« 上一頁繼續 »
to the charge of poisoning Overbury only, may have proceeded from the dread of the disclosure of other circumstances, which it was his interest should remain concealed. But the most complete proof of Somerset's entire innocence of this crime still remains, and is to be found in the unanswerable fact, that the prince's body was examined after death, and that no symptoms of his having been poisoned were discovered.* Sir Theodore Mayerne, his physician, has left a most accurate account of the prince's illness and death; and from that account, and from the report of the appearances on dissection, there can be no doubt that Henry died of a violent putrid fever. Those persons who possessed the best means of forming a correct judgement upon the subject, have been uniformly of opinion, that the prince's death was not hastened by violence. Sir Charles Cornwallis, who held a place in his household, has denied the fact; even Welwood admits, that no proof of the crime can be gathered from the report of the physicians; and almost every historian, who has examined the question with calmness and impartiality, has exonerated both the king and his favourite from the charge. Such is the opinion of Rapin, of Hume, and of Dr. Birch in his Life of Prince Henry.‡ To these names, we may add that of Dr. Aikin, to whom the literary world is indebted for a laborious life spent in its service, and whose scientific acquirements and habits of biographical research well qualified him to pronounce a judgement upon a case like this. "The patient," says he, "died on the 6th November, and from the whole course of the symptoms, as well as the appearances on dissection, there cannot be the least doubt that his death was the consequence of a natural disease, and not induced by any iniquitous means, as some of the enemies of that unhappy family have affected to believe."§ In this opinion, Dr. Aikin is joined by his daughter, whose admirable
In cases of vegetable poisons, however, it is, we believe, very. seldom that the stomach exhibits traces of them.
This report, which may be found in the tract, entitled "Truth brought to light," in Welwood's Memoirs, and, with some variations, in Aulicus Coquinaria, was signed by all the physicians, and states, that "the stomach was in no part offended." It must be observed, that Sir Theodore Mayerne published this narrative in his own vindication, as some imputations had been publicly cast upon him; but even if this should render his evidence suspected, it cannot be supposed that six of the most eminent physicians in the country could have been prevailed upon to attest a falsehood.
Dr. Birch, however, does not take into account the singular conduct of Coke and Bacon on the Overbury trials.
§ Aikin's Biographical Memoirs of Medicine, p. 253.
Memoirs of Elizabeth and James have done so much credit to her taste and industry.* Having thus attempted to state the strongest arguments and authorities on both sides of this very curious question, we shall leave our readers to form their own conclusions.
As we have had occasion to mention the trials of Sir Thomas Overbury's murderers in the above inquiry, we may add, that our author is not entirely correct in his relation of some circumstances connected with those transactions. According to him, Franklin, who had provided the poisonous drugs, confessed on his arraignment, that Overbury was smothered, and not poisoned, though he had poison administered to him; and he takes this opportunity of fastening a most serious charge on the chief justice, Sir Edward Coke, for whom he appears to have conceived a great animosity.
"Here was Coke glad, how to cast about to bring both ends together, Mrs. Turner and Weston being already hanged for killing Overbury with poison, but he being the very quintessence of law, presently informs the jury, that if a man be done to death with pistols, poniards, swords, halter, poison, &c., so he be done to death, the indictment is good if but indicted for any of those ways; but the good lawyers of those times were not of that opinion, but did believe that Mrs. Turner was directly murdered by my Lord Coke's law, as Overbury was without any law."-p. 109.
Now it does not appear from the report of Franklin's case in the State Trials, nor from any other source to which we have referred, that Franklin ever made such a confession, nor is it at all probable that Overbury perished in this manner. The imputation cast upon Sir Edward Coke is most unjust; and as it has been suffered to pass without answer by the editor of the Secret History of James I., we shall perhaps be excused in offering an explanation of the chief justice's conduct in this place, though we are aware that it savours a little too much of dry technicalities. Nothing can be more correct in point of law than Coke's charge to the jury, whom he told, that "if they were satisfied of the poisoning, it skilled not with what," informing them, that if a man was indicted for murdering another with a dagger, and, in fact, the murder was committed with a sword or a rapier, it is immaterial so as the jury find the murder. But he never instructed them, that on an indictment for poisoning, a man may be convicted of a murder committed with a sword, which is another kind of death, and which is clearly contrary to law. So far from the chief justice having com
* Memoirs of the Court of King James I. i. 410.
mitted any mistake, we find the law most correctly laid down by him, not only on Weston's trial, but in other places.
Of the Raleigh treason, which is another of the " stateriddles" of James's reign, Weldon gives the following account.
