Billeder på siden

cases, he acted only as arbitrator; and in others that the sums received were not gifts, but loans, and that he had decided against his creditor; and in others that the sums offered were refused and returned. And to the twenty-eighth charge, “that the lord chancellor hath given way to great exactions by his servants," he surely might have admitted that he was negligent in not looking better to his servants. Standing on a cliff, and surveying the whole intellectual world, he did not see every pebble on the shore.


Can it be doubted, that the prudent course will be the chancellor's submission, as an atonement for all who are under popular suspicion ? The only difficulty will be to prevail upon him to submit. He has resolved to defend himself, and in speech he is all-powerful; but he is of a yielding nature, a lover of letters, in mind contemplative, although in life active; his love of retirement may be wrought upon; the king can remit any fine, and, the means once secured to him of learned leisure for the few remaining years

Some defence of this nature could not but have of his life, he will easily be induced to quit the occurred to the chancellor? paradise of earthly honours."

Whatever doubt may exist as to the state of his mind, there is none with respect either to the king or Buckingham. The king was disquieted, and Buckingham robbed of all peace. This was the very state of mental fusion favourable for experiment by a shrewd politician. "It is the doctrine of philosophy that to be speculative into another man, to the end to know how to work him, or wind him, or govern him, proceedeth from a heart that is double and cloven, and not entire and ingenuous." This is not the politician's creed.

The king's fears, notwithstanding his pecuniary distresses, disposed him to dissolve the parliament, to which he had been advised, though by this measure he should lose his two subsidies. Williams dissuaded him from such an expedient. "There is," he said, "no colour to quarrel at this general assembly of the kingdom, for tracing delinquents to their form: it is their proper work, and your majesty hath nobly encouraged them to it. Your lordship," he said, turning to Buckingham, "is jealous, if the parliament continue imbodied, of your own safety. Follow it, swim with the tide: trust me and your other servants that have some credit with the most active members, to keep you clear from the strife of tongues; but if you break up this parliament, in pursuit of justice, only to save some cormorants who have devoured that which they must disgorge, you will pluck up a sluice which will overwhelm you all."

The king listened to the advice of Williams; and his determination not to dissolve the parliament was followed, of course, by the consideration how the charges were to be met, by resistance or by submission.

There cannot be any difficulty in following the train of Williams's reasoning in this conclave. "Resistance will be attended with danger to your lordship and to his majesty. These popular outeries thrive by opposition, and when they cease to be opposed, they cease to exist. The chancellor has been accused. He cannot escape unheard. He must be acquitted or convicted. He cannot, in this time of excitement and prejudgment, expect justice. His mind will easily be impressed by the fate of other great men, sacrifices to the blind ignorance of a vulgar populace, whom talent will not propitiate or innocence

So spoke the prelate; and the voice that promised present immunity to the king and his humbled favourite, seemed to them the voice of an angel: but the remedies of a state empiric, like those of all empirics, are only immediate relief; "they help at a pang, but soon leese their operation."

The king fatally resolved upon this concession, and Bacon's remarkable prediction fell upon him and his successor," They who will strike at your chancellor will strike at your crown."

There was not any suggestion by Williams that the chancellor could not have anticipated, except the monstrous fact that the king and Buckingham were consenting to his downfall. Once convinced that his weak and cowardly master was not only willing but anxious to interpose him between an enraged people and his culpable favourite, his line of conduct became evident: he was as much bound to the stake as if already chained there; and, when the fate of Essex and of Somerset recurred to him, he must have felt how little dependence could be placed upon court favour, and how certain was the utter ruin of a man who attempts to oppose a despotic prince. might well say, "he was become clay in the king's hand." He who is robbed of all that constitutes a man, freedom of thought and action, which is the breath of his nostrils, becomes nothing but a lifeless statue.


Before the 16th of April the king sent for the chancellor, who instantly prepared minutes for their conference, in which he says, "The law of nature teaches me to speak in my own defence. With respect to this charge of bribery, I am as innocent as any born upon St. Innocent's day: I never had bribe or reward in my eye or thought when pronouncing sentence or order. If, however, it is absolutely necessary, the king's will shall be obeyed. I am ready to make an oblation of myself to the king, in whose hands I am as clay, to be made a vessel of honour or dishonour."

