The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford — Volume 3 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,055 pages of information about The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford — Volume 3.

The extraordinary history of Lord Ferrers is closed:  he was executed yesterday.  Madness, that in other countries is a disorder, is here a systematic character; it does not hinder people from forming a plan of conduct, and from even dying agreeably to it.  You remember how the last Ratcliffe died with the utmost propriety; so did this horrid lunatic, coolly and sensibly.  His own and his wife’s relations had asserted that he would tremble at last.  No such thing; he shamed heroes.  He bore the solemnity of a pompous and tedious procession of above two hours, from the Tower to Tyburn, with as much tranquillity as if he was only going to his own burial, not to his own execution.  He even talked on indifferent subjects in the passage; and if the sheriff and the chaplains had not thought that they had parts to act, too, and had not consequently engaged him in most particular conversation, he did not seem to think it necessary to talk on the occasion; he went in his wedding-clothes, marking the only remaining impression on -his mind.  The ceremony he was in a hurry to have over:  he was stopped at the gallows by the vast crowd, but got out of his coach as soon as he could, and was but seven minutes on the scaffold, which was hung with black, and prepared by the undertaker of his family at their expense.  There was a new contrivance for sinking the stage under him, which did not play well; and he suffered a little by the delay, but was dead in four minutes.  The mob was decent, and admired him, and almost pitied him; so they would Lord George, whose execution they are so angry at missing.  I suppose every highwayman will now preserve the blue handkerchief he has about his neck when he is married, that he may die like a lord.  With all his madness, he was not mad enough to be struck with his aunt Huntingdon’s sermons.  The Methodists have nothing to brag of his conversion, though Whitfield prayed for him and preached about him.  Even Tyburn has been above their reach.  I have not heard that Lady Fanny dabbled with his soul; but I believe she is prudent enough to confine her missionary zeal to subjects where the body may be her perquisite.

When am I likely to see you?  The delightful rain is come—­we look and smell charmingly.  Adieu!

Letter 24 To Sir Horace Mann.  Strawberry Hill, May 7, 1760. (page 57)

What will your Italians say to a peer of England, an earl of one of the best of families, tried for murdering his servant, with the utmost dignity and solemnity, and then hanged at the common place of execution for highwaymen, and afterwards anatomized?  This must seem a little odd to them, especially as they have not lately had a Sixtus Quinttis.  I have hitherto spoken of Lord Ferrers to you as a mad beast, a mad assassin, a low wretch, about whom I had no curiosity.  If I now am going to give you a minute account of him, don’t think me so far part of an English mob, as to fall in love

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