weakness; for that Weston I will not now speak, to lull asleep those, that were was never displaced by the lieutenant, notwithstandthe revengers of blood; the father and the brother ing that attempt; and coupling the sequel by the of the murdered. And in these terms things stood beginning, thought it matter fit to be brought before by the space almost of two years: during which his Majesty, by whose appointment Helwisse set time, God so blinded the two great procurers, and down the like declaration in writing. dazzled them with their own greatness, and bind Upon this ground, the king playeth Solomon's and nail fast the actors and instruments, with secu- part, Gloria Dei celare rem; et Gloria Regis invesrity upon their protection, as neither the one looked tigare rem ; and sets down certain papers of his own about them, nor the other stirred or fled, nor were hand, which I might term to be claves justitie, keys conveyed away; but remained here still, as under of justice; and may serve for a precedent both for a privy arrest of God's judgments; insomuch as princes to imitate, and for a direction for judges to Franklin, that should have been sent over to the Pals- follow: and his Majesty carried the balance with a grave with good store of money, was, by God's constant and steady hand, evenly and without prejuprovidence, and the accident of a marriage of his, dice, whether it were a true accusation of the one diverted and stayed.
part, or a practice and factious device of the other : But about the beginning of the progress last which writing, because I am not able to express acsummer, God's judgments began to come out of cording to the worth thereof, I will desire your lordtheir depths : and as the revealing of murders is ship anon to hear read. commonly such, as a man may say, a Domino hoc This excellent foundation of justice being laid by factum est ; it is God's work, and it is marvellous his Majesty's own hand, it was referred unto some in our eyes; so in this particular it was most admir- counsellors to examine farther, who gained some able; for it came forth by a compliment and mat- degrees of light from Weston, but yet left it imperfect. ter of courtesy.
After it was referred to Sir Edward Coke, chief My lord of Shrewsbury,* that is now with God, justice of the king's bench, as a person best practised recommended to a counsellor of state, of especial in legal examinations, who took a great deal of intrust by his place, the late lieutenant Helwisse, t defatigable pains in it, without intermission, having, only for acquaintance as an honest worthy gentle as I have heard him say, taken at least three hunman; and desired him to know him, and to be ac- dred examinations in this business. quainted with him. That counsellor answered him But these things were not done in a corner.
I civilly, that my lord did him a favour ; and that he need not speak of them. It is true, that my lord Gilbert
, earl of Shrewsbury, knight of the garter, who Waad's] by the favour of the lord chamberlain (carl of died May 8, 1616.
Somerset) and his lady. The gentleman is of too mild and Sir Gervase Helwisse, appointed lieutenant of the Tower, gentle a disposition for such an office. He is my old friend upon the removal of Sir William Waad, on the 6th of May, and acquaintance in France, and lately renewed in town, 1613. (Reliquiæ Wottonianæ, p. 412, 3d edit. 1672.1 Mr. where he hath lived past a year, nor followed the court many Chamberlain, in a MS, letter to Sir Dudley Carleton, dated a day.” Sir Henry Wotton, in a letter of the fourteenth of at London, May 13, 1613, speaks of Sir Gervase's
promotion May, 1613, (ubi supra, p. 13.) says, that Sir Gervase had in these terns : "One Sir Gervase Helwisse of Lincolnshire, been before one of the pensioners. somewhat an unknown man, is put into the place (of Sir W.
chief justice, in the dawning and opening of the cautions of these poisons ; that they might not be light, finding, that the matter touched upon these too swift, lest the world should startle at it by the great persons, very discreetly became suitor to the suddenness of the despatch : but they must abide king to have greater persons than his own rank long in the body, and work by degrees : and for joined with him. Whereupon, your lordship, my this purpose there must be essays of them upon poor lord high steward of England, to whom the king beasts, &c. commonly resorteth in arduis, and my lord steward And lastly, I shal show you the rewards of this of the king's house, and my lord Zouch, were joined impoisonment, first demanded by Weston, and denied, with him.
because the deed was not done ; but after the deed Neither wanted there this while practice to sup- done and perpetrated, that Overbury was dead, then press testimony, to deface writings, to weaken the performed and paid to the value of 1801. king's resolution, to slander the justice, and the like. And so without farther aggravation of that, which Nay, when it came to the first solemn act of justice, in itself bears its own tragedy, I will conclude with which was the arraignment of Weston, he had his the confessions of this lady herself, which is the lesson to stand mute ; which had arrested the wheel strongest support of justice; and yet is the foot-stool of justice. But this dumb devil, by the means of of mercy. For as the Scripture says, some discreet divines, and the potent charm of jus- truth have kissed each other;" there is no meeting tice, together, was cast out. Neither did this poi- or greeting of mercy, till there be a confession, or sonous adder stop his ear to those charms, but trial of truth. For these read, relented, and yielded to his trial.
