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ears of God: but God gave no answer to it, otherwise than by that voice, which sometimes he useth, which is vox populi, the speech of the people. For there went then a murmur, that Overbury was poisoned: and yet this same suhmiss and soft voice of God, the speech of the vulgar people, was not without a counter-tenor, or counter-blast of the devil, who is the common author both of murder and slander: for it was given out, that Overbury was dead of a foul disease, and his body, which they had made a corpus Jitdaieum with their poisons, so as it had no whole part, must be said to be leprosied with vice, and so his name poisoned as well as his body. For as to dissoluteness, I never heard the gentleman noted with it: his faults were iniolency and turbulency, and the like of that kind; the other part of the soul, not the voluptuous.

Meantime there was some industry used, of which I will not now speak, to lull asleep those that were the revengers of blood; the father and the brother of the murdered. And in these terms things stood by the space almost of two years, during which time God so blinded the two great procurers, and dazzled them with their own greatness, and did bind and nail fast the actors and instruments with security upon their protection, as neither the one looked about them, nor the other stirred or fled, nor were conveyed away; but remained here still, as under a privy arrest of God's judgments; insomuch as Franklin, that should have been sent over to the Palsgrave with good store of money, was by God's providence and the accident of a marriage of his, diverted and stayed.

But about the beginning of the progress last summer, God's judgments began to come out of their depths: and as the revealing of murders is commonly such, as a man may say, a Domino hoc factum est; it is Cod's work, and it is marvellous in our eyes : so in this particular it is most admirable; for it came forth by a compliment and matter of courtesy.

My lord of Shrewsbury,* that is now with God, recommended to a counsellor of state, of especial trust by his place, the late lieutenant Helwisse, t only for acquaintance as an honest worthy gentleman; and desired him to know him, and to be acquainted with him. That counsellor answered him civilly, that my lord did him a favour: and that he should embrace it willingly: but he must let his lordship know, that there did lie a heavy imputation upon that gentleman. Helwisse: for that Sir Thomas Overbury, his prisoner, was thought to have come to a violent and untimely death. When this speech was reported back by my lord of Shrewsbury to Helwisse, perculit illico animum, he was stricken with it j and being a politic man, and of likelihood doubting that the matter would break forth at one time or other, and that others might have the start

• Gilbert earl of Shrewsbury, knight of the Garter, who died May 8, 1616.

t Sir Gervase Helwisse, appointed lieutenant of the Tower, upon the removal of Sir William Waacle on the 6th of May, 1613, [lteliuuuo Wottoniame, p. 412, 3d Edit. 1672.] Mr. Chamberlain, ill a MS. letter to Sir Dudley Carletou, daled at London, May 13, 1613, speaks of Sir Gervase's promotion iu these terms. '* On« Sir Gervase Helwisse, ot Lincolnshire, somewhat an unknown man, is put into the place [of

of him, and thinking to make his own case by his own tale, resolved with himself, upon this occasion, to discover to my lord of Shrewsbury and that counsellor, that there was an attempt, whereto he was privy, to have poisoned Overbury by the hands of his nnder-keeper Weston; but that he checked it, and put it by, and dissuaded it, and related so much to him indeed: but then he left it thus, that it was but an attempt, or untimely birth, never executed; and as if his own fault had been no more, but that he was honest in forbidding, but fearful of revealing and impeaching or accusing great persons; and so with this fine point thought to save himself.

But that great counsellor of state wisely considering, that by the lieutenant's own tale it could not be simply a permission or weakness; for that Weston was never displaced by the lieutenant, notwithstanding that attempt; and coupling the sequel by the beginning, thought it matter fit to be brought before his Majesty, by whose appointment Helwisse oet down the like declaration in writing.

Upon this ground the king playeth Solomon's part, "Gloria Dei celare rem; et gloria regis investigare rem;" and sets down certain papers of his own hand, which I might term to be elates justiliar, keys of justice ; and may serve for a precedent both for princes to imitate, and for a direction for judges to follow: and his Majesty carried the balance with a constant and steady hand, evenly and without prejudice, whether it were a ti ne accusation of the one part, or a practice and factious device of the other: which writing, because I am not able to express according to the worth thereof, I will desire your lordship anon to hear read.

