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king's high commissions of regiment, or mixed with causes of state.

For the former, there is no doubt but they may be freely questioned and disputed, and any defect in matter or form stood upon, though the king be many times the adverse party :

But for the latter sort, they are rather to be dealt with, if at all, by a modest, and humble intimation or remonstrance to his majesty and his council, than by bravery of dispute or peremptory opposition.

Of this kind is that properly to be understood, which is said in Bracton, “ De chartis et factis regiis non debent aut possunt justitiarii aut privatæ personæ disputare, sed tutius est, ut expectetur sententia regis.”

And the king's courts themselves have been exceeding tender and sparing in it; so that there is in all our law not three cases of it. And in that

very case of 24 Ed. III. ass. pl. s. which Mr. Whitelocke vouched, where, as it was a commission to arrest a man, and to carry him to prison, and to seize his goods without any form of justice or examination preceding ; and that the judges saw it was obtained by surreption : yet the judges said they would keep it by them, and shew it to the king's council.

But Mr. Whitelocke did not advise his client to acquaint the king's council with it, but presumptuously giveth opinion, that it is void. Nay, not so much as a clause or passage of modesty, as that he submits his opinion to censure : that it is 100 great a matter for him to deal in; or this is

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my opinion, which is nothing, etc. But “illotis manibus," he takes it into his hands, and pronounceth of it, as a man would scarcely do of a warrant of a justice of peace, and speaks like a dictator, that “ this is law,” and “this is against law,” etc. *

Sir H. Wotton, in a letter of his to Sir Edmund Bacon, [Relig. Wotton, p. 421. edit. 3rd] written about the beginning of June, 1613, mentions, that Sir Robert Mansell and Mr. Whitelocke were, on the Saturday before, called to a very honourable hearing in the queen's presence-chamber at Whitehall, before the lords of the council, with intervention of the lord chief justice Coke, the lord chief baron Tanfield, and the master of the rolls; the lord chief justice of the King's Bench, Fleming, being kept at home by some infirmity. There the attorney and solicitor first undertook Mr. Whitelocke, and the recorder (Henry Montagu], as the king's serjeant, Sir Robert Mansell, charging the one as a counsellor, the other as a questioner, in matters of the king's prerogative and sovereignty upon occasion of a commission intended for a research into the administration of the admiralty. “ Whitelocke in his answer,” adds Sir Henry Wotton, “ spake more confusedly than was expected from a lawyer; and the knight more temperately than was expected from a soldier.

Whitelocke ended his speech with an absolute confession of his own offence, and with a promise of employing himself hereafter in defence of the king's prerogative . . . . In this they generally agreed, both counsellors and judges, to represent the humiliation of both the prisoners to the king, in lieu of innocency, and to intercede for his gracious pardon: which was done, and accordingly the next day they were inlarged upon a submission under writing.”

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ROBERT EARL OF SOMERSET TO SIR THOMAS OVERBURY*

FROM A COPY AMONG LORD BACON'S PAPERS IN THE

LAMBETH LIBRARY.

SIR, I have considered that my answer to you, and what I have otherwise to say, will exceed the bounds of a letter ; and now having not much time to use betwixt my waiting on the king, and the removes we do make in this our little progress, I thought fit to use the same man to you, whom I have heretofore many times employed in the same business. He has, besides an account and a better description of me to give you, to make a repetition of the former carriages of all this business, that you may distinguish that, which he did by knowledge of mine and direction, and betwixt that he did out of his own discretion without my warrant. With all this he has to renew to you a former desire of mine, which was the ground-work of this, and the chief errand of his coming to you, wherein I desire your answer by him. I would not employ this gentleman to you, if he were, as you conceit of him, your unfriend, or an ill instrument betwixt us. So owe him the testimony of one, that has spoken as honestly, and given more praises of you,

than any man, that has spoken to me.

* He was committed to the Tower on the 21st of April, 1613, and died there of poison on the 15th of September following

My haste at this time makes me to end sooner than I expected: but the subject of my next sending shall be to answer that part you give me in your love, with a return of the same from Your assured loving friend,

R. SOMERSET.
Indorsed,
Lord Somerset's first letter.

TO THE KING.

IT MAY PLEASE YOUR MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY, We have, with all possible care and diligence, considered Cotton's* cause, the former and the latter, touching the book and the letter in the gilt apple, and have advisedly perused and weighed all the examinations and collections which were formerly.

* The case of this gentleman will render the detail of it necessary for the illustration of this letter; and the circumstances of it, not known in our history, may be thought to deserve the reader's attention. He was a native of the West of England and a recusant, against whom a proclamation was issued in June 1613, charging him with high treason against the king and state for having published a very scandalous and railing book against his majesty, under the title of Balaam's Ass, which was dropped in the gallery at Whitehall. Just at the time of publishing this proclamation, he happened to cross the Thames, and enquiring of the watermen what news? they, not knowing him, told him of the proclamation. At landing, he muffled himself up in his cloke, to avoid being known; but had not gone many paces, when one Mr. Maine, a friend of his, meeting and discovering him, warned him of his danger; and being asked what he would advise him to do, recommended it to him to surrender himself; which he did to the earl of Southamp

He denied himself to be the author of the libel: but his study being searched, among his papers were found many parts of the book, together with relics of those persons, who had

ton.

been executed for the gun-powder treason, as one of Sir Everard Digby's fingers, a toe of Thomas Percy, some other part of Catesby or Rookewood, and a piece of one of Peter Lambert's ribs. He was kept prisoner in the Tower till March 1618, when the true author of the libel was discovered to be John Williams, Esq., a barrister of the Middle Temple, who had been expelled the house of commons on account of his being a papist. The discovery was owing to this accident: a pursuivant in want of money, and desirous to get some by his employment, waited at the Spanish ambassador's door, to see if he could light upon any prey. At last came out Mr. Williams, unknown to the pursuivant; but carrying, in his conceit, the countenance of a priest. The pursuivant, therefore, followed him to his inn, where Williams having mounted his horse, the pursuivant came to him, and told him, that he must speak a word or two with him.

Marry, with all my heart, said Williams; what is your pleasure ?You must light, answered the pursuivant; for you are a priest. A priest? replied Williams; I have a good warrant to the contrary, for I have a wife and children." Being, however, obliged to dismount, the pursuivant searched him; and in his pocket was found a bundle of papers sealed up; which the pursuivant going to open, Williams made some resistance, pretending they were evidences of a gentleman whose law-businesses he transacted. The pursuivant insisting upon opening the papers, among them was found Balaam's Ass, with new annotations; of which, upon examination, Williams confessed himself to be the author. He was brought to trial on the 3d of May, 1619, for writing that and another book intitled Speculum Regale; in both of which he had presumed to prophesy, that the king would die in 1621, grounding this prediction on the prophecy of Daniel, where the prophet speaks of time and times, and half a time. He farther affirmed, that

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