Francis Bacon.

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perjury. Nay, you leave us not there, but you take
upon you a pontifical habir, and couple your slander
with a curse ; but thanks be to God we have learned
sufficiently out of the Scripture, that as- the bird flies
azvtnjy so the causeless curse shall not come.

For the first of these, which concerns the King, I
have taken to myself the opening and aggravation
thereof; the other three I have distributed to my

My lords, I cannot but enter into this part with
some wonder and astonishment, how it should come
into the heart of a subject or England to vapour forth
such a wicked and venomous slander against the King,
whose goodness and grace is comparable, if not in-
comparable, unto any of the Kings his progenitors.

Charge against Mr. Oliver St. John. 435

This therefore gives me a just and necessary occasion
to do two thiugs : The one, to make some representa-
tion of his Majesty ; such as truly he is found to be in
his government, which Mr. J. S. chargeth with viola-
tion of laws and liberties: The other, to search and
open the depth of Mr. I. S. his offence. Both which
I will do briefly ; because the one, I cannot express
sufficiently ; and the other, I will not press too far.

My lords, I mean to make no panegyric or lauda-
tive ; the King delights not in it, neither am I fit for
it : but if it were but a counsellor or nobleman, whose
name had suffered, and were to receive some kind of
reparation in this high court, I would do him that
duty as not to pass his merits and just attributes, espe-
cially such as are limited with the present case, in
silence : for it is fit to burn incense where evil odours
have been cast and raised. Is it so that King James
shall be said to be a violator of the liberties, laws, and
customs of his kingdoms ? Or is he not rather a noble
and constant protector and conservator of them all ? I
conceive this consisteth in maintaining religion and the
true church : in maintaining the laws of the kingdom,
which is the subject's birth-right ; in temperate use of
the prerogative ; in due and free administration of
justice, and conservation of the peace of the land.

For religion, we must ever acknowledge in the first
place, that we have a King that is the principal con-
servator of true religion through the Christian world.
He hath maintained it not only with sceptre and sword,
but likewise by his pen ; wherein also lie is potent.

He hath awaked and re-authorized the whole party
of the reformed religion throughout Europe ; which
through the insolency and divers artifices and inchant-
mentsof the adverse part, was grown a little dull and
dejected : He hath summoned the fraternity of Kings
to enfranchise themselves from the usurpation of the
See of Rome : He hath made himself a mark of con-
tradiction for it.

Neither can I omit, when I speak of religion, to
remember that excellent act of his Majesty, which
though it were done in a foreign country, yet the

Ff 2

436 Charge against Mr. Oliver St. John.

church of God is one, and the contagion of these
things will soon pass seas and lands : I mean, in his
constant and holy proceeding against the heretic
, Vorstius, whom, being ready to enter into the chair,
and there to have authorized one of the most pestilent
and heathenish heresies that ever was begun, his Ma-
jesty by his constant opposition dismounted and pulled
down. And I am persuaded there sits in this court
one whom God doth the rather bless for being his Ma-
jesty's instrument in that service.

I cannot remember religion and the church, but J
must think of the seed-plots of the same, which are the
universities. His Majesty, as for learning amongst
Kings, he is incomparable in his person ; so likewise
hath he been in his government a benign or benevolent
planet towards learning: by whose influence those nur-
series and gardens of learning, the universities, were
never more in flower nor fruit.

For the maintaining of the laws, which is the hedge
and fence about the liberty of the subject, I may truly
affirm it was never in better repair. He doth concur
\vith the votes of the nobles ; Nolumus leges Anglic
mutare. He is an enemy of innovation. Neither doth
the universality of his own knowledge carry him to
neglect or pass over the very forms of the laws of the
]and. Neither was there ever King, I am persuaded,
that did consult so oft with his judges, as my lords
that sit here know well. The judges are a kind of
council of the King's by oath and ancient institution ;
but he useth them so indeed : he confers regularly with
them upon their returns from their visitations and cir-
cuits: he gives them liberty, both to inform him, and
to debate matters with him ; and in the fall and con-
clusion commonly relies on their opinions.

