London, Volume 5

Knight, Charles

1843

CV. Historical Recollections of Guildhall.

CV. Historical Recollections of Guildhall.

 

 

 

It may appear at glance a curious circumstance that the greatest events of which the edifice above-named has been the scene should be those which have had the least direct connection with its general objects or character. Instead of the election and banqueting of a Mayor, the repression of some new system of swindling; or-what to some would seem to be almost synonymous--of some new proposition of municipal reform, each alike, figuratively speaking, stirring the very hair of civic heads with horror; or, lastly, instead of an inquiry into some delectable police case, the principal matters that now agitate , or draw public attention towards it,--we find here, in former times, sceptres changing hands, new religions proscribed, and their disciples sent to martyrdom, trials of men who would have revolutionised the state, and who might, by the least turn of Fortune's wheel in a different direction, have changed places in the court with those who sat there to decide upon their lives, or rather to destroy them in accordance with a previous decision--the more common state of things in our old crown prosecutions. But the connection of such events with was not so remote, still less so accidental, as it seems. Without trenching upon the proper history of the latter, which belongs to another paper, we may here observe that when was the concentrating point towards which, in all matters affecting the independence, prosperity, and government of London, the intellect, wealth,

66

and numerical strength of London generally systematically tended, it is evident that no place throughout England was so favourable for those royal and political manoeuvres of which the historical recollections of furnish such memorable examples. If Gloster wishes to be king, it is to that he sends the wily Buckingham to expressly ask the suffrages of the people: if the bigoted council of the savage Henry determine to express in some exceedingly decisive manner their abhorrence of the spreading doctrines of the Reformation, and of the error of supposing that because Henry favoured them when he wanted a new wife, that he still did so when unable to think of anything but his own painful and disgusting sores, it is at that the chosen victima lady, young, beautiful, and learned-receives her doom: if Mary would damage the Protestant cause whilst trying Protestant traitors, or James, the Catholic, at a similar opportunity, is still the favourite spot. Whatever the effect sought to be produced, it was well known that success in London was the grand preliminary to success elsewhere.

It was on Tuesday, the , that the citizens were seen flocking from all parts towards the , on some business of more than ordinary import. Edward IV. had died a few weeks before, and his son and successor was in the Tower, under the care of his uncle, the Protector, waiting the period of his coronation. Doubt and anxiety were in every face. The suspicious eagerness shown to get the youthful Duke of York from the hands of his mother in at , the almost inexplicable death of Hastings in. the Tower, the severe penance inflicted on Jane Shore, the late King's favourite mistress, and the sermon which followed that exhibition on the same day, the preceding Sunday, at Paul's Cross, where the popular preacher, Dr. Shaw, spoke in direct terms of the illegitimacy of the young Princes, and of the right nobleness of their uncle, all produced a growing sense of alarm as to the future intentions of the principal actor, Gloster. As they now entered the hall, and pressed closer and closer to the hustings, to hear the Duke of Buckingham, who stepped forth to address them, surrounded by many lords, knights, and citizens, it was not long before those intentions, startling as they were, became sufficiently manifest.

The deep revolving, witty Buckingham

seems to have surpassed himself that day, in the exhibition of his characteristic subtlety and address. Commencing with a theme which found a deep response in the indignant bosoms of his listeners, the tyrannies and extortions of the late King (which the Londoners had especial reason to remember), he gradually led them to the consideration of another feature of Edward's character, his amours, which had, no doubt, caused many a heart-burning in the City domestic circles, and thence by an easy transition to his illegitimacy; Buckingham alleging that the late King was not the son of the Duke of York, and that Richard was. To give confidence to the citizens, he added that the Lords and Commons had sworn never to submit to a bastard, and called upon them accordingly to acknowledge the Protector as King. The answer-was-dead silence. The confident orator and bold politician was for a moment

marvellously abashed,

and calling the Mayor aside, with others who were aware of his objects, and had endeavoured to prepare the way for them, inquired

What meaneth this that the people be so still?

Sir,

replied the Mayor,

perchance they perceive [understand] you not well.

That we shall

amend,

said Buckingham; and

therewith, somewhat louder, rehearsed the same matter again, in other order and other words, so well and ornately, and nevertheless so evidently and plain, with voice, gesture, and countenance so comely and so convenient, that every man much marvelled that heard him; and thought that they never heard in their lives so evil a tale so well told. But were it for wonder or fear, or that each looked that other should speak

first

, not

one

word was there answered of all the people that stood before; but all were as still as the midnight, not so much rouning [speaking privately] among them, by which they might seem once to commune what was best to-do. When the Mayor saw this, he, with other partners of the council, drew about the Duke, and said that the people had not been accustomed there to be spoken to but by the Recorder, which is the mouth of the City, and haply to him they will answer. With that the Recorder, called Thomas Fitzwilliam, a sad man and an honest, which was but newly come to the office, and never had spoken to the people before, and loth was with that matter to begin, notwithstanding thereunto commanded by the Mayor, made rehearsal to the commons of that which the Duke had twice purposed himself; but the Recorder so tempered his tale that he showed everything as the Duke's words were, and no part of his own; but all this no change made in the people, which alway after

one

stood as they had been amazed.

