Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

consideration of what I have formerly spoken, and do me the justice to think me a Christian. As I have a soul to save, I know that it is now no time to jest : lying and counterfeiting, my soul hath at all times abhorred; and especially at this time I am not so desperate nor so void of grace as to speak falsely. I do not speak to save my life, for that I see were now but in vain: I owe God a death, which shall be welcome whensoever it pleaseth her Majesty. But to satisfy the opinion of your Lordships and the world, I declare that howsoever I may have been in this action misled to transgress the law, I never had any treacherous or disloyal intentions towards her Majesty. If ever I had perceived that any of my followers harboured an evil thought against her Majesty, I would have been the first to be his executioner. I would not that your Lordships should speak of me to the Queen as one who despises her clemency; but I shall not, I think, be found to make any cringing submission to obtain it. I wish, moreover, that your Lordships should believe that my conscience is free from Atheism and Popery, and that I shall die in the faith and true religion which I have always professed. And, my Lords, if through the weakness of my wit, or dulness of my memory, I have omitted anything, or if I have uttered anything otherwise than as becometh me, I crave your Lordships' pardon for the same.

Then the Clerk of the Crown demanded of Henry Earl of Southampton, what he could say for himself

, why judgment of death should not be pronounced against him ?

Southampton. My Lords, I must say for my part, as I have said before, that my ignorance of the law hath made me incur this danger, and that I humbly submit myself to her Majesty's mercy; and therefore, my Lord High Steward, and my Lord Admiral, seeing that I am condemned by the letter of the law, I pray you truly to inform the Queen of my penitence, and be a means for me to her Majesty to grant me her gracious pardon. I know I have offended her ; yet if it please her to be merciful unto me, I may, by my future service, deserve my life. I have been brought up under her Majesty, I have

spent the best part of my patrimony in her Majesty's service, with frequent danger of my life, as your Lordships well know; if there were any that could challenge me, that I have before this ever committed or intended treason, or any thing prejudicial to her Majesty or estate, I would not desire mercy, nor pray to God to admit me into his kingdom. But since I am found guilty by the law, I do submit myself to death, yet not despairing of her Majesty's mercy; for I know she is merciful, and if she please to extend mercy to me, I shall with all humility receive it.

Lord Steward. My Lord of Essex, the Queen's Majesty hath bestowed many favours on your predecessors and yourself; I would wish, therefore, that you likewise would submit yourself to her Majesty's mercy, acknowledging your offences, and reconciling yourself inwardly to her Majesty, by laying open all matters that were intended to prejudice her Majesty, and the actors thereof; and thereby no doubt you shall find her Majesty merciful.

Essex. My Lord, you have made an honourable motion to me, for which I humbly thank your good Lordship. Do but send to me at the time of my death, and you shall see how penitent and humble I will be towards her Majesty, in acknowledging her exceeding favours, both to my noble Father and to myself; and I doubt not but the penitent suffering of my death, and sprinkling of my blood, will quench the ill-conceived thoughts of her Majesty against me. I do most humbly desire of her Majesty, that after my death my offences be no more remembered by her; and I beseech you, my good Lord, mistake me not, nor think me too proud, that I will not crave her Majesty's mercy, for I protest I do crave her Majesty's mercy with all humility; yet I had rather die than live in misery. I have cleared my accounts; I have forgiven all the world, and am quite ready and willing to forsake the world.

Then the Lord High Steward, after a few exhortations unto the Earls to prepare themselves for God, told them, seeing the law had found them guilty, it followed of course that he must proceed to judgment.

The Earl of Essex replied very cheerfully, and said, “ I thank your Lordship for your Christian exhortation, and with a very good will I pray you go on.”

Then the Lord High Steward gave judgment as followeth:

Forasmuch as you, Robert Earl of Essex, and Henry Earl of Southampton, have been indicted of High Treason, and thereto have pleaded not guilty, and, for your trials, have put yourselves upon God and your Peers, who have found you guilty; and being demanded what you could say for yourselves why judgment should not be pronounced against you, you have alleged no sufficient reason, therefore the Court doth award that you both shall be led from hence to the place from whence you came, and there remain during her Majesty's pleasure; from thence to be drawn upon a hurdle through the midst of the City, and so to the place of execution, there to be hanged by the neck and taken down alive,-your bodies to be opened, and your bowels taken out and burned before your face;-your bodies to be quartered, -your heads and quarters to be disposed of at her Majesty's pleasure, and so God have mercy on your souls.

