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six of the clock in the morning ; ' the earl's steward and
two others of his servants having carried it away in a
coach, and this witness having gone with them in the

coach.' ^

There is a letter printed by Mr. Amos from the MS.
in the State Paper Office (1615, November 18), to Sir E.
Coke from Thomas Pack wood. Merchant Tailor, in which
the writer says : ' Tlie matter I acquainted your Honor
with this day was touching one John Eeryre, sometime
blaster Cook to our late Prince Henry} This Eeryre since
was preferred to serve the Queens Majesty by the Earl of
Somerset,^ the particulars whereof I refer to your Honor's
collection and further examination; he refused to go
with one Eichard Keymer, yeoman of the counting-house
to the late prince, for tliat, said he, I am now busy about
the maJcing of jelly for Sir Thomas Overbury, then
prisoner in the Tower ; and this Keymer, being a very
honest and worthy gentleman, is ready to attend your

1 MS. state Paper Office, printed in Amos, pp. 483, 484, At the end of
the examination are the words ' Exam, per Edw. Coke.'

* The words printed in italics are so printed in the copy of this letter in

Amos, p. 483.

* These words are also printed in italics in Amos. The other words
referrin"- to Overbury, I have printed in italics. They are not so printed in
Amos; but, when taken in connection with those underlined by Mr. Amos,
are very significant.

ritixcE iiExiiY. 3S1

lordship if you command, and think tlie matter worthy
your consideration.' ^

This is sufRcient to show that Sir E. Coke had
entered upon tlie track ; thougli, as there are no more
examinations now to be found relating to this subject, it
may be concluded that he did not follow it up; and that
this is what Bacon alludes to when, in his expostulation
M'ith Sir Edward Coke, he says, ' It almost seemeth a
higher ollence in you to have done so much indeed, than
that you have done no more ; you stopt the confessions
and a2Cusations of some who, perhaps, had they been
suffered, would have spoken enough to have removed
some stumbling-blocks out of your way.' ^

We have no further specific information respecting
Prince Henry till towards the end of September, when he
entertained the kino; and his court at his manor of Wood-
stock. ' At last,' says Cornwallis, in his account of the
prince's illness and death, ' their journeys being towards
an end, to Woodstock they came.'^ He then describes a
]nagnificent banquet, on which occasion Prince Henry
dined in the same room, but not at the same table, with
the kinii" — as Pi'itannicus, when he received his death-
draught, dined in the same room, but not at the same
table, with Nero. After this banquet, Prince Henry was
never well again ; ' complaining now and then,' says
Cornwallis, 'of a cold, lazy drowsiness in his head.'^
' On October 10,' continues Cornwalhs, ' Doctor Ham-

1 Amos, p. 48.3.

* Bacon's Works (Montagu's edition), vol. vii. pp. 300, 301. Amos, p. 482.
Franklyn said, ' I could have put the Chief .Justice in the riglit way the
first day I came to him.' — Amos, p. 228, from MS. in the State Paper Office
in Sir E. Coke's handwriting.

3 Somers's Tracts, vol. ii. p. 232. < Ibid. p. 233.


moiid, his pliysiciaii, gave liim a softening glister [clys-
ter].' But Mayerne was the chief physician, and he may
be supposed to have had a hand in the compounding of
this prescription, which produced on the morning of
Tuesday, October 13, most alarming and distressing
spnptoms,^ similar to those in Sir Thomas Overbury's
case.^ It will be shown that, in the opinion of those who
have minutely examined the evidence, including the sup-
pressed examinations still in the State Paper Office, the
most probable cause of Overbury's death was a poisoned
clyster, applied by Lobell, a French apothecary, under
the direction of Mayerne, King James's French physi-
cian ; and that the next probable cause was the constant
repetition, during a long space of time, of arsenic or other
drugs, in small doses, scientifically administered by the
same royal physician, Mayerne.^

In one of the suppressed examinations, that of Paul de
Lobell, apothecary, taken October 3, 1G15, Lobell said
' That Sir Thomas Overbury was sick of a consumption^
and that he never ministered any physic to him but by
the advice of Monsieur Mayerne, for which he had his
hand, and doth yet remain in writing, what physic in
every particular thing was given liim, which now he
delivered to the hands of the Chief Justice, containing
twenty-eight leaves, or pieces of paper, great or small,
which is all tlje physic that this examinant ministered
to him.' * And further light as to the employment of this

1 See Somers's Tracts, vol. ii. p. 23.3,

2 See the evidence of Payton on Somerset's Trial, State Trials, vol. ii.
p. 978, and in Amos, p. 98. See also the evidence of Weston to the same
effect, published from the MS. in the State Paper Office, in Amos, p. 177.

