« ПредишнаНапред »
legislature, but repealed by the Act of Queen Mary. * At the time Lord Russell was tried, there was no precedent, which bore directly on his case. Dr. Storey was tried for conspiring with a foreign prince. Lord Cobham, who had been convicted in the reign of James.I., had clearly intended to confine the King’s person,‘ till he complied with the demands of the conspirators. I’l‘unket, who had been,executeda little before, was also charged with conspiring to bring a foreign force into the realm. S0 little certain or clear, in short, was the interpretation given to the law in Lord Russell's case,‘ that the act for annulling his attainder, passed in the first year.. of William and Mary, recites that he “ was, by undue and illegal return of jurors, having been refused his lawful challenge to the said jurors, for want of freehold, and, by PARTIAL Inn) UNJUST coNsTRUcTIoNs or LAW, WRONGFULLY CONVICTED, ATTAINTED, AND EXECUTED FOR HIGH TnEAsoN.” ‘ Without venturing to dwell any further upon my own view of this subject, I copy, with great satisfaction, the recorded sentiments of Mr. Fox-—an authority, in my opinion, not easily matched by that of any lawyer. Speaking of those who died for this plot, he says, “That
which is most certain in this affair is, that they had committed no overt act, indicating the imagining the King’s death, even according to the most strained construction of the statute of Edward the Third; much less was any such act legally proved against them : and the conspiring
to levy war was not treason, except by a recent
statute of Charles the Second, the prosecutions upon which were expressly limited to a certain time, which, in these cases, had elapsed; so that it is impossible not to assent to the opinion of those who have ever stigmatised the condemnation and execution of Russell as a most flagrant violation of law and justice.”
There were, it is true, two other legal objections made by Lord Russell; but neither appears to me to have much force in it. One was, that he had only assisted as a spectator in the consultation at which he was present; and, there
'fore, was only guilty of misprision of treason, at
most. But this objection will, by no’ means, hold: for when he asked Colonel Rumsey whether he had consented to the rising at Taunton, the Witness answered in the aflirmative ; and the evidence of Lord Howard went to prove that he was one of asel‘ect council of six, ‘to prepare and digest the scheme of an l-HSHITBC
the acts proved hy‘RuInsey and Howard were ‘ separate and distinct. They both tended to the E general purpose of insurrection; and the ques- . tion 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 sligh‘tingly 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 pro.ceedings of the secpnd 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
08 . THE LIFE or
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 sherifi, 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 road, 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 peijiiry 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
WILLIAM LORD RUSSELL- 69
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, aswell as an evidence of a thing designed ; and if it be