Such a reception at the outset might have turned some men from their purpose altogether--not so Buckingham, who now, after another brief converse with the Mayor, assumed a different tone and bearing.

Dear friends,

said he to the citizens,

we come to move you to that thing which, peradventure, we so greatly needed not, but that the lords of this realm and commons of other parts might have sufficed, saying, such love we bear you, and so much set by you, that we would not gladly do without you that thing in which to be partners is your weal and honour, which, as to us seemeth, you see not or weigh not; wherefore we require you to give us an answer,

one

or other, whether ye be minded, as all the nobles of the realm be, to have this noble Prince, now Protector, to be your King?

It was scarcely possible to resist this appeal by absolute silence. So,

at these words, the people began to whisper among themselves secretly, that the voice was neither loud nor base, but like a swarm of bees, till at the last, at the nether end of the hall, a bushment of the Duke's servants, and

one

Nashfield, and others belonging to the Protector, with some prentices and lads that thrusted into the hall amongst the press, began suddenly, at men's backs, to cry out as loud as they could,

King Richard! King Richard!

and then threw up their caps in token of joy, and they that stood before cast back their heads

marvelling thereat, but nothing they said

. And when the Duke and the Mayor saw this manner, they wisely turned it to their purpose, and said it was a goodly cry and a joyful to hear

every man with one voice

, and no man saying nay.

This scene, so graphically described by Hall (from Sir T. More), would form of the richest bits of comedy, were it not for the tragic associations which surround the whole. As it is, can scarcely avoid enjoying the perplexity of Buckingham and the Mayor at the unaccountable and most vexatious silence, or the backward look of the people at the lads and others, who at last did shout, or without admiring the tact and impudence of Buckingham in acknowledging with a grave face, and in grateful words, the cry that was at once so goodly, joyful, and so very unanimous.

68

It will be perceived how closely Shakspere has followed the account here transcribed, in the act of his Richard III.; and as is usual with him, by so doing, made the passage scarcely less interesting, as illustrating him, than for its own historical value.

Passing from the craft and violence which formed the steps to power during so many ages, and of which the incident narrated, with its well-known concomitants, furnishes a striking example, we find, but little more than half a century later, new trains of thought and action at work among men, high passions developed, struggles taking place for objects which by comparison make all the intrigues and feuds of rival and aspiring nobles appear contemptible, and maintained with a courage unknown to the days of chivalry. The Reformation came; and sufficiently terrible were its effects. Division and strife extended throughout the land. By a kind of poetical justice, Henry himself, who drew the gospel light from Bullen's eyes, was fated in later years to see an emanation from that light come in a much less pleasing shape, namely, in the disputatious glances of his wife Catherine Parr, who, as he grew more helpless and impatient, ventured to engage in controversy with him, and had well nigh gone to the scaffold for so doing. And though she escaped, a victim was found sufficiently distinguished to gratify the inhuman and self-willed tyrant, who burned people not so, much on account of their having any particular religion, as the daring to reject the he proposed, or to keep it when accepted, if he altered his mind. This was Anne Askew, a young lady who had been seen very busy about court distributing tracts among the attendants of the Queen, and heard to speak vehemently against the Popish doctrine of transubstantiation. She was the daughter of Sir William Askew, of Kelsey, in Lincolnshire, and the wife of a neighbouring gentleman named Kyme, a violent Papist, who turned her out of doors when, after long study of the Bible, she became a Protestant. She then came to London to sue for a separation, and was favourably noticed, it is supposed, by the Queen, and certainly by the ladies of the court. But neither Henry nor his council, including such men as Bishop Bonner and the Chancellor Wriothesley, were to be quietly bearded thus. Anne Askew, as she called herself, was arrested, and carried before Bonner and others. Among the questions put to her was by the Lord Mayor, inquiring whether the priest cannot make the body of Christ? Her reply was very striking:

I have read that God made man; but that man can make God I never yet read.

However, some sort of recantation was obtained from her, probably through the natural and graceful timidity of her youth and sex overpowering for the moment, in the presence of so many learned and eminent men, the inherent strength of her convictions. Such triumphs, however, are of brief duration. Anne Askew was discharged, but quickly apprehended again, and, after examination by the Privy Council, committed to Newgate. Her next public appearance was at , where she was condemned, with some more unfortunates, to death for heresy. And now this poor, solitary, but brave and self-possessed woman was subjected to treatment that makes blush for human nature. The grand object of the Council was, it appears, to find what ladies of the court they could get into their toils, since the Queen herself had escaped them. So after a vain attempt made by Nicholas Shaxton, the former Bishop of Salisbury, to induce her to imitate his example, and save her life by

69

apostacy, for which attempt he got in answer the solemn assurance that it had been better for him if he had never been born, she was carried to the Tower, and examined as to her connexions at court. She denied that she had had any, but was told the King knew better; and then followed a question that shows the privations she had already been intentionally exposed to: How had she contrived to get food and comfort in prison if she had no powerful friends?

