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prosecuted by my Lord Hunsdon* as your farmer. I tion, whereof God giveth you so many great Your first direction was by Sir Christopher Par- pledges, kins, that the day appointed for the judicial sen- I rest your majesty's most humble tence should hold: and, if my lord chief justice,

and devoted subject and servant, upon my repair to him, should let me know, that

Fr. Bacon. he could not be present, then my lord chancellor November 17, 1615. should proceed, calling to him my Lord Hobart, except he should be excepted to; and then some other judge by consent. For the latter part of Innovations introduced into the lau's and governthis your direction, I suppose, there would have

ment. * been no difficulty in admitting my Lord Hobart; 1. The ecclesiastical In this he prevailed, for after he had assisted at so many hearings, it commission.

and the commission was would have been too late to except to him. But

pared, and namely the then your majesty's second and later direction,

point of alimony left which was delivered unto me from the Earl of

out, whereby wives are Arundel, as by word of mouth, but so as he had

left wholly to the tyset down a remembrance thereof in writing freshly

ranny of their husbands. after the signification of his pleasure, was to this

This point, and some effect, that before any proceeding in the chancery,

others, may require a there should be a conference had between my

review, and is fit to be lord chancellor, my lord chief justice, and myself,

restored to the commishow your majesty's interest might be secured.

sion. This later direction I acquainted my lord chan-2. Against the provin

In this he prevaileth cellor with; and finding an impossibility, that cial councils.

in such sort, as the prethis conference should be had before to-morrow,

cecents are continually my lord thought good, that the day be put over,

suitors for the enlarge taking no occasion thereof other than this, that

ment of the instructions, in a cause of so great weight it was fit for him to

sometimes in one point, confer with his assistants, before he gave any

sometimes in another; decree or final order. After such a time as I have

and the jurisdictions conferred with my lords, according to your

grow into contempt, commandment, I will give your majesty account

and more would, if the with speed of the conclusion of that confer

lord chancellor did not ence.

strengthen them by inFarther, I think fit to let your majesty know,

junctions, where they that in my opinion I hold it a fit time to proceed

exceed not their instrucin the business of the “ Rege inconsulto,” which

tions. is appointed for Monday. I did think these 3. Against the Star In this he was overgreater causes would have come to period or

Chamber, for levying ruled by the sentence pause sooner: but now they are in the height, and


of the court; but he bent to have so great a matter as this of the “


all his strength and wits inconsulto” handled, when men do “ aliud agere,'

to have prevailed; and I think it no proper time. Besides, your majesty

so did the other judges in your great wisdom knoweth, that this business

by long and laborious of Mr. Murray's is somewhat against the stream

arguments : and if they of the judge's inclination: and it is no part of a

had prevailed, the auskilful mariner to sail on against a tide, when

thority of the court had the tide is at strongest. If your majesty be

been overthrown. But pleased to write to my Lord Coke, that you

the plurality of the would have the business of the “Rege incon

court toook more resulto" receive a hearing, when he should be

gard to their own pre“animo sedato et libero,” and not in the midst of|

cedents, than to the his assiduous and incessant cares and industries

judges' opinion. in other practices, I think your majesty shall do 4. Against the admi- In this he prevaileth, your service right. Howsoever, I will be provided


for prohibitions fly conagainst the day.

tinually; and many Thus praying God for your happy preserva

times are cause of long

He died in April,

* John Carey, Baron of Hunsdon. 1617.

VOL. II.-65

This paper was evidently designed against the Lord Chief Justice Coke.

suits, to the discontent law neither to levy it, the king by his great of foreign ambassadors, nor to move for it. seal could not so much and the king's disho

as move any his subnour and trouble by

jects for benevolence. their remonstrances.

But this he retracted 5. Against the court of This is new, and

after in the Star Chamthe duchy of Lancas- would be forth with re

ber; but it marred the ter prohibitions go; strained, and the others

benevolence in the mean and the like may do settled.

time. to the court of wards

13. Peacham's case. In this, for as much and exchequer.

as in him was, and in 6. Against the court of In this he prevaileth ;

the court of king's requests. and this but lately

bench, he prevailed, brought in question.

though it was holpen 7. Against the chancery In this his majesty

by the good service of for decrees after judg. hath made an establish

others. But the opinion ment. ment: and he hath not

which he held, amountprevailed, but made a

ed in effect to this, that great noise and trouble.

no word of scandal or 8. Præmunire for suits This his majesty hath

defamation, importing in the chancery. also established, being

that the king was uttera strange attempt to

ly unable or unworthy make the chancellor sit

to govern, were treason, under a hatchet, instead

except they disabled of the king's arms.

his title, etc. 9. Disputed in the com- This was but a brave- 14. Owen's case.