That an interview between the king and Bacon took place is clear, from the following entry in the journals of the House of Lords of April 17:

"The lord treasurer signified, that in the interim of this cessation, the lord chancellor was an



drama alone remained to be performed.
The parts were now cast, and the last act of the

humble suitor unto his majesty, that he might see words: "I am the first; I wish I may be the last
his majesty and speak with him; and although sacrifice."
his majesty, in respect of the lord chancellor's
person, and of the place he holds, might have
given his lordship that favour, yet, for that his
lordship is under the trial of this house, his
majesty would not on the sudden grant it.

when some account of the king's interview with On the 17th of April, 1621, the House met, rer, and ordered to be entered upon the journals the chancellor was narrated by the lord treasuof the House; and, a rumour having been circu

"That on Sunday last, the king calling all the lords of this house which were of his council before him, it pleased his majesty to show their lord-lated that Buckingham had sent his brother ships what was desired by the lord chancellor, demanding their lordships' advice therein.

"The lords did not presume to advise his majesty; for that his majesty did suddenly propound such a course as all the world could not advise a better; which was, that his majesty would speak with him privately.

"That yesterday, his majesty admitting the lord chancellor to his presence, his lordship desired that he might have a particular of those matters wherewith he is charged before the lords of this house; for that it was not possible for him, who passed so many orders and decrees in a year, to remember all things that fell out in them; and that, this being granted, his lordship would desire two requests of his majesty. 1. That, where his answers should be fair and clear, to those things objected against him, his lordship might stand upon his innocency. 2. Where his answer should not be so fair and clear, there his lordship might be admitted to the extenuation of the charge; and where the proofs were full and undeniable, his lordship would ingenuously confess them, and put himself upon the mercy of the lords.

"Unto all which his majesty's answer was, he referred him to the lords of this house, and therefore his majesty willed his lordship to make report to their lordships.


It was thereupon ordered, that the lord treasurer should signify unto his majesty, that the lords do thankfully acknowledge his majesty's favour, and hold themselves highly bound unto his majesty for the same."

At this interview the king, who had determined to sacrifice the "oracle of his counsel rather than the favourite of his affection," gave him his advice, as it was termed, "that he should submit himself to the House of Peers, and that upon his princely word he would then restore him again, if they in their honours should not be sensible of his merits."

How little this command accorded with the chancellor's intention to defend himself, may be gathered from his distress and passionate remonstrance. "I see my approaching ruin: there is no hope of mercy in a multitude, if I do not plead for myself, when my enemies are to give fire. Those who strike at your chancellor will strike at your crown. .” All remonstrance proving fruitless, he took leave of the king with these memorable

abroad to escape inquiry, he protested unto the that his lordship had sent his brother, Sir Edward lords, "that whereas the opinion of the world is, Villiers, abroad in the king's service, of purpose to avoid his trial touching some grievances complained of by the Commons, his lordship was so coming home; and, if any thing blameworthy can far from that, that his lordship did hasten his be objected against him, his lordship is as ready to censure him as he was Mompesson."

the three several committees do make their
It was then moved by the Earl of Arundel, that
to-morrow morning of the examinations by them
taken touching the lord chancellor.

to thank him for the goodness manifested in his
On the 20th, the chancellor wrote to the king,
access on the 16th, and expressing an assured
hope, that, as the king imitated Christ, by not
breaking the broken reed, or quenching the smok-
ing flax, so would the lords of the Upper House in
grace and mercy imitate their royal master: and
on the 22d of April he addressed a letter to the
House of Lords, which had, of course, been sub-
mitted to Buckingham and the king, and was in
Prince of Wales.
due time communicated to their lordships by the

by those who are in possession of the facts now
In that letter, which can be understood only
that word, used by a man so rich in language, so
stated, he consented to desert his defence; and
felicitous in every shade of expression, fully dis-
closes what was passing in his mind. He praised
the king, chiefly for his mercy, recommended
prelates that they were the servants of Christ.
him as an example to the lords, and reminded the
He concluded his address by intimating what he
hoped would be the measure of his punishment,
but not till he had related some passages, from
ancient history, in his usual manner, and consi-
dered the case and its results to society with a de-
gree of philosophical calmness, which could not
punishment beyond the loss of his office.
possibly contemplate the ruin that ensued, or any

the house in a speech, which showed his disposi-
On the morning of the 24th, the king addressed
tion to meet the wishes of the people by admit-
ting, "that as many complaints are already made
against courts of judicature, which are in exami-
nation, and are to be proceeded upon by the lords,
his majesty will add some, which he thinks fit to
be also complained of and redressed, viz.: That no

orders be made but in public court, and not in chambers; that excessive fees be taken away; that no bribery nor money be given for the hearing of any cause. These and many other things his majesty thought fit to be done this session. And his majesty added, that when he hath done this, and all that he can do for the good of his subjects, he confesseth he hath done but the duty whereunto he was born."-The house then adjourned till the afternoon.