As for the use of the prerogative, it runs within the
ancient channels and banks : some things that were
conceived to be in some proclamations, commissions,
and patents, as overflows, have been by his wisdom
and care reduced; whereby, no doubt, the main
channel of his prerogative is so much the stronger. For
evermore overflows do hurt the channel.

Charge against Mr. Oliver St. John. 437

As for administration of justice between party and
party, I pray observe these points. There is no news
of great seal or signet that flies abroad for countenance
or delay of causes ; protections rarely granted, and
only upon great ground, or by consent. My lords here
of the council and the King himself meddle not, as hath
been used in former times, with matters of mcnm and
tiium, except they have apparent mixture with matters
of estate, but leave them to the King's courts of law or
equity. And for mercy and grace, without which
there is no standing before justice, we see, the King
now hath reigned twelve years in his white robe,
without almost any aspersion of the crimson dye of
blood. There sits my lord Hobart, that served attorney
seven years. I served with him. We were so happy,
as there passed not through our hands any one arraign-
ment for treason ; and but one for any capital offence,
which was that of the Lord Sanquhar ; the noblest
piece of justice, one of them, that ever came forth in
any King's time.

As for penal laws, which lie as snares upon the
subjects, and which were as a nemo scit to King
Henry VII ; it yields a revenue that will scarce pay for
the parchment of the King's records at Westminster.

And lastly for peace, we see manifestly his Majesty
bears some resemblance of that great name, a Prince
of^peace: he hath preserved his subjects during his
reign in peace, both within and without. For the peace
with states abroad, we have it usque ad satietatem:
and for peace in the lawyers phrase, which count
trespasses, and forces, and riots, to be contra pacem ;
let me give your lordships this token or taste, that this
court, where they should appear, had never less to do.
And certainly there is no better sign of omnia benc,
than when this court is in a still.

But, my lords, this is a sea of matter : and therefore
I must give it over, and conclude, that there was never
King reigned in this nation that did better keep cove-
nant in preserving the liberties and procuring the

438 Charge against Mr. Oliver St. John.

good of his people : so that I must needs say for the
subjects of England,

Ofortunatos nimlnm sna si bona nSrlnt ;

as no doubt they do both know and acknowledge it ;
whatsoever a few turbulent discourses may, through
the lenity of the time, take boldness to speak.

And as for this particular, touching the benevolence,
wherein Mr. I. S. doth assign this breach of covenant,
I leave it to others to tell you what the King may do,
or what other Kings have done ; but I have told you
what our King and my lords have done; which, I say
and say again, is so far from introducing a new pre-
cedent, as it doth rather correct, and mollify, and
qualify former precedents.

Now, Mr. I. S. let me tell you your fault in few
words : for that I arn persuaded you see it already,
though I woo no man's repentance ; but I shall, as
much as in me is, cherish it where I find it. Your
offence hath three parts knit together :

Your slander,

Your menace, and

Y'our comparison.

For your slander, it is no less than that the King is
perjured in his coronation oath. No greater offence
than perjury; no greater oath than that of a corona-
tion. 1 leave it ; it is too great to aggravate,

Your menance, that if there were a Bullingbroke,
or I cannot tell what, there were matter for him, is a
very seditious passage. You know well, that howso-
ever Henry the Fourth's act, by a secret providence
of God, prevailed, yet it was but an usurpation ; and
if it were possible for such a one to be this day, where-
with it seems your dreams are troubled, I do not doubt,
his end would be upon the block; and that he would
sooner have the ravens sit upon his head at London
bridge, than the crown at Westminster. And it is
pot your interlacing of your " God forbid," that will
salve these seditious speeches; neither could it be a
forewarning, because the matter was past and not re*

Charge against Mr. Oliver St. John. 439

vocable, but a very stirring up and incensing of the
people. If I should say to you, for example, " If these
" times were like some former times, of King Henry
" VII I. or some other times, which God forbid, Mr.
" I. S. it would cost you your life ;" I am sure you
would not think this to be a gentle warning, but rather
that I incensed the court against you.

