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nion upon the case set down by my lord chan-might stay till he spake with his majesty, saying
, with the rest of my fellows, upon due our report to his majesty.
and mature advice, perfected our report touching Sir, I hope you will bear me witness I have the chancery; for the receiving whereof, I pray not been idle ; but all is nothing to the duty I you put his majesty in mind at his coming, to owe his majesty for his singular favours past and appoint some time for us to wait upon him present; supplying all with love and prayers, 1 altogether, for the delivery in of the same, as we rest,
did in our former certificate.
Fr. Bacon. majesty's coming; and in the mean time I doubt
not but Mr. Secretary Winwood will make some
For the conclusion of your letter concerning my
retribuam ?" God, that giveth me favour in his SIR,
majesty's eyes, will strengthen me in his majesty's I received from you a letter of very brief and service. I ever rest clear directions; and I think it a great blessing
Your true and devoted servant, of God upon me and my labours, that my direc
Fr. Bacon. tions come by so clear a conduit, as they receive April 18, 1616. no tincture in the passage.
To requite your postscript of excuse for scribYesterday my lord chancellor, the Duke of bling, I pray you excuse that the paper is not gilt, Lenox, and myself, spent the whole afternoon at I writing from Westminster-Hall, where we are the Tower, in the examination of Somerset, upon not so fine. the articles sent from his majesty, and some other additionals, which were in effect contained in the former, but extended to more particularity, by A LETTER TO THE KING,WITH HIS MAJESTY'S occasion of somewhat discovered by Cotton's ex
OBSERVATIONS UPON IT. amination, and Mr. Vice-Chamberlain's information.
IT MAY PLEASE YOUR MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY, He is full of protestations, and would fain Your majesty hath put me upon a work of prokeep that quarter toward Spain clear; using but vidence in this great cause, which is to break and this for argument, that he had such fortunes from distinguish future events into present cases; and his majesty, as he could not think of bettering so to present them to your royal judgment, that, in his conditions from Spain, because, as he said, he this action, which hath been carried with so great was no military man. He cometh nothing so far prudence, justice, and clemency, there may be, for on, for that which concerneth the treaty, as Cotton, that which remaineth, as little surprise as is which doth much aggravate suspicion against possible; but that things duly foreseen may have him; the farther particulars I reserve to his ma- their remedies and directions in readiness; wherejesty's coming.
in I cannot forget what the poet Martial saith; In the end, “ tanquam obiter,” but very effect- “O quantum est subitis casibus ingenium ?" ually, my lord chancellor put him in mind of the signifying, that accident is many times more subtle state he stood in for the impoisonment; but he than foresight, and overreacheth expectation; and, was little moved with it, and pretended careless- besides, I know very well the meanness of my ness of life, since ignominy had made him unfit own judgment, in comprehending or forecasting for his majesty's service. I am of opinion that what may follow. the fair usage of him, as it was fit for the Spanish It was your majesty's pleasure also, that I should examinations, and for the questions touching the couple the suppositions with my opinion in every papers and despatches, and all that, so it was no of them, which is a harder task; but yet your good preparative to make him descend into him- majesty's commandment requireth my obedience, self touching his present danger : and, therefore, and your trust giveth me assurance. my lord chancellor and myself thought not good I will put the case, which I wish; that Somerset to insist upon it at this time.
should make a clear confession of his offences, I have received from my lord chief justice the before he be produced to trial. examination of Sir William Mounson; with whom In this case it seemeth your majesty will have we mean to proceed to farther examination with a new consult; the points whereof will be, 1. all speed.
Whether your majesty will stay the trial, and so My lord chief justice is altered touching the re- save them both from the stage, and that public examination of the lady, and desired me that wel ignominy. 2. Or whether you will, or may fitly,
by law, have the trial proceed, and stay or reprieve upon presumptions. For certainly there may be an the judgment, which saveth the lands from for- evidence so balanced, as it may have sufficient feiture, and the blood from corruption. 3. Or matter for the conscience of the peers to convict whether you will have both trial and judgment him, and yet leave sufficient matter in the conproceed, and save the blood only, not from cor- science of a king upon the same evidence to parrupting, but from spilling.