Essex. My Lord, I am not at all dismayed to receive this sentence, for death is far more welcome to me than life; and I shall die as cheerful a death as ever man did. And I think it fitting that my poor quarters, which have done her Majesty true service in divers parts of the world, should now at the last be sacrificed and disposed of at her Majesty's pleasure; whereunto with all willingness of heart I do submit myself. But one thing I beg of you, my Lords, that have free access to her Majesty's person, humbly to beseech her Majesty to grant me, that (during the short time I shall live) I

may

have the same preacher to comfort me that hath been with me since my troubles began; for as he that hath been long sick is most desirous of the physician that is best acquainted with the constitution of his body, so I most wish to have my comfort in spiritual medicine from him who hath been and is best acquainted with the inward griefs and secret afflictions of my soul. And my last request shall be this,—that it will please her Highness that my Lord Thomas Howard and the Lieutenant of the

Tower may be partakers with me in receiving the sacrament, to witness of me concerning what I have here protested for my loyalty, religion, and peace of conscience; and then, whensoever it shall please her Majesty to call me, I shall be ready to seal the same with my blood.

The Lords promised they would move the Queen for his requests.

Essex. I humbly thank your Lordships.

Then the Serjeant-at-Arms stood up with the mace on his shoulder, and, after proclamation was made, said thus:-All Peers that were summoned to be here this day, and all other persons attending here on this service, may now depart in her Majesty's peace, for my Lord High Steward is pleased to dissolve his Commission.

As the Lords were rising, the Earl of Essex said, “My Lord De la Ware, and my Lord Morley, I beseech your Lordships to pardon me for your two sons who are in trouble for my sake, and whom I love as myself: I protest upon my soul they knew not of anything that was or should have been done, but came to me in the morning, and I desired them to stay, and they knew not wherefore-and so farewell, my Lords."

The Earl of Southampton remained a close prisoner in the Tower* until the commencement of the reign of James I.; but, on his accession, he was immediately released, restored to his title and estates, and enjoyed, for the remainder of his life, the favour of his Sovereign.

CONFESSION AND EXECUTION OF THE EARL OF ESSEX.

Immediately upon the conviction of Essex, great pains were taken by the Government to induce him

* It is related in Pennant's London, that, while in the Tower a favourite cat found the means of access to him by descending the chimney of his apartment, and shared his captivity until his final discharge. In a portrait of the Earl, formerly preserved at Bulstrode, the cat is represented as sitting beside him.

to disclose the names of those who were engaged with him in the enterprise, and to confess the full extent of his treasonable intentions. Without the latter it was probably thought dangerous, not only on account of his great popularity, but from the respect entertained for him at foreign Courts, to proceed to execute the sentence. At first these efforts were unsuccessful; for he declared to the Dean of Norwich, who was sent to him by the Lords of the Council the day after his trial, that “ he had not offended God in anything that he had done;" he said also to the Dean in a passion, “If you knew how many motions have been made to me to remove the evils which oppress this commonwealth, you would greatly wonder. But why," said he, “ should I reason with you, seeing we hold not one principle * ?" Upon the failure of the Dean of Norwich, his own chaplain, Mr. Ashton, whose attendance he had requested both at his first apprehension and on his conviction, was sent to him by the Council. This man, who is described by a contemporary + as “base, fearful, and mercenary,” by a formal show of zeal had gained a great ascendancy over the mind of Essex, who had himself, as Lord Orford expresses it, “a solemn tincture of religion,” especially during the latter years of his life. In what manner Ashton was prepared for his task is not known; but the effect of his discourse with the Earl was such, that soon after the departure of the minister, he sent to Lord Thomas Howard, the Constable of the Tower, requesting him to entreat the Queen, that the Lord Keeper, the Lord Treasurer, the Lord Admiral, and Sir Robert Cecil might come to him in the Tower; as he was desirous to discharge his conscience, and confess his great obstinacy in denying at his arraignment those things with which

* Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 475.
† Hearne's Notes to Camden's Elizabeth, vol. iii. p. 957.

« VorigeDoorgaan »