And for your comparison with Richard II. I see, you
follow the example of them that brought him upon
the stage, and into print, in Queen Elizabeth's time,
a most prudent and admirable Queen. But let me
intreat you, that when you will speak of Queen Eli-
zabeth or King James, you would compare them to
King Henry VII. or King Edward I. or some other
parallels to which they are alike. And this I would
wish both you and all to take heed of, how you speak
seditious matter in parables, or by tropes or examples.
There is a thing in an indictment called an inuendo ;
you must beware how you beckon or make signs upon
the King in a dangerous sense : but I will contain myself
and press this no farther. I may hold you for turbulen-
or presumptuous ; but I hope you are not disloyal : you
are graciously and mercifully dealt with. And there-
fore having now opened to my lords, and, as I think,
to your own heart and conscience, the principal part
of your offence, which concerns the King, I leave the
rest, which concerns the law, parliament, and the
subjects that have given, to Mr. Serjeant and Mr.

[ 440 ]






J. HE treason wherewith this man standeth charged,
is for the kind and nature of it ancient, as ancient as
there is any law of England ; but in the particular,
late and upstart : and again, in the manner and bold-
ness of the present case, new and almost unheard of
till this man. Of what mind he is now, I know not ;
but I take him as he was, and as he standeth charged.
For high treason is not written in ice ; that when the
body relenteth, the impression should go away.

In this cause the evidence itself will spend little time :
time therefore will be best spent in opening fully the
nature of this treason, with the circumstances thereof;
because the example is more than the man. I think
good therefore by way of inducement and declaration
in this cause to open unto the court, jury and hearers,
five things.

The first is the clemency of the King ; because it is
news, and a kind of rarity to have a proceeding in this
place upon treason : and perhaps it may be marvelled
by some, why after so long an intermission it should
light upon this fellow ; being a person but contempti-
ble, a kind of venomous fly, and a hang-by of the

The second is, the nature of this treason, as con-
cerning the fact, which of all kinds of compassing the

Charge against Mr. Owen. 44-1

King's death, I hold to be the most perilous, and as
much differing from other conspiracies, as the lifting
up of a thousand hands against the King, like the giant
Briareus, differs from lifting up one or a few hands.

The third point that 1 will speak unto is the doctrine
or opinion, which is the ground of this treason ;
wherein I will not argue or speak like a divine or
scholar, but as a man bred in a civil life : and to speak
plainly, I hold the opinion to be such that deserveth
rather detestation than contestation.

The fourth point is the degree of this man's offence,
which is more presumptuous than I have known any
other to have fallen into in this kind, and hath a
greater overflow of malice and treason.

And fifthly, I will remove somewhat that may seem
to qualify and extenuate this man's offence ; in that he
hath not affirmed simply that it is lawful to kill the
King, but conditionally ; that if the King be excom-
municate, it is lawful to kill him : which maketh little
difference either in law or peril.

For the King's clemency, I have said it of late upon
a good occasion, and I still speak it with comfort: I
have now served his Majesty's solicitor and attorney
eight years and better 5 yet this is the first time that
ever I gave in evidence against a traitor at this bar or
any other. There hath not wanted matter in that party
of the subjects whence this kind of offence floweth, to
irritate the King : he hath been irritated by the powder
of treason, which might have turned judgment into
fury. He hath been irritated by wicked and monstrous
libels ; irritated- by a general insolency and presump-
tion in the Papists throughout the land ; and yet I
see his Majesty keepeth Cesar's rule : Nil ?nalo y quam
eos csse similes siri, et me md. He leaveth them to be
like themselves ; and he remaineth like himself, and
striveth to overcome evil with goodness. A strange
thing, bloody opinions, bloody doctrines, bloody ex-
amples, and yet the government still unstained with
blood. As for this Owen that is brought in question,
though his person be in his condition contemptible ;
yet we see by miserable-examples, that these wretches

442 Charge against Mr. Ozcen.

which are but the scum of the earth, have been able
to stir earthquakes by murdering princes; and if it
were in case of contagion, as this is a contagion of the
heart and soul, a rascal may bring in a plague into
the city as well as a great man : so it is not the person,
but the matter that is to be considered.

