« AnteriorContinuar »
it is now five years since this unfortunate man Turner, be it upon accident or be it upon despite, gave the provocation which was the seed of your malice. All passions are assuaged with time love, hatred, grief, all; fire itself burns out with time, if no new fuel be put to it. Therefore for you to have been in the gall of bitterness so long, and to have been in restless chase of this blood for so many years, is a strange example; and I must tell you plainly, that I conceive you have sucked those affections of dwelling in malice rather out of Italy and outlandish manners where you have conversed, than out of any part of this island, England or Scotland.
But that which is fittest for me to spend time in (the matter being confessed) is to set forth and magnify to the hearers the justice of this day; first of God, and then of the King.
My Lord, you have friends and entertainments in foreign parts; it had been an easy thing for you to set Carlile or some other bloodhound on work, when your person had been beyond the seas; and so this news might have come to you in a packet, and you might have looked on how the storm would pass: but God bereaved you of this foresight, and bound you here under the hand of a King, that though abundant in clemency, yet is no less zealous of justice.
Again, when you came in at Lambeth, you might have persisted in the denial of the procurement of the fact. Carlile, a resolute man, might perhaps have cleared you (for they that are resolute in mischief, are commonly obstinate in concealing their procurers), and so nothing should have been against you but presumption. But then also God, to take away all obstructions of justice, gave you the grace (which ought indeed to be more true comfort to you than any device whereby you might have escaped) to make a clear and plain confession.
Other impediments there were (not a few) which might have been an interruption to this day's justice, had not God in his providence removed them.
But, now that I have given God the honour, let me give it likewise where it is next due, which is, to the King our Sovereign.
This murther was no sooner committed, and brought to his Majesty's ears, but his just indignation, wherewith he first was 1 that: Cab,
moved, cast itself into a great deal of care and providence' to have justice done. First came forth his proclamation, somewhat of a rare form, and devised and in effect dictated by his Majesty himself; and by that he did prosecute the offenders, as it were, with the breath and blast of his mouth. Then did his Majesty stretch forth his long arms (for Kings have long arms when they will extend them) one of them to the sea, where he took hold of Grey shipped for Sweden," who gave the first light of testimony; the other arm to Scotland, and took hold of Carlile, ere he was warm in his house, and brought him the length of his kingdom under such safe watch and custody, as he could have no means to escape, no nor to mischief himself, no nor learn no lessons to stand mute; in which case, perhaps, this day's justice might have received a stop. So that I may conclude his Majesty hath shewed himself God's true lieutenant, and that he is no respecter of persons; but English, Scottish, nobleman, fencer, are to him alike in respect of justice.
Nay, I must say further, that his Majesty hath had in this a kind of prophetical spirit; for what time Carlile and Grey, and you, my Lord, yourself, were fled no man knew whither, to the four winds, the King ever spake in a confident and undertaking manner, that wheresover the offenders were in Europe, he would produce them forth to justice; of which noble word God hath made him master.
Lastly, I will conclude towards you, my Lord, that though your offence hath been great, yet your confession hath been free, and your behaviour and speech full of discretion; and this shews, that though you could not resist the tempter, yet you bear a christian and generous spirit, answerable to the noble family of which you are descended. This I commend in you, and take it to be an assured token of God's mercy and favour, in respect whereof all worldly things are but trash; and so it is fit for you, as your state now is, to account them. And this is all I will say for the present.
If the law against murder was ever to be enforced, it could not in this case be remitted. Lord Sanquhar was hanged on the 29th of June, in front of the great gate of Westminster Hall. But his rank, though it did not weigh with the King as a reason for reprieving him, 3 noblemen: Cab.
1 prudence: Cab.
2 Luedia: Cab.
seems to have had its effect upon the bystanders. The murder of an Englishman by a Scotchman for such a cause and in such a way was not in itself an act to move sympathy in a crowd of English spectaYet the feeling excited by his execution is said to have been pity. He played the scene handsomely; and both at his trial and execution so behaved himself, says Chamberlain, "that he moved much commiseration: and yet he professed himself a Romish Catholic, and died resolutely, and, as it seemed, with great remorse."
not probable that any pity was felt for either of the Scotch servants whose hands he employed, and who suffered in the same way. For men of their rank it was an accident common enough. But when a nobleman is hanged, the contrast betwen the felicity of the fortune and the infelicity of the fate strikes the common mind as something strange and lamentable.
The marriage of the Lady Arabella Stuart with William Seymour was not a matter upon which Bacon was ever, so far as I know, called upon for opinion or advice. The only extant writing of his which connects him with the case is a charge against the Countess of Shrewsbury for contempt in refusing to answer questions put to her by the Council in reference to it: and though his argument required a recapitulation of the circumstances, it is to be accepted as the argument of an advocate speaking for his client, rather than that of a councillor giving advice. Not that I suppose he would have told a different story in another place; but that the personal opinions of a crown lawyer as to proceedings of the Crown, are not to be inferred from his professional arguments in defence of them.