3 See Amos, p. 490.

■* MS. State Paper Office ; Domestic Papers, 1G15, Oct. 3, No. 1G8. Amos,
p. 1G7.

riiixcE iiEXiiY. 383

Lobell to ' minister physic ' to Ovcrlniry is furnished l)y
another of the suppressed examinations ; that of anotlier
apothecary, also a Frenchman, Jolm Wonlf Pomler, who
said 'Tliat he was never appointed to minister to Sir
Thomas Overbuiy ; but, at the commendation of Monsieur
Maierne to tlie king, Paul de Lobell was appointed,
because he dwelt near to the Tower, in Lyme Street, to
minister such physic as Monsieur Maierne should prescribe.
And said that he did not write to the Lieutenant about his
admittance to minister to Sir Thomas, or that it was the
king's pleasure he so should do, neither did this examinant
move his Majesty ever for Paule de Lobell.' ^

Now it is remarkable that, as in Sir Thomas Overbury's
case, there was a wasting away of the body,^ which gives
a colour to the assertion, or suggestion at least, that lie
died of a consumption^ so Prince Henry's case presented
some of the same characteristics ; for Cornwallis says,
speaking of the prince's state of health after the banquet
at Woodstock before mentioned, ' But now did he look
still more pale and thin from day to da}', complaining
now and then of a cold, lazie drowsiness in his head.' ^
An inference from tliis might be, that in both cases there
]ui(l been, during a long space of time, a constant repeti-
tion of arsenic, or other drugs, in small doses, scientifically
administered. It has been shown, from the suppressed

^ MS. State Paper Office; Domestic Papers, lOl^j, Oct. 5, No. 170. Amos,
p. 108.

^ ' Paul lie Lobell examined, saith that on the 3rd of July lie made Sir
Thomas Overbury a bath by Dr. Mayerne's advice to cool his body, and that
he did see his body very exceeding- fair and clear, and again he siw his
body (being dead) full of blisters, and so consumed incay as he never saw the
like body.' — Somers's Tracts, vol. ii. p. 323; State Trials, vol. ii. p. 921.

^ Somers's Tracts, vol. ii. p. 233. Just before Cornwallis uses the words
' engendered by some unknown causes,' on which Sir W. Scott has the note
quoted in a former page.

384 i-ssAYS oy hustorical truth.

examination of Paul de Lobell, tliat he delivered to the
Chief Justice twenty-eight leaves, or pieces of paper,
containing Mayerne's prescriptions for Overbury. But
these prescriptions are, as might be expected, not to be
jbund now. And this brings us to the most important
piece of evidence regarding the death of Prince Henry.
We have shown that those who take the side of the
question that Prince Henry died a natural death ground
their strongest argument in support of that view on the
assertion that Sir Theodore Mayerne ' has left a detailed
account of the prince's illness and death in his " Collection
of Cases ; " ' and ' that no symptoms of his having been
poisoned were discovered on dissection,' It is evident
that those who wrote thus had never seen Sir Theodore
Mayerne's ' Collection of Cases,' or ' Ephemerides,' and
have made a confusion between that and the report of
' The Dissection of the Body of Prince Henry,' signed by
Mayerne and five other physicians, one of them being
Hammond, who administered the deadly ' softening
clyster ' above mentioned. There was no chemical analysis
made ; there were no chemical tests applied. The report
stated that ' the stomach was in no part offended.' Of
course, they would find that he died a natural death. But
their report will not preclude a rehearing of the case ; more
particularly as the strongest argument in favour of that
natural death is found to be just the other way. For every-
thing relating to Prince Henry's illness and death has been
torn out of Sir Theodore Mayerne's ' Collection of Cases.'
There are among the Sloane MSS. in the British
Museum several volumes of Sir Theodore Mayerne's
'Ephemerides Anglico3.' In the volume for 1612-13^

» Sloane MSS. 2064, British Museum.

ntiNCE iiEMtv. 385

there is a hiatus or gap from page 48 to page 05, allow-
ing tliat everytliing rehiting to the ilhicss and death of"
Prince Henry has been torn out. On the page imme-
diately preceding tlie leaves torn out, i.e. on page 48,
there are some remains of sealing-wax, indicating that the
leaves relating to the case of Prince Henry had been first
sealed up. Afterwards, as the sealing u[) was not con-
sidered sufficient security, the leaves appear t(j have been
torn out. At the end of this MS. volume of Maverne's
' Ephemerides ' is an index in the same hand as the
prescriptions, namely, his own — a very good and very
legible hand ; so plain that there could be no danger —
as in the cases of physicians who write illegible hands —
of Dr. Mayerne's poisoning his patients by mistake. In
this ' index ' there is this entry : —

' Eelation de la maladie et mort de Monsr. Le Prince
Henry, f. 49.'