My maid,

said Anne,

bemoaned my wretched condition to the apprentices in the street, and some of them sent me money, but I never knew their names.

It was probably at this period of the examination that she was laid on the rack, and that Wriothesley and Rich, having both applied their own hands to the instrument, obtained an admission from her that a man in a blue coat had given her maid , saying they came from Lady Hertford, and another time a man in a violet coat from Lady Denny; but as to the truth of the statements she could say nothing, and constantly persevered in her assertion that she had not been supported by these or any of the Council. To the eternal honour of her sex, it is understood that no amount of anguish could wring anything more from her, and in consequence Henry and the Council were compelled to be content with the victim they had. So, whilst still unrecovered from the effects of the rack, she was hurried off to Smithfield on the , and chained with others to stakes. Near them was a pulpit, from which poor Shaxton, as if not already sufficiently humiliated, was chosen to preach. At the conclusion of his discourse, a pardon was exhibited for the whole if they would recant; but there was no such stuff in their thoughts: Anne Askew and her companions died as heroically as their own hearts could have ever desired they should die.

 

After all, martyrdom, it must be acknowledged, is not a pleasant thing; and we need not wonder that, through the period extending from the reign of

70

Henry VIII. to that of James I., so many indications present themselves of Protestants and Catholics alike changing passive endurance for active warfare, and determining that it was as easy to run the risk of conviction for treason as for heresy, with a much greater probability of improving their position by success. As to each party, whether in power or not, applying its own dislike of the flames, its own sense of the monstrous injustice of such influences, its own knowledge of their inefficacy, to the case of the other, no such supposition seems to have been conceivable in the philosophy of the century. So, burnings, plots, and insurrections follow each other in rapid succession through this terrible period, disturbing even the comparative repose of Elizabeth's brilliant reign. of the most striking of these events belong to the history of Guildhall--the arising out of Sir Thomas Wyatt's attempt against the Catholic Mary, and the other from the Gunpowder Plot, destined to overthrow the Protestant James: each, we may add, forming of the most interesting features of the altogether interesting history to which it belongs. Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, himself a Protestant, was the son of a zealous Papist, Sir George Throckmorton, who had refused to take the Oath of Supremacy, and been imprisoned in the Tower many years by Henry. On his release in , Nicholas, his son, received the appointment of Sewer to the King, and, having accompanied the latter in the French expedition, was rewarded by a pension for his services. During the reign of Edward VI. he still further distinguished himself by his conduct at the battle of Pinkie (or Musselburgh), and rose still higher in kingly favour. Edward knighted him, received him into close personal intimacy, and, besides making him under-treasurer of the Mint, gave him some valuable manors. Everything, therefore, concurred to deepen the impression in favour of Protestantism made on his mind, no doubt, by study and conviction. How little inclined Throckmorton was to interfere with the ordinary laws of legitimacy and succession to the crown under ordinary circumstances, may be inferred from his conduct at the commencement of Mary's reign. He was present at Greenwich when Edward died; and, although aware of the designs of the friends of Lady Jane Grey, towards whom, as a Protestant, his sympathies must have tended, yet he did not hesitate to depart immediately for London, and dispatch Mary's goldsmith to her with the intelligence of her accession. It is evident, therefore, that when, only a few months later, we find him on his trial for treason, he must, supposing the charge to have any truth in it, have experienced some great disappointment as to the policy he had hoped to have seen pursued, or some new event must have occurred utterly unlooked for, and most threatening to the Protestant interests. Such, no doubt, seemed, to alarge portion of the nation, the marriage of Mary with Philip of Spain, of the most inexorable bigots in religious matters that ever existed, and whose power seemed to be almost as ample to accomplish as his temper and fanaticism were prompt to instigate the destruction of the new faith wherever his influence might extend, and who did destroy it in the Spanish peninsula, however signal his failures elsewhere. little incident tells volumes as to Philip's character. Whilst present at an , when persons were marching in the horrible procession towards the stake, to which they had been sentenced by the Inquisition, of the poor creatures called out as he passed the King for Mercy! mercy!

Perish thou, and all like

thee,

was the reply:

if my own son were a heretic, I would deliver him to the flames.

