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the acts proved by Rumsey and. Howard were separate and distinct. They both tended to the general purpose of insurrection; and the question had been already decided in the case of Lord Stafford. *
The other remarks I have to make concern the degree of credit due to the witnesses. The first of them, Colonel Rumsey, was a man of whom Lord Russell had a bad opinion, and of whom he had spoken slightingly to Lord Cavendish. It was, therefore, not likely that he should trust him. Rumsey gave evidence of his having been at one meeting at Sheppard's: afterwards, he seems not to have been certain whether he had been at two, or whether he had heard the proceedings of the second related by Mr. Ferguson to Lord Shaftesbury. Is this likely? is it credible? Can a man of talent, or any- man not an idiot, attend a treasonable meeting, and forget the circumstance within ten months? To the mind of an honest juryman such a circumstance would have borne conviction of the perjury of the witness; and that conviction would have been amply confirmed by the events of the next
* See "Case of William Lord Russell," — "Antidote against Poison," — "Defence of Lord Russell's Innocency," &c. in the State Trials, vol/ix. See also Lord Warrington's Works.
few years. For, in the month of October, 1685, Goodenough, having been arrested, offered, in order to save his life, to swear treason against Cornish, whom he secretly hated for the opposition which Cornish had made, when sheriff, to his own appointment as under-sheriff. To put the more force and venom into his information, he said that Rumsey had not discovered all he knew. Rumsey, alarmed at this charge, came forward and swore, without hesitation, to all that Goodenough chose to invent. Cornish was arrested, tried, condemned, and executed within ten days: but it soon appeared that Rumsey had perjured himself; for he had sworn that Cornish was at Sheppard's house when a paper, intended for a declaration, was read, which he, Rumsey, • had also heard. Whereas, on Lord Russell's trial, he had sworn that he had not heard the declaration read; and that no one had been present except those he then mentioned, of whom Cornish was not one. His evidence was also contradicted by that of Sheppard, who swore that Cornish was not present when the pretended declaration was read. This notorious instance of perjury opened the eyes of all men; and such discredit was thrown upon Rumsey, that the King found it impossible to employ him any more. The head and limbs of Cornish were
taken down, and his estate restored to his family. With that degree of justice and gratitude which is common to bad kings, James sent Rumsey to be confined in the secret state prison in the island of St. Nicholas, in Plymouth Harbour, which was then used, in defiance of the writ of habeas corpus. James probably feared an open trial for perjury, and a vindication of the memory of Lord Russell. It is material to observe, that the perjury of Rumsey relates to the meeting at Sheppard's, the matter on which his evidence was fatal to Lord Russell. It is also of much importance to remark, that Lord Grey, whose narrative was written to please James, admits that he did not hear Rumsey deliver any message.
The next witness against Lord Russell was Sheppard. "Taking this evidence by itself," says Sir John Hawles, "without tacking Rumsey's evidence to it, it was so far from being evidence of treason, that it was no crime; for he doth not say it (seizing the guards) was intended to be put in practice, notwithstanding all said by him. Both the discourses, and persons viewing the guards (which last was not evidence, nor ought to have been given in evidence) might be a matter to try each other's judgments, as well as an evidence of a thing designed; and if it be capable of two interpretations, the law hath said it shall be taken in mitiore sensu, in favour of life."
With respect to Sheppard, it may also be remarked, that, when asked by Serjeant Jeffries, lie said that Lord Russell was present at both meetings; but when the question was repeated by Lord Russell himself, he said he could not be positive as to the times; and that he was sure he was at one meeting.
If the evidences of Rumsey and Sheppard are taken away, as it appears they ought to be, there remains only the single testimony of Lord Howard. But one witness upon capital charges is not sufficient. To examine the details of his long narrative were, therefore, a superfluous labour; but some particulars of his conduct unavoidably force themselves on the mind; the recollection of his despicable character, which exposed him to the contempt even of the King*;
* Examination of Anthony Bow, from the Report to the House of Lords, 20th December, 1689, in the Murders of Lord Russell, &c.
Ex. saith : — " The Duke of Monmouth sent him to the King with two or three letters, whom he found very angry at the Duke for the company he kept, and particularly with the Lord Howard; for the King said * he was so ill a raao, that he would not hang the worst dog he had upon his evidence."" Yet upon the evidence of this very wretch did Charles put to death the best man in his dominions!
his solemn and repeated denial of all knowledge of the plot, at a time when, it is but too probable, he had written to Court to offer himself as an informer; and the natural aversion which Lord Russell seems to have had to him, heighten our sorrow and indignation at the result of the trial, with the reflection, that the lives of the best are at the disposal of the basest of mankind.
With respect to the conduct of the trial, Lord Russell seems to have met with fairer usage than he was entitled to expect. The use of his papers, which had been denied to Colledge, was allowed him; and the list of the jury appears to have been given him, though from some mistake he did not understand it was a regular pannel. The charge of the judge, though unfavourable to him, was not violent; so little so, that, according to Burnet, he was dismissed, on that account, soon afterwards. The greatest hardship he sustained was, from his being unable to use the assistance of counsel to argue the law in his favour, without admitting the facts which had been sworn against him. This injustice, however, is to be attributed to the law, and not to the Court; and the hardship experienced by Lord Russell, probably led the way to the alteration in the treason law, which took place after the Revolution, and opened the scene on which