Somerset Castle; or the Father and Daughter. A Tragic Tale. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. To which is added, Ghost and No Ghost; or The Dungeon
Publisher: Ann Lemoine and J. Roe
Publication Year: 1804
Book Dimensions: 11.5cm x 18cm
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .S648 1804
Published with Somerset Castle in 1804, this chapbook tells of a story with romance and adultery that meets murderers, mysteries, and more.
Ghost and No Ghost is the second story within Somerset Castle; or the Father and Daughter. A Tragic Tale. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. To which is added, Ghost and no Ghost; or The Dungeon, published in 1804 by IRoe and Ann Lemoine. This full title is printed on the fourth page of the book, but a shortened version of the other text’s title is printed two pages earlier: Somerset Castle; or the Father and Daughter. This shorter title is printed on the original exterior of a pamphlet in which these stories were published. Now with a new binding, the old cover page becomes the second page. Also on the title page and underneath the publisher information, the price of the novel is revealed to be a sixpence, indicating it was made very cheaply. No author is mentioned for Somerset Castle or Ghost and no Ghost on any page within the book.
The book’s new binding is a tan colored paper over boards, which gives it a more sturdy feeling. On the spine, the words Somerset Castle / 1804 appear in gold lettering over a maroon strip of fabric. Because the original pamphlet that these stories were published in was quite thin (only 28 pages), the book binder elected to place additional blank pages around the original ones to make the book thicker and therefore easier to bind. One new page is placed before the original cover; the final page with text is followed by eight pages of added paper; then, the original back cover appears, followed by one more newly added page. In total, the new binding of this book includes 38 pages front and back. The original pamphlet pages are made of a darker colored, more visibly worn paper, and the newer pages are made of white cotton that is thicker than the originals, producing a new book that is double the size of the original. These newer pages also have no writing or markings of any sort on them, revealing that they were not used for note taking but result from a choice made by the book binder.
The binding of the book measures 11.5 centimeters wide and 18 centimeters tall. When looking at one of the original pages with text, the font appears rather small with closely set margins and page numbers that are printed on the top outside corners of each page. The first story, Somerset Castle, is printed on the pages numbered 5 through 29, and the second story, Ghost and no Ghost, appears on pages 30 through 38. On these pages a shortened title is printed at the top of the page, Somerset Castle on the first section and The Dungeon on the second section. In addition to page numbers at the top, some pages have numberings on the bottom in the middle of the page, such as A1, A2, B1, etc. These numbers serve to aid the book binder when printing the pages. Starting out with a large grid of pages printed on one sheet, the book binder would have to fold the pages until the grid was turned into the shape of a book; these numbers were printed strategically on the original grid to ultimately progress in a logical manner when the pages were folded. This technique allowed the book binder to be certain that the pages of the final product had been folded in the correct order.
On the inside cover of the original pamphlet, the novel’s only image appears. A scene of a woman and a child is depicted; they appear to be in a cave containing objects of death, such as a coffin and a skull. Surrounded by architectural decorations continued from the picture above, the title Somerset Castle is printed with the phrase page 22 to indicate the events of this scene occur on page 22. Underneath the title, the words Alais Sc. are printed, revealing the name of the artist of the image. There are no images within the novel that reference the story of Ghost and no Ghost.
In Ghost and no Ghost on pages 31 and 33, there is tearing on the bottom of the pages, and on pages 33 through 38, there is a hole that continues through the bottom corner of these pages. Two small pencil markings are also found near the back of the book. The number “402” or “702” is written on the last page of text of Ghost and no Ghost near the printing of finis. While this number may have meant something to a previous owner, the meaning is unknown now. On the back of the original pamphlet’s cover, the letters L. and E. are written in pencil, possibly noting the initials of one of this book’s previous owners. Even though this book lacks many personal written additions from previous owners, the condition of the original pages shows that the pamphlet was well used and appreciated in its past life.
Ghost and No Ghost and Somerset Castle were published together anonymously by Ann Lemoine and J. Roe in 1804. Because the authorship is unknown to this day, the two stories could have been written by the same author or different ones. Ann Lemoine was a very famous publisher of the time and worked closely with J. Roe. Lemoine began publishing in 1795 after her husband was imprisoned, and over the course of the next twenty-five years, she published over four hundred chapbooks (Bearden-White 299). Thomas Maiden printed Somerset Castle as well as many other chapbooks for Ann Lemoine. By 1796, Maiden was Lemoine’s primary printer, helping her give her chapbooks a more consistent and expensive appearance (Bearden-White 310).
