Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/136

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exemptions of Queen Consort of this realm, and to dissolve the marriage between His Majesty and the said Caroline Amelia Elizabeth" on the ground of the grossly immoral conduct therein alleged against her.

The ill-advised proceedings once commenced, no time was lost in carrying them through. On the 7th of July the Italian witnesses in support of the bill (twelve in number) landed at Dover. The object of their visit soon became known, and on emerging from the custom house they were set upon and badly beaten by a furious crowd, composed principally of women. They were lodged in a building then separating the old houses of Parliament, which, with its enclosure, was called Cotton Garden; the front faced the abbey, the rear the Thames. "The land entrance was strongly barricaded. The side facing Westminster Bridge was shut out from the public by a wall run up for the express purpose at a right angle to the Parliament stairs. Thus the only access was by the river. Here was erected a causeway to low-water mark; a flight of steps led to the interior of the inclosure. The street was guarded by a strong military force, the water side by gunboats. An ample supply of provisions was stealthily (for fear of the mob) introduced into the building; a bevy of royal cooks was sent to see that the food was of good quality, and to render it as palatable as their art could make it. About this building, in which the witnesses were immured from August till November, the London mob would hover like a cat round the cage of a canary. Such confinement would have been, intolerable to the natives of any other country, but it was quite in unison with the feelings of Italians. To them it realized their favourite 'dolce far niente.' Their only physical exertion appears to have been the indulgence in that description of dance that the Pifferari have made familiar to the Londoner."[1] Such was the residence of the Italian witnesses against the queen, and it is certain that if they had ventured beyond its precincts they would have been torn in pieces.

  1. "Fifty Years of my Life," by George Thomas, Earl of Albemarle, vol. ii. p. 123.