For the treason itselr, which is the second point, my
desire is to open it in the depth thereof, if it were pos-
sible; but it is bottomless : I said in the beginning*

O O '

that this treason in the nature of it was old. It is not
of the treasons whereof it may be said, from the be-
ginning it was not so. You are indicted, Owen, not
upon any statute made against the Pope's supremacy,
or other matters, that have reference to religion ; but
merely upon that law which was born with the king-
dom, and was law even in superstitious times, when
the Pope was received. The compassing and imagin-
ing of the King's death was treason. The statute of
25 Edw. III. which was but declaratory, begins with
this article as the capital or capitals in treason, and of all
others the most odious and the most perilous: and so the
civil law saith, Conjurationes omnium proditionum odio-
sissinitc ct perniciosissimce. Against hostile invasions
and the adherence of subjects to enemies, Kings can
arm. Rebellions must go over the bodies of many good
subjects before they can hurt the King : but conspira-
cies against the persons of Kings are like thunder-bolts
that strike upon the sudden, hardly to be avoided.
Major metus a fingulis, saith he, quam ab universis.
There is no preparation against them : and that pre-
paration which may be of guard or custody, is a perpe-
tual misery. And therefore they that have written of
the privileges ot ambassadors and of the amplitude of
safe-conducts, have defined, that if an ambassador or
a man that cometh in upon the highest safe-conducts,
to practise matter of sedition in a state, yet by the law
oi nations he ought to be remanded ; but if he con-
spire against the life of a prince by violence or poison,
he is to be justified; Quia odium est omni privilegio
'majus. Nay, even amongst enemies, and in the most
deadly wars, yet nevertheless conspiracy and assassi-

Charge against Mr. Owen. 443

nation of princes hath been accounted villainous and

The manners of conspiring and compassing the
King's death are many : but it is most apparent, that
amongst all the rest this surmounteth. First, because
it is grounded upon pretenced religion ; which is a
trumpet that inflameth the heart and powers of a man
with daring and resolution more than any thing else.
Secondly, it is the hardest to be avoided ; for when a
particular conspiracy is plotted or attempted against a
King by some one or some few conspirators, it meets
with a number of impediments. Commonly he that hath
the head to devise it, hath not the heart to undertake
it: and the person that is used, sometimes faileth in
courage ; sometimes faileth in opportunity; sometimes
is touched with remorse. But to publish and maintain,
that it may be lawful for any man living to attempt the
life of a King, this doctrine is a venomous sop; or, as
a legion of malign spirits, or an universal temptation,
doth enter at once into the hearts of all that are any
way prepared, or of any predisposition to be traitors j
so that whatsoever faileth in any one, is supplied in
many. If one man faint, another will dare ; if one
man hath not the opportunity, another hath; if one
man relent, another will be desperate. And thirdly,
particular conspiracies have their periods of time,
within which if they be not taken, they vanish ; but
this is endless, and importeth perpetuity of springing
conspiracies. And so much concerning the nature of
the fact.

For the third point, which is the doctrine ; that upon
an excommunication of the Pope, with sentence of
deposing, a King by any son of Adam may be slaugh-
tered ; and that it is justice and no murder; and that
their subjects are absolved of their allegiance, and the
Kings themselves exposed to spoil and prey. 1 said
before, that I would not argue the subtlety of the
question : it is rather to be spolien to by way of accu-
sation ot the opinion as impious, than by way of dis-
pute of it as doubtful. Nay, I say, it deserveth rather
some holy war or league amongst ay Christian princes

444 Charge against Mr. Owen.

of either religion for the extirpating and rasing of the
opinion, and the authors thereof, from the face of the
earth, than the stile of pen or speech. Therefore in
this kind I will speak to it a few words, and not other-
wise. Nay, I protest, if I were a Papist I should say
as much : nay, I should speak it perhaps with more
indignation and feeling. For this horrible opinion is
our advantage, and it is their reproach, and will be
their ruin.

This monster of opinion is to be accused of three
most evident and most miserable slanders.

First, Of the slander it bringeth to the Christian faith,
being a plain plantation of irreligion and atheism.

Secondly, The subversion which it introduceth into
all policy and government.

Thirdlv, The great calamity it bringeth upon Papists
themselves; of which the more moderate sort, as men
misled, are to be pitied.

