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of the news-mongers of that day are amusing enough. " It was the fashion of those times,” says he, "and did so continue until these, (when not only the mother but the daughters are ruined) for the principal gentry, lords, courtiers, and men of all professions, not merely mechanic, to meet in Paul's church by eleven, and walk in the middle aisle till twelve, and after dinner, from three till six; during which time, some discoursed of business, others of news. Now, in regard of the universal commerce, there happened little that did not first or last arrive there. And, I being young and wanting a more advantageous employment, did, during my abode in London, which was three-fourth parts of the year, associate myself at those hours with the choicest company I could pick out, amongst such as I found most inquisitive after affairs of state; who being then myself in a daily attendance upon a hope (though a rotten one) of a future preferment, I appeared the more considerable, being as ready to satisfy, according to my weak abilities, their curiosity as they were mine ; who, out of a candid nature, were not ordinarily found to name an author easily lost in such a concourse, where his own report was not seldom within a few minutes returned to him for news by another. And these news-mongers, as they call them, did not only take the boldness to weigh the public, but most intrinsic actions of the state, which some courtier or other did betray to this society; amongst whom, divers being very rich, had great sums owing them by such as stood next the throne; who, by this means, were rendered in a manner their pensioners, so as I have found since little reason to question the truth of what I heard then, but much to confirm me in it.”-Osborn, sec. 20.
In addition to these writers, we may mention Melville's Memoirs, which, however, chiefly relate to Scottish affairs, and Saunderson's Complete History of Queen Mary of Scotland, and her Son King James of Great Britain. A vast body of information is likewise to be collected from the Memorials of Sir Ralph Winwood, and the other correspondence of various celebrated men of that period, which have been given to the public. Such are the chief original sources from which we may derive a correct acquaintance with the times of James I.
Of Sir Anthony Weldon but little is known. What few notices of him remain are collected by the ingenious editor of The Secret History of the Court of James I.* He is said to have been born in Kent, and his father was clerk of the kitchen
* Edited, very evidently, by Sir Walter Scott. It is the great storehouse from which he has drawn all his historical materials for the Fortunes of Nigel.
to Queen Elizabeth. Sir Anthony was preferred to the office of one of the clerks of the Board of Green-Cloth, and in this capacity he accompanied the king on his visits to Scotland. The character of the Scotch displeased him, and he gave vent to his spleen in a libel, in which he ridiculed them without either decency or mercy. This production, we are told by Wood*, he carelessly wrapped up in a record of the Board of Green Cloth, which circumstance, together with the handwriting, having ascertained the author, he was dismissed from his office, though his dismissal was softened down by a present of money and a pension. On the breaking out of the civil war, Weldon took part with the parliament, and was appointed chairman of the Kentish Committee, for the sequestration of the royalists'estates. The time of his death is uncertain.
It appears from the dedication, that these Memoirs were not intended to meet the public eye, and, indeed, Wood tells us, that they were shown in MS. to Lady Elizabeth Sedley (daughter of the celebrated Sir Henry Saville), who disapproved of them, and from whose possession they were afterwards surreptitiously obtained, and published. The second edition contains several additional articles. 1. The Court of King Charles, continued until the beginning of these unhappy times, &c. 2. Observations, instead of a Character, upon the King from his childhood. 3. Certain Observations before Queen Elizabeth's death.
Soon after the publication of Weldon's Memoirs, an answer to them appeared under the title of Aulicus Coquinaria, or a Vindication in answer to a pamphlet, entitled the Court and Character of King James. This singular title is in allusion to the office of our author's father, who, as we have related above, was clerk of the kitchen to Queen Elizabeth. Wood+ informs us, that the materials for this work were collected by Dr. Goodman, Bishop of Gloucester, and revised and put in order by William Saunderson, the author of the Complete History of King James. Indeed, from the incorrectness and poverty of style of both the history and the pamphlet, there is every reason to conclude that they are the productions of the same pen.
There are several circumstances in the reign of James I. which may be classed amongst those doubtful speculations, known to our lawyers by the name of re.cata questiones, and which have received various explanations, according to the in
Wood's Athena, i. 729.
+ Wood's Athenæ, i. 729. Saunderson's Proem on the Reign and Death of King James, fo. 1656. And Harris's James I. 207. Note.
formation or prejudices of those who have examined them. The death of Prince Henry, the eldest son of James, of whom the nation, with justice, entertained the highest hopes, is one of the most interesting of these often-mooted points. We confess, that we should have felt inclined to submit our own judgement, in this case, to the opinion which most of our modern historians have expressed, who are strongly opposed to the idea, that the prince died by poison, had not our attention been excited by a passage in a letter from the late Mr. Fox to Lord Lauderdale, in which that distinguished statesman expresses considerable doubt upon the question. “I recollect,” says he, “ that the impression upon my mind was, that there was more reason than is generally allowed for suspecting that Prince Henry was poisoned by Somerset, and that the king knew of it after the fact.”* For our own parts, after a minute examination of all the facts and opinions relating to this mysterious affair, we confess we have found ourselves unable to form any very decided judgement; the evidence on both sides is so evenly balanced, that we can with difficulty perceive which scale preponderates. As we found the investigation a most interesting one, we have no hesitation in devoting a few of our pages to it, more especially as we are not aware of any work in which the whole transaction has been examined, with all the fulness and impartiality which ought to attend such inquiries.
