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POLITICAL AND SOCIAL
SELECTED AND EDITED
BY H. L. STEPHEN
IN TWO VOLUMES
DUCKWORTH AND CO.
NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
Edinburgh: T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to Her Majesty
SIR WALTER RALEIGH, 1
CHARLES I., 75
THE REGICIDES, 123
COLONEL TURNER AND OTHERS, 169
THE SUFFOLK WITCHES, 211
ALICE LISLE, 239
The portraits of SIR WALTER RALEIGH and LORD RUSSELL are taken from photographs of pictures in the National Portrait Gallery, by permission of Messrs. WALKER and BOUTALL.
To G. DE L'E. D.
DEAR GERALD,—As you suggested the idea of this book to me, and as I know that whether it succeeds or fails I can count confidently on your sympathy, I will throw into the form of a letter to you the few remarks which I might otherwise put into a preface. For as I have confessions to make which amount almost to an apology, I had rather address them to one who is pledged to express the most favourable possible view of my literary efforts, such as they are, than to that hypothetical reader, of whose tastes I feel most shamefully ignorant, though I am ready to assume everything in his favour.
Far abler writers than I have frequently dilated on the charms attending a study of the reports of State Trials, as they are best known to the world; namely, in one-and-twenty stately volumes compiled by the industrious Howells, father and son, and published, a year after the battle of Waterloo, by the combined efforts of on a few of my contemporaries the idea that persons long since dead on the block or the gallows were Englishmen very much like ourselves, my object is secured.
My task has been confined to a selection of passages to be transferred bodily from Howell's pages; to providing in an abbreviated form the connecting-links between them; and to the supply of sufficient notes to enable the ordinary reader to understand the main outlines of the stories of which the trial generally constitutes the catastrophe. As to my takings from Howell, I need say but little. I have indicated their existence by a change of type. I have carefully preserved those departures from conventional grammar, and that involved and uncouth, but, for that very reason, life-like style of narration which he and his predecessors inherited from the original but unknown authorities. As to my abbreviations, I am fully aware that they do not represent any very high literary effort. It is, I suppose, impossible that mere condensation of another man's narrative should be done very well; but it can certainly be done very ill. My aim, therefore, has been rather to escape disaster than to achieve any brilliant success. The charm of State Trials lies largely in matters of detail:—that Hale allowed two old women to be executed for witchcraft; that Lord Russell was obviously a traitor; that an eminent judge did not murder a woman in the early part of his career; and that a sea-captain did murder his brother in order to inherit his wealth, are in themselves facts of varying importance. What the trials in these cases tell us, however, as nothing else can, is what were the popular beliefs as to witchcraft shared by such a man as Hale; how revolutions were planned while such things were still an important factor in practical politics; and what was the state of the second city in the kingdom when a man could be kidnapped in its busiest streets by a gang of sailors and privateers-men. And this effect can only be reproduced by considering a mass of detail, picturesque enough in itself, but not always strictly relevant to the matter in hand. Again, to a lawyer at all events, it is impossible to omit those matters which show that the process which goes on at regular intervals in all the criminal courts in the country is essentially the same that it always has been since the Reformation; and accordingly I have not hesitated to indicate as fully as my original made possible the procedure, in the narrower sense of the word, followed at the various trials reported. In the matter of notes I have done my best, in a very narrow compass, to indicate how the trials were connected with contemporary history. I have also reminded the reader (to use the conventional phrase) of the fate of the various characters who are to be met with in each trial. In particular, I have aimed at bringing to the fore what must, after all, be the main point of interest in any trial; namely, who were the counsel briefed, and how they came to be briefed; who were the judges that tried it, how they came to be judges, and what position they held in the opinion of the junior bar at the time. For this part of my work I have taken care to have recourse to the best and most modern authority, and have stated hardly any facts which are not vouched for by the editor of the Dictionary of National Biography.
In my selection of cases to be reported I have been guided by a variety of considerations. Personally, I admit that I like the political cases best. There is a squalor about private crime, which, though I like it myself, is inferior to politics as a staple. Besides, one has heard of the heroes of the political trials before; and to read Raleigh's little retort when Coke complains of a want of words adequately to express his opinion of Raleigh; to be reminded how the worst of kings proved himself an admirable lawyer, and the possessor of manners which, in a humbler station, would assuredly have made the man; to hear the jokes as to Essex's responsibility for the financial prospects of the proposed revolution which amused the company of desperate men in the wine-merchant's upper room; to come across the ghost of the conversation in lonely St. Martin's Lane between the revellers at the Greyhound Tavern, and its interruption by the hostile band hurrying to the duel in Leicester Fields, creates, in my mind at least, the fantastic illusion that Raleigh, Charles I., Russell, Mohun, and the rest of them were all once actually alive.
I feel that I have unduly neglected the claims of what, at the period I have had to do with, was the sister kingdom of Scotland. The Scotch were not then, taking the difference of the population of the two countries into consideration, at all behind the English in the production of treason, murder, and other interesting forms of crime; and their misdeeds were in many respects the more picturesque of the two. I had hoped to place before my readers the true account, or what passes for such, of that murder of Colin Roy Campbell of Glenure which, as we now know, produced such romantic consequences for David Balfour. The 'Forty-five should have been represented, and Lord Lovat's adventures ought to have served my purpose to a turn. But, alas! the lawyers on these occasions have been hopelessly beaten by the professed story-tellers; and the reports of the trials of Lord Lovat and James Stewart are as dull as the romances of Waverley and Catriona are entrancing. Why this should be so I do not know. I can ascribe it only to the inferiority of the Scots criminal procedure to our own; and ignorance prevents me from proving that inferiority by any other fact than the one which I am anxious to account for.
After diligent and minute inquiry, I am pleased, though not surprised, to find that Ireland was perfectly free from serious crime during the whole of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Since making my selection of trials I have become aware that Mr. Leslie Stephen, in his Hours in a Library, has chosen for notice precisely those trials which I have reported. I must disclaim any merit in having made the same selection as such an eminent critic; but at the same time I can confidently affirm that my choice was made before I had read the essay in question. Whether I have been guilty of the crime of plagiarism in this particular I cannot say; neither, as far as that goes, do I care. My readers at least have no reason to complain, and I can count on you, Gerald, to join with me in deprecating the wrath of the outraged author.
Trusting confidently in your co-operation to secure for this little collection as favourable a reception as may be from that public for whose taste we both have so much respect,—I remain, yours to command,
H. L. STEPHEN.
THE INNER TEMPLE, 31st December 1898.
SIR WALTER RALEIGH
Raleigh's trial is so closely connected with the politics of the time that it cannot be properly understood without reference to them. James owed his succession to the throne, at all events the undisputed recognition of his right to that succession, in a great measure to Cecil's elaborate and careful preparations. It was therefore natural enough that Cecil's position as chief minister should be confirmed at the beginning of the new reign: but this fact drove two important parties into opposition to the new order of things. The Earl of Northumberland, Lord Grey, Lord Cobham, and Sir Walter Raleigh found themselves deprived of all chance of obtaining power, and the Catholics gradually realised that their position was not likely to be substantially improved. Northumberland indeed was won back by promises of royal favour, but Raleigh was deprived of his captainship of the Royal Guards and his post of Warden of the Stannaries, whilst his monopoly in wine was threatened. The all-important question of foreign politics formed a centre on which the international struggle for power turned. James himself was a stranger to the national hatred for the Spaniards which had hitherto been Raleigh's guiding principle. Cecil was probably more anxious for peace than anything else, though desirous to do all he could to advance the power of the Netherlands and hold the Spaniards in check. Meanwhile the various foreign powers concerned prepared to make what profit they could out of the altered state of England. A mission from the Netherlands effected practically nothing. The Duke of Sully, the ambassador from Henry IV. of France, obtained some assistance towards prolonging the defence of Ostend against the Spanish forces. The Archduke Albert sent the Duke of Aremberg, not to negotiate, but to protract the time till the Court of Spain could decide upon a policy.
Northumberland, together with Raleigh and Cobham, seem to have made overtures to Sully which were rejected, on which the two latter transferred their attentions to the Spanish interest, and certainly put themselves into communication with Aremberg. Meanwhile an extreme and apparently weak party among the Catholics entered into an obscure and violent undertaking popularly known as the 'surprising' or 'Bye' plot as contrasted with Raleigh's, known as the 'Main.' Watson, a secular priest, whose main motive, in Professor Gardiner's view, was a hatred of the Jesuits, had taken a leading part in reconciling the English Catholics to James's accession. Irritated by the exaction of fines for recusancy instituted at the beginning of the new reign, he allied himself with Clarke, another priest, Sir Griffin Markham, a Catholic gentleman discontented with the government for private reasons, George Brooke, Lord Cobham's brother, and Lord Grey. A fantastic scheme propounded by Markham was adopted, and the conspirators decided to seize the King while hunting, to carry him to the Tower, on the plea of protecting him from his enemies, and there install themselves in power under the shadow of his name. They were, as represented by Coke in Raleigh's trial, to swear to protect the Sovereign from all his enemies, and they affected to have a large following in the country. Copley, an insignificant recruit, was added to the party, and the execution of the plot was fixed for the 24th of June. On that day, however, their partisans proved to be too few for their designs, and the next day Grey separated himself from them. Meanwhile the Jesuits had become aware of the plot and communicated their knowledge to the government; and the conspirators were soon arrested. The connection of Brooke with the 'Bye' plot suggested Cobham's complicity; and Raleigh, as his nearest friend, was summoned to Windsor by Cecil to be examined before the Council.
After this examination he wrote the letter to Cobham so often referred to in the trial, saying that he had said nothing to compromise him, and reminding him that one witness, possibly referring either to Aremberg's servant, or Brooke, was not enough to convict of treason. He subsequently wrote to Cecil informing him that Cobham had been in communication with Aremberg, and Cobham was arrested. Raleigh's own arrest followed on July 17th, and within a fortnight he attempted to commit suicide. He and Cobham were both subsequently examined, with the results that appear in the course of the trial. It must be remembered that the government probably had a quantity of private information which they did not produce, partly no doubt with the view of protecting Aremberg. This is particularly so in relation to the most serious part of the case; that, namely, relating to the scheme of placing Lady Arabella on the throne; as to which see Gardiner's History, vol. i. pp. 132, 133.
The leading members of the 'Bye' were tried and convicted two days before Raleigh. Cobham and Grey were tried and convicted by the Chancellor sitting as Lord Steward soon after. The two priests and Brooke were hung. Cobham, Grey, and Markham were brought to the scaffold that they might be induced to make their dying declarations, and were then granted their lives. Cobham, when in instant expectation of death, persisted in avowing Raleigh's guilt.
