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Secondly, the attorney-general sorteth not so well with his present place, being a man timid and scrupulous both in parliament and other business, and one, that in a word was made fit for the late lord treasurer's bent, which was to do little with much formality and protestation: whereas the now solicitor going more roundly to work, and being of a quicker and more earnest temper, and more effectual in that he dealeth in, is like to recover that strength to the king's prerogative, which it hath had in times past, and which is due unto it. And for that purpose there must be brought in to be solicitor some man of courage and speech, and a grounded lawyer; which done, his Majesty will speedily find a marvellous change in his business. For it is not to purpose for the judges to stand well-disposed, except the king's council, which is the active and moving part, put the judges well to it; for in a weapon, what is a back without an edge?
Thirdly, the king shall continue and add reputation to the attorney's and solicitor's place, by this orderly advancement of them; which two places are the champion's places for his rights and prerogative; and being stripped of their expectations and successions to great place, will wax vile; and then his Majesty's prerogative goeth down the wind.
* Sir John Dodderidge was made judge of the king's bench, November 25, 1612, and Sir Augustin Nichols of the common pleas the day following.
The case of this gentleman will render the detail of it necessary for the illustration of this letter; and the circumstances of it, not known in our history, may be thought to deserve the reader's attention. He was a native of the West of England, and a recusant, against whom a proclamation was issued in June 1613, charging him with high treason against the king and state for having published a very scandalous and railing book against his Majesty, under the title of Balaam's Ass, which was dropped in the gallery at Whitehall. Just at the time of publishing this proclamation, he happened to cross the Thames, and inquiring of the watermen what news? they, not knowing him, told him of the proclamation. At landing, he muffled himself up in his cloak, to avoid being known; but had not gone many paces, when one Mr. Maine, a friend of his, meeting and discovering him, warned him of his danger; and being asked what he would advise him to do, recommended it to him to surrender himself; which he did to the earl of Southampton. He denied himself to be the author of the libel: but his study being searched, among his papers were found many parts of the book, together with relics of those persons who had been executed for the gun-powder treason, as one of Sir Everard Digby's fingers, a toe of Thomas Percy, some other part of Catesby or Rookewood, and a piece of one of Peter Lambert's ribs. He was kept prisoner in the Tower till March 1618, when the true author of the libel was discovered to be John Williams, Esq. a barrister of the Middle Temple, who had been expelled the house of commons on account of his being a papist. The discovery was owing to this accident: a pursuivant in want of money, and desirous to get some by his employment, waited at the Spanish ambassador's door, to see if he could light upon any prey. At last came out Mr. Williams, unknown to the pursuivant; but carrying, in his conceit, the countenance of a priest. The pursuivant, therefore, followed him to his inn, where Williams, having mounted his horse, the pursuivant came to him, and told him, that he must speak a word or two with him. Marry, with all my heart," said Williams; "what is your pleasure?" "You must light," answered the pursuivant; "for you are a priest." "A priest?" replied Williams; "I have a good warrant to the contrary, for I have a wife and children." Being, however, obliged to dismount, the pursuivant searched him; and in his pocket was found a bundle of papers scaled up; which the pursuivant going to open, Williams made some resistance, pretending they were evidences of a gentleman whose law-businesses he transacted. The pursuivant insisting upon opening the papers, among them was found Balaam's Ass, with new annotations; of which, upon examination, Williams confessed himself to be the author. He was brought
Besides, the remove of my lord Coke to a place of less profit, though it be with his will, yet will be thought abroad a kind of discipline to him for opposing himself in the king's causes; the example whereof will contain others in more awe.
Lastly, whereas now it is voiced abroad touching the supply of places, as if it were a matter of labour, and canvass, and money; and other persons are chiefly spoken of to be the men, and the great suitors; this will appear to be the king's own act, and is a course so natural and regular, as it is without all suspicion of these by-courses, to the king's infinite honour. For men say now, the king can make good second judges, as he hath done lately;* but that is no mastery, because men sue to be kept from these places. But now is the trial in those great places, how his Majesty can hold good, where there is great suit and means.
