The yellow book: an illustrated quarterly — 13.1897

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A Pair of Parricides


of Coke. “ Thou art a monster, thou hast an English face but a
Spanish heart ; ” again, “ I thou thee, thou traitor;” and at Palace
Yard, Westminster, on that dreary October morning urging the
sheriff to hurry, since he would not be thought fear-shaken when
it was but the ague ; for these are all-important episodes in the
life of that richly dressed, stately and gallant figure your fancy
is wont to picture sweeping the Spanish Main in his Elizabethan
warship. Time would fail to tell of Strafford and Charles and Laud
and a hundred others, for the collection begins with Thomas a
Becket in 1163 and comes down to Thistlewood in 1820. Once
familiar with those close-packed, badly printed pages, you find
therein a deeper, a more subtle charm than cunningest romance
can furnish forth. The account of Mary Stuart’s ending has a
finer hold than Froude’s magnificent and highly decorated picture.
Study at first hand “Bloody Jeffreys’s” slogging of Titus Oates
with that unabashed rascal’s replies during his trial for perjury, or
again my Lord’s brilliant though brutal cross-examination of
Dunn in the “ Lady ” Alice Lisle case, during the famous or
infamous Western Circuit, and you will find Macaulay’s wealth
of vituperative rhetoric, tiresome and pointless verbiage. Also
you will prefer to construct your own Braxfield from trials like
those of Thomas Muir in 1793, and of Alexander Scott and
Maurice Margarot in 1794, rather than accept the counterfeit
presentment which Stevenson’s master-hand has limned in Weir
of Hermlston.

But the interests are varied. How full of grotesque and
curious horrors are the prosecutions for witchcraft ! There is
that one, for instance, in March 1665 at Bury St. Edmunds before
Sir Matthew Hale, with stories of bewitched children, and plague-
stricken women, and satanic necromancy. Again, there is the
diverting exposure of Richard Hathaway in 1702, and how the

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