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The Queen's Marriage

The Queen's Marriage - The Procession - The Ceremony - Reception of the Queen and Prince Albert at Windsor - Their Return to Buckingham Palace - Attempted Assassination of the Queen - Public Excitement caused by this Event - Arrest of the Assassin, Edward Oxford - Extraordinary Demonstrations of Loyalty - Trial of Oxford for High Treason - Proofs of the Prisoner's Insanity - The Jury found the Prisoner " Guilty, he being at the same time Insane."
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The Queen's marriage has been referred to in connection with the proceedings in Parliament. The details of that interesting event, and other incidents affecting Her Majesty's happiness which occurred during the year, will now be recorded. Although the Chapel Royal had been specially fitted up for the royal wedding, so as to afford as ample accommodation as possible, numbers who had even high claims to be present were unable to obtain admission.

The royal party assembled in the morning at Buckingham Palace, whence it had been arranged that the members of Her Majesty's family and those of Prince Albert's, accompanied by the officers of state, should proceed to St. James's Palace. The entire route along which the royal cortège was to pass was lined by the Horse Guards, while the trumpeters, in their state uniforms, were stationed at intervals, to announce the approach of the royal bride and bridegroom. First, the ladies and gentlemen of Her Majesty's household, in seven royal carriages, arrived at the garden entrance of St. James's Palace; and then followed the splendid state coach containing Her Majesty, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent, and the Mistress of the Robes. The closet behind the throne room had been draped with silk, and prepared for the reception of the Queen. There Her Majesty, attended by her maids of honour, train-bearers, and bridesmaids, remained until the Lord Chamberlain of her household marshalled the procession to the Chapel Royal. Soon after Her Majesty had entered the closet, the clash of " presented arms," the roll of drums and flourish of trumpets outside, told that the bridegroom had arrived. Before His Royal Highness walked his gentlemen of honour, two heralds, the Lord Chamberlain, and the Vice-Chamber« lain of Her Majesty's household, &c., and he was sup ported on either side by the Duke and the Hereditary Prince of Saxe Coburg and Gotha. Loud and enthusiastic applause and waving of handkerchiefs greeted the bridegroom and his supporters along the route. He wore the uniform of an English field-marshal, and the insignia of the Order of the Garter, the collar of the order being fastened on either shoulder with a rosette of white ribbon; in his hand he carried the sacred volume, bound in green velvet, and clasped with gold.

When the bridegroom ascended the altar steps, every eye was fixed upon him; and there the noble bearing and calm thoughtful face won for Prince Albert the first expression of a courtly admiration, which afterwards ripened into a nation's love. There was a moment of expectation while the Prince, standing at the rails, awaited the coming of the royal bride; but soon the flourish of trumpets on the grand staircase gave notice of Her Majesty's approach, and every head was turned towards the entrance. The royal household walked first, then the members of the royal family, and next, before the bride Lord Viscount Melbourne bearing the great sword of state in its rich velvet scabbard. Her Majesty's dress was of white satin, trimmed with orange blossoms; her wreath was composed of the same kind of flowers, and covered with a veil of rich Honiton lace; she also wore the ribbon, collar, and star of the Order of the Garter, and her splendid train was borne by twelve unmarried ladies, selected from the flower of the English nobility. Slowly, amid the flourish of trumpets, the bridal procession passed towards the chancel, and then the Queen and her royal bridegroom stood side by side before the altar. The Archbishop of Canterbury performed the ceremony - his Grace's pure white lawn and black rochet contrasting well with all the gorgeous uniforms and bejewelled dresses that thronged outside the rails. As the service was proceeded with, the stillness of the distinguished company present became every instant more intense, till, at last not even the rustle of a lady's dress, or the clink of an officer's spur, broke the silence, as the clear, musical voice, for which Her Majesty has ever been remarkable, was heard in the remotest comer of the chapel, promising, in tones of thrilling pathos, "to love, cherish, and to obey till death us do part."

At a quarter to one o'clock the ring was placed upon Her Majesty's finger; outside, the guns thundered forth the intelligence; but their loud booming was nearly- drowned by the long-continued shouts of acclamation Which arose from the thousands who thronged the park. At the conclusion of the service the Queen Dowager cordially embraced and kissed the bride, and the Prince acknowledged Queen Adelaide's congratulations by kissing her hand. The bride and her royal consort drove at once to Buckingham Palace, and the noble assembly, who had witnessed the ceremony, retired. After a splendid déjeuner at Buckingham Palace, the bride and bridegroom took their departure for Windsor Castle. The sun shone out in cloudless lustre just at the moment of their leaving the gateway; the vast concourse of people assembled outside the palace hailed this as a happy omen, and as the carriage containing the royal pair drove off, the air was rent with the most enthusiastic cheering.

At Windsor everything that ingenuity could devise had been done to give expression to the loyal feelings of the inhabitants - every house was decorated from roof to ground-floor with evergreens and flags, and all the windows blazed with illuminations. Her Majesty and the Prince, as they drove through the dense masses that thronged the streets leading to the castle, repeatedly acknowledged the enthusiastic demonstrations of goodwill and loyalty with which they were received.

