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To his Majesty before his Trial at Winchester,
anno Dom. 1603. It is one part of the office of a just and worthy prince to hear the complaints of his vassals, especially of such as are in great misery. I know that amongst many other presumptions gathered against me, your majesty hath been persuaded that I was one of them who were greatly discontented, and therefore the more likely to prove disloyal; but the great God of heaven and earth so relieve me in both worlds as I was the contrary; and I took it as a great comfort to behold your majesty, always learning some good, and bettering my knowledge by hearing your majesty discourse. I do therefore most humbly beseech your majesty not to believe any of those, in my particular, who under pretence of offences to kings do easily work their particular revenge. I trust that no man, under colour of making examples, shall persuade your majesty to leave the word merciful out of your style ; for it will no less profit your majesty, and become your greatness, than the word invincible. It is true, that the laws of England are no less jealous of the king, than Cæsar was of Pompey's wife; who notwithstanding that she was cleared of having accompanied Claudius, yet for being suspected he condemned her : for myself, I protest before the everliving God, (and I speak it to my master and my sovereign,) that I never intended treason, consented to treason, nor performed treason against him; and yet I know I shall fall in manus eorum a quibus non possum exurgere, unless by your majesty's gracious compassion I be sustained. Our law, therefore, most merciful prince, knowing her own cruelty, and knowing that she is wont to compound treasons out of presumptions and circumstances, doth give this charitable advice to the king her supreme: Non solum sapiens esset rex, sed et misericors, ut cum sapientia misericordetur, sit justus ; cum tutius, sit reddere rationem misericordiæ quam judicii. I do therefore, on the knees of my heart, beseech your majesty to take counsel from your own sweet and comfortable disposition, and to remember that I have loved your majesty twenty years, for which your majesty hath yet given me no reward: and it is fitter I should be indebted to my sovereign lord, than the king to his poor vassal. Save me therefore, (most merciful prince,) that I may owe your majesty my life itself, than which there cannot be a greater debt; lend it me at least, (my sovereign lord,) that I may pay it in your service when your majesty shall please to command it. If the law destroy me, your majesty shall put me out of your power; and I shall have none to fear, none to reverence, but the King of kings. Your majesty's most humble vassal,
To the Earls of Southampton, Suffolk, and Devonshire, and
to the Lord Cecil, declaring his innocency in the two points wherewith he was charged, as in point of treason, the 14th of August 1603.
I do not know whether your lordships have seen my answers to all the matters which my lord Henry Howard, my lord Wotton, and sir Edward Cooke have examined me on, upon Saturday the 14th of this present, which makes me bold to write unto your lordships at this time; the two principal accusations being these : the first, that money was offered me with a pretence to maintain the amity; but the intent was to have assisted his majesty's surprise : the other, that I was privy to my lord Cobham's Spanish journey. For the first, I beseech your lordships to weigh it seriously before there be any further proceeding: for to leave me to the cruelty of the law of England, and to that summum jus, before both your understandings and consciences be thoroughly informed, were but carelessly to destroy the father and fatherless; and you may be assured that there is no glory, nor any reward that can recompense the shedding of innocent blood. And whereas it seemeth to appear that this money was offered to others long after it was offered to me, and upon some other considerations than it was unto
me; for myself, I avow upon my allegiance that I never either knew or suspected either the man or the new intention. To me it was but once propounded, and in three weeks after I never heard more of it; neither did I believe it, that he had any commission to offer it, as the everlasting God doth witness. For, if that word (amity) had been used to me colourably, I must have been also made acquainted with the true end for which it should have been given, which it seemeth was for the surprise: but of any such horrible and fearful purpose if ever I had so much as a suspicion, I refuse your lordship’s favours and the king's mercy. I know that your lordships have omitted nothing to find out the truth hereof. But as you have not erred, like ill surgeons, to lay on plaisters too narrow for so great wounds, so I trust that you will not imitate unlearned physicians, to give medicines more cruel than the disease itself.
