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THE CHARGE OF OWEN,
INDICTED OF HIGH TREASON, IN THE KING'S BENCH,
BY SIR FRANCIS BACON, KNIGHT,
HIS MAJESTY'S ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
The treason wherewith this man standeth For the king's clemency, I have said it of late charged, is, for the kind and nature of it, ancient, upon a good occasion, and I still speak it with as ancient as there is any law of England; but in comfort: I have now served his majesty's solithe particular, late and upstart: and, again, in the citor and attorney eight years and better; yet, manner and boldness of the present case, new, this is the first time that ever I gave in evidence and almost unheard of till this man. Of what against a traitor at this bar, or any other. There mind he is now, I know not; but I take him as hath not wanted matter in that party of the subhe was, and as he standeth charged. For, high jects whence this kind of offence floweth, to treason is not written in ice; that when the body irritate the king: he hath been irritated by the relenteth, the impression should go away. powder of treason, which might have turned
In this cause the evidence itself will spend judgment into fury. He hath been irritated by little time: time, therefore, will be best spent in wicked and monstrous libels; irritated by a geneopening fully the nature of this treason, with the ral insolency and presumption in the Papists circumstances thereof; because the example is throughout the land; and, yet, I see his majesty more than the man. I think good, therefore, by keepeth Cæsar's rule: “ Nil malo, quam eos esse way of inducement and declaration in this cause, similes sui, et me mei." He leaveth them to be to open unto the court, jury, and hearers, five like themselves; and he remaineth like himself, things.
and striveth to overcome evil with goodness. A The first is, the clemency of the king; because strange thing, bloody opinions, bloody doctrines, it is news, and a kind of rarity to have a pro- bloody examples, and yet, the government still ceeding in this place upon treason: and, perhaps, unstained with blood. As for this Owen that is it may be marvelled by some, why, after so long brought in question, though his person be in his an intermission, it should light upon this fellow; condition contemptible; yet, we see by miserable being a person but contemptible, a kind of veno- examples, that these wretches, which are but the mous fiy, and a hangby of the seminaries. scum of the earth, have been able to stir earth
The second is, the nature of this treason, as quakes by murdering princes; and, if it were in concerning the fact, which, of all kinds of com- case of contagion, as this is a contagion of the passing the king's death, I hold to be the most heart and soul, a rascal may bring in a plague perilous, and as much differing from other con- into the city, as well as a great man: so, it is not spiracies, as the lifting up of a thousand hands the person, but the matter that is to be consiagainst the king, like the giant Briareus, differs dered. from lifting up one or a few hands.
For the treason itself, which is the second The third point that I will speak unto is, the point, my desire is to open it in the depth thereof, doctrine or opinion, which is the ground of this if it were possible; but, it is bottomless : I said treason; wherein I will not argue or speak like a in the beginning, that this treason, in the nature divine or scholar, but as a man bred in a civil of it, was old. It is not of the treasons whereof life; and, to speak plainly, I hold the opinion to it may be said, from the beginning it was not so. be such, that deserveth rather detestation than You are indicted, Owen, not upon any statute contestation.
