The Affecting History of Louisa

The Affecting History of Louisa

The Affecting History of Louisa, the Wandering Maniac, or, ‘Lady of the Hay-Stack;’ So called, from having taken up her Residence under that Shelter, in the Village of Bourton, Near Bristol, in a State of Melancholy Derangement; and supposed to be a Natural Daughter of Francis I. Emperor of Germany. A Real Tale of Woe.

Author: Unknown
Publisher: A. Neil
Publication Year: 1804
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10cm x 17cm
Pages: 36
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.A388 1804


This 1804 chapbook, a shorter version of George Henry Glasse’s English translation of L’Inconnue Histoire Véritable, connects the life of Louisa, a deranged wanderer of Bourton, England, to her greatest loss—the social denial of her identity as the natural daughter of Francis I, Emperor of Germany.


Material History

The title page for The Affecting History of Louisa.

The Affecting History of Louisa, the Wandering Maniac, or, ‘Lady of the Hay-Stack;’ So called, from having taken up her Residence under that Shelter, in the Village of Bourton, Near Bristol, in a State of Melancholy Derangement; and supposed to be a Natural Daughter of Francis I. Emperor of Germany. A Real Tale of Woe. If you are still here after reading this vehement title, congratulations—you have what it takes to dive into this 1804 gothic chapbook.

This “shilling shocker” is more popularly known as The Affecting History of Louisa. Though an unsung art by many, this novel does possess a special role at the University of Virginia by existing as an individualized, treasured lens of history in the Sadleir-Black Collection presented by Robert K. Black. The Sadleir-Black Collection’s version of the novel is a fragile, well-worn 10cm by 17cm. A beautiful yet dreary illustration adorns the primary page of the coverless and boundless novel. There is evidence of past stitching and binding of the pages, which possibly suggest that the novel was removed from a larger accumulation of gothic novels. 

The pages of Robert Black’s The Affecting History of Louisa are brittle, yellow, and stained, yet they hold many secrets to the publishing and history of the unique novel. Throughout a series of 36 pages (the pages are numbered; however, the numbering begins six pages in with 8, and ends with 38), there are details including catchwords (a repeated/prewritten word located on the following page of a subsequent paragraph) and signature marks (numerical/alphabetical markings) which were used to assist the bookbinders and printers and to ensure correct book assembly on their part.

The frontispiece for The Affecting History of Louisa.

The precision and care that went into the assembling of the book is also reflected in the structured form of the printed words. With 1.5 cm side margins and a 2.5 cm bottom margin, the dainty 2 mm letters with their didonesque font are able to flow across the page and make an impact through their meaning more so than through their appearance. Several of the letters do attempt to make their own statements by being unconventional compared to current norms. Throughout the novel, the character “s” is depicted in multiple forms; sometimes taking on the conventional “s” form, but also sometimes being printed as a long S that looks more like an “f.” This printing trend began to dwindle following the eighteenth century. Between the cultural switch, there were some words where the flow of calligraphy followed the shape of a modern day “s,” and several words still followed that of an “f.” The printing of this novel simply adhered to those social norms of orthography. 

Not only does the interior of this chapbook portray the textual effects of social change, but the exterior does as well. On the cover page of the novel, there is a small, handwritten “5” on the top-left corner. This handwritten “5” could represent several things: perhaps a monetary value, or perhaps a set volume in a more mass pamphlet. Either way, it is evident that this novel has had its experiences with society. The Affecting History of Louisa appears to have been worn and appreciated by previous readers. 


Textual History

The Affecting History of Louisa is a petite chapbook with an extensive title within its first pages: The Affecting History of Louisa, the Wandering Maniac, or, “Lady of the Hay-Stack;” So called, from having taken up her Residence under that Shelter, in the Village of Bourton, near Bristol, in a State of Melancholy Derangement; and supposed to be a Natural Daughter of Francis I. Emperor of Germany. A Real Tale of Woe. There is no author listed for this chapbook.

This image presents an advertisement for a drama by James Boaden titled The Maid of Bristol, which inspired the reiteration of its story via this chapbook. 

The initial ambiguity of the chapbook’s authorship stems from the fact that the original work was a French text titled L’Inconnue Histoire Véritable; moreover, English translations included many different titles and forms. George Henry Glasse, a scholar and clergyman, first translated this text into English as A Narrative of Facts. A second edition of Glasse’s translation appeared in 1801 as Louisa: A Narrative of Facts, Supposed to Throw Light on the Mysterious History of “The Lady of the Haystack.” This book was popular enough that it “quickly reached a third edition” (Vian and Ellis). There exists another edition of Glasse’s translation with yet another title, A Narrative of Facts: Supposed to Throw Light on the History of the Bristol-Stranger; Known by the Name of the Maid of the Hay-stack. Translated From the French, which includes an introduction signed by Philalethes. 

Glasse’s translations also inspired a three-act play called The Maid of Bristol, dramatized by James Boaden. Boaden was a dramatist whose works revolved around the gothic genre. While The Maid of Bristol is not well-known for its popularity today, the play is still accessible and available for purchase online. The Affecting History of Louisa, the Wandering Maniac is a shorter chapbook version of Glasse’s translation and was, in particular, “induced” by the popularity of Boaden’s play; the advertisement in this chapbook states, “Mr. Boaden having, with so much success, dramatized the following interesting Tale, under the title of ‘The Maid of Bristol,’ induced us to present the Public with the original Narrative; which we are enabled to do, from the most authentic documents” (Affecting History 6). The Affecting History of Louisa, then, arrived on the publication scene after many translations and iterations of the original French text that aims for a genuine, historically accurate account of the mystery at the center of the story: the true natural daughter of Francis I. 


Narrative Point of View

The Affecting History of Louisa is narrated from a third-person perspective. The frame narration opens and closes with an anonymous third-person narrator who presents part of Louisa’s history with an objective and occasionally empathetic tone. 

Sample of Third-Person Frame Narration:

Some few years ago, a young woman stopped at the village of Bourton, near Bristol, and begged the refreshment of a little milk, There [sic] was something so attractive in her whole appearance, as to engage the attention of all around her. (7)

This third-person frame narration also introduces two other embedded narratives. The first embedded narrative is an oral account by a man from Bristol who spoke with Louisa directly. The chapbook’s narrator explains that the “respectful gentleman in Bristol … has favoured us with some authentic memoirs” and then includes this oral account for several pages (15). The narrative demarcates the Bristol man’s oral narrative with quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph. 

Sample of Bristol Man’s Oral Narrative about Louisa: 

“I should have conceived her,” says the writer, “to be about five-and-twenty; and notwithstanding the injuries which her situation and mode of life must inevitably have occasioned in her looks, she had still a very pleasing countenance. Interesting it certainly was in a high degree; but it is not easy to say how much this impression was to be attributed to the previous knowledge of her story. She had fine, expressive, black eyes and eye-brows; her complexion was wan, but not fickly; her under jaw projected a little, and I fancied I could distinguish something of the Austrian lip; but it was not decidedly marked. Her nose had nothing particular; her hair was very dark, if not black, and in length about a year and a half’s growth, not being thick, but coming down on her forehead; her arm and hand were delicate, with small long fingers.” (9)

The Bristol man’s oral narrative ends without additional commentary from the chapbook’s frame narration. Then there is a line indicating a break in the narrative, and then an italicized description of how a French narrative was found that suggests Louisa is La Fruëlen, and that the chapbook will now include the translation of this narrative. This translated narrative is presented in the third person and focuses on La Fruëlen’s tale for the next twenty-two pages. 

Sample of Translated French Narrative of La Fruëlen’s Tale: 

When the priest came to take her from her house in Bohemia, he told her, that he was going to conduct her to a convent in France. Ignorant as she was, the little which Catharine and her mama had told her of a religious life, taught her to consider a convent as an horrible prison, from which there was no escape: and this idea had so disturbed her mind, that from the moment of her quitting her habitation in Bohemia, she had formed the project of flying, as soon as possible, from such captivity. (28)

By addressing the story with a frame narrative that includes two separately sourced tales (one an oral memoir, and one a translation from a French text), the story of Louisa becomes a type of reality or history that the reader is discovering. The frame narrative works well to connect the woman who claims to be La Fruëlen to the story of the late Emperor, as well as connecting that woman to Louisa, which ultimately connects their stories in a complete manner, defining the tragic, affecting history of Louisa. 


Summary

The first page of this chapbook.

The Affecting History of Louisa is introduced as a recent tale of woe, as the narrative begins, “Some few years ago” (7). The reader is introduced to a woman of the past, in the village of Bourton, England, who is begging for milk. She is described as being young, attractive, and elegant despite her begging state. While she is beautiful, it is evident that over the years, she has experienced hardship, sickness, exposure to the natural elements, and misery. Due to the fact that no one is aware of the nature of her origin, they call her Louisa. She is infamous for her obsessive connection to sleeping in an old haystack rather than a home. As a woman who has experienced multiple episodes of insanity, there have been multiple times when Louisa has been relocated to different hospitals and villages. Despite being relocated, she always manages to find her way back to the haystack. Louisa did not put her worth in items, but spent her days interacting with the village children and going about on her own. 

After a while in the village, she is finally relocated to the village of Bitton in Gloucestershire, England, to be supported by Miss Hannah Moore and her sisters. It seemed evident that Louisa is a foreigner, so Miss Moore attempts to find out which country she is from. Miss Hannah Moore arranges for a Bristol man to visit and speak with Louisa in different languages. First, when the man speaks French, Louisa seems confused—but when he speaks German, she becomes over-emotional. When she can finally gain her composure, she denies knowing the language. The chapbook’s third-person narrator explains that this Bristol man “favoured us with some authentic memoirs” and goes on to include several pages of the Bristol man’s account of Louisa (9). The Bristol man describes Louisa as having fine, expressive black eyes, a pale complexion, a slight jut of the jaw, dark hair, delicate features, and lips that were perhaps Austrian. The Bristol man speaks to Louisa in the way a man speaks to a child. She is not dumb, but slow. He wants to know more of Louisa’s origin. While she is very guarded, he discovers that she responds well to kindness, and he learns that she is fixated on two people called mama and papa, that she understands French, that she is amused at his German, and that she has a large mark or wound on the lower part of her head behind the ear.

This page shows the introduction to the narrative translated from French.

In the next section, the chapbook begins with italicized narration explaining that a “Narrative made its appearance on the Continent” showing “so many striking coincidences” that suggest that Louisa is actually La Fruëlen, the natural daughter of Francis I, the late Emperor of Germany (15). The narrative goes on to include the entirety of the supposed translation of this originally French narrative, which begins in 1768. The narrative first introduces the Count M. de Cobenzel, the imperial minister at Brussels. He receives a letter stating that he should not be surprised if his advice and friendship are sought after. The letter is written in French, and signed La Fruëlen from Bourdeaux. He receives other letters encouraging him to support La Fruëlen, from people such as Le Comte J. de Weissendorff from Prague and Le Comte Dietrichstein from Vienna. Cobenzel begins to write with La Fruëlen, offering his support. At the beginning of 1769, the Court of Vienna informs Versailles that La Fruëlen should be arrested and taken to Brussels to be examined by Cobenzel and the First President, M. de Neny, for being an imposter. The Court of Vienna had discovered Fruëlen’s existence because the King of Spain had received a letter encouraging him to defend her, which he then shared with the Emperor, who shared it with the Empress, who called for her arrest. 

As La Fruëlen arrives in Brussels, she is met with an unsigned letter encouraging her that there is an attempt to save her so she should not despair. Cobenzel and M. de Neny question her and her origin. They describe the woman who goes by La Fruëlen as being tall, elegantly formed, with simple and majestic brown hair, fair skin, and fine dark eyes. She also speaks French with a German accent. The two men dive into the story of her childhood. She explains how she is uncertain of her birthplace, but knows she was educated in Bohemia, and grew up in a sequestered house in the country under the care of mama, Catherine, and the priest – who opposed her learning to read and write for unstated religious reasons. She describes how a stranger in huntsmen clothes would visit periodically, and while he was a stranger to her, he seemed to know her. On one visit, she noticed a red mark on his neck, and when she questioned him about it, he explained that it was the distinction of an officer, and implied that she is the daughter of one. After their conversation, the man had to depart again, but promised to return soon. This promise was broken thereafter because he had fallen ill and could not travel. The novel goes on to explain how this is historically accurate to the life of the late Emperor. On his final visit, he leaves her with a photo of himself, the Empress, and her mother. On his departure, he makes her promise to never marry and that she will be and taken care of and happy. 

After this story, the woman called Louisa describes her departure from Bohemia. First, because she is scared to share her story in front of everyone, she conjures a grand lie that seems too good to be true. Cobenzel catches her in her lie, and she is forced to tell the truth in hopes of regaining his trust. The truth behind her departure from Bohemia is that her priest had planned for her to move to a convent, but she decided to run away instead out of fear of the stories she had heard about convents. She hid in the barn of a generous farmer who provided her with the necessities she required. She still needed to gain distance from Hamburgh, though, so she journeyed to Sweden. On this journey, she injured her head with a nasty cut and required a surgeon to heal it. She then joined a compassionate Dutch family who was journeying to Sweden as well. Once she reached Stockholm, she left the travelers and stayed in the house of a German woman. She became great friends with this woman, but one day, she overheard from her hairdresser that the imperial minister of Stockholm was wondering about an escaped girl. Her fear of poverty overcame her fear of the Convent, so she turned herself in to M. de Belgioioso. He took good care of her. He first gave her housing and money, and then he invited her into his own house for safety. Within those walls, she saw a portrait of the late Emperor Francis, and fainted. They struggled to wake her and she had a bad fever, which was almost fatal. 

The final page to this “real tale of woe.”

La Fruëlen’s story becomes tragic as she explains how her supply of financial aid was cut off suddenly, and she accumulated a great amount of debt. In order to gain support, she herself wrote the letters to the people addressed at the beginning of this explanation, including Cobenzel and the King of Spain. She claimed, however, that not all the letters were forged by her, and that several had truly been sent.

Ultimately, M. de Neny is in denial that she is in fact the daughter of the Emperor. He believes that she is truly just a merchant’s runaway daughter. M. de Neny declares that she should return to her city and face her debtors as a punishment for her lies and sins. Cobenzel disagrees, however, he is near death. The day before Cobenzel dies, he receives an anonymous letter saying not to dismiss La Fruëlen, however, the note is burned and dies with him. Four days after Cobenzel’s death, La Fruëlen is released from prison, given a little bit of money for travel, and abandoned to her wretched destiny. 

At this point, the translation of the French narrative ends and the original chapbook narration resumes. This narration explains that “poor Louisa is no more” with her death on December 19, 1801 (37). The final resolution to this tale is announced in the simple fact that Louisa was discovered under the haystack in the year 1776.


Bibliography

The Affecting History of Louisa, the Wandering Maniac. London, A. Neil, 1804.

Boeden, James. The Maid of Bristol: A Play in Three Acts. New York, Printed and Published by D. Longworth, 1803.

Glasse, G. H. A Narrative of Facts: Supposed to Throw Light on the History of the Bristol-Stranger; Known by the Name of the Maid of the Hay-stack. Translated From the French. Printed for Mr. H. Gardner, Mr. Bull, Mr. Lloyd, Messrs. Evans and Hazell, and Mr. Harward. 

Glasse, G. H. Louisa: A Narrative of Facts, Supposed to Throw Light on the Mysterious History of “The Lady of the Haystack.” P. Norbury, 1801, wellcomecollection.org/works/a4226rdm/items?canvas=5&langCode=eng&sierraId=b22021437.

L’Inconnue Histoire Véritable. 1785.

Vian, Alsager and Mari G. Ellis. “George Henry (1761–1809).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. July 9, 2020. Oxford University Press. https://doi-org.proxy01.its.virginia.edu/10.1093/ref:odnb/10803.


Researcher: Abigail Grace Kiss

Edward and Eleonora

Edward and Eleonora

Edward and Eleonora; or, The Adventures of A Stroller

Author: Frederic Chamberlain
Publisher: J. Lee
Publication Year: Unknown, likely between 1804 and 1824
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11.2cm x 18.6cm
Pages: 38
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.C43 E n.d.


This circa early nineteenth-century chapbook by Frederic Chamberlain demonstrates how a farmer’s generosity leads to the reunion of two long lost family members, as well as the spark of a fated romance. 


Material History

The cover of Edward and Eleonora has no title and is just a blank paper binding that features only the mark of the Sadleir-Black Collection presented by Robert K. Black. When the book is opened, the backside of the cover features an illustration of two men and a woman, standing by a tree with what appears to be a small castle or church protruding not far behind them in the background. One man is holding a shovel in his left hand and the other stands behind the woman holding her. They all appear to be looking downwards at a grave that rests at the foot of the tree and gesturing to it with their hands. Beneath the illustration on the same page, in formal cursive text, is the caption, “With downeast Looks she surveyed the Grave of the dear departed.”