Franklin, November 16, Then follow the proceedings of justice against the Franklin, November 17, other offenders, Turner, Helwisse, Franklin.
Rich. Weston, October 1, But all these being but the organs and instru- Rich. Weston, October 2, ments of this fact, the actors and not the authors, Will. Weston, October 2, justice could not have been crowned without this last Richard Weston, October 3, act against these great persons.
Else Weston's Helwisse, October 2, censure or prediction might have been verified, when The Countess's letter without date. he said, he hoped the small flies should not be The Countess's confession, January 8. caught, and the great escape. Wherein the king being in great straits, between the defacing of his honour and of his creature, hath, according as he useth to do, chosen the better part, reserving always
SIR FRANCIS BACON TO THE KING.* mercy to himself. The time also of this justice hath had its true
IT MAY PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENT MAJESTY, motions. The time until this lady's deliverance was ACCORDING to your Majesty's reference signified due unto honour, christianity, and humanity, in re by Sir Roger Wilbraham, I have considered of the spect of her great belly. The time since was due to petition of Sir Gilbert Houghton, your Majesty's another kind of deliverance too; which was, that servant, for a licence of sole transportation of tallow, some causes of estate, that were in the womb, might butter, and hides, &c. out of your realm of Ireland; likewise be brought forth, not for matter of justice, and have had conference with the lord Chichester, but for reason of state. Likewise this last procras. late lord deputy of Ireland, and likewise with Sir tination of days had the like weighty grounds and John Davies, your Majesty's attorney there : And causes. And this is the true and brief representation this is that which I find : of this extreme work of the king's justice.
First, that hides and skins may not be meddled Now for the evidence against this lady, I am withal, being a staple commodity of the kingdom, sorry I must rip it up. I shall first show you the wherein the towns are principally interested. purveyance or provisions of the poisons; that they That for tallow, butter, beef, not understanding it were seven in number brought to this lady, and by of live cattle, and pipe-staves, for upon these things her billetted and laid up till they might be used ; we fell, although they were not all contained in the and this done with an oath or vow of secrecy, which petition, but in respect hides were more worth than is like the Egyptian darkness, a gross and palpable all the rest, they were thought of by way of some darkness, that may be felt.
supply; these commodities are such, as the kingSecondly, I shall show you the exhibiting and dom may well spare, and in that respect fit to be sorting of this same number or volley of poisons. transported; wherein nevertheless some considerWhite arsenic was fit for salt, because it is of like ation may be had of the profit, that shall be taken body and colour. The poison of great spiders, and upon the licence. Neither do I find, that the farmof the venomous fly cantharides, was fit for pigs' ers of the customs there, of which some of them sauce, or partridge sauce, because it resembled were before me, did much stand upon it, but seemed pepper. As for mercury-water and other poisons rather to give way to it. they might be fit for tarts, which is a kind of hotch- I find also, that at this time all these commodipot, wherein no one colour is so proper : and some ties are free to be transported by proclamation, so as of these were delivered by the hands of this lady, no profit can be made of it, except there be first a and some by her direction.
restraint; which restraint I think fitter to be by Thirdly, I shall prove and observe unto you the * From the collections of the late Robert Stephens, Esq.
some prohibition in the letters patents, than by | by my lord Roos, who was the first mover of this any new proclamation ; and the said letters patents stone, to write a letter, which himself would deliver to pass rather here, than there, as it was in the li- to the master of the horse, I who doth me the honour cence of wines granted to the lady Arbella ; but to wish me very well: and I have obeyed his lordthen those letters patents to be enrolled in the chan- ship, and beseech your honour, that you will be cery of Ireland, whereby exemplifications of them pleased to prevent, or to accompany, or second it may be taken to be sent to the ports.
with your commendation, lest otherwise the many All which nevertheless I submit to your Majesty's words, that I have used, have but the virtue of a better judgment.
single 0, or cypher. But indeed, if I had not been Your Majesty's most humble bounden subject over-weighed by the authority of my lord Roos's and servant,
commandment, I should rather have reserved the 5 June, 1616.