don his life; because the peers are astringed by These be the depths of your majesty's mercy, necessity either to acquit or condemn; but grace is which I may not enter into: but for honour and free: and, for my part, I think the evidence in this reputation, they have these grounds:
present case will be of such a nature. That the blood of Overbury is already revenged Thirdly, It shall be my care so to moderate the by divers executions.
manner of charging him, as it might make him not That confession and penitency are the footstools odious beyond the extent of mercy. of mercy; adding this circumstance likewise, that Lastly, All these points of mercy and favour are the former offenders did none of them make a clear to be understood with this limitation, if he do not, confession.
by his contemptuous and insolent carriage at the That the great downfall of so great persons bar, make himself incapable and unworthy of carrieth in itself a heavy judgment, and a kind them. of civil death, although their lives should not be The third case is, if he should stand mute and taken.
will not plead, whereof, your majesty knoweth, All which may satisfy honour for sparing their there hath been some secret question. lives. But if your majesty's mercy should extend In this case I should think fit, that, as in public, to the first degree, which is the highest, of sparing both myself, and chiefly my lord chancellor, the stage and the trial; then three things are to be sitting then as Lord Steward of England, should considered :
dehort and deter him from that desperation; so, First, That they make such a submission or de- nevertheless, that as much should be done for him, precation, as they prostrate themselves, and all as was done for Weston; which was to adjourn that they have, at your majesty's feet, imploring the court for some days, upon a Christian ground, your mercy.
that he may have time to turn from that mind of Secondly, That your majesty, in your own wis- destroying himself; during which time your dom, do advise what course you will take, for the majesty's farther pleasure may be known. utter extinguishing of all hopes of resuscitating The fourth case is that which I should be very of their fortunes and favour; whereof if there sorry it should happen, but it is a future contingent; should be the least conceit, it will leave in men a that is, if the peers should acquit him, and find great deal of envy and discontent.
him not guilty. And, lastly; Whether your majesty will not In this case the lord steward must be provided suffer it to be thought abroad, that there is cause what to do. For, as it hath been never seen, as I of farther examination of Somerset, concerning conceive it, that there should be any rejecting of matters of estate, after he shall begin once to be the verdict, or any respiting of the judgment of the a confessant, and so make as well a politic acquittal ; so, on the other side, this case requireth, ground, as a ground of clemency, for farther stay. that because there be inany high and heinous
And for the second degree, of proceeding to trial, offences, though not capital, for which he may and staying judgment, I must better inform my- be questioned in the Star Chamber, or otherwise, self by precedents, and advise with my lord chan- that there be some touch of that in general at the cellor.
conclusion, by my Lord Steward of England; The second case is, if that fall out which is and that, therefore, he be remanded to the Tower likest, as things stand, and which we expect, as close prisoner. which is, that the lady confess; and that Somer- For the matter of examination, or other proceedset himself plead not guilty, and be found guilty : ings, my lord chancellor with my advice hath set
In this case, first, I suppose your majesty will down, not think of any stay of judgment, but that the To-morrow, being Monday, for the re-examinapublic process of justice pass on.
tion of the lady: Secondly, For your mercy to be extended to both Wednesday next, for the meeting of the judges for pardon of their execution, I have partly touched concerning the evidence: in the considerations applied to the former case; Thursday, for the examination of Somerset whereunto may be added, that as there is ground himself, according to your majesty's instructions : of mercy for her, upon her penitency and free con- Which three parts, when they shall be perfession, and will be much more upon his finding formed, I will give your majesty advertisement guilty; because the malice on his part will be with speed, and in the mean time be glad to thought the deeper source of the offence; so there receive from your majesty, whom it is my part to will be ground for mercy on his part, upon the inform truly, such directions or significations nature of the proof; and because it rests chiefly 1 of your pleasure as this advertisement may induce, VOL. II.-42
2 2 2
and that with speed, because the time cometh on. Yesterday being Wednesday, I spent four or Well remembering who is the person whom your five hours with the judges whom his majesty majesty admitted to this secret, I have sent this designed to take consideration with, the four letter open unto him, that he may take your judges of the king's bench, of the evidence majesty's times to report it, or show it unto you; against Somerset: they all concur in opinion, that assuring myself that nothing is more firm than the questioning and drawing him on to trial is his trust, tied to your majesty's commandments. most honourable and just, and that the evidence is Your majesty's most humble
fair and good. and most bounden subject and servant, His majesty's letter to the judges concerning
Fr. Bacon. the “Commendams” was full of magnanimity and April 28, 1616.
wisdom. I perceive his majesty is never less alone, than when he is alone; for I am sure there
was nobody by him to inform him, which made TO SIR GEORGE VILLIERS, ABOUT THE EARL me admire it the more. OF SOMERSET.