And the next entry in the index is : —
' My Ld. Eochester, Debilitas Ventriculi, f. 05.'
It is to be particularly noted that each number follow-
ing the letter f., or folio, indicates a leaf, i.e. two pages.
Therefore the gap from 48 to 65 indicates that sixteen
leaves, or thirty-two pages, have been torn out. So that
it is quite clear that the whole of the prescriptions re-
lating to Prince Henry, and filling thirty-two folio pages,
have been torn out.

On Sunday, October 25, 1612, Prince Henry dined
with King James at Whitehall.^ Almost immediately
after dinner the prince complained of a ' shivering, at-
tended with great heat and headache, which from that

^ Comwallis's Account of Prince Henry's illiies;? and death, Somers's
Tracts, Scott's edition, vol. ii. p. '2'i-i.



time never left him ; ' and he was obhged ' suddenly to
take leave, and go to St. James's to bed.' He had ate
with a ' seeming good appetite,' and had heard two
sermons in the morning;. The same evening; he was
' tormented with an excessive thirst, which never after-
wards abated.' ^ On the following day, Monday, ' Dr.
Mayerne, his Majesty's chief physician, appointed him
a softening glister ' '^ [clyster].

Prince Henry died at eight o'clock in the evening of
November 6, 1G12. He was eighteen years, eight
months, and seventeen days old. King James never
visited him during his last sickness ; but, as Sir Charles
Cornwallis writes, ' His Majesty, being unwilling and
unable to stay so near the gates of sorrow, removed to
Theobalds, to wait there the event.' ^

On the day following, the 7th of November, a report
of ' The Dissection of the Body of Prince Henry ' was
issued, intended to give a complete refutation of the
rumour that he had been poisoned, and certifying that
' the stomach was in no way offended.' At the end of
this report there is this imposing attestation, which would
appear to have imposed upon not a few, at least of those
who lived a century or more after the time, for it did not
impose upon contemporaries.

'In witness whereof with our hands we have subscribed
this present relation the 7t]i day of November 1612.
' Dr. Mayerne, Dr. Palmer,

Dr. Atkins, Dr. Gifford,

Dr. Hammond, Dr. Butler.' ^

^ Comwallis's Account of Prince Henry's illness and death Somers'a
Tracts, Scott's edition, vol. ii. p. 234.

2 Ibid. p. 235. 3 Somers's Tracts, ihid.

Truth brought to Light, chap. xv. pp. 25-27 : Loudon, 1G51.

ritixcE HEXitv. 387

It is a singular result tliat \vliil(3 to tlic minds of
contemporaries \vho knew nothing of the jjowers of
analytical chemistry tliis certificate of six physicians
appeared to carry no conviction that Prince Henry died
a natural death, writers who lived a century and a half or
two centuries after the event, at a time too wlien tlie
powers of analytical chemistry were known, slujuld
express themselves as Hume and Mr. Ilallam have done.
Hume's conclusion on the subject is what might have
been expected from his ignorance of the historical facts
of the period of which he professed to write the history. ^
But Mr. Hallam's conclusion is the more surprising, both
from his usual industry and sagacity, and from his living
at a time when the process of discovering poison in the
.human body by chemical analysis was well understood.
Mr. Hallam is of opinion that ' the symptoms of Prince
Henry's illness and the appearances on dissection were
not such as could result from poison.' ]\Ir. Amos might
well say : ' Mr. Hallam's and Hume's conclusions seem
to be drawn too positively. It does not appear that,
upon the occassion of the dissection of Prince Henry's
body, any search was made after poisons ; no chemical
tests, such as are now universally applied for discovering
poisons, appear to have been adopted. In Mayerne's
collection of cases for which he wrote prescriptions,
everything that relates to Prince Henry's last illness is
torn out of the book.' ^

* It is instructive to observe, in the cases of TTunie and Dr. Lingard, how
extremes meet. Hume has exerted all the powers of the most unscrupuloiia
advocacy to defend the worst of the Stuarts ; and Dr. Lin<;:ard, in the face
of the most positive evidence which was not accessible to Hume, argues that
the king's sensitiveness about Somerset's demeanour and speeches at his trial
arose from overweening nilection ; and here as elsewhere, under a tone of
calmness and candour, lie carefully keeps the truth out of sight.

* Amos, The Great Oyer of I'oisoning, p. 4U7.

