Imágenes de páginas

Provinces, agreeably to the arrangement made with Elizabeth whels she undertook the protection of the provinces. This appointment was one of peculiar difficulty, but Sir Dudley appears to have acquitted liimself in it with considerable diplomatic ability. He was “equally careful,” says Lloyd, “ that the United Provinces should not be overrun by the armies of Spain, and that they should not be swallowed up by the protection of France. Watchful was his eye there," continues Lloyd, “over the West India company. Diligent his carriage upon any accommodations from Spain. Sincere his services to the princeelector and his lady. Exact his rules of traffique and commerce, and dextrous his arts of keeping the States from new alliances, notwithstanding our likely marriage-treaty with Spain, especially since the prince of Orange bluntly, after his manner, Qui il vostre marriage ? And indeed he behaved himself in all employments so well becoming a man that understood so many languages,—that was so well versed in ancient and modern history,—that had composed so many choice pieces of politicks,—that was so well seen in the most practical mathematicks,--and added to these a graceful and charming look, a gentle and a sweet elocution,—that, notwithstanding his and his brother Bishop Carleton's rigidnesse in some points, kept him to his dying day in great favour and most eminent service, and failing in nothing but his French embassy because there he had to do with women.” The embassy bere so quaintly referred to was that in which he acted in concert with Lord Holland, when the French court refused to receive Buckingham in the quality of ambassador. Its object was to mediate a peace between Louis and his protestant subjects, and to obtain the accession of the French monarch to the treaty of the Hague. On his return he found the commons threatening Buckingham with impeachment and interfered to moderate their proceedings. He failed to satisfy the popular party, but Charles rewarded his exertions in behalf of the favourite by calling him to the house of peers under the title of Barou Carleton of Imbercourt in Surrey.

In 1628, Charles bestowed an additional mark of favour upon creating him Viscount Dorchester. He now attached himself closely to Buckingham, and gave his undeviating support to all the measures of the duke until his assassination at Portsmouth. In 1631, he was appointed joint-secretary of state with Sir John Cooke. Lloyd informs us that soon after this he gave great offence to the commons by proposing an excise tax, and that “he hardly escaped being committed to The Tower” for his boldness. He died in February 1631. Having no heirs, the title became extinct, but it was revived in 1786, in the person of Sir Guy Carleton.

Carleton's abilities were by no means of the first order; but he was a painstaking man, and well acquainted with foreign affairs, to which he had the prudence to confine his attention almost exclusively. King Charles used to say, “that he had two secretaries of state, the lords Dorchester and Falkland, one of whom was a dull man in comparison with the other, and yet pleased him the best, for he always brought him his own thoughts in his own words,—the latter clothed them in so fine address that he did not always know them again.”! Sir Dudley's

him by

1 Warwick's Memoirs.

letters during his Dutch embassy were edited and published by the earl of Hardwicke in 1757, in one volume 4to. Various letters in the • Cabala' are attributed to him ; and several in Sir Ralph Winwood's Memorials. He also was the author of two or three political tracts which were published in French during his life-time.

Sir John Eliot.

DIED A. D. 1632.

This distinguished patriot was of Cornish family. On the accession of Charles I. he was vice-admiral of Devonshire and member for Cornwall. In the agitations which almost immediately ensued, Sir John distinguished himself by his staunch adherence to the country party, and his vigorous defence of constitutional principles against the unwarrantable encroachments of Charles and his minister, Buckingham. His talents and eloquence, united to a character of fearless intrepidity and high integrity, soon placed him at the head of his party, and pointed him out to the unprincipled monarch as one of the men from whom he had most to fear in carrying through his designs against the freedom of parliament and the liberties of the subject. In the early part of the proceedings against Buckingham, Sir John took an active part, and was one of the first members of the lower house whom the king visited with his royal displeasure. Along with Sir Dudley Digges he was taken into custody, and conveyed to the Tower under a charge of treason ; and at the beginning of Trinity term, 1629, was brought up by writ of habeas corpus to the king's bench, along with Selden, Stair, Holles, and others. The attorney-general proposed that bail should be taken, but this was refused unanimously by the prisoners, on the ground taken by Selden that it would be an acknowledgment of the legality of the commitment. With the others, Sir John was now condemned to imprisonment during the king's pleasure, and fined in £2,000. He said that “he had two cloaks, two suits, two pair of boots and gallashees, and a few books, and that was all his personal substance, and if they could pick up £2,000 out of that, much good might it do them.” Soon after his commitment, symptoms of declining health appeared; and in October, 1631, his physicians reported that he “ could never recover of his consumption, unless he might breathe purer air.” Lord-chief-justice Richardson in reply observed, that “though Sir John was brought low in body, yet was he as high and lofty in mind as ever; for he would neither submit to the king nor the justice of that court.” But the bench recommended Sir Jolin to petition his majesty, which he did in these terms: Sir, your judges have committed me to prison here, in your tower of London, where, by reason of the quality of the air, I am fallen into a dangerous disease. I humbly beseech your majesty, you will command your judges to set me at liberty, that, for recovery of my health, I may take some fresh air,” &c. &c. To this application he received an answer, that the king did not consider it humble enough, whereupon he forwarded another petition couched in these terms : “ Sir, I am heartily sorry I have displeased your majesty, and having so said, do humbly beseech you once again to set me at liberty, that, when