Such was the man whom the Protestants of England heard, with natural terror, was about to be connected by the closest ties to the country, and enabled to exercise the most direct influence on its government: for no man in his senses could place any reliance upon the promises of non-interference, non-innovation, &c., which were to be exacted as guarantees for the national freedom. If we add that the Catholics themselves, rising above the narrow views so common at the period, and looking at the alliance as Englishmen rather than as Catholics, disliked it, what must have been the feelings of their religious opponents? The answer is to be found in the insurrection which broke out within a few days after the intelligence of the conclusion of the treaty of marriage became generally known. Sir Thomas Carew took arms in Devonshire, and obtained possession of the castle and city of Exeter, whilst Sir Thomas Wyatt threatened from a still nearer locality, Kent. Their objects appear to have been very uncertain, even among themselves. There can be little doubt, however, that if they had succeeded, Mary would have been dethroned; for how else could they be sure they would not lose all they had gained, and probably their lives into the bargain? Equally doubtful does it seem as to the party who would have taken the vacant seat. If Elizabeth was concerned in the scheme, as it still seems very probable she was, there can be no doubt as to her views on the question: but, on the other hand, the movement seems rather to have inclined in favour of Lady Jane Grey; for, not only does the early attack on the Tower, where she had been confined from the time of her relatives' attempt to make her queen on the death of Edward, seem to intimate as much, but it is hardly to be conceived that, for any less personal advantage, the selfish and unprincipled Duke of Suffolk, Lady Jane Grey's father, just released from an apparently inevitable death on account of the said attempt, would have joined in a new . Modern political tactics no doubt explain the whole. The parties acted together to meet the evil which threatened all, leaving the after measures to be determined by chance, or by the intrigues, skill, and power of the individuals who might rise most prominently out of the combination, and turn the whole to their or their party's benefit. And if the most consummate tact and unfailing courage, joined to entire devotedness, could at such a crisis have secured the crown to Elizabeth, Sir Nicholas Throckmorton would have been the man to have accomplished that task. Attachment to her was, indeed, most probably the cause of the great prominence given to the trial of a man who had taken no public part whatever in the insurrection, and of the exceeding bitterness and zeal with which such charges as could be brought together against him were pressed. In the whole range of criminal proceedings, it would be difficult to find a more exciting trial than the we are now about to describe, which commenced on the , only days after his friend Wyatt's execution. Our readers, in order to do justice to Throckmorton's wonderful eloquence, adroitness, and self-possession, must remember that a state trial had long been little else than a legal stepping-stone to the scaffold, and that now the appetite for blood was unusually sharpened-by the imminent danger from which Mary had escaped. We must premise that it is to the dramatic character of the proceedings, as reported by Holinshed at great length, that the trial owes its chief attractions

72

for a reader, and therefore to abridge the more important passages would be to destroy their vital spirit. We must, then, transcribe such of these as our space will admit in their integrity, with the addition merely of a few brief connecting remarks. The roll of the judges on the bench shows the importance attached to the trial by the government, and, for any man but Throckmorton, the overwhelming amount of learning and intellect coming ready prepared to convict, not to try him. It comprised, besides Sir Thomas White (the lord mayor), the Earls of Shrewsbury and Derby, the Recorder and others,--the Lord Chief Justice ; the Master of the Rolls, Sir N. Hare; a Judge of the Queen's Bench, Sir W. Portman; and a Judge of the Common Pleas, Sir E. Saunders; together with the Serjeants, Stamford and Dyer; and the Attorney-General Griffin. At the very commencement of the trial, before pleading, Sir Nicholas endeavoured to make some observations, which were stopped as informal, but which led to a spirited discussion, that thus early showed the spirit of the prisoner, and gave promise of the unprecedented struggle that was about to take place. This stopped, a weightier matter was handled. After some little private whisperings between the Attorney-General and the Recorder as to the jurymen, who, it was feared, apparently, might not be packed with an eye to entire harmony of views, and a further whispering between the Attorney-General and Serjeant Dyer, the latter challenged of their number, and when the prisoner asked the reason of the challenge, replied he did not need to show cause.

I trust,

was the impetuous outburst of Sir Nicholas,

ye have not provided for me this day as formerly I knew a gentleman used, who stood in the same place and circumstances as I do. It chanced that

one

of the Judges being suspicious that the prisoner, by reason of the justice of his cause, was like to be acquitted, said to

one

of his brethren, when the jury appeared,

I do not like this jury-they are not fit for our purpose--they seem to have too much compassion and charity to condemn the prisoner.

No, no,

said the other Judge, Cholmley by name [

the Recorder, then sitting on the bench

],

I'll warrant you they are fellows picked on purpose, and he shall drink of the same cup his fellows have done.

I was then a spectator of the pageant, as others are now of me; but now, woe is me! I am an actor in that woeful tragedy. Well, as for those and such others like them, the black ox hath lately trodden on some of their feet :

In this expression Throckmorton probably refers to Cholmley, who had been imprisoned for some time on suspicion of favouring the Lady Jane Grey.--Note by the Editor of the Criminal Trials, vol. I. p. 69.

but my trust is, I shall not be so used.

The very man, however, so appositely referred to Cholmley--continuing to confer with the Attorney-General as to the jury, Sir Nicholas called out,

Ah, ah! Master Cholmley, will this foul packing never be left?