In the afternoon the Prince of Wales "signified unto the lords that the lord chancellor had sent the following submission to their lordships:

"To the Right Honourable the Lords of Parliament, in the Upper House assembled.

"The humble Submission and Supplication of the Lord Chancellor.

"It may please your lordships,-I shall humbly crave at your lordships' hands a benign interpretation of that which I shall now write. For words that come from wasted spirits and an oppressed mind are more safe in being deposited in a noble construction, than in being circled with any reserved caution.

"This being moved, and, as I hope, obtained, in the nature of a protection to all that I shall say, I shall now make into the rest of that wherewith I shall at this time trouble your lordships a very strange entrance. For, in the midst of a state of as great affliction as I think a mortal man can endure, (honour being above life,) I shall begin with the professing of gladness in some things.

Adam, nor concealed my faults in my bosom.'
This is the only justification which I will use.

"It resteth, therefore, that without fig-leaves I do ingenuously confess and acknowledge that, having understood the particulars of the charge, not formally from the House, but enough to inform my conscience and memory, I find matter sufficient and full both to move me to desert the defence, and to move your lordships to condemn and censure me. Neither will I trouble your lordships by singling those particulars, which I think may fall off.

Quid te exempta juvat spinis de pluribus una ?

Neither will I prompt your lordships to observe upon the proofs, where they come not home, or the scruples touching the credits of the witnesses; neither will I represent unto your lordships how far a defence might, in divers things, extenuate the offence, in respect of the time or manner of the gift, or the like circumstances, but only leave these things to spring out of your own noble thoughts and observations of the evidence and examinations themselves, and charitably to wind about the particulars of the charge, here and there, as God shall put into your mind, and so submit myself wholly to your piety and grace.

"And now that I have spoken to your lordships as judges, I shall say a few words to you as peers and prelates, humbly commending my cause to your noble minds and magnanimous affections.

"Your lordships are not simple judges, but parliamentary judges; you have a further extent of arbitrary power than other courts; and, if your lordships be not tied by the ordinary course of courts or precedents, in points of strictness and severity, much more in points of mercy and mitigation.

"The first is, that hereafter the greatness of a judge or magistrate shall be no sanctuary or protection of guiltiness, which (in few words) is the beginning of a golden world. The next, that, after this example, it is like that judges will fly "And yet, if any thing which I shall move from any thing that is in the likeness of corrup-might be contrary to your honourable and worthy tion, (though it were at a great distance,) as from a serpent; which tendeth to the purging of the courts of justice, and the reducing them to their true honour and splendour. And in these two points, God is my witness, that though it be my fortune to be the anvil upon which these good effects are beaten and wrought, I take no small comfort.

"But, to pass from the motions of my heart, whereof God is only judge, to the merits of my cause, whereof your lordships are judges, under God and his lieutenant, I do understand there hath been heretofore expected from me some justification; and therefore I have chosen one only justification instead of all other, out of the justifications of Job. For, after the clear submission and confession which I shall now make unto your lordships, I hope I may say and justify with Job, in these words: I have not hid my sins as did

ends to introduce a reformation, I should not seek it. But herein I beseech your lordships to give me leave to tell you a story. Titus Manlius took his son's life for giving battle against the prohibition of his general; not many years after, the like severity was pursued by Papirius Cursor, the dictator, against Quintus Maximus, who being upon the point to be sentenced, by the intercession of some principal persons of the senate, was spared; Whereupon Livy maketh this grave and gracious observation: Neque minus firmata est disciplina militaris periculo Quinti Maximi, quam miserabili supplicio Titi Manlii. The discipline of war was no less established by the questioning of Quintus Maximus than by the punishment of Titus Manlius; and the same reason is of the reformation of justice; for the questioning of men of eminent place hath the same terror, though not the same rigour with the punishment.

"But my case standeth not there. For my humble desire is, that his majesty would take the seal into his hands, which is a great downfall: and may serve, I hope, in itself, for an expiation of my faults. Therefore, if mercy and mitigation be in your power, and do no ways cross your ends, why should I not hope of your lordships' favour and commiseration?