The title page for Edward and Eleonora

The title of the chapbook first appears at the top of the following page in bold capital letters. It states “EDWARD AND ELEONORA;” and then beneath it in a different font, “or, THE ADVENTURES of A STROLLER.” Beneath this title there is a bolded horizontal line that separates the title from “A ROMANCE” followed by another horizontal line beneath that separating the authors name, “BY FREDERICK CHAMBERLAIN,” with another line beneath his name. Underneath the author’s name reads “London: printed and published by J. LEE, No.24, Half Moon Street, Bishopsgate: and sold by all the booksellers.” At the bottom of the title page are the words: “Price Sixpence.” This title page is the only one in the book that features the title or the author’s name.

The dimensions of the book in centimeters are 18.6 by 11.2. The title page is on page 3, and the book starts on page 4 and finishes on page 38. One’s first impressions of the book are that it is small, both in dimensions and length. Furthermore, it appears quite old, worn, and cheap, especially around the edges of the pages where they are slightly frayed and torn in places. Despite this, the paper is in relatively good shape as there are no significant tears and the paper is fairly sturdy. The paper has a yellowed color to it and is flexible. The binding is paper and the book is disbound, with no decorations featured on the binding. There are no other decorations found anywhere on the cover or within the pages of the book. Additionally, the frontispiece illustration is the only one throughout the book. The pages within the book have fairly large top and bottom margins, with smaller side margins. The text on the page is small, close together, and there is little space between each line. It is dark and easy to read and only slightly faded on a few pages. On the last page of the book at the end of the text the word “FINIS” appears at the bottom. Apart from the pages appearing worn, there are no post-production markings anywhere on the pages from previous readers.


Textual History

The author of Edward and Eleonora; or the adventures of a stroller is known only from his chapbooks as Frederic Chamberlain. He is described as a “novelist, of whom hardly anything is known” (“Mulvey-Roberts”). It is unknown where he is from but Edward and Eleonora was a fictional chapbook, printed and published in London by a man known only as J. Lee. The chapbook was originally written in English and is thought to have been printed and published sometime between 1804 and 1824 (WorldCat). Frederic Chamberlain wrote another chapbook called Lucretia; or, The Robbers of the Hyrcanean Forest. Both Lucretia and Edward and Eleonora were short gothic romances, showing a general trend in the type of genre towards which Frederic Chamberlain tended to gravitate.

The frontispiece for Edward and Eleonora

There exists another story, titled Edward and Eleonora: A Tragedy, by British writer James Thomson. This play was published shortly before Frederic Chamberlain’s, in 1751. Furthermore, it was adapted to the stage in 1795 by Thomas Hull. The plots of Thomson’s Edward and Eleonora and Chamberlain’s Edward and Eleonora appear to be unrelated and generically distinct, since one is a tragedy and the other a romance. However, there are a few uncanny similarities between the actual history of James Thomson’s play and the fictional plot of Frederic Chamberlain’s chapbook. It is very likely that Frederic Chamberlain derived the title for his chapbook from the popularity of James Thomson’s tragedy. In both stories, the characters Edward and Eleonora are husband and wife. Furthermore, much of Frederic Chamberlain’s plot in his story revolves around Edward trying to obtain a license from Frederick, Eleonora’s brother, that would permit him to perform a play for Frederick and Eleonora. Interestingly, in the eighteenth century, James Thomson’s play was originally banned from performance at Covent Garden by the Lord Chamberlain, due to the licensing act of 1737, which restrained what was allowed to be said about the British Government in theatrical performances (“Wilson” 175). The play was banned because the portrayal of James Thomson’s characters, Edward, Prince of Wales, and his relationship with his father, Henry III, was viewed as a political attack that reflected the real life relationship of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his father, George II, at the time (“Wilson” 177). Frederic Chamberlain’s plot in Edward and Eleonora, involves Edward attempting to obtain a license from Frederick so he can perform a play. Similarly, James Thomson could not perform his play Edward and Eleonora because he could not obtain the license from Lord Chamberlain, since his characters were representations of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his father. It appears clear that Frederic Chamberlain’s plot and characters in Edward and Eleonora loosely model much of the actual conflict James Thomson experienced with his play Edward and Eleonora. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that Frederick Chamberlain was also a member of the Inns of Court, and thus a barrister himself (see the history for Chamberlain’s other chapbook, Lucretia).

There is no evidence of any prequels or sequels to Edward and Eleonora and no introduction or preface. Additionally, there is no information regarding the popularity of the chapbook when it was published and nothing to suggest it was ever advertised in any way, neither at the time of publication nor at a later date. It appears there are no later publications of the book, as well as no alternate versions or existing digitized copies. The book is held in the University of Virginia Special Collections Library among the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction. The only other known locations of the book are in the University of California, Los Angeles Special Collections, and New York University’s Fales Library and Special Collections in the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library. There is no scholarly study to be found on this book, however, the title and author are briefly cited in A Gothic Bibliography by Montague Summers (304).


Narrative Point of View

The narration of Edward and Eleonora is in the third person by a narrator whose identity is never revealed to the reader. The narrator goes into detail about the characters’ thought processes and emotions. The narration describes each individual situation with long sentences containing mini tangents that describe a character’s action. The style feels old-fashioned, with a lot of antiquated syntax and diction. The narrator is most frequently used as a means to transition between character dialogue.

Sample Passage:

Justice Manly was petrified — every nerve trembled — he had scarce power to call his domestics, — for his tongue denied the power of utterance ; however, he hobbled to the apartment wherein Eleonora and her brother were, by which time he was enabled to make known the situation of our hero. They precipitately entered the room, and found him stretched on the floor, with eyes strongly fixed on the portraits of his departed parents. — A flood of tears relieved him — he looked wildly at the objects around him, and enquired by what means those portraits came in the possession of Justice Manly, who replied, they were the portraits of his beloved sister and brother. — Our hero looked him steadfastly in the face, and exclaimed aloud; ‘Behold then, your unworthy nephew ; whose irregularities were the cause of a loss, which is now irreparable — your affectionate sister. — Ah what a sting has death left behind — an arrow has pierced this heart which can never be withdrawn. (35)

The narrator incorporates descriptive phrases like “every nerve trembled,” and a “flood of tears relieved him” to display the detailed imagery of the way each character experiences the scene. While the narrator describes the present situation in the book, they also employ the use of many brief tangents within the sentences to extrapolate on the emotions of the characters within the situation. This passage demonstrates the use of antiquated syntax which emulates the old-fashioned style the narrator uses to depict each scene with grace and fluidity. At the end of the passage, the narrator transitions to the next dialogue, reflecting the way the narration is used to explain the feelings of the characters in the text and then proceed into the next conversation between the characters that further continues the story.


Summary

Frederick and Eleonora are brother and sister who come into possession of their well-respected father’s farm, Friendly Hall, when he leaves it and all its livestock for them and retires elsewhere. In the following year, during a period of great harvest, a group of poor “strollers” (or vagabonds) come to town seeking hospitality (4). Their presence is met with hostility from the townspeople out of fear that their food supply will not be enough to support these newcomers.

A sample page from Edward and Eleonora

Everyone rejects their request for asylum except for Edward and Eleonora who empathize for these people who possess so much less than they do. The head of the strollers arrives at Friendly hall requesting to speak with Frederick. When Frederick arrives and speaks with the stroller he feels bad for him, hands the man a generous amount of money, and tells him to return in an hour while he considers his request. Eleonora recognizes something familiar about the stroller but cannot figure out why.

Frederick runs into the Squire Saveall who warns Frederick that it is risky to take this group of strollers in. Frederick welcomes the Squire into his home where they discuss with Eleonora. The stroller heads back to his anxiously awaiting group where he shows them the cash Frederick gave him and explains his conversation. The group of strollers use their newfound money to buy food and ale from Redcap (their current host) to celebrate. After their feast, the head of the strollers leaves for Friendly Hall to inquire about his request with Frederick.

Despite the Squire’s recommendation to Frederick, Frederick meets with the stroller. They discuss terms of the stay and Frederick decides to allow the group to stay for free. The Stroller is immensely grateful and assures Frederick that he will make sure his group will strictly adhere to any rules. The two go on to discuss ways in which the group could attain a license that would allow them to open a theater for the town’s amusement. Frederick concludes that he will speak with Justice Manly about getting them a license.

When Justice Manly arrives at Friendly Hall, Frederick asks where he has been for so long. The justice goes on to tell them a story about his quest to find his sister and nephew who had gone missing. On his quest he learns that his sister died out of grief for loss for her son (his nephew). The justice tells Frederick and Eleonora how he was left with nothing but portraits of his family members following the funeral and returned to the town. The justice says he will get the license for the strollers and leaves Friendly Hall. Back at the Crooked Billet, the group of Strollers celebrate at the news embracing in laughter and conversation. They all get drunk and proceed to sing as the night comes to a close. Meanwhile, the squire tells a story to Eleonora about a man he knew named Hawthorne who possessed admirable qualities. He was wrongly sentenced to serve in the war due to the false accusations of a woman, and there he met his fate. When the story ends the squire leaves Friendly Hall but Frederick convinces the justice to stay.

The final page of Edward and Eleonora

The next morning the stroller visits Frederick, who tells him his group can stay in the barn and set up their theater there. Meanwhile the justice has breakfast with Frederick and Eleonora where he officially writes them the license. Frederick gives the license to the Stroller who tells them they can visit the set. When Frederick and Eleonora visit the set, they are met with disappointment of only two sets of scenes. The performance goes on that night and despite their initial apprehensions, the conclusion is met with approval and applause from the entire audience. That night, both the justice and Eleonora feel confusion and uneasiness about the familiarity of the leader and go to bed with great sadness.

The next morning, the stroller wakes up to look for Frederick but finds out he already left to visit the justice. The stroller then decides to go to the justice’s home where he sees the portraits of the justice’s sister and brother-in-law. He then falls to the floor in agony at the sight of his lost parents. Justice Manly realizes it is his nephew who was the leader of the group of strollers and confirms it by asking him questions about his parents. The justice tells Frederick and Eleonora the truth and she is delighted in the discovery of his nephew she once admired. The justice convinces his nephew to leave the group and stay with him where his possessions will be his. The nephew goes to Eleonora and introduces himself to her as Edward. Eleonora and Edward later marry each other with an unforgettable ceremony that fills the village with joy.


Bibliography

Chamberlain, Frederic. Edward and Eleonora: Or, the Adventures of a Stroller. A Romance. J. Lee. n.d.

Hull, Thomas. Edward and Eleonora: A Tragedy. London, Printed for George Cawthorn, 1795.

Mulvey-Roberts, Marie. “Biographies of Gothic Novelists.” Gothic Fiction – Biographies, www.ampltd.co.uk/digital_guides/gothic_fiction/Biographies.aspx.

Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. London, Fortune Press, 1941.

Thomson, James. Edward and Eleonora: A Tragedy. Dublin, Printed for G. Risk, G. and A. Ewing, and W. Smith (booksellers), 1751.

Wilson, Brett D. A Race of Female Patriots: Women and Public Spirit on the British Stage, 1688–1745. Lexington Books, 2012.


Researcher: Magnus Gould

Fatal Vows

Fatal Vows

Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk, a Romance

Author: Unknown
Publisher: Thomas Tegg
Publication Year: 1810
Language: English
Dimensions: 18.4cm x 11.3cm. 
Pages: 16
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.F368 1810


In this circa 1810 chapbook, backdropped against the outskirts of Italy, a complicated web of family, loyalty, and betrayal spirals a noble family into conspiracy and murder. 


Material History

Fatal Vows is presented in a disbound pamphlet. The pamphlet was once bound, but there is no longer a hardcover. Paste on the spine of the pamphlet and gilding on the top edge of the pages reflect its previous state. Presumably, Fatal Vows was at some point bound with other pamphlets for ease of storage and style—a common practice at the time. The pages themselves are a linen blend (with perhaps a bit of cotton) in fairly decent shape. The paper is browned by age, but not brittle. There are no significant stains and few splotches—none that obscure the text or decrease legibility. 

The title page for Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk, along with the printer’s information

Fatal Vows is 18.4 x 11.3 cm in dimension, and sixteen pages long. Along the top of the pamphlet the pages are uniformly trimmed, but all other edges are slightly irregular. This variation is presumably due to the nature in which the collection of pamphlets was bound. Commonly, pamphlets of varying sizes were trimmed to the dimensions of the largest pamphlet. Works smaller than the largest pamphlet were often missed by the blade on a few sides, leading to irregularities in page edges like Fatal Vows’.

The front page of the pamphlet, once the University of Virginia note is moved aside, reads “William Coventry // Piccadilly.” This inscription indicates that the text was likely part of a personal collection. The next two pages feature the only two illustrations in the pamphlet, one in the frontispiece and one on the title page. The frontispiece illustration is brightly colored and depicts two men standing outside of a building. The man on the right, with a red cape and green suit, is holding out a sword. The man on the left, with yellow trousers and a blue tunic, appears to be making a vow on the sword. This illustration is helpfully captioned “Rinaldo binding Montavoli by an Oath.” Below the caption is the mark of the publisher, “Pub. By T. Tegg June 1810.” 

The second illustration follows immediately after the title. At the top quarter of the page is the title, which varies between flowing cursive and block lettering (indicated by italicized and non-italicized text, respectively) reading: “Fatal Vows, // or // The False Monk, // a // Romance.” Below the title is the second illustration, depicting a man in purple leading a man in green down a staircase and into a stone room. The caption curves around the bottom of the illustration and reads “The Spirit of Montavoli’s Brother ledding him to a place of Safety.” Below the caption, once again, are three lines of the publisher’s information. The first line, “London”, indicates the city Fatal Vows was printed in. The next line repeats “Printed for Thomas Tegg, III, Cheapside June 1-1810” and the final line indicates the price: “Price Sixpence.”

Once the story itself begins, the page layout is relatively consistent. Aside from the first page, which repeats the title (interestingly adding a “the” before the title, the only point in the chapbook where this occurs) before beginning the story about halfway down the page, the margins on the page vary slightly from page to page but average out to a 2 cm outer margin, 1 cm inner margin, 2.5 cm bottom margin, and 0.5 to 0.75 cm top margin. At the top of each page, centered just above the text, is the title in all caps: FATAL VOWS. The page numbers are on the same line as the title, to the far left (for even number pages) or right (for odd number pages) edge of the text. The text itself is single-spaced. The only notable features in the story pages are the occasional letters at the bottom center of the page. Page six has a B, page nine has B3, page seventeen has a C, page nineteen has a C2, and page twenty-one has a C3. These letters serve to assist the printer in ordering the pages—pamphlets like these were generally printed on one large sheet, folded together, and then trimmed to allow for page-turning.


Textual History

Unfortunately, there is very little either known or recorded on Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk, a Romance. Both the author and illustrator are unknown. Francis Lathom has been named as the author, notably by Google Books, due to the similarities in titles between Fatal Vows and his work The Fatal Vow; Or, St. Michael’s Monastery, but this is a misattribution. Only two copies of Fatal Vows are available online: one on Google Books courtesy of the British Library (although the author is misattributed, as Francis Lathom), and one through the University of Virginia’s Sadleir-Black Collection. Fatal Vows is mentioned in a handful of catalogs listing known gothic novels, but with no opinion or further insight attached to it, with one exception.

The frontispiece for Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk

Fatal Vows has not been featured in much academic work. However, that does not mean Fatal Vows was entirely unnoted beyond the commercial sphere. Its one notable reference is an allegation that Fatal Vows is a plagiarism of, or at least very heavily influenced by, Matthew Gregory Lewis’s The Monk. In Peter Otto’s introduction to the Rare Printed Works from the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction at the Alderman Library, University of Virginia, he notes: “Like Radcliffe’s works, Lewis’s novel inspired a host of plagiarizers, imitators and competitors. The mystery of the black convent (London: A. Neil, [n.d.]) and Fatal vows, or The false monk, a romance (London: Thomas Tegg, 1810) are two of the many chapbooks that draw heavily on The Monk.” This is the only academic work to articulate opinions on Fatal Vows, although it is cited in other works and catalogs.

There appear to be no prequels, sequels, reprints, translations, or adaptations connected to Fatal Vows. Even when published, there is no surviving (if any) mention of Fatal Vows in the ads or articles of the time. There was no announcement in the newspapers of the time and no evidence that Fatal Vows stirred any public notice or controversy.

The only name that can be reliably connected to Fatal Vows is the publisher of the novel. T. Tegg (or Thomas Tegg III) is listed on both available scans as the publisher and bookseller and is comparatively much more well documented. Tegg set himself apart from his contemporaries by both the low prices and the lower quality of the books he produced. His self-description as “the broom that swept the booksellers’ warehouses” fairly articulates his practice of reprinting successful novels, works past copyright protections, and remainders (Curwen 391). Considering the nature of the works published by Tegg, it is perhaps not unsurprising that Fatal Vows was published with little fanfare.


