Friday, Aug. 14, 2009

Roderick McLean

No wonder Queen Victoria was not amused. She was the target of eight assassination attempts, all by one man, Roderick McLean. His final, futile try came on March 2, 1882, at Windsor train station, where he intended to shoot the monarch with a pistol. He was tried for high treason, and the jury found him "not guilty, but insane," which sentenced him to spending the rest of his life at Broadmoor Asylum in Berkshire, England.

In the wake of McLean's trial, Queen Victoria prompted a change in the law, which meant that any similar cases in the future could have a potential verdict of "guilty, but insane." What is insane is the alleged reason for McLean's wanting the Queen dead: her curt reply to some poetry he had mailed her. This revelation inspired William Topaz McGonagall — renowned as one of the worst poets in British history — to pen "Attempted Assassination of the Queen," with verses including:

Maclean must be a madman,
Which is obvious to be seen,
Or else he wouldn't have tried to shoot
Our most beloved Queen.