Beyond the interest that attaches to Raleigh's trial from the historical and personal points of view, it is interesting as showing the methods in which an important trial was conducted at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The most remarkable feature of the trial itself in the eyes of a modern reader, beyond its extreme informality, is that Raleigh was condemned on the statement of a confederate, who spoke under extreme pressure, with every inducement to exculpate himself at Raleigh's expense, and whom Raleigh never had a chance of meeting. The reasons given by Popham for refusing to allow Cobham to be called as a witness at the trial are instructive, and, as Professor Gardiner points out, prove that in political trials at all events, when the government had decided that the circumstances of the case were sufficient to justify them in putting a man on his trial, the view of the court before which he was tried was that he was to be condemned unless he succeeded in proving his innocence. This fact alone leads the modern Englishman to sympathise with Raleigh, and this feeling is naturally increased by what Sir James Stephen calls the 'rancorous ferocity' of Coke's behaviour. The second cause added to Raleigh's popularity, and the political reasons which led to his trial are probably what produced the same feelings among his contemporaries. It is beyond my present purpose to discuss how far Raleigh was really guilty of treason, even were I competent to express any opinion on the subject worth attending to. But for the credit of the lawyers who presided at the trial, I may point out that the assertions that the statute of Edward VI., requiring two witnesses in cases of treason, had been repealed, and that the trial at common law was by examination, and not by a jury and witnesses, were not as incomprehensibly unjust as they appear to us. A statute of Philip and Mary enacted that cases of treason should be tried according to the due order and course of common law, and the statute of Edward VI., being regarded as an innovation upon the common law, was thus held to be implicitly repealed. The rule as to the two witnesses seems to have been construed as referring to trial by witnesses as it existed under the civil law, which was taken to require two eye- or ear-witnesses to the actual fact constituting the crime. With such a trial, trial by jury was frequently contrasted, and if the rigour of the civil law was not to be insisted on, the only alternative seemed to be that the jury should form their opinion as they could, if not from their own knowledge, then from any materials that might be laid before them. This naturally did away with any rules of evidence as we understand them, and consequently Cobham's confession became as good evidence as the jury could expect to have. In fact, as Sir James Stephen says, 'The only rules of evidence as to matters of fact recognised in the sixteenth century seem to have been the clumsy rules of the mediaeval civil law, which were supposed to be based on the Bible. If they were set aside, the jury were absolute, practically absolute, and might decide upon anything which they thought fit to consider evidence.' See further Gardiner's History, vol. i. pp. 108-140; and Stephen's History of the Criminal Law, vol. i. pp. 333-337.
Sir Walter Raleigh was tried at Winchester on the 17th of November 1603 before a commission consisting of Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk, Lord Chamberlain; Charles Blunt, Earl of Devon; Lord Henry Howard, afterwards Earl of Northampton; Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury; Edward, Lord Wotton of Morley; Sir John Stanhope, Vice-Chamberlain; Lord Chief-Justice of England Popham; Lord Chief-Justice of the Common Pleas Anderson; Justices Gawdie and Warburton; and Sir W. Wade.
The indictment charged Raleigh with high treason by conspiring to deprive the King of his government; to alter religion; to bring in the Roman Superstition; and to procure foreign enemies to invade the kingdom. The facts alleged to support these charges were that Lord Cobham, on the 9th of June 1603, met Raleigh at Durham House in London, and conferred with him as to advancing Lady Arabella Stuart to the throne; that it was there agreed that Cobham should, with Aremberg, the ambassador of the Archduke of Austria, bargain for a bribe of 600,000 crowns; that Cobham should go to the Archduke Albert, to procure his support for Lady Arabella, and from him to the King of Spain; that Lady Arabella should write three letters to the Archduke, to the King of Spain, and to the Duke of Savoy, promising to establish peace between England and Spain, to tolerate the Popish and Roman superstition, and to be ruled by them as to her marriage. Cobham was then to return to Jersey, where he would find Raleigh and take counsel with him as to how to distribute Aremberg's bribe. On the same day Cobham told his brother Brook of all these treasons, and persuaded him to assent to them; afterwards Cobham and Brook spoke these words, 'That there would never be a good world in England till the King (meaning our sovereign lord) and his cubs (meaning his royal issue) were taken away.' Further Raleigh published a book to Cobham, written against the title of the King, and Cobham published the same book to Brook. Further, Cobham, on the 14th of June, at Raleigh's instigation, moved Brook to incite Lady Arabella to write the letters as aforesaid. Also on the 17th of June Cobham, at Raleigh's instigation, wrote to Aremberg through one Matthew de Lawrency, to obtain the 600,000 crowns, which were promised to him on the 18th of June, and of which Cobham promised 8000 to Raleigh and 10,000 to Brook.
To this indictment Raleigh pleaded Not Guilty; and a jury was sworn, to none of whom Raleigh took any objection.
Heale, the King's Serjeant, then opened the case very shortly, merely reciting the facts mentioned in the indictment, concluding: 'Now, whether these things were bred in a hollow tree, I leave him to speak of, who can speak far better than myself; and so sat down again.
ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Ed. Coke)—I must first, my lords, before I come to the cause, give one caution, because we shall often mention persons of eminent places, some of them great monarchs: whatever we say of them, we shall but repeat what others have said of them; I mean the Capital Offenders, in their Confessions. We professing law must speak reverently of kings and potentates. I perceive these honourable lords, and the rest of this great assembly, are come to hear what hath been scattered upon the wrack of report. We carry a just mind, to condemn no man, but upon plain Evidence.
Here is Mischief, Mischief in summo gradu, exorbitant Mischief. My Speech shall chiefly touch these three points: Imitation, Supportation, and Defence. The Imitation of evil ever exceeds the Precedent; as on the contrary, imitation of good ever comes short. Mischief cannot be supported but by Mischief; yea, it will so multiply, that it will bring all to confusion. Mischief is ever underpropped by falsehood or foul practices: and because all these things did concur in this Treason, you shall understand the main, as before you did the bye. The Treason of the bye consisteth in these Points: first that the lord Grey, Brook, Markham, and the rest, intended by force in the night to surprise the king's court; which was a Rebellion in the heart of the realm, yea, in the heart of the heart, in the Court. They intended to take him that is a sovereign, to make him subject to their power, purposing to open the doors with musquets and cavaliers, and to take also the Prince and Council: then under the king's authority to carry the King to the Tower; and to make a stale of the admiral. When they had the King there, to extort three things from him, first, A Pardon for all their Treasons: Secondly, A Toleration of the Roman Superstition; which their eyes shall sooner fall out than they shall ever see; for the king hath spoken these words in the hearing of many, 'I will lose the crown and my life, before ever I will alter Religion.' And thirdly, To remove Counsellors. In the room of the Lord Chancellor, they would have placed one Watson, a priest, absurd in Humanity and ignorant in Divinity. Brook, of whom I will speak nothing, Lord Treasurer. The great Secretary must be Markham; Oculus patriae. A hole must be found in my Lord Chief-Justice's coat. Grey must be Earl-Marshal, and Master of the Horse, because he would have a table in court; marry, he would advance the earl of Worcester to a higher place. All this cannot be done without a multitude: therefore Watson the priest tells a resolute man that the king was in danger of Puritans and Jesuits; so to bring him in blindfold into the action saying, That the king is no king till he be crowned; therefore every man might right his own wrongs: but he is rex natus, his dignity descends as well as yours, my lords. Then Watson imposeth a blasphemous Oath, that they should swear to defend the king's person; to keep secret what was given them in charge, and seek all ways and means to advance the Catholic Religion. Then they intend to send for the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen, in the king's name, to the Tower; lest they should make any resistance, and then take hostages of them; and to enjoin them to provide for them victuals and munition. Grey, because the king removed before Midsummer, had a further reach to get a Company of Sword-men to assist the action: therefore he would stay till he had obtained a regiment from Ostend or Austria. So you see these Treasons were like Sampson's foxes, which were joined in their tails, though their heads were severed.
RALEIGH—You Gentlemen of the Jury, I pray remember, I am not charged with the Bye, being the Treason of the priest.
ATTORNEY—You are not. My lords, you shall observe three things in the Treasons: 1. They had a Watch-word (the king's safety): their Pretence was Bonum in se; their Intent was Malum in se: 2. They avouched Scripture; both the priests had Scriptum est: perverting and ignorantly mistaking the Scriptures; 3. They avouched the Common Law, to prove that he was no king until he was crowned; alledging a Statute of 13 Elizabeth.
He then proceeds to mention other cases of treason where the accused had considered that their acts were bonum in se, and, defining treason, lays down that—
There is Treason in the heart, in the hand, in the mouth, in consummation: comparing that in corde to the root of a tree; in ore, to the bud; in manu, to the blossom; and that which is in consummatione, to the fruit. Now I come to your Charge, You of the Jury: the greatness of Treason is to be considered in these two things, determinatione finis, and electione mediorum. This Treason excelleth in both, for that it was to destroy the king and his progeny. These treasons are said to be crimen laesae majestatis; this goeth further, and may be termed, crimen extirpandae regiae majestatis, and totius progenici suae. I shall not need, my lord, to speak anything concerning the king, nor of the bounty and sweetness of his nature whose thoughts are innocent, whose words are full of wisdom and learning, and whose works are full of honour, although it be a true saying, Nunquam nimis quod nunquam satis. But to whom do you bear Malice? To the Children?
RALEIGH—To whom speak you this? You tell me news I never heard of.
ATTORNEY—O sir, do I? I will prove you the notoriest traitor that ever came to the bar. After you have taken away the king, you would alter Religion: as you, sir Walter Raleigh, have followed them of the Bye in Imitation: for I will charge you with the words.
RALEIGH—Your words cannot condemn me; my innocency is my defence. Prove one of these things wherewith you have charged me, and I will confess the whole Indictment, and that I am the horriblest traitor that ever lived, and worthy to be crucified with a thousand thousand torments.
ATTORNEY—Nay, I will prove all: thou art a monster; thou hath an English face but a Spanish heart. Now you must have Money; Aremberg was no sooner in England (I charge thee, Raleigh) but thou incitest Cobham to go unto him, and to deal with him for Money, to bestow on discontented persons, to raise Rebellion on the kingdom.
RALEIGH—Let me answer for myself.
ATTORNEY—Thou shalt not.