"Your lordships will be pleased to behold your chief pattern, the king, our sovereign, a king of incomparable clemency, and whose heart is inscrutable for wisdom and goodness. Your lordships will remember that there sat not these hundred years before a prince in your house, and never such a prince whose presence deserveth to be made memorable by records and acts mixed of mercy and justice; yourselves are either nobles (and compassion ever beateth in the veins of noble blood) or reverend prelates, who are the servants of Him that would not break the bruised reed, nor quench smoking flax. You all sit upon one high stage; and therefore cannot but be more sensible of the changes of the world, and of the fall of any of high place. Neither will your lordships forget that there are vitia temporis as well as vitia hominis, and that the beginning of reformations hath the contrary power of the pool of Bethesda; for that had strength to cure only him that was first cast in, and this hath commonly strength to hurt him only that is first cast in; and for my part, I wish it may stay there, and go no further.


Lastly, I assure myself your lordships have a noble feeling of me, as a member of your own body, and one that, in this very session, had some taste of your loving affections, which, I hope, was not a lightening before the death of them, but rather a spark of that grace, which now in the conclusion will more appear.

"And therefore my humble suit to your lordships is, that my penitent submission may be my sentence, and the loss of the seal my punishment; and that your lordships will spare any further sentence, but recommend me to his majesty's grace and pardon for all that is past. God's Holy Spirit be amongst you. Your lordships' humble servant and suppliant,

April 22, 1621.

"FR. ST. ALBAN, Canc."

Although the king and Buckingham hoped that this general submission would be satisfactory, the agitation was too great to be thus easily quieted. It was, after deliberation, resolved that the lord chancellor's submission gave not satisfaction to their lordships, for that his lordship's confession therein was not fully nor particularly set down, and for many other exceptions against the submission itself, the same in sort extenuating his confession, and his lordship seeming to prescribe the sentence to be given against him by the house.

Their lordships resolved, that the lord chancellor should be charged particularly with the briberies and corruptions complained of against him, and that his lordship should make a particular answer thereunto. It was, therefore, ordered that the particulars of the charge be sent to the lord chancellor, and that the lords do expect his answer to the same with all convenient expedition. They were sent accordingly.

This fatal result was instantly communicated to the chancellor by his faithful attendant, Bushel. He proceeded, therefore, to a minute answer to each particular charge, which he so framed that future ages might see the times when the presents were made, and the persons by whom they were offered.

On the 30th of April, the lord chief justice signified that he had received from the lord chancellor a paper roll, sealed up, which was delivered to the clerk; and being opened, and found directed to their lordships, it was read:

"To the Right honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in the High Court of Parliament assembled,

"The Confession and Humble Submission of me, the Lord Chancellor.


Upon advised consideration of the charge, descending into my own conscience, and calling my memory to account so far as I am able, I do plainly and ingenuously confess that I am guilty of corruption, and do renounce all defence, and put myself upon the grace and mercy of your lordships.

"The particulars I confess and declare to be as followeth :

"1. To the first article of the charge, viz. in the cause between Sir Rowland Egerton and Edward Egerton, the lord chancellor received five hundred pounds on the part of Sir Rowland Egerton, before he decreed the cause: I do confess and declare, that upon a reference from his majesty of all suits and controversies between Sir Rowland Egerton and Mr. Edward Egerton, both parties submitted themselves to my award, by recognisance reciprocal in ten thousand marks apiece. Thereupon, after divers hearings, I made my award, with advice and consent of my Lord Hobart. The award was perfected and published to the parties, which was in February; then, some days after, the five hundred pounds mentioned in the charge was delivered unto me. Afterwards Mr. Edward Egerton fled off from the award; then, in midsummer term following, a suit was begun in chancery by Sir Rowland, to have the award confirmed; and upon that suit was the decree made which is mentioned in the article.

"2. To the second article of the charge, viz. in the same cause he received from Edward Egerton four hundred pounds: I confess and declare, that

soon after my first coming to the seal, (being a time when I was presented by many,) the four hundred pounds mentioned in the charge was delivered unto me in a purse, and I now call to mind, from Mr. Edward Egerton; but, as far as I can remember, it was expressed by them that brought it to be for favours past, and not in respect to favours to come.