FR. BACON. master of the horse's favour to some other use after
ward. In conformity whereof, I have also written
to his lordship; and perhaps he will thereupon forMR. TOBIE MATTHEW, TO SIR FRANCIS
bear to deliver my letter to the master of the horse : BACON, ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
whereas, I should be the less sorry, if your honour's
self would not think it inconvenient to make the MAY IT PLEASE YOUR HONOUR,
suit of my return to his Majesty ; in which case I Srca as know your honour, may congratulate should, to my extreme contentment, have all my with you the favour, which you have lately received obligations to your honour only. from his Majesty, of being made a counsellor of His Majesty's being now in progress will give state ;* but as for me, I must have leave to congra. some impediment to my suit, unless either it be my tulate with the council-table, in being so happy as good fortune, that your honour do attend his person ; to have you for an assessor. I hope these are but or else that you will be pleased to command some beginnings, and that the marriage, which now I per- one of the many servants your honour hath in court, ceive that fortune is about to make with virtue, will to procure the expedition of my cause, wherein I be consummate in your person. I cannot dissemble, can foresee no difficulty, when I consider the interthough I am ashamed to mention, the excessive est, which your honour alloweth me in your favour, honour, which you have vouchsafed to do unto my and my innocent carriage abroad for so many years; picture. But shame ought not to be so hateful as whereunto all his Majesty's ministers, who have sin; and without sin I know not how to conceal the known me, I am sure, will give an attestation, acextreme obligation into which I am entered thereby, cording to the contents of my letter to his Grace of which is incomparably more than I can express, Canterbury. and no less than as much as I am able to conceive. If I durst, I would most humbly entreat your And as the copy is more fortunate than the original, honour to be pleased, that some servant of yours because it hath the honour to be under your eye; may speedily advertise me, whether or no his Grace so the original being much more truly yours than of Canterbury hath received my letter; what his the copy can be, aspires by having the happiness to answer was; and what I may hope in this my suit. see you, to put the picture out of countenance. I remember, that the last words, which I had the
I understand by Sir George Petre, f who is arrived honour to hear from your mouth, were, that if I here at the Spa, and is so wise as to honour you continued any time free both from disloyalty and extremely, though he have not the fortune to be priesthood, your honour would be pleased to make known to your honour, that he had heard how my yourself the intercessor for my return. Any letter lord of Canterbury had been moved in my behalf; sent to Mr. Trumball for me will come safely and and that he gave way unto my return. This, if it speedily to my hands. be true, cannot have happened without some endea- The term doth now last with your honour all the Four of your honour; and therefore, howsoever I year long; and therefore the sooner I make an end, have not been particularly advertised, that your the better service I shall do you. I
presume to kiss honour bad delivered my letter to his Grace; yet your hands, and continue now methinks I do as good as know it, and dare
Your honour's most entirely, and humbly ever adventure to present you with my humblest thanks
at commandment, for the favour. But the main point is, how his Ma
TOBIE MATTHEW. . jesty should be moved: wherein my friends are straining courtesy; and unless I have your honour
Spa, this 16th of July, stylo novo, 1616. for a master of the ceremonies, to take order, who Postsc. It is no small penance that I am forced shall begin, all the benefit, that I can reap by this to apparel my mind in my man's hand, when it negotiation, will be to have the reputation of little speaks to your honour. But God Almighty will judgment in attempting that which I was not able have it so, through the shaking I have in my right to obtain ; and that howsoever I have shot fair, I hand; and I do little less than want the use of my know not how to hit the mark. I have been directed | fore finger.
Sir George Villiers, who was appointed to that office, Jan. 4, 1615-16.
Sir Prancis Bacon was sworn at Greenwich of the privy council, June 9, 1616.
† Grandson of John, the first lord Petre, and son of William, second baron of that name. VOL. II.
TO SIR FRANCIS BACON, ATTORNEY.
TO SIR FRANCIS BACON, ATTORNEY.
