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of reason, her husband's great family and high employments, her own illustrious birth, her alliances, the house of Holsendorf, her coat of arms, and many other of those excellent arguments, which have more force in Germany than anywhere else. To them she was rash enough to add some unpardonable reflections upon the birth, parentage, and low degree of the persons on whom his serene highness had been ill-advised enough to bestow this new, but odious mark of his favour. This letter (however judiciously wrote) was far from producing the desired effect; for his highness of Meinungen like a wise prince, resolved to go through with what he had once begun, and not to suffer his decrees to be contradicted by his subjects; nor his ordinances to be trampled upon by an insolent woman. Wherefore upon oath being made before him of the injurious language that the baroness had held against himself and his new regulations, he ordered her to be summoned to a formal trial, the issue of which trial was,
that the unhappy lady was condemned to have her head severed from her body upon a public scaffold.
This dreadful sentence was no sooner published, than the whole principality of Meinungen as with one voice clamoured against it. His serene highness was struck with this, and with and by the advice and consent of his new favourite and minister (either from a sense of the injustice of the sentence, or from his own compassionate nature or, what is more probable, from a fear of the consequences) resolved to alter the sentence, and instead of beheading the Baroness Kheichlin as had been decreed, it was changed and executed in the following manner :
A scaffold being erected in the great square (if there is one) of the capital of Meinungen, the unfortunate lady was conducted. thither in a mourning coach from the prison where she had for some time been confined. When she arrived at the foot of the scaffold, she was so weak that she could not get up the steps of it;
upon which two of the guards attending, placed her by force upon the coach-box, where the executioner mounted after her, and having seated himself by her produced the original letter which she had wrote to his serene highness, her sovereign; and which he with an audible voice, declared to all the people to be an infamous, scandalous, and seditious libel, tending to the defamation of the characters of two great and innocent persons, and to the alienating the minds of the good subjects of Meinungen, from their lawful and rightful sovereign; and afterwards presenting the lady with a lighted match, he ordered her to set fire to the said libel which the mortified baroness accordingly did. The executioner after this proceeded to the completion of the sentence by obliging her to kneel down and pray for the prosperity of the injured prince, giving her two slaps on the face, and then conducting her back to prison
It is said positively that the favourite and
the minister were placed in a window at some distance from the scaffold to feast their eyes with the ill-natured pleasure of seeing the ceremony.
But the House of Holsendorf roused by this affront so publicly offered to their blood, and moved with compassion for a suffering sister, resolved not to let her languish in prison under an unjust sentence, and presented a memorial to the Imperial Chamber of Wetzlaer setting forth the cruelties and oppression of the tyrant of Meinungen, and the unjust sufferings of the baroness of Kheichlin, and prayed for redress of such grievances from that august tribunal. To this the prince soon put in an answer; the House of Holsendorf replied, and his serene highness rejoined, and the controversy soon wasted much paper to the great joy of all German readers, and to the great emolument of the whole Diet of Ratisbon. At length in due time the sentence of the Imperial Chambers was published, by which the prince of Meinungen
was ordered to set the baroness Kheichlin at liberty, and to make her ample amends for the insults done to her honour, and the outrages committed upon her person. It was in vain, that this imperial decree was notified in due form to his highness of Meinungen; he persisted in justifying all that he had done, set the judgment of the chamber of Wetzlaer at nought, and was so far from complying with what was enjoined him, that he not only refused to let the lady out of prison, but to make her captivity more intolerable, he sent her husband thither to keep her company.
All these disobedient steps being soon known at Wetzlaer; the Imperial Chamber declared the sovereign of Meinungen contumacious and resolved to make him feel the weight of insulted justice. They, therefore, sent their orders to the duke of Saxe Gotha to carry their decree into execution, to enter immediately with his armies into the states of Meinungen, to release the prisoners, and take them under his protec