RALEIGH—It concerneth my life.
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—Sir Walter Raleigh, Mr. Attorney is but yet in the General: but when the king's Council have given the evidence wholly you shall answer every Particular.
ATTORNEY—O! do I touch you?
LORD CECIL—Mr. Attorney, when you have done with this General Charge, do you not mean to let him answer every Particular?
ATTORNEY—Yes, when we deliver the Proofs to be read. Raleigh procured Cobham to go to Aremberg, which he did by his instigation: Raleigh supped with Cobham before he went to Aremberg; after supper, Raleigh conducted him to Durham-House, from thence Cobham went with Lawrency, a servant of Aremberg's unto him, and went in by a back way. Cobham could never be quiet until he had entertained this motion, for he had four Letters from Raleigh. Aremberg answered, The Money should be performed, but knew not to whom it should be distributed. Then Cobham and Lawrency came back to Durham-House, where they found Raleigh. Cobham and Raleigh went up and left Lawrency below, where they had secret conference in a gallery; and after, Cobham and Lawrency departed from Raleigh. Your jargon was Peace: what is that? Spanish invasion, Scottish subversion. And again, you are not a fit man to take so much Money for procuring of a lawful Peace, for Peace procured by money is dishonourable. Then Cobham must go to Spain, and return by Jersey, where you were Captain: and then, because Cobham had not so much policy, or at least wickedness, as you, he must have your advice for the distribution of the money. Would you have deposed so good a king, lineally descended of Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Edward IV.? Why then must you set up another? I think you meant to make Arabella a Titular Queen, of whose Title I will speak nothing; but sure you meant to make her a stale. Ah! good lady, you could mean her no good.
RALEIGH—You tell me news, Mr. Attorney.
ATTORNEY—Oh sir! I am the more large, because I know with whom I deal: for we have to deal to-day with a man of wit.
RALEIGH—Did I ever speak with this lady?
ATTORNEY—I will track you out before I have done. Englishmen will not be led by persuasion of words, but they must have books to persuade.
RALEIGH—The Book was written by a man of your profession, Mr. Attorney.
ATTORNEY—I would not have you so impatient.
RALEIGH—Methinks you fall out with yourself; I say nothing.
ATTORNEY—By this Book you will persuade men, that he is not the lawful king. Now let us consider some circumstances: my lords, you will know my lord Cobham (for whom we all lament and rejoice; lament in that his house, which hath stood so long unspotted, is now ruinated: rejoice, in that his Treasons are revealed): he is neither politician nor swordman; Raleigh was both, united in the Cause with him and therefore cause of his destruction. Another circumstance is, the secret contriving of it. Humphry Stafford claimed Sanctuary for Treason: Raleigh, in his Machiavelian policy hath made a Sanctuary for Treason: he must talk with none but Cobham; because, saith he, one Witness can never condemn me. For Brook said unto sir Griffith Markham, 'Take heed how you do make my lord Cobham acquainted; for whatsoever he knoweth, Raleigh the witch will get it out of him.' As soon as Raleigh was examined on one point of Treason concerning my lord Cobham he wrote to him thus: 'I have been examined of you, and confessed nothing.' Further, you sent to him by your trusty Francis Kemish, that one witness could not condemn; and therefore bade his lordship be of good courage. Came this out of Cobham's quiver? No: but out of Raleigh's Machiavelian and devilish policy. Yea, for Cobham did retract it; why then did ye urge it? Now then see the most horrible practices that ever came out of the bottomless pit of the lowest hell. After that Raleigh had intelligence that Cobham had accused him, he endeavoured to have intelligence from Cobham which he had gotten by young sir John Payton: but I think it was the error of his youth.
RALEIGH—The lords told it me, or else I had been sent to the Tower.
ATTORNEY—Thus Cobham, by the instigation of Raleigh, entered into these actions: so that the question will be, whether you are not the principal traitor and he would nevertheless have entered into it? Why did Cobham retract all the same? First, because Raleigh was so odious, he thought he should fare the worse for his sake; secondly, he thought thus with himself, If he be free I shall clear myself the better. After this, Cobham asked for a Preacher to confer with, pretending to have Dr. Andrews; but indeed he meant not to have him but Mr. Galloway, a worthy and reverent preacher, who can do more with the King (as he said) than any other; that he seeing his constant denial, might inform the king thereof. Here he plays with the preacher. If Raleigh could persuade the lords that Cobham had no intent to travel, then he thought all should be well. Here is forgery! In the Tower, Cobham must write to sir Thos. Vane, a worthy man, that he meant not to go to Spain: which letter Raleigh devised in Cobham's name.
RALEIGH—I will wash my hands of the indictment, and die a true man to the king.
ATTORNEY—You are the absolutist traitor that ever was.
RALEIGH—Your phrases will not prove it.
ATTORNEY—Cobham writeth a letter to my lord Cecil, and doth with Mellis's man to lay it in a Spanish Bible and to make as though he found it by chance. This was after he had intelligence with this viper, that he was false.
LORD CECIL—You mean a letter intended to me; I never had it.
ATTORNEY—No, my lord, you had it not. You, my masters of the jury, respect not the wickedness and hatred of the man, respect his cause: if he be guilty, I know you will have care of it, for the preservation of the king, the continuance of the Gospel authorized, and the good of us all.
RALEIGH—I do not hear yet, that you have spoken one word against me; here is no Treason of mine done: If my lord Cobham be a Traitor, what is that to me?
ATTORNEY—All that he did was by thy instigation, thou viper; for I 'thou' thee, thou Traitor.
RALEIGH—It becometh not a man of quality and virtue to call me so: But I take comfort in it, it is all you can do.
ATTORNEY—Have I angered you?
RALEIGH—I am in no case to be angry.
CHIEF-JUSTICE POPHAM—Sir Walter Raleigh, Mr. Attorney speaketh out of the zeal of his duty, for the service of the king, and you for your life; be valiant on both sides.
The Lord Cobham's Examination.
'He confesseth, he had a Passport to go into Spain, intending to go to the Archduke, to confer with him about these Practices; and because he knew the Archduke had not Money to pay his own army, from thence he meant to go to Spain to deal with the king for the 600,000 crowns, and to return by Jersey; and that nothing should be done, until he had spoken with sir Walter Raleigh for distribution of the Money to them which were discontented in England. At the first beginning, he breathed out oaths and exclamations against Raleigh, calling him Villain and Traitor; saying he had never entered into these courses but by his instigation, and that he would never let him alone.' (Here Mr. Attorney willed the Clerk of the Crown Office to read over these last words again, 'He would never let him alone.') 'Besides he spake of plots and invasions; of the particulars whereof he could give no account, though Raleigh and he had conferred of them. Further he said, he was afraid of Raleigh, that when he should return by Jersey, that he would have delivered him and the Money to the king.' 'Being examined of sir A. Gorge he freed him, saying, They never durst trust him: but sir Arthur Savage they intended to use, because they thought him a fit man.'
RALEIGH—Let me see the Accusation: this is absolutely all the Evidence that can be brought against me; poor shifts! You Gentlemen of the Jury, I pray you understand this. This is that which must either condemn, or give me life; which must free me, or send my wife and children to beg their bread about the streets. This is that which must prove me a notorious Traitor, or a true subject to the king. Let me see my Accusation, that I may make my Answer.
CLERK OF THE COUNCIL—I did read it, and shew you all the examinations.
RALEIGH—At my first examination at Windsor, my lords asked me what I knew of Cobham's practice with Aremberg; I answered negatively: and as concerning Arabella I protest before God I never heard one word of it. If that be proved, let me be guilty of 10,000 Treasons. It is a strange thing you will impute that to me, when I never so much as heard the name of Arabella Stuart, but only the name of Arabella. After being examined, I told my lords, that I thought my lord Cobham had conference with Aremberg; I suspected his visiting of him; for after he departed from me at Durham-house I saw him pass by his own stairs, and passed over to St. Mary Saviours, where I knew Lawrency, a merchant, and a follower of Aremberg, lay, and therefore likely to go unto him. My lord Cecil asked my opinion concerning Lawrency; I said that if you do not apprehend Lawrency, it is dangerous, he will fly; if you do apprehend him, you shall give my lord Cobham notice thereof. I was asked who was the greatest man with my lord Cobham; I answered, I knew no man so great with him as young Wyat of Kent. As soon as Cobham saw my Letter to have discovered his dealing with Aremberg in his fury he accused me; but before he came to the stair-foot, he repented, and said he had done me wrong. When he came to the end of his Accusation he added, that if he had brought this money to Jersey, he feared that I would have delivered him and the Money to the King. Mr. Attorney, you said this never came out of Cobham's quiver; he is a simple man. Is he so simple? no: he hath a disposition of his own, he will not easily be guided by others; but when he has once taken head in a matter, he is not easily drawn from it: he is no babe.
He then goes on to point out the inherent improbabilities of Cobham's story; he himself had no means for persuading the King of Spain to disburse money, having lost his wardenship of the Stannaries; he knew England to be stronger and Spain to be weaker than they had been; the Spanish fleet had been ruined, and the trade with the Indies had fallen off. Cobham had no money of his own. When Raleigh was examined, he had L40,000 worth of Cobham's jewels which he had bought of him. 'If he had had a fancy to run away he would not have left so much as to have purchased a lease in fee-farm. I saw him buy L300 worth of books to send to his library at Canterbury, and a cabinet of L30 to give to Mr. Attorney for drawing the conveyances; and God in Heaven knoweth, not I, whether he intended to travel or not. But for that practice with Arabella, or letters to Aremberg framed, or any discourse with him, or in what language he spake unto him; if I knew any of these things, I would absolutely confess the indictment, and acknowledge myself worthy of ten thousand deaths.'
Cobham's second Examination read.
The lord Cobham being required to subscribe to an Examination, there was shewed a Note under sir Walter Raleigh's hand; the which when he had perused, he paused, and after brake forth into those Speeches: Oh Villain! oh Traitor! I will now tell you all the truth; and then he said, His purpose was to go into Flanders, and into Spain, for the obtaining the aforesaid Money; and that Raleigh had appointed to meet him in Jersey as he returned home, to be advised of him about the distribution of the Money.
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE POPHAM—When Cobham answered to the Interrogatories, he made scruple to subscribe, and being urged to it, he said, if he might hear me affirm, that if a person of his degree ought to set his hand he would: I lying then at Richmond for fear of the plague was sent for, and I told he ought to subscribe; otherwise it were a Contempt of a high nature: then he subscribed. The lords questioned with him further, and he shewed them a letter, as I thought written to me, but it was indeed written to my lord Cecil; he desired to see the Letter again, and then said, 'Oh wretch! oh traitor!' whereby I perceived you had not performed that trust he had reposed in you.
