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‘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)

Abstract

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

Keywords

Bodily Possession Late Seventeenth Irresistible Impulse General Advertiser Prose Fiction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  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
  2. 3.
    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
  3. 4.
    On Sandwich’s life and his relations with Martha Ray, see N.A.M. Rodger, The Insatiable Earl. A Life ofJohn Montagu, fourth earl of Sandwich 1718–1792 (London: HarperCollins, 1993), especially pp. 122–5; George Martinelli, Jemrny Twitcher. A Life of the Fourth Earl of Sandwich (London: Cape, 1962), especially pp. 165–77.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    On Sandwich as a musical patron see Rodger, Insatiable Earl, pp. 116–21, 310–14, 329–30; Martinelli, Jemmy Twitcher, pp. 84–6; William Weber, The Rise of the Musical Classics in Eighteenth-century England: A Study in Canon, Ritual and Ideology (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992), pp. 147–55.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    Abbe Du Bos, Reflexions critiques sur la poesie et sur peinture (Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1993), Premiere Partie, section 1. For a general discussion of this text see David Marshall, The Surprising Effects of Sympathy. Marivaux, Diderot, Rousseau and Mary Shelley (Chicago and London: University of Chicago, 1988), pp. 1–49.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    Richard Cumberland to George Cumberland [April 1779], The Cumberland Letters, being the correspondence of Richard Dennison Cumberland and George Cumberland, between the years 1771 and 1784, ed. Clementina Black (London: Martin Secker, 1912), p. 228.Google Scholar
  7. 14.
    London Evening Post, 15–17 April 1779; Gazetteer, 17 April, 1779; St Jamess Chronicle, 15–17 April 1779; London Chronicle, 15–17 April 1779; General Advertiser, 17 April 1779; General Evening Post, 17 April 1779.Google Scholar
  8. 15.
    Boswell, Laird of Auchinleck 1778–1782. The Private Papers of James Boswell, ed. Joseph W. Reed and Frederick A. Pottle (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1993), p. 85.Google Scholar
  9. 18.
    St Jamess Chronicle, 15–17 April 1779. Cf. London Chronicle, 15–17 April 1779.Google Scholar
  10. 19.
    The Hypochondriack. Being the Seventy Essays of the celebrated Biographer, JAMES BOSWELL, appearing in the LONDON MAGAZINE, from November 1778 to August 1783, and here first reprinted, ed. Margery Bailey, 2 vols (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1928), vol. 2 p. 282.Google Scholar
  11. 21.
    The Case and Memoirs of Hackman, passim; The Case and Memoirs of Miss Martha Ray (London, 1779); The London Magazine vol. XLVIII (1779), pp. 188–9; Universal Magazine, April 1779, pp. 202–3.Google Scholar
  12. 22.
    For which see Lincoln B. Faller, Turned to Account: the forms and functions of criminal biography in late seventeenth and early eighteenth-century England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).Google Scholar
  13. 23.
    John Brewer, ‘The Wilkites and the law’, An Ungovernable People. The English and their law in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, ed. John Brewer and John Styles (London: Hutchinson, 1980), pp. 142–3, 145, 147–9. Cf. the French cases discussed in Sarah Maza, Private Lives and Public Affairs. The Causes Celebres of Pre-Revolutionary France (Berkeley and Los Angeles: California University Press, 1993).Google Scholar
  14. 24.
    James Raven, British fiction 1750–1770. A Chronological check-list of prose fiction printed inBritain andIreland (University of Delaware, 1987), pp. 36–7.Google Scholar
  15. 25.
    The Case and Memoirs of the late Rev. Mr. James Hackman (London: G. Kearsley, 1779), pp. 17, 32.Google Scholar
  16. 33.
    On this genre see Janet Todd, Sensibility: An Introduction (London: Methuen, 1986) passim and R.F. Brissenden, Virtue in Distress: Studies in the Novel of Sentiment from Richardson to Sade (New York: Harper & Row, 1974).Google Scholar
  17. 34.
    Laurence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy by Mr. Yorick, ed. Gardner D. Stout (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California, 1967), pp. 13–17, 268–76.Google Scholar
  18. 35.
    Love and Madness. A Story too True. in a series of letters between parties, whose names would perhaps be mentioned, were they less known, or less lamented (London: G. Kearsley, 1780).Google Scholar
  19. 37.
    On Croft and Chatterton see Michael Macdonald and Terence R. Murphy, Sleepless Souls. Suicide in early modern England (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990), pp. 191–3; Love and Madness, pp. 51–7, 112, 125–244, 253–4.Google Scholar
  20. 38.
    For a recent attempt to rehabilitate Croft’s text see Max Novak, ‘The Sensibility of Sir Herbert Croft in Love and Madness and the “Life of Edward Young” ’, The Age of Johnson, 8 (1997), 187–207.Google Scholar
  21. 39.
    Typical responses are to be found in Gentlemans Magazine, vol. L (June 1780), pp. 287–8; Town and Country Magazine, vol. xit (April 1780), p. 211; Monthly Review, 62 (April 1780), p. 326.Google Scholar
  22. 44.
    Cited in A.D. McKillop, The Early Masters ofEnglish Fiction (Lawrence, KA: University of Kansas Press,1956), p. 42.Google Scholar
  23. 53.
    General Evening Post, 17 April 1779; Case and Memoirs of Hackman, p. 10; Love and Madness, p. 282.Google Scholar
  24. 56.
    Roy Porter, ‘Love, Sex and Madness in Eighteenth-Century England’, Social Research, vol. 53, no. 2 (summer 1986), pp. 215–17.Google Scholar
  25. 57.
    Erasmus Darwin, Zoonomia; or the Laws of Organic Life 2 vols (London: Joseph Johnson, 1794–96), Vol. 2, p. 365.Google Scholar
  26. 58.
    See Porter, ‘Love, Sex and Madness’, Social Research, pp. 211–19; G.J. BarkerBenfield, The Culture of Sensibility: sex and society in eighteenth-century Britain (Chicago and London: University of Chicago, 1992), and for a later period Helen Small, Loves Madness (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  27. 59.
    David Hume, ‘Of the Delicacy of Taste and Passion’, in Essays, Moral, Political and Literary, ed. Eugene F Miller (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Found 1987), p. 603.Google Scholar
  28. 60.
    Porter, ‘Love, Sex and Madness’, Social Research (1986), pp. 217–19; Small, Loves Madness, p. 33.Google Scholar
  29. 62.
    Duncan Wu, Wordsworths Reading 1770–1799 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 45.Google Scholar
  30. 63.
    On the relations between the Wordsworths, young Basil and his father Basil senior see Mark L. Reed, Wordsworth. The Chronology of the early years 1770–1799 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967), esp. pp. 163, 172, 180, 182, 190, 194, 196, 204, 210, 221, 227, 282.Google Scholar
  31. 64.
    Lyrical Ballads, and other Poems, 1797–1800 by William Wordsworth, ed. James Butler and Karen Green (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1992), pp. 77–85Google Scholar

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© John Brewer 2005

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  • John Brewer

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