For the journey into Spain, I know that I was accused to be privy thereunto : but I know your lordships have a reputation of conscience as well as of industry. By what means that revengeful accusation was stirred, you, my lord Cecil, know right well, that it was my letter about Kemish ; and your lordships all know whether it be maintained, or whether, out of truth and out of a Christian consideration, it be revoked. I know that to have spoken it once is enough for the law, if we lived under a cruel prince; but I know that the king is too merciful to have or suffer his subjects to be ruined by any quick or unchristian advantage, unless he be resolved or can persuade his religious heart of the equity: I know that the king thinks (with all good princes) satius est peccare in alteram partem. God doth know, and I can give an account of it, that I have spent forty thousand pounds of mine own against that king and nation ; that I never reserved so much of all my fortunes as to purchase forty pounds per ann. land; that I have been a violent
persecutor and furtherer of all enterprises against that nation; I have served against them in person ; and how, my lord admiral and my lord of Suffolk can witness. I discovered myself the richest part of all his Indies : I have planted in
his territories: I offered his majesty, at my uncle Carew's, to carry two thousand men to invade him without the king's charge. Alas! to what end should we live in the world, if all the endeavours of so many testimonies shall be blown off with one blast of breath, or be prevented by one man's word; and in this time when we have a generous prince, from whom to purchase honour and good opinion I had no other hope but by undertaking upon that cruel and insolent nation. Think therefore, I most humbly beseech you, on my great affliction with compassion, who have lost my estate and the king's favour upon one man's word ; and as you would that God should deal with you, deal with me; you all know that the law of England hath need of a merciful prince, and if you put me to shame, you take from me all hope ever to receive his majesty's least grace again. I beseech you to be resolved of those things of which I am accused, and distinguish me from others. As you have true honour, and as you would yourselves be used in the like. Forget all particular mistakes, multos clementia honestavit, ultio nullum. Your lordships know that I am guiltless of the surprise intended : your lordships know, or may know, that I never accepted of the money, and that it was not offered me for any ill; and of the Spanish journey I trust your consciences are resolved. Keep not then, I beseech you, these my answers and humble desires from my sovereign lord, qui est rex pius et misericors, et non leo coronatus. Thus humbly beseeching your lordships to have a merciful regard of me, I rest Your lordships' humble and miserable suppliant,
To the King, after his condemnation at Winchester, 1603.
The life which I had (most mighty prince) the law hath taken from me'; and I am now but the same earth and dust out of which I was first framed. If my offence had any proportion with your majesty's mercy, I might despair; or if my deserving had any quantity with your majesty's
unmeasurable goodness, I might yet have hope ; but it is your great majesty that must judge of both, and not I. Blood, name, gentry, or estate have I (now) none, no, not so much as a being, no, not so much as vita planta. I have only a penitent soul in a body of iron, which moveth towards the loadstone of death, and cannot be withheld from touching it, except your majesty's mercy turn the point towards me which repelleth. Lost I am for hearing a vain man, for hearing only, and never believing or approving; and so Jittle account I made of that speech of his, which was my condemnation, (as the living God doth truly witness,) that I never remembered any such thing, until it was at my trial objected against me. So did he repay my care who cared to make him good, which (now too late) I see no care of man can effect. But God (for mine offence towards him) hath laid this heavy burden upon me, miserable and unfortunate wretch that I am ; but not for loving you (my sovereign) hath God laid this sorrow on me; for he knoweth (with whom I may not dissemble) that I honoured your majesty by fame, and loved and admired you by knowledge; so as whether I live or die, your majesty's true and loving servant, and loyal subject, I will live and die. If I now write what doth not become me (most merciful prince) vouchsafe to ascribe it to the counsel of a dead heart, and a mind which sorrow hath broken and confounded; but the more my misery is, the more is your majesty's mercy, if you please to behold it; and the less I can deserve, the more liberal your majesty's gift shall be. God only your majesty shall imitate herein, both in giving freely, and by giving to such a one as from whom there can be no retribution, but only a desire to repay a lent life with the same great love which the same great goodness shall please to bestow it. This being the first letter that ever your majesty received from a dead man, I humbly submit myself to the will of my supreme lord, and shall willingly and patiently suffer whatsoever it shall please your majesty to lay upon me.