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expressed through sir Thomas Monson, that Elways had received him into his service and set him over the prisoner.
Another very striking piece of evidence was that of sir David Wood, to the following effect:- That he had obtained the king's consent to a suit in which he was a petitioner, and which would have been worth 22001. to him; but that he was crossed in it by lord Rochester, who refused to let it pass unless he would give him 12001., and by sir Thomas Overbury, who had given him words for which he intended to bastinado him. That, upon this, the countess of Essex had sent for him, and told him that she understood he had received much wrong from Overbury, and that he was a gentleman who could revenge himself; adding, that sir Thomas had also injured her. He replied, that Overbury had refused him the field : she then endeavoured to
persuade him to assassinate him, promising him 10001. for his reward, and protection from his enemies. This offer he refused, saying that he should be loth to hazard Tyburn on a woman's word; yet she continued to urge it, saying that he might easily kill his enemy as he returned late from sir Charles Wilmot's in his coach. After a strong charge from the chief-justice, in which he could not resist the temptation of remarking that poisoning was “a popish trick,” Weston was found guilty and underwent the just sentence of the law.
The next trial, that of the infamous Mrs. Turner, was calculated to awaken a more thrilling interest
than any of the rest, since an examination into her magical experiments was mingled with the only charge regularly before the court,—her guilt as an accessory in the murder. Sir Laurence Hyde, the queen's attorney, after declaiming a while on the wickedness and heinousness of poisoning, “showed further, that there was one Dr. Forman dwelling in Lambeth, who died very suddenly, and a little before his death he desired that he might be buried very deep in the ground, or else,' saith he, “I shall fear you all.' To him in his life-time often resorted the countess of Essex and Mrs. Turner, calling him father; their cause of coming to him was, that by force of magic he should procure the now earl of Somerset, then viscount Rochester, to love her, and sir Arthur Manwaring to love Mrs. Turner;” and two of the countess's infamous letters on this subject, to Mrs. Turner and to Forman, were read in court. Some of their magical apparatus, as images, pictures and “ enchanted papers,” were likewise produced. At this moment "there was heard a crack from the scaffolds, which caused great fear, tumult and confusion among the spectators and throughout the hall, every one fearing hurt, as if the devil had been present, and grown angry to have his workmanship showed by such as were not his scholars." When the panic had a little subsided, more of “the eunning tricks” were exposed. 6. There was also a note showed in court, made by Dr. Forman and written in parchment, signifying what ladies loved what lords in the court; but the lord-chief-justice would not suffer it to be read in open court." The good-natured world believed that he found the name of his own wife in the first page.
The active agency of Mrs. Turner in the poisoning was in the end abundantly proved to the jury, and Coke pronounced sentence upon her with evident satisfaction; not forgetting to tell her that she was guilty of the seven deadly sins, of which he reckoned witchcraft as one and popery as another.
Many women of fashion, as well as men, went in their coaches to Tyburn to witness the death of this woman, who edified the spectators, it is said, with a very penitent end; though she could not deny her vanity the slight gratification of making this her last appearance in a ruff stiffened with yellow starch, -a favorite fashion imported by herself from France, but to which this exhibition of it proved immediately fatal.
On the trial of sir Gervase Elways, which was the next proceeded in, the guilty and disgusting letters of the earl of Northampton were read, and several fresh indications of the participation of Somerset in the murder of his friend were produced. The name of sir Thomas Monson, the chief falconer, was also brought in question, as an assistant in the unwarrantable measure of keeping the unfortunate Overbury in close custody, and as a probable depository of the whole atrocious plot. Elways defended himself stoutly; but the evidence of some of his own letters appeared conclusive, and a verdict of Guilty was promptly returned. The voluntary confession of one Franklin an apothecary, read on the trial of Elways, contains a curious list of the most approved poisons of that day, which Franklin had procured for the countess by order of Mrs. Turner. These were, aqua fortis, white arsenic, corrosive sublimate, powder of diamonds, lunar caustic, great spiders and cantharides. Franklin himself was next put to the bar, and, notwithstanding his confession and his penitence, shared the fate of his predecessors,
Sir Thomas Monson was now arraigned, and strenuously exhorted by the crown lawyers to acknowledge his offence, one of them declaring that he was “as guilty as the guiltiest;” but he steadily persisted in the assertion of his innocence, and in the midst of the proceedings he was suddenly carried off from the bar by several yeomen of the Tower, and after a short interval liberated from that place of confinement without further process of any
kind. Not the least mysterious of the many strange circumstances attendant on this memorable case a !"
After the unsparing chastisement of so many accomplices in this deed of darkness, the public must naturally have anticipated a similar infliction on the still more guilty principals; and the emphatic eulogiums of the chief-justice, and of Bacon as attorneygeneral, on the righteous zeal of the king for the
* The preceding account of the trials of these delinquents has been derived from the minute and apparently authentic narrative affixed to a tract entitled “ Truth brought to light by time,” first printed in 1651. VOL. II.
impartial execution of justice, even upon those who had been nearest and dearest to him, were calculated to confirm the expectation. But long delays were interposed which served to weary out the indignation originally excited by the fact, and gradually to prepare the minds of men for the unjustifiable act of lenity which was contemplated.
Amid the various and contradictory accounts of this affair handed down to us by the memoir-writers of the age,—often ill-informed and always prejudiced,—our best elue to the truth is supplied by the official letters of sir Francis Bacon to the king and to Villiers. From these documents, it appears that the interval between the conviction of the other delinquents and the trials of the earl and countess of Somerset, which did not take place till May 1616, was occupied in frequent examinations of the prisoners, and strenuous endeavours to bring them to confession. With the lady, these efforts were at length successful; after many denials, she appeared touched with a late remorse, and owned her guilt. But the mind of her husband was of a tougher texture, and from him not the slightest concession could be obtained, either by threats or promises. Meantime lord Digby returned from his Spanish embassy, and conveyed to the king an intimation of certain clandestine negotiations which had been carried on between his late favorite and the court of Spain ; and Somerset was in consequence subjected to fresh interrogations relative to this matter, which appear to have disturbed him more than those which had