This excellent foundation of justice being laid by his Majesty's own hand, it was referred unto some counsellors to examine farther, who gained some degrees of light from Weston, but yet left it imperfect.

After it was referred to Sir Edward Coke, chief justice of the king's bench, as a person best practised in legal examinations, who took a great deal of indefatigable pains in it, without intermission, having, as I have heard him say, taken at least three hundred examinations in this business.

But these things were not done in a corner. I need not speak of them. It is true, that my lord chief justice, in the dawning and opening of the light, finding that the matter touched upon these great persons, very discreetly became suitor to the king to have greater persons than his own rank joined with him. Whereupon, your lordship, my lord high steward of England, to whom the king commonly resorteth in arduis, and my lord steward of the king's house, and my lord Zouch, were joined with him.

Neither wanted there this while practice to suppress testimony, to deface writings, to weaken the

Sir W. Waade's] by the favour of the Lord Chamberlain [carl of Somerset] and his lady. The gentleman is of iiw mild and gentle a disposition for such an office. He is my old friend and acquaintance in France, and lately renewed in town, where he hath lived past a year, nor followed the court many a day." Sir Henry Wotlon, in a letter of the 14lh of May, 1613, [ubisupra, p 13.] says that Sir Gervase hail be*'n before one of the pensioners.

king's resolution, to slander the justice, and the like. Nay, when it came to the first solemn act of justice, which was the arraignment of Weston, he had his lesson to stand mute; which had arrested the wheel of justice. But this dumb devil, by the means of some discreet divines, and the potent charm of justice, together, was cast out. Neither did this poisonous adder stop his ear to those charms, but relented, and yielded to his trial.

Then follow the proceedings of justice against the other offenders, Turner, Helwisse, Franklin.

But all these being but the organs and instruments of this fact, the actors and not the authors, justice could not have been crowned without this last act against these great persons. Else Weston's censure or prediction might have been verified, when he said, he hoped the small flies should not be caught, and the great escape. Wherein the king being in great straits, between the defacing of his honour and of his creature, halh, according as he useth to do, chosen the better part, reserving always mercy to himself.

The time also of this justice hath had its true motions. The time until this lady's deliverance was due unto honour, Christianity, and humanity, in respect to her great belly. The time since was due to another kind of deliverance too; which was, that some causes of estate, that were in the womb, might likewise be brought forth, not for matter of justice, but for reason of state. Likewise this last procrastination of days had the like weighty grounds and causes. And this is the true and brief representation of this extreme work of the king's justice.

Now for the evidence against this lady, 1 am sorry I must rip it up. I shall first show you the purveyance or provisions of the poisons : that they were seven in number brought to this lady, and by her billeted and laid up till they might be used: and this done with an oath or vow of secrecy, which is like the Egyptian darkness, a gross and palpable darkness, lhat may be felt.

Secondly, I shall show you the exhibiting and sorting of this same number or volley of poisons: white arsenic was fit for salt, because it is of like body and colour. The poison of great spiders, and of the venomous fly cantharides, was fit for pig's sauce or partridge sauce, because it resembled pepper. As for mercury-water, and other poisons, they might be fit for tarts, which is a kind of hotch-pot, wherein no one colour is so proper: and some of these were delivered by the hands of this lady, and some by her direction.

Thirdly, I shall prove and observe unto you the cautions of these poisons; that they might not be too swift, lest the world should startle at it by the suddenness of the despatch; but they must abide long in the body, and work by degrees: and for this purpose there must be essays of them upon poor beasts, &c.

And lastly, I shall show you the rewards of this impoisonment, first demanded by Weston, and denied, because the deed was not done; but after the deed done and perpetrated, that Overbury was dead, then performed and paid to the value of 180/.

And so without farther aggravation of that, which in itself bears its own tragedy, I will conclude with the confessions of this lady herself, which is the strongest support of justice; and yet is the footstool of mercy. For, as the Scripture says, " Mercy and Truth have kissed each other j" there is no meeting or greeting of mercy, till there be a confession, or trial of truth. For these read,

Franklin, November 16,

Franklin, November 17,

Rich. Weston, Oetober 1,

Rich. Weston, October 2,

Will. Weston, October 2,

Rich. Weston, October 3,

Helwisse, October 2,

The Countess's letter without date.

