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so my estate by degrees, which in very truth was the cause which made me subimpudens in moving you for new help, when I should have helped you with your former moneys. I am desirous to know what success you have had since your coming to town in your kind care. I have thought of two sureties for one hundreth pounds apiece. The one Mr. Fra. Anger of Gray's Inn, he that was the old Count. of Lincoln's executor, a man very honest and very able, with whom I have spoken and he hath promised; the other Sir Tho. Hobby, whom I have not spoken with but do presume of, though I never used him in that kind. So leaving it to your goodwill, I rest,
Your assured loving friend,
FR. Bacon. 1600.
The Earl of Essex in the meantime, being left to his own counsels and the suggestions of bold men who had already gone too far with him to be safe without going further, returned to the policy from which accident and better advice had diverted him, and applied himself to prepare means of forcing access to the Court in such a shape that he might make his own conditions. The conditions were of course to be for the general benefit; but as he had tried in vain to obtain them without force, there was no help for it—he must use force to obtain them. With this view he had already for the second time applied to Lord Montjoy. Two months before the expiration of his lease of the monopoly of sweet wines, he had sent Sir Charles Davers over to Ireland to communicate his designs and make arrangements for co-operation. But Montjoy, who was now proceeding warily and prosperously with his proper work, disapproved the project and would have nothing to do with it. Help from the army in Ireland therefore, which he had always looked to as a principal arm of his enterprise, he was obliged to dispense with. But he still had hopes of assistance from Scotland. The legitimate interest which the King had in the succession gave him a right to watch with jealousy all movements which bore upon the disposal of the crown after the Queen's death. And if he could be persuaded that the guidance of affairs in England was now in the hands of persons who favoured the title of the Infanta, that the people were on that ground extremely discontented, and that the object of Essex was merely to remove and replace them by persons friendly to his title, he might be induced to
countenance and assist the action. Communications were made accordingly, and though care was taken to destroy all record of the particulars, there yet remains a letter of instructions addressed by James to his ambassadors, from which it may be probably inf red that this was in fact the general tenor of them.'
His next care was to draw into the enterprise as many men of note and ability as could be gained. And this was to be done by working upon the discontents of those who were already discontented, and exciting discontent in those who were not. The “strange words bordering on strange designs” which alarmed Sir John Harington were probably meant for feelers. And as early as the beginning of August (about the same time that Davers was sent to Montjoy) he had certainly made an elaborate attempt to breed misunderstanding between Sir Henry Nevill and the Court. Sir Henry Nevill was a kingman of Sir Robert Cecil's; was then ambassador in France; and was returning to England on the business of his embassy, in which something had gone wrong. The first thing that met him on his arrival was a friendly warning from the Earl of Essex (left at his lodgings the day before by Henry Cuffe) that bad offices had been done him at Court, and that they meant to lay upon him the blame of the miscarriage: a statement which proved to be quite groundless. And afterwards during all that year great pains were taken to draw him into communication with the Earl's most intimate advisers; nor altogether without success: for he was betrayed into a knowledge, though not into participation or approval, of their designs. By like means and under various pretexts a great number of considerable persons were drawn in, more or less deeply, and with more or less knowledge of what was really going on. The Catholics were flattered by promises or what they took for promises of toleration, the Puritans by show of sympathy; stories of Spanish intrigues were set afloat to alarm the multitude; and all plausible courses were taken to attract towards Essex House men of all sorts that were thought likely to favour the objects or follow the fortunes of the conspirators when they should be ready for action; the nature and even the existence of the conspiracy being all the while carefully concealed from all but a very few persons who met in secret conclave at Drury House - house in the neighbourhood, belonging I believe to the Earl of Southampton, in which Sir Charles Davers lodged. The particulars will be found a little further on fully and clearly narrated in one of the writings which form the proper subject of this work. It is enough
1 8th April, 1601. Birch, ii. 510. See also Cuffe's last confession. Additional Evidences, No. VIII.
? See his declaration and Cuffe's confession, Ibid. No. VI. and VII.
to say here that by the end of January, 1600-1, all these intrigues and secret consultations had ripened into a deliberate and deep-laid plan for surprising the Court, mastering the guard, and seizing the Queen's person; and so forcing her to dismiss from her counsels Cecil, Ralegh, Cobham, and others, and to make such changes in the state as the conspirators thought fit. By the 4th of February the plan of action had been agreed upon; the posts and parts of the several leaders assigned; everything settled except the day: and the secret was still safe. But though the arrangements were the work of a few heads, the execution required many hands; and as the time drew near and the forces gathered, it became impossible to manage matters so as not to attract attention. On the 7th of February, which was a Saturday, the stir about Essex House had become so great that the Council thought it needed looking after; and a son of the Lord Treasurer's was sent thither as on some ordinary occasion of compliment, that he might see what was going on. Upon whose report one of the Secretaries of State was dispatched to summon the Earl himself to come and speak with them. He, conscious of his own secrets and imagining that they knew more than they really did (for as yet they did not in fact know anything, and meant only " to reprove him for his unlawful assemblies and wish him to retire into the country”), and fearing an arrest, sent word that he was too ill to go; and immediately called his fellow-conspirators into council. What was to be done? The plot was evidently in danger of discovery, and could not wait the due time. The blow must be struck at once or it would be intercepted. But how? Their party was not strong enough to master the Court except by surprise, and surprise would not be practicable if alarm had been taken. Their best chance seemed to be an appeal to the City. The citizens were for the most armed and trained, and the Earl having always been a favourite with them, a plausible pretext might bring them to his side in numbers sufficient to overpower resistance. But what should the pretext be? For what object could they be called on to arm ? For the name of Essex had not as yet been associated with any object of popular desire, except victory over foreign enemies or domestic rebels. It had never meant liberty, or plenty, or justice, or no-Popery. And an unorganized multitude, however eager it may be in affection for a man, will hardly take up arms and follow him into the field without knowing what for. The story of a plot among the ministers in favour of the Infanta, which had been invented to alarm the King of Scots and draw him into the enterprise, might have served the purpose if it could have been made credible. But though it had been already set afloat