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

I have recovered my health, I may return back to my prison, there to undergo such punishment as God hath allotted unto me, " &c. &c. This petition he sent to court by his son, but the lieutenant of the Tower ihought such a proceeding highly informal, and that the application should have been made through him. On his expressing himself to this effect, Sir John said he would consider of it, but that his spirits were grown so 'feeble and faint,' that he felt himself unable to do any thing further for his deliverance at present. Not long after, this gallant patriot breathed his last in the Tower; he died on the 27th of November, 1632, the victim of the stern and unrelenting Charles. His son begged to be allowed to carry his body to Cornwall, there to be buried; but the unfeeling monarch immediately indorsed on the application, “ Let Sir John Eliot's body be buried in the church of that parish where he died.” The house of commons afterwards voted £5,000 to the martyred patriot's family.

D'Israeli has made a vigorous effort to blacken the memory of this illustrious man; he has even attempted to fasten upon him the charge of a cruel and treacherous attempt at murder, and represents him as only escaping condign punishment through the friendly mediation of Buckingham whose kindness he repaid by becoming his most bitter enemy. The only authority for such grave charges is the unsupported testimony of Eachard. Lord Nugent has most triumphantly refuted the calumnious statement, and exposed the pertinacity in error which characterises the author of the Commentaries on the Life and Reign of Charles I. He has shown from original documents that Mr Moyle of Bake, the person whom Sir John Eliot is accused of having “treacherously stabbed in the back," actually corresponded with Sir John afterwards in terms of friendship, and moreover did not disdain to solicit his favour and assistance. The origin of Eachard's story was this: Mr Moyle having acquainted Sir John Eliot's father with some extravagances in his son's expenses, and this being reported with some aggravating circumstances, young Eliot went hastily to Mr Moyle's house and remonstrated. What words passed is not known; but Eliot drew his sword and wounded Mr Moyle in the side. reflection,” continues Mr Moyle's daughter, whose written statement of the transaction is still in existence, “ he soon detested the fact; and, from thenceforward, became as remarkable for his private deportment, in every view of it, as his public conduct. Mr Moyle was so entirely reconciled to him, that no person in his time held him in higher esteem.”

During his imprisonment, Sir John employed himself in defending his views of civil government, in a treatise entitled “The Monarchy of Man.' The manuscript of this work, consisting of 240 folio pages, is still preserved among the Harleian MSS. D'Israeli informs us that this work is ethical much more than political, and that it closes with the following eloquent passage on the independence of the mind. Having shown that man is excelled by other animals in many of his best faculties, he proceeds: “ Man only was left naked, without strength or agility to preserve him from the danger of his enemies, multitudes exceeding him in either, many in both, to whom he stood obnoxious

6 On

" Commentaries, vol. ii. p. 268, et seq.
· Nugent's Memorials of Humpden, vol. i. p. 151, et seg.

and exposed, having no resistance, no avoidance for their furies; but in this case and necessity, to relieve him upon this oversight of Nature's Prometheus, that wise statesman, whom Pandora could not cozen, having the present apprehension of the danger, by his quick judgment and intelligence, secretly passed into heaven, steals out a fire from thence, infuses it into man, by that inflames his mind with a divine spirit and wisdom, and therein gives him full supply for all; for all the excellence of the creatures he had a far more excellence in this ; this one was for them all, no strength, no agility could match it; all motions and abilities came short of this perfection; the most choice aims of Nature have their superlative in its acts; all the arts of Vulcan and Minerva have their comparative herein, in this divine fire and spirit, this supernatural influence of the mind, all excellence organical is surpassed; it is the transcendant of them all; nothing can come to match it, nothing can impeach it, but man therein is an absolute master of himself, his own safety and tranquillity by God, (for so we must remember the Ethics did express it,) are made dependant on himself, and in that selfdependence, in the neglect of others, in the entire rule and dominion of himself, the affections being composed, the actions so directed, is the perfection of our government, that summum bonum in philosophy, the bonum publicum in our policy, the true end and object of this Monarchy of Man."