The foundation of the suspicion that the prince died by poison, administered to him by the directions of the Earl of Somerset, is to be found in the jealousies and distastes which are reported to have existed between the prince and his father's favourite; and, indeed, there seems to be little doubt, that they were upon
bad terms with one another. The prince's aversion probably originated in his contempt of that system of favourit-. ism, of which Somerset was the creature; and, if we may believe the writers of the day, it was increased by the circumstance of Henry and Somerset being both attached to the same lady—the beautiful Countess of Essex, who afterwards rendered her name so infamously celebrated by her share in the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury.t It certainly does not
See Lord Holland's preface to Fox's James II.
+ The authors who have asserted the fact of the prince's passion for Lady Essex are Wilson in Kennet, ii. 886. the writer of Aulicus Coquinaria. Secret Hist. of James I. ii
. 239. and Sir Simon D'Ewes in a MS. life of himself, cited by Birch in his Life of Prince Henry, p. 402. On the other hand, we have the authority of Sir Charles Cornwallis, who was the prince's treasurer, and who assures us, that Henry never showed a particular inclination to any of the ladies of
seem surprising, that a youthful prince, of the ardent disposition which Henry is described as having possessed, should have been struck with the charms of so fascinating a woman as Lady Essex, At all events, there seems reason to believe, whatever were the grounds of it, that a great enmity subsisted between Somerset and the prince, who is even reported to have struck the favourite on the back with his racket, or to have been restrained with difficulty from so doing.* Wilson mentions another anecdote, which, if it can be relied upon, and it bears every appearance of truth, shows how far this mutual animosity had proceeded. “Some that knew the bickerings between the prince and the viscount,+ muttered out dark sentences, that durst not look into the light; especially Sir James Elphington, who (observing the prince one day to be discontented with the viscount) offereď to kill him: but the prince reproved him with a gallant spirit, saying, If there were cause, he would do it himself.”# That insults and jealousies like these should have wrought so far upon Somerset's mind, as to make him resolve to destroy the author of them, is by no means impossible.
We now arrive at the period of the prince's illness and death, of which his physician, Sir Theodore Mayerne, has left a detailed account in his Collection of Cases, and of which many minute particulars are given by the author of the Aulicus Coquinaria. From the latter work, it appears, that Henry was taken ill in the autumn of 1612, and that on the 10th of October he was compelled to keep his chamber; and we may here remark, that it appears that one of the symptoms of his case was the same as in Sir Thomas Overbury's. Having recovered from this first attack, he removed to London, and thought himself sufficiently well to attend his future brother-in-law, the Palsgrave, and to amuse himself in playing at tennis. On the 25th, however, he was again seized," and fell into sudden sickness, faintings, and after that a shaking, with great heat and head-ache, that left him not whilst he had life.” His complaint, from this time, seems to have made a regular progress. The celebrated Dr. Butler, of Cambridge, and other physicians,
the court. Birch, likewise, discountenances the idea of such an attachment.
Osborn's James, sec. 38.
Aul. Coq. Sec. Hist. of James I. ii. 243.
|| See the evidence of Payton on Somerset's trial, ii. Cobbett's State Trials, 978.
Aul. Coq. ut supra. VOL. VII. PART I.
were called in, but in vain; for on the 6th of November the prince expired.
The chief arguments employed by those who maintain Somerset's guilt in this transaction, are to be gathered from the proceedings connected with the trials of Sir Thomas Overbury's murderers. From them it clearly appears, that the Favourite was strongly suspected of having been privy to the prince's death, and that such a supposition was not merely the result of idle rumour is most unquestionable. In a paper drawn up hy Bacon, then attorney-general, and entitled, Questions of Convenience, whereupon his Majesty may confer with some of his Council, and which was submitted to the king, we have the following distinct reference to the charge: “Whether if Somerset confess at any time before his trial, his majesty shall stay trial in respect of farther examination, respecting matter of treason, as the death of the late prince, the conveying into Spain of the now prince, or the like ?"* And, again, in another paper, drawn up by the same hand, and containing, Heads of the Charge against Robert Earl of Somerset, we find the following singular passages: “I shall also give in evidence, in this place, the slight account of that letter, which was brought to Somerset by Ashton, being found in the fields soon after the late prince's death, and was directed to Antwerp, containing these words,
that the first branch was cut from the tree, and that he should ere long send happier and joyfuller news ;' which is a matter that I would not use, but that my Lord Coke, who hath filled this part with many frivolous things, would think all lost, except he hear somewhat of this kind. But this is to come to the leavings of a business. [Marginal note of the king. This evidence cannot be given in without making me his accuser, and that upon a very slight ground. As for all the subsequent evidences, they are all so little evident, as una litera may serve them all.] And for the rest of that kind, as to speak of that particular, that Mrs. Turner did, at Whitehall, show to Franklin the man who, as she said, had poisoned the prince, which, he says, was a physician with a red beard. [Marginal note. Nothing to Somerset, and declared by Franklin after condemnation.”]+
The conduct of the chief-justice, Sir Edward Coke, is here pointedly alluded to by Bacon, and indeed it is from his language and deportment, during the whole of the proceedings against Overbury's murderers, that the strongest arguments of Somerset's criminality in the prince's death are to be drawn.
ii. St. Tr. 962.
+ ii. St. Tr. 964. Mrs. Turner and Franklin were two of the agents employed in the poisoning of Overbury.