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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 Jeflfries, he 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 suflicient. 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 ‘5
, * Emminati'on of Anthony Row, M the Report to the House of Lords,I 20th December; 1689; in the Murders of Lord Russell, 8L6
Ex. saith:--“Tl1e 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 particslaiiy with the Lord Howard; for the King said ‘he was so ill a mans, that he would not hang the worst dog he had upon his evidence.” Yet ‘upon the evidence of this very much 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
modern eloquence was destined to display its powers, and reap its laurels.
On Saturday, the 14th of July, Lord Russell was brought to the bar to receive sentence. Upon being asked why judgment of death should not be passed upon him, he requested to have the indictment read. At the words “ of conspiring the death of the King,” Lord Russell said, “ Hold : I thought I had not been charged in the indictment as it is, of compassing and conspiring the death of the King.”
Attorney-General. “ Yes, my lord.”
Lord Russell. “ But, Mr. Recorder, if all that the witnesses swore against me be true, I appeal to you and to the Court,—I appeal to you, whether I am guilty within the statute of 95th Edward III., they having sworn a conspiracy to levy war, but no intention of killing the King; and, therefore, I think, truly judgment ought not to pass upon me for conspiring the death of the King, of which there was no proof by any one witness." '
, To this the Recorder replied, that it was an exception proper to be made before the verdict ; but that the Court was now bound by the verdict, as well as the prisoner. Thus, in the state of
the law at that time, the prisoner was unable to introduce counsel before the verdict, because that were admitting the fact; and he was ex
eluded from arguing the point after the verdict, because the jury. had given judgment on the fact and the law together.‘
Judgment was then given from the mouth of Sir G. Treby, who had been one of Lord Russell’s associates in parliament, in the usual form, with all its disgusting circumstances. '
The King afterwards changed this sentence into that of beheading; and upon this occasion he is said to have added, with a cool and cruel sarcasm, “ Lord Russell shall now find that I am possessed of that prerogative, which, in the case of Lord Stafford, he thought proper to deny me.” This anecdote, which has been copied by Hume and Dalrymple, rests on the authority of Echard', and I am willing to believe that the remark proceeded from the envenomed tongue of a partisan, rather than from the mouth of the sovereign. Had it been genuine, it would scarcely have been omitted by Burnet, North, and Reresby. ' '
I am the more inclined to distrust the anecdote, because, in the rest of this transaction, the King, though inexorable, seems by no means to have been wantonly un'feeling. '
Many attempts were made to save Lord Rus- ' l sell’s life. It is said that 50,0001. (some say ‘ 100,0001.) were offered by the Earl of Bedford for a pardon, and that the King refused it, saying, “ He would not purchase his own, and his subjects’ blood at so easy a rate.” * .
In the Duke of Monmouth’s Journal, it appears that the King, in conference with Monmouth, falling on the business of Lord Russell, said, he inclined to have saved him, but was forced to consent to his death, otherwise he must have broke with his brother. And when Monmouth was going to remonstrate how cruelly that noble lord had been dealt with, the King bid him “ think no more of it.” It also appears by an , extract from Lord Dartmouth’s MSS., that his l father told the King the pardoning Lord Russell
would lay an eternal obligation upon a very
great and numerous family, and the taking his
life never would be forgotten; that his father
being still alive, it would have little effect on the
f rest of the family, except resentments ; and
there was some regard due to Southampton’s
daughter, and her children. The King answered,
' “ all that is true, but it is as true, that if I do not take his life, he will soon have mine.” 1‘
Lady Ranelagh was one of those who showed
* Narcissus Luttrell’s Diary. 1~ Dalrymple.