RALEIGH—He is as passionate a man as lives; for he hath not spared the best friends he hath in England in his passion. My lords, I take it, he that has been examined, has ever been asked at the time of his Examination, if it be according to his meaning, and then to subscribe. Methinks, my lords, when he accuses a man, he should give some account and reason of it: it is not sufficient to say we talked of it. If I had been the plotter, would not I have given Cobham some arguments, whereby to persuade the king of Spain, and answer his objections? I knew Westmoreland and Bothwell, men of other understandings than Cobham, were ready to beg their bread.
SIR THOS. FOWLER (one of the Jury)—Did sir Walter Raleigh write a letter to my lord before he was examined concerning him or not?
LORD CECIL—I am in great dispute with myself to speak in the case of this gentleman; a former dearness between me and him tyed so firm a knot of my conceit of his virtues, now broken by a discovery of his imperfections. I protest, did I serve a king that I knew would be displeased with me for speaking, in this case I would speak, whatever came of it; but seeing he is compacted of piety and justice, and one that will not mislike of any man for speaking the truth, I will answer your question. Sir Walter Raleigh was staid by me at Windsor, upon the first news of Copley, that the king's person should be surprized by my lord Grey, and Mr. Geo. Brook; when I found Brook was in, I suspected Cobham, then I doubted Raleigh to be a partaker. I speak not this, that it should be thought I had greater judgment than the rest of my lords in making this haste to have them examined. Raleigh following to Windsor, I met with him upon the Terrace and willed him, as from the king, to stay; saying the lords had something to say to him; then he was examined, but not concerning my lord Cobham but of the surprizing treason. My lord Grey was apprehended, likewise Brook; by Brook, we found that he had given notice to Cobham of the surprizing treason, as he delivered it to us; but with as much sparingness of a brother as he might. We sent for my lord Cobham to Richmond, where he stood upon his justification and his quality; sometimes being froward; he said he was not bound to subscribe, wherewith we made the king acquainted. Cobham said, if my Lord Chief-Justice would say it was a Contempt, he would subscribe; whereof being resolved, he subscribed. There was a light given to Aremberg, that Lawrency was examined; but that Raleigh knew that Cobham was examined is more than I know.
RALEIGH—If my lord Cobham had trusted me in the Main, was not I as fit a man to be trusted in the Bye?
LORD CECIL—Raleigh did by his Letters acquaint us that my lord Cobham had sent Lawrency to Aremberg, when he knew not he had any dealings with him.
LORD H. HOWARD—It made for you if Lawrency had been only acquainted with Cobham, and not with you. But you knew his whole estate, and were acquainted with Cobham's practice with Lawrency: and it was known to you before that Lawrency depended upon Aremberg.
ATTORNEY—1. Raleigh protested against the surprizing treason. 2. That he knew not of the matter touching Arabella. I would not charge you, sir Walter, with the matter of falsehood: you say you suspected the Intelligence that Cobham had with Aremberg by Lawrency.
RALEIGH—I thought it had been no other intelligence, but such as might be warranted.
ATTORNEY—Then it was but lawful suspicion. But to that whereas you said, that Cobham had accused you in passion, I answer three ways. 1. I observed, when Cobham said let me see the letter again, he paused; and when he did see that count Aremberg was touched, he cried out, oh traitor! oh villain! now will I confess the whole truth. 2. The accusation of a man on hearsay is nothing: would he accuse himself on passion and ruinate his case and posterity out of malice to accuse you? 3. Could this be out of passion? Mark the manner of it; Cobham had told this at least two months before to his brother Brook, 'You are fools, you are on the Bye, Raleigh and I are on the Main, we mean to take away the king and his cubs.' This he delivered two months before. So mark the manner and the matter; he would not turn the weapon against his own bosom, and accuse himself to accuse you.
RALEIGH—Hath Cobham confessed that?
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—This is spoken by Mr. Attorney to prove that Cobham's speech came not out of passion.
RALEIGH—Let it be proved that Cobham said so.
ATTORNEY—Cobham saith that he was a long time doubtful of Raleigh that he would send him and the money to the king. Did Cobham fear lest you would betray him in Jersey? Then of necessity there must be trust between you. No man can betray a man but he that is trusted, in my understanding. That is the greatest argument to prove that he was acquainted with Cobham's proceedings. Raleigh has a deeper reach, than to make himself as he said, 'Robin Hood, a Kett, or Cade'; yet I never heard that Robin Hood was a traitor; they say he was an outlaw. And whereas he saith that our king is not only more wealthy and potent than his predecessors, but also more politic and wise, so that he could have no hope to prevail; I answer, There is no king so potent, wise, and active, but he may be overtaken through treason. Whereas you say Spain is so poor, discoursing so largely thereof; it had been better for you to have kept in Guiana, than to have been so well acquainted with the state of Spain. Besides, if you could have brought Spain and Scotland to have joined, you might have hoped to prevail a great deal the better. For his six Overthrows, I answer, he hath the more malice, because repulses breed desire of revenge. Then you say you never talked with Cobham, but about leases, and letting lands, and ordering his house; I never knew you Clerk of the Kitchen, etc. If you had fallen on your knees at first and confessed the Treason, it had been better for you. You say, He meant to have given me a Cabinet of L30; perhaps he thought by those means to have anticipated me therewith. But you say all these are Circumstances: I answer, all this Accusation in Circumstance is true. Here now I might appeal to my lords, that you take hold of this, that he subscribed not to the Accusation.
LORD HENRY HOWARD—Cobham was not then pressed to subscribe.
ATTORNEY—His Accusation being testified by the lords, is of as great force as if he had subscribed. Raleigh saith again, If the Accuser be alive he must be brought face to face to speak; and alledges 25 Edw. 3rd, that there must be two sufficient Witnesses, that must be brought face to face before the accused; and alledgeth 12 and 13 Elizabeth.
RALEIGH—You try me by the Spanish Inquisition, if you proceed only by the Circumstances, without two Witnesses.
ATTORNEY—This is a treasonable speech.
RALEIGH—Evertere Hominem justum in causa sua injustum est. Good my lords, let it be proved, either by the laws of the land, or the laws of God, that there ought not to be two Witnesses appointed; yet I will not stand to defend this point in law, if the king will have it so: it is no rare thing for a man to be falsely accused. A Judge condemned a woman in Sarum for killing her husband, on the testimony of one Witness; afterwards his man confessed the Murder, when she was executed; who after being touched in conscience for the Judgment was used to say: Quod nunquam de hoc facto animam in vita sua purgaret. It is also commanded by the Scripture; Allocutus est Jehova Mosen, in Ore duorum aut trium Testium, etc. If Christ requireth it, as it appeareth Matt. xviii.; if by the Canon, Civil Law, and God's Word, it be required, that there must be two Witnesses at the least, bear with me if I desire one. I would not desire to live, if I were privy to Cobham's proceedings. I have been a slave, a villain, a fool, if I had endeavoured to set up Arabella, and refused so gracious a lord and sovereign. But urge your proofs.
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—You have offered Questions on diverse Statutes, all which mention two accusers in case of Indictments: you have deceived yourself, for the laws of 25 Edw. 3rd and 5 Edw. 6th are repealed. It sufficeth now if there be proofs made either under hand, or by testimony of Witnesses, or by oaths; it needs not the Subscription of the party, so there be hands of credible men to testify the Examination.
RALEIGH—It may be an error in me; and if those laws be repealed, yet I hope the equity of them remains still; but if you affirm it, it must be a law to posterity. The Proof of the Common Law is by witness and jury: let Cobham be here, let him speak it. Call my accuser before my face, and I have done.
ATTORNEY—Scientia sceleris est mera ignorantia. You have read the letter of the law, but understand it not. Here was your anchor-hold, and your rendezvous: you trust to Cobham, either Cobham must accuse you, or nobody; if he did, then it would not hurt you, because he is but one Witness; if he did not, then you are safe.
RALEIGH—If ever I read a word of the law or statutes before I was Prisoner in the Tower, God confound me.
The Attorney-General then points out that Cobham confessed that he had a passport to travel, by means of which he intended to go to the Archduke, and then to the King of Spain to raise money, after which Raleigh confessed that he was to have joined him in Jersey on his way home. Cobham had further stated that nothing could be settled as to the distribution of the money they were to receive without Raleigh's concurrence. In reply, Raleigh pointed out that all this depended on Cobham's accusation, which he had never signed or vouched. 'I beseech you, my lords, let Cobham be sent for, charge him on his soul, on his allegiance to the King; if he affirm it, I am guilty.'
LORD CECIL—It is the Accusation of my lord Cobham, it is the Evidence against you: must it not be of force without his subscription? I desire to be resolved by the Judges whether by the law it is not a forcible argument of evidence.
JUDGES—My lord, it is.
RALEIGH—The king at his coronation is sworn In omnibus Judiciis suis aequitatem, non rigorem legis, observare. By the rigour and cruelty of the law it may be a forcible evidence.
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—That is not the rigour of the law, but the justice of the law; else when a man hath made a plain Accusation, by practice he might be brought to retract it again.
RALEIGH—Oh my lord, you may use equity.
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—That is from the king; you are to have justice from us.
LORD ANDERSON—The law is, if the matter be proved to the jury, they must find you guilty; for Cobham's Accusation is not only against you, there are other things sufficient.
LORD CECIL—Now that sir Walter Raleigh is satisfied, that Cobham's Subscription is not necessary, I pray you, Mr. Attorney, go on.
RALEIGH—Good Mr. Attorney, be patient, and give me leave.
LORD CECIL—An unnecessary patience is a hindrance; let him go on with his proofs, and then repel them.
RALEIGH—I would answer particularly.
LORD CECIL—If you would have a table and pen and ink, you shall.
Then paper and ink was given him. Here the Clerk of the Crown read the Letter, which the lord Cobham did write in July, which was to the effect of his former Examination; further saying, 'I have disclosed all: to accuse any one falsely, were to burden my own conscience.'
ATTORNEY—Read Copley's Confession the 8th of June; He saith, He was offered 1000 crowns to be in this action.
Here Watson's Additions were read. 'The great mass of Money from the count was impossible,' etc.
Brook's Confession read. 'There have Letters passed,' saith he, 'between Cobham and Aremberg, for a great sum of money to assist a second action, for the surprizing of his majesty.'