Why, what do I, I pray you, Master Throckmorton? I did nothing, I am sure. You do pick quarrels with me.

Well, Master Cholmley, if you do well, it is better for you, God help you.

The jury were now sworn, and Sergeant Stamford stepped forward to state the case for the prosecution, when Sir Nicholas again interposed with a most impressive adjuration to the Sergeant not to exceed his office, and then the trial commenced. The charges in effect were that Throckmorton was a principal deviser, procurer, and contriver of the late rebellion, which was sought to be proved

73

by the written depositions and examinations of parties, mostly lying at the time under a danger similar to that of the prisoner, and some of whom, as Wyatt, had been executed; for such was the wretched state of the criminal law at the time. The chief allegations brought before the court in this way were, that Throckmorton had corresponded with Wyatt just before the insurrection; that he had engaged to accompany Courteney, Earl of Devonshire, into the west of England ; that he had invited Carew and Wyatt to advance when they were in arms; and, above all, that he had conspired to kill the Queen with William Thomas, Sir Nicholas Arnold, and others. Passing over the long but every where interesting portion of the trial in which the points formed the subject of inquiry, and through which Sir Nicholas fought his way step by step, allowing no fact to be taken for more than its worth (we might almost say lessening its actual value), exposing every attempt to twist the law unduly against him, showing the valueless character of the evidence obtained from men who might think their own lives depended upon the success of their evidence against his; we pause awhile at the , as the part best calculated to display the spirit of the parties, and the general conduct of the trial. The examination of Sir Nicholas Arnold being read, which stated that Throckmorton told him that John Fitzwilliams was very much. displeased with William Thomas, the Attorney-General remarked, alluding, we presume, to the general facts detailed in the examination, which Holinshed does not give,

Thus it appears that William Thomas devised that John Fitzwilliams should kill the Queen, and Throckmorton knew of it.

I deny that I said any such thing to Sir Nicholas Arnold,

replied the prisoner;

and though he is an honest man, he may either forget himself, or devise means how to rid himself of so weighty a burden as this is, for he is charged as principal: this I perceived when he charged me with his tale; and therefore I blame him the less for it, that he endeavours to clear himself, using me as witness, to lay the contrivance at the door of William Thomas. But truly I never said any such words to him; and the more fully to clear the matter, I saw John Fitzwilliams here just now, who can bear witness he never told me of any misunderstanding between them; and as I knew nothing at all of any misunderstanding, so I knew nothing of the cause. I desire, my lords, he may be called to swear what he can as to this affair.

Then John Fitzwilliams drew to the bar, and offered to depose his knowledge of the matter in open court.

.

I pray you, my lords, suffer him not to be sworn, nor to speak; we have nothing to do with him.

.

Why should not he be suffered to tell the truth? and why are you not so willing to hear truth for me, as falsehood against me?

.

Who called you hither, Fitzwilliams, or bid you speak? You are a very busy fellow.

.

I called him, and humbly desire he may speak and be heard as well as Vaughan [a witness, and the only

one

, who had been called personally against him], or else I am not indifferently used, especially as Mr. Attorney doth so press this matter against me.

.

Go your way, Fitzwilliams, the court has nothing to do with you; peradventure you would not be so ready in a good cause.

And so John Fitzwilliams went out of the court, and was not suffered to speak.

74

It is probable, however, that this rejection of evidence affected the prisoner's interests with the jury at least as favourably as the evidence itself could have done if heard. And Throckmorton took care to press the consideration directly home to them.

Since,

said he,

this gentleman's declaration may not be admitted, I hope you of the jury will take notice, that this was not for any thing he had to say against me, but, on the contrary, for fear he should speak for me. Now as to Master Arnold's deposition against me, I say, I did not tell him any such words; so that, if they were material, there is but his Yea and my Nay for them. But that the words may not be so much strained against me, I pray you, Mr. Attorney, why might I not have told Arnold that John Fitzwilliams was angry with William Thomas, and yet not know the cause of the anger? Who proves that I knew any thing of the design of William Thomas to kill the Queen? No man; for Arnold says not

one

word of it, but only that there was a difference between them; and to say that implies neither treason, nor any knowledge of treason. Is this all the evidence you have against me, in order to bring me within the compass of the indictment?

.

Methinks those things which others have confessed, together with your own confession, will weigh shrewdly. But what have you to say as to the rising in Kent, and Wyatt's attempt against the Queen's royal person in her palace?

.

Why do you not read to him Wyatt's accusation, which makes him a sharer in his treasons?

.

Wyatt has grievously accused you, and in many things which have been confirmed by others.

.

Whatever Wyatt said of me in hopes to save his life, he unsaid it at his death; for, since I came into the hall, I heard

one

say, whom I do not know, that Wyatt on the scaffold cleared not only the Lady Elizabeth and the Earl of Devonshire, but also all the gentlemen in the Tower, saying none of them knew any thing of his commotion; of which number I take myself to be

one

.

.