made against the pope's supremacy, or other matThe fourth point is, the degree of this man's ters, that have reference to religion; but merely offence, which is more presumptuous, than I have upon that law which was born with the kingdom, known any other to have fallen into in this kind, and was law even in superstitious times, when and hath a greater overflow of malice and treason. the pope was received. The compassing and
And, fifthly, I will remove somewhat that may imagining of the king's death was treason. The seem to qualify and extenuate this man's offence; statute of 25 Edw. III., which was but declarain that he hath not affirmed simply that it is law- tory, begins with this article as the capital of ful to kill the king, but conditionally; that, if the capitals in treason, and of all others the most king be excommunicated, it is lawful to kill him: odious, and the most perilous: and so the civil which maketh little difference either in law or peril. I law saith, “Conjurationes omnium proditionum Vol. II.-40
odiosissimæ et perniciosissimæ.” Against hostile | is rather to be spoken to by way of accusation of invasions and the adherence of subjects to ene- the opinion as impious, than by way of dispute mies, kings can arm. Rebellions must go over of it as doubtful. Nay, I say, it deserveth rather the bodies of many good subjects before they can some holy war or league amongst all Christian hurt the king: but conspiracies against the per- princes of either religion, for the extirpating and sons of kings, are like thunderbolts that strike rasing of the opinion, and the authors thereof, upon the sudden, hardly to be avoided. “ Major from the face of the earth, than the style of pen metus a singulis,” saith he, “quam ab universis.” or speech. Therefore, in this kind I will speak There is no preparation against them: and that to it a few words, and not otherwise. Nay, I preparation which may be of guard or custody, is protest, if I were a Papist, I should say as much: a perpetual misery. And, therefore, they that nay, I should speak it, perhaps, with more indighave written of the privileges of ambassadors, and nation and feeling. For this horrible opinion is of the amplitude of safe-conducts, have defined, our advantage, and it is their reproach, and will that, if an ambassador, or a man that cometh in be their ruin. upon the highest safe-conducts, do practise matter This monster of opinion is to be accused of sedition in a state, yet, by the law of nations, three most evident and most miserable slanders. he ought to be remanded; but, if he conspire First, Of the slander it bringeth to the Christian against the life of a prince by violence or poison, faith, being a plain plantation of irreligion and he is to be justiced : “Quia odium est omni atheism. privilegio majus.” Nay, even amongst enemies, Secondly, The subversion which it introduceth and in the most deadly wars, yet, nevertheless, into all policy and government. conspiracy and assassination of princes hath Thirdly, The great calamity it bringeth upon been accounted villanous and execrable.
Papists themselves; of which the more moderate The manners of conspiring and compassing the sort, as men misled, are to be pitied. king's death, are many: but, it is most apparent, For the first, if a man doth visit the foul and that amongst all the rest, this surmounteth. First, polluted opinions, customs, or practices of heabecause it is grounded upon pretenced religion; thenism, Mahometanism, and heresy, he shall which is a trumpet that inflameth the heart and find they do not attain to this height. Take the powers of a man with daring and resolution more examples of damnable memory amongst the heathan any thing else. Secondly, it is the hardest thens. The proscriptions in Rome of Sylla, and to be avoided; for, when a particular conspiracy afterwards of the Triumvirs, what were they? is plotted or attempted against a king by some They were but of a finite number of persons, and one, or some few conspirators, it meets with a those not many that were exposed unto any man's number of impediments. Commonly, he that sword. But what is that to the proscribing of a hath the head to devise it, hath not the heart to king, and all that shall take his part ? And what undertake it: and the person that is used, some- was the reward of a soldier that amongst them times faileth in courage ; sometimes faileth in killed one of the proscribed ? A small piece of opportunity; sometimes is touched with remorse. money. But what is now the reward of one that But to publish and maintain, that it may be law- shall kill a king ? The kingdom of heaven. The ful for any man living to attempt the life of a custom among the heathen that was most scanking, this doctrine is a venemous sop; or as a dalized was, that some times the priest sacrificed legion of malign spirits, or a universal tempta- men ; but yet you shall not read of any priesttion, doth enter at once into the hearts of all that hood that sacrificed kings. are any way prepared, or of any predisposition to The Mahometans make it a part of their relibe traitors ; so that whatsoever faileth in any one, gion to propagate their sect by the sword; but is supplied in many. If one man faint, another yet still by honourable wars, never by villanies will dare: if one man hath not the opportunity, and secret murders. Nay, I find that the Saracen another hath; if one man relent, another will be prince, of whom the name of the assassins is desperate. And, thirdly, particular conspiracies derived, which had divers votaries at commandhave their periods of time, within which, if they ment, which he sent and employed to the killing be not taken, they vanish; but this is endless, of divers princes in the east, by one of whom and importeth perpetuity of springing conspiracies. Amurath the First was slain, and Edward the First And so much concerning the nature of the fact. of England was wounded, was put down and rooted
For the third point, which is the doctrine; that out by common consent of the Mahometan princes upon an excommunication of the pope, with sen- The Anabaptists, it is true, come nearest. For tence of deposing, a king by any son of Adam they profess the pulling down of magistrates: and may be slaughtered ; and, that it is justice, and they can chant the psalm, “ To bind their kings no murder; and, that their subjects are absolved in chains, and their nobles in fetters of iron." of their allegiance, and the kings themselves This is the glory of the saints, much like the exposed to spoil and prey. I said before, that I temporal authority that the pope challengeth over would not argue the subtlety of the question : it princes. But this is the difference, that that is a furious and fanatical fury, and this is a sad and all cometh to one. What is there that may not solemn mischief: he “imagineth mischief as a be made spiritual by consequence: especially law;" a law-like mischief.
