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attempt to divert suspicion from themselves by bizarre and complicated means : they do not realize that the simplest method leaves the fewest clues, and is therefore the safest. Further, both before and after the commission of a premeditated murder its author usually suffers from a nervous excitement so severe that he neglects what to the cool observer seem the commonest precautions: if his instrument is poison, he uses enough to kill a dozen ; if cold steel, he leaves the knife where it can be found ; if a pistol, he omits to clean it. Every one thinks that if he were to commit a murder he would not be such a fool: yet such are among the most ordinary phenomena in recorded cases. The criminal, in short, very seldom does the right thing. In particular, there was a sufficient reason for not causing Godfrey's body to disappear. Nobody undertaking the job could have failed to be conscious that if at that moment of time-twelve days after Oates had discovered' the project of an English St. Bartholomew-Godfrey disappeared completely, it would universally be believed that he was the first victim in the massacre. Now, whereas this would have perfectly suited a private or a Protestant murderer, it was what a Catholic would most wish to avoid. Therefore to a Catholic assassin it was essential that the body should be found, but found in such a way as to conceal the motive and manner of the deed. The proper course for such a criminal to pursue was to leave Godfrey's body in circumstances that would clearly point to robbery as the motive of his murder. The surprising thing, however, would have been to find him taking this course: to attempt to secure himself by a strange and elaborate device was in reality far more natural.
The inquirer who is guided by our first principle will constantly ask himself such questions as—What were the actual conditions of the time? How did they, or could they, affect the minds of men then living? How would men of the time ordinarily act in this situation? How would these particular persons be likely to act in it? From the instances touched upon above, and from the fact that he could write a chapter on "The Fear of Popery' without betraying any knowledge of the existence of the Treaty of Dover or of other Catholic intrigues of the time, it will be concluded that, if these questions did occur to Mr. Marks, he was not in a position to answer them.
Secondly, we come to the principle, which is the very basis of historical thinking, that the inquirer should reject all doubtful evidence unless corroborated, or unless it can be otherwise sufficiently tested. Mr. Marks's conclusion is that Godfrey committed suicide. Now in passing judgment upon a case of violent death,
certainly not caused by accident, it is essential, when the evidence is entirely circumstantial, before identifying its author or authors to know that they had a motive sufficient for the deed. Mr. Marks supplies a motive for Godfrey's committing suicide by the theory that he suffered from hereditary melancholia. This is his own opinion (pp. 96-104). He also submitted to Dr. Freyberger 'a summary of the facts of the case,' together with extracts from the reports of the trials and other works; and on these Dr. Frey berger came to the conclusion that Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey was suffering from melancholia ; and there can be no reasonable doubt that he committed suicide while he was in this state of insanity' (p. 114).
Before this opinion and the way in which it was obtained are considered, it will be well to notice one or two other points that indicate Mr. Marks's treatment of evidence. On p. 8 he writes : "It was the brain of Tonge that conceived the Popish Plot,' meaning thereby Oates's story. This idea-that Tonge, a wretched fanatic parson, employed Oates as an agent to publish fictitious revelations invented in London-was used by the latter's enemies to belittle his importance. Possibly, although the modicum of truth embedded in Oates's grandiose lies makes it unlikely, it was true ; but there is no justification whatever for asserting it as a fact?. Again, on pp. 53 and 61 he repeats the statement made by some historians that on the night of October 12, 1678, the court of Somerset House was crowded. This statement comes from the memoirs of James II, who parades it as evidence that the murder could not have taken place there and then without being detected. It is established, however, that James's statement is untrue : orders had been given that the queen (who was sleeping at the palace) was private, and that visitors should not be admitted?. Again, on p. 89, Mr. Marks says: 'It is probable that the weather' between October 12 and 17'was frosty.' It is almost certain that it was wet. The coroner of Middlesex gave evidence: The way dirty3.' On the afternoon of October 16 there was a great storm 4.' On the 15th and 16th Mr. Robert Forset's hounds were hunted over the fields at the foot of Primrose Hill”; and although a pack may well be taken out on a frosty day, it will certainly not be taken out the next day, if the frost holds. Lastly, paragraph V of
1 See The Popish Plot, pp. 9, 10, 13 n.
? References to the authorities are given at p. 156 n., The Popish Plot. The reference 7 St. Tr. 154 should, however, read 7 St. Tr. 194.