Narrative Point of View

Fatal Vows combines the main story told in the third person by an omniscient, detached narrator, and interpolated stories told by characters explaining things that either occurred off-page or before the story began. There is no meta-narrative of the story’s origin or any relation to the narrator, but characters often narrate their own backstories through letters and oral stories, which are narrated in the first-person voice of the relevant character. The style is fairly formal, with no contractions and winding prose. The epistolary narratives vary slightly depending on the character narrating them, ranging from powerful emoting to detached cynicism, but the overall tone is still formal and vaguely antiquated.

Example of Third-Person Narration:

Rinaldo now informed Count Montavole that Miranda was his own daughter by Serina. The Count grew very faint; to encrease his misery Rinaldo added: “Know likewise that it is a BROTHER who is the death of thee.” He had no sooner finished this speech than he was seized for the murder of the Count, and as he quitted the dungeon he put a paper into Alberto’s hands. Montavole only lived to ejaculate, “a brother ! Miranda too my daughter ! oh—” (25)

Example of Interpolated Oral Tale of Susanna’s Confession:

Unconscious of what I did, I took the dreadful oath, and went gently into Lady Leonora’s room, and changed children with her, by which means Montavole has reared up his brother’s son instead of his own. (20)

Example of Interpolated Tale of Rinaldo’s Letter:

Hereupon I was seized by two footmen in livery, who dragged me to a noble palace: I was conducted to an elegant saloon, when a nobleman, for so I learnt he was, desired me to relate the whole adventure; accordingly, I did. He then observed that I had been used ill, and in return desired his nephew to give me a diamond ring. (26)

Overall, this chapbook’s narration focuses much more internally than externally—there is little imagery or scene building, but a heavy emphasis on the actions of the characters, which drive the majority of the plot. This contrasts with the low-key delivery the narrator uses to convey plot twists or surprises, as exemplified in the first passage. Miranda being the daughter of Count Montavole is a devastating plot twist even by itself, but Rinaldo being the brother of Count Montavole is even more so. However, the verbs used to describe Rinaldo’s proclamation are low-energy (“informed” and “added” are not exactly declarations) and Montavole’s death (who, in fairness, was already on the way out) is received without much fanfare. Within the scene, the room is full of characters that would be rattled by these announcements, but their perspectives are not noted. Even the announcement of Miranda’s parentage reads like an afterthought. 

When characters themselves are narrating, more of their personality is able to shine through and influence the story. Susanna’s passage, when she explains the kidnapping she committed almost two decades ago, is full of qualitative adjectives and descriptors; Susanna is one of the kinder, moral characters in the story. This is juxtaposed against Rinaldo describing an altercation in his boyhood, where he describes his own actions with more understated neutrality.


Summary

Fatal Vows takes place on the outskirts of Italy, in a castle owned by a Count named Savini. Count Savini has two sons: Montavole and Alberto. Alberto is the youngest and is a charming and obedient son, while Montavole is morose and selfish. Montavole leaves home at an early age to pursue his own interests, breaking Count Savini’s heart. While on his travels, Montavole is attacked by bandits. His life is saved by a stranger, who identifies himself as Rinaldo and commands Montavole to repay his debt by swearing a vow of friendship and loyalty. Montavole is troubled but agrees, and Rinaldo vanishes into the night with an ominous “be careful of Saint Peter’s day” (7).

This page shows the first page of the actual story, along with one of the folding guide markings

Eventually, Montavole hears word that his father is critically ill and returns home to see him before he passes. Unfortunately, he is too late, but in their grief Montavole and Alberto reconcile and Montavole decides to settle down. Montavole marries a rich woman named Leonora, and Alberto marries his fianceé, Matilda. Montavole and Leonora are miserable, as their marriage was one for money rather than love and Leonora is afraid of Rinaldo, who Montavole now keeps company with, but Alberto and Marilda are happy and in love. However, tragedy strikes one night when Alberto is murdered. The murderer escapes into the night, and the heavily-pregnant Matilda dies of grief in labor shortly after. 

Over the next twenty years, two things of note occur. Firstly, Rinaldo is arrested after killing a man in a dispute, but escapes from jail just before his execution. Secondly, a baby girl is left on Montavole and Leonora’s doorstep with a letter in her crib. Leonora reads the letter, swoons, and decides to raise the child (now named Miranda) as her own, locking the letter away without explanation. 

At the end of these twenty years, Leonora is now on her deathbed. Montavole and their son, Alphonso, (who is in love with Miranda despite the two being kept apart by his father) have been out of the kingdom for weeks, leaving only Miranda around to tend to Leonora. Knowing her time is coming to an end, Leonora decides it is time for Miranda to know the truth about her birth. She gives Miranda a key to a cabinet that holds the mysterious letter from her crib. Leonora directs her to read the letter, burn it, and then leave the castle to join the nearby convent. Her only warning is to avoid the castle’s resident monk, Roderigo, who she finds suspicious. After Leonora dies, Miranda goes to the cabinet, but the letter is not there. She despairs, but is interrupted by a mysterious voice that tells her “You have a father living… your father is a murderer!” (13—14). Overcome with shock, Miranda faints. 

 Alphonso and Montavole return, too late to say goodbye to Leonora. Alphonso rushes to Miranda but Montavole stops him. He has betrothed Alphonso to the daughter of a man to whom he owes a significant amount of money. In exchange for Alphonso’s hand (and prestigious family name) the man will not only forgive Montavole’s debts but offer a substantial dowry. Alphonso is heartbroken but consents. 

Miranda, in the meantime, goes for a walk in the surrounding countryside to bolster her spirits. She comes across a cottage with an old woman named Susanna and her nephew, Alonzo, who is insane. Susanna tells Miranda that eighteen years ago, a woman who looked very much like her came to the cottage and died, leaving behind a baby who was taken away by a “mean-looking man” (15). Miranda concludes that she must have been the baby, but returns homes before uncovering anything else. However, as soon as she returns home Roderigo (the suspicious monk Leonora was so afraid of) seizes her and locks her in an abandoned tower. Montavole ordered her to be locked away so she could not get in the way of Alphonso’s wedding, and Roderigo tells her she will stay there for the rest of her life.

Meanwhile, with Miranda effectively out of the picture, Alphonso and Cassandra’s wedding goes off without a hitch. In the ceremony, however, Cassandra drinks a goblet of wine (provided to her by Roderigo) and dies of poisoning. There was another goblet of wine meant for Alphonso, but he disappears shortly after the ceremony and is spared from the chaos. The castle descends into an uproar. 

After a few days in the tower, Miranda discovers a key to the door and flees to Susanna’s cottage. She begs Susanna to let her stay the night before she leaves the kingdom, and Susanna readily agrees. That night, however, Montavole and Roderigo break into the cottage. Miranda tries to intervene but she is powerless to stop Montavole and Roderigo, and they murder Alonzo. Susanna comes down just in time to see his death and exclaims “Count Montavole you have killed your son, the real offspring of Leonora… you cruel man!” (19—20). Shocked, Montavole flees. Roderigo takes away the body, and Susanna confesses Alonzo’s backstory to Miranda.

Susanna used to be a servant at the castle. When Matilda died, her child had actually survived, but lord Montavole commanded her to take the child away to the cottage and raise it as her nephew. However, Susanna switched Alberto’s child (Alphonso) with Montavole’s (for no discernable motive) and took him instead. Shortly after confessing, Susanna dies of grief. Miranda returns to the castle, hoping to beg Alphonso for protection, but comes across Roderigo instead. He gives her the letter Leonora had meant to leave her and leaves the room. Miranda finally learns her origins.

Montavole was Miranda’s real father all along. Her mother, Serina, was a noblewoman with a sickly father and little money. Montavole secretly murdered her father, who had attempted to keep him away from Serina, took Serina in, and got her pregnant. He strung her along for a while, promising that once his father died they would get married, but one day Rinaldo revealed to Serina that Montavole’s father had died long ago. Moreover, he had been married to a rich woman for the past twelve months. Serina fled, selling her clothes and jewelry, but was robbed by a coachman. She made her way to Susanna’s cottage and died of grief, and baby Miranda was taken away to the castle. 

Meanwhile, Count Montavole is hiding out in one of his dungeons, having been led there by his brother’s ghost—but it is not his ghost. Alberto has been alive the entire time. Roderigo (who is revealed as Rinaldo) bursts in, in the middle of an unspecified fight with Alphonso, but switches tactics to kill Montavole. In Montavole’s final breath he realizes Miranda is also his daughter.

Miranda and Alphonso marry, and Rinaldo is put to death. A letter he wrote before his arrest reveals his own motivation. Rinaldo was actually Alberto and Montavole’s half-brother. His mother, Angelina, was seduced by Alberto and Montavole’s father (Count Savini), but he grew tired of her and abandoned her. Angelina gave birth to Rinaldo and managed to get by for a few years, but caught small-pox and lost her beauty. All her admirers abandoned her, and they were forced to sell all their furniture and move into a small apartment. They eventually ran out of money, and when Rinaldo was nineteen they were evicted. Angelina died in the streets, penniless and heartbroken, but before she passed she told Rinaldo about his father and begged him to avenge her death. 

Now it is Alberto’s turn to reveal how he survived. Count Montavole had hired an assassin to kill him, but the wound was not fatal. One of Rinaldo’s servants saved him but locked him in a dungeon in the castle, where he lived until the servant slipped up and left behind a key. The servant himself had conveniently died a few days ago. With all the mysteries explained, everyone lives happily ever after.


Bibliography

Curwen, Henry. “Thomas Tegg: Book-Auctioneering and the “Remainder Trade.” A History of Booksellers, the Old and the New 1st ed., Chatto and Windus, 1873. 

Fatal Vows: or the False Monk, a Romance. Thomas Tegg, 1810.

Fatal Vows: or the False Monk, a Romance. Thomas Tegg, 1810, Google Books, books.google.com/books?id=mDfNxphLieoC&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

Otto, Peter. “Introduction.” Rare Printed Works from the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction at the Alderman Library, University of Virginia. http://www.ampltd.co.uk/digital_guides/gothic_fiction/Introduction7.aspx. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.


Researcher: Brynn Jefferson

Feudal Days

Feudal Days

Feudal Days; or, the Noble Outlaw. An Historical Romance of the Fourteenth Century

Author: Unknown
Publisher: J. Bailey
Publication Year: 1820s
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.5cm x 16.5cm
Pages: 28
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.F462 n.d.


Published in the 1820s by an unknown author, this chapbook set in England features a disgraced outlaw obsessed with his rival’s daughter and a religious Prior determined to right the characters on the path of piety.


Material History

Feudal Days, a simple and small book, measures 16.5cm long by 10.5cm wide and contains twenty-eight pages. The book currently has no cover; the reader first encounters a blank yellowed page. All pages in the chapbook are brittle and thin; some are slightly ripped at the edges, and the pages’ top ends are all discolored brown. A small amount of black thread loosely links these pages together, although one can observe holes on the left size of pages where thread was likely once used to tightly bind the book.

The title page for Feudal Days

Opening the book, the reader will observe a pull-out frontispiece illustration on the left side of the first page and the title page on the right side. The title page contains the full title of the chapbook: Feudal Days; or, the Noble Outlaw. An Historical Romance of the Fourteenth Century. The title appears in different variations throughout other places in the text. At the top of the first page of text, it appears as Feudal Days; or, the Noble Outlaw without the second line, and at the top of all pages of text, it reads The Noble Outlaw; (on the left page) and Or, Feudal Days (on the right side), thus reversing the order seen on the title page. An author’s name does not appear throughout the chapbook; however, the name J. Bailey appears on the title page, the last page of text, and on the final two pages. These mentions reveal that J. Bailey of 116 Chancery Lane “printed and sold” the book and also published numerous other chapbooks listed on the last two pages of this chapbook. The title page finally lists the price of the chapbook—6 pence.

Venturing past the front pages of the book, the reader will notice that the body text is closely-set and single-spaced and that many pages do not have paragraph breaks. On most pages, the margins are roughly 1cm all around; between pages 22 and 24, the bottom margin increases slightly to 2cm. Pagination on the top of pages begins on the second page of body text at page 4 and continues to the last page of body text (26). In addition to pagination, publishers have included a few extra printed markings on the bottom of pages: “A2” is printed on what would be denoted page 3; “A3” is on page 5; “A4” on page 7; “A5” on page 9; and “B” is printed on page 25. These markings, called signature marks, were printed in order to aid the accuracy in the binding of the chapbook.

Although almost all of the book contains text without any illustration, the frontispiece on the opposite page from the title page provides the singular illustration, depicting a woman stabbing a man inside a cave that is decorated with a chandelier. This frontispiece is unique in the chapbook, both because it is the only use of color and because is the only exception to the dimensions of the chapbook: it folds outward to comprise an overall width of 21cm and height of 16.5cm. This page bears the captions of “FRONTISPIECE” above and a reference to the body text below: “Nay then Ermina, cried Rudolph, ‘I will not brook delay’—when, by one bold effort she released her hand, and seizing my shining sword”. The content of this caption, while not a direct quotation, is a condensed version of dialogue recounted on page 14 of the text; additionally, this caption is printed slightly off-the-page; for this reason, exact punctuation is uncertain.

While most attributes described in this chapbook are particular to the entire batch that this book was printed in, it is finally worthwhile to point out a few characteristics that are likely unique to this particular copy in the Sadlier-Black collection. Overall, this book is devoid of most markings. The three particular marks include potential pen markings in a straight line at the top of the final page, a circular mark which may be glue or wax, and a bit of blue color that has spotted the front and back pieces of the book, which may be the remnants of a cover or binding.


Textual History

In addition to the copy of Feudal Days held by the University of Virginia, WorldCat indicates that multiple other copies exist in print form in fifteen other libraries. These copies are not concentrated in one geographic region: a copy of Feudal Days can be found at four Canadian libraries, one United Kingdom library, two Spanish libraries, and nine United States libraries (including the University of Virginia). In addition to the print forms of Feudal Days, there is also another digitized copy of the book held by New York Public Library (NYPL), which is accessible through HathiTrust and Google Books.

The frontispiece for Feudal Days, featuring misprinted margins

Multiple factors support an inference that there were multiple printings of Feudal Days when it was originally published: first, the digitized NYPL copy available on HathiTrust includes an additional cover page that the University of Virginia copy does not have. This page includes a notation that the book was “Printed and Published by S. Carvalho, 18, West Place, Nelson Street, City of London”. A few pages later, the cover page indicating that the book was printed by J. Bailey is still included, and the rest of the book looks exactly identical to the version held by the University of Virginia. S. Carvalho may have reprinted the entire book or simply added an additional cover onto the original printing by J. Bailey. Second, the date that Google Books lists for the publication of the NYPL version of Feudal Days is 1829, but the University of Virginia library catalog indicates a date range of 1820 to 1829. While this may not alone be enough to pin down potentially different printings, the WorldCat catalog record for Feudal Days notes that, according to I. Maxted’s London Book Trades, J. Bailey operated at the printed address (116 Chancery Lane) only between 1808 and 1827, not 1829 (Maxted, cited in WorldCat Catalog Record). Regardless, the wide circulation of Feudal Days in international libraries indicates that even if the book only went through one printing, it may have been printed in large volumes.

WorldCat lists three contributors to Feudal Days: J. Bailey, George Cruikshank, and Friedrich Schiller. The British Museum states that J. Bailey was a British “publisher active between 1799 and 1825,” and that he traded with William Bailey, who may have been a family member, during the latter period of his flourishing years, 1823–1824 (“J Bailey”). In addition to the list of chapbooks printed by J. Bailey in the back of Feudal Days, the British Museum also lists a few prints and pamphlets printed by him, including “The life and military career of Napoleon Bonaparte,” which was illustrated by George Cruikshank, evidence that J. Bailey collaborated with Cruikshank on multiple occasions (“Pamphlet”). George Cruikshank is thought to be the illustrator or the author of Feudal Days according to different sources. Cruikshank (1792–1878) was a fairly prominent British graphic artist; he started his career as a caricaturist and then moved to book illustration. Some of his most notable works include working with Charles Dickens on illustrations for Oliver Twist from 1837–1843 and the famous temperance comic The Bottle in 1847 (Patten). Most sources, including HathiTrust and University of Virginia library catalog, credit Cruikshank with illustrations; however, Diane Hoeveler credits Cruikshank himself with adapting Friedrich Schiller’s play Die Räuber into Feudal Days (Hoeveler 197). Finally, Friedrich Schiller (1759­–1805) was a famous German playwright, poet, and philosopher (Witte). Schiller wrote his own unfinished gothic novel, The Ghost-Seer, but the most concrete link between Schiller and Feudal Days is the assertion that Feudal Days is based off an English translation of Schiller’s German drama Die Räuber (Andriopoloulos 1–2, Hoeveler 197).