when he that giveth the sentence may make the As for the defence which they do make, it doth case ? and accordingly hath the miserable exaggravate the sin, and turneth it from a cruelty perience followed. For this murdering of kings towards man to a blasphemy towards God. For hath been put in practice, as well against Papist to say that all this is “ in ordine ad spirituale,” kings as Protestant: save that it hath pleased and to a good end, and for the salvation of souls; God so to guide it by his admirable providence, it is directly to make God author of evil, and to as the attempts upon Papist princes have been draw him in the likeness of the prince of darkness; executed, and the attempts upon Protestant and to say with those that Saint Paul speaketh princes have failed, except that of the Prince of of, " Let us do evil that good may come thereof;" | Orange : and not that neither, until such time as of whom the apostle saith definitively, “ that he had joined too fast with the Duke of Anjou their damnation is just.”
and the Papists. As for subjects, I see not, nor For the destroying of government universally, ever could discern, but that, by infallible conseit is most evident, that it is not the case of Protes- quence, it is the case of all subjects and people, tant princes only, but of Catholic princes like as well as of kings; for it is all one reason, that wise; as the king hath excellently set forth. Nay, a bishop, upon an excommunication of a private it is not the case of princes only, but of all sub- man, may give his lands and goods in spoil, of jects and private persons. For, touching princes, cause him to be slaughtered, as for the pope to let history be perused, what hath been the causes do it towards a king; and for a bishop to absolve of excommunication; and, namely, this tumour of the son from duty to the father, as for the pope to it, the deposing of kings; it hath not been for absolve the subject from his allegiance to his heresy and schism alone, but for collation and in- king. And this is not my inference, but the vestitures of bishoprics and benefices, intruding very affirmative of Pope Urban the Second, who, upon ecclesiastical possessions, violating of any in a brief to Godfrey, Bishop of Luca, hath these ecclesiastical person or liberty. Nay, generally very words, which Cardinal Baronius reciteth in they maintain it, that it may be for any sin : so his Annals, “Non illos homicidas arbitramur, that the difference wherein their doctors vary, qui adversus excommunicatos zelo Catholicæ that some hold that the pope hath his temporal matris ardentes eorum quoslibet trucidare contipower immediately, and others but “in ordine ad gerit,” speaking generally of all excommunicaspirituale,” is but a delusion and an abuse. For tions.
OF SIR FRANCIS BACON, KNIGHT,
HIS MAJESTY'S ATTORNEY-GENERAL,
FRANCES, COUNTESS OF SOMERSET;
INTENDED TO HAVE BEEN SPOKEN BY HIM AT HER ARRAIGNMENT, ON FRIDAY,
MAY 24, 1616, IN CASE SHE HAD PLEADED NOT GUILTY.*
IT MAY PLEASE YOUR GRACE, MY LORD HIGH STEWARD OF ENGLAND, † And you, MY LORDS, THE PEERS:
You have heard the indictment against this to plead not guilty, though for the proof I shall lady well opened ; and likewise the point in law, not need much more than her own confession, that might make somedoubt, declared and solved; which she hath formerly made, free and volun. wherein certainly the policy of the law of Eng- tary, and therein given glory to God and justice. land is much to be esteemed, which requireth and respecteth form in the indictment, and substance * She pleaded guilty, on which occasion the attorney-genein the proof.
ral spoke a charge somewhat different from this.
# Thomas Egerton, Viscount Ellesmere, lord high chancel. This scruple, it may be, hath moved this lady lor.
And certainly confession, as it is the strongest especially such as are swoln in fortunes from small foundation of justice, so it is a kind of corner- beginnings, that the king is as well able to level stone, whereupon justice and mercy may meet. mountains, as to fill valleys, if such be their
The proofs, which I shall read in the end for desert. the ground of your verdict and sentence, will be But to come to the present case; the great very short; and as much as may serve to satisfy frame of justice, my lords, in this present action, your honours and consciences for the conviction hath a vault, and it hath a stage : a vault, whereof this lady, without wasting of time in a case in these works of darkness were contrived ; and a clear and confessed; or ripping up guiltiness stage with steps, by which they were brought to against one, that hath prostrated herself by con- light. And, therefore, I will bring this work fession; or preventing or deflowering too much of justice to the period of this day; and then go of the evidence. And, therefore, the occasion on with this day's work. itself doth admonish me to spend this day rather Sir Thomas Overbury was murdered by poison in declaration than in evidence, giving God and on the 15th of September, 1613, 11 Reg. This the king the honour, and your lordships and the foul and cruel murder did, for a time, cry secretly hearers the contentment, to set before you the in the ears of God; but God gave no answer to it, proceeding of this excellent work of the king's otherwise than by that voice, which sometimes he justice, from the beginning to the end; and so useth, which is “ vox populi,” the speech of the to conclude with the reading the confessions and people. For there went then a murmur, that proofs.