TO THE KING.
IT MAY PLEASE YOUR MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY, WE have, with all possible care and diligence, considered Cotton's † cause, the former and the to trial on the 3d of May, 1619, for writing that and another book entitled Speculum Regale; in both of which he had presumed to prophesy, that the king would die in 1621, grounding this prediction on the prophecy of Daniel, where the prophet speaks of time and times, and half a time. He farther affirmed, that antichrist will be revealed when sin shall be at the highest; and then the end is nigh: that such is our time; sin is now at the highest; ergo that the land is the abomination of desolation mentioned by Daniel, and the habitation of devils, and the antimark of Christ's church. Williams's defence was, 1. That what he had written was not with any malice or disloyalty of heart towards the king, but purely from affection, and by way of caution and admonition, that his Majesty might avoid the mischiefs likely to befall him; having added in his book, when he delivered the threats of judgment and destruction, which God avert, or such words. 2. That the matter rested only in opinion and thought, and contained no overt act; no rebellion, treason, or other mischief following it. 3. That he had enclosed his book in a box sealed up, and secretly conveyed it to the king, without ever publishing it. But the court was unanimously of opinion, that he was guilty of high treason; and that the words contained in the libel, as cited above, imported the end and destruction of the king and his realm; and that antichristianism and false religion were maintained in the said realm; which was a motive to the people to commit treasons, to raise rebellions, &c. and that the writing of the book was a publication. Reports of Henry Rolle, serjeant at law, part II. p. 88. In consequence of this judgment he had a sentence of death passed upon him, which was executed over-against Charing Cross two days after. MS letters of Mr. Thomas Lorkin to Sir Thomas Puckering, Bart. dated at London, June the 24th and 30th, 1613, and March the 16th, 1618-9, and May the 4th and 5th, 1619, among the Harleian MSS. Vol. 7002. At his death he adhered to his profession of the Roman catholic religion, and died with great resolution. He prayed for the king and prince; and said, that he was sorry for having written so saucily and irreverently; but pretended that he had an inward warrant and particular illumination to understand certain hard passages of Daniel and the Revelation, which made him adventure so far. MS. letter of John Chamberlain, Esq. to Sir Dudley Carleton, dated at London, May 8,
This case was urged against the seven bishops at their trial in king James II.'s reign by Sir William Williams, then solicitor-general, who observed, Trial, p. 76, that it had been made use of by Mr. Solicitor-general Finch on the trial of Col. Sidney, and was the great "case relied upon, and that guided and governed that case;" though there is nothing of this. that appears in the printed trial of Sidney.
It is but justice to the memory of our great antiquary, Sir
latter, touching the book and the letter in the gilt apple, and have advisedly perused and weighed all the examinations and collections which were formerly taken; wherein we might attribute a good deal of worthy industry and watchful inquiry to my lord of Canterbury. We thought fit also to take some new examinations; which was the cause we certified no sooner. Upon the whole matter, we find the cause of his imprisonment just, and the suspicions and presumptions many and great ; which we little need to mention, because your Majesty did relate and inforced them to us in better perfection, than we can express them. But, nevertheless, the proofs seem to us to amount to this, that it was possible he should be the man; and that it was probable, likewise, he was the man: but no convicting proofs, that may satisfy a jury of life and death, or that may make us take it upon our conscience, or to think it agreeable to your Majesty's honour, which next our conscience to God, is the dearest thing to us on earth, to bring it upon the stage; which notwithstanding we, in all humbleness, submit to your Majesty's better judgment. For his liberty, and the manner of his delivery, he having so many notes of a dangerous man, we leave it to your princely wisdom. And so commending your Majesty to God's precious custody, we rest
My Lord Chancellor, yesterday in my presence, had before him the judges of the common pleas, and hath performed his Majesty's royal command in a very worthy fashion, such as was fit for our master's greatness; and because the king may know it, I send you the enclosed. This seemeth to have wrought the effect desired; for presently I sent for Sir Richard Cox, and willed him to present
Your Majesty's most humble and bounden himself to my lord Hobart, and signify his readiness