The second-to-last page of Feudal Days, featuring advertisements for other books printed and sold by J. Bailey

Die Räuber is a drama about two brothers, one of whom is cast out by the father under the influence of the evil brother and who joins a band of outlaws. Although threads of outlawdom and banditti are common to Feudal Days, it seems that the plot of Feudal Days is not an exact adaptation of Die Räuber, primarily because it is missing the element of familial rivalry (“The Robbers”). However, an opera called The Noble Outlaw may also be a source of influence for Feudal Days. The Noble Outlaw, produced in 1815 in England, is “founded upon” Beaumont and Fletcher’s opera The Pilgrim (“Noble Outlaw” Theatrical 310). The Noble Outlaw is about an outlawed robber who returns to his beloved’s residence, disguised as a pilgrim, in order to leave with her (“Noble Outlaw” Monthly 302). As a resolution of the plot, the Outlaw of the opera saves his rival’s life, and “all ends happily” (“Noble Outlaw” Theatrical 311). Similar to Die Räuber, the common thread of outlawdom is present; in addition, plot points such as breaking into a woman’s home in a disguise and saving a rival’s life as a plot resolution are common to both the opera and Feudal Days. No source exists indicating that The Noble Outlaw specifically influenced Feudal Days, but given the time proximity and the name and plot similarities, this may be the case. As evidenced by a search on HathiTrust, there are many other chapbooks with “Feudal Days” or “The Noble Outlaw” constituting part of the title. Online copies of these other chapbooks are limited, so the degree to which these related works are similar is unknown. Therefore, Feudal Days could have other influences and could have influenced other works; at the same time, these numerous titles may indicate that “Feudal Days” and “Noble Outlaw” were simply popular book titles.

Notably inaccessible is information about Feudal Days’s marketing and reception during the time period, reprintings, prequels, and sequels, and any scholarly analysis of the book after its publication. One hypothesis for the absence of such information is that Feudal Days is one in a list of many gothic chapbooks published by J. Bailey during this time period, as evidenced by the final two pages of the chapbook listing other titles (Feudal Days 26–7). Therefore, Feudal Days might not have stood out amongst its counterparts enough to warrant independent reviews or scholarship. In sum, however, the information that can be gleaned about Feudal Days does lead to several inferences regarding its relative importance. First, given the numerous copies available of the book currently, it may have been fairly popular. Second, its plot may have been influenced by multiple, mixed-media sources, including well-known theatrical works like Die Räuber or The Pilgrim. Finally, one of Feudal Days’s potential contributors, George Cruikshank, would later achieve fairly notable status later in his career.


Narrative Point of View

The present-tense section of Feudal Days is narrated by a third-person anonymous narrator who never appears in the text. This narrator relies on recounting dialogue rather than independently describing or analyzing plot. While a minority of the story is recounted by this narrator in the present tense, the text also contains flashbacks and interpolated tales, narrated by the character who experienced the flashback. The majority of the text is spent on Rodolph’s interpolated tale, in which he recounts his descent into lawlessness. This tale is narrated in the first person by Rodolph, and every paragraph opens and closes with quotation marks, to indicate that Rodolph is telling his story during continuous conversation with Father Francis. Both the anonymous narrator and Rodolph often employ long sentences, containing multiple clauses joined by semicolons and oftentimes-unclear referential pronouns. Unlike the anonymous narrator, however, Rodolph utilizes elements of description and recounts his own feelings and state of mind, rather than simply narrating the dialogue of others.

Sample Passage from Rodolph’s Interpolated Tale:

“O, Ernulf! my friend, wealth, honour, fame, are now lost to me; malignant stars have crossed my fondest hopes; Rodolph no longer bears the name of brave, but skulks an outlaw, the meanest slave of passion, who, like the prowling monster of the forest, avoids pursuit, and sheds unguarded blood.” (7)

Sample Passage of Impersonal and Anonymous Third-Person Narrator:

“Hold! (cried the Prior) God commands that ye shall not proceed, re-sheath your swords, and release your captive.” Rodolph started, and gazed with amazement on the Prior. “What man art thou, (said he) that dare oppose my will; disclose to me thy name and purpose?” – “To preach repentance, (replied the prior) and to prevent evil.” Much more the Prior said, for he found that he had gained attention.

Rodolph raised his head, and gazing on the sky, an unwonted smile played o’er his features. “Thou holy man, (he kindly said) thy exhortations wind like infant tendrils round a sinner’s heart, and have taught my soul to know what constitutes true happiness on earth; thy words have chased error from my mind.” (18)

The anonymous narrator guides the reader along through the thoughts and lives of different characters without offering any independent commentary. The only character that the narrator independently comments on is the Prior, whom the narrator repeatedly describes as virtuous. This technique of guiding the narrative with a heavy focus on transcribing dialogue makes the characters of Feudal Days appear more developed than there may otherwise be space for in a twenty-eight-page chapbook. Additionally, the oftentimes-unclear sentences may require a second or third reading of a passage. These tactics combine to make the story appear longer and more action-heavy than what may be expected for a book of its size.

Rodolph’s narration, on the other hand, provides personal and descriptive insights, showcasing broader character development and highlighting Rodolph as the protagonist of the story. Rodolph is frequently over-dramatic, utilizing exaggerated similes such as, in the passage above, “like the prowling monster of the forest” to evoke his strong feelings and emphasize the weightiness of his tumult. The Prior’s eventual ability to calm even Rodolph’s tormented mind, as shown in the sample passage, lends extra weight to the anonymous narrator’s assertion that the Prior is inarguably virtuous. Although Rodolph’s style of narration may appear disjointed from the impersonal and brief narration of the rest of the chapbook, the fact that every paragraph of his tale is offset by quotation marks renders his interpolated tale as a long-form version of the dialogue relayed by the anonymous narrator. Therefore, Rodolph’s narrative style showcases an extended version of the character development tactic utilized by the anonymous narrator and is in fact consistent with the rest of the chapbook.


Summary

Feudal Days opens with a description of the Priory of Birkenhead, which sits close to the Mersey inlet, a place where ships frequently wreck. Beyond the inlet, there lies a “bleak and dreary” waste of vegetation; the pious father of the priory (the Prior) cautions travelers to avoid the “track on the right” when navigating through the waste and take the “track on the left” (3). 

On a dark night, the Prior summons one of his men, Father Francis, to accompany him down to the water so that they can encounter any struggling travelers and give them aid. As they walk down to the water, the Prior recalls when Francis was rescued in a similar condition—on a night like this, the Prior slipped and fell walking back up to the priory, and locked eyes with Francis, also suffering on the ground and exhausted due to the weather. The Prior called the other brothers of the priory, and the two men were brought up to the priory and nursed back to health.

Back in the present, the men complete their journey down to the water; as the night gets even darker, they decide to head back to the priory. Before they can leave, they catch a glimpse of a man “in warlike form” wielding a sword, but the figure disappears (5). When they return to the priory and go to sleep, the Prior is haunted by dreams related to that figure.

The next morning, Father Francis steals away from morning prayers to sit in solitude in a sea cave on Mersey’s shore. Father Francis recalls his life before becoming a priest, when he was called Ernulf. Father Francis, in mental turmoil, recounts his parting with his lover, Angela. Father Francis killed Angela’s husband, Arden; Angela also died that night in shock, despite her love for Francis. Francis pleads with God to “forgive their murders,” when, suddenly, he sees the warlike figure from last night (6). The figure turns out to be Francis’s old friend, Rodolph. Rodolph first provides clarity to Francis’s backstory, then launches into his own story, declaring himself an “outlaw” and the “meanest slave of passion” (7).

Rodolph was fighting on behalf of the current king, King Henry, against Henry’s rival Edward and commanding other lords to join the fight. Lord Silbert had not yet joined the fight for Henry, so Rodolph resolved to convince him. Rodolph traveled to Silbert’s estate, where he was received by the Lady of Lord Silbert and their daughter, Ermina. At dinner, Rodolph was not able to convince Silbert to join the fight for Henry; in fact, Silbert believed Henry’s rival Edward had a legitimate claim to the throne. The two men began trading threats of violence against each other and Rodolph left the estate quickly.

However, once Rodolph left the estate, he started thinking about Silbert’s daughter Ermina and her charms, quickly forgetting “his king, friends, and country” (9). Unable to gain access to the estate in a conventional fashion, he sought advice from his friend Lord Redwald, and decided to enter the mansion in the disguise of a peasant. When he revealed himself to Ermina inside the mansion, she told him that he had to leave; Rodolph then kidnapped Ermina with the help of Redwald’s men and brought her to Redwald’s mansion. Silbert, about to greet Edward’s troops, realized that Ermina had been taken. He later received word that a peasant had taken Ermina and offered a reward for intelligence about her whereabouts. Rodolph’s identity and location were betrayed for the reward, and Silbert arrived with his men at Redwald’s estate to fight for Ermina’s freedom. Redwald received a fatal wound during the fight with Silbert’s army, but before he died, he conveyed knowledge of a secret passageway within his mansion that could be used as an escape, and Rodolph, his men, and Ermina left via that route.

Page 14 of the main text, depicting Rodolph and Ermina’s confrontation in the cave

Once they left the castle and found themselves in nature, Rodolph turned his attention back to Ermina, whose affections towards him had not warmed. She told Rodolph that she would not marry him until her father consented, but he resolved to marry her quickly and have her “share [his] couch tonight” despite her wishes (13). He had Ermina brought “shrieking” to his cavern, and told Ermina to swear to be his (13). Before Rodolph could rape Ermina, Ermina seized Rodolph’s own sword and plunged it into his bosom. She thanked God for preserving her honor, then fled from the area.

The next day, Rodolph came to and heard that Ermina had vanished without a trace. Walking around the area with one of his men, Edric, he saw a stranger, who asked him where to find the “lawless” Rodolph (15). Rodolph dueled with this man, killed him, and read his dispatches. According to these papers, a reward of 500 marks was placed on Rodolph’s head, his lands had been bestowed to Silbert, and his mansion had been used by the rival Edward’s troops. With that development, Rodolph ends his backstory, lamenting his new position as an outlaw. Francis states that the turn of events is beneficial, for Rodolph would have violated Ermina’s honor for a few seconds of pleasure, and invites Rodolph to join the priory for the day and give his penitence.

Meanwhile, another stranger—Lord Silbert—knocks on the door of the priory and asks to stay a night before he continues on his journey. The next morning, Silbert is guided along his journey by one of the priory’s domestics, Gaspar. The Prior watches them leave and realizes that Gaspar is leading Silbert along the wrong path to the right, contrary to the Prior’s constant warnings. On this wrong path, an armed band attacks Silbert, and he is about to die when Rodolph shows up and saves Silbert’s life. Rodolph now has Silbert at his mercy, and demands that Silbert give away Ermina to him. Silbert refuses, and then the Prior shows up to intercede. He urges Rodolph to not keep Silbert captive, and Rodolph quickly acquiesces to his exhortations. Rodolph asks Silbert for forgiveness and pledges to find Ermina for him, and Silbert quickly forgives Rodolph and thanks him for saving his life. As they are about to return to the convent, they come across the wounded Gaspar, who betrayed Silbert. The Prior tells Gaspar that he must repent, and Gaspar reveals that beneath this hill lies a secret cavern where a band of murderers, his companions, live.

Rodolph and Silbert resolve to raid this secret cavern. Once they enter the cavern, they find it fully decorated and quickly kill all of the banditti. They also free a woman who had been kneeling before the chief of the band pleading for mercy. This woman is revealed as Ermina, who was taken by this band when she fled from Rodolph. The chief of the banditti took a liking to her, and threatened to kill her unless she consented to marry him.

After the battle is over, the Prior enters the cavern with a messenger of Silbert, who tells Rodolph that if he swears allegiance to Edward and lays down his arms, he will not only be pardoned, but given a royal favor. Rodolph agrees because King Henry is dead and King Edward has the mandate of the people, and Silbert and Rodolph pledge allegiance to each other.

As the party walks back to the priory, they spot a priest, falling into the water. The priest dies soon after and is revealed as Father Francis. Despite this development, the characters of the book wrap up their story happily—Silbert gives Ermina as a gift to Rodolph and consents to their marriage, Silbert and Rodolph give Lord Redwald a proper burial, and King Edward declares that the men can destroy the robber’s cave and give the proceeds to be split amongst his followers. When the Prior dies a few years later, they all mourn “the good man’s death” together (26). 


Bibliography

Andriopoloulos, Stefan. “Occult Conspiracies: Spirits and Secrets in Schiller’s Ghost Seer.” New German Critique, vol. 35, no. 1, 2008, pp. 65­–81.

Feudal Days; or, the Noble Outlaw: An Historical Romance of the Fourteenth Century. London, J. Bailey, n.d.

Feudal Days; or, the Noble Outlaw: An Historical Romance of the Fourteenth Century. London, J. Bailey, 182-. HathiTrust Digital Library. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433112071521&view=1up&seq=11.

“J Bailey.” The British Museum, n.d., https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/AUTH227817.

Hoeveler, Diane L. “Prose Fiction: Zastrossi, St. Irvyne, The Assassins, The Coliseum.” The Oxford Handbook of Percy Bysshe Shelley, edited by Michael O’Neill et al. Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 193–208.

Maxted, Ian. The London Book Trades 1775–1800: A Preliminary Checklist of Members. Dawson, 1977.

“The Noble Outlaw.” The Monthly Theatrical Reporter, vol. 1, no. 8, 1815, pp. 301–303. ProQuest.

The Noble Outlaw.” Theatrical Inquisitor, and Monthly Mirror, Feb.1813–June 1819, vol. 6, 1815, pp. 310–312. ProQuest.

“Pamphlet, Frontispiece, Print.” The British Museum, n.d. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1867-1214-1577

Patten, Robert L. “Cruikshank, George.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 25 May 2006.

“The Robbers: drama by Schiller.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 29 September 2011, https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Robbers.

Witte, William. “Friedrich Schiller: German writer.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 31 May 2007, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Friedrich-Schiller/additional-info#history.


Researcher: Lydia McVeigh

The Last Man. A Romance in Futurity.

The Last Man. A Romance in Futurity.

The Last Man, or Omegarus and Syderia, A Romance in Futurity

Author: Jean-Baptiste-François-Xavier Cousin de Grainville
Publisher: R. Dutton
Publication Year: 1806
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 2 volumes, each 11.5cm x 19cm
Pages: volume one, 220; volume two, 204
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .S52 L 1806


In this 1806 Jean-Baptiste-François-Xavier Cousin de Grainville novel, embark on a journey with the last inhabitants of the world as they navigate around the universe’s impending destruction.


Material History

The Last Man, or Omegarus and Syderia, A Romance in Futurity was originally a French text by Jean-Baptiste-François-Xavier Cousin de Grainville. The author’s name appears nowhere on the front cover or inside of the book. Instead, “By Mrs. Shelly author of Frankenstein [illegible word]” is penciled in underneath the title on the full title page of both volumes. Though the two texts share the same short title, The Last Man, or Omegarus and Syderia, A Romance in Futurity was written by Cousin de Grainville not Mary Shelley.

The full title page for The Last Man, or Omegarus and Syderia, A Romance in Futurity, featuring a reader’s incorrect addition of an author

This edition, which presents the English translation of the French original, was published in London at Grace Church-Street in 1806 by R. Dutton, as denoted on the full title page of both volumes. An epigraph appears underneath the title on the full title page in both volumes and says, “Through what new scenes and changes must we pass?—The wide, th’unbounded, prospect lies before me.—” which is from Addison’s 1713 “Cato.” The French title is not given in this edition, but the French edition is called Le Dernier Homme, Ouvrage Posthume. The full English title, The Last Man, or Omegarus and Syderia, A Romance in Futurity, is only present on the full title page of each volume and the shortened titles—The Last Man. A Romance in Futurity. and The Last Man.—are present on the half title page of each volume. The latter title—The Last Man.—also appears in the top margin of the left and right pages starting from the beginning of chapter one until the end of the last chapter.

Any designs that may have graced the front or back covers of the book are completely gone, due to over 200 years passing since it was originally printed. There are remnants of a wax-dripped insignia on the spine of volume one and black printed letters on the front cover of volume two; otherwise, the covers are a brownish-yellowish color and are fraying at the corners. There is also worn-off blue tape on the spine that wraps towards the center of the front and back covers in an attempt to secure the fragile binding. The book is 11.5 cm by 19 cm and is of a medium thickness. Volume one contains 220 pages and volume two contains 204 pages, making the entire book a total of 424 pages.