The judges have given a day over, till the Sir,
second Saturday of the next term; so as that I have received my letter from his majesty, with matter may endure farther consideration, for his his marginal notes, which shall be, my directions, majesty not only not to lose ground, but to win being glad to perceive I understand his majesty ground. so well. That same little charm, which may be To-morrow is appointed for the examination of secretly infused into Somerset's ear some few Somerset, which, by some infirmity of the Duke hours before his trial, was excellently well of Lenox, was put off from this day. When this thought of by his majesty ; and I do approve it is done, I will write more fully, ever resting both for matter and time; only, if it seem good to
Your true and devoted servant, his majesty, I would wish it a little enlarged :
FR. Bacon. for if it be no more than to spare his blood, he
May 2, 1616. hath a kind of proud humour which may overwork the medicine. Therefore I could wish it were made a little stronger, by giving him some TO SIR GEORGE VILLIERS, OF SOMERSET'S hopes that his majesty will be good to his lady
ARRAIGNMENT. and child; and that time, when justice and his Sir, majesty's honour is once saved and satisfied, may I am far enough from opinion, that the redinteproduce farther fruit of his majesty's compassion : gration or resuscitation of Somerset's fortune can which was to be seen in the example of South-ever stand with his majesty's honour and safety; ampton, whom his majesty after attainder restored : and therein I think I expressed myself fully to and Cobham and Gray, to whom his majesty, not- his majesty in one of my former letters; and I withstanding they were offenders against his own know well any expectation or thought abroad person, yet he spared their lives; and for Gray, will do much hurt. But yet the glimmering of his majesty gave him back some part of his estate, that which the king hath done to others, by way .and was upon point to deliver him much more. of talk to him, cannot hurt, as I conceive; but I He having been so highly in his majesty's favour, would not have that part of the message as from may hope well, if he hurt not himself by his the king, but added by the messenger as from public misdemeanor.
himself. This I remit to his majesty's princely For the person that should deliver this message, judgment. I am not so well seen in the region of his friends, For the person, though he trust the lieutenant as to be able to make choice of a particular; my well, yet it must be some new man: for, in these lord treasurer, the Lord Knollys, or any of his cases, that which is ordinary worketh not so nearest friends should not be trusted with it, for great impressions as that which is new and they inay go too far, and perhaps work contrary to extraordinary. his majesty's ends. Those which occur to me The time I wish to be the Tuesday, being the are my Lord Hay, my Lord Burleigh, of Eng. even of his lady's arraignment; for, as his maland, I mean, and Sir Robert Carre.
jesty first conceived, I would not have it stay in My Lady Somerset hath been re-examined, and his stomach too long, lest it sour in the digeshis majesty is found both a true prophet and a tion; and to be too near the time, may be thought most just king in that scruple he made; for now but to tune him for that day. she expoundeth the word He, that should send I send herewithal the substance of that which the tarts to Elwys's wife, to be of Overbury, and I purpose to say nakedly, and only in that part not of Somerset; but for the person that should which is of tenderness ; for that I conceive was bid her, she said it was Northampton or Weston, his majesty's meaning. not pitching upon certainty, which giveth some It will be necessary, because I have distributed advantage to the evidence.