22 Jan. 1613.
to attend. He came back to me, and told me, all things went on. I know not what afterwards may be ; but I think this long chase is at an end. I ever rest Yours assured,
TO JOHN MURRAY OF THE BED-CHAMBER
I KEEP the same measure in a proportion with my master and with my friend; which is, that I will never deceive them in any thing, which is in my power; and when my power faileth my will, I
Monday is the day appointed for performing his Majesty's commandment. Till then I cannot tell what to advise you farther, except it should be this, that in case the judges should refuse to take order in it themselves, then you must think of some warrant to Mr. Secretary, who is your friend, and constant in the businesses, that he see forthwith his Majesty's commandment executed, touching the double lock; and, if need be, repair to the place, and see by view the manner of keeping the seal; and take order, that there be no stay for working of the Robert Cotton, Bart. to remark here a mistake of Dr. Thomas Smith in his life of Sir Robert, p. 26, prefixed to his catalogue of the Cottonian library, where he has confounded the Cotton, mentioned in the beginning of this note, with Sir Robert Cotton, and erroneously supposed, that the suspicion of having written the libel had fallen upon the latter.
He was created viscount of Annan in Scotland, in August, 1622. Negotiations of Sir Thomas Roe, in his Embassy to the Ottoman Porte, p. 93. In April, 1624, the lord Annan was created earl of Annandale in Scotland. Ibid. p. 250.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY,
I SEND your Majesty enclosed, a copy of our last examination of Peacham,§ taken the 10th of this
This, and the three following letters, are printed from Harl. MSS. Vol. 6986.
He was one of the masters of the green cloth, and had had a quarrel at court during the Christmas holy-days of the year 1614, with Sir Thomas Erskine; which quarrel was made up by the lords of the marshal's court, Sir Richard being obliged to put up with very foul words. MS. letter of Mr. Chamberlain to Sir Dudley Carleton, January 12, 1614-5.
Edmund Peacham, a minister in Somersetshire. [MS. letter of Mr. Chamberlain, dated January 5, 1614-15.] I find one
present; whereby your Majesty may perceive, that this miscreant wretch goeth back from all, and denieth his hand and all. No doubt, being fully of belief, that he should go presently down to his trial, he meant now to repeat his part, which he purposed to play in the country, which was to deny
But your Majesty in your wisdom perceiveth, that this denial of his hand, being not possible to be counterfeited, and to be sworn by Adams, and so oft by himself formerly confessed and admitted, could not mend his case before any jury in the world, but rather aggravateth it by his notorious impudency and falsehood, and will make him more odious. He never deceived me; for when others had hopes of discovery, and thought time well spent that way, I told your Majesty pereuntibus mille figure; and that he now did but turn himself into divers shapes, to save or delay his punishment. And therefore submitting myself to your Majesty's high wisdom, I think myself bound in conscience to put your Majesty in remembrance, whether Sir John Sydenham shall be detained upon this man's impeaching, in whom there is no truth. Notwithstanding, that farther inquiry be made of this other Peacham, and that information and light be taken from Mr. Poulett and his servants, I hold it, as things are, necessary. God preserve your Majesty. Your Majesty's most humble and devoted subject
March 12, 1614.
Supplement of two passages omitted in the edition of SIR FRANCIS BACON's speech in the King's Bench, against OWEN, as printed in his works. After the words [it is bottomless] in the paragraph beginning [For the reason itself, which is the second point &c.] add,
[I SAID in the beginning, that this treason in the nature of it was old. It is not of the treasons whereof it may be said from the beginning it was not so. You are indicted, Owen, not upon any statute made against the pope's supremacy, or other matters, that have reference to religion; but merely upon that law, which was born with the kingdom, and was law even in superstitious times, when the pope was received. The compassing and imagining of the king's death was treason. The statute of the 25th of Edward III. which was but declaratory, begins with this article, as the capital of capitals in treason, and of all others the most odious and the most perilous.] And so the civil law, &c.