The Countess's confession, January 8.

THE

CHARGE* BY WAY OF EVIDENCE,

■T

SIR FRANCIS BACON, KNIGHT,

HIS MAJESTY'S ATTORNEY-GENERAL,

BEFORE THE LORD HIGH STEWARD AND THE PEERS ;t

AGAINST

FRANCES, COUNTESS OF SOMERSET,

CONCERNING THE POISONING OF SIR THOMAS OVERBURY. IT MAT PLEASE TOUR GRACE, MY LORD HIGH STEWARD OF ENGLAND, AND YOU MY LORDS THE PEERS;

I Am very glad to hear this unfortunate lady doth take tilis course, to confess fully and freely, and thereby to give glory to God and to justice. It is, as "I may term it, the nobleness of an offender to confess: and therefore those meaner persons, upon whom justice passed before, confessed not; she doth. I know your lordships cannot behold her without compassion: many things may move you, her youth, her person, her sex, her noble family j yea, her provocations, if I should enter into the cause itself, and furies about her; but chiefly her penitency and confession. But justice is the work of this day; the mercy-seat was in the inner part of the temple; the throne is public. But since this lady hath by her confession prevented my evidence, and your verdict, and that this day's labour is eased; there resteth, in the legal proceeding, but for me to pray that her confession may be recorded, and judgment thereupon.

But because your lordships the peers are met, and that this day and to-morrow are the days that crown all the former justice; and that in these great cases it hath been ever the manner to respect honour and satisfaction, as well as the ordinary parts and forms of justice; the occasion itself admonisheth me to give your lordships and the hearers this contentment, as to make declaration of the proceedings of this excellent work of the king's justice, from the beginning to the end.

It may please your Grace, my lord high steward of England: this is now the second time, within the space of thirteen years' reign of our happy sovereign, that this high tribunal-seat, ordained for the trial of peers, hath been opened and erected, and that with a rare event, supplied and exercised by one and the same person, which is a great honour unto you, my lord steward.

• Given May 2-1, 161G.

t The lord chancellor Egcrton, lord Ellesmere. and earl of Bridgwater.

In all this mean time the king hath reigned in his white robe, not sprinkled with any one drop of the blood of any of his nobles of this kingdom. Nay, such have been the depths of his mercy, as even those noblemen's bloods, against whom the proceeding was at Winchester, Cobham and Grey, were attainted and corrupted, but not spilt or taken away; but that they remained rather spectacles of justice in their continual imprisonment, than monuments of justice in the memory of their suffering.

It is true that the objects of his justice then and now were very differing: for then it was the revenue of an offence against his own person and crown, and upon persons that were malcontents, and contraries to the state and government; but now it is the revenge of the blood and death of a particular subject, and the cry of a prisoner; it is upon persons that were highly in his favour; whereby his Majesty, to his great honour, hath showed to the world, as if it were written in a sun-beam, that he is truly the lieutenant of Him with whom there is no respect of persons; that his affections royal are above his affections private; that his favours and nearness about him are not like popish sanctuaries, to privilege malefactors; and that his being the best master in the world doth not let him from being the best king in the world. His people, on the other side, may say to themselves, I will lie down in peace, for God, the king, and the law, protect me against great and small. It may be a discipline also to great men, especially such as are swoln in their fortunes from small beginnings, that the king is as well able to level mountains, as to fill valleys, if such be their desert.

But to come to the present case: The great frame of justice, my lords, in this present action, hath a vault, and hath a stage; a vault, wherein these works of darkness were contrived; and a stage, with steps, by which it was brought to light.

For the former of these, I will not lead your lordships into it, because I will engrieve nothing against a penitent; neither will I open any thing against him that is absent. The one I will give to the laws of humanity, and the other to the laws of justice; for I shall always serve my master with a good and sincere conscience,and I know that he accepteth best. Therefore 1 will reserve that till to-morrow, and hold myself to that which I called the stage or theatre, whereunto indeed it. may be fitly compared: for that things were first contained within the invisible judgments of God, as within a curtain, and after came forth, and were acted most worthily by the king, and right well by his ministers.

