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Lord, you are happy in having a wise son, and a worthy person, one that can never sure be in such a plot as this, or suspected for it; and that may give your lordship reason to expect a very good issue concerning him. I know nothing against him, or any body else, of such a barbarous design, and therefore your lordship may be comforted in it."
Mr. Howard, a relation of Lord Howard, and Dr. Burnet, gave evidence of Lord Howard's solemn denial of his knowledge of the plot. Lord Cavendish, and Dr. Cox, proved that Lord Russell had expressed an ill opinion of Colonel Rumsey, long before his own arrest. The Duke of Somerset, Lord Clifford, Mr. Gore, Dr. Tillotson, Dr. Burnet, and Dr. Fitzwilliams, spoke to the general excellence of Lord Russell's character. Dr. Tillotson said, "I have been many years last past acquainted with my Lord Russell. I always judged him a person of great virtue and integrity; and by all the conversation and discourse I ever had with him, I always took him to be a person very far from any such wicked design he stands charged with." This testimony is valuable, from the high reputation of the witness. , The following is remarkable, from the emphatic energy of the expressions: — Mr. Gore said, "I have been acquainted with my lord several years, and conversed much with him. I took him to be one of the best sons, one of the best fathers, and one of the best masters,—one of the best husbands, one of the best friends, and one of the best Christians we had.
Lord Howard tried to excuse what he had said to Lord Anglesey on the pretext that it was his object at that time to outface the King, both for himself and his party.
Lord Russell then addressed the Court.
"My Lord: I cannot but think myself very unfortunate in appearing at this place, charged with a crime of the blackest and wickedest nature, and that intermixed and intricated with the treasonable and horrid practices and speeches of other men: and the King's learned counsel taking all advantages, improving and heightening every circumstance against me; and I myself no lawyer, a very unready speaker, and altogether a stranger to proceedings of this kind; besides, naked, without counsel, and one against many; so that I cannot but be very sensible of my inability to make my just defence.
"But you, my lords the judges, I hope, will be equal and of counsel for me; and I hope, likewise, that you, gentlemen of the jury, (though strangers to me,) are men of conscience, that value innocent blood, and do believe that with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again, either in this, or in another world. Nor can I doubt, but you will consider the witnesses as persons that hope to save their own lives, by their swearing to take away mine.
"But to answer, in short, what is laid to my charge, I do, in the first place declare, that I have ever had a heart sincerely loyal and affectionate to the King and government, (which I look upon as the best of governments,) and have always as fervently wished and prayed for His Majesty's Jong life, as any man living.
"And now to have it intimated, as if I were agreeing or abetting to his murder, (I must needs say,) is very hard; fpr I have ever looked upon the assassination of any private person as an abominable, barbarous, and inhuman thing, tending to the destruction of all society; how much more the assassination of a prince! which cannot enter into my thoughts without horror and detestation: especially considering him as my natural prince, and one upon whose death such dismal consequences are but too likely to ensue. An action so abominably wicked, rash, and inconsiderate, that none but desperate wretches, or mad men, could contrive. And can it be believed that, my circumstances, and the past actions of my life considered, I should be capable of being guilty of so horrid a design? Certainly it cannot.
"As for going about to make or raise a rebellion; that, likewise, is a thing so wicked, and withal impracticable, that it never entered into my thoughts. Had I been disposed to it, I never found, by all my observation, that there was the least disposition or tendency to it in the people. And it is known, rebellion cannot be now made here, as in former times, by a few great men.
"I have been always for preserving the government upon the due basis, and ancient foundation; and for having things redressed in a legal parliamentary way ; always against all irregularities and innovations whatsoever; and so I shall be, I am sure, to my dying day, be it sooner or later." *
* I have copied this speech from the original manuscript in Lord Russell's hand-writing; endorsed by Lady Russell, "My lord's own hand; concerns his trial." In the printed trial, the whole substance of the speech appears, but in two different places, pp. 614. 625. Though evidently intended to be spoken altogether, he probably divided it for the sake of convenience at the time. In the printed speech there are also several omissions and mistakes. It begins with "mighty unfortunate," instead of "very unfortunate." "With what measure you mete, it shall be measured unto you," is left out, &c. And the just remark of Lord Russell, that a rebellion could not be then made as formerly by a few great men, is changed into "we have few great men." Dalrymple, always falling into blunders for the sake of effect, improves upon this. After mentioning how the audience received the
The Solicitor-General then addressed the Court in favour of the prosecution. He was followed by Jefferies, who, alluding to Lord Essex, said, that had he not been conscious of his guilt, he would scarcely have brought himself to an untimely end to avoid the methods of public justice.
The Lord Chief Justice, after summing up the evidence, told the jury," The question before you will be, whether upon this whole matter, you do believe my Lord Russell had any design upon the King's life, to destroy the King, or take away his life; for that is the material part here. It is used and given you by the King's counsel as an evidence of this, that he did conspire to raise an insurrection, and to cause a rising of the people, to make, as it were, a rebellion within the nation, and to surprise the King's guards, which, say they, can have no other end but to seize and destroy the King; and it is a great evidence, (if my Lord Russell did design to seize the King's guards, and make an insurrection in
introduction of Lady Russell to write for her lord, he says, "But when in his defence he said, 'There can be no rebellion now, as in former times, for there are now no great men left in England,' a pang of a different nature was felt by those who thought for the public."1 Had Lord Russell said such a thing, the pang felt must have been one of pity, for his want of judgment and propriety.
* Dal. Mem. p. 90'.