The binding from volume two is in poorer condition than volume one, as all the pages are completely detached from the binding. In volume one, the pages are still slightly secured to the binding, albeit a third of the pages are detached from it. However, all of the pages of each volume remain intact and secured to each other with an adhesive. The paper is yellowed, and there are brown splotches of varying sizes on the majority of pages. The origin of these splotches is unknown. When the book is closed, the pages are noticeably crinkled.

A stamp of T. Norris’s Circulating Library

The page immediately following the full title page in volume two has an advertisement for another text published by R. Dutton, The Saracen, or Matilda and Melek Adhel. A Crusade Romance with no listed author. The advertisement relates in italics, “Just published, in 4 vols. 12 mo. price 18s. in boards,” and, “This work has been highly spoken of in the L’Ambigu of M. Peltier.” On page 11 of volume two, there is a handwritten correction for a typo: someone has crossed out “Ormus” and penciled in “Eupholus.” There are no illustrations, decorative elements, table of contents, epilogue, or author’s note present within the text.

We know that this edition of The Last Man has had many institutional homes, as a stamp of T. Norris’s Circulating Library is glued onto the inside of the opening cover of each volume. There are also illegible names and numbers scrawled in pencil and ink on the opening cover and first blank page of each volume, supporting the idea that this edition of The Last Man has passed through many hands. In both volumes, the only writing that can be clearly deciphered is “Doris Pousonly 1927.” This constant transfer between different people also contributed to the novel’s fragile state and worn-out appearance.

The font used in both volumes is identical, and it is of a larger size, making it easier to read. Copious amounts of spaces separate paragraphs, which are generally on the shorter side and range from one to three sentences. The spacing of sentences within paragraphs and words are also spread apart. The first word of every chapter is printed in a larger font size than the following words, with the first letter in a more decorative font. The chapter headers are preceded and succeeded by black lines, which creates ample spacing between them and the paragraphs. They are also in a different font and size than the primary font and font size, and the numbers are roman numerals. Page numbers appear at the top of the pages – the leftmost side of the left page and the rightmost side of the right page.

Different printer notes are scattered throughout the chapters in order to keep track of the page order. Below the last sentence of each paragraph, there are catchwords placed on the bottom and to the rightmost side of the page. These words were customary printing techniques during the nineteenth-century to pair up pages with the same word that appeared at the top of the next page. Also, capital letters immediately followed by a number appear inconsistently on the middle of the bottom portions of pages. These notes provided a map for printers on how to fold the book and align the pages together.


Textual History

An advertisement for The Saracen, or Matilda and Melek Adhel, which was also published by R. Dutton, appears in volume 2 of The Last Man

The Last Man. A Romance in Futurity. was originally written in French by Jean-Baptiste-François-Xavier Cousin de Grainville and titled Le dernier homme. Cousin de Grainville was a former priest at the Church of Saint-Leu in Amiens. This is also the same place where he delivered a funeral oration defending the King of France at the time, Louis XVI, which resulted in his imprisonment and potential death sentence. In order to avoid the latter, he was urged into marriage, and the union simply became a way to keep up appearances. After the marriage, he began writing Le dernier homme, which ultimately became his life’s work. He also kept a school in Amiens, but was shunned as an apostate priest. Due to the treatment he endured, he committed suicide at Amiens in 1805, making Le dernier homme a posthumous publication (Paley 67–8).

The Last Man. A Romance in Futurity. was published and received in several different manners. The original French publication received little to no attention; Morton D. Paley notes that this makes the emergence of the English version in 1806, which lists no author, strange (68). The minimum attention the novel received produced a few reviews, which were generally bad. In one instance, the reviewer deems the novel as “most extravagantly wild and eccentric” and recommends it to readers who are “much addicted to the reading of romances” but also warns, “if the same readers should be hostile to licentiousness and profaneness, and should think that translations (as this seems to be) one of the vilest books imported from the Continent, ought to be consigned to some other conspicuous place—we recommend the fire” (“Art. 21” 446). The 1811 publication of the second edition of Le dernier homme in French was influenced by Sir Herbert Croft, who was a contemporary admirer of the novel, and prefaced by Charles Nodier, who was Croft’s literary assistant; the second edition received a little more attention than the first, but still remained widely unknown (Paley 68).

A signature by a person who previously held the book

Cousin de Grainville’s work is believed to have inspired the development of other pieces of literature in the following years of its publication. Benjamin Morgan suggests that Cousin de Grainville’s novel stimulated the genre of “Romantic millenarianism,” which included the works of Lord Byron’s Darkness (1816), Thomas Campbell’s The Last Man (1823), and Mary Shelley’s The Last Man (1826) (618). All of these texts are placed in an impending apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic world and involve a fixation on the last man on earth. In 1831, the novel was adapted into a poem by A. Creuzé de Lesser, which was titled “Le dernier homme, poème imité de Grainville,” and published in Paris (Paley 68).

Today, The Last Man. A Romance in Futurity. has been attended to by many scholars and approached as a work of science fiction, potentially one of the earliest such works. Wesleyan University Press published an edition, translated by I.F. Clarke and M. Clarke in 2003 as part of their Early Classics of Science Fiction series. In one review of this newer edition, John Huntington emphasizes common literary elements in the novel, such as “realism and “the kind of empirical detail which will later characterize the SF [science fiction] novel” (374). There have also been interpretations that contextualize the earth’s deterioration in the novel. In one analysis, Morgan situates Cousin de Grainville’s novel amidst other works that examine “ecological catastrophe” (618).


Narrative Point of View

The Last Man. A Romance in Futurity. is a frame narrative in which the main story is narrated in the third-person omniscient by an anonymous narrator and the secondary tale is narrated in the first person by Omegarus. The frame narrative is heavy on dialogue, while typically using descriptive paragraphs to reveal that a strange or magnificent event has taken place. The secondary narrative is related from the perspective of Omegarus, in which he tells Adam about his history. Since the secondary narrative is in the first person while also incorporating a lot of dialogue, Omegarus uses descriptive paragraphs to focus on his thoughts and reactions to different situations. Omegarus also relates stories that other characters told him at that particular instance in his history, which can generate confusion as to the chronology of events. The secondary narrative functions as the backstory to the main narrative, which is narrated in the present. At times, the third-person narration of the framing narrative interrupts the secondary narrative to remind readers that it is the main story, as one can easily become lost in the secondary narrative and forget about the main narrative. It also serves as a way to interact with readers, as we are like Adam listening for the first time to Omegarus’s story.

Sample Passage of Main Frame Narrative:

Scarcely had Omegarus ended the description of the two pictures, when Adam, much affected, interrupted him saying, “Omegarus, O my son! (allow me to use this appellation from my tenderness) hold an instant, and let me recover breath! Thou hast opened again in my heart a source of sentiment which I thought dried up. Ah! If thou didst but know me! – I, as well as Adam, had a wife and children, and but now fancied that I saw them, heard them, and tasted with them all the joys of a husband and father!” (vol. 2, 48–49)

In the main narrative, Adam stands in the same place as the readers of the novel, as he is invested and heavily affected by listening to Omegarus’s story for the first time. This invites readers to be sympathetic towards Omegarus and his future. Readers also know more than Omegarus, because we know Adam’s true identity while Omegarus is unaware of who Adam is at this point in the story. Adam points this out in this passage as he laments, “If thou didst but know me!” then Omegarus would understand why he is heavily affected by the story. In expressing his emotions, Adam interrupts Omegarus’s story, bringing readers back from the secondary narrative to the main narrative. This interjection also acts as a break from Omegarus’s story, which contains a lot of information to digest in one taking.

Sample Passage of Secondary Narrative:

I came. Her room decked out, the soft fragrance I inhaled, Syderia’s dress, – all were preparations that surprised me. I drew near her ; the picture of Eve with her infant son attracted and delighted my eye, and induced a wish to see the other which was veiled. No emotion ever equalled mine at the sight of the Mother of Mankind in the arms of her husband. (vol. 2, 51)

From the first sentence here, the “I” used by Omegarus denotes this passage as originating from the secondary narrative versus the main narrative, which makes no use of first-person pronouns outside of dialogue. Because of this, readers have a window into Omegarus’ thoughts, specifically about Syderia in comparison to the painting of Eve in this sample passage. This ability invites readers to be sympathetic towards Omegarus and gain an understanding of where he is coming from, as we are learning his history from his own perspective, even though Omegarus’s narrative is also faulty and biased, since it is difficult to remember every instance that has occurred in one’s history.


Summary

The half-title page for The Last Man, or Omegarus and Syderia, A Romance in Futurity.

The novel begins with an unknown speaker being willed to enter a cave by a spirit possessing knowledge of all future events. The spirit intends to reveal the events that will result in the end of the universe through a magic mirror. The speaker first sees an image of a melancholy man and woman, Omegarus and Syderia, who are the last inhabitants of the universe. The spirit shows the speaker, who is interested by the cause of their melancholy, a different image depicting Adam, the first father of mankind, guarding the gates of hell as punishment for causing the human race to have original sin. Ithuriel, an angel, comes to Adam and tells him that God has a special mission for him, which involves sending him back to earth. In return for his participation and success in the mission, Adam will be granted deliverance from his punishment. Ithuriel promptly returns Adam to earth, where God communicates that he must demand from Omegarus painful sacrifices using only eloquence and persuasion.

Omegarus and Syderia walk outside of their palace after being plagued by images of bleeding specters and the sound of groans, when they see an old man, who they view as a favorable omen sent from heaven. The old man is actually Adam, who must conceal his true identity from Omegarus and Syderia. Adam inquires the source of their sorrows, to which Omegarus relates the images and sounds that have plagued him and Syderia. Adam confirms that Omegarus has committed a fault that has agitated heaven, and he was sent to teach him how to avoid it. He asks Omegarus to tell him the history of his life and Omegarus begins to tell his story.

Omegarus’s birth was a phenomenon, due to procreation being fruitless twenty years prior, and was nicknamed “Manchild.” No other children, though, were born afterwards, and shortly after the death of Omegarus’s parents, he decided to travel to Europe. Before leaving, he visited his parents’ tomb where the Genius of earth, who is charged with the planet’s preservation and care, appeared to him and warned him of earth’s impending destruction. The Genius explained that he would live as long as the earth lived and that only Omegarus, united by marriage with a specific woman, would result in the production of children and delay the earth’s, mankind’s, and his own destruction. Omegarus offered to promote the Genius’ intentions, and the Genius told him to seek out a man named Idamas, because he knew what plans heaven had for Omegarus.

The start of volume two, showing the large spacing and different fonts used

Upon entering the city that Idamas inhabited, Omegarus encountered Policletes and Cephisa, who had been imparted the knowledge of Omegarus’s fate. Policletes told Omegarus how he went to a temple one day after feeling anxious about the earth’s decay and had a vision of Omegarus as a child, who told him his anxieties would end when he laid eyes on Omegarus’s future wife. Policletes charged this vision as the reason for seeking out Omegarus’s wife. After this encounter, Omegarus continued searching for Idamas, until he is stopped by a man named Palemos, who claimed that heaven had bestowed the knowledge of the future to him and knew Idamas. He explained how he was a guest at Idamas’s home the previous night, where he witnessed God tell Idamas that the earth would be revived through Omegarus, who he is meant to accompany in his journey. Policletes then took Omegarus to Idamas, and they subsequently depart across the seas.

On their journey, Idamas related to Omegarus the story of Ormus, who promised to bring his people into a new world by taking control of the ocean. Initially, his people supported him, but eventually, Ormus abandoned his plans due to his people claiming that his actions were selfish and simply a way to have his name immortalized. Afterwards, Ormus sought refuge in the City of the Sun in Brazil, where he was greatly revered. Omegarus’s future wife was also in Brazil. Idamas’s narrative was interrupted when they discovered that they had reached Brazil’s shores. Omegarus, Idamas, and all of their companions were initially met by Eupolis and the Americans who intended to kill all of them, since this was the law enforced in Brazil to preserve the minimal food supply. Only a sign from heaven, which was the gift of numerous animals from a neighboring village, caused Eupolis and the Americans to change their intentions and lead them to Aglauros, who ruled in the Brazils. Idamas told Aglauros of the display by heaven and convinced him of Omegarus’s role as the reviver of the human race. He then told Aglauros that he would name Omegarus’s wife, and Aglauros allowed Idamas to follow-through with his plans, but imprisoned Omegarus in a tower so that he does not accidentally choose the wrong woman.

After several weeks, Idamas told Aglauros to order all the young American virgins to the plains of Azas where he would name Omegarus’s wife. Meanwhile, Omegarus was visited in the tower by a goddess, who painted an image of a perfect and beautiful woman. The following night and onwards, the same woman visited him in the tower. Syderia also experienced the same phenomena as Omegarus, but instead, she was visited everyday by a young man. They fell in love with each other, which is the reason why both Omegarus and Syderia wished to not partake in the plains of Azas. Despite their reluctance, Omegarus and Syderia were required to go to Azas and discovered that they were the ones they saw every day and night.

This page shows a typo corrected by a previous reader of the book, as well as the printer notes (B6) and a catchword (Wretched), both designed to help the printer or bookbinder assemble the pages

The preparations for their marriage were immediately started, but Ormus, who was charged with uniting Omegarus and Syderia, prophesized that their marriage would actually result in the destruction of earth and mankind. He bestowed this knowledge onto Eupolis and a few of the Americans. On the day of Omegarus and Syderia’s wedding, Eupolis revealed this knowledge to everyone after Ormus and Idamas are killed by presumably heaven’s wrath. He demanded that Omegarus return to Europe and Syderia remain in Brazil. 

That night, Forestan, Syderia’s father, visited Omegarus and pleaded that he took Syderia with him to Europe, for Eupolis and the Americans intended to kill both her and Omegarus to eliminate the threat of the prophecy all together. Omegarus agreed, and him and Syderia escaped to Europe the same night. In the following days, Omegarus was consumed with his love for Syderia, which she refused to return in respect of her father’s wishes to not marry Omegarus. One day, Omegarus wished to escape Syderia’s presence and ended up in a delightful valley wherein he perceived Syderia willingly accepting his love. Realizing it was an illusion, Omegarus immediately rushed back to Syderia, but she still implored that they remained separated. This caused further distress in Omegarus, who now shunned Syderia.

One day, Syderia is visited by her father’s spirit, who revealed that he had died shortly after her departure. He told her that heaven actually approved of her marriage to Omegarus and that his love for her would be rekindled by two images located over the altar in the temple. Syderia was moved by the second image, which depicted Eve and her infant son, and presented herself under the two images so that Omegarus may find her. Once he found her, Omegarus was moved by the first image of Eve and Adam getting married. Shortly after, Omegarus and Syderia got married. With the end of his narrative, Omegarus demands Adam to ask heaven whether or not their union is favorable.

After consulting with heaven, Adam drags Omegarus from the palace and reveals that Syderia is pregnant and their child will be the father of an ill-fated generation of humans. Omegarus is unwilling to believe Adam, as he is still unaware of his true identity. Adam cites all of the bad events that have taken place since Omegarus and Syderia have been in each other’s company, and Omegarus admits that he was in the wrong, but refuses to allow Syderia’s death and the death of their child. This refusal causes Adam to reveal his true identity to Omegarus as the “Father of Mankind,” and he tells Omegarus the mission that God has entrusted to him. Although at first unwilling to let Syderia die, Omegarus changes his mind when God shows him a vision of the future where his future generations are at war with each other. Omegarus signs a tree and carves that he is innocent in hopes that Syderia reads it and officially parts ways with her. She ultimately perishes as a result of his absence. The Almighty opens the graves of the dead and shields Omegarus from the havoc the dead causes. The novel concludes with Omegarus witnessing the end of the universe.


Bibliography

Cousin de Grainville, Jean-Baptiste-François-Xavier. The Last Man, or Omegarus and Syderia, A Romance in Futurity. London, R. Dutton, 1806.

Huntington, John. “Lumen/The Last Man.” Extrapolation (pre-2012), 44.3 (Fall 2003): 372–375.

Morgan, Benjamin. “Fin du Globe: On Decadent Planets.” Victorian Studies, Vol. 58, No. 4 (Summer 2016): 609–635.

“Art. 21. The Last Man; or Omegarus and Syderia, a Romance in Futurity.” The British Critic, 1793–1826, vol. 28, 1806, pp. 446.

Paley, Morton D. “Le dernier homme: The French Revolution as the Failure of Typology.” Mosaic 24, 1 (Jan 1991): 67–76.


Researcher: Shayna Gomez

Falkner

Falkner

Falkner: A Novel

Author: Mary Shelley
Publisher: Saunders and Otley
Publication Year: 1837
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 3 volumes, each 12cm x 19.4cm
Pages: 953
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .S52 F 1837


In this 1837 three-volume novel, set in multiple countries across Europe, Shelley grapples with the issues of one man’s guilt and his attempt to resolve it by adopting a young orphan girl.