ATTORNEY—It is not possible it was of passion: for it was in talk before three men, being severally examined, who agreed in the sum to be bestowed on discontented persons; That Grey should have 12,000 crowns, and Raleigh should have 8,000, or 10,000 crowns.
Cobham's Examination, July 18.
If the money might be procured (saith he) then a man may give pensions. Being asked if a pension should not be given to his brother Brook, he denied it not.
Within five days after Aremberg arrived, Cobham resorted unto him. That night that Cobham went to Aremberg with Lawrency, Raleigh supped with him.
ATTORNEY—Raleigh must have his part of the Money, therefore he is now a traitor. The crown shall never stand one year on the head of the king (my master) if a traitor may not be condemned by Circumstances: for if A tells B and B tells C and C D, etc., you shall never prove treason by two Witnesses.
Raleigh's Examination was read.
He confesseth Cobham offered him 8,000 crowns, which he was to have for the furtherance of the peace between England and Spain, and that he should have it within three days. To which he said, he gave this answer; When I see the Money, I will tell you more: for I had thought it had been one of his ordinary idle conceits, and therefore made no Account thereof.
RALEIGH—The Attorney hath made a long narration of Copley, and the Priests, which concerns me nothing, neither know I how Cobham was altered. For he told me if I would agree to further the Peace, he would get me 8,000 crowns. I asked him, Who shall have the rest of the money? He said, I will offer such a nobleman (who was not named) some of the Money. I said, He will not be persuaded by you, and he will extremely hate you for such a motion. Let me be pinched to death with hot irons, if ever I knew there was any intention to bestow the money on discontented persons. I had made a discourse against the peace, and would have printed it; if Cobham changed his mind, if the Priests, if Brook had any such intent, what is that to me? They must answer for it. He offered me the Money before Aremberg came, that is difference of time.
SERJ. PHILIPS—Raleigh confesseth the matter, but avoideth it by distinguishing of times. You said, it was offered you before the coming of Aremberg, which is false. For you being examined whether you should have such money of Cobham, or not, you said, Yea, and that you should have it within two or three days. Nemo moriturus praesumitur mentiri.
LORD HENRY HOWARD—Alledge me any ground or cause, wherefore you gave ear to my lord Cobham for receiving pensions, in matters you had not to deal with.
RALEIGH—Could I stop my lord Cobham's mouth?
LORD CECIL—Sir Walter Raleigh presseth, that my lord Cobham should be brought face to face. If he asks things of favour and grace, they must come only from him that can give them. If we sit here as commissioners, how shall we be satisfied whether he ought to be brought, unless we hear the Judges speak?
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—This thing cannot be granted, for then a number of treasons should flourish: the Accuser may be drawn by practice whilst he is in person.
JUSTICE GAWDY—The Statute you speak of concerning two Witnesses in case of Treason, is found to be inconvenient, therefore by another law it was taken away.
RALEIGH—The common trial of England is by Jury and Witnesses.
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—No, by examination: if Three conspire a Treason, and they all confess it; here is never a Witness, yet they are condemned.
JUSTICE WARBURTON—I marvel, sir Walter, that you, being of such experience and wit, should stand on this point; for so many horse-stealers may escape, if they may not be condemned without witnesses. If one should rush into the king's Privy Chamber, whilst he is alone, and kill the king (which God forbid), and this man be met coming with his sword all bloody; shall not he be condemned to death? My lord Cobham hath, perhaps, been laboured withal; and to save you, his old friend, it may be that he will deny all that which he hath said.
RALEIGH—I know not how you conceive the Law.
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—Nay, we do not conceive the Law, but we know the Law.
RALEIGH—The wisdom of the law of God is absolute and perfect: Haec fac et vives, etc. But now by the Wisdom of the State, the Wisdom of the Law is uncertain. Indeed, where the Accuser is not to be had conveniently, I agree with you; but here my Accuser may; he is alive, and in the house. Susanna had been condemned, if Daniel had not cried out, 'Will you condemn an innocent Israelite, without examination or knowledge of the truth?' Remember it is absolutely the Commandment of God: If a false witness rise up you shall cause him to be brought before the Judges; if he be found false, he shall have the punishment which the accused should have had. It is very sure for my lord to accuse me is my certain danger, and it may be a means to excuse himself.
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—There must not such a gap be opened for the destruction of the king, as would be if we should grant this. You plead hard for yourself, but the laws plead as hard for the king. I did never hear that course to be taken in a case of Treason, as to write one to another, or speak one to another, during the time of their imprisonment. There hath been intelligence between you; and what under-hand practices there may be, I know not. If the circumstances agree not with the Evidence, we will not condemn you.
RALEIGH—The king desires nothing but the knowledge of the truth, and would have no advantage taken by severity of the law. If ever we had a gracious king, now we have; I hope, as he is, such are his ministers. If there be but a trial of five marks at Common Law, a witness must be deposed. Good my lords, let my Accuser come face to face, and be deposed.
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—You have no law for it: God forbid any man should accuse himself upon his oath!
ATTORNEY—The law presumes, a man will not accuse himself to accuse another. You are an odious man, for Cobham thinks his cause the worse that you are in it. Now you shall hear of some stirs to be raised in Scotland.
Part of Copley's Examination.
'Also Watson told me, that a special person told him, that Aremberg offered to him 1000 crowns to be in that action; and that Brook said, the stirs in Scotland came out of Raleigh's head.'
RALEIGH—Brook hath been taught his Lesson.
LORD HENRY HOWARD—This examination was taken before. Did I teach him his lesson?
RALEIGH—I protest before God, I meant it not by any privy-counsellor; but because money is scant, he will juggle on both sides.
'The way to invade England, were to begin with Stirs in Scotland.'
RALEIGH—I think so still: I have spoken it to divers of the lords of the Council, by way of discourse and opinion.
ATTORNEY—Now let us come to those words, 'of destroying the king and his cubs.'
RALEIGH—O barbarous! If they, like unnatural villains, should use those words, shall I be charged with them? I will not hear it; I was never any Plotter with them against my country, I was never false to the crown of England. I have spent 4000 pounds of my own against the Spanish Faction, for the good of my country. Do you bring the words of these hellish spiders, Clark, Watson, and others against me?
ATTORNEY—Thou hast a Spanish heart, and thyself art a Spider of Hell; for thou confesseth the king to be a most sweet and gracious prince, and yet hast conspired against him.
Watson's Examination read.
'He said, that George Brook told him twice, That his brother, the lord Cobham, said to him, that you are but on the bye, but Raleigh and I are on the main.'
Brook's Examination read.
'Being asked what was meant by this Jargon, the Bye and the Main? he said, That the lord Cobham told him, that Grey and others were in the Bye, he and Raleigh were on the Main. Being asked, what exposition his brother made of these words? He said, he is loath to repeat it. And after saith, by the Main was meant the taking away of the king and his issue; and thinks on his conscience, it was infused into his brother's head by Raleigh.'
Cobham's Examination read.
'Being asked, if ever he had said, "It will never be well in England, till the king and his cubs were taken away"; he said, he had answered before, and that he would answer no more to that point.'
RALEIGH—I am not named in all this: there is a law of two sorts of Accusers; one of his own knowledge, another by hear-say.
EARL OF SUFFOLK—See the Case of Arnold.
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—It is the Case of sir Will. Thomas, and sir Nicholas Arnold.
RALEIGH—If this may be, you will have any man's life in a week.
ATTORNEY—Raleigh saith, that Cobham was in a passion when he said so. Would he tell his brother anything of malice against Raleigh, whom he loved as his life?
RALEIGH—Brook never loved me; until his brother had accused me, he said nothing.
LORD CECIL—We have heard nothing that might lead us to think that Brook accused you, he was only in the surprizing Treason: for by accusing you he should accuse his brother.
RALEIGH—He doth not much care for that.
LORD CECIL—I must judge the best. The accusation of his brother was not voluntary; he pared everything as much as he could to save his brother.
Cobham's Examination read.
'He saith he had a Book written against the Title of the King, which he had of Raleigh, and that he gave it to his brother Brook: and Raleigh said it was foolishly written.'
ATTORNEY—After the king came within 12 miles of London, Cobham never came to see him; and intended to travel without seeing the queen and the prince. Now in this discontentment you gave him the Book, and he gave it his brother.
RALEIGH—I never gave it him, he took it off my table. For I well remember a little before that time I received a Challenge from sir Amias Preston, and for that I did intend to answer it, I resolved to leave my estate settled, therefore I laid out all my loose papers, amongst which was this Book.
LORD HOWARD—Where had you this Book?
RALEIGH—In the old Lord Treasurer's Study, after his death.
LORD CECIL—Did you ever shew or make known this Book to me?
RALEIGH—No, my lord.
LORD CECIL—Was it one of the books which was left to me or my brother?
RALEIGH—I took it out of the study in my Lord Treasurer's house in the Strand.
LORD CECIL—After my father's decease, sir Walter Raleigh desired to search for some Cosmographical descriptions of the Indies, which he thought were in his Study, and were not to be had in print; which I granted, and would have trusted sir Walter Raleigh as soon as any man: though since for some infirmities, the bands of my affection to him have been broken; and yet reserving my duty to the king my master, which I can by no means dispense with, by God, I love him, and have a great conflict within myself: but I must needs say, sir Walter used me a little unkindly to take the Book away without my knowledge: nevertheless, I need make no apology in behalf of my father, considering how useful and necessary it is for privy-counsellors and those in his place to intercept and keep such kind of writings; for whosoever should then search his study may in all likelihood find all the notorious Libels that were writ against the late queen; and whosoever should rummage my Study, or at least my Cabinet, may find several against the king, our Sovereign Lord, since his accession to the throne.
RALEIGH—The Book was in Manuscript, and the late Lord Treasurer had wrote in the beginning of it with his own Hand, these words, 'This is the Book of Robert Snagg.' And I do own, as my lord Cecil has said, that I believe they may also find in my house almost all the Libels that have been writ against the late queen.
ATTORNEY—You were no privy-counsellor, and I hope never shall be.
LORD CECIL—He was not a sworn counsellor of state, but he has been called to consultations.
RALEIGH—I think it a very severe interpretation of the law, to bring me within compass of Treason for this Book, writ so long ago, of which nobody had read any more than the Heads of the Chapters, and which was burnt by G. Brook without my privity; admitting I had delivered the same to my lord Cobham, without allowing or approving, but discommending it, according to Cobham's first Accusation: and put the case, I should come to my lord Cecil, as I have often done, and find a stranger with him, with a packet of Libels, and my lord should let me have one or two of them to peruse: this I hope is no Treason.