CO 2


It is certainly strange tliat writers of such ability as
Hume and Hallam should have expressed themselves so
positively on such a matter as this. In doing so they
have quite overlooked two important considerations —
the one political, the other chemical, A thoroughly
searching investigation of the cause of Prince Henry's
death was precluded first by the power of the parties
suspected, and secondly by the state of chemical science.
Dr. Christison, discussing the tests for the oxide of
arsenic in the solid state, says \ ' In the ruder periods of
analytic chemistry we find Hahnemann recommending
a retort as the fittest instrument, and stating ten grains
as the least quantity he could detect. Afterwards Dr.
Black substituted a small glass tube, coated with clay,
and afterwards well heated ; and in this way he could
detect a single grain. In a paper published in the
' Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal,' I showed how
a sixteenth of a grain might be detected ; and, more
lately, how so minute a quantity might be subjected to
this test as a hundredth part of a grain.' ^

So little was that age acquainted with the art of
chemical analysis, that even about half a century after
there were not known any means of detecting a solution
of arsenic so highly concentrated that six and even four
drops were a mortal dose. In the year 1659, during the
pontificate of Alexander VII., it was observed at Eome
that many young married women became widows,
particularly those who had become tired of their hus-
bands. And some twenty years later the Marchioness de
Brinvilliers and her accomplice Sainte Croix poisoned so

' Christison on Pois'ns, p. 179. -,


many people fit Paris that tlic Pnrisians said tlint no
young physician, while introducing liiniself to practise,
had ever so speedily filled a churchyard as Madame
Brinvilliers. But it is a complete proof of the ignorance
at that time of analytical chemistry that in neither of
these cases was the poisoning discovered by chemical
analysis. In the lu'st case mentioned, namely the
extensive poisoning at Eome in 1G59, the government
used great vigilance to detect the poisoners; and at
length discovered a secret society of young wives, whose
president was an old woman, by name Spara. It ap-
peared that Spara, who was a Sicilian, was a pupil of
Tofana, from whom the poison called Aqua della Tofana,
or Aqua Tofana,^ derived its name.

Tofana or Tofania was a Sicilian by birth, and resided
first at Palermo and then at Naples. When she first
began to exercise her profession is nowhere related ; but
it must have been at a very early age, and before 1659.
Garelli expressly says that she was alive in ]>rison at
Naples not long before 1718 ; and Keysler, who visited
Naples in 1730, likewise asserts that she was then living
in prison. He describes her as a little and very old
woman. Garelli, who was chief physician to the
emperor, wrote to Hoffman that Tofania (or Tofana)
confessed that she had used her poison, i.e. the Aqua
Tofana, to poison more than 600 persons. This he learnt
from the emperor himself, to whom the whole criminal
process instituted against her was transmitted. lu-
extingui^liable thirst was one of the symptoms of the
Aqua Toftma, which was said to produce no violent

' It was ftlso liiMwn under the name of Acquetta di Xapoli, or simply
Acquetta ; and later its Acc^ua or .Acquettai di Perui^na,


symptoms — no vomiting, or but very seldom. It was
limpid as rock water, and without taste. Four or six
drops were reckoned a sufficient dose; but tlie general
opinion was that it could be so tempered or managed as
to prove fatal in any given tune, from a few days to a
year or upwards.^ Various accounts of its composition
have been given. Garelli positively asserts it to have
been nothing but a solution of chrystallized arsenic in a
large quantity of water, with the addition, for some
unknown reason, of a very innocent herb, the Antir-
rhinum cyrnbalaria?

Whether or not Mayerne had in the course of his
chemical researches made some discovery similar to that
of Tofana, the case of Overbury as well as that of Prince
Henry leads to the conclusion that his method of pro-
ceeding was a repetition of small doses for a considerable
period of time, that is, for at least several weeks, and in
addition a powerful clyster. It was tlie opinion of two
of the most acute and disciplined legal intellects of that
age. Coke and Bacon, tliat poisoning would be employed
to an extent equal to that to which Tofana and
BrinviUiers afterwards employed it. And in the face of
aU this it is futile to treat the theory of Prince Henry's

* * In the present day it may be doubted if a medical man could indicate
with certainty any poisonous preparation of which the effect should be fatal^
but should nevertheless be suspended for two months, or even a week. And
perhaps good sciontific testimony could be produced negativing the quality
of being a slow poison to any of Franklin's drugs, tinless, indeed, they he re-
peated in small doses for a considerable period of time.'' — Amos, The Great Oyer
of Poisoning, pp. 348, 349.