"But because I will not leave you altogether blind-folded, I shall, as near as I can, lead you to the discovery of this treason, which consisted of protestants, puritans, papists, and atheists; a strange medley, you will say, to meet in one and the same treason, and keep counsel, which surely they did, because they knew not of any. The protestants were the Lord Cobham and George Brook, his brother; the one very learned and wise, the other a most silly lord; the puritan, the Lord Gray of Wilton, a very hopeful gentleman, blasted in the very bud; the papists, Watson and Clark, priests, and Parham, ́ a gentleman; the atheist, Sir Walter Raleigh, then generally so believed, though after brought by affliction (the best school-mistress) to be, and so died, a most religious gentleman. This treason was compounded of most strange ingredients (and more strange than true) it was very true, most of these were discontented to see Salisbury, their old friend, so high to trample on them that before had been his chief supporters and (being ever of his faction) now neglected and condemned. It was then believed an arrant trick of state, to overthrow some and disable others, knowing their strong abilities might otherwise live to overthrow Salisbury; for they were intimate in all his secret counsels for the ruin of Essex, especially Raleigh, Gray, and Cobham, though the latter was a fool, yet had been very useful to them, as the tool in the hand of the workman. To have singled out these without some priests, which were traitors by the law, had smelt too rank, and appeared too poor and plain a trick of state; and Salisbury in this had a double benefit-first, in ridding himself of such as he feared would have been thorns in his sides-secondly, by endearing himself to the king by showing his diligence and vigiláncy, so that it might be said of him, as of Cæsar in another case, inveniam aut faciam, I will either find out a treason, or make one; and this had been a pretty trick had it been only to disgrace, without taking away life; but how this piece of policy may stand with religion, I fear, by this time, he too well understands; and this plot, as near as I can tell you (and I dare say my intelligence gave me as near a guess as ever any man had) was, that all these in a discontented humour had, by Watson and Clark being confessors, dealt with Count Aremberg, the arch-duke's ambassador, to raise an army, and invade England, and they would raise another of papists and malcontents to join; for you must understand, the king was believed an arrant puritan (cujus contrarium verum est). How likely this plot was, let the world judge, that the King of Spain, who had bought peace at so dear a rate, and found it so advantageous to him by the lamentable experience he had formerly in the wars with this formidable state, should seek to break it so soon. And had it been real treason, the state had been bound to have rewarded these traitors, as the best piece of service done in England all that king's reign. It was, indeed, those that
made the peace, not those that endeavoured the breaking of it, were the traitors, and are to be cursed by all posterity. Yet this foolish plot served well enough to take some blocks out of the way, that might afterwards have made some of them stumble to the breaking of their own necks."-p. 30.
Notwithstanding the doubt with which Weldon speaks of the existence of this plot, a doubt which has been expressed by many other writers, there seems to be no just ground for disbelieving it. How far Raleigh was implicated in it, is another question. The prisoners in general confessed themselves guilty, which is pretty nearly as strong a proof as could be procured. Nor is it by any means improbable, that one of the objects of the conspirators was to place the Lady Arabella on the throne. That such a design would have been encouraged by Spain, notwithstanding the recent peace, can scarcely be doubted, when the uniform policy of that country towards England at this period is considered. The advice of the Jesuit* Campanella, in his "Discourse touching the Spanish Monarchy," proves how well such a scheme was considered to square with the interests of Spain. There is a curious coincidence between the Jesuit's exhortation, and the subsequent conduct of the Spanish court.
"My opinion, therefore, is that the King of Spain should do well to employ underhand some certain merchants of Florence, that are arch and subtle persons, and that traffick at Antwerp, who (because they are not so much hated by the English as the Spaniards are) should treat with some such of the English, as are some way or other descended from some of the former Kings of England, and should promise each of them severally, (no one of them knowing any thing which is said to the other) all the possible aids that can be from Spain, for the restoring of them to their inheritances, legally descending down to them from their ancestors, and undertake to effect this for them; if not, as to the whole kingdom, yet as to some part of it." p. 158.
With regard to Raleigh, there seems every reason to believe that he was actually innocent of all treasonable connexion with this conspiracy; that he was never legally proved guilty, is undoubted. It is by no means so clear, that he had not been induced to accept a portion of the Spanish gold which Cobham
A Discourse touching the Spanish Monarchy, &c., written by Thomas Campanella, newly translated into English according to the true edition of this book in Latin. London, 1654. This Discourse was written before the accession of James.
had received from Aremberg. He might have consented to be bought over to the Spanish interest. He does not appear, on his trial, to have denied the receipt of the money, though he most positively denies his participation in any treasonable plot. When the Chief Justice asked him, what he had to say to Cobham's letter, and the pension of £1500 a year? Raleigh, not denying the fact, replied, "I say, that Cobham is a base, dishonourable, poor soul."* The cruel and overbearing conduct of Sir Edward Coke, then Attorney-General, upon this trial, will for ever remain the greatest stain upon his character. In calling Sir Walter an atheist, however, it seems that Coke was borne out, if we believe Weldon, by the common rumours of the day; and it should not be forgotten, that he afterwards retracted this charge in the fullest manner, when he passed sentence on the unfortunate Raleigh. "I know," says he," you have been valiant and wise, and I doubt not but you retain both those virtues, for now you shall have occasion to use them your faith hath heretofore been questioned; but I am resolved you are a good Christian, for your book, which is an admirable work, doth testify as much." The verses attributed to Sir Walter Raleigh, entitled My Pilgrimage, likewise tend to show, that he harboured no infidelity, at the time of his death.‡
In his characters of the celebrated men of his time, Weldon is somewhat of a satirist, and is almost always severe in his judgements. Of Bacon, he relates the following anecdotes.
"Now was Bacon invested in his office, and within ten days after the king goes to Scotland. Bacon instantly begins to believe himself king, lies in the king's lodgings, gives audience in the great banqueting house, makes all other counsellors attend his motions, with the same state the king used to come out to give audience to ambassadors. When any other counsellor sate with him about the king's affairs, he would (if they sate near him) bid them know their distance; upon which, secretary Winwood rose, went away, and would never sit more under his encroached state, but instantly despatched one to the king, to desire him to make haste back, for even his very seat was already usurped. At which, I remember the king, reading it unto us, both the king, and we were very merry; and, if Buckingham had sent him any letters, would not vouchsafe the opening or reading them in public; though it was said, it requiring speedy despatch, nor would he vouchsafe him any answer. In this posture he lived, until he heard that
ii. State Trials, p. 28.
+ Ibid. p. 38.
And see the Secret History of James I. 1.342.