Other than the copy of Somerset Castle in the Sadleir-Black Collection at the University of Virginia, there are four copies in collections around the world. Yale University and The University of Illinois both have copies of the 1804 publication in their libraries. The National Library of Wales and the British Library also have copies. The British Library’s copy is slightly different from the version in the Sadleir-Black Collection. At the end of the British Library’s copy, there is a second illustration with the title, Subterraneous Passage, and a date of July 23, 1804 underneath. This additional page suggests that Somerset Castle and Ghost and No Ghost were at one time printed in a collection that also included Sarah Wilkinson’s story, Subterraneous Passage. Many of Wilkinson’s stories were also published by Ann Lemoine and J.Roe, and because the publishing date of the two is so close, it is possibly the two were printed together at one point (Wilkinson; Bearden-White 299, 316).
Although little is known about this text, some scholarly work does reference the story and the illustration it contains. A Gothic Bibliography cites Somerset Castle and Ghost and No Ghost exactly the same as the Sadleir-Black Collection, including the lack of an author, both stories printed together, and with a date of 1804 (Summers 509). The Women’s Print History Project has an entry for this chapbook with the publication date as 1800. In Angela Koch’s article entitled “‘The Absolute Horror of Horrors’ Revised,” she includes this chapbook as part of a list of nineteenth-century gothic bluebooks, mentioning the copy in the University of Virginia and Yale libraries. As part of a collection of gothic images, Gothic Fictions: Prohibition/Transgression by Kenneth W. Graham includes a photo of the frontispiece with a description of “the skull, the rib cage, and carelessly tossed sarcophagus” that help develop the gothic mood of the story. This reference only cites a title of Somerset Castle; or, The Father and Daughter with no mention of the Ghost and no Ghost (Graham 271).
When looking for contemporary references to this story, there is not much information that has survived to today. This lack of knowledge about its reception among readers can tell us that this story was not immensely popular or appreciated by its contemporary readers.
Narrative Point of View
Ghost and no Ghost is told in a different manner than its accompanying tale, Somerset Castle. This story takes the form of a frame narrative. The main narrator is third-person and limited to the character of the Spanish soldier. As the events progress, the man who the soldier has met begins to tell a story. This secondary tale is told mostly in quotes through first-person narration, and there are only a few times when the story is interrupted to return to the main story until the second tale is completed. At the end of the secondary story, the narration fully turns back to third-person frame narrative, telling of the two men’s actions with the woman in the dungeon.
Sample Passage of Secondary Tale:
“But as soon as I came into her presence, I felt at once a tenderness, and a horror, which would not allow me to proceed. At last I determined to destroy her by hunger, carrying her every day only half a pound of mouldy bread, and a little mug of water. It is now just a fortnight that she has been in this condition, without her ever seeing the light of the sun, hearing a word from me, or speaking a word herself, when I carry her this miserable pittance. It is, Sir, but a fortnight this day, and yet, to me, it has appeared fourteen thousand years.” (36)
The first person style in the secondary narrative allows the reader an intimate look into the character’s internal feelings including his internal conflicts and even his admission of faults. By clarifying the man’s emotions, the soldier’s unknown emotions become more intriguing, switching the focus to how the soldier will respond to the events of this story. Because the man continues his story without letting the soldier interrupt, the readers do not know the soldier’s emotions until the frame narrative in resumed completely.
Sample Passage of Third-Person Frame Narrative:
As soon as he had said this, he lighted a flambeaux, and again besought him to follow. After crossing a little garden, he opened the door of that dismal place, which he had made the sad depositary of all his evils. On one side lay a carcase stretched on the ground, covered with wounds; on the other lay the remains of a body torn to pieces, the side quite laid open, and the heart lying upon a bench before the eyes of the most finished beauty, that, perhaps, nature ever formed. (36)
At this point in the story, the secondary tale has just been completed, catching up to the present. As the narration switches back to the third-person style, the narrator includes more pieces of description about the setting. With this shift, the reader now is focalized primarily through the perspective of the soldier who is new to these events and discovering the situation of this man and woman along with the reader.