At the conclusion of his speech, after the words [the duke of Anjou, and the papists] add,
[As for subjects, I see not, or ever could discern, but that by infallible consequence, it is the case of all subjects and people, as well as of kings; for it nication of a private man, may give his lands and is all one reason, that a bishop, upon an excommugoods in spoil, or cause him to be slaughtered, as FR. BACON. for the pope to do it towards a king; and for a bishop to absolve the son from duty to the father, as for the pope to absolve the subject from his allegiance to his king. And this is not my inference, but the very affirmative of pope Urban the second, who in a brief to Godfrey, bishop of Luca, hath these very words, which cardinal Baronius recite th in his Annals, tom. xi. p. 802. "Non illos homicidas arbitramur, qui adversus excommunicatos zelo prosecute the trial." The event of this trial, which was on the 7th of August, appears from Mr. Chamberlain's letter of the 14th of that month, wherein it is said, that "seven knights were taken from the bench, and appointed to be of the jury. He defended himself very simply, but obstinately and doggedly enough. But his offence was so foul and scandalous, that he was condemned of high treason; yet not hitherto executed, nor perhaps shall be, if he have the grace to submit himself, and show some remorse.' He died, as appears from another letter of the 27th of March, 1616, in the jail at Taunton, where he was said to have "left behind a most wicked and desperate writing, worse than that he was convicted for."
of both his names, who was instituted into the vicarage of
*He had been confronted about the end of February, or beginning of March, 1614-15, with Mr. Peacham, about certain speeches, which had formerly passed between them. MS. letter of Mr. Chamberlain to Sir Dudley Carleton, from London, March 2, 1614-15.
John Poulet, Esq. knight of the shire for the county of Somerset in the parliament, which met April 5, 1614. He was created lord Poulet of Henton St. George, June 23, 1627.
He was of the family of that name at Godstow in Oxfordshire. [Camdeni Annales Regis Jacobi I. p. 12.] He was a young man who had been in Spain; and was condemned at the king's bench, on Wednesday, May 17, 1615, “for divers most vile and traitorous speeches confessed and subscribed with his own hand; as, among others, that it was as lawful for any man to kill a king excommunicated, as for the hangman to execute a condemned person. He could say little for himself, or in maintenance of his desperate positions, but only that he meant it not by the king, and he holds him not excommunicate." MS. letter of Mr. Chamberlain to Sir Dudley Carleton, from London, May 20, 1615.
ACCORDING to his Majesty's pleasure by you IT MAY PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENT MAJESTY, signified unto me, we have attended my lord chan- I RECEIVED this very day, in the forenoon, your cellor, my lord treasurer,‡ and Mr. Chancellor of Majesty's several directions touching your cause the exchequer,§ concerning Sir Gilbert Houghton's prosecuted by my lord Hunsdon ** as your farmer. patent stayed at the seal; and we have acquainted Your first direction was by Sir Christopher Parkins, them with the grounds and state of the suit, to jus- that the day appointed for the judicial sentence tify them, that it was just and beneficial to his Ma- should hold: and if my lord chief justice, upon my jesty. And for any thing we could perceive by any repair to him, should let me know, that he could objection or reply they made, we left them in good not be present, then my lord chancellor should proopinion of the same, with this, that because my lord ceed, calling to him my lord Hobart, except he chancellor, by the advice as it seemeth of the other should be excepted to; and then some other judge two, had acquainted the council-table, for so many by consent. For the latter part of this your direcas were then present, with that suit amongst others, tion, I suppose, there would have been no difficulty they thought fit to stay till his Majesty's coming to in admitting my lord Hobart; for after he had astown, being at hand, to understand his farther plea-sisted at so many hearings, it would have been too sure. We purpose upon his Majesty's coming, to attend his Majesty, to give him a more particular account of this business, and some other. Meanwhile, finding his Majesty to have care of the matter, we thought it our duty to return this answer to you in discharge of his Majesty's direction. We remain,
I AM sorry of your misfortune; and for any thing, that is within mine own command, your lordship may expect no other than the respects of him, that forgetteth not your lordship is to him a near ally, and an ancient acquaintance, client, and friend. For that, which may concern my place, which governeth me, and not I it; if any thing be demanded at my hands or directed, or that I am ex officio to do any thing; if, I say, it come to any of these three; for as yet I am a stranger to the business; yet saving my duties, which I will never live to violate, your lordship shall find, that I will observe those degrees and limitations of proceeding, which belongeth to him, that knoweth well he serveth a clement and merciful master, and that in his own nature shall ever incline to the more benign part; and that knoweth also what belongeth to nobility,
late to except to him. But then your Majesty's
Farther, I think fi to let your Majesty know, that in my opinion I hold it a fit time to proceed in the business of the Rege inconsulto, which is appointed for Monday, I did think these greater causes would have come to period or pause sooner: but now they are in the height, and to have so great a matter as this of the Rege inconsulto handled, when men do aliud agere, I think it no proper time. Besides, your Majesty in your great wisdom knoweth, that this business of Mr. Murray's is somewhat against the stream of the judges' inclination: and it is no part of a skilful mariner to sail on against a tide, when the tide is at strongest. If your Majesty be pleased to write to my lord Coke, that you would have the business of the Rege inconsulto receive a hearing, when he should be animo sedato et libero,
From the collections of the late Robert Stephens, Esq.
