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the prayer of the House of Lords, remitted that part of the sentence which ordered him to be. drawn and quartered, they put the following queries to the House of Commons :
1st. Whether the King, being neither judge, nor party, can order the execution 5’
2d. Whether the Lords can award the execution?
3d. Whether the King can dispense’ with any part of the execution ?
4th. If the King can dispense with some part of the execution, why not with all ? * ‘
Serjeant Maynard said that he considered these questions as an antifice of the Papists to to make a difference between the Lords and Commons. Sir William Jones, though he allowed that, according to Lord Coke, a nobleman, judged to be hanged for felony, could not legally be beheaded by the King’s warrant, observed, that Englishmen were in their nature
‘not severe, and that the substance of the sen
tence might be performed without the circumstance. He concluded by moving this extraordinary vote, which passed without opposition:
*‘ The reader will observe how different this is from Mr. Hume’s way of stating the question of the sheriff, — “Since he cannot pardon the 'whole,” said they, “how can he have power to remit any part of the sentence?” Hume, vol. viii.
--.“ That this House is content that execution “ be done upon Lord Stafford, by severing his “ head from his body.” '
Lord Russell is said to have been one of those who approved of the barbarous interference of the sheriffs. Echard is the only authority I know for this story. * His words are, speaking of Lord' Russell, “Whatever may be said of his standing up for the liberties of his country, “
‘he can hardly be cleared from thirsting after the blood of others; especially the Lord Stafford, against whom his zeal transported him so far, that he was one of those, who, with Bethel and Cornish, questioned the King’s power in allowing that Lord to be only beheaded.” Burnet, Kennet, Reresby, North, and Evelyn, are silent on the subject. It does not appear by the parliamentary History of Grey, Chandler, or Cob- ' bett, that Lord Russell took any part in the l debate in the Commons; and I know not that l Mr. Hume had any authority for saying that “ Lord Russell, notwithstanding the virtue and humanity of his character, seconded in the House the barbarous scruple of the sheriff's.” Yet the testimony of Echard is suflicient for inducing us to think it probable, that Lord Russell, in some way or other, gave his approbation to the
* Echard, vol. ii. p. 694‘.
queries of the sheriffs, and‘ it is undoubtedly the circumstance, if true, the most to be lamented in his whole life.
It is the privilege of the philosopher, and the duty of the historian, to mark such actions with unqualified censure. But to men engaged in the business of public life, such an occurrence may suggest further reflections. They must feel how much of their conduct, even when directed to the most laudable objects, must be tinged by the errors attached to hasty judgment, the confidencce inspired by party fellowship, and the violence roused by perpetual contention. How many of their most applauded scenes want a defence in the eye of reason! how much of what is now their boast will require an apology at
"WILLIAM LORD RUSSELL. 237
His motive, no doubt, was, as Mr. Fox has re marked, to prevent the Crown from assuming the power of remitting the whole, as well as a part of -the punishment.
The blood of Lord Stafford was nearly the last that _was shed on account of the Popish Plot. The Court, and their instruments, the judges, had begun to discountenance the witnesses some time before. The Commons were entirely engaged in the dangers of the succession, and had received, as we have seen, a reproach from the Throne on their remissness, before they turned from that subject to the trial of the Lords in the Tower: and the people themselves, moved by the age and infirmities of Stafford, were awakened from their fears by the spectacle of his execution, to the feelings of pity, and a more correct use of their judgment. '
On the 15th December, the King made a speech ‘to the Houses, putting them in mind of his alliances, and the state of Tangier, and asking what it was they desired from him.
The House, instead of immediately proceeding to the consideration of the King’s speech, appointed the ensuing Saturday for that business, and then resolved itself into a grand committee, to secure the kingdom against Popery and arbitrary government. Lord Cavendish moved for