ATTORNEY—I observe there was intelligence between you and Cobham in the Tower; for after he said it was against the king's Title, he denied it again.
SIR W. WADE—First my lord Cobham confesseth it, and after he had subscribed it, he revoked it again: to me he always said, that the drift of it was against the king's Title.
RALEIGH—I protest before God, and all his works, I gave him not the Book.
(Note.—Sir Robert Wroth speaketh, or whispereth something secretly.)
ATTORNEY—My lords, I must complain of Sir Robert Wroth; he says this Evidence is not material.
SIR R. WROTH—I never spake the words.
ATTORNEY—Let Mr. Serjeant Philips testify whether he heard him say the word or no.
LORD CECIL—I will give my word for sir R. Wroth.
SIR R. WROTH—I will speak as truly as you, Mr. Attorney, for my God, I never spake it.
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—Wherefore should this Book be burnt?
RALEIGH—I burned it not.
SERJEANT PHILIPS—You presented your friend with it when he was discontented. If it had been before the queen's death, it had been a less matter; but you gave it him presently when he came from the king, which was the time of his discontentment.
RALEIGH—Here is a Book supposed to be treasonable; I never read it, commended it, or delivered it, nor urged it.
ATTORNEY—Why, this is cunning.
RALEIGH—Every thing that doth make for me is cunning, and every thing that maketh against me is probable.
ATTORNEY—Lord Cobham saith, that Kemish came to him with a letter torn, and did wish him not to be dismayed, for one witness could not hurt him.
RALEIGH—This poor man hath been close prisoner these 18 weeks; he was offered the rack to make him confess. I never sent any such message by him; I only writ to him, to tell him what I had done with Mr. Attorney; having of his at that time a great pearl and a diamond.
LORD H. HOWARD—No circumstance moveth me more than this. Kemish was never on the rack, the king gave charge that no rigour should be used.
COMMISSIONERS—We protest before God, there was no such matter intended to our knowledge.
RALEIGH—Was not the Keeper of the Rack sent for, and he threatened with it?
SIR W. WADE—When Mr. Solicitor and myself examined Kemish, we told him he deserved the Rack, but did not threaten him with it.
COMMISSIONERS—It was more than we knew.
Cobham's Examination read.
He saith, Kemish brought him a Letter from Raleigh, and that part which was concerning the Lords of the Council was rent out; the Letter contained that he was examined, and cleared himself of all; and that the lord H. Howard said, because he was discontent, he was fit to be in the action. And further, that Kemish said to him from Raleigh that he should be of good comfort, for one witness could not condemn a man for treason.
LORD CECIL—Cobham was asked whether, and when, he heard from you? He said, every day.
RALEIGH—Kemish added more, I never bade him speak those words.
(Note.—Mr. Attorney here offered to interrupt him.)
LORD CECIL—It is his last discourse; give him leave Mr. Attorney.
RALEIGH—I am accused concerning Arabella, concerning Money out of Spain. My Lord Chief-Justice saith, a man may be condemned with one witness, yea, without any witness. Cobham is guilty of many things, Conscientia mille testes; he hath accused himself, what can he hope for but mercy? My lords, vouchsafe me this grace: Let him be brought, being alive, and in the house; let him avouch any of these things, I will confess the whole indictment and renounce the king's mercy.
LORD CECIL—Here hath been a touch of the lady Arabella Stuart, a near kinswoman of the king's. Let us not scandal the innocent by confusion of speech: she is as innocent of all these things as I, or any man here; only she received a Letter from my lord Cobham, to prepare her; which she laughed at, and immediately sent it to the king. So far was she from discontentment, that she laughed him to scorn. But you see how far the count of Aremberg did consent.
The lord Admiral (Nottingham) being by in a Standing, with the lady Arabella, spake to the court: The lady doth here protest upon her salvation, that she never dealt in any of these things, and so she willed me to tell the court.
LORD CECIL—The lord Cobham wrote to my lady Arabella, to know if he might come to speak with her, and gave her to understand, that there were some about the king that laboured to disgrace her; she doubted it was but a trick. But Brook saith his brother moved him to procure Arabella to write Letters to the king of Spain; but he saith, he never did it.
RALEIGH—The lord Cobham hath accused me, you see in what manner he hath forsworn it Were it not for his Accusation, all this were nothing. Let him be asked, if I knew of the letter which Lawrency brought to him from Aremberg. Let me speak for my life, it can be no hurt for him to be brought; he dares not accuse me. If you grant me not this favour, I am strangely used; Campian was not denied to have his accusers face to face.
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—Since he must needs have justice, the acquitting of his old friend may move him to speak otherwise than the truth.
RALEIGH—If I had been the infuser of all these Treasons into him; you gentlemen of the jury, mark this, he said I have been the cause of all his miseries, and the destruction of his house, and that all evil hath happened unto him by my wicked counsel; if this be true, whom hath he cause to accuse and to be revenged on, but on me? and I know him to be as revengeful as any man on earth.
ATTORNEY—He is a party, and may not come; the law is against it.
RALEIGH—It is a toy to tell me of law; I defy such law, I stand on the fact.
LORD CECIL—I am afraid my often speaking (who am inferior to my lords here present) will make the world think that I delight to hear myself talk. My affection to you, sir Walter, was not extinguished, but slaked in regard to your deserts. You know the law of the realm (to which your mind doth not contest) that my lord Cobham cannot be brought.
RALEIGH—He may be, my lord.
LORD CECIL—But dare you challenge it?
LORD CECIL—You say that my lord Cobham, your main accuser, must come to accuse you. You say he hath retracted: I say, many particulars are not retracted. What the validity of all this is, is merely left to the jury. Let me ask you this, If my lord Cobham will say you were the only instigator of him to proceed in the treason, dare you put yourself on this?
RALEIGH—If he will speak it before God and the king, that ever I knew of Arabella's matter or the money out of Spain, or of the surprizing treason; I put myself on it, God's will and the king's be done with me.
LORD H. HOWARD—How! If he speak things equivalent to that you have said?
RALEIGH—Yes, in the main point.
LORD CECIL—If he say, you have been the instigator of him to deal with the Spanish king, had not the Council cause to draw you hither?
RALEIGH—I put myself on it.
LORD CECIL—Then, sir Walter, call upon God and prepare yourself; for I do verily believe that my lords will prove this. Excepting your faults (I call them no worse), by God I am your friend. The heat and passion in you, and the Attorney's zeal in the king's service, make me speak this.
RALEIGH—Whosoever is the workman, it is reason he should give an account of his work to his workmaster. But let it be proved that he acquainted me with any of his conferences with Aremberg: he would surely have given me some account.
LORD CECIL—That follows not: if I set you on work, and you give me no account, am I therefore innocent?
ATTORNEY—For the lady Arabella, I said she was never acquainted with the matter. Now that Raleigh had conference in all these treasons, it is manifest. The jury hath heard the matter. There is one Dyer, a pilot, that being in Lisbon met with a Portugal gentleman, who asked him if the king of England was crowned yet: to whom he answered, 'I think not yet, but he shall be shortly.' Nay, saith the Portugal, that shall never be, for his throat will be cut by Don Raleigh and Don Cobham before he be crowned.
Dyer was called and sworn, and delivered this evidence.
DYER—I came to a merchant's house in Lisbon, to see a boy that I had there; there came a gentleman into the house, and enquiring what countryman I was, I said, an Englishman. Whereupon he asked me, if the king was crowned? And I answered, No, but that I hoped he should be shortly. Nay, saith he, he shall never be crowned; for Don Raleigh and Don Cobham shall cut his throat ere that day come.
RALEIGH—What infer you upon this?
ATTORNEY—That your treason hath wings.
RALEIGH—If Cobham did practice with Aremberg, how could it not but be known in Spain? Why did they name the Duke of Buckingham with Jack Straw's treason, and the Duke of York with Jack Cade, but that it was to countenance his treason? Consider, you Gentlemen of the Jury, there is no cause so doubtful which the king's council cannot make good against the law. Consider my disability and their ability; they prove nothing against me, only they bring the accusation of my lord Cobham which he hath repented and lamented as heartily, as if it had been for an horrible murder: for he knew that all this sorrow that should come to me, is by his means. Presumptions must proceed from precedent or subsequent facts. I have spent 40,000 crowns against the Spaniards. I had not purchased L40 a year. If I had died in Guiana, I had not left 300 marks a year to my wife and son. I that have always condemned Spanish faction, methinks it is a strange thing that now I should affect it! Remember what St. Austin says, Sic judicate tanquam ab alio mox judicandi; unus judex, unum tribunal. If you will be contented on presumptions to be delivered up to be slaughtered, to have your wives and children turned into the streets to beg their bread; if you will be contented to be so judged, judge so of me.
SERJ. PHILIPS—I hope to make this so clear, as that the wit of man shall have no colour to answer it. The matter is treason in the highest degree, the end to deprive the king of his crown. The particular treasons are these: first, to raise up rebellion, and to effect that, to procure money; to raise up tumults in Scotland, by divulging a treasonable Book against the king's right to the crown; the purpose, to take away the life of his majesty and his issue. My lord Cobham confesseth sir Walter to be guilty of all these treasons. The question is, whether he be guilty as joining with him, or instigating of him? The course to prove this was by my lord Cobham's accusation. If that be true, he is guilty, if not he is clear. So whether Cobham say true, or Raleigh, that is the question. Raleigh hath no answer but the shadow of as much wit as the wit of man can devise. He useth his bare denial; the denial of a defendant must not move the jury. In the Star Chamber, or in the Chancery, for matter of title, if the defendant be called in question, his denial on his oath is no evidence to the court to clear him, he doth it in propria causa; therefore much less in matters of treason. Cobham's testification against him before them, and since, hath been largely discoursed.
RALEIGH—If truth be constant, and constancy be in truth, why hath he forsworn that that he hath said? You have not proved any one thing against me by direct proofs, but all by circumstances.
ATTORNEY—Have you done? The king must have the last.
RALEIGH—Nay, Mr. Attorney, he which speaketh for his life, must speak last. False repetitions and mistakings must not mar my cause. You should speak secundum allegata et probata. I appeal to God and the king in this point whether Cobham's accusation is sufficient to condemn me.
ATTORNEY—The king's safety and your clearing cannot agree. I protest before God, I never knew a clearer treason.