Throughout the entire country the day was kept as a festival. The inhabitants of cities and towns lighted up their windows, and in the country tar-barrels and bonfires blazed from every hill. In London the chief nobility, the leaders of political parties in both Houses, and the great Government officials, gave State banquets to celebrate the auspicious event, and in many a humble home throughout the land the people drank heartily "to the happiness of the royal pair."

The Queen and Prince Albert remained at Windsor Castle until the 14th, riding out in the park in the daytime, and entertaining a small circle at dinner. On Friday they returned quietly to Buckingham Palace.

About four months passed happily away, when another event occurred which was very near furnishing a startling illustration of the truth that there is no certain tenure of human happiness, and that the highest earthly felicity may be in a moment destroyed by an occurrence over which even royalty can have no control. On the night of Wednesday, the 10th of June, London was agitated by a report of an attempt upon the life of the Queen. A great variety of rumours, many of them contradictory, were quickly circulated in conversation, and in late editions of the evening papers. Next day an investigation took place at the Home Office, from which the public and the reporters of the daily press were excluded. The following are the facts as they were recorded in the "Annual Register:" - "At a quarter past six on Wednesday evening, the Queen, accompanied by Prince Albert, left Buckingham Palace, in a very low, open phaeton, drawn by four bays, to take their customary drive in Hyde Park before dinner, Colonel Buckley and Sir Edward Bowater attending as equerries. Had the Queen sat upon the right of the Prince, as she usually did, she would have been next to the open railing of the Green Park passing up Constitution Hill; but she had on that occasion taken her place on the left, next to the long brick wall. The carriage had proceeded a short distance up the road, when a young man, who had been standing with his back to the Green Park fence, advanced to within a few yards of the carriage, and deliberately fired at the Queen. The shot, happily, did not take effect. The postilions paused for an instant. The Prince ordered them, in a loud voice, to drive on. "have got another!' exclaimed the assassin, who discharged a second pistol, aimed at the carriage, which also proved harmless. The Queen and the Prince went as far as Hyde Park Corner, and then turned to the Duchess of Kent's mansion, in Belgrave Square. Meanwhile, the assassin remained near the spot, leaning against the park fence, with the weapons in his hand. Several persons laid hold of him, and he was conveyed by two policemen to the Gardener's Lane station-house. After staying a short time with the Duchess of Kent, in Belgrave Square, the Queen and her husband proceeded to Hyde Park, where an immense concourse of persons, of all ranks and both sexes, had congregated. The reception of the royal pair was so enthusiastic as almost to overpower the self- possession of the Queen, while Prince Albert's countenance, alternately pale and crimson, betrayed the strength of his emotions. They soon returned to Buckingham Palace, attended by a vast number of the nobility and gentry, in carriages and on horseback. A multitude of persons collected at the entrance to the palace, and vehemently cheered the Queen, who, though pale and agitated, repeatedly bowed and smiled in return. It is said that on reaching her apartments the Queen found relief in a flood of tears, but she recovered herself so as to appear as usual at the dinner- table. Persons of distinction flocked to the palace to make inquiries, and to all the gratifying assurance was given that no bad consequences to the Queen's health were likely to ensue from the shock.

The prisoner's name was Edward Oxford. He was about eighteen years of age, and of an unprepossessing countenance. He was a native of Birmingham, which town he had left nine years before. He was last employed at a public-house, " The Hog in the Pond," Oxford Street, corner of South Molton Street. He had bought a pair of pistols at a shooting gallery, where he had for some time practised firing. The prisoner was removed to the Home Office for examination on Thursday. The place was literally besieged with ladies and gentlemen wishing to be allowed to state what they saw. The examination was conducted by Lord Normanby, the Home Secretary, Mr. Fox Maule, Under Secretary, Mr. Mark Philips, and Mr. Hall, of Bow Street; the Attorney-General, the Lord Chamberlain, and the Comptroller of the Household being also present. The result was the prisoner's committal to Newgate for high treason. The police spent hours in searching for a bullet, but could find none.