In this we prevailed mon pleas, whether ry, and dieth of itself,

with him to give opithat court may grant especially the authority

nion it was treason: but a prohibition to stay of the chancery by his

then it was upon a consuits in the chancery, majesty's late proceed

ceit of his own, that and time given to ings being so well es

was no less dangerous, search for precedents. tablished.

than if he had given 10. Against the new This in good time was

his opinion against the boroughs in Ireland. overruled by the voice

king: for he proclaimof eight judges of ten,

ed the king excommuafter they had heard

nicated in respect of your attorney. And had

the anniversary bulls it prevailed, it had over

of “Cæna Domini," thrown the parliament

which was to expose of Ireland, which would

his person to the fury have been imputed to a

of any jesuited confear in this state to have

spirator. proceeded; and so his 15. The value of bene- By this the intent of majesty's authority and fices not to be ac- the statute of 21 Henry reputation lost in that cording to the tax VIII., is frustrated; for kingdom.

in the king's book of there is no benefice of 11. Against the writs This is yet “ sub ju- taxes.

so small an improved “ Dom. Rege incon- dice :" but if it should

value as 81. by that sulto." prevail, it maketh the

kind of rating.

For judges absolute over

this the judges may be the patents of the king,

assembled in the exbe they of power and

chequer for a conferprofit, contrary to the ancient and ever con- 16. Suits for legacies The practice hath tinued law of the crown,

ought to be in their

gone against this, and which doth call those

proper dioceses, and

it is fit, the suit be causes before the king not in the preroga- where the probate is. himself, as he is repre- tive court; although And this served but to sented in chancery.

the will be proved put a pique between the 12. Against contribu

In this he prevailed, in the prerogative archbishops' courts and tion, that it was not and gave opinion, that court upon

bona the bishops'courts. This



notabilia" in several may be again propoun- | majesty's service, as is fit. Howbeit, for so much dioceses,

ed upon a conference as did concern the practice of conveying the dams, etc. of the judges. prince into Spain, or the Spanish pensions, he

was somewhat reserved upon this ground, that

they were things his majesty knew, and things, SIR FRANCIS BACON TO SIR GEORGE which by some former commandment from his VILLIERS.

majesty he was restrained to keep in silence, and

that he conceived they could be no ways applied Touching the examination of Sir Robert Cotton to Somerset. Wherefore it was not fit to press upon some information of Sir John Digby.*

him beyond that, which he conceived to be his I RECEIVED your letter yesterday towards the warrant, before we had known his majesty's evening, being the 8th of this present, together farther pleasure; which I pray you return unto with the interrogatory included, which his ma- us with all convenient speed. I for my part am jesty hath framed, not only with a great deal of in no appetite for secrets; but, nevertheless, seejudgment what to interrogate, but in a wise and ing his majesty's great trust towards me, wherein I apt order; for I do find that the degrees of ques- shall never deceive him; and that I find the tions are of great efficacy in examination. I re-chancellor of the same opinion, I do think it were ceived also notice and direction by your letter, good my lord chancellor chiefly and myself were that Sir Robert Cotton was first thoroughly to be made acquainted with the persons and the partiexamined; which indeed was a thing most ne- culars; not only because it may import his macessary to begin with; and that for that pur- jesty's service otherwise, but also because to my pose Sir John Digby was to inform my lord understanding, for therein I do not much rely chancellor of such points, as he conceived to be upon Sir John Digby's judgment, it may have a material; and that I likewise should take a full great connection with the examination of Someraccount for my lord chief justice of all Sir Robert set, considering his mercenary nature, his great Cotton's precedent examinations. It was my part undertaking for Spain in the match, and his then to take care, that that, which his majesty favour with his majesty; and therefore the circumhad so well directed and expressed, should be stances of other pensions given cannot but tend accordingly performed without loss of time. For to discover whether he were pensioner or no. which purpose, having soon after the receipt of But herein no time is lost; for my lord chanyour letter received a letter from my lord chancel. cellor, who is willing, even beyond his strength, lor, that he appointed Sir John Digby to be with to lose no moment for his majesty's service, hath him at two of the clock in the afternoon, as this appointed me to attend him Thursday morning for day, and required my presence, I spent the mean the examination of Sir Robert Cotton, leaving totime, being this forenoon, in receiving the prece- morrow for council-business to my lord, and to dent examinations of Sir Robert Cotton from my me for considering of fit articles for Sir Robert lord chief justice, and perusing of them; and Cotton. accordingly attended my lord chancellor at the 10 April, 1616. hour appointed, where I found Sir John Digby.

