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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 410



mitted all five of them to a wicked and unlawful intimacy ; that she had affirmed that the King did not have her heart ; and had said to each of them apart and private, that she loved him better than any other man ; and that, in union with them, she had plotted to take the King's life. The indictment being read, she courageously held up her hand, and pleaded Not Guilty. As the records of her trial and conviction have mostly been carefully destroyed, the nature of the evidence cannot now be determined; indeed, we have only the statements of her friends and of her enemies to rely on ; and a3 these are vague and contradictory, it is impossible to determine with certainty upon her guilt or innocence. Some authorities attribute the King's early suspicions to the flippant answer of a Frenchwoman in Anne's service, who, being detected in an unlawful amour, replied, " that the Queen allowed gentlemen at all hours to enter her chamber." Burnet, after a diligent search for documents calculated to throw light upon the subject, only discovered part of a memorandum, written by Spelman, one of the judges who tried Ν orris and his three companions in adversity. It runs thus : " As for the evidence of this matter, it was discovered by the Lady Wingfield, who had been a servant to the Queen, and becoming on a sudden infirm some time before her death, did swear this matter to one of her" ... . Here, unfortunately, the rest of the important information is torn out of the book. " By this, it seems," remarks Burnet, " there was no legal evidence against the Queen ; and it was but a witness at second-hand who deposed what they heard the Lady Wingfield swear. Who this person was, we know not, nor what frame of mind Lady Wing, field was in when she swore it." Wyatt says, " It would have been well if Anne's accusers and judges had not bin to be suspected of too much power and nofessmalice. The evidence was heard, indeed, but close enough, as enclosed in strong walls. Yet to shew the truth cannot by any force be altogether kept in liolde, Bomo belike of those honorable personages then more perhaps for counternance of others' evil than for means, by their own authority, to doo good, did deliver out voices that caused everewherc to be muttered abroad that the Queen, in her defence, had cleered herself in a most wise and noble speech." The part of the charge against her, that she had affirmed to her minions that the King never had her heart, and had said to each of them apart that she loved him better than any person whatsoever, was pronounced a slander of the issue begotten between her and the King. By this strained interpretation, her guilt was brought under the statute oi the twenty-fifth of this reign, in which it was declared criminal to throw any slander upon the King, the Queen, or their issue. Such palpable absurdities were at that time admitted, and they were regarded by the obsequious court as a sufficient reason for sacrificing the Queen to the royal will. Although unassisted by counsel, Anne defended herself with judgment and eloquence. But her pleadings were lost upon the jury, who had resolved, from the first, to condemn her. With Smeaton she was not confronted ; and when she urged that his written confession was no real proof of her guilt, she was told that, in her case, it was so. The spectators, we are informed, fully anticipated her acquittal ; but the lords, not by an unanimous vote, be it observed, but by a verdict of the majority, gave judgment against her ; when, after she had laid aside the insignia of royalty, by command of the court, the Duke of Norfolk sentenced her to be burnt or beheaded, at the King's pleasure. When this terrible doom was pronounced, Anne was not terrified, but, lifting up her hands to heaven, emphatically exclaimed : " Oh Father ! oh Creator ! thou art the way, and the truth, and the life—thou knowest that I have not deserved this fate !" Then, turning to her judges, she said: "My lords, I will not impugn your judgment ; you may have what you deem sufficient reasons for Condemning me ; but they must be other than the charges produced


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