From the outset, Caroline made it plain that she intended to be present in Parliament during the trial. Crowds of supporters cheered her journey there, extra troops were drafted in to keep public order and wooden barriers were placed in the streets around the Houses of Parliament, guarded by armed soldiers.
|The Queen arrives at the House of Lords|
The Lords, on their way to the Upper House were booed and hissed at in the street – even the Duke of Wellington was heckled. Unless they had a very good excuse, the Lords were compelled to attend or face a substantial daily fine.
|Sir Robert Gifford|
Sir Robert Gifford, the Attorney-General, presented what appeared to be damning accounts of Caroline’s indiscretions with Pergami, how they were frequently seen to walk arm-in-arm, to kiss, and had often slept together.
After two days of evidence, the first witness was called. When Theodore Majocchi, an Italian servant, entered the House, Caroline cried out ‘Teodore! Oh no, no!’ and in great agitation left the chamber (She did not, as some accounts claim, cry ‘Traditore’ [‘Traitor’]). An interpreter was provided as Majocchi did not speak English, but Brougham insisted that a second interpreter, of his choosing, also be present.
The examination of the witness by the prosecution was disgraceful, consisting in the main of leading questions, putting words directly into the servant’s mouth and merely requiring him to confirm the statements. However, the picture painted made it quite clear that Caroline and Pergami had been lovers.
|Installation of a Knight Companion of the Bath|
There were lurid descriptions of shared meals, of shared bathing and of shared beds. There was tell of Mahomet, a Turk, who regularly performed a particularly lewd dance in the Princess’s villa, with ‘certain gestures’. There were things that had gone on behind locked doors, in desert tents, in the cabins of ships. Then Brougham began his cross-examination.
|Sir George Hayter - The Trial of Queen Caroline 1820 - (Depicts Majocchi giving Evidence to the House of Lords)|
Majocchi faltered under the initial onslaught, and piece by piece, Brougham tore him apart. Majocchi resorted to saying ‘Non mi ricordo’ [I do not recall] to almost every question put to him (in all, he said it over two hundred times during the cross-examination), and the expression was taken up by the public, remaining in long usage for when a person did not want to commit themselves to something they knew to be untrue. There were even rhymes and songs written.
Theodore Majocci is my name,And every one's aware.From Italy I cameAgainst the Queen to swear,I was sent to C[olonel] B[rowne']s,When I was abroad O,Who gave me many Crowns,To say ‘Non mi ricordo.’
Brougham’s unrelenting disassembly of Majocchi’s credibility was a tour de force, and it was said that if he had done the same in a normal divorce proceeding, the case would have been laughed out of court before any other witnesses were called.
|The Italian Witnesses arrive in England|
Further Italian servants took the stand, and it became positively unhealthy for the Italian population of England to admit to their nationality, such was the reputation for duplicity, avariciousness and cupidity that their countrymen and women formed in the minds of the English public. Indeed, three Swiss witnesses who were en route to give evidence, on hearing of the reception of the Italians who landed at Dover, turned around and returned for home.
|Sir John Copley|
When those witnesses that did attend had been heard, the Solicitor-General, Sir John Copley, summed up the case for the Crown. There was no sure way to prove adultery, he opined, but circumstance had to be admitted. Majocchi, of course, had contradicted himself, but had been grilled for seven hours by Brougham and Denman (Caroline’s solicitor), and of course he would nor recall every detail of every incident in the years he had been in the Princess’s employ, and thus had little recourse other than admit the truth, that he did not remember.
|Bat, Cat and Mat - Caroline on Pergami's Arm|
No one had sought to deny that the Princess had promenaded on Pergami’s arm, who was of no rank higher than a courier,
“To me it appears, according to my way of thinking, that that circumstance is quite sufficient proof of her guilt.”
Brougham was then asked if he intended to begin the defence immediately, or did he seek a postponement. There were risks involved in both – a delay might see a decline in Caroline’s popular support, whereas haste may provide insufficient time to mount a proper case. Brougham opted to begin immediately but the House thought better and ordered a three-week adjournment.
Tomorrow - The Defence of the Queen