The Mysterious Pilgrim

The Mysterious Pilgrim: Or, Fatal Duplicity. An Italian Romance … To Which Is Added, the Hibernian Mendicant. A Tale

Author: Unknown (The Mysterious Pilgrim); Maria Edgeworth (The Hibernian Mendicant)
Publisher: Langley and Belch
Publication Year: 1810
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11cm x 18.5cm
Pages: 32
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.M886 1810

Material History

The Mysterious Pilgrim; or, Fatal Duplicity: An Italian Romance. To which is Added, The Hibernian Mendicant. A Tale. is a 32-page chapbook published in 1810 and printed and sold by Langley and Bruce in London. The second story spans two pages, while the first story occupies the first thirty. Because no author is indicated, it is possible that the two stories were authored by different people, and were brought together because they were initially both part of a larger volume.

The chapbook itself is fragile and is entirely composed of the same brittle, slightly yellowed paper; there is no proper cover that can be distinguished from the rest of the pages. All pages, including the title page which doubles as the cover in this case, have the same 18.5 cm x 11 cm dimensions. The cover page has something short written in the top right corner. It is not able to be deciphered, but its location and length suggests that it is the name of a previous owner of the book. Some of the pages contain signatures in the middle of the bottom margin that were used for printing guidance. The printing of the pages is consistent, but several pages are notably printed off-center, the most obvious being the title page. This off-center printing is present in both the first story and the second story.

Multiple physical characteristics of the book suggest it was part of a larger collection at some point in history. One of these is that the binding, which is simply a light layer of glue holding the pages together, contains small needle holes along its length. This observation, combined with the lack of any cover on the book, allows one to infer that this chapbook may have been part of a collection of stories which formed a bound book that was separated at some point. The printing style of both the stories is the same. The font is closely set, with the margins seeming to vary by a couple of centimeters between pages, and the pages follow a consistent format with the title of the story at the top of each page in all uppercase. The page numbers and signatures also appear in the same locations in both stories. It is also of note that the second story begins on the opposite side of the same page as the first story, making it clear that it was intended for both stories to be printed at the same time.

One mystery associated with this text is whether the two stories were written by the same author. The fact that they are both part of the title suggests that the same person may have written both of them, however, upon a brief reading, it appears that the stories are not related in any way. Another observation is that at the conclusion of the first story, the word “End.” is written, but the second story ends with the word “Finis.” This is an interesting finding because one might presume that if the same author wrote both stories, the word signifying the end of the both stories would be the same language, but it is an interesting note that one is in English and the other in Latin. 

Textual History

The Mysterious Pilgrim: Or, Fatal Duplicity. An Italian Romance … To Which Is Added, the Hibernian Mendicant. A Tale is a chapbook published in 1810 by Langley and Belch, with an obscure history. The work does not appear to have a named author for either of the stories, and there appears to be uncertainty surrounding the publisher as well. The chapbook is catalogued as being published by Langley and Bruce, instead of Belch, in several libraries. However, the edition held in the University of Virginia Sadleir-Black Collection clearly identifies “Printed and Sold by Langley and Belch, 175, Borough, High-street” at the bottom of the title page. Moreover, the majority of sources, including bibliographies that cite the book, indicate the publishers being Langley and Belch. Biographies from the British Museum also indicate that Edward Langley and W. Belch worked together in the years surrounding the publication of this chapbook. A copy of the chapbook catalogued at the University of Toronto specifies that it was “bound with Beacon Priory”; Beacon Priory was another novel also published by Langley and Belch in 1810. These details suggest that the publishers were Langley and Belch, and that the name “Bruce” may be a curiously repeated typo in several library catalogs. Another notable finding regarding the book’s publication is that there is a single copy of the work in the National Library of Scotland that was published in 1840. This is the only documented copy that was not published in 1810.

In addition to discrepancies surrounding the chapbook’s publication, it appears that some copies of the book include a frontispiece, while others, including the University of Virginia copy, lack one. In A Gothic Bibliography, the chapbook is documented has having a “coloured frontispiece” (Summers 438). A Catalogue of Old and Rare Books as well as The History of Gothic Publishing also list accompanying frontispieces (Pickering & Chatto 152, Potter 173). It is also of note that copies of the chapbook in four libraries are catalogued as having illustrations. These findings suggest that there could have been multiple versions of the chapbook that were published, most with illustrations, and some without. Because the University of Virginia copy of the chapbook does not have a proper cover, it is also possible that the frontispiece was removed at some point in the book’s history.