A Spanish soldier sets out on a journey to Milan. As he is walking along his path, a cavalier with a hawk on his arm approaches him. The cavalier tells the soldier he has lodging close by where he can take a rest from his journey. Even though the soldier feels a little uneasy about the cavalier, he follows him. When they arrive at his house, it appears rundown and dirty, and all of the servants seem to be depressed. As they enter the house, the cavalier offers no directions to the soldier but instead tells the soldier he needs to tell him the story of his grief.
His story begins happily; the cavalier tells the soldier he previously lived a more enjoyable life. When he was young, the cavalier did not think about marriage until he saw the most beautiful woman one day in a garden. He found out that the woman was unmarried, so he approached her. The couple fell in love easily and soon got married. Then, the cavalier’s story shifts to more recently. A phantom had come to haunt his house. Every time the phantom was spotted, the cavalier would go out into the garden to see it, but the phantom would disappear by the time he got there. When he returned to his room, his wife was very scared and took lots of persuading to open the door even after he had assured her it was him. After a few days of this occurring, the cavalier suspected that his wife was lying about why she could not open the door, so he set out a guard to watch for the phantom. The guard reported that the cavalier’s friend, Cornelio, was using the phantom as a distraction to allow him to sleep with the cavalier’s wife. After hearing his report, the cavalier stabbed the guard and dragged him to the cellar. When the cavalier returned to his wife, she knew something had changed, but he did not speak with her about the issue yet. The next day, the cavalier and Cornelio went out hunting together, but when it was time to return home, the cavalier said he had to stay out because he lost one of his hawks. After sending the rest of his servants away, the cavalier returned home. He found a hole in the wall underneath his bedroom, behind where a painting of the adultery of Venus and Mars usually hangs. There was a ladder hanging down from the hole, so the cavalier pulled the ladder down and ran up the stairs to his room. His wife opened the door right after he knocked on it, but he saw Cornelio trying to escape. Because he pulled the ladder down before, Cornelio fell and broke both of his legs. The cavalier went downstairs and stabbed Cornelio in the heart. He returned upstairs to kill his wife, but he kept dropping the knife because she was so beautiful and he used to love her. As an alternative to killing her, the cavalier decided to put her in a vault with Cornelio’s body and the body of the murdered guard. For the past fortnight, he has been only feeding her a pound of bread and some water every day.
Now that he has caught his story up to the present, the cavalier wants to show his wife to the soldier. When they get to the vault, the cavalier is very sad to see his wife in this state. The soldier attempts to calm the cavalier, telling him he will not tell his secret. The woman tells her side of the story, saying Cornelio had never come out of the picture before that day and she did not cheat on her husband. To persuade her husband of the truth, she says she will die to prove her words. Her husband is completely convinced of her innocence now, so he runs to the house to get her liquid to drink. The men bring her back into the house and give her medicine until she fully recovers. After a few weeks, the couple is happy, and the soldier resumes his journey to Venice.
Bearden-White, Roy. “A History of Guilty Pleasure: Chapbooks and the Lemoines.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 103, no. 3, Sept. 2009, pp. 283–318. doi:10.1086/pbsa.103.3.24293816.
Graham, Kenneth W. Gothic Fictions: Prohibition/Transgression. AMS Press, 1989.
Koch, A. ‘“The Absolute Horror of Horrors’ Revised: A Bibliographical Checklist of Early-Nineteenth-Century Gothic Bluebooks’, Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text 9 (Dec 2002). http://www.romtext.org.uk/reports/cc09_n03/
Somerset Castle: Or the Father and Daughter. A Tragic Tale … To Which Is Added, Ghost and No Ghost: Or, the Dungeon. London, Printed by T. Maiden, for Ann Lemoine, and J. Roe, 1804.
“Somerset Castle; or the Father and Daughter. A Tragic Tale. If You Have Tears, Prepare to Shed Them Now. To Which Is Added, Ghost and No Ghost; or, the Dungeon.” Edited by Kandice Sharren, The Women’s Print History Project , dhil.lib.sfu.ca/wphp/title/13465.
Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. The Fortune press, 1941.
Wilkinson, Sarah Scudgell. The Subterraneous Passage; or, Gothic Cell. A Romance. London: J. Roe, Ann Lemoine, 1803.
Researcher: Mason Wilson