Overbury was poisoned : and yet this same subMy lords, this is now the second time* within miss and soft voice of God, the speech of the the space of thirteen years reign of our happy vulgar people, was not without a counter-tenor, or sovereign, that this high tribunal-seat of justice, counter-blast of the devil, who is the common ordained for the trial by peers, hath been opened author both of murder and slander: for it was and erected; and that, with a rare event, supplied given out, that Overbury was dead of a foul disease; and exercised by one and the same person, which and his body, which they had made a “corpus is a great honour to you, my lord steward. Judaicum" with their poisons, so as it had no
In all this mean time the king hath reigned in whole part, must be said to be leprosed with vice, his white robe, not sprinkled with any drop of and so his name poisoned as well as his body. blood of any of his nobles of this kingdom. For as to dissoluteness, I never heard the gentleNay, such have been the depths of his mercy, as man noted with it: his faults were insolency even those noblemen's bloods, against whom the and turbulency, and the like of that kind: the proceeding was at Winchester, Cobham and other part of the soul, not the voluptuous. Grey, were attainted and corrupted, but not spilt Mean time, there was some industry used, of or taken away; but that they remained rather which I will not now speak, to lull asleep those spectacles of justice in their continual imprison- that were the revengers of blood; the father and ment, than monuments of justice in the memory the brother of the murdered. And in these terms of their suffering.
things stood by the space almost of two years, It is true, that the objects of his justice then during which time God so blinded the two great and now were very differing. For then, it was procurers, and dazzled them with their own greatthe revenge of an offence against his own person ness, and did bind and nail fast the actors and and crown, and upon persons that were malcon- instruments with security upon their protection, tents, and contraries to the state and government. as neither the one looked about them, nor the But now, it is the revenge of the blood and death other stirred or fled, nor were conveyed away: of a particular subject, and the cry of a prisoner. but remaineth here still, as under a privy arrest It is upon persons that were highly in his favour; of God's judgments; insomuch as Franklin, whereby his majesty, to his great honour, hath that should have been sent over to the Palsgravo showed to the world, as if it were written in a sun- with good store of money, was, by God's pro beam, that he is truly the lieutenant of Him with vidence, and the accident of a marriage of his, whom there is no respect of persons; that his affec- diverted and stayed. tions royal are above his affections private; that But about the beginning of the progress last his favours and nearness about him are not like summer, God's judgments began to come out of popish sanctuaries to privilege malefactors: and their depths : and as the revealing of murders is that his being the best master of the world doth commonly such, as a man may say, “a Domino not let him from being the best king of the world. hoc factum est;" it is God's work, and it is marHis people, on the other side, may say to them- vellous in our eyes : so in this particular, it is most selves, “I will lie down in peace; for God and admirable ; for it came forth by a compliment and the king and the law protect me against great and matter of courtesy. small.” It may be a discipline also to great men, My Lord of Shrewsbury*, that is now with God, recommended to a counsellor of state, of were a true accusation of the one part, or a practice especial trust by his place, the late Lieutenant and factious device of the other: which writing, Helwisse, * only for acquaintance as an honest, because I am not able to express according to the worthy gentleman; and desired him to know him, worth thereof, I will desire your lordship anon to and to be acquainted with him. That counsellor hear read. answered him civilly, that my lord did him a This excellent foundation of justice being laid favour; and that he should embrace it willingly; by his majesty's own hand, it was referred unto but he must let his lordship know, that there did some counsellors to examine farther, who gained lie a heavy imputation upon that gentleman, some degrees of light from Weston, but yet left it Helwisse; for that Sir Thomas Overbury, his imperfect. prisoner, was thought to have come to a violent After it was referred to Sir Edward Coke, and untimely death. When this speech was re- chief justice of the King's Bench, as a person ported back by my Lord of Shrewsbury to Hel- best practised in legal examinations, who took a wisse, “perculit illico