There is very little to be found on the chapbook as a whole—with both stories together—in databases and on the internet. The longer of the two stories, The Mysterious Pilgrim, appears to have only been printed with The Hibernian Mendicant. However, The Hibernian Mendicant was written by a famous novelist—Maria Edgeworth—and published as part of multiple short story collections. Spanning several pages, the story is published in An Essay on Irish Bulls, a collection of stories published in 1802 (Edgeworth 145–59). It was also published in an 1802 edition of The Weekly Entertainer, and West of England Miscellany, a collection of stories, poetry, and articles (501). These collections were produced by different publishers and authors than The Mysterious Pilgrim. The Hibernian Mendicant thus appears to have been published as a short story in 1802, eight years before it was joined with The Mysterious Pilgrim in 1810, at which point the stories were only found to be published together. Although the author of The Mysterious Pilgrim was not uncovered, the findings surrounding the text’s history strongly suggest that the stories were written by different authors.

Altogether, the chapbook appears to have had a quiet history, as it does not appear to have been advertised in any newspapers of the nineteenth century and was not mentioned in any subsequent works of literature or scholarly articles. In the few works where it is mentioned, it is merely listed as a gothic work of literature, and not much further information is provided.

Narrative Point of View

The Mysterious Pilgrim; or, Fatal Duplicity: An Italian Romance. To which is Added, The Hibernian Mendicant. A Tale. is told from the point of view of an anonymous narrator who does not make an appearance in either story. The narration varies in sentence length, at times using long run-on sentences, and at others using short, clipped sentences. Both stories in the book involve characters sharing the tales of their past, in which case the narration is in first person and the reader is able to gain insight into the characters’ emotions. Aside from these interpolated tales, the narration is primarily descriptive and focused on plot and action rather than the feelings of characters.

Sample Passage of First-Person Narration:

“Yes, too well;” said she, drawing back from my breath. And the aunt looked at her, and she at the aunt: and the searjeant stopped his nose; saying, he had not been long enough in Ireland, to love the smell of whiskey. I observed, that was an uncivil remark, in the present company; and added, that I had not taken a drop that night, but one glass. At which he sneered; and said, that was a bull, and a blunder; but no wonder, as I was an Irishman. I replied, in defence of myself and country. We went on, from one smart word to another; and some of his soldiermen being of the company, he had the laugh against me still. (The Hibernian Mendicant 30)

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

The remainder of the life of Signor Augustus was spent in pleasing tranquility. He made frequent visits alternatively to each of his daughters, and received both from them and their noble husbands the most grateful filial attention; in the playful gambols of their innocent offspring he found a delightful resource against enui. He ceased to mourn over the past, and to look forward with hope to a better world, when it should please the allwise disposer of his fate to call him hence. His daughters took example from the hapless story of their mother, to avoid even the shadow of those errors which led to her fall; by not listening to any flattery of their husband’s male friends, or suffer the least mention to be made in their hearing, of the slightest faults which their beloved partners had committed; and in their single state, they were cautious in not giving the slightest encouragement to any individual, whom it were probable that their father would disapprove, either as an acquaintance or a lover; by persevering in rectitude of conduct, they ensured their own happiness, proved a blessing to their friends, afforded a bright precedent to their offspring, and experienced the truth of the remark, that there is no perfect happiness without virtue for its foundation. (The Mysterious Pilgrim 27)

The narration style used in both tales allows the author to emphasize the emotional states of certain characters at particular points in the story, as well as keep the plot moving quickly. The

use of interpolated tales in both stories draws attention to the feelings and thought processes of each story’s main character, which play an important role in communicating the morals of both stories. By using the third person outside of the interpolated tales, the author is able to focus on establishing a setting and moving the plot along at points where the feelings of characters are not relevant to the messages of the stories; in this way, both stories are kept brief and their morals communicated effectively.


The Mysterious Pilgrim; or, Fatal Duplicity: An Italian Romance.

A man named Guiscardo creates the Convent of the Cross to atone for his supposed sins. After some time, he brings two teenage girls, Constantia and Armina, to the convent and puts them under the charge of the abbess, expressing that he would like them to eventually become nuns. He then continues on his travels and does not return. The girls enjoy their time at the convent, and thrive under the care of the abbess. One night, the members of the convent are discussing their lives and Constantia and Armina tell their story. They reveal that they were brought up by a woman named Anana Medina who treated them lovingly but unfortunately perished from sickness. They mention that in their time at Anana Medina’s, Guiscardo would frequently visit, but act inconsistently towards them. Upon Medina’s death, the girls discovered a letter that Guiscardo wrote to Medina, detailing the story of the girls’ parents. 