At this meeting it was the endeavour of my lord chancellor and myself to take such light

SIR FRANCIS BACON TO THE JUDGES. from Sir John Digby, as might evidence first the

MY LORD, examination of Sir Robert Cotton; and then to the many examinations of Somerset; wherein we

It is the king's express pleasure, that because found Sir John Digby ready and willing to dis- his majesty's time would not serve to have concover unto us what he knew; and he had also, by ference with your lordship and his judges touchthe lord chancellor's direction, prepared some

ing his cause of commendams at his last being in heads of examination in writing for Sir Robert town, in regard of his majesty's other most Cotton; of all which use shall be made for his weighty occasions; and for that his majesty

holdeth it necessary, upon the report, which my Secretary Winwood, in a private letter to Sir Thomas

Lord of Winchester, who was present at the last Edmondes, printed in the Historical View of the Negotiations argument by his majesty's royal commandment, between the courts of England, France, and Brussels, p. 392, made to his majesty, that his majesty be first conmentions, that there was great expectation, that Sir John sulted with, ere there be any further proceeding Digby, just then returned from Spain, where he had been ambassador,could charge the Earl of Somerset with some treasons by argument by any of the judges or otherwise : anul plots with Spain. “To the king,” adds Sir Ralph, “as yet Therefore, that the day appointed for the farther he hath used no other language, but that, having served in a proceeding by argument of the judges in that case Legally or criminally he can say nothing: yet this he says be put off till his majesty's farther pleasure be and hath written, that all his private despatches, wherein he known upon consulting him; and to that end, most discovered the practices of spain, and their intelligences, that your lordship forth with signify his commandwere presently sent into Spain; which could not be but by the treachery of Somerset."

ment to the rest of the judges; whereof your lordship may not fail. And so I leave your lord- and it may be he will be in the better temper, ship to God's goodness.

hoping of his own clearing, and of her respiting? Your loving friend to command,

What shall be the days; for Thursday and Fri

FR. Bacon. day can hardly hold in respect of the summons ; This Thursday, at afternoon,

and it may be as well Friday and rday, or the 25th of April, 1616.

Monday and Tuesday, as London makes it already?




Whether the axe is to be carried before the pri

It were good, that after he is come into the soner, being in the case of felony ?

Hall, so that he may perceive he must go to trial, Whether, if the lady make any digression to and shall be retired into the place appointed, till clear his lordship, she is not by the lord steward the court call for him, then the lieutenant should to be interrupted and silenced?

tell him roundly, that if in his speeches he shall Whether, if my Lord of Somerset should break tax the king,* that the justice of England is, that forth into any speech of taxing the king, he be he shall be taken away, and the evidence shall go not presently by the lord steward to be inter- on without him; and then all the people will cry rupted and silenced ; and, if he persist, he be not away with him ;” and then it shall not be in to be told, that if he take that course, he is to be the king's will to save his life, the people will be withdrawn, and evidence to be given in his ab

so set on fire. sence? And whether that may be; and what

Endorsed, else to be done ?

Memorial touching the course to be had in my Whether, if there should be twelve votes to con- Lord of Somerset's arraignment. demn, and twelve or thirteen to acquit, it be not a verdict for the king ?




Ye will doe well First it is meant, that SoHIS COUNCIL.

to remember lyke- merset shall not be charged Whether, if Somerset confess at any time be- wayes in your with any thing by way of agfore his trial, his majesty shall stay trial in respect signe, that the on

gravation, otherwise than as of farther examination concerning practice of trea- ly zeal to justice conduceth to the proof of the son, as the death of the late prince, the conveying maketh me take impoisonment. into Spain of the now prince, or the like ; for till this course. I have For the proofs themselves, he confess the less crime, there is [no] likelihood commandit you they are distributed into four : of confessing the greater ? Whether, if the trial upon that reason shall be

* The king's apprehension of being tazed by the Earl of

Somerset on his trial, though for what is not known, accounts put off, it shall be discharged privately by dis- in some measure for his majesty's extreme uneasiness of solving the commission, or discharging the sum- mind till that trial was over, and for the management used by mons ? Or, whether it shall not be done in open prevail upon the earl to subnuit to be tried, and to keep him in

Sir Francis Bacon in particular, as appears from his letters, to court, the peers being met, and the solemnity and temper during his trial, lest he, as the king expressed it in an celebrity preserved ; and that with some declara- apostile on Sir Francis's letter of the 25th of April, 1616, aper tion of the cause of putting off the farther pro

the one part commit unpardonable errors, and I on the other

seem to punish him in the spirit of revenge. See more on this ceeding?

subject in Mr. Mallet’s Life of the Lord Chancellor Bacon, who Whether the days of her trial and his shall be closes his remarks with a reference to a letter of Somerset to immediate, as it is now appointed; or a day be the king, printed in the Cabala, and written in a high style

of expostulation, and showing, through the affected obscurity tween, to see if, after condemnation, the lady of some expressions, that there was an important secret in bis will confess of this lord ; which done, there is no keeping, of which his majesty dreaded a discovery. The ear! doubt but he will confess of himself?