Lady Arabella Stuart had the misfortune to have so much royal blood in her, that if she married a husband with an equal share of it a son of hers might become a pretender to the crown. Though there is no reason to suppose that she had any such ambition, the moderation of her own desires was no security against what might happen. She could not answer for the desires of a husband or a son. The wars of the Roses were too fresh in memory to have lost their value as a warning. A disputable succession was still the terror of English statesmen and we must not be surprised if the sentimental sufferings of two lovers (infinitely more interesting though they be to a modern reader) seemed to them unimportant in comparison. That her marriage could not be altogether her own business, was a misfortune; but one which came by the nature of
1 C. and T. of James I., i. 180.
things and could not be helped. In other respects it cannot be said that her fate was a hard one. She was acknowledged and treated as the King's cousin: she had social position, liberty, wealth, favour, and leave to marry whom she liked-with a very few exceptions. To be restrained by the nature of things from marrying the one person who would be the most acceptable of all, is a common condition, not by any means confined to ladies of the blood royal in tyrannous times: and if the Lady Arabella could have submitted, as other people do, to what was inevitable, and made the best of the large choice which was still left her among the good things which the world had to offer, she might have done well enough. Unfortunately,—if it is not too hard upon fortune to lay all the blame on it,-in an age when marriages were rarely made even in private life without consultation and consent of parents and guardians, and having just received a fair warning that her marriage was an event to which the State could not be indifferent, she not only accepted the addresses of William Seymour, but entered into a secret engagement to marry him. It is said indeed that she had obtained the King's consent by implication: for he had assured her that he would not object to her marriage with any subject of his, and Seymour was his subject. But assurance of the King's approval of her choice was no good reason for not acquainting him with it. That she was not sure of it, would have been a better. For it is undoubtedly true that when two people want to marry against the wishes of their relations, the shortest and most effectual way to avoid or remove difficulties is to marry first and ask leave after. When it cannot be prevented it will be more easily acquiesced in. Whether this was Arabella's policy and intention, we cannot tell for the secret was discovered before it was confessed. A fortunate discovery, if she was really acting under the impression that the alliance would not be objected to: for it let her see her error before it was too late to alter her course. William Seymour was the second son of Lord Beauchamp, son of the Earl of Hertford and Catherine Gray and if his elder brother should die without issue (which seemed probable then, and came to pass shortly after) the title of the house of Suffolk to the English throne would descend to him. The title of the Seymours and of Arabella united might breed a pretender, who (under circumstances neither inconceivable nor unprecedented) would be formidable. The King, having heard of the engagement, forbade the marriage, and obtained from Seymour a promise to proceed no further with it. But it was too late. The affair had risen above the region in which Kings and politicians have jurisdiction. The affection of two hearts was irrevocably engaged, and after an ineffectual struggle of
three months, vindicated its right and carried the day. They were married to each other about the end of May 1610, and in the beginning of July the King heard of their marriage. If the political objection to the alliance had any weight, it was not lightened by the manner in which it had been brought about; nor was it yet too late to prevent the consequences, in which alone the danger which was the ground of the objection lay. Though they could not be prevented from being man and wife, they might be prevented from having children. Seymour was accordingly committed to the Tower, and Arabella to custody at Lambeth: and when it was found that she was keeping up a correspondence with her husband, it was determined to remove her to Durham. The custody in both cases must have been sufficiently lax; for while she was on her way (by very slow stages in consideration of alleged bodily weakness) to her new destination, she contrived, with the help of her aunt the Countess of Shrewsbury, to arrange with her husband a plan of escape, of meeting, and of taking ship together for the Continent: a plan which was executed successfully, as far as the escape went; and was only prevented by an accident from succeeding altogether. They both escaped from custody at the same time, and both sailed from the same place; though he had to go in a different ship. But this, though a disappointment, was really a piece of good fortune; for the ship in which she sailed was pursued and caught, while his landed him safely at Ostend.
If the married pair would have been dangerous, living at the English Court in loyalty and favour, it was plain they would be infinitely more dangerous living abroad as exiles and fugitives-guests of alien and rival powers, and out of humour with their own government. Arabella being recaptured therefore, it seemed more necessary than ever to prevent her from escaping again and joining her husband beyond the sea, and she was lodged in the Tower for security.
The attempt to escape was accounted a great offence, and the Countess of Shrewsbury, who had something to do with it, was brought before the Council and interrogated. Refusing to answer, she was herself committed to the Tower; where she continued inexorable and invincible. It was in June 1611 that she was first lodged there. On the 12th of February following we learn from Chamberlain that she was still a prisoner, " rather (he adds) upon wilfulness than upon any great matter she is charged withal, only the King is resolute that she shall answer to certain interrogatories, and she as obstinate to make none, nor to be examined." On the 30th of June
1 C. and T. of James I., i. p. 161.