The yellow book: an illustrated quarterly — 13.1897

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A Pair of Parricides

By Francis Watt

here is a new series of State Trials continuing the old and

edited with a skill and completeness altogether lacking in its
predecessor; yet its formal correctness gives an impression of
dulness. You think with regret of Howell’s thirty-three huge
volumes, that vast magazine of curiosities and horrors, of all that
is best and worst in English history. How exciting life was long
ago, to be sure, and how persistently it grows duller ! What a
price we pay for the smug comfort of our time ! People shud-
dered of yore; did they yawn quite so often? Howell and the
folk he edits knew how to tell a story. Judges, too, were not
wont to exclude interesting detail for that it wasn’t evidence, and
the compilers did not end with a man’s condemnation. They had
too keen a sense of what was relished of the general ; the last
confession and dying speech, the exit on the scaffold or from the
cart, are told with infinite gusto. What a terrible test Earth’s
great unfortunates underwent 1 Sir Thomas More’s delicate
fencing with his judges, the exquisite courtesy wherewith he bade
them farewell, make but half the record ; you must hear the
strange gaiety which flashed in the condemned cell and by the
block ere you learn the man’s true nature. And to know
Raleigh you must see him at Winchester under the brutal insults

The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. N

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