** John Carey, Baron of Hunsdon. He died in April, 1617.
court of re
and not in the midst of his assiduous and incessant | 6. Against the cares and industries in other practices, I think your Majesty shall do your service right. Howsoever, I will be provided against the day.
Thus praying God for your happy preservation, whereof God giveth you so many great pledges, I rest your Majesty's most humble and devoted subject and servant,
November 17, 1615.
7. Against the chancery for decrees after judgment. Præmunire for suits in the chancery.
Innovations introduced into the laws and govern
IN this he prevailed, and the commission was pared, and namely, the point of alimony left out, whereby wives are left wholly to the tyranny of their husbands. This point, and some others, may require a review, and is fit to be restored to the commission.
In this he prevailed in such sort, as the precedents are continually suitors for the enlargement of the instructions, sometimes in one point, sometimes in another; and the jurisdictions grow into contempt, and more would, if the lord chancellor did not strengthen them by injunctions, where they exceed not their instructions.
In this he was overruled by the sentence of the court; but he bent all his strength and wits to have prevailed: and so did the other judges by long and laborious arguments: and if they had prevailed, the authority of the court had been overthrown. But the plurality of the court took more regard to their own precedents, than to the judges' opinion.
In this he prevaileth, for prohibitions fly continually; and many times are cause of long suits, to the discontent of foreign ambassadors, and the king's dishonour and trouble by their remonstrances.
This is new, and would be forthwith restrained, and the others settled.
This paper was evidently designed against the lord chief justice Coke.
In this he prevaileth; and this but lately brought in question.
In this his Majesty hath made an establishment: and he hath not prevailed, but made a great noise and trouble.
This his Majesty hath also established, being a strange attempt to make the chancellor sit under a hatchet, instead of the king's arms.
This was but a bravery, and dieth of itself, especially the authority of the chancery by his Majesty's late proceedings being so well established.
This in good time was overruled by the voice of eight judges of ten, after they had heard your attorney. And had it prevailed, it had overthrown the parliament of Ireland, which would have been imputed to a fear in this state to have proceeded; and so his Majesty's authority and reputation lost in that kingdom.
This is yet sub judice: but if it should prevail, it maketh the judges absolute over the patents of the king, be they of power and profit, contrary to the ancient and ever continued law of the crown; which doth call those causes before the king himself, as he is represented in chancery.
In this he prevailed, and gave opinion, that the king by his great seal could not so much as move any his subjects for benevolence. But this he retracted after in the star-chamber; but it marred the benevolence in the mean time.
In this, for as much as in him was, and in the court of king's bench, he prevailed, though it was holpen by the good service of others. But the opinion, which he held, amounted in effect to this, that no word of scandal or defamation, importing that the king was utterly unable or unworthy to govern, were treason, except they disabled his title, &c.
In this we prevailed with him to give opinion it was treason: but then it was upon a conceit of