3 House of Lords MSS. 1678-88, 46.
* Lazinby, one of the surgeons, 8 St. Tr. 1384. This evidence refers to October 16 and not 17, as can easily be seen. The question was whether Godfrey's body was in the field on the 16th : every one knew it was there on the 17th. 6 8 St. Tr. 1394.
the Letter to Mr. Miles Prance, published in 1681 to maintain the theory of suicide, states that the roads were so muddy that 'the constable and those that went with bim were dirtied and moiled up to the very saddle-skirts 1.'
The question of the weather is of some importance, for, when Godfrey's body was found, his shoes were clean. From which Mr. Marks deduces (p. 107) that the way Godfrey went was 'free from mud, from which again he deduces the frostiness of the weather. As we have seen, there is a considerable body of direct evidence that the weather was open and the fields muddy: the proper deduction is therefore that Godfrey did not walk to the spot where his body was found, but was carried or driven thither. Even if there were no further evidence, this would be the proper deduction ; but it is quite certain that the cleanness of Godfrey's shoes was at the time immediately noticed as extraordinary. If the ground had been hard, the shoes would not have attracted attention; whereas every one who saw the body was struck by their appearance. But, says Mr. Marks, Godfrey was seen in the morning walking towards Paddington and again back ?, and if the country lanes were soft, his shoes would have been dirtied by Paddington mud as well as by that of Primrose Hill. Mr. Marks does not, however, mention that he was also seen in the Strand close to Charing Cross, not far, that is, from his own house, at about one o'clock 3 Where did Godfrey dine ? asks Mr. Lang (Cornhill Magazine) very pertinently: we do not know-possibly (it is merely a guess) with one of his Catholic acquaintances, who would naturally hold his tongue-but wherever it was, he may easily have changed or cleaned his shoes first. In any case there is proof positive that the absence of mud on Godfrey's shoes and stockings was remarked with astonishment, the state of the weather considered, and taken by intelligent persons as evidence that he had not walked to Primrose Hill; and the authors of the Letter to Mr. Miles Prance and of the Second Letter lay stress upon the fact to disprove Prance's story that his body was carried thither on a borse. The roads, they aver, were so wet and muddy that a man on horseback must infallibly have been splashed all up his legs. But if the body was taken in a carriage the shoes would be clean-as they were. It is one of those elementary rules of bistorical inquiry which Mr. Marks seems not to have mastered, that . observations by persons actually on the spot must be taken for what they are worth: it is impossible to go behind them.
Again, among the unauthorized amendments' (whatever that
18 St. Tr. 1370.
2 Brief Hist, iii, 252. 9 Dep. of Radcliffe, Oct. 19, 1678. Brief Hist, iii. 299.
may 'mean) which Mr. Marks accuses me of making (pp. 59, 63) are the suggestions that Godfrey's body was removed from Somerset House not, as was believed at the trials, by the main gate and in a sedan-chair, but by a private door and in a coach. Mr. Lang also intimates his disbelief in the existence of a private door, as not being 'proved to exist by the evidence of a chart’ (Valet's Tragedy, 87). Yet Ogilby's map of London, published in 1677, shows a gate leading from the east side of Somerset House garden into Strand Bridge Lane; on the west side of the palace no less than six doors are marked on the plan of 1680, printed by Mr. Lang himself, leading into the stable yard, to which the Water Lane Gate gave access; and a passage is marked both in the plan of 1680 and in Rocque's map of 1746, connecting the Water Lane with Dutchy Lane beyond. The possibility of a side door having been used is thus established; the possibility of a coach is inferred from the evidence of the coroner : " There was a track of a coach in the ground where no coach used to come 1.'