Sir Thomas Overbury was murdered by poison, September 15, 1613. This foul and cruel murder did for a time cry secretly in the ears of God; but God gave no answer to it, otherwise than by that voice, which sometimes he useth, w7hich is vox poputi, the speech of the people: for there went then a murmur that Overbury was poisoned; Bnd yet the same submiss and low voice of God, the speech of the vulgar people, was not without a counter-tenor or counter-blast of the devil, who is the common author both of murder and slander; for it was given out that Overbury was dead of a foul disease; and his body, which they had made corpua Judaicum with their poisons, so as it had no whole part, must be said to be leprosied with vice, and so his name poisoned as well as his body. For as to dissoluteness, I have not heard the gentleman noted with it; his faults were of insolency, turbulency, and the like of that kind.

Meantime there was some industry used, of which I will not now speak, to lull asleep those that were the revengers of the blood, the father and the brother of the murdered. And in these terms things stood by the space of two years, during which time God did so blind the two great procurers, and dazzle them with their greatness, and blind and nail fast the actors and instruments with security upon their protection, as neither the one looked about them, nor the other stirred or fled, or were conveyed away, but remained here still, as under a privy arrest of God's judgments; insomuch as Franklin, that should have been sent over to the Palsgrave with good store of money, was, by God's providence and the accident of a marriage of his, diverted and stayed.

But about the beginning of the progress the last summer, God's judgments began to come out of their depths. And as the revealing of murder is commonly such as a man said, " a Domino hoc factum est; it is God's work, and it is marvellous in our eyes:" so in this particular it was most admirable; for it came forth first by a compliment, a matter of courtesy. My lord of Shrewsbury, that is now with God, recommended to a counsellor of state, of special trust by his place, the late lieutenant Helwisse,* only for acquaintance, as an honest and worthy gentleman, and desired him to know him, and to be acquainted with him. That counsellor

♦ Called in Sir H. Wottnn's Reliq. p. 413. Elvis. In Sir A. Wcldcu's Court of K. James, p. 107. Elwaies. In Aulic.

answered him civilly, that my lord did him a favour, and that he should embrace it willingly; but he must let his lordship know, that there did lie a heavy imputation upon that gentleman, Helwisse; for that Sir Thomas Overbury, his prisoner, was thought to have come to a violent and an untimely death. When this speech was reported back by my lord of Shrewsbury to Helwisse, "percussit illico animum," he was strticken with it: and being a politic man, and of likelihood doubting that the matter would break forth at one time or other, and that others might have the start of him, and thinking to make his own case by his own tale, resolved with himself upon this occasion to discover unto my lord of Shrewsbury, and that counsellor, that there was an attempt, whereunto he was privy, to have poisoned Overbury by the hands of his under-keeper Weston; but that he checked it, and put it by, and dissuaded it. But then he left it thus, that it was but as an attempt, or an untimely birth, never executed; and as if his own fault had been no more, but that he was honest and forbidding, but fearful of revealing and impeaching, or accusing great persons: and so with this fine point thought to save himself.

But that counsellor of estate, wisely considering that by the lieutenant's own tale it could not be simply a permission or weakness; for that Weston was never displaced by the lieutenant, notwithstanding that attempt; and coupling the sequel by the beginning, thought it matter fit to be brought before his Majesty, by whose appointment Helwisse set down the like declaration in writing.

Upon this ground the king playeth Solomon's part, "Gloria Dei celare rem, et gloria regis investigare rem," and sets down certain papers of his own hand, which I might term to be claves justitiee, keys of justice; and may serve both for a precedent for princes to imitate, and for a direction for judges to follow. And his Majesty carried the balance with a constant and steady hand, evenly and without prejudice, whether it were a true accusation of the one part, or a practice and factious scandal of the other: which writing, because I am not able to express according to the worth thereof, I will desire your lordships anon to hear read.

This excellent foundation of justice being laid by his Majesty's own hand, it was referred unto some counsellors to examine farther; who gained some degrees of light from Weston, but yet left it imperfect.