IT MAY PLEASE YOUR HONOUR,
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR HONOUR, I PRESUMED to importune your honour with a I have been made happy by your honour's noble letter of the 16th of this month, whereby I signified and dear lines of the two and twentieth of July; and how I had written to the master of the horse, that the joy that I took therein, was only kept from he would be pleased to move his Majesty for my excess by the notice they gave me of some intentions return into England; and how that I had done it and advices of your honour, which you have been upon the direction of my lord Roos, who offered to pleased to impart to others of my friends, with a be the deliverer thereof. Withal I told your honour, meaning, that they should acquaint me with them ; that I expressed thereby an act rather of obedience whereof they have entirely failed. And therefore if than prudence, as not holding his lordship a fit man, still it should import me to understand what they whom, by presenting that letter, the king might were, I must be enforced to beg the knowledge of peradventure discover to be my favourer in this them from yourself. Your honour hath, by this business. In regard whereof I besought him, that, short letter, delivered me otherwise from a great howsoever I had complied with his command in deal of laborious suspense. For, besides the great writing, yet he would forbear the delivery; and I hope you give me of being so shortly able to do gave him divers reasons for it. And both in con- you reverence, I am come to know, that by the ditemplation of those reasons, as also of the hazard of ligence of your favour towards me, my lord of Canmiscarriage, that letters do run into between these terbury hath been drawn to give way, and the parts and those, I have now thought fit to send your master of the horse hath been induced to move. honour this enclosed, accompanied with a most hum- That motion, I trust, will be granted howsoever ; ble entreaty, that you will be pleased to put it into but I should be out of fear thereof, if when he moves the master of the horse's hands, with such a recom- the king, your honour would cast to be present; mendation as you can give. Having read it, your that if his Majesty should make any difficulty, some honour may be pleased to seal it: and if his honour such reply, as is wont to come from you, in such have received the former by other hands, this may cases, may have power to discharge it. serve in the nature of a duplicate or copy: if not, it I have been told rather confidently than credibly, may be the original. And indeed, though it should for in truth I am hardly drawn to believe it, that be but the copy, if it may be touched by your ho- Sir Henry Goodere should under-hand, upon the nour, it would have both greater grace and greater reason of certain accounts, that run between him life, than the principal itself; and therefore, how- and me, wherein I might justly lose my right, if I soever, I humbly pray, that this may be delivered. had so little wit, as to trouble your honour's infinite
If my business should be remitted to the council business, by a particular relation thereof, oppose table, which yet, I hope, will not be, I am most a himself to my return; and perform ill offices in constranger to my lord cha ellor and my lord cham-formity of that unkind affection, which he is said to berlain, * of whom yet I trust, by means of your bear me. But, as I said, I cannot absolutely believe honour's good word in my behalf, that I shall re- it, though yet I could not so far despise the informceive no impediment.
ation, as not to acquaint your honour with what The bearer, Mr. Becher,t can say what my car
I heard. I offer it not as a ruled case, but only as a riage hath been in France under the eye of several query, as I have also done to Mr. Secretary Lake, ambassadors; which makes me the more glad to use
in this letter, which I humbly pray your honour him in the delivery of this letter to your honour: may be given him, together with your best advice, and if your honour may be pleased to command me how my business is to be carried in this conjuncture any thing, he will convey it to my knowledge. of his Majesty's drawing near to London, at which
I hear, to my unspeakable joy of heart, how much time I shall receive my sentence. I have learned power you have with the master of the horse; and from your honour to be confident, that it will be prohow much immediate favour you have also with his nounced in my favour; but if the will of God should most excellent Majesty : so that I cannot but hope be otherwise, I shall yet frame for myself a good for all good success, when I consider withal the proportion of contentment; since, howsoever I was so protection, whereinto you have been pleased to take unfortunate, as that I might not enjoy my country,
yet withal, I was so happy, as that my return thither Most humble and most obliged of your honour's such a person as yourself vouchsafed to bear me.
was desired and negotiated by the affection, which many servants,
When his Majesty shall be moved, if he chance to
TOBIE MATTHEW. make difficulty about my return, and offer to impose Spa, this last of July, stylo noro, 1616.
any condition, which, it is known, I cannot draw myself to digest; I desire it may be remembered, that my case is common with many of his subjects, who
* William, earl of Pembroke. + William, afterwards knighted. He had been secretary to Sir George Calvert, ambassador to the court of France, and
was afterwards agent at that court; and at last made clerk of the council.