RALEIGH—I never had intelligence with Cobham since I came to the Tower.
ATTORNEY—Go to, I will lay thee upon thy back, for the confidentest traitor that ever came at a bar. Why should you take 8,000 crowns for a peace?
LORD CECIL—Be not so impatient, good Mr. Attorney. Give him leave to speak.
ATTORNEY—If I may not be patiently heard, you will encourage traitors and discourage us. I am the king's sworn servant, and must speak; if he be guilty, he is a traitor; if not, deliver him.
(Note.—Here Mr. Attorney sat down in a chafe and would speak no more until the commissioners urged and intreated him. After much ado, he went on, and made a long repetition of all the evidence for the direction of the jury; and at the repeating of some things, sir Walter Raleigh interrupted him and said he did him wrong.)
ATTORNEY—Thou art the most vile and execrable traitor that ever lived.
RALEIGH—You speak indiscreetly, barbarously, and uncivilly.
ATTORNEY—I want words sufficient to express thy viperous treasons.
RALEIGH—I think you want words indeed, for you have spoken one thing half a dozen times.
ATTORNEY—Thou art an odious fellow, thy name is hateful to all the realm of England for thy pride.
RALEIGH—It will go near to prove a measuring cast between you and me, Mr. Attorney.
ATTORNEY—Well, I will now make it appear to the world that there never lived a viler viper upon the face of the earth than thou.—And there withal he drew a letter out of his pocket saying further—My lords, you shall see this is an agent that hath writ a treatise against the Spaniard, and hath ever so detested him; this is he that hath spent so much money against him in service; and yet you shall all see whether his heart be not wholly Spanish. The lord Cobham, who of his own nature was a good and honourable gentleman, till overtaken by this wretch now finding his conscience heavily burdened with some courses which the subtlety of this traitor had drawn him into, my lords, he could be at no rest with himself, nor quiet in his thoughts, until he was eased of that heavy weight: out of which passion of his mind and discharge of his duty to his prince and his conscience to God, taking it upon his salvation that he wrote nothing but the truth, with his own hands he wrote this letter. Now sir, you shall see whether you had intelligence with Cobham within four days before he came to the Tower. If he be wholly Spanish, that desired a pension of L1500 a year from Spain, that Spain by him might have intelligence, then Raleigh is a traitor: he hath taken an apple and pinned a letter into it and threw it into my lord Cobham's window, the contents whereof were this, 'It is doubtful whether we shall be proceeded with or no, perhaps you shall not be tried.' This was to get a retractation. Oh! it was Adam's apple whereby the devil did deceive him. Further he wrote thus, 'Do not as my lord of Essex did; take heed of a preacher, for by his persuasion he confessed and made himself guilty.' I doubt not but this day God shall have as great a conquest by this traitor, and the Son of God shall be as much glorified as when it was said Vicisti Galilaee; you know my meaning. What though Cobham retracted, yet he could not rest or sleep until he had confirmed it again. If this be not enough to prove him a traitor, the king my master shall not live three years to an end.
(Note.—Here Mr. Attorney produced the lord Cobham's letter, and as he read it, inserted some speeches.)
'I have thought fit to set down this to my lords, wherein I protest on my soul to write nothing but the truth. I am now come near the period of my time, therefore I confess the whole truth before God and his angels. Raleigh, four days before I came from the Tower, caused an apple' (Eve's apple) 'to be thrown in at my chamber window; the effect of it was, to intreat me to right the wrong that I had done him, in saying, "that I should have come home by Jersey"; which under my hand to him I have retracted. His first Letter I answered not, which was thrown in the same manner; wherein he prayed me to write him a Letter, which I did. He sent me word, that the Judges met at Mr. Attorney's house, and that there was good hope the proceedings against us should be stayed: he sent me another time a little tobacco. At Aremberg's coming, Raleigh was to have procured a pension of L1500 a year, for which he promised, that no action should be against Spain, the Low Countries, or the Indies, but he would give knowledge beforehand. He told me, the States had audience with the king.'—(Attorney. 'Ah! is not this a Spanish heart in an English body?') 'He hath been the original cause of my ruin; for I had no dealing with Aremberg, but by his instigation. He hath also been the cause of my discontentment; he advised me, not to be overtaken by preachers, as Essex was; and that the king would better allow of a constant denial, than to accuse any.'
ATTORNEY—Oh, damnable atheist! He hath learned some Text of Scripture to serve his own purpose, but falsely alledged. He counsels him not to be counselled by preachers, as Essex was: He died the child of God, God honoured him at his death; thou wast by when he died: Et lupus et turpes instant morientibus Ursae. He died indeed for his offence. The king himself spake these words: 'He that shall say, Essex dies not for Treason, is punishable.'
RALEIGH—You have heard a strange tale of a strange man. Now he thinks, he hath matter enough to destroy me; but the king and all of you shall witness, by our deaths, which of us was the ruin of the other. I bid a poor fellow throw in the Letter at his window, written to this purpose; 'You know you have undone me, now write three lines to justify me.' In this I will die, that he hath done me wrong: Why did not he acquaint him with my dispositions?
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—But what say you now of the Letter, and the Pension of L1500 per annum?
RALEIGH—I say, that Cobham is a base, dishonourable, poor soul.
ATTORNEY—Is he base? I return it into thy throat on his behalf: but for thee he had been a good subject.
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—I perceive you are not so clear a man, as you have protested all this while; for you should have discovered these matters to the king.
(Note.—Here Raleigh pulled a Letter out of his pocket, which the lord Cobham had written to him, and desired my lord Cecil to read it, because he only knew his hand; the effect of it was as follows:)
Cobham's Letter of Justification to Raleigh.
'Seeing myself so near my end, for the discharge of my own conscience, and freeing myself from your blood, which else will cry vengeance against me; I protest upon my salvation I never practised with Spain by your procurement; God so comfort me in this my affliction, as you are a true subject, for any thing that I know. I will say as Daniel, Purus sum a sanguine hujus. God have mercy upon my soul, as I know no Treason by you.'
RALEIGH—Now I wonder how many souls this man hath. He damns one in this Letter and another in that.
(Here was much ado: Mr. Attorney alledged, that his last Letter was politicly and cunningly urged from the lord Cobham, and that the first was simply the truth; and lest it should seem doubtful that the first Letter was drawn from my lord Cobham by promise of mercy, or hope of favour, the Lord Chief-Justice willed that the Jury might herein be satisfied. Whereupon the earl of Devonshire delivered that the same was mere voluntary, and not extracted from the lord Cobham upon any hopes or promise of Pardon.)
This concluded the evidence, and the jury having retired for less than a quarter of an hour, they returned, and brought in a verdict of Guilty.
When asked whether he had anything to say why judgment should not be passed upon him, Raleigh said that he had never practised with Spain, that he never knew that Cobham meant to get there ('I will ask no mercy at the king's hands, if he will affirm it'), that he never knew of the practice with lady Arabella, that he knew nothing of Cobham's practice with Aremberg, nor of the surprising Treason.
The Lord Chief-Justice replied that he was persuaded that Cobham had accused him truly, and reminded him that he had been offered a pension to act as a spy for Spain. Raleigh answered that he submitted himself, and his 'son of tender years, unbrought up,' to the king's mercy.
LORD CHIEF-JUSTICE—I thought I should never have seen this day, to have stood in this place to give Sentence of Death against you; because I thought it impossible, that one of so great parts should have fallen so grievously. God hath bestowed on you many benefits. You had been a man fit and able to have served the king in good place. You had brought yourself into a good state of living; if you had entered into a good consideration of your estate and not allowed your own wit to have intrapped yourself, you might have lived in good comfort. It is best for man not to seek to climb too high, lest he fall: nor yet to creep too low, lest he be trodden on. It was the Poesy of the wisest and greatest Counsellor of our time in England, In media spatio mediocria firma locantur. You might have lived well with L3000 a year, for so have I heard your revenues to be. I know nothing might move you to be discontented: but if you had been down, you know fortune's wheel, when it is turned down, riseth again. I never heard that the king took away anything from you but the Captainship of the Guard, which he did with very good reason, to have one of his own knowledge, whom he might trust, in that place. You have been taken for a wise man, and so have shewed wit enough this day. Again for Monopolies for Wine, etc., if the king had said, It is a matter that offends my people, should I burden them for your private good? I think you could not well take it hardly, that his subjects were eased, though by your private hindrance. Two vices have lodged chiefly in you; one is an eager ambition, the other corrupt covetousness. Ambition, in desiring to be advanced to equal grace and favour, as you have been beforetime; that grace you had then, you got not in a day or year. For your covetousness, I am sorry to hear that a gentleman of your wealth should become a base Spy for the enemy, which is the vilest of all other; wherein on my conscience, Cobham hath said true: by it you would have increased your living L1500 a year. This covetousness is like canker, that eats the iron place where it lives. Your case being thus, let it not grieve you if I speak a little out of zeal, and love to your good. You have been taxed by the world, with the Defence of the most heathenish and blasphemous Opinions, which I list not to repeat, because Christian ears cannot endure to hear them, nor the authors and maintainers of them be suffered to live in any Christian Commonwealth. You know what men said of Harpool. You shall do well, before you go out of the world, to give satisfaction therein, and not die with these imputations on you. Let not any devil persuade you to think there is no eternity in Heaven: for if you think thus, you shall find eternity in Hell-fire. In the first accusation of my lord Cobham, I observed his manner of speaking; I protest before the living God, I am persuaded he spoke nothing but the truth. You wrote, that he should not in any case confess any thing to a Preacher, telling him an example of my lord of Essex, that noble earl that is gone; who, if he had not been carried away with others, had lived in honour to this day among us: he confessed his offences, and obtained mercy of the Lord; for I am verily persuaded in my heart, he died a worthy servant of God. Your conceit of not confessing anything is very inhuman and wicked. In this world is the time for confessing, that we may be absolved in the Day of Judgment. You have shewed a fearful sign of denying God, in advising a man not to confess the truth. It now comes to my mind, why you may not have your Accuser come face to face: for such an one is easily brought to retract, when he seeth there is no hope of his own life. It is dangerous that any Traitors should have access to, or conference with one another; when they see themselves must die, they will think it best to have their fellow live, that he may commit the like treason again, and so in some sort seek revenge.—Now it resteth to pronounce the Judgment, which I wish you had not been this day to have received of me: for if the fear of God in you had been answerable to your other great parts, you might have lived to have been a singular good subject.
I never saw the like Trial, and hope I shall never see the like again.