Nevertheless, he said that all he had written and confessed before the Council was true.

.

Nay, sir, by your patience, Wyatt did not say so: that was Master Doctor's addition.

.

It seems you have good intelligence.

.

Almighty God provided this revelation for me this very day, since I came hither; for I have been in close prison for

eight

-and-

fifty

days, where I could hear nothing but what the birds told me, who flew over my head.

The law of the lawyers fared no better in Throckmorton's grasp than their facts. After a rapid and masterly review of, and answer to, all that had been alleged against him, he took up new ground, namely, that according to the only statutes in force against treasons, he could not, even if guilty, be attainted within the indictment. These statutes he now desired to be read.

.

No, there shall be no books brought at your desire: we know the law sufficiently without book.

.

Do you bring me hither to try me by the law, and will not show me the law? What is your knowledge of the law to the satisfaction of

these men, who have my trial in hand. Pray, my lord, and my lords all, let the statutes be read, as well for the Queen as for me.

.

My Lord Chief Justice can tell what the law is, and will do it, if the jury are doubtful in any particular.

.

You know it is but reasonable that I should know and hear the law by which I am to be judged; and forasmuch as the statute is in English, people of less learning than the judges can understand it, or how else should we know when we offend?

.

You know not what is proper for your case, and therefore we must inform you. It is not our business to provide books for you; neither do we sit here to be taught by you: you should have been better informed of the law before you came hither.

[Our readers will do well to keep this remark in view, in order properly to enjoy what follows.]

.

Because I am ignorant I would learn, and therefore I have the more occasion to see the law, partly for the instruction of the jury, and partly for my own satisfaction; which methinks would be for the honour of the court. And now, if it please you, my Lord Chief Justice, I do principally direct my words to you. When the Queen was pleased to call you to that honourable office, I did learn of a great man, and

one

of her Majesty's Privy Council, that her Majesty, among other good instructions, charged and enjoined you to

administer the law and justice impartially, and without respect of persons. And notwithstanding the old error among you, which did not admit any witness to speak, or any thing else to be heard, in favour of the adversary, where her Majesty was a party, it was her Highness's pleasure that whatever could be produced in favour of the subject should be admitted to be heard; and further, that you in a particular manner, and likewise all other judges, were not to consider that you sat in judgment otherwise for her Majesty than for her subjects.

Therefore this method of impartiality in your proceedings being principally enjoined by God's command, as I designed to have reminded you at

first

, if I could have had leave to do it, and the same being also given in command to you from the Queen's own mouth, I think you ought in justice to allow me to have the statutes openly read, and to reject nothing that could be spoken in my defence: in so doing, you shall approve yourselves worthy ministers of justice, and fit for so worthy a mistress.

.

You mistake the thing; the Queen said those words to Morgan, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas: but you have no reason to complain, for you have been suffered to speak as much as you pleased.

.

What would you do with the statute-book? The jury do not require it; they have heard the evidence, and they must upon their consciences try whether you are guilty or not; so that there is no need of the book; if they will not believe such clear evidence, then they know what they have to do.

.

You ought not to have any books read here at your appointment; for if any question arises in point of law, the judges are here to inform the court; and now you do but spend time.

.

My Lord Chief Justice, I pray you to sum up the evidence for the Queen; and give the charge to the jury; for the prisoner will keep you here all day.

.

How say you, have you any more to say for yourself?

76

 

.

You seem to give and offer me the law, but in very deed I have only the form and image of the law: nevertheless, since I cannot have the statutes read openly in the book,

I will, with your leave, guess at them

as well as I can; and I pray you to help me if I mistake, for it is long since I have seen them.

He then went on to point out, reciting the passage in question , that the Statute of Repeal, made in the last Parliament, had referred all treasonable offences to the statute Edw. III., the essential part of which he also correctly repeated, and that that required a man to be

attainted by open deed, by people of his condition;

he then, turning to the jury, continued:

Now, I pray you of the jury, who have my life in trial, mark well what things at this day are treasons; and how these treasons must be tried and detected; that is, by

open deed,

which the law doth sometime call an

overt act

. And now I ask, beside my indictment, which is but matter alleged, where does the

open deed

of my compassing and imagining the Queen's death appear? or where does any

open deed

appear of my adhering to the Queen's enemies, giving them aid and comfort? or where does any

open deed

appear of taking the

Tower of London

?

.

Why do not you, who are the Queen's learned counsel, answer him? I think, Throckmorton, you need not to see the statutes, for you have them pretty perfectly.

After this appeal, which could almost fancy exhibited a latent sense of enjoyment on the part of the Chief Justice of the dilemma which seemed opening upon the lawyers, there ensued a long and spirited discussion on the meaning of the words of the statute, in which, to the evident mortification of the lawyers, the man who should have been

better informed

before he came there, disputed every point of law with such depth of legal learning as well as intellectual subtlety, that they were fain to bring the whole strength of the bench against him, with what success we must give further illustration. As a closing proof that the law admitted of the conviction of traitors apart from the statute of Edward, and in answer to some case brought forward by the prisoner, which very strongly demanded an answer, the Lord Chief Justice stated that a man, in the time of Henry IV., was adjudged a traitor, and yet the fact did not come within the express words of the said statute.