He told the story of how their father, Augustus, and their mother, Saphira, fell In love but Saphira was forbidden from marrying Augustus because her family was of high station and he was more poor. The couple ended up marrying in secret, but her brother, Rodolpho, discovered their relationship and challenged Augustus to a duel. Augustus defeated Rodolpho in the duel, and escaped suspicion for killing Rudolpho. After this, Saphira’s father, the Marquis, discovered that Saphira was pregnant by Augustus and disowned her, telling her and Augustus to move to a distant home. Augustus and Saphira lived comfortably, but Saphira was distraught after being disowned, and both were devastated after the death of their infant son a few months after she gave birth. Saphira gave birth to two daughters, meanwhile, Augustus sunk into a delirious state from sickness and often made ramblings about his murder of Rodolpho, at which point Saphira pieced together the story and told her family that Augustus killed Rodolpho, and urged Augustus to flee. Saphira did not want to keep her two infant daughters, so Augustus entrusted them to the care of his good friend Guiscardo. Guiscardo then explained how Saphira passed away from grief in a village after hearing about the death of her father, and handed the girls over to the loving Anana Medina, who raised them.

After sharing this story, Constantia and Armina retire to bed, but the convent receives a mysterious visitor in the middle of the night. The visitor is sickly and remains at the convent in declining condition, and in his final days, he reveals himself to be Guiscardo. On his deathbed, he explains that the previous story of the girls’ parents is not entirely true. 

The true account is that Guiscardo, a good friend of Augustus, had fallen in love with Saphira when he visited the couple after she was disowned by her father. He tried to persuade her to leave Augustus, who was in a state of delirious sickness, and marry him instead; but Saphira refused. Eventually, Guiscardo told Saphira a doctored version of Augustus’ story, saying that Augustus murdered Rodolpho in cold blood, leaving out the fact that it was a duel. Saphira was momentarily swayed and planned to run away with Guiscardo, but ended up insisting on staying by Augustus’ side through his sickness; however, Guiscardo would not have it and he kidnapped Saphira and brought her to a secluded area at the foot of the Alps. He also wrote to the Marquis telling him Augustus was the cold-blooded murderer of Rodolpho; and wrote to Augustus, advising him to run away to escape persecution. Augustus entrusts his two infant daughters to his, to his belief, good friend Guiscardo and flees Italy. While Saphira is imprisoned, she attempted to kill Guiscardo, but failed, and Guiscardo ended up murdering her. He made it appear that she killed herself and he fled the scene. Guiscardo dies a day after confessing this to the members of the convent, and Constantia and Armina are able to seek out and be reunited with their father, Augustus. The girls live a happy life with their father and go on to get married and are careful not to repeat the mistakes that doomed the relationship of their parents.

The Hibernian Mendicant. A Tale.

An old man approaches a group of people and asks them for alms, they oblige him and as he is walking away he mentions that he has no one in this world and will not be remembered after his death. The group of people are curious and ask him why, and the old man tells his story. He had a comfortable upbringing and assets to his name, but he fell in love with a woman named Rose. Rose expressed some interest in him, but her aunt did not approve, so Rose did not take the relationship any further.

An English soldier who was quartered in their town also took an interest in Rose, and her aunt approved of him, which upset the old man. The English soldier was threatened by the competition of the old man for Rose’s heart, and often spoke poorly of him to Rose and her aunt, particularly about his being Irish. Rose’s aunt was critical of his drinking habits, and Rose agreed she would not marry a man who had given his life to drink.

After hearing this, the old man drank one last spirit and swore off drinking. He went to Rose’s house to notify her, but when he arrived, the English soldier, his soldier friends, and her aunt were also there; and the soldier began insulting him, his Irish origin, and his catholic faith. The conflict escalated to them taking aim at each other with muskets and the old man stabbed the soldier with the bayonet, injuring him; Rose tried to stop him and he mistakenly fatally shot her. The old man despaired, but Rose told him it was not his fault before she passed away. At the old man’s trial, the English soldier admitted that he instigated the conflict and the old man was acquitted of Rose’s murder. After this event, the old man committed the rest of his life to wandering and relying on the good nature of strangers. At the end of the story, he exclaims that he is ready for death when it comes to him.


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“Edward Langley.” British Museum, Accessed 3 Apr. 2024.

The Mysterious Pilgrim: Or, Fatal Duplicity. An Italian Romance … To Which Is Added, the Hibernian Mendicant. A Tale. Langley and Belch, 1810.

Edgeworth, Maria. “The Hibernian Mendicant.” An Essay on Irish Bulls, by Richard Lovell Edgeworth and Maria Edgeworth.J. Johnson,1802.

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The Weekly Entertainer, and West of England Miscellany 1802-06-28: Vol 39. United Kingdom, Open Court Publishing Co, 1802.

Researcher: Maya Shah

How to cite this page:

The Mysterious Pilgrim.” Project Gothic, University of Virginia, 2024,