Sir Edward Coke.

BORN A. D. 1550.-DIED A. D. 1634.

Sir EDWARD Coke, one of the most eminent of English lawyers, who successively filled the office of solicitor-general, attorney-general, and lord-chief-justice of the courts of common pleas and king's bench, was the son of Robert Coke, Esq., a bencher of Lincoln's inn, and was born at Mileham in the county of Norfolk, in the year 1550. His mother was Winifred, daughter and co-heiress of William Knightly, of Moregrave-Knightly in the same county. At the age of ten, Edward was sent to the free school of Norwich, whence he was removed to Trinity college, Cambridge, where he remained about four years. From Cambridge he was removed to Clifford's inn, and in the course of the next year he entered the Inner temple. After studying for six years—a short probation at that time-he was called to the bar, and held his first brief in the queen's bench, in Trinity term, 1578. About the same period he was appointed reader of Lyon's inn, where his lectures were much frequented. A few years after being called to the bar, he inarried Bridget, daughter and co-heiress of John Paston, Esq. of the county of Norfolk,—an alliance which brought him a large fortune and gave him considerable influence in his native county. He now rose rapidly into reputation and practice; he was chosen recorder of Coventry and of Norwich, and was frequently consulted by the lordtreasurer Burleigh ; the free holders of Norfolk returned him as representative to parliament, and in the 35th of Elizabeth, he was chosen speaker of the house of commons. In 1592, he became solicitorgeneral, and was soon after advanced to the post of attorney-general. Having lost his first wife, by whom he had ten children, he married the Lady Hatton, relict of Sir William Hatton, and sister of Lord Burleigh.

The most important case, in which, as attorney-general, Coke was engaged during the reign of Elizabeth, was the prosecution of the carls of Essex and Southampton, who, on the 19th of February 1600, were tried before their peers for high treason. In the conduct of this prosecution, the attorney-general bore himself with much harshness towards the prisoners. Speaking of Essex, he exclaimed, “Now in God's most just judgment he of his earldom shall be Robert the last, that of the kingdom thought to be Robert the first !" Essex indigo nantly answered him, “Will your lordships give us our turns to speak? for he playeth the orator, and abuseth our ears and us with slanders ; but they are but fashions of orators in corrupt states.” Southampton addressed him in these words, “Mr Attorney, you have urged the matter very far, and you wrong me therein—my blood be upon your head.” But it was during the celebrated trial of Sir Walter Raleigh, which took place soon after the accession of James I., that Coke made the most intemperate display of himself. On this occasion he conducted himself with a degree of arrogance to the court, and of harshness and vivdictiveness towards the prisoner, which was universally reprobated at the time, and has deeply stained a character presenting much to comniand our esteem.—“ Your words cannot condemn me," said Raleigh, “my innocency is my defence. Prove one of those things wherewith you have charged me, and I will confess the whole indictment, and that I am the horriblest traitor that ever lived, and worthy to be crucified with a thousand cruel torments.”—“ Nay," answered Coke, “I will prove all !-thou art a monster; thou hast an English face but a Spanish heart.- Now you must have money. Aremberg was no sooner in England, (1 charge thee, Raleigh) but thou incitest Cobham to go unto him, and to deal with him for money, to bestow on discontonted persons to raise rebellion in the kingdom.”-“Let me answer for myself,” said Raleigh,—“ Thou shalt not!” was the fierce and brutal reply of Coke. When Lord Cecil, one of the commissioners, interposed and begged that he would permit the prisoner to speak, “ Mr Attorney sate down in a chafe, and would speak no more, until the commissioners urged and entreated him, when, after much ado, he went on.” Several years afterwards, when Sir Edward Coke, as chief-justice of the court of king's bench, passed sentence of death upon the unfortunate Raleigh, he conducted himself to the prisoner in a very different manner, and seemed desirous, however late, of making some reparation for his former conduct.

In the year 1606, Sir Edward, as attorney-general, conducted the prosecution of Sir Everard Digby and the other parties implicated in the gunpowder-plot. On this occasion he obtained great credit for the acuteness and sagacity with which he unravelled the intricacies of so obscure and complicated a case; but the harshness with which it seemed natural for him to exercise his official duties as public prosecutor, revealed itself in the bitterness of his invectives against the prisoners. On the 20th of June, 1606, Sir Edward Coke was promoted from the office of attorney-general to the chief-justiceship of the common pleas; Sir Henry Hobart succeeded bim in the post of attorney

« AnteriorContinuar »