1 Cecil to Sir G. Carew.
in London, it was meant, I fancy, to produce its effect further off. At the other end of the island such a rumour might obtain some credit, and serve to justify or to stimulate the proposed interference of the King in behalf of his title. But in London who could believe it? The best thing they could think of was an appeal to the affection of the people for Essex himself. Multitudes are always ready to believe that their favourites are ill used: and if they thought that Essex was in personal danger they would gather to the rescue fast enough. With this hope a story was invented on the sudden, and carefully spread abroad the same evening, of a plot to murder him ;-coupled sometimes with the unpopular names of Cobham and Ralegh—sometimes with a vague rumour of "certain Jesuits to the number of four.” This alarm would certainly bring all his friends about him, and might prepare the people for an appeal the next morning. And when this was thought by some too uncertain a hope to rely on, a message arriving opportunely from the City to declare their readiness to stand by him—(a message invented, it was suspected afterwards, by some of his own party to quicken his resolutions, but believed at the time to be genuine)—satisfied the doubters and decided the question that way.
Early on Sunday morning his friends arrived from all sides at Essex House: to the number of “three hundred gentlemen of prime note."] But while he was explaining to them the pretended danger which hung over him, the necessity of providing means of self-defence, and what assurance he had that the citizens would take his part, there arrived from the Court (for his refusal the day before to answer the summons of the Council had effectually awakened their suspicions) his old friend the Lord Keeper, with three other of the lords (all belonging to what was considered as his own party), sent by the Queen to demand the cause of the assembly, to promise that if he had any complaint to make it should be heard, and to command them to disperse. Had the hearing of his complaint been offered only on condition of his going in person to deliver it, there might have been some colour for refusing. But they only asked him to communicate it to them,—to communicate it privately, if he did not like to declare it openly; promising that they would make a faithful report of it to the Queen. What was to be done now? He knew well enough that he had no complaint to make that would bear the examining, nor any demand to prefer which would even bear the stating; the only thing he wanted being that which, then more than ever, it would have been ridiculous to ask for, except as a condition imposed by a conqueror. However fair the offer therefore, it was clear that it could i Camden.
not be accepted. Yet to send the Lords back with a simple refusal would have been almost as great a contumacy as to detain them. To let them go would only be to give alarm the sooner; and if he kept them there they might be of use afterwards in making terms. So he decided to lock them up in his library; and leaving them there under guard, set off himself on the instant accompanied with some two hundred gentlemen to try his fortune in the City.
The plan of action, as settled the night before, was to go on horseback, to arrive at Paul's Cross before the end of the sermon, to explain the pretended case to the Aldermen and people whom they should find assembled there, and call on them for help: if they found them ready to join, then to proceed with the action; if not, to fly to some place of safety. But the visit of the Councillors, by precipitating the movement, spoiled the execution. The horses were not ready,' and Essex wanted either the patience or the courage to wait for them. The party went on foot. And now everything depended upon his success in exciting the people and inducing them to take his part. He was a good speaker, and always sure of favourable listeners : and it was one of those cases in which rhetoric can sometimes do the work of an army. A Mark Antony might at that hour have set mischief on horseback. But Essex had not prepared bis speech; and being no actor, and having nothing to say that could possibly come spontaneously, he made no attempt to address the people, -only cried out as he passed along that his life was in danger, - his enemies were going to murder bim. Now though his followers were armed only with their swords, yet at mid-day, in the heart of a populous city, all friends, and no enemy in sight, a man with two hundred swords at his back could not be in any immediate danger of being murdered. If that was all, there was time to hear more; and the people in the streets only followed, wondering what might be the matter. Thus he passed all through Cheapside and Gracechurch Street, till he came to the house of Sheriff Smith, who commanded the trained bands, and in whom he thought he had an interest. But the Sheriff, though a friend, was not an accomplice; and having heard his story, withdrew to consult the Lord Mayor. To hesitate in such a case was to refuse ; for time could only make the absurdity of the pretext and the hopelessness of the enterprise more apparent. Finding therefore that the pretence of danger to himself from private enemies (who, for the present at least, could not possibly hurt him) brought no armed men to his side, he now bethought himself of his other fiction,—the pretence of danger to the people from the public enemy; and cried out that “the crown of England was offered to be
1 Sir F. Gorge's Vindication. Cott. MSS., Jul. E. vi. 343.