and his lady were released from their confinement in the

Tower in January, 1621–2, the latter dying August 23, 1632, Whether his trial shall not be set first, and hers leaving one daughter, Anne, then sixteen years of age, after

because then any conceit, which may be wards married to W Lord Russel, afterwards earl, and wrought by her clearing of him, may be prevented ; lady several years, and died in July, 1645, being interred on Kot to expatiate, The first to prove the ma- | carried himself insolently, both towards the queen, mor digresse upon lice, which Somerset bore to and towards the late prince: that he was a man, any other points, Overbury, which was the mo- that carried Somerset on in courses separate and that maye not serve tive and ground of the im- opposite to the privy council: that he was a man clearlie for probapoisonment.

at last Duke of Bedford. The Earl of Somerset survived bis

the 17th of that month in the church of St. Paul's, Covea * See ante, page 321.


of nature fit to be an incendiary of a state: full tionorinducement

The second is to prove the of bitterness and wildness of speech and project: of that point, preparations unto

preparations unto the im- that he was thought also lately to govern Someryuhairof he is ac

poisonment, by plotting his set, insomuch that in his own letters he vaunted, cused

imprisonment, placing his " that from him proceeded Somerset's fortune,
keepers, stopping access of credit, and understanding."
friends, etc.

This course I mean to run in a kind of geneThe third is the acts of the rality, putting the imputations rather upon Overimpoisonments themselves. bury than Somerset; and applying it, that such

And the fourth is acts sub- a nature was like to hatch dangerous secrets and sequent, which do vehement- practices. I mean to show likewise what jargons ly argue him to be guilty of there were and ciphers between them, which are the impoisonment.

great badges of secrets of estate, and used either For the first two heads, upon conference, where- by princes and their ministers of state, or by such unto I called Serjeant Montagu and Serjeant Crew, as practise against princes. That your majesty I have taken them two heads to myself; the third was called Julius in respect of your empire; the I have allotted to Serjeant Montagu; and the fourth queen Agrippina, though Somerset now saith it to Serjeant Crew.

was Livia, and that my Lady of Suffolk was In the first of these, to my understanding, is the Agrippina ; the Bishop of Canterbury Unclius ; only tenderness: for on the one side, it is most Northampton, Dominic; Suffolk, first Lerma, after necessary to lay a foundation, that the malice was Wolsey; and many others; so as it appears they a deep malice, mixed with fear, and not only made a play both of your court and kingdom; and matter of revenge upon his lordship's quarrel; for that their imaginations wrought upon the greatest * periculum periculo vincitur;" and the malice men and matters. must have a proportion to the effect of it, which Neither will I omit Somerset's breach of trust was the impoisonment: so that if this foundation to your majesty, in trusting Overbury with all the be not laid, all the evidence is weakened. despatches, things, wherewith your council of

On the other side, if I charge him, or would estate itself was not many times privy or accharge him, by way of aggravation, with matters quainted; and yet, this man must be admitted to tending to disloyalty or treason, then he is like them, not cursorily, or by glimpses, but to have to grow desperate.

them by him, to copy them, to register them, to Therefore I shall now set down perspicuously table them, etc. what course I mean to hold, that your majesty Apostyle of the may be pleased to direct and correct it, preserving king. the strength of the evidence: and this I shall now This evidence I shall also give in evidence, do, but shortly and without ornament.

cannot be given in in this place, the slight account First, I shall read some passages of Overbury's without making of that letter, which was letters, namely these : “Is this the fruit of nine me his accuser, brought to Somerset by Ashyears' love, common secrets, and common dan- and that upon ton, being found in the fields gers ?” In another letter : “Do not drive me to a very slight soon after the late prince's extremity to do that, which you and I shall be ground. As for death, and was directed to sorry for.” In another letter : “Can you forget

all the subsequent

Antwerp, containing these him, between whom such secrets of all kinds evidences, they are words, that the first branch have passed ?" etc.

all so little evident,
as una litura may that he should, ere long, send

was cut from the tree, and Then will I produce Simcock, who deposeth

serve thaime all. from Weston's speech, that Somerset told Wes

happier and joyfuller news.” ton, that, “ if ever Overbury came out of prison,

Which is a matter I would one of them must die for it."

not use, but that my Lord Then I will say what these secrets were. I

Coke, who hath filled this part mean not to enter into particulars, nor to charge

with many frivolous things, him with disloyalty, because he stands to be tried

would think all lost, except for his life upon another crime. But yet by some

he hear somewhat of this kind. taste, that I shall give to the peers in general,

But, this it is to come to the they may conceive of what nature those secrets

leavings of a business. may be. Wherein I will take it for a thing Nothing to som And, for the rest of that notorious, that Overbury was a man, that always | merset, and de- kind, as to speak of that par

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