Material History

The title page of Falkner, with Rebow’s signature in the upper right corner

Falkner is a lesser-known novel by the famed Mary Shelley. The version held in the Sadleir-Black Collection is the first edition of the text, which was published in 1837 and presents the novel in three volumes, which was a common means of publication at the time. While the spine lists the title as solely the word Falkner, the title page of the novel calls it Falkner: A Novel. We know that this was written by Mary Shelley; however, her full name is not stated in any of the three volumes. The title page in each volume simply says, “By the author of ‘Frankenstein;’ ‘The Last Man,’ &c.”. This is followed by a quote from “Rosalind and Helen” by Percy Shelley (1819). It reads,

“there stood
In record of a sweet sad story,
An altar, and a temple bright,
Circled by steps, and o’er the gate
Was sculptured, ‘To Fidelity!’”

Each volume in this set measures approximately 12 centimeters by 19.4 centimeters and is approximately 2.3 centimeters deep. The volumes are half-bound with leather; this means that the spine and corners are bound in leather, but the rest of the book is not. The leather on the spine is decorated with gold gilding. The cover is covered with blue marbled paper that is noticeably faded around the center on each volume. The edges of the pages within the volumes are also marbled blue.

A bookplate from the personal library of John G. Rebow

The pages within these volumes are of medium thickness; they are not thick, but they are also not extremely thin. Volume I consists of 322 pages, volume II is 312 pages, and volume III is 319 pages, which add up to a total of 953 pages in all. While this sounds like a lengthy read, it feels surprisingly short. There is a lot of white space on the pages, and the margins are wide, which makes each page a quick, short read. The font is not too large or too small, adding to the ease with which the novel can be read. Some pages throughout these volumes have letters or letter/number combinations at the bottom. These are printer notes, used to help the printers print, fold, and order the pages correctly. It should also be noted that in the back of Volume I, there is a front and back page of advertisements from the publisher.

These particular volumes are interesting because they each have a personal bookplate in the front, indicating that they once belonged to John Gurdon Rebow. His signature can be found on the title page of each book as well. The bookplates have call numbers, “D. 2.” written on them that most likely indicate their shelving location in Rebow’s personal library. This can be interpreted as the book being shelved on shelf 2 of bookcase D.

Overall, these particular copies of the volumes of Falkner are unique in their own ways. While clearly a matching set in the color of their marbling, the volumes are worn to varying degrees. The pages are slightly yellowed from time. The volumes clearly show their age, particularly the first volume due to some tearing where the spine was originally bound, but they seem to be in relatively nice condition for books that are centuries old.


Textual History

Falkner is the final novel written by Mary Shelley before her death. Shelley was born in August 1797 and died in February 1851. Her two most well-known works of her career are Frankenstein and The Last Man, both of which are mentioned on the title page of Falkner.

A page of advertisements from Saunders and Otley, printed in the back of Falkner volume 1

Falkner was first published in 1837 by Saunders and Otley in London. This edition was published in three volumes and was printed by Stevens and Pardon, Printers. In the same year, Falkner was published in one volume by Harper & Brothers in New York. (The Sadleir-Black Collection also houses a copy of this one-volume edition.) In addition to these versions, Falkner is also contained in various collections of Mary Shelley’s works, including The Novels and Collected Works of Mary Shelley (1996), edited by Pamela Clemit. In 2017, Falkner was translated into an Italian version, titled Il Segreti di Falkner, or Falkner’s Secret. There are also online editions of this novel. The 1837 edition published by Harper & Brothers has been archived online on the HathiTrust website.

Many advertisements and reviews of Shelley’s Falkner can be found in periodicals published near the time of its first publication. There is a brief advertisement combined with a brief review that can be found in The Standard, in an issue from March 1837. There is a shorter advertisement in an April 1837 issue of John Bull. Overall, the reviews of Falkner seem to be positive. It is ambiguous whether overall positivity is due to the actual success of Falkner or Shelley’s fame from her prior works. The Metropolitan Magazine, in a March 1837 issue, states, “The only fault that we can find with [Falkner] … is, that its tone is too universally sombre” (67). The Literary Gazette in London references “the talent of the writer” in its review of the novel (66). A combination advertisement and review in The Athenæum gives a short, concise summary of the plot of the novel without giving away the ending. At the end of the summary, it explains, “we have thus imperfectly shadowed out the mystery of the novel, but we must leave the unraveling of it to Mrs. Shelley,—satisfied, that if you put yourself under her guidance, you will own that your labour has not been in vain” (75). Many of the reviews show that the novel was often well-received in its time, yet there are some reviews that are not so kind to Shelley’s work. The Examiner contains a much less favorable review of Falkner in February of 1837: “The story of Falkner, faulty as it is, makes a small part of the book, which is swollen out with tedious reflections, and prosing explanations of motives and feelings. It will practice the reader in the art of skipping” (101).

Falkner has been discussed and written about by scholars in regard to varying subjects. Scholars have discussed Falkner both on its own and in the context of Shelley’s works, beginning in the late twentieth century and leading into the twenty-first century.


Narrative Point of View

The story of Falkner is predominantly recounted by an unnamed third-person narrator. The narration is third-person omniscient as the narrator gives insight into the characters’ thoughts and feelings. The narrator also withholds some information. Sentences largely vary in length; some are short and brief, while others are lengthy and feel quite winded. There are moments throughout the novel when the narrator also invokes a first person plural perspective. In these instances, the narrator switches to using a “we” pronoun, rather than the third-person perspective that is used in the majority of the novel.

Sample Passage:

We are all apt to think that when we discard a motive we cure a fault, and foster the same error from a new cause with a safe conscience. Thus, even now, aching and sore from the tortures of remorse for past faults, Falkner indulged in the same propensity, which, apparently innocent in its commencement, had led to fatal results. He meditated doing rather what he wished, than what was strictly just. He did not look forward to the evils his own course involved, while he saw in disproportionate magnitude those to be brought about if he gave up his favourite project. What ills might arise to the orphan from his interweaving her fate with his — he, a criminal, in act, if not in intention — who might be called upon hereafter to answer for his deeds, and who at least must fly and hide himself — of this he thought not; while he determined, that, fostered and guarded by him, Elizabeth must be happy — and, under the tutelage of her relations, she would become the victim of hardhearted neglect. These ideas floated somewhat indistinctly in his mind — and it was half unconsciously that he was building them a fabric for the future, as deceitful as it was alluring. (Volume I, 78–79)

In this passage, the narrator begins using the first person “we.” This allows a generalization—“We are all apt to think”—that relates Falkner to people as a whole. As the narration moves from the first person plural to third person, the opening generalization also paves the way for the narrator’s access into Falkner’s mind. The narrator goes into Falkner’s head and follows his train of thought. This passage is quite long, but it is composed of a mere six sentences. The statement in the middle of the passage, “What ills might arise … the victim of hardhearted neglect,” is one to note because it is the longest sentence given. The third-person point of view allows this sentence to feel akin to stream of consciousness. The dashes between the different parts of the sentence break it up and make it possible to see how each of Falkner’s thoughts connect to one another as he debates what to do with his new charge. The thoughts that do not cross his mind can also be learned through the narrator, in the sentence that notes, “of this he thought not.”


Summary

The marbled cover of Falkner

Falkner follows the story of a young girl named Elizabeth and begins in the town of Treby. Struck with consumption, her father passes away, and her mother dies a few short months later. Just before her death, Elizabeth’s mother begins writing a letter to a woman named Alithea entreating her to take in her daughter and explaining that she does not want Elizabeth to be taken in by her late husband’s family. She dies before she can finish the letter, so it is never sent. The landlord, Mrs. Baker, reads the letter, and takes in Elizabeth, hoping that the girl’s family will one day come looking for her and will reward Mrs. Baker for her kindness. While staying with Mrs. Baker, Elizabeth often goes to her mother’s grave to play, study, and pray, all while feeling close to her mother.

One day, a stranger by the name of John Falkner shows up in Treby and spends a lot of time out of town by himself. He feels guilty because he killed someone, so he goes to the graveyard to kill himself. He makes the mistake of sitting on Elizabeth’s mother’s grave to kill himself, and the young girl stops him. He worries for a young girl out by herself and opts to walk her home. When he meets Mrs. Baker, she tells him Elizabeth’s story and shows him the letter. He is struck by the realization that the woman he killed is the same woman that Elizabeth’s mother was writing to. Upon realizing this, he feels guilty and decides to take Elizabeth with him on his travels, so they leave together for London. Elizabeth begins calling Falkner “papa.” Falkner feels that Elizabeth will be happier with him than with her distant relations, so he chooses to keep her with him. They meet a friend of Falkner’s who tells them that Mr. Neville’s wife has run off with a mysterious lover, and that Mr. Neville is going after them.

Elizabeth and Falkner balance each other’s personalities well: he makes her feel safe, and she is always able to calm his temper. They have been traveling together for years when Falkner decides to hire Miss Jervis, who serves as a governess for Elizabeth. While in Baden, Germany, Elizabeth meets a sad young man, Mr. Neville; his mother was the same Mrs. Neville that ran away from her husband and eloped. Realizing that this boy is the son of Alithea weakens Falkner. He feels guilty for what has become of the boy’s life. He feels that he does not deserve to live, but he no longer wants to kill himself; he decides to join the war in Greece with the goal of dying in battle and wants Elizabeth to return to her family. Elizabeth refuses to leave him, so she stays nearby, and they part from Miss Jervis. Elizabeth desires to save Falkner, but she misses the Neville boy.

While a soldier in Greece, Falkner does not take care of himself because he is still trying to die. He falls ill and is injured in battle by a musketball. The surgeon recommends that he be taken to a place with less dingy air, so they take him to a coastal town. Elizabeth stays by his side until he begins to get better. Falkner decides that since she has saved his life twice, he no longer wishes to die but wants to live for Elizabeth and her happiness. He tells her that he has written of his crime so that she can learn of it in his words after his death.

The pair travels to Italy and meets a group of English people, including Lady Cecil, for whom Miss Jervis is the governess. Falkner and Elizabeth then travel to a different part of Italy where they happen across the young Mr. Neville, which causes Falkner more stress. When they arrive in London, Elizabeth gets sick from the stress of worrying about Falkner. Hearing of the girl’s illness, Lacy Cecil comes to invite her and Falkner to stay with her for two months. Elizabeth goes, but Falkner declines; he promises to join them later. Lady Cecil tells Elizabeth about her brother, Gerard, because she believes they would get along quite well. Elizabeth returns to health while she is staying with Lady Cecil and soon learns that Gerard is none other than her beloved Mr. Neville. He begins to share the supposedly scandalous story of his mother’s disappearance, but relinquishes that duty to Lady Cecil.

Lady Cecil tells Elizabeth the story of the young and beautiful Alithea Neville. She was young when she married Boyvill—formerly Mr. Neville—, but she did her wifely duties well. The two had a son and daughter together; Alithea doted upon the boy, while her husband loved the little girl. Sir Boyvill left for two months for business, and when he returned, his wife and son were out of the house. A storm came that night, and the pair had not returned. Upon searching, they found young Gerard ill in the road, and he said that mamma had been taken off in a carriage with a man named Rupert. It was determined that Alithea had been kidnapped or may be dead. Sir Boyvill, however, believed his wife to have left willingly with the man; Gerard disagreed. He believed that she was either dead or in prison. Sir Boyvill and Alithea’s daughter died less than a year after her mother’s disappearance. Boyvill felt that his wife’s affair had hurt his honor, so he filed for divorce from the missing woman. This meant that Gerard had to testify against his mother; he did but did not want to. The boy ran away to search for his mother, but his father found out and brought him home. Gerard continued to believe his mother was innocent but dead, so he was determined to find her grave. During this time, Sir Boyvill met and married Lady Cecil’s mother.

Now, Gerard is still searching for the truth behind his mother’s disappearance. He leaves Lady Cecil’s home when a man from America claims to have knowledge of his mother. Lady Cecil believes his goal is futile, but Elizabeth supports him in his search. When he comes back from his meeting with Hoskins, the American, he announces that his mother is dead. Hoskins told him about an Englishman named Osborne, who helped a man bury his lover twelve years ago after she drowned in a river, so he wants to go to American to meet Osborne. Elizabeth writes to Falkner about the situation, and he asks her to come home at once.

This page shows how a chapter is denoted and begins

Falkner learns that Lady Cecil desires Gerard and Elizabeth to marry. He believes this to be a good union, but he wants to distance himself from Elizabeth and seek out her biological family. He finds them, but he learns that her father brought dishonor to the family by leaving the church and marrying a poor woman, so her grandfather does not want her. When Elizabeth returns home to Falkner, he worries about what she will think of him considering her new love for Gerard and wonders how much she has changed, but she approaches him with the same love and admiration as before. Gerard comes to say goodbye before he leaves for America, but Falkner tells him not to go because the man he is looking for is standing in front of him. Falkner admits that his name is Rupert Falkner and that he killed the boy’s mother. He gives his written account of the event to Elizabeth and tells her to read it and share it with Gerard.

Falkner’s story tells of his abusive father and his mother’s death when he was a young boy. His father developed a drinking problem and died, so he was taken in by his uncle. His parents called him Rupert, but his uncle called him John, so he mostly went by the latter. He began to visit a woman named Mrs. Rivers and her daughter, Alithea. Mrs. Rivers was distantly related to his mother, and the two women grew up together, but they lost touch when they got married. He spent a lot of time with Mrs. Rivers and her daughter, and the former was always impressing upon him the need to be a good person. In spite of this, Falkner had a temper at school and ended up getting in a fight. He was sent off to the East Indian military college, where he stayed for two years. Alithea wrote to him to let him know that her mother was dying, so he ran away from school to visit and was present when Mrs. Rivers passed. He desired to marry Alithea but was rejected by her father, so he stayed in India as a soldier for ten years. He received word that his uncle and cousin had both passed away, which meant their inheritance became his. When he returned to England, he learned that Alithea’s father had died, but she married in the time he was away. He met her husband, Mr. Neville—now Sir Boyvill—and hated him.

A man by the name of Osborne knew of Falkner’s newly acquired wealth and asked him to assist with his passage to America. Falkner agreed and decided to go to America with him. Before they left, he met with Alithea and learned that she did not love her husband, so he asked her to come to America with them. She said no because she was married and had two children. Falkner thought he could convince her to run away with him, and he asked Osborne to drive the carriage and gave him the instruction not to stop driving until they reached their destination. He went to her house, and walked with her and her young son toward his carriage. Upon talking with Alithea, he changed his mind and decided Alithea should stay with her family. Once they reached the carriage, however, he swept her into it, and Osborne drove them away. She started having convulsions and looked unwell, but Osborne followed his instruction and would not stop. They reached the hut Falkner planned to stop at, and Alithea appeared to recover. He laid her on a couch and stepped outside with Osborne to ready the carriage to return her home with her family. He found Alithea’s body shortly after, drowned in the river. He surmised she had woken up and, in a moment of terror, attempted to cross the stream and return home. The men buried her body, Osborne went off to America, and Falkner ended up in Treby, where he met Elizabeth so long ago.

Elizabeth finishes reading this account and sends it and a letter to Gerard so he can finally learn the truth of his mother’s disappearance. She begs him to be kind to her father, for although he did bad things, he did not kill his mother. Falkner, certain that Gerard will kill him for his crimes, sends proof of Elizabeth’s birth to her family and tells her that they will take her in soon.

Gerard reads Elizabeth’s letter, but he gives Falkner’s written account to his father to read first. Believing that Falkner killed his mother, Gerard contemplates killing the man, but worries about the pain it would cause Elizabeth. Upon reading the letter and finding his wife innocent, Sir Boyvill has Gerard promise that he will avenge her death. Boyvill then leaves home, and Gerard follows soon after to find him. When he finds his father in their old home of Dromore, he is with a group of men from town, and they are uncovering Alithea’s remains. Sir Boyvill plans to have his wife’s remains formally interred and wants a trial for Falkner.

This page of text shows an example of printer notes, located at the bottom of the page

Elizabeth is out of the house when men come to escort Falkner to prison, so she does not know what has happened. Lady Cecil arrives at their home with another woman, who turns out to be Elizabeth’s aunt. The ladies entreat Elizabeth to go home with them, but she insists on visiting her father because she has just learned of his imprisonment. Her aunt offers her a place in her home as a member of the family, but Elizabeth rejects the offer, stating that she is not a part of their family. She is and will forever be Elizabeth Falkner. Gerard returns and pleads with Elizabeth to go with her family and not to go see Falkner. He admits his love to her, but even this is not enough.