But since you have been found guilty of these horrible Treasons, the judgment of this court is, That you shall be had from hence to the place whence you came, there to remain until the day of execution; and from thence you shall be drawn upon a hurdle through the open streets to the place of execution, there to be hanged and cut down alive, and your body shall be opened, your heart and bowels plucked out, and your privy members cut off, and thrown into the fire before your eyes; then your head to be stricken off from your body, and your body shall be divided into four quarters, to be disposed of at the king's pleasure: And God have mercy upon your soul.
The execution of sentence on Raleigh was deferred, and he was committed to the Tower, where he remained as a State prisoner for the next thirteen years, engaged in philosophic and scientific pursuits and the education of Prince Henry, the then Prince of Wales. All this time, however, he remained a person of considerable political importance, owing to the assistance which the opponents of the proposed marriage between Prince Charles and the Spanish Infanta hoped to derive from his general popularity, and his reputation as the leading representative of English hatred of Spain. At last, in 1616, he was released from custody, though he was still technically a condemned man, and allowed to prepare his expedition in search of the gold-mine which he believed to exist in Guiana, on the banks of the Orinoco. The expedition was in fact promoted by Winwood, then Secretary, and Villiers, who was at the moment in the hands of the enemies of Somerset and the Spanish faction, and was always intended by them as an act of hostility to Spain. How far Raleigh entered into it in the spirit in which he represented it to the King, may be judged of from the fact that he was ready at one time to direct it against the Spaniards in Genoa, as a relief to the Duke of Savoy, with whom they were then at war, and at another against the French, to support a rebellion against the Queen-Mother, then in power. He had also entered into negotiations with the French Court to bring his ships back to France rather than England when its end was accomplished. What Raleigh's actual intentions were when he started, it is impossible to say. But they were all frustrated when a force which he sent up the Orinoco was disastrously defeated in January 1617, in an attack on a Spanish settlement, which was unexpectedly discovered between the sea and the supposed situation of the mine. Raleigh returned a ruined man. He wished himself to go to France, but his crew forced him to promise to obtain their pardon from the King before he brought his ship into port. In the end, after having touched at Kinsale, he persuaded his men to sail for Plymouth. On landing he set out for London, but on the way met his cousin, Sir Lewis Stukely, Vice-Admiral of Devon, charged with orders to arrest him. Returning to Plymouth, he found means to put himself into communication with the captain of a French ship, lying in the Sound. Preparations were made for his escape in her, but Raleigh changed his mind when he was actually in a boat on his way to board her, and returned to land. Soon after orders came that he should be brought up to London; but he managed to procure a little more time by feigning illness at Salisbury. Here he attempted to bribe Stukely to allow him to escape; but this proving in vain, he sent King, one of his captains, to hire a vessel at Gravesend to await him till he could go on board. The master, however, communicated the plan to a captain of one of the King's ships, who passed it on to Stukely, who thereupon communicated both attempts to the King. The next day Stukely sent the further information to the Court, that Le Clerc, the agent of the King of France, had offered Raleigh a passage on a French ship, and letters which would procure him an honourable reception in France, which Raleigh had refused on the ground that his escape was already provided for. Stukely was accordingly ordered to feign friendship with Raleigh, and to aid his attempt to escape, arresting him at the last moment; the object being to gain as much information as to his designs as he could from Raleigh, and possibly to obtain papers which would contain evidence against him and his confederates. Raleigh was thereupon taken to his own house in Bread Street, where he received a visit from Le Clerc, who repeated his offers, which were accepted, and he was finally arrested the next morning as he was escaping in a boat with Stukely and King, and brought back once more to the Tower. Here Sir Thomas Wilson, an old spy of Queen Elizabeth's, was set to extract from him, if he could, an acknowledgment of the true character of his dealings with the French; and at length Raleigh wrote to the King admitting that he had sailed with a commission from the French admiral, and that La Chesnee, the interpreter to the French Ambassador, had offered to assist in his escape. Meanwhile a commission had been sitting to advise the King as to the best course for him to follow. In the end they reported that Raleigh could not be tried for any offence of which he had been guilty as an attainted man, that if he were executed at all, he must therefore be executed upon the old judgment, and that it would not be illegal to send him to execution on a simple warrant. At the same time, they recommended that he should be allowed something as near a trial as the circumstances admitted of; that there should be a public proceeding in which the witnesses should be publicly called, and that Raleigh should be heard in his own defence.
This, however, the King would not allow; and on the 28th of October 1618, Raleigh was brought up from the Tower to the King's Bench at Westminster to receive judgment. He was called on to say why execution should not be awarded against him, and pleaded that whereas since judgment he had held the King's commission for a voyage beyond the seas, with power of life and death over others, he was discharged of the judgment; 'but the voyage, notwithstanding my endeavour, had no other success, but what was fatal to me, the loss of my son, and the wasting of my whole estate.'
Sir Edward Coke, now Lord Chief-Justice, ruled that this plea was bad, as the commission had not the effect of a pardon, 'for by words of a special nature, in case of treason, you must be pardoned, and not implicitly.' He then proceeded, not without dignity, to order that execution should be granted.
The night before the Execution, Sir Walter wrote the following Letters, the one to the King, the other to his Wife:—
Sir Walter Raleigh's Letter to the King.
'The life which I had, most mighty prince, the law hath taken from me, and I am now but the same earth and dust out of which I was made. If my offence had any proportion with your majesty's mercy, I might despair, or if my deserving had any quantity with your majesty's unmeasurable goodness, I might yet have hope; but it is you that must judge that, not I. Name, blood, gentility or estate, I have none; no not so much as a vitam plantae: I have only a penitent soul in a body of iron, which moveth towards the loadstone of death, and cannot be with-held from touching it, except your majesty's mercy turn the point towards me that expelleth. Lost I am for hearing of vain man, for hearing only, and never believing or accepting: and so little account I made of that speech of his, which was my condemnation (as my forsaking him doth truly witness), that I never remembered any such thing, till it was at my trial objected against me. So did he repay my care, who cared to make him good, which I now see no care of man can effect. But God (for my offence to him) hath laid this heavy burden upon me, miserable and unfortunate wretch that I am! But for not loving you (my sovereign), God hath not laid this sorrow on me; for he knows (with whom I am not in case to lie) that I honoured your majesty by fame, and loved and admired you by knowledge; so that whether I live or die, your majesty's loving servant I will live and die. If now, I write what seems not well-favoured, most merciful prince, vouchsafe to ascribe it to the counsel of a dead heart, and to a mind that sorrow hath confounded. But the more my misery is, the more is your majesty's mercy, if you please to behold it, and the less I can deserve, the more liberal your majesty's gift shall be: herein you shall only imitate God, by giving free life; and by giving it to such a one, from whom there can be no retribution, but only a desire to pay a lent life with the same great love, which the same great goodness shall bestow on it. This being the first letter that ever your majesty received from a dead man: I humbly submit myself to the will of God, my supreme lord, and shall willingly and patiently suffer whatsoever it shall please your majesty to afflict me withal.
Sir Walter Raleigh's Letter to his Wife.
'You shall now receive, my dear wife, my last words in these my last lines. My love I send you, that you may keep it when I am dead; and my counsel, that you may remember it when I am no more. I would not by my Will present you with sorrows, dear Besse, let them go into the grave with me, and be buried in the dust. And seeing that it is not God's will that I should see you any more in this life, bear it patiently, and with a heart like thyself. First, I send you all the thanks which my heart can conceive, or my words can rehearse, for your many travails, and care taken for me; which though they have not taken effect as you wished, yet my debt to you is not the less; but pay it I never shall in this world. Secondly, I beseech you, for the love you bare me living, do not hide yourself many days, but by your travels seek to help your miserable fortunes, and the right of your poor child. Thy mourning cannot avail me, I am but dust. Thirdly, you shall understand that my land was conveyed bona fide to my child: the Writings were drawn at Midsummer was twelve months, my honest cousin Brett can testify so much, and Dolberry too can remember somewhat therein. And I trust my blood will quench their malice that have cruelly murdered me, and that they will not seek also to kill thee and thine with extreme poverty. To what friend to direct thee I know not, for all mine have left me in the true time of trial. And I perceive that my death was determined from the first day. Most sorry I am, God knows, that being thus surprised with death I can leave you in no better estate. God is my witness, I meant you all my office of wines, or all that I could have purchased by selling it, half my stuff, and all my jewels, but some one for the boy; but God hath prevented all my resolutions, that great God that ruleth all in all: but if you can live free from want, care for no more, the rest is but vanity. Love God, and begin betimes to repose yourself upon him, and therein shall you find true and lasting riches and endless comfort: for the rest, when you have travelled and wearied your thoughts over all sorts of worldly cogitations, you shall but sit down by sorrow in the end. Teach your son also to love and fear God whilst he is yet young, that the fear of God may grow with him; and then God will be a husband to you, and a father to him; a husband and a father that cannot be taken from you. Baily oweth me L500 and Adrian L600 in Jersey. I also have much owing me besides. The arrearages of the wines will pay your debts. And howsoever you do, for my soul's sake, pay all poor men. When I am gone, no doubt you shall be sought to, for the world thinks I was very rich. But take heed of the pretences of men, and their affections, for they last not but in honest and worthy men; and no greater misery can befall you in this life than to become a prey, and afterwards to be despised. I speak not this, God knows, to dissuade you from marriage, for it will be best for you both in respect of the world and of God. As for me, I am no more yours, nor you mine, death hath cut us asunder; and God hath divided me from the world and you from me. Remember your poor child for his father's sake who chose you and loved you in his happiest times. Get those Letters, if it be possible, which I writ to the lords, wherein I sued for life: God is my witness it was for you and yours that I desired life; but it is true that I disdained myself for begging of it: for know it, my dear wife, that your son is the son of a true man, and who, in his own respect, despiseth death, and all his misshapen and ugly form. I cannot write much, God he knows how hardly I steal this time while others sleep, and it is also time that I should separate my thoughts from the world. Beg my dead body, which living was denied thee; and either lay it at Sherburne (and if the land continue) or in Exeter church by my father and mother. I can say no more, Time and Death call me away; the everlasting, powerful, infinite and omnipotent God, that Almighty God, who is goodness itself, the true life and true light, keep thee and thine, have mercy on me, and teach me to forgive my persecutors and accusers, and send us to meet in his glorious kingdom. My dear wife, farewell. Bless my poor boy. Pray for me, and let my good God hold you both in his arms. Written with the dying hand of sometime thy husband, but now alas overthrown.'