I turn to the motive supplied by Mr. Marks for Godfrey's suicide, the evidence for which rests solely on the authority of depositions collected by Sir Roger L'Estrange in 1686 and 1687, as to the behaviour in 1678 of Sir Edmund Godfrey.
L'Estrange has conveniently summed up his politics in a sentence. “Reformation,' he says, is the
the proper business of government and council; but, when it comes to work at the wrong end, there is nothing to be expected from it but Tumult and Confusion.' He was in fact the highest of high Tories and Anglicans, from the first totally disbelieved in the existence of a Catholic intrigue and in the murder of Godfrey, and lost no chance of enforcing his disbelief on the public by attacking the Whigs and Nonconformists in his paper, the Observator, and in numerous pamphlets. He never concealed that this was his intention, or that his mind was fully made up on the subject before he obtained powers from James II in February, 1686, to examine witnesses on oath as to the cause of Godfrey's death. There can be little doubt that James hoped, if he did not deliberately intend, by this means to cast a final posthumous slur upon the agitation which Shaftesbury had based on the death of Godfrey and the revelations of Oates, and which had all but cost him his throne. A year later L'Estrange received from Sunderland, the secretary of state, an order directing the coroner of Westminster to deliver to him copies of the depositions taken at the time and for the purposes of the inquest in 1678. For the book which resulted from these researches 3 and was published
1 House of Lords MSS., 46. Popish Plot, 157: 2 History of the Plot, 1680, preface. 3 Brief History of the Times, Part iii.
in 1688, L'Estrange used, he tells us, sixteen depositions, copies of which the coroner took for him, and an unstated number of depositions freshly taken by himself between 1686 and 1688. Here, it is clear, are two classes of evidence, entirely different the one from the other in origin and value. The 1678 depositions were taken a few days after the facts to which they refer, in the course of an official and regular inquiry, and before opinions on the subject had become crystallized and partisan : the 1686 depositions were taken many years after the event, by a professed and powerful partisan on a special mission for his own side, and when to hold the opinions of the other side had become the mark of a seditious person. Clearly too the former class is far superior, in point both of origin and of date, to the latter. In being used by the inquirer of to-day they should therefore be distinguished; but this is rendered a task of some difficulty by the fashion in which L'Estrange compiled his book, for the 1686 depositions are scattered up and down, often without date or signature, seldom printed in extenso, but quoted sentence by sentence where he needed them for his argument. They must be regarded with suspicion and used only with the greatest caution.
Let us see then how Mr. Marks has dealt with evidence of such dubious character. L'Estrange of course professes (as who would not ?) to have discharged my conscience and my duty with a most affectionate and impartial respect to truth and justice.' Mr. Marks handsomely admits that this profession does not absolve the inquirer from examining the testimony brought forward `even, in the circumstances, in a critical spirit’; but his admission is qualified by 'the impression that the statement' (as to conscience, justice, and so forth) is justified,' and it cannot be said that the application of his critical spirit has left any recognizable traces in his book. He has simply swallowed the 1686 depositions in a lump. What is the good of his saying that the lapse of time tends to lessen their value as evidence' (pp. 76, 77), if, when it comes to the point, they are not subjected to the test? The proper guide in matters of this kind is the dictum of Professor Churton Collins : The value of evidence, especially in the case of unskilled witnesses, is in exact proportion to its proximity to the experience of which it is the testimony.'
The 1686 depositions are the sole evidence on which the theory of Godfrey's mental derangement is based. Apart from them no scrap of evidence exists that his mind was diseased. He was on the contrary noted for being a fearless, independent man, and an excellent magistrate who had been in some tight places and had always come out of them with credit. Now of the depositions