‘Love and Madness’: Sentimental Narratives and the Spectacle of Suffering in Late-Eighteenth-Century Romance

  • John Brewer
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and Cultures of Print book series (PERCP)


On 7 April 1779, a 27-year-old clergyman, James Hackman, shot Martha Ray through the head in front of a large crowd of horrified onlookers, as she stepped into her carriage outside the Covent Garden Theatre. ‘With another pistol he then attempted to shoot himself, but the ball grazing his brow, he tried to dash out his own brains with the pistol, and is more wounded by those blows than by the ball.’1 Martha Ray, the mistress of John Montagu fourth Earl of Sandwich died instantly, leaving Hackman on the ground ‘beating himself about the head … crying, “o! kill me! … for God’s sake kill me!”’2


Bodily Possession Late Seventeenth Irresistible Impulse General Advertiser Prose Fiction 
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  1. 1.
    Horace Walpole to Lady Ossory, 9 April 1779, Horace Walpoles Correspondence, ed. W.S. Lewis, 48 volumes (New Haven and Oxford: Yale and Oxford University Presses, 1937–83), vol. 33 p. 100. This account closely follows the report in London Evening Post, 10 April 1779.Google Scholar
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    The wording is almost identical in St Jamess Chronicle, 8 April 1779 and London Chronicle, 8 April 1779. Compare General Advertiser 16 April 1779.Google Scholar
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© John Brewer 2005

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  • John Brewer

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