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discussion with the Lord Admiral, and others who accompanied him, the Earl surrendered himself; when he and his friends, the Earl of Southampton, the Lords Sandys, Cromwell, and Monteagle, Sir Charles Danvers and Sir Henry Bromley, were conveyed to the Tower, and the rest of the conspirators to the public prisons.
Indictments being found against Essex and Southampton on the 19th of February, 1601, they were publicly arraigned in Westminster Hall, before twenty-five peers of the realm, the Lord Treasurer Buckhurst sitting as Lord High Steward. The two Lord Chief Justices and five other Judges attended, the Queen's Serjeant, the Attorney and SolicitorGeneral, and, to the surprise of all, Mr. Francis Bacon, on the part of the prosecution. It has been seen how strenuously the Earl exerted himself to procure Bacon's elevation-how he soothed his disappointment out of his own means—and how Bacon, in return, endeavoured to mediate between the Queen and him; but his present conduct towards the unfortunate Essex, on trial for his life, was considered as untenable, unjustifiable, and shameful. As one of the counsel for the prosecution, he exerted all his talents of rhetoric and his display of legal knowledge to secure his conviction. No attempt was made by him, after the Earl's conviction, to plead his benefactor's cause before the Queen, which, it was generally thought, would have been successful. But “ the faithless friend
who had assisted in taking the Earl's life, was now employed to murder the Earl's fame.” This faithless friend was the person selected to write ' A Declaration of the Practices and Treasons attempted and committed by Robert Earl of Essex,' which was printed by authority; a performance abounding in expressions “ which no generous enemy would have employed respecting a man who had so dearly expiated his offences.” It is true Bacon found it necessary, in justification of his own character, to publish an apology amounting to little more than “what I did was done in my duty to the Queen and to the State, in which I would not show myself falsehearted, nor faint-hearted, for any man's sake living." No: this voluntary advocate showed himself much more hard than faint-hearted, when he lent his powerful aid to immolate, on the public scaffold, a friend and a benefactor.
The trial ended in a way that such an overt act of treason could only end, in conviction and sentence of death, which was carried into execution on the 25th of February. During his confinement he showed a true repentance for his offences, and fully admitted the justice of his sentence. His speech on the scaffold melted the nobles and the other spectators to tears. In his last prayer to God he says—"Give me patience to bear, as becometh me, this just punishment upon me by so honourable a tryal. Grant me the inward comfort of thy spirit,”
&c.; and when his head was on the block, he stretched out his arms, saying, “ Lord, into thy hands I recommend my spirit.” Thus died the Earl of Essex, in his thirty-fourth year.
There can be no doubt that, as Camden says, “the Queen was in extreme agitation of mind, and very irresolute with respect to the execution, which she at first countermanded; but afterwards, being provoked by his obstinacy in not imploring her mercy, she signed his death-warrant.”* The charge of obstinacy is not true, for he did implore, but in vain. It is not improbable that the Queen's conduct, about signing the warrant, may have something of the same kind of foundation as the story of the ring, which would have saved his life, if the Lord Admiral (of all men in the world) had not withheld it from the Queen. This story is built on a very gossiping and tottering foundation: a Mons. Aubrey de Murier ascribes it to Sir Dudley Carlton, who told it to Prince Maurice, who told it to M. de Murier's father, from whom he had it, and prints it in a History of Holland! And that some English authority should not be wanting, the same story, with some additional machinery, was told frequently to the Earl of Monmouth by Lady Elizabeth Spelman, the great-granddaughter of the Earl.t Camden notices it not; and Lord Clarendon attaches no belief to it, and says "I know not upon what unseasonable * Camden.
† Birch's Negociations, p. 206.
delivery of a ring or jewel by some lady of the court the Queen'expressed much reluctancy for his death.” Hume, too, has the credulity or the wickedness of inserting in his History this gossiping story of the fatal ring, which destroyed three persons-Essex, the Countess of Nottingham, and Queen Elizabeth ; but, like slow poison, it took more than two years to kill the two latter. Hume, moreover, without the least authority, audaciously calls Nottingham “the mortal enemy of Essex.” It might have occurred to him that the last person, to whom Essex would have intrusted his fate, would have been the wife of his “mortal enemy.” But the Lord Admiral has already spoken for himself, eagerly repudiating all enmity between them, and honestly professing friendship and regard.*
It was rumoured also among the court gossipers that at the siege of Cadiz the Lord Admiral was jealous of and hated Essex. Here, again, let the Lord Admiral speak for himself. In a letter from him to his father-in-law, the Lord Chamberlain Hunsdon, he says “I can assure you there is not a braver man in the world than the Earl is; and I protest, in my simple poor judgment, a graver soldier; for what he doth is in great order and good discipline performed.”+
* The Earl of Nottingham's Letter to the Earl of Essex, October, 1597, p. 300. † Birch's Memoirs.
Two of the conspirators, Mericke and Cuffe, were tried at Westminster, and hanged at Tyburn. Sir Charles Danvers and Sir Christopher Blounte were beheaded on Tower Hill. The Earl of Southampton was left in the Tower during the rest of Queen Elizabeth's reign; but, on her death, he was released, and restored in blood by James I., who shortly after conferred on him the Order of the Garter. It may be doubted if Cuffe had strict justice done to him. He was confidential secretary to the Earl of Essex, and subject to his orders; he was known to be his adviser, and that many of his letters were written by him; for these letters he ought not to be held responsible. The Earl, it is true, after his conviction, did include him among the number of conspirators, and that his advice was to pursue violent measures. Still it appears this gentleman's character has been harshly dealt with, and by Lord Bacon among the rest—a man to whom silence would have been most becoming on this occasion. Cuffe was not a mean or a vulgar man. He was descended from a good family in Somersetshire: in 1576 was admitted of Trinity College in Oxford, where he distinguished himself in the knowledge of Greek; was elected Scholar in 1578, and admitted Fellow in 1583; lost his fellowship from a joke on the founder, by a mandate from Lady Powlett, who first placed him there. His reputation, however, was so great, that in 1586 he was elected Proba