I pray you, my Lord Chief Justice,

was the instantaneous and crushing answer,

call to your good remembrance, that in the selfsame case of the Seal, Judge Spelman, a grave and well-learned man, since that time, would not condemn the offender, but censured the former judgment by your Lordship last cited, as

erroneous

.

The Chief Justice was silenced, whilst Sergeant Stamford could not help remarking, in the bitterness of his spirit,

If I had thought you were so well furnished with book cases, I would have come better prepared for you.

other extract, a passage of the truest and perfectly unstudied eloquence, and we have done. Being about to offer another argument to answer the assumption, which the lawyers now returned to, as safer ground, that Wyatt's actions, taken in connexion with Throckmorton's presumed cognizance, proved the latter to be an adviser and procurer, Sergeant Stamford told him the Judges did not sit there to make disputations, but to declare the law; and of those Judges (Hare) having confirmed the observation, by telling Throckmorton he had heard both the law and the reason, if he could but understand it, he cried out passionately,

Oh, merciful God! Oh, eternal Father! who seest all

things, what manner of proceedings are these? To what purpose was the statute of repeal made in the last Parliament, where I heard some of you here present, and several others of the Queen's learned counsel, grievously inveigh against the cruel and bloody laws of Henry VIII., and some laws made in the late King's time? Some termed them Draco's laws, which were written in blood; others said they were more intolerable than any laws made by Dionysius or any other tyrant. In a word, as many men, so many bitter names and terms those laws.

Let us now but look with impartial eyes, and consider thoroughly with ourselves, whether, as you, the Judges, handle the statute of Edward I I., with your equity and constructions, we are not now in a much worse condition than when we were yoked with those cruel laws. Those laws, grievous and captious as they were, yet had the very property of laws, according to

St. Paul's

description, for they admonished us, and discovered our sins plainly to us, and when a man is warned he is half armed; but these laws, as they are handled, are very baits to catch us, and only prepared for that purpose; they are no laws at all: for at

first

sight they assure us that we are delivered from our old bondage, and live in more security; but when it pleases the higher powers to call any man's life and sayings in question, then there are such constructions, interpretations, and extensions reserved to the Judges and their equity, that the party tried, as I now am, will find himself in a much worse case than when those cruel laws were in force. But I require you, honest men, who are to try my life, to consider these things: it is clear these Judges are inclined rather to the times than to the truth; for their judgments are repugnant to the law, repugnant to their own principles, and repugnant to the opinions of their godly and learned predecessors.

After a summing up by the Judge, in which Sir Nicholas had to help his

bad memory

as to the answers given to the charges, and after a most solemn address to the-jury by the latter, the case was left to them--the final judges, fortunately, of the matter, as they were the only ones in whom the prisoner could have had any hope from the commencement of the trial. As they were dismissed, Throckmorton, whom nothing escaped, who was as shrewd and sagacious moment as impressive and irresistible the next, through the whole proceedings, took care to demand that no should have access to the jury. What terrible hours must those have been that now elapsed before the return of the jury into the court!-but at last they came. After the usual preliminary form, followed the momentous question,

How say you? is Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, knight, the prisoner at the bar, guilty of the treason for which he has been indicted and arraigned? Yea or no?

.

No.

The Lord Chief Justice would fain have frightened the jury into another verdict; and when that did not succeed, began to consult with the Commissioners, but Sir Nicholas gave them not a moment, steadily but respectfully reiterating his demand for his discharge; and at last it was given. Thus ended the most interesting trial perhaps on record, for the exhibition of intellectual power. The jury were not allowed to escape unpunished; imprisonment and fines fell heavily upon them, for daring to do what they had the absurdity to believe they were placed there to do-decide according to their conscience, even though it were in a State prosecution.

78

 

