The World of Law: A Treasury of Great Writing about and in the Law, Short Stories, Plays, Essays, Accounts, Letters, Opinions, Pleas, Transcripts of Testimony; from Biblical Times to the Present - Vol. 2

By Ephraim London | Go to book overview

Lloyd Paul Stryker


THE TRIAL OF QUEEN CAROLINE from For the Defense

On June 6, the very day Caroline arrived at Dover, her husband sent a message to the House of Lords. . . . "The King thinks it necessary," he wrote, "in consequence of the arrival of the Queen, to communicate to the House of Lords certain papers respecting the conduct of Her Majesty since her departure from this kingdom, which he recommends to the immediate and serious attention of this House." He had the fullest confidence, he said, that the Lords would now adopt "that course of proceeding which the justice of the case and the honor and dignity of His Majesty ever may require."

It was two hundred and eighty-seven years since any English king had taken such a step. In 1533 Henry VIII, having failed to secure a divorce from Catherine of Aragon by the Papal Court, compelled an English court to grant it, and three years later forced a jury of her peers to convict Anne Boleyn of adultery and send her to her death. Now another English king was seeking for his wife the combined fates of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn; for the adultery of a queen was grounds not only for divorce but for a conviction of high treason, the penalty for which was death.

Small wonder that the plain people of England were aroused at the prospect of this threatened tragedy. Small wonder, too, that Henry Brougham, knowing, as only able lawyers know, how uncertain is the prospect of a litigation, knowing also of the mass of evidence collected at Milan, fearing that with so much smoke some fire might be dis

-176-

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