parts to the two serjeants, as that paper doth
express, and they understand nothing of his long as he stood upon his innocency and trial, majesty's pleasure of the manner of carrying the your majesty was tied in honour to proceed acevidence, more than they may guess by observa-cording to justice; and, that he little understood, tion of my example, which they may ascribe as being a close prisoner, how much the expectation much to my nature, as to direction; therefore, of the world, besides your love to justice itself, that his majesty would be pleased to write some engaged your majesty, whatsoever your inclinafew words to us all, signed with his own hand, tions were: but, nevertheless, that a frank and that, the matter itself being tragical enough, clear confession might open the gate of mercy, bitterness and insulting be forborne ; and that we and help to satisfy the point of honour. remember our part to be to make him delinquent That his lady, as he knew, and that after many to the peers, and not odious to the people. That oaths and imprecations to the contrary, had neverpart of the evidence of the lady's exposition of theless, in the end, being touched with remorse, the pronoun, He, which was first caught hold of confessed; that she that led him to offend, might by me, and afterwards by his majesty's singular lead him likewise to repent of his offence: that wisdom and conscience excepted to, and now is the confession of one of them could not fitly do by her re-examination retracted, I have given either of them much good, but the confession of order to Serjeant Montague, within whose part it both of them might work some farther effect falleth, to leave it out of the evidence. I do yet towards both: and, therefore, in conclusion, we crave pardon, if I do not certify touching the wished him not to shut the gate of your majesty's point of law for respiting the judgment, for I have mercy against himself, by being obdurate any not fully advised with my lord chancellor con- longer. This was the effect of that which was cerning it, but I will advertise it in time. spoken, part by one of us, part by another, as it
I send his majesty the lord steward's commis- fell out; adding farther, that he might well sion in two several instruments, the one to remain discern who spake in us in the course we held; with my lord chancellor, which is that which is for that commissioners for examination might not written in secretary-hand for his warrant, and is presume so far of themselves. to pass the signet; the other, that whereunto the Not to trouble your majesty with circumstances great seal is to be affixed, which is in chancery- of his answers, the sequel was no other, but that hand : his majesty is to sign them both, and to we found him still not to come any degree farther transmit the former to the signet, if the secreta- on to confess; only his behaviour was very sober, ries either of them be there; and both of them are and modest, and mild, differing apparently from to be returned to me with all speed. I ever rest other times, but yet, as it seemed, resolved to
Your true and devoted servant, have his trial. May 5, 1616.
Fr. Bacon. Then did we proceed to examine him upon
divers questions touching the impoisonment,
which indeed were very material and suppleTO THE KING, ABOUT SOMERSET'S EXAMI- mental to the former evidence; wherein either NATION.
his affirmatives gave some light, or his negatives IT MAY PLEASE YOUR MAJESTY,
do greatly falsify him in that which is apparently. We have done our best endeavours to perform proved. your majesty's commission, both in matter and We made this farther observation; that when manner, for the examination of my Lord of So- we asked him some question that did touch the merset ; wherein that which passed, for the gene- prince or some foreign practice, which we did ral, was to this effect; That he was to know his very sparingly at this time, yet he grew a little own case, for that his day of trial could not be stirred; but in the questions of the impoisonment far off; but that this day's work was that which very cold and modest. Thus, not thinking it would conduce to your majesty's justice little or necessary to trouble your majesty with any nothing, but to your mercy much, if he did lay farther particulars, we end with prayer to God hold upon it; and therefore might do him good, ever to preserve your majesty. but could do him no hurt. For, as for your Your majesty's most loyal and faithful servant, justice, there had been taken great and grave
FR. Bacon. opinion, not only of such judges as he may think Postscript. If it seem good unto your majesty, violent, but of the most sad and most temperate we think it not amiss some preacher, well chosen, of the kingdom, who ought to understand the had access to my Lord of Somerset for his preparstate of the proofs, that the evidence was full to ing and comfort, although it be before his trial. convict him, so as there needeth neither confession, nor supply of examination. But for your majesty's mercy, although he were not to expect
TO SIR GEORGE VILLIERS. we should make any promise, we did assure him, Sir, that your majesty was compassionate of him if he I send you enclosed a warrant for my Lady of gave you some ground whereon to work; that, as Somerset's pardon, reformed in that main and
material point, of inserting a clause (that she was I am wonderful desirous to see that kingdom not a principal, but an accessary before the fact, flourish, because it is the proper work and glory by the instigation of base persons.] Her friends of his majesty and his times. And his majesty think long to have it despatched, which I marvel may be pleased to call to mind, that, a good while not at, for that in matter of life moments are since, when the great rent and divisions were in numbered.
the parliament of Ireland, I was no unfortunate I do more and more take contentment in his remembrancer to his majesty's princely wisdom majesty's choice of Sir Oliver St. John, for his in that business. God ever keep you and prosdeputy of Ireland, finding, upon divers conferences per you. with him, his great sufficiency; and I hope the
Your true and most devoted and good intelligence, which he purposeth to hold
bounden servant, with me by advertisements from time to time,
Fr. Bacon. shall work a good effect for his majesty's service.