The trial of Garnet, before alluded to, though deeply interesting in itself, and still more important in a political sense than Throckmorton's, would read but flatly after the latter; the Jesuit, with all his double-dealing and wily caution, fell into a trap at which Throckmorton would have laughed. A brief record of the case, therefore, as a whole, will be at once more attractive and suitable to our remaining space. When the Gunpowder Plot frightened the isle from its propriety, and alarmed James to that degree that the veritable explosion, had he escaped, could hardly have increased the consciousness of the wrongs he had done to the Catholics, and which they sought to avenge by so monstrous and wholesale an act of slaughter, coupled with the instincts of cruelty and destruction, which the weak so often exhibit after danger, seem to have wrought greatly upon his mind, and to have induced him not to remain content with the lives of the conspirators, and their aiders and abettors, taken though they were in a mode, and to an extent, that reduces the Government of the day to a level with the men it punished for barbarous inhumanity, but to strive also to fix upon the entire Catholic people the guilt of sharing in the conspiracy. Again and again, therefore, did the Commission examine Fawkes and his companions, with the usual accompaniment of examinations in those days--torture, aided by the searching minds of Popham, Coke, and Bacon; and at last sufficient matter was extorted, chiefly from Bates, Catesby's servant, to warrant the issue of a proclamation for the apprehension of priests--Gerard, Greenway, and the Superior of the Jesuits in England, Garnet. The former escaped to the Continent, whilst the latter, having sent a letter to the Lords of the Council, strongly asserting his innocence, disappeared, and for a long time baffled all attempts at discovery. At last, Humphrey Littleton, condemned to death at Worcester for harbouring of the conspirators, in order to save his own life, told the sheriff that some Jesuits named in the proclamation were at Hendlip, a spacious mansion, about miles from Worcester, which was only pulled down in the present century. It is to be regretted it is lost, not on

79

account of the interest attached to it by the romantic adventure we are about to mention, but as a specimen of the buildings of the age when concealment was too frequently necessary in order to escape from religious and political persecutions.

There is scarcely an apartment,

says the author of the account of Worcestershire (

Beauties of England and Wales

), who describes it as he himself saw it,

that has not secret ways of going in or going out; some have back staircases concealed in the walls; others have places of retreat in their chimneys; some have trap-doors; and all present a picture of gloom, insecurity, and suspicion.

Thither, on receiving Littleton's information, went Sir Henry of Holt Castle, with elaborate instructions from Lord Salisbury as to the modes of search he was to adopt. For some time Sir Henry was perfectly unsuccessful, and, as he says,

out of all hope of finding any man or any thing,

until he discovered

a number of Popish trash

hid under boards in or several places, which stimulated him to continue a watch, and, at last, unhappy men came forth

from hunger and cold,

of whom it was thought was Greenway. With fresh vigour was the search now prosecuted, and of the men, on the day, discovering an opening into a cell not previously known, there came forth more persons, both Jesuits, and of them the anxiously sought--for Garnet. He was immediately conveyed to the Tower, where he was examined almost daily for days, but without any conclusive proof being furnished of his own guilt, or the guilt of the others named in the proclamation. Especial reasons of state seem to have saved Garnet from the torture, but his servant Owen and the other Jesuits, Oldcorne and Chambers (who with Garnet made the found at Hendlip), were not only tortured, but of them (Owen) with such infamous severity, that the unhappy man ripped up his own body with a table-knife to escape any further infliction. A new scheme was now tried, worthy of the institution from which it had probably been derived-the Spanish Inquisition-and Garnet was at once caught. He and Oldcorne were placed in adjoining cells, and informed by the keeper, under strong injunctions of secrecy, that, by opening a concealed door, they might confer together. And here every day or they met, their whole conversation at the mercy of listeners, who made regular written memorandums of it for the Council. And thus was laid the groundwork of the great body of criminatory evidence subsequently established against Garnet at , where, in order, as both Lord Salisbury and Sir Edward Coke stated on the trial, to compliment the loyalty of the citizens by so exemplary a display of Popish treason, the trial took place, on the ; and ended in his conviction and execution, amidst a general feeling among the Catholics that he was a martyr. This feeling was still more strongly called forth by the strange imposture known as Garnet's Straw. The history given by the presumed author of the imposture, Wilkinson, states that a considerable quantity of dry straw having been cast into the basket with Garnet's head and quarters, at the execution, he standing near, found the straw in question thrown towards him--how, he knew not.

The straw,

he continues,

I afterwards delivered to Mrs. N., a matron of singular Catholic piety, who enclosed it in a bottle, which being rather shorter than the straw, it became slightly bent. A few days afterwards, Mrs. N. showed the straw in the bottle to a certain noble person, her intimate acquaintance, who, looking at it attentively,

at length said,

I can see nothing in it hut a man's face.

Mrs. N. and myself being astonished at this unexpected declaration, again and again examined the ear of the straw, and distinctly perceived in it a human countenance,

&c. The prodigy excited universal attention, and led at last to a very prevalent belief among the Catholics at home and abroad that a miracle had been vouchsafed to prove the Jesuit's innocence. At the appearance of the face was very simple, but, gradually, to accommodate the increasing demands of wonder and superstitious belief, the whole expanded into an imposing-looking head, crowned and encircled by rays, with a cross on the forehead, and an anchor coming out of the ear at the sides. At last it engaged the attention of the Privy Council, who exposed the fraud, and then very wisely left the matter to drop gradually into oblivion. Of the other events in what we may call this episodical history of , there are but possessing any high claims to recollection--the trial of the poet Waller, in the period of the Commonwealth, which we can only thus briefly refer to, and that of the poet Surrey, in the reign of Henry VIII., which will be noticed elsewhere. The building itself belongs to the municipal government of London, which will form the subject of our next paper.

 
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