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Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (M R James) online
_Clerk of the Crown._ George Martin, hold up thy hand (which he did).
Then the indictment was read, which set forth that the prisoner, 'not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil, upon the 15th day of May, in the 36th year of our sovereign lord King Charles the Second, with force and arms in the parish aforesaid, in and upon Ann Clark, spinster, of the same place, in the peace of God and of our said sovereign lord the King then and there being, feloniously, wilfully, and of your malice aforethought did make an assault and with a certain knife value a penny the throat of the said Ann Clark then and there did cut, of the which wound the said Ann Clark then and there did die, and the body of the said Ann Clark did cast into a certain pond of water situate in the same parish (with more that is not material to our purpose) against the peace of our sovereign lord the King, his crown and dignity.'
Then the prisoner prayed a copy of the indictment.
_L.C.J._ (Sir George Jeffreys). What is this? Sure you know that is never allowed. Besides, here is as plain indictment as ever I heard; you have nothing to do but to plead to it.
_Pris._ My lord, I apprehend there may be matter of law arising out of the indictment, and I would humbly beg the court to assign me counsel to consider of it. Besides, my lord, I believe it was done in another case: copy of the indictment was allowed.
_L.C.J._ What case was that?
_Pris._ Truly, my lord, I have been kept close prisoner ever since I came up from Exeter Castle, and no one allowed to come at me and no one to advise with.
_L.C.J._ But I say, what was that case you allege?
_Pris._ My lord, I cannot tell your lordship precisely the name of the case, but it is in my mind that there was such an one, and I would humbly desire--
_L.C.J._ All this is nothing. Name your case, and we will tell you whether there be any matter for you in it. God forbid but you should have anything that may be allowed you by law: but this is against law, and we must keep the course of the court.
_Att.-Gen._ (Sir Robert Sawyer). My lord, we pray for the King that he may be asked to plead.
_Cl. of Ct._ Are you guilty of the murder whereof you stand indicted, or not guilty?
_Pris._ My lord, I would humbly offer this to the court. If I plead now, shall I have an opportunity after to except against the indictment?
_L.C.J._ Yes, yes, that comes after verdict: that will be saved to you, and counsel assigned if there be matter of law, but that which you have now to do is to plead.
Then after some little parleying with the court (which seemed strange upon such a plain indictment) the prisoner pleaded _Not Guilty_.
_Cl. of Ct._ Culprit. How wilt thou be tried?
_Pris._ By God and my country.
_Cl. of Ct._ God send thee a good deliverance.
_L.C.J._ Why, how is this? Here has been a great to-do that you should not be tried at Exeter by your country, but be brought here to London, and now you ask to be tried by your country. Must we send you to Exeter again?
_Pris._ My lord, I understood it was the form.
_L.C.J._ So it is, man: we spoke only in the way of pleasantness. Well, go on and swear the jury.
So they were sworn. I omit the names. There was no challenging on the prisoner's part, for, as he said, he did not know any of the persons called. Thereupon the prisoner asked for the use of pen, ink, and paper, to which the L. C. J. replied: 'Ay, ay, in God's name let him have it.' Then the usual charge was delivered to the jury, and the case opened by the junior counsel for the King, Mr Dolben.