Falkner misses the girl while he is in prison, but he cannot bring himself to write to her. He is surprised when Elizabeth shows up at the prison, but her arrival makes him feel suddenly free. Elizabeth spends most of her time with him in the prison; when they are not together, neither of them feel happy or well. The grand jury decides that Falkner will go to trial for his crimes, but the trial is postponed until they can get Osborne back to England. Someone goes to get Osborne, but he has not yet arrived, and people are getting impatient. During this time, Elizabeth, who has not heard much from Gerard, catches him following and watching her. Falkner learns that Osborne is refusing to come to his trial.

On learning this, Elizabeth wants to travel to America to convince Osborne to come. Gerard decides to go in her place, creating more tension with his father. Gerard finds Hoskins in an attempt to learn of Osborne’s whereabouts and learns that he is already in England under a false name. The appearance of Gerard scares Osborne away, and Gerard assumes the man has boarded a ship to return to America. He plans to follow the man. Osborne visits Falkner and Elizabeth in the prison under his false name. He does not plan to testify in the trial and help Falkner, but Elizabeth changes his mind, and he agrees to come forward. Elizabeth writes a letter to Gerard about the situation, so he does not leave for America.

Gerard writes another letter to Elizabeth to let her know that his father is dying. This means the trial may be delayed again. Sir Boyvill soon dies. Gerard tells them that before he died, his father declared that Falkner is actually innocent. Elizabeth cannot enter the trial with him, so they are forced to separate for a while. The trial begins, and Gerard declares in his testimony that Falkner is innocent. Elizabeth spends her time at home crying and waiting for the results of the trial until her aunt comes to visit and give her support.

Finally, Falkner is found to be innocent and is released. Elizabeth’s aunt offers her home as a place for Falkner and Elizabeth to stay, and they graciously accept. During this time, Elizabeth and Gerard miss each other dearly, but neither knows how to approach the situation, due to their circumstances and Elizabeth’s loyalty to Falkner. Gerard writes to the pair of them, asking if Elizabeth can be his and stating that he will take her and Falkner as a pair of sorts. Falkner writes back to say that if Gerard will come and take his daughter, he will remove himself from their lives. Gerard does not wish to tear Elizabeth from this man whom she loves, so he marries her and makes the best amends he can with Falkner. They all stay together for the rest of their time. Gerard and Elizabeth have a happy life and children of their own, but Falkner never forgives himself for his faults.


Bibliography

Falkner: A Novel.” The Athenaeum, 484 (1837): 74–75.

“Falkner.” Examiner, 1515 (1837): 101.

“Falkner.” The Literary Gazette: A weekly journal of literature, science, and the fine arts. 1046 (1837): 66–68.

“Falkner.” The Metropolitan magazine, 1833–1840 18.71 (1837): 65–67.

John Bull (London, England), Issue 853 (Monday, April 17, 1837): pg. 191. New Readerships.

Shelley, Mary. Falkner: A Novel. London, Saunders and Otley, 1837.

Shelley, Mary. Falkner: A Novel. New York, Harper & Brothers, 1837. Print.

Shelley, Mary. Falkner: A Novel. New York, Harper & Brothers, 1837. HathiTrust, https://hdl.handle.net/2027/dul1.ark:/13960/t5q822n9w.

The Standard (London, England), Issue 3068 (Thursday, March 09, 1837): pg. 1. British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800–1900.


Researcher: Kenzie M. Hampton

The Convent Spectre

The Convent Spectre

A Convent Spectre; or Unfortunate Daughter

Author: Unknown
Publisher: T. and R. Hughes
Publication Year: 1808
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11cm x 17.5cm. 
Pages: 36
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .C667 1808


In this chapbook published in 1808, two characters meet in a convent and realize, through a tale of mystery and suspense, that they have more in common than they thought.


Material History

The Convent Spectre‘s cover page shows the typical look of bluebooks

The novel, The Convent Spectre; or Unfortunate Daughter, is a gothic text published in 1808 in London. The more common title is simply The Convent Spectre, evident due to the fact that this shortened title and the date are the only text that appear on the front cover. The title page inside the front cover displays the full name. There is no official author listed for this text and there are no markings of a potential author in the book.  

This work is only 36 pages and does not contain any chapters. The 11cm by 17.5cm chapbook simply consists of a binding, frontispiece, title page, and the text of the story. The Convent Spectre was printed as a bluebook. These were cheap pamphlets of short gothic stories, many of which were essentially plagiarized versions of longer gothic novels. They were called bluebooks because the cover was a thin piece of plain blue paper. Although one of the first descriptions that comes to mind for this novel from a contemporary perspective is that it is unique, in the early nineteenth century it would have been considered extremely commonplace to own bluebooks. The binding paper on this particular copy is more teal than blue, which could be the effects of weathering, or it may have just been printed with slightly greenish paper. Despite flimsy binding, the book has been preserved relatively well for the past 200 years, which leads to the conclusion that it may not have been frequently read before ending up in the Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia. The front cover is extremely plain. The title and the date of publication on the cover appear to be handwritten. Everything about the publication highlights its inexpensiveness. 

The one illustration in this entire book, the frontispiece, is surprisingly detailed considering the overall quality of the publication. This black and white image fills the entire page. However, as opposed to the multiple pictures that might be featured in a longer gothic text, this bluebook only contains one. On the title page there is in an epigraph of a quote from Shakespeare. 

Overall, the book is extremely fragile. The edges of each page are worn away slightly, but none of the pages have been damaged enough so that the text is illegible. The paper itself feels like the material of a coffee filter and has a slightly yellowish tint. There are stains on some of the pages, and one particular stain appears to be from coffee or some dark drink and is noticeable on multiple of the pages. Additionally, the binding is very worn and fragile. The top of it is coming undone but the lower half is still together. Essentially, the book seems to have gone through some wear and tear but considering how delicate the book is as whole suggests that each previous owner of the pamphlet has tried to keep it in good shape. 

The title page and frontispiece of The Convent Spectre

The layout of each page maximizes the amount of text that could fit in a 36-page pamphlet; there are small margins and small text. Each page contains the title and page number at the top, and some of the pages have marking such as “A2”, “B3”, and “C1” on the bottom. This was a common convention during the gothic time period because it helped the publishers ensure they bound the pages in the correct order. One sheet of text would come out of the printer in eight rectangular pages, front and back, to make sixteen pages of text on each sheet, and then be folded to fit into the binding. 

Conclusively, this small, delicate book is a typical, cheap publication of a gothic story. Its simplicity and compactness are both a unique contrast to some gothic texts which come in multiple volumes and with many pictures, but yet commonplace for the average worker in the nineteenth century to own. It is incredible that a such fragile object is still able to be analyzed to this day. 


Textual History

There is no known author for The Convent Spectre; or Unfortunate Daughter, which results in a significantly ambiguous history. This copy of the chapbook was printed by T. Plummer for T. and R. Hughes (located at 35 Ludgate Street in London) (see also Summers 283). T. and R. Hughes was one of many publishing companies in London at the time, but printed primarily gothic texts during the early 1800s.

The final page of the chapbook lists the printer information

There are only three other copies of this chapbook known in the world: one at Princeton University, one at the University of Oxford, and one at the National Library of Wales. Michael Sadleir, the man who donated a large portion of the gothic texts at University of Virginia, owned the copy that is now at Princeton as well. According to their library catalogs, the copies at Princeton and Oxford have the exact same publisher, year, engravings, dimensions, and bluebook cover, which means it is probable that this story was only ever printed once: in London in 1808. It appears that each copy has the same quote from Shakespeare on the title page because both Princeton and Oxford library catalogs mention it in their notes section. This quote reads, “Some unborn sorrow, ripe in fortune’s womb, Now coming towards me, grieves my utmost soul” which comes from Richard II and sets the mood for the novel. Hubert J. Norman was tagged to be someone of importance for the copy in Oxford, but it is unclear what the relation is. According to the Oxford University Library’s catalog entry, it looks like this chapbook may have originally been printed with multiple other stories, all bound together. The Oxford catalog lists two possible bindings for this particular copy; one that is bound with thirteen other chapbooks and titled “Pamphlets” and one that is bound with eleven other chapbooks and is titled “Romances”. The Oxford copy also has a signature which is “A-C6”, which could have a connection to the signature that is on the copy in the Sadleir-Black collection, but it is uncertain.  

Although there does not appear to be any connection to other gothic novels, there is a significant connection between this chapbook and Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The main character in this play is named Don Pedro, which is the name of the protagonist in The Convent Spectre; or Unfortunate Daughter. There are also many parallels between the two characters. In Much Ado About Nothing Don Pedro becomes the middle man between all of the events and displays dramatic irony by being oblivious to the connection between characters. This is extremely similar to the role the character Don Pedro plays in The Convent Spectre; or Unfortunate Daughter. This connection is evidence that this chapbook was influenced by at least one of Shakespeare’s plays. Furthermore, the Shakespearean quote on the title page is not from this play, but rather from Richard II. Therefore, it is probable the author of this chapbook was significantly influenced by Shakespeare’s plays, and perhaps used ideas from many of them to compose this work. 

Interestingly enough, there does not appear to be a single literary review on The Convent Spectre; or Unfortunate Daughter. It appears the work did not sell very well after being printed considering the fact that there are only four known copies in the world and that there are no literary reviews on it. There are also no online versions of the text. This story does not appear to have ever been translated. Furthermore, there are no other texts associated with it, such as a prequel or sequel. 


Narrative Point of View

The Convent Spectre; or Unfortunate Daughter is narrated from a third-person omniscient point of view, but is nearly entirely limited to the experiences of Don Pedro and Theodore. The narration presents the thoughts and emotions of these two characters to the reader, but does not grant the same access to other characters. A significant amount of the book is taken up by Don Pedro recounting the story of his life to Theodore, which is immediately followed by Theodore explaining the events of his life. Similarly, the nobleman also tells his own narrative. Therefore, a large part of the chapbook feels like it is in first person, but in reality, there are just many extremely long quotations from the three characters in the book that share their story. The language includes a lot of description of the different locations in the story, even though the book is rather short.

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration: 

After having performed the offices for the dead, Theodore returned to the convent, deeply affected in his mind at the awful scene he had just left.  Entering now the chamber of Don Pedro, whom he found alone, he related to him every particular concerning this terrible confession.  He then took from his pocket the picture of his daughter, which the dying marquis had given him, and put it into the hands of Don Pedro, who immediately knowing it by its strong resemblance, exclaimed— “Gracious providence ! ’tis she.  This is a true likeness of that unfortunate unknown, of whose terrible fate I was myself a melancholy witness ; whose cruel death in my chamber I have related to you, and whose interment cost me so much anxiety and distress.” (35–36)

Sample Passage of Don Pedro recounting his personal story:

I went to the bed, but what was my amazement,  when opening the curtains I found this unhappy creature in a frightful posture.  I took her by the hand and called her;  but alas ! she was dead and cold as ice. (11)

This passage from the book comes at the very end of the story. Through the narration, it is revealed that Theodore is highly distressed, and from Don Pedro’s exclamation it is evident that he is extremely surprised that Theodore’s daughter is the same woman he encountered. Furthermore, he reveals that the daughter has caused him distress. This is a prime example of the way the story combines dialogue and third-person narration to reveal the characters’ emotions throughout the story. When the narration is more inside Don Pedro’s mind, then the dialogue reveals Theodore’s thoughts. Therefore, the third-person omniscient point of view allows us to see Don Pedro and Theodore’s thoughts through both the narration and the dialogue. This narrative style echoes the central plot in which these two characters have overlapping life stories, but they do not know it until the end of the book. 


Summary

This story begins with the introduction of the character Don Pedro on a rainy, windy night. He is inside the church of St. Michael’s monastery where he finds a man consumed in prayer, who is introduced as Theodore. Don Pedro, highly distressed, proclaims to Theodore that he is responsible for the murder of someone. Theodore tells Don that he believes he is not a bad man and tries to console him. Although the specifics are not yet revealed, it is evident that something significant happened in Don Pedro’s life which has encouraged him to seek refuge in a monastery. After a few days, Don Pedro decides to reveal his life’s events that led him to the monastery because he feels like he owes Theodore an explanation of why he was so agitated the night they met. 

Don Pedro was born in Mantua, where he was best friends with his cousin, Marquis de Palmyrin. The Marquis ended up marrying a widely adored woman who becomes the Marchioness. Despite his attempts to suppress his emotions, Don Pedro soon found himself in love with the Marchioness. He decided it was best if he left the Palace de Palmyrin, where they were all living, in order to remain loyal in his friendship with the Marquis. Before leaving, he takes a small picture of the Marchioness. For a period of time after Don Pedro’s departure from the palace, the Marchioness refused to engage in conversation with the Marquis about him because she was secretly in love with Don Pedro as well. The Marquis perceived her disregard for his close friend as hatred for Don Pedro, so the Marquis forced the Marchioness to write Don Pedro a letter saying that she wished for his return to the palace. When Don Pedro received this letter, he was extremely troubled and one night went to a friend’s house for consolation. On his return home that night, he ran into a woman asking for his help. Because the woman appeared so pitiful and in need of help, he decided to let her stay at his house for the night. The woman, wearing fancy clothing but covered in dirt, refused to reveal her identity and take off her veil. The next morning, Don Pedro finds the woman lifeless in her room: suicide. 

This page shows how the text is formatted on the pages of this bluebook

This event convinces Don Pedro to make the journey back to the Palace de Palmyrin and take the body of the woman with him in a suitcase. Along the way, he stops at an inn with a servant and ventures about a mile from the inn to bury the body in a cave. Immediately after the burial, a man from the inn, referenced as the hermit, appears in the cave. The pair are worried that the hermit witnessed them burying the body and, therefore, the pair tries to escape. Don Pedro and his servant narrowly escape the hermit and hide in the surrounding woods. While attempting to make it back to the inn, the hermit sees them again. This time, they end up in a small town after escaping the pursuit of the hermit. They meet friendly people who provide them with mules so that they can get back to the inn and finish their journey back to the palace. 

Back at the palace, Don Pedro soon has an encounter with the Marchioness in which he expresses his love for her after all of this time. She declares she never wants to see him again. Don Pedro obeys this request for a significant period of time, but one night, when Don Pedro thinks everyone is asleep, he sneaks into the Marchioness’s room and kisses her. She does not refuse because it is dark and she thinks he is the Marquis. However, soon the Marquis walks in and chases Don Pedro, who he cannot instantly identify, out of the house. Don Pedro gets away, but in the process drops the picture of the Marchioness he took when he first left the palace. This picture is used as evidence that the Marchioness’s infidelity was with Don Pedro. The Marquis returns to the Marchioness and kills her in his rage and jealousy. Don Pedro returns to the palace and finds the Marchioness dead and screams in despair, which is heard by other women of the palace who come running and immediately assume the murderer is Don Pedro. These events cause Don Pedro to flee to the church, which is when he finds Theodore. 

Theodore, after taking in this whole story, understands and begins telling the story of his life to Don Pedro. One day during his childhood, a girl was brought to see him by her mother after hearing how accomplished Theodore was in school. This girl’s name was Emilia and the two ended up falling in love and getting married. Emilia died ten months after the marriage while giving birth to their child, who Theodore named Emilia in her honor. In Emilia’s teenage years, she met a nobleman who sent Theodore a letter proclaiming his desire to marry her. When Emilia received word of this, she hastily declined the offer and told her father the man who sent the letter was not to be trusted. Furthermore, she was already profoundly in love with a man named Mortimer. The nobleman soon sent Theodore another letter expressing that he was determined to marry Emilia and that Mortimer’s life was in danger if his desire was not fulfilled. Theodore became extremely anxious due to this situation and decided to put Emilia in a convent. Mortimer soon grew very sad and one day left his home and never returned. Emilia ceased communication with her father. Theodore turned to religion to find peace and escape guilt. Right after Theodore ends his story, he is summoned by a monk and immediately after the ghost of the woman who committed suicide in Don Pedro’s home appears in front of him and thanks him profusely for his kindness. 

Don Pedro is on the verge of committing to the monastery until, one day, he discovers a distressed-looking lady in the church who ends up fainting in his arms. This lady turns out to be the Marchioness de Palmyrin. Surprised by the Marchioness still being alive, he schedules a meeting with her at the Palace de Palmyrin. In this meeting, he learns that the women who blamed Don Pedro for her attempted murder saved her and that the Marquis de Palmyrin left the castle immediately, joined the army, and died from a battle wound. The two decide they want to marry, which provokes Don Pedro to tell Theodore he has changed his mind and wants to leave the monastery. During this conversation, Theodore is summoned to assist a dying man who has entered the church. The man begins to tell Theodore he has many sins on his conscious and asks Theodore to read a letter which describe all of them. The letter reveals to Theodore that this man is the nobleman who wanted to marry his daughter and who also murdered Mortimer. After killing Mortimer, the nobleman had taken a letter Mortimer wrote to Emilia out of his pocket and sent it to Emilia because it describes a way to help her escape the convent. On the planned night, the cloaked nobleman picked up Emilia. When Emilia realized he was not the right man, she became incredibly distressed and fell ill, so the nobleman brought her to Naples to get better. He tried to convince her to live a happy, married life with him, but instead she escaped the place she is held hostile. 