For the first, if a man doth visit the foul and polluted
opinions, customs, or practices of heathenism, maho-
inetism, and heresy, he shall find they do not attain to
this height. Take the examples of damnable memory
amongst the Heathens. The proscriptions in Kome of
Sylla, and afterwards of the Triumvirs, what were
they ? They w r ere but of a finite number of persons,
and those not many that were exposed unto any man's
sword. But what is that to the proscribing of a King,
and all that shall take his part? And what was the
reward of a soldier that amongst them killed one of
the proscribed ? A small piece of money. But what
is now the reward of one that shall kill a King ? The
kingdom of heaven. The custom among the Heathen
that was most scandalised was, that sometimes the
priest sacrificed men ; but yet you shall not read of
any priesthood that sacrificed Kings.

The Mahometans make it a part of their religion to
propagate their sect by the sword ; but yet still by ho-
nourable wars, never by villanics and secret murders.
Nay, I find that the Saracen prince, of whom the
name of the assassins is derived, which had divers vo-
taries at commandment^ which he sent and employed

Charge against Mr. Ozven. 445

to the killing of divers princes in the east, by one of
whom Amurath the first was slain, andEdward the first
of England was wounded, was put down and rooted
out by common consent of the Mahometan princes.

The Anabaptists, it is true, come nearest. For they
profess the pulling down ot magistrates : and they can.
chaunt the psalm, To bind their Kings in chains, and
their nobles in fetters of iron. This is the glory cf the
saints, much like the temporal authority that the Pope
challengeth over princes. But this is the difference,
that that is a furious and fanatical fury, and this is a
sad and solemn mischief: he iitmgineth mischief as a
law; a law-like mischief.

As for the defence which they do make, it doth ag-
gravate the sin, and turneth it from a cruelty towards
man to a blasphemy towards God. For to say that all
this is in ordine ad spirititale^ and to a good end, and
for the salvation of souk, it is directly to make God
author of evil, and to draw hirn in the likeness of the
prince of darkness ; and to say with those that Saint
Paul speaketh of, Let us do evil (hat good may come
thereof ; of whom the apostle saith definitively, that
their damnation is just.

For the destroying of government universally, it is
most evident, that it is not the case of protestant
princes only, but of catholic princes likewise ; as the
King hath excellently set forth. Nay, it is not the
case of princes only, but of all subjects and private
persons. For touching princes, let history be perused,
what hath been the- causes of excommunication; and
namely this tumour of it, the deposing of Kings ;
it hath not been for heresy and schism alone, but
for collation and investitures of bishopricks and be-
nefices, intruding upon ecclesiastical possessions, vio-
lating of any ecclesiastical person or liberty. Nay,
generally they maintain it, that it may be for any sin:
so that the difference wherein their doctors vary, that
some hold that the Pope hath his temporal power im-
mediately, and others but in online ad spirituale, is
but a delusion and an abuse. For all cometh to one.
What is there that may not be made spiritual by con-

Charge against Mr. Owen.

sequence : especially when he that giveth the sentence
may make the case? and accordingly hath the mise-
rable experience followed. For this murdering of
Kings hath been put in practice, as well against papist
Kings as protestant: save that it hath pleased God so
to guide it by his admirable providence, as the at-
tempts upon papist princes have been executed, and
the attempts upon protestant princes have failed, except
that of the Prince of Orange : and not that neither,
until such time as he had joined too fast with the
Duke of Anjou and the papists. As for subjects, I
see not, nor ever could discern, but that by infallible
consequence it is the case of all subjects and people,
as well as of Kings ; for it is all one reason, that a bi-
shop, upon an excommunication of a private man, may
give his lands and goods in spoil, or cause him to be
slaughtered, as for the Pope to do it towards a King; and
for a bishop to absolve the son from duty to the father,
as for the Pope to absolve the subject from his allegi-
nce to his King. And this is not my inference, but
the very affirmative of Pope Urban the second, who in
a brief to Godfrey, bishop of Luca, hath these very
words, which cardinal Baronius reciteth in his Annals,
Non ilios homicidas arbitramur, qui advcrsus excom-
7mmicutos zelo catliolicce matris ardcntcs eorum quos-
libet trueidare continent, speaking generally of all

[ 447 ]







JOHN HOLLRS, for Scandal and traducing of the
King's Justice in the Proceedings against WES TON,
in the Star- Chamber, 10 November, 1615.

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 4) → online text (page 37 of 46)