animum,” he was stricken great deal of indefatigable pains in it, without with it; and being a politic man, and of likelihood intermission, having, as I have heard him say, doubting that the matter would break forth at one taken at least three hundred examinations in this time or other, and that others might have the start business. of him, and thinking to make his own case by But these things were not done in a corner. his own tale, resolved with himself, upon this I need not speak of them. It is true, that my lord occasion, to discover to my Lord of Shrewsbury chief justice, in the dawning and opening of the and that counsellor, that there was an attempt, light, finding that the matter touched upon these whereto he was privy, to have poisoned Overbury great persons, very discreetly became suitor to by the hands of his under-keeper, Weston; but the king to have greater persons than his own that he checked it, and put it by, and dissuaded it, rank joined with him. Whereupon, your lordand related so much to him indeed: but then he ship, my Lord High Steward of England, to left it thus, that it was but an attempt, or untimely whom the king commonly resorteth “in arduis,” birth, never executed; and as if his own fault had and my lord steward of the king's house, and my been no more, but that he was honest in forbidding, Lord Zouch, were joined with him. but fearful of revealing and impeaching or accus- Neither wanted there, this while, practice to ing great persons; and so with this fine point suppress testimony, to deface writings, to weaken thought to save himself.
* The first time was on the trials of the Lords Cobham and * Gilbert, Earl of Shrewsbury, Knight of the Garter, who Grey, in November, 1603.
died May 8, 2016.
the king's resolution, to slander the justice, and But that great counsellor of state wisely consi- the like. Nay, when it came to the first solemn dering, that by the lieutenant's own tale it could act of justice, which was the arraignment of Wesnot be simply a permission or weakness; for that ton, he had his lesson to stand mute; which had Weston was never displaced by the lieutenant, arrested the wheel of justice. But this dumb notwithstanding that attempt; and coupling the devil, by the means of some discreet divines, and sequel by the beginning, thought it matter fit to the potent charm of justice, together, was cast out. be brought before his majesty, by whose appoint- Neither did this poisonous adder stop his ear to ment Helwisse set down the like declaration in those charms, but relented, and yielded to his writing.
trial. Upon this ground, the king playeth Solomon's! Then follow the proceedings of justice against part, “Gloria Dei celare rem: et gloria regis in- the other offenders, Turner, Helwisse, Franklin. vestigare rem;" and sets down certain papers of But all these being but the organs and instruhis own hand, which I might term to be "claves ments of this fact, the actors, and not the authors, justitiæ,” keys of justice; and may serve for a justice could not have been crowned without this precedent both for princes to imitate, and for a last act against these great persons. Else Wesdirection for judges to follow: and his majesty ton's censure or prediction might have been vericarried the balance with a constant and steady fied, when he said, he hoped the small flies hand, evenly and without prejudice, whether it should not be caught and the great escape.
Wherein the king being in great straits, between * Sir Gervase Helwisse, appointed Lieutenant of the Tower, the defacing of his honour and of his creature, upon the removal of Sir William Waade on the 6th of May, 1613, [" Reliquiæ Wottonianæ,” p. 412, 3d edit. 1672.) Mr.hath, according as he useth to do, chosen the Chamberlain, in a MS. letter to Sir Dudley Carleton, dated better part, reserving always mercy to himself. at London, May 13, 1613, speaks of Sir Gervase's promotion in these terms. “One Sir Gervase Helwisse, of Lincolnshire,
The time also of this justice hath had its true somewhat an unknown man, is put into the place [of Sir w. motions. The time until this lady's deliverance Waade's] by the favour of the lord chamberlain (Earl of 8o. was due unto honour, Christianity, and humanity, merset) and his lady. The gentleman is of too mild and gen; in respect of her great belly. The time since tle a disposition for such an office. He is my old friend and acquaintance in France, and lately renewed in town, where was due to another kind of deliverance too; he hath lived past a year, nor followed the court many a day.” which was, that some causes of estate, that were Sir Henry Wotton, in a letter of the 14th of May, 1613
, [“ ubi in the womb, might likewise be brought forth, not supra," p. 23,) says, that Sir Gervase had been before one of the pensioners.
for matter of justice, but for reason of state. Like