"^ Encyclopsedia liritannica. Aqua Tofana. The account of Tofana or To-
fania and of Aqua Tofana in Beck's Medical Jurisprudence (7th edition,
p. 757, note) does not appear to be either so complete or so accurate as that
in the Encyclopajdia Britannica, the writer of which says that the curious
chapter on Secret Poisons in Becknianu's History of Inventions had been of
great assistance to him in pointing out authorities.

riilXt'E HENRY. 3111

Laving been poisoned as niodciii historians have treated

Lord Dartmouth, in a note to Burnet's 'History of liis
Own Times ' ^ appears to be on the wrong track when he
says 'If he (Piince Henry) was poisoned by the Earl <»('
Somerset, it was not upon the account of religion, but
for making love to the Countess of Essex ; and that was
what the Lord Chief Justice Coke meant, when he said,
at the Earl of Somerset's trial, ' God knows what went
with the good Prince Henry, but I have heard something.'
Even if Coke had said what has been attributed to him,
that he meant what Lord Dartmouth says, is merely an
assertion of which Lord Dartmouth could loring no proof.
And this circumstance of sj)eeches on the Prince's death ;
as connected with the murder of Sir T. Overbury, is, as
Mr. Amos has remarked, ' illustrative of the uncertainty
of historical evidence regarding discourses and speeches.' ^
For in Bacon's expostulation with Sir E. Coke, he says,
' Though you never used such speeches as are fathered
upon you.' There were many far more real causes for
deadly enmity not only between Somerset and Prince
Henry, but between King James and Prince Henry, than
making love to Lady Frances Howard, Countess of Essex.
One of these is thus related in the petition of Carew
Ealeigh, the only surviving son of Sir Walter Kaleigh, to
the Long Parliament.

' Seven years after Sir Walter Ealeigh's imprisonment
he enjoyed Sherburn ; at which time it fell out that one
Mr. Eobert Car, a young Scotch gentleman, grew in
great favour with the king ; and having no fortune, they

> Vol. i. p n.

"^ The Great Oyer of Poisoning, p. 484.


contrived to lay tlie foundation of his future greatness
upon the ruins of Sir Walter Raleigh. Whereupon they
called the conveyance of Sherburn in question, in the
Exchequer Chamber, and for want of one single word
(which word was found notwithstanding in the Paper-
book, and was only the oversight of a clerk) they
pronounced the conveyance invalid, and Sherburn for-
feited to the Crowm ; a judgment easily to be foreseen
without witchcraft, since his chiefest judge was his
greatest enemy, and the case argued between a poor
friendless prisoner and a king of England. Thus was
Sherburn given to Sir Robert Car, after Earl of Somerset ;
the lady Raleigh w^ith her children, humbly and earnestly
petitioning the king for compassion on her and hers,
could obtain no other answer from him, but that ' he
mun have the land, he mun have it for Car.' She being
a woman of a very liigh spirit, and noble birth and
breeding, fell down upon her knees, with her hands
heaved up to heaven, and in the bitterness of spirit
beseeched God Almighty to look upon the justness of
her cause, and punish those wdio had so wrongfully
exposed her and her poor children to ruin and beggary.
What hath happened since to that royal ftimily is too
sad and disastrous for me to repeat, and yet too visible
not to be discerned. But to proceed : Prince Henry,
hearing the king had given Sherburn to Sir Robert Car,
came with some anger to his father, desiring he would be
pleased to bestow Sherburn upon him, alledging that it
was a place of great strength and beauty, which he much
liked, but indeed, with an intention to give it back to
Sir Walter Raleigh, whom he much esteemed. The
king, who was unwilling to refuse any of the prince's

riilNVE IIEXRY. 303

desires (for indeed they were most commonly delivered
in such language, as sounded rather like a demand ^ than
an intreaty) granted his request ; and to satisfy his
favourite, gave him twenty-five thousand pounds in
money. But that excellent prince within a few months
was taken away ; how and by what means is suspected by
all, and I fear was then too well known by many. After
his death the king gave Sherburn again to Sir Robert Car.' '^
Now here is shown ground for both fear and hatred
towards Prince Henry, on the })ait both of King James
and Somerset — ground much more solid than that allesred
by Lord Dartmouth. Prince Henry may be with justice
supposed to have been regarded by James and Somerset —
and by a man of more subtlety than James or Somerset.
Northampton^ — as an enemy, dangerous and hateful then,
and every year he lived likely to become more dangerous.
AVhatever causes there mi^jht be for ' deliverinfj his
desires to the king in such language as sounded ratlier
like a demand than an intreaty,' it was not to be
expected that James, who was very sensitive and tena-

Online LibraryAndrew BissetEssays on historical truth → online text (page 30 of 40)