[Milton-L] Abdiel

Carol Barton cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
Wed Jun 25 14:19:09 EDT 2008

Reading this--which has to do with a much later case, that of Aaron 
Burr--made me realize that it was probably Elizabeth I indeed, Peter: 
it was the reference to the letters that did it. (Mary, Queen of 
Scots, was caught by Walsingham in a somewhat "framed" conspiracy to 
commit treason, after she left letters to her co-defendants in a tree 
on the estate where she was under house-arrest.)
The argument of Luther Martin, 

"But they insist that treason consists in the treasonable intention. 
It has been echoed and re-echoed that treason consists in the 
treasonable intention.  We admit that there is in Great Birtain one 
species of treason which consists in the intention, without any act 
consummating the guilt of treason.  I mean the compassing the death of 
the king, where the crime is merely imagined; and nothing more is 
necessary than to write a letter to a man advising him to kill the 
king, and that fact being proved, he is guilty and liable to be 
punished for treason, though the king was not killed, and though the 
party advised took no steps to pursue it.  Though this be correct when 
confined to the death of the king, queen, or eldest son of the king, 
and the treasonable intention constitutes the treason, yet the overt 
act is evidence of the intention only and not of the actual commission 
of the crime, because writing a letter is not treason, but proof of 
the intention to commit it.  But why is the  intention to commit it 
treason in Great Britain?  Because a special law is made  for the 
safeguard of the life of the king, making it treason to conspire, 
compass, or imagine his death, when evidenced by some overt act such 
as I have just stated; a conspiracy against the life of the king, 
whether carried into execution or not, is made treason by special act 
of parliament."

It was for that crime (intention) that she was executed at 
Fotheringay, and the law probably resulted from Walsingham's 
impatience with Elizabeth's indecision about the fate of her royal 

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