Soon after Theodore finishes reading the letter, the nobleman dies and Theodore immediately relates this whole story to Don Pedro, and when Theodore shows Don Pedro a picture of his daughter, Emilia, Don Pedro realizes it is the same woman who killed herself in his house. Right after the pair figure out this coincidence, the ghost of Emilia appears, which causes Theodore to faint. These events lead Don Pedro to be convinced to leave the monastery right away and marry the Marchioness, and in the end, the couple lives happily ever after. 


Bibliography

The Convent Spectre, or Unfortunate Daughter library catalog entry. Princeton University Library Catalog.https://catalog.princeton.edu/catalog/2302480

The Convent Spectre, or Unfortunate Daughter library catalog entry. University of Oxford Library Catalog.https://solo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk

The Convent Spectre; or Unfortunate Daughter. London, T. and R. Hughes, 1808.

Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. Fortune Press, 1969.


Researcher: Lindsay Grose

The Spectre Mother

The Spectre Mother

The Spectre Mother: Or the Haunted Tower

Author: John Mitchell
Publisher: Dean & Munday
Publication Year: 1800
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.7cm x 18cm
Pages: 30
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.M537 S 1800


This 1800 chapbook by John Mitchell begins with a mysterious murder within Rovido castle and explores revenge, true love, and crime as the ghost of the slain woman visits characters in the story.


Material History

The Spectre Mother: Or the Haunted Tower is a short novel of 30 pages. It measures 18 centimeters in length and 10.7 centimeters in width. There is no cover attached to the book. The pamphlet was likely torn out of a larger collection of short Gothic chapbooks that were sold individually to maximize profits for the bookseller. On the spine are remnants of its leather binding and the adhesion used to keep the binding attached. The book was sewn together and threads are still visible sticking out between its pages.

The title page with accompanying illustration and a visible marking

The title page is instantly visible due to the lack of cover and is the reader’s first impression of the chapbook. It has a colored ink sketch of a scene within the book that covers about a third of the page. Below the ink drawing is a quote from a scene on page 12. The quote reads, “I cannot step by that child, said Moresco.” The colors yellow, green, red, and blue dominate the watercolor drawing, causing the illustration to stand out distinctly on the weathered, slightly browned title page. Above the ink drawing at the top of the page is the title of the book. It is printed in several different fonts with swooping lines surrounding the title, creating a pleasant and artistic look. Below the title is printed, “By the author of Midnight Horrors, Female Pilgrim.” The bottom of the title page contains the publisher information. The book was published in London and was printed and sold by Dean & Munday at 35 Threadneedle Street. At the top left corner of the title page is a pencil-written note that says “Ghosts.” The note was likely written by a bookseller to categorize the novel and label it for readers interested in ghost stories.

There are no decorations or illustrations within the text of the book. The paper is thin and delicate. The pages are soft like cotton and the fibers of the paper are clearly visible. Each page is a yellow-brown color that gives the novel an aged look.

The page numbers are at the top corner of each page and there are letters at the bottom of several pages throughout the book. These letters, “B, B3, C, C3,” were printed to assist the person responsible for binding the book. The pages were all printed out on large sheets of paper that had to be folded and oriented in a certain way to create the finished product. This was common practice at the time, and the method was used until around 1900.

The book has an overall elegant and classic look. Its average size ensures that the font and type in the novel are not too small. There is not a lot of empty, white space within the text and the margins are of average size so the pages do not feel cluttered. The sentence structure used by the author, John Mitchell, is varied and the paragraph sizes are fairly consistent throughout the book.


Textual History

There is limited information to be found about The Spectre Mother: Or the Haunted Tower and its author, John Mitchell. It left little to no impression on British journals, though another more popular story by Mitchell—The Female Pilgrim—was reviewed several times. The Spectre Mother was originally published by Dean & Munday in London in 1800. Subsequent editions were published in 1820 and 1823. The 1820 edition was also printed by Dean & Munday and the 1823 edition by an American publisher, W. Borradaile, based in New York. In addition to Gothic novels, Dean & Munday also published historical and children’s books, like The History of Germany, and the German Empire, and The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast.

The printers, Dean and Munday, are listed at the bottom of the chapbook’s final page

There seem to be a few versions of the 1800 edition of The Spectre Mother available today. Some contain two watercolor ink illustrations, while others contain only one on the title page. A digital copy of this edition can be found on the Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery. The 1820 edition of the story printed by Dean & Munday is identical to the first edition and changes no aspects of the original story, though it does include an additional watercolor and ink frontispiece opposite the title page. A digital copy of this edition can be found on Google Books. The later edition of The Spectre Mother was published in May of 1823 by W. Borradaile in New York City, which proves that there was enough interest in the story for it to be marketable in the United States. The title page of this edition contains the publisher information as well as the fact that it was sold “wholesale and retail, at his book-store, 130 Fulton-Street.” This version was printed as a pamphlet and threaded together with a red paper cover displaying prices for various chapbooks. The copy was advertised to cost 12.5 cents. It contains the exact story of the first edition, but has a different watercolor illustration, title page, and layout within the pamphlet. Its pages are slightly larger and the paragraphs are formatted differently.

Two works of John Mitchell’s are featured within The Spectre Bridegroom and Other Horrors edited by Robert Reginald and Douglas Menville. This anthology of reprinted horror and ghost stories was originally published in 1976 and includes The Spectre Mother and Midnight Horrors: Or the Bandit’s Daughter. They are both attributed to an anonymous author rather than John Mitchell. Another edition of the book was published in 2006.

There is little information available about John Mitchell, the author of The Spectre Mother. He wrote several other stories, including The Female Pilgrim and Midnight Horrors: Or the Bandit’s Daughter. While no reviews of The Spectre Mother were found, The Female Pilgrim received mixed reviews, one of which stated that the story was “an unequal imitation of the celebrated Pilgrim’s Progress, which is, perhaps, inimitable” (Griffiths 219). This could be similar to the case of The Spectre Mother, as many lesser known chapbooks were imitations of works of previous authors.

The Spectre Mother is listed in Franz Potter’s The History of Gothic Publishing, 1800–1835: Exhuming the Trade. Potter states that the author was “confined by the restrictions of the bluebook” and therefore the reader is immediately immersed in the “contrived, gloomy atmosphere, often by forcing the location, such as a castle, to reflect the antagonist” (72). Following this analysis is a sample of the text from the first paragraph of the story, exemplifying the mysterious and ominous tone of the first several pages of the book. The author, however, is again stated as unknown and there is no mention of John Mitchell within the book.


Narrative Point of View

The narrator of The Spectre Mother is unknown and utilizes third-person narration. The narrator unveils the emotions of each character and shares their thoughts and concerns while also driving the plot forward. The story is narrated with ample descriptions that highlight the actions and eccentricities of each character. The sentences are long and the language evokes strong images and feelings.

Sample Passage:

The dark spirit of Moresco shrank from the presence of innocence thus forcibly delineated, and wanted courage to perpetrate a deed so horrible; but at the moment, the mother moved in her sleep, and with instinctive fondness pressed the babe closer to her bosom, as though to save it from the blow that hovered over it. —The transient beam of benevolence that had broken on the guilty soul of Moresco, vanished before his apprehensions of personal safety, and his thirst of gold; and with a nervous and well-aimed blow, he pierced her virtuous heart, who had never known even a thought injurious to his welfare or his happiness. —One faint and quivering sigh alone told the departure of the pure spirit from its mortal habitation! (8)

The style of narration in The Spectre Mother provides the reader with enough insight into the characters to understand their motivations and thoughts, but not too much to give away key plot points. In the beginning of the text, the narrator explains Moresco’s conflicting feelings about murdering Julia and her child, yet the reason that he was tasked with this mission is not disclosed until later in the story. The narrator uses the emotions of the characters to add to the dark melancholy tone of the story. Angela’s feelings of solitude and gloominess are described in detail by the narrator and they set the mood for her encounter with the ghost of Julia. As Angela tries to sleep, for instance, the narrator exposes that “she mused with terror and curiosity of the incidents of the night” and that “her distressed mind wandered to a no less painful, though a far different subject of meditation” (12).

These descriptions also bring to light the distinctions amongst the characters. While Angela pines for the life she lost when she was taken by banditti, and later worries about the safety of Julia’s baby, Moresco is primarily concerned with pleasing his boss and making money. The narrator also uses long, descriptive sentences to depict how characters react to surprises and supernatural visits. This configuration draws the reader in and builds tension as the narration follows the actions of the characters. Additionally, the narrator’s language—utilizing adjectives and adverbs frequently while describing the settings—evokes a strong sense of visuality.


Summary

The Spectre Mother: Or The Haunted Tower begins with the clock of Rovido castle striking midnight. A man emerges from the shadows of the dark halls and sneaks to the inhabited area of the castle. He carries a lantern and a concealed weapon as he makes his way through the castle, pausing frequently to quiet his guilty mind and ensure no one is awake. He enters a secret door and ascends a flight of steps to a gloomy gallery. The novel now exposes him to be a murderer as he removes a marble statue, presses a hidden panel behind it, and enters the chamber of his intended victims.

The opening scene in Chapter One of The Spectre Mother

Moresco finds the woman he plans to kill, sleeping with her baby in her arms. He watches her sleep and experiences a moment of hesitation before stabbing her. She lets out a final sigh and dies. He points the knife at the baby and it smiles at him. Moresco snatches the child and is about to kill it when a blue light flashes and he sees the pale figure of the mother standing in front of him. She points to the corpse and bloody letters form over the body’s head. They read, “Let the life of the innocent be spared, to plead for the guilty soul of the murderer” (9).

Moresco drops the dagger and sinks to the floor in terror. He holds the child and vows to protect the infant. The spirit vanishes and he flees from the castle. He decides that he will not inform his employer that he failed to kill the child, and instead throws its bloody clothes into the river. He returns home and tells his wife, Angela, to take the child and raise it as her own. He angrily refuses to tell her who the mother is and she relents to abate his temper. Moresco makes her swear to keep it a secret. She recounts to him that earlier that night, the flames of the candles were extinguished and she heard a soft and dismal sigh in her ear. Moresco lashes out over this news and declines to address it. They go off to bed.

It is revealed that Angela Modeni was orphaned and destitute at an early age. The Marchioness di Montmorenci took her in and provided her with an education. When she was twenty years old, the Marquis di Montmorenci returned home from traveling abroad. They both had feelings for one another and he expressed his openly to Angela. She felt guilty about depriving the marchioness of a daughter in law of equal birth for her son, so she resisted his affections. When the marchioness found out about her son’s interest in her, she had Angela removed and induced her to secretly move to a distant convent. En route to the convent, Angela and her attendants were surrounded by banditti. Two of them, Ludovico and Moresco, were drawn to Angela immediately.

Moresco was the youngest son of a Neapolitan nobleman and was to inherit an estate, but his extravagant lifestyle caused him to lose everything. He desperately tried to win back his inheritance, but did so dishonorably. This resulted in him being forced to leave Naples. He met Ludovico’s men and joined their group and rose in their ranks to second-in-command.

Upon meeting Angela, Moresco wanted her for himself. He convinced her to rely on him to help her escape the banditti, and she reluctantly agreed. In order to appear more deserving of her favor, he proposed to her. Angela accepted and they got married and moved to a dilapidated tower in a deserted area in Italy. Soon after, Moresco started working for a man named Count Ruvello. The Count was third in line to inherit a family member’s fortune, after the man’s wife and child. Once the man tragically died in battle, the Count discovered his proximity to the man’s fortune. Greedily, he could not resist the temptation of wealth, and consequently hired Moresco to murder Julia and her child.

The day after the murder, Moresco wakes up, dresses as a friar, and leaves to meet with Count Ruvello. The Count begins to question him about the absence of the child’s body. Moresco becomes frantic as he believes he hears Julia’s sigh in the room, but the Count hears nothing. Moresco makes an excuse for the child’s missing body and explains that he dropped it in the river. The Count offers him a reward and asks Moresco to stay for a few days.

Angela wakes up soon after Moresco’s departure. Though she hates when he is around, she is lonely in the gloomy ruin when he is not there. She takes comfort in the baby and stays close to it. Late that night, a flash of lightning wakes her up. She goes to where the baby is sleeping and is greeted by a bleeding form surrounded by pale blue vapor. Angela is terrified and watches as it glides towards the bed and bends over the sleeping baby. It turns to Angela, raises one hand towards heaven and points the other toward the wound. It motions for Angela to follow, which she does not comply with. Then, a surprising enthusiasm takes over Angela and she grows courageous. She believes that she is being selected for something important. Angela picks up the sleeping baby and follows the spirit.

This page describes the first visit from the ghost of Julia

The ghost glides in silence to the end of the apartment, a concealed door flies open, and they make their way through a dark passage. The spirit pauses, turns to Angela, sighs, and sinks into the ground. Where it disappears, there is now a chasm. Angela experiences an irresistible force compelling her to descend the ruined steps down into the abyss. After doing so, a loud rumbling sound above her head causes her to look up and she sees the chasm close above her. Shadowy hands beckon her forward and she musters the courage to continue through the underground chambers. The ghost that brought her down is now standing by an altar of black marble stained with blood and adorned with human bones. It beckons her forward and motions to a crack in the marble containing a bloody dagger. The ghost points one hand to her bosom and the other she points to the weapon and traces the name of Moresco carved on the hilt. The spirit tells her to save the innocent from the guilty, explains that the Count hired Moresco to commit the murder, and says that she must restore to the child the inheritance that he has taken away from her. The ghost tells Angela not to fear acting with firmness as her virtue will produce her happiness.

Angela wakes up on a small bank near her house, ready to obey the spirit’s request. On Angela’s return home, it begins to rain and she decides to approach a building to ask for shelter for the night. No one answers her call. Angela, tired and desperate, ascends a staircase nearby and takes cover in a gallery and soon falls asleep. The baby crawls away from her and cries until a man finds it.

Angela wakes up and panics when she realizes the child is missing. She searches the area until she finds the baby resting on a couch in a nearby room. The man reenters, and she is shocked to discover that it is Di Montmorenci. They have a joyful reunion until he sees her wedding ring and is reminded of her unavailability. He throws himself on the floor and she begins to calm him, explaining the situation she is in. She decides to leave out Moresco’s involvement in the story but feels conflicted. She does not know how to carry out the mission that the spirit set for her without exposing the Count and endangering the life of Moresco. Angela requests to speak with a holy monk about the important matter, and move with the child to a convent temporarily. She confesses everything to Father Bernada, who urges the necessity of bringing the Count Ruvello to justice, while only revealing Moresco’s guilt if necessary.

The next morning, Angela and the baby leave for the convent, much to Di Montmorenci’s sadness. During their stay, Angela’s attachment to the baby grows stronger and stronger. She then receives a letter from Father Bernado. He and a party of officials went to Count Ruvello’s home to confront him. The Count and Moresco were seated together upon their arrival. After inquiring about Moresco’s religious dress, the Count instantly implicated Moresco in order to divert suspicion away from himself. Both men were confined to guarded rooms, where Moresco committed suicide. Count Ruvello was brought to trial, found guilty, and banished. Father Bernado tells Angela that the child must be returned to her family home for her existence to be universally acknowledged. Since there is no guardian for the child, Angela can take on that role. He tells her that he recounted her actions to the Pope, and the Pope decided to bestow two thousand crowns on her for her misfortunes.

Di Montmorenci visits Angela at her new home with the child and they get married after her twelve months of widowhood are complete. Father Bernado officiates the wedding and the couple soon sets off for Venice, where Angela is received with respect and esteem due to her new rank.


Bibliography

Griffiths, Ralph. Monthly Review, or, Literary Journal, 1752-1825, Vol. 27, Hurst, Robinson, and Co., 1762.

Mitchell, John. “The Spectre Mother, or, The Haunted Tower.” Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery, https://cdm16014.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p4014coll9/id/18519.

Mitchell, John. The Spectre Mother: Or the Haunted Tower. London. Dean & Munday, 1800.

Mitchell, John. The Spectre Mother: Or the Haunted Tower. New York City. W. Borradaile, 1823.

Potter, Franz J. The History of Gothic Publishing: 1800-1835: Exhuming the Trade. Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Reginald, Robert, and Douglas Menville, editors. The Spectre Bridegroom and Other Horrors. Wildside Press, 2006.


Researcher: Ruby G. Peters

The Magician

The Magician

The Magician

Author: Leitch Ritchie
Publisher: Simms and M’Intyre; W. S. Orr and Co
Publication Year: 1846
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.5cm x 16.5cm
Pages: 390
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .R57 M 1846


A tale of magic, secrets, and betrayal, Leitch Ritchie’s 1846 novel set in France features several