« AnteriorContinuar »
trivance, and criminally execrable in purpose, to which, perhaps, any female, otherwise pure and undepraved, had ever resorted. This overmastering feeling, which would have been speedily dissipated by a vigorous exer cise of the high reasoning powers with which she was endowed, was jealousy, under the fatal influence of which the deadliest emotions were engendered, and the fairest prospects of human felicity utterly blasted, and laid desolate for ever. "After Sir Robert Cecil had attained the ministration of affairs, the place of Secretary of State was divided into two, and Sir Thomas Lake appointed to one of them, and so continued, says A. Wood, with honourable esteem of all men, till malice and revenge, two violent passions, overruling the weaker sex, concerning his wife and daughter, involved him m their quarrel, the chief and only cause of his ruin." "Lord Roos, in February, 1616, married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Lake, Principal Secretary of State, by Mary, daughter and heiress of Sir William Rythre; and, in July of the same year, his title of Lord Roos, which had been disputed by the Earl of Rutland, was adjudged in his favour. He returned from Spain in March, 1616-17, and, in August following, secretly withdrew himself out of England, leaving his estate in great disorder, after having sent a challenge to his brother-in-law, Arthur Lake; and though he was required by the Lords of the Council to return, refused to comply with their order."+ Saunderson, who was Secre tary to Lord Roos, in his embassy to Spain, gives the following account of the
dispute between Frances,
Countess of Exeter, and the Lake family:
"The Lord Roos, through Sir Thomas Lake's credit, was sent ambassador extraordinary into Spain, in a very
Saunderson's "Life of James I."
↑ Birch's Life of Prince Henry."
elegant equipage, in the year 1611, with hopes of his own to continue longer, to save charges of transmitting any other. In his absence here fell out a deadly feud (no matter for what) between the Lady Lake, and her daughter's stepmother, the Countess of Exeter, which was fully described in a letter, and sent from England to me at Madrid. A youthful widow this Countess had been, and virtuous, the relict of Sir Thomas Smyth, Clerk of the Council and Registrar of the Parliament, and daughter of William, fourth Lord Chandos; and so she married, and became bed-fellow to this aged, diseased, gouty, but noble Earl of Exeter, who was the maternal grandfather of the Lord de Roos. Home comes the Lord Roos from his embassy, whereupon he fell into great neglect of his wife, and her kindred, and refused to increase the allowance to her settlement of jointure, which was promised to be completed at his return; not long after he stays in England, but away he gets into Italy, and turned a professed Roman Catholic, being cozened into that religion here by his public confidant, Gonda
"In this last absence never to return, Lady Lake, and her daughter, Lady Roos, accuse the Countess of Exeter of former incontinency with the Lord Roos, whilst he was here, and that, therefore, he fled from his wife, and from his marriage bed, with other devised calumnies, by several designs and contrivements, to have impoisoned the Ladies Lake and Roos. The quarrel was blazoned at Court to the King's ear, who, as privately as could be, singly examines each party. The Countess, with tears and imprecations, professes her innocency, which to oppose, the Ladies Lake and Roos counterfeit her hand to a whole sheet of paper, wherein they make her, with much contrition, to acknowledge herself guilty, and crave pardon for attempting to impoison them, and
desire friendship for ever with them all. The King gets sight of this, as in favour to them, and demands the time, place, and occasion when this should be writ. They tell him that all the parties met in a visit at Wimbledon (Lord Exeter's house), where, in dispute of this difference, she confessed her fault, and desirous of absolution and friendship, consents to set down all under her own hand, which presently she writ at the upper end of the great chamber at Wimbledon, in the presence of Lord and Lady Roos, Lady Lake, and one Diego, a Spaniard, his lordship's confiding servant. But now, they being gone and at Rome, the King forthwith sends Master Dendy, one of his Serjeants-at-Arms, some time a domestic of Lord Exeter's, an honest and worthy man, post to Rome, who speedily returns with Lord Roos's and Diego's hands, and other testimonials, that all the said accusations, confession, suspicions, and papers, concerning Lady Exeter, were notoriously false and scandalous, and confirm by receiving their eucharist, in assurance of her honour and her innocency. Besides, several letters of her hand, compared with this writing, concluded it counterfeit. Then the King tells the Ladies Lake and Roos, that, the writing being denied by Lady Exeter, their testimony as parties would not prevail without additional witnesses. They then adjoin one Sarah Wharton, their chambress, who, they affirm, stood behind the hangings, at the entrance of the room, and heard Lady Exeter read over what she had writ; and to this she swears before the King. But after a hunting at the New Park, the King dined at Wimbledon, and in that room observes the great distance from the window to the lower end, and placing himself behind the hangings, (and so different lords in their turn,) they could not hear a loud voice from the window. Besides, the hangings wanted two feet of the ground, and might discover
the woman if hidden behind, the King saying, 'Oaths cannot conceal my sight.'
"And the hangings had not been removed in that room for thirty years before, of which particular the king fully satisfied his mind. Nay, more than all these, the Ladies Lake and Roos counterfeit a confession, in writing, of one Luke Hutton, that, for £40, the Lady Exeter should hire him to impoison them, which man, with wonderful providence, was found out, and privately denies it to the King. And thus prepared, the King sends for Sir Thomas Lake, whom, in truth, he valued, tells him the danger to embark himself in this business, advising him to leave those who were really implicated in the quarrel to the law, the matter being ready for a Star-chamber adjudication.
"He humbly thanked his Majesty, but could not refuse to be a father and a husband; and so he put his name with theirs in a cross-bill, which, at hearing, took up five several days, the King sitting in judgment. But the former testimonies, and some private confessions of Lady Roos and Sarah Wharton, which the King kept in secret, made the cause of trial, for some days, appear doubtful to the Court, until the King's discovery, which concluded the sentence pronounced upon the parties. Sir Thomas and Lady Lake were fined ten thousand pounds to the King, five thousand pounds to Lady Exeter, and fifty pounds to Hutton. Sarah Wharton was sentenced to be whipped at the cart's tail about the streets, and to do penance at St. Martin's Church. The Lady Roos, for confessing the truth and plot in the midst of the trial, was pardoned by the most voices from penal sentence, although she it was whose groundless jealousy of Lady Exeter, and representations to her mother on the subject, had originated this ruinous proceeding. The King, I remember, compared the crime
to the first plot of the first sin in Paradise, the lady to the serpent, her daughter to Eve, and Sir Thomas Lake to poor Adam, whose love to his wife, the old sin of our father, had beguiled him. I am sure he paid for all, which, as he told me, cost him thirty thousand pounds, the loss of his master's favour, and offices of honour and gain, but truly with much pity and compassion at Court, he being held an honest man.' A descendant of Sir Thomas Lake's was raised to the Peerage by the style and title of Lord Viscount Lake, in consequence of his brilliant services and distinguished military