3. To the third article of the charge, viz., in the cause between Hody and Hody, he received a dozen of buttons, of the value of fifty pounds, about a fortnight after the cause was ended: I confess and declare, that, as it is laid in the charge, about a fortnight after the cause was ended, (it being a suit of a great inheritance,) there were gold buttons about the value of fifty pounds, as is mentioned in the charge, presented unto me, as I remember, by Sir Thomas Perient and the party himself.

"4. To the fourth article of the charge, viz., in the cause between the Lady Wharton and the co-heirs of Sir Francis Willoughby, he received of the Lady Wharton three hundred and ten pounds: I confess and declare, that I received of the Lady Wharton, at two several times, (as I remember,) in gold, two hundred pounds and a hundred pieces, and this was certainly pendente lite; but yet I have a vehement suspicion that there was some shuffling between Mr. Shute and the register, in entering some orders, which afterwards I did distaste.

"5. To the fifth article of the charge, viz., in Sir Thomas Monk's cause, he received from Sir Thomas Monk, by the hands of Sir Henry Helmes, a hundred and ten pounds; but this was threequarters of a year after the suit was ended: I confess it to be true, that I received a hundred pieces; but it was long after the suit ended, as is contained in the charge.

"6. To the sixth article of the charge, viz., in the cause between Sir John Treavor and Ascue, he received, on the part of Sir John Treavor, a hundred pounds: I confess and declare, that I received at new year's-tide a hundred pounds from Sir John Treavor; and because it came as a new year's gift, I neglected to inquire whether the cause was ended or depending; but since I find, that though the cause was then dismissed to a trial at law, yet the equity is reserved, so as it was in that kind pendente lite.

"7. To the seventh article of the charge, viz., in the cause between Holman and Young, he received of Young a hundred pounds, after the decree made for him; I confess and declare, that, as I remember, a good while after the cause ended, I received a hundred pounds, either by Mr. Tobie Matthew, or from Young himself; but whereas I understood that there was some money given by Holman to my servant Hatcher, with that certainly I was never made privy.


in the cause between Fisher and Wrenham, the lord chancellor, after the decree passed, received from Fisher a suit of hangings, worth a hundred and sixty pounds and better, which Fisher gave by advice of Mr. Shute: I confess and declare, that some time after the decree passed, I being at that time upon remove to York House, I did receive a suit of hangings of the value, I think, mentioned in the charge, by Mr. Shute, as from Sir Edward Fisher, towards the furnishing of my house, as some others that were no way suitors did present me the like about that time.


9. To the ninth article of the charge, viz., in the cause between Kennedey and Vanlore, he received a rich cabinet from Kennedey, prized at eight hundred pounds: I confess and declare, that such a cabinet was brought to my house, though nothing near half the value; and that I said to him that brought it, that I came to view it, and not to receive it; and gave commandment that it should be carried back, and was offended when I heard it was not; and some year and a half after, as I remember, Sir John Kennedey having all that time refused to take it away, as I am told by my servant, I was petitioned by one Pinckney, that it might be delivered to him, for that he stood engaged for the money that Sir John Kennedey paid for it. And thereupon Sir John Kennedey wrote a letter to my servant Shereborne with his own hand, desiring that I would not do him that disgrace as to return that gift back, much less to put it into a wrong hand; and so it remains yet ready to be returned to whom your lordships shall appoint.

10. To the tenth article of the charge, viz., he borrowed of Vanlore a thousand pounds, upon his own bond, at one time, and the like sum at another time, upon his lordship's own bill, subscribed by Mr. Hunt, his man: I confess and declare, that I borrowed the money in the article set down, and that this is a true debt. And I remember well that I wrote a letter from Kew, above a twelvemonth since, to a friend about the king, wherein I desired that, whereas I owed Peter Vanlore two thousand pounds, his majesty would be pleased to grant me so much out of his fine set upon him in the Star Chamber.

11. To the eleventh article of the charge, viz., he received of Richard Scott two hundred pounds, after his cause was decreed, (but upon a precedent promise,) all which was transacted by Mr. Shute: I confess and declare, that some fortnight after, as I remember, that the decree passed, I received two hundred pounds, as from Mr. Scott, by Mr. Shute; but, for any precedent promise or transaction by Mr. Shute, certain I am I knew of none.

12. To the twelfth article of the charge, viz., he received in the same cause, on the part of Sir John Lentall, a hundred pounds: I confess and "8. T. the eighth article of the charge, viz., declare, that some months after, as I remember,

« ForrigeFortsæt »