After it was referred to Sir Edward Coke, chief justice of the king's bench, as a person best practised in legal examinations; who took a great deal of indefatigable pains in it without intermission, having, as I have heard him say, taken at least three hundred examinations in this business.

But these things were not done in a corner, I need not speak of them. It is true that my lord chief justice, in the dawning and opening of the light, finding the matter touched upon these great persons, very discreetly became suitor to the king, to have greater persons than his own rank joined with him; where

Coquin. p. 111. Ellou-aies. In Sir W. Dugdale's Baron, of England, torn, ii p. -125. Elwayes. In Baker, p. 131. Yelvis.

upon your lordships, my lord high steward of England, my lord steward of the king's house, and my lord Zouch, were joined with him.

Neither wanted there, this while, practice to suppress testimony, to deface writings, to weaken the king's resolution, to slander the justice, and the like. Nay, when it came to the first solemn act of justice, which was the arraignment of Weston, he had his lesson to stand mute j which had arrested the whole wheel of justice. But this dumb devil, by the means of some discreet divines, and the potent charm of justice, together, was cast out. Neither did this poisonous adder stop his ear to these charms, but relented, and yielded to his trial.

Then followed the other proceedings of justice against the other offenders, Turner, Helwissc, Franklin.

But all these being but the organs and instruments of this fact, the actors, and not the authors, justice could not have been crowned without this last act against these great persons; else Weston's censure or prediction might have been verified, when he said, he hoped the small flies should not be caught, and the greater escape. Wherein the king, being in great straits between the defacing of his honour,

and of his creature, hath, according as he used to do, chosen the better part, reserving always mercy to himself.

The time also of justice hath had its true motions. The time until this lady's deliverance was due unto honour, Christianity, and humanity, in respect of her great belly. The time since was due to another kind of deliverance too; which was, that some causes of estate which were in the womb might likewise be brought forth, not for matter of justice, but for reason of state. Likewise this last procrastination of days had the like weighty grounds and causes.

But, my lords, where I speak of a stage, I doubt I hold you upon the stage too long. But before I pray judgment, I pray your lordships to hear the king's papers read, that you may see how well the king wns inspired, and how nobly he carried it, that innocency might not have so much as aspersion.

Frances, Countess of Somerset, hath been indicted and arraigned, as accessary before the fact, for the murder and impoisonment of Sir Thomas Ovcrburr, and hath pleaded guilty, and confesseth the indictment: I pray judgment against the prisoner.

THE CHARGE
OF SIR FRANCIS BACON, KNIGHT,

HIS MAJESTY'S ATTORNEY-GENERAL,
BY WAY OF EVIDENCE,

BEFORE THE LORD HIGH STEWARD, ANU THE PEERS,

AGAINST ROBERT, EARL OF SOMERSET,

CONCERNING THE POISONING OF OYERBURY.

It MAY PLEASE YOUII GRACE, MY LORD HIGH STEWARD OP ENGLAND, AND YOU, MY LORDS THE

You have here before you Robert earl of Somerset, to be tried for his life, concerning the procuring and consenting to the impoisonment of Sir Thomas Overbury, then the king's prisoner in the Tower of London, as an accessary before the fact.

I know your lordships cannot behold this nobleman, but you must remember his great favour with the king, and the great place that he hath had and borne, and must be sensible that he is yet of your number and body, a peer as you are; so that you cannot cut him off from your body but with grief; and therefore that you will expect from us, that give in the king's evidence, sound and sufficient matter of proof to satisfy your honours and consciences.

As for the manner of the evidence, the king our master, who among his other virtues excclleth in

that virtue of the imperial throne, which is justice, hath given us in commandment that we should not expatiate, nor make invectives, but materially pursue the evidence, as it conduceth to the point in question; a matter, that though we are glad of so good a warrant, yet we should have done of ourselves: for far be it from us, by any strains of wit or art, to seek to play prizes, or to blazon our names in blood, or to carry the day otherwise than upon just grounds. We shall carry the lanthorn of justice, which is the evidence, before your eyes upright, and to be able to save it from being put out with any winds of evasion or vain defences, that is our part; and within that we shall contain ourselves, not doubting at all, but that the evidence itself will carry •uch force as it shall need no vantage or aggravation.

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