The loyal excitement consequent upon this occurrence was unbounded. The following day, when the Queen and the Prince took their drive in the park, the crowd was immense, and the cheering most enthusiastic. Hundreds of ladies and gentlemen on horseback accompanied them, like a body-guard, while the line of carriages calling at Buckingham Palace extended a considerable way down the Mall. On the 12th, the calls of the nobility and gentry - in carriages, on horseback, and on foot - who entered their names in the visitors' book, were incessant. Thousands of people assembled before the palace. About twelve o'clock the sheriffs of London, and other civic functionaries, arrived, in four carriages, to ascertain when it would be Her Majesty's pleasure to receive the addresses of the Common Council. The Cabinet Ministers, and the chief officers of the household, arrived in quick succession through the south gate. At two o'clock the state carriage of the Speaker of the House of Commons entered the court, followed by 109 carriages, filled with members of the House of Commons. Never before, it is said, was the Speaker followed by so numerous a cortège on the occasion of presenting an address. As soon as the carriages of the Commons had left the court, the procession of the Lords began to enter; the barons first, and then the other peers, rising in rank to the royal Dukes of Sussex and Cambridge, the Lord Chancellor bringing up the rear. There were eighty-one carriages in the peers' procession, which was brilliant and imposing in an extraordinary degree. Many of the lords wore splendid uniforms, and decorations of various orders; the Duke of Wellington especially. The procession of the Commons passed with little notice from the crowd; but on the Duke's appearance the cheering was enthusiastic and universal; the Dukes of Sussex and Cambridge were also cheered. Whilst the lords were alighting from their carriages, the grand terrace in front of the palace was crowded with distinguished persons in brilliant costumes. The Queen received the address on the throne. The Lord Chancellor and the Speaker of the House of Commons advanced side by side. The Dukes of Sussex and Cambridge walked in a line with the Lord Chancellor, the peers and Commons following. Prince Albert stood on the left of the throne, the great officers of state and of the household on the right. The Lord Chancellor read the address, which was graciously received by Her Majesty.

The trial of Edward Oxford for high treason was commenced in the Central Criminal Court on Thursday, July 9th, and ended on the following day. The judges were Lord Denman, Baron Alderson, and Justice Patteson. The counsel for the Crown were the Attorney and Solicitor-General, Sir F. Pollock, and Mr. Wightman; for the prisoner, Mr. Sidney Taylor and Mr. Bodkin. The indictment having been read, the prisoner, on the usual question, " Guilty or not guilty? " being put, answered, "Not guilty." The Attorney-General stated the case for the prosecution. He expressed his satisfaction that the gentlemen placed in the jury-box possessed the entire confidence of both parties, indicated by the fact that no challenge had been given. He explained that the trial would be conducted in the manner prescribed by an Act passed in the fortieth year of King George III.'s reign; which provided that where the overt act of treason was a direct attack upon the life of the Sovereign, the trial should be conducted as common trials for murder. This act only gave the life of the Sovereign the protection enjoyed by the meanest of his subjects, and did away with the necessity of two witnesses to the overt act, and other forms very proper to be observed in cases of a political character. He understood from the affidavit on which the motion for the postponement of the trial had been granted, that a plea of insanity would be raised. Two questions would then arise - first, whether supposing the prisoner to be accountable for his actions, he was guilty of the offence laid to his charge; and secondly, whether, at the time he committed the act, he was accountable to the law for his actions. The burden of proof in the first case rested entirely with the prosecutor; for the prisoner was presumed to be perfectly innocent until his guilt was established by clear and unquestionable testimony. And unless the jury disbelieved the witnesses he should call, it would be impossible to come to any other conclusion than that the prisoner was guilty. The Attorney-General then proceeded to state some of the circumstances of Oxford's life up to the time of the alleged treason. The prisoner, the jury would perceive, was a very young man, about eighteen or nineteen years of age, though, from his appearance, it would hardly be supposed that he had reached that age. It would appear that he was born, as he understood, at Birmingham, but came when very young to London. He went to school in Lambeth, and had since been in the service of several publicans in the capacity of barman. It would appear that he had deliberately formed a plan to make an attempt upon the life of the Sovereign. On the 4th of May in this present year, when he was living at his lodging, he bought a pair of pistols from a person of the name of Hayes, living in Blackfriars Road, for the sum of £2; at the same time he also bought a powder-flask. It would also appear in evidence that he practised shooting at a shooting gallery in Leicester Square, at another in the Strand, and at another at the west end of the town. On Wednesday, the 3rd of June, just one week before the day named in the indictment, he went to a shop kept by a person of the name of Gray, with whom the prisoner had formerly been a schoolfellow, and who resides in. Bridge Road, Lambeth, and there he bought half a hundred copper caps to use in firing pistols. He asked Gray at the same time where he could buy some bullets. He was told where bullets were to be had, and he said himself that he had some gunpowder. On the evening of Tuesday, the 9th of June, he was seen with a pistol which he himself stated to be loaded; and when he was asked what he meant to do with it, he refused to tell, but said he had been firing at a target. The Attorney- General then came to Wednesday, the 10th of June, and gave a recital of the incidents connected with the attempt on Her Majesty's life, adding that when the second shot was fired, a man named Lowe immediately rushed across, seized Oxford, and took his pistol from him. This man was, for the moment, believed to be the offender by another individual, who cried, "Why, you confounded rascal, how dare you shoot at our Queen? " Upon which the prisoner said, "It was I who shot at her." Proofs were given that he had purchased balls, and some witnesses declared that they heard them whizzing past. On his examination before the Privy Council, Oxford had voluntarily made the following singular statement: " A great many witnesses against me. Some say that I shot with my left, others with my right hand. They vary as to the distance. After I fired the first pistol, Prince Albert got up as if he would jump out of the carriage, and sat down again, as if he thought better of it. This is all I shall say at present."

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