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your neck,

This open rivalry disturbed the king; and being anxious to compose it, he is said to have directed his new favorite to wait upon the old one with a courtly offer of becoming “ his creature," which overture he caused it to be intimated to Somerset that it was his pleasure he should receive with graciousness. But the pride of the earl disdained the compromise; and he is reported to have repelled the advances of Villiers with this “ quick and short answer; ‘I will none of your service, and you shall none of my favor. I will, if I can, break and of that be confident.'

It was not till after this ill-timed declaration of hostilities, that any inquiry was instituted into the secrets of the prison-house; and it is, to say the least, no improbable conjecture of a contemporary writer, that “had Somerset complied with Villiers, Overbury's death had still been raked up in his own ashes a.

We do not certainly learn by whom the first impulse was given which moved the king to make this affair the subject of judicial investigation; but there is some reason to believe that it was secretary Winwood: be this as it may, one of the first steps which can now be traced was, his majesty's sending for sir Gervase Elways, lieutenant of the Tower, and questioning him so closely and so ably,-for James prided himself with some reason on his skill in examinations,—that the terrified man was brought to


• Weldon's Court of king Jumes, pp. 97, 98.

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a confession of the following circumstances:– That very soon after Overbury had been committed to his custody, he met Weston, whom he had set over him as his keeper, carrying him his supper, with a small phial also in his hand. Weston asked, “ Shall I give it him now, sir?” of which words he having required an explanation, Weston at length owned to him that the phial came from the countess of Essex, and contained poison: for this, as he averred, he rebuked him severely, and made him promise to forbear this attack on the life of his prisoner. He had not however deemed it necessary to remove Weston from his office of keeper, and this person had since confessed to him, that a remedy which a certain apothecary had administered to Overbury with his privity and assistance, and for which the apothecary had a reward of 201. from the countess of Essex, was the cause of his death.

On this information the king directed the chiefjustice to apprehend and examine Weston. This wretch was with some difficulty brought to confirm the whole story of the lieutenant, only protesting that he did not in reality admivister the liquor in the phial to Overbury. He owned however that he had repeatedly carried to him tarts and jellies sent by the countess, which he believed to be poisoned, and was enjoined not to taste. It also came out, that he had received a sum of money from this lady, through her agent Mrs. Turner, as a reward on the death of Overbury. Another part of Weston's statement, corroborated by a second witness, was, that Somer


set sent a letter to Overbury in the Tower, inclosing a white powder, which he requested him to take, and not to fear though it should make him sick, for out of his sickness he would draw an argument for his liberation.

Several other accomplices were now traced out and strictly examined, and James, who appears to have personally directed every part of the proceedings, found it necessary, on their united testimony, to instruct the chief-justice to issue his warrant for the commitment of the earl and countess of Somerset to private custody, which was executed on October 15, 1615. The remarkable circumstances of the king's final parting with his once-loved Carr, are thus recorded by Weldon:

“ The king with this took his farewell for a time of London, and was accompanied with Somerset to Royston; where no sooner he brought him, but instantly took his leave, little imagining what viper lay among the herbs. Nor must I forget to let you know how perfect the king was in the art of dissimulation, or, to give it in his own phrase, king-craft. The earl of Somerset never parted from him with more seeming affection than at this time, when he knew Somerset should never see him more; and had you seen that seeming affection, as the author himself did, you would rather have believed he was in his rising than setting. The earl, when he kissed his hand, the king hung about his neck, slabbering his cheeks, saying, “For God's sake when shall I see thee again? On my soul I shall neither eat nor


sleep until you come again. The earl told him, on Monday,' this being on the Friday. For God's sake let me,' said the king - Shall I, shall I ?' then lolled about his neck. « Then for God's sake give thy lady this kiss for me.' In the same manner at the stairs' head, at the middle of the stairs, and at the stairs' foot. The earl was not in his coach when the king used these very words, in the hearing of four servants, one of whom was Somerset's great creature, and of the bed-chamber, who reported it instantly to the author of this history; “ I shall never see his face morea."

Roger Coke in his “ Detection” has related this part of the story with some variation. According to him, the warrant of the chief-justice was served upon Somerset at Royston, who exclaiming, that “Never such an affront was offered to a peer of England in presence of the king,”—“Nay, man,” said the king, “if Coke sends for me, I must go." And when he was gone, " Now the de'el go with thee,” said the king, “ for I will never see thy face more." But it is unlike James to have inculcated on any occasion such an idea of the power of a chief-justice; and there also appears to be sufficient evidence that the arrest of Somerset took place in London. The chief-justice however, fearful of taking upon himself the sole responsibility of an affair in which so great a personage was implicated, posted the same day to Royston to petition the king that other com

a Weldon's Court of king' James, p. 104


missioners might be joined with him in taking the necessary examinations: this was granted, and, according to our author, the king on the same occasion expressed great indignation against Somerset and his wife, for having, as he said, made him an agent in their adultery and murder; “ and he imprecated a solemn curse upon Coke and his posterity, if he spared any, and upon himself and his if he pardoned any of them."

Weston was now arraigned; but by the direction of serjeant Yelverton, who was “an obliged servant to the house of Howard,” he stood mute; to the great perplexity of Coke, who well knew that unless the principal in the murder were convicted, the accessaries could not be put on their trials. He ceeded nevertheless to cause all the examinations and confessions which had been taken to be publicly read, a step apparently of doubtful legality; after this he adjourned the court for a few days, to give the prisoner leisure to meditate on the horrors of the peine forte et dure, which he had set before him. On his re-appearance he was found more tractable, and pleading Not guilty, the trial proceeded. It was now proved, in addition to what has been already stated, that Weston had lived as a servant with Mrs. Turner; that whilst in this situation he had been employed as a trusty messenger and letter-carrier between the countess of Essex and her paramour lord Rochester; and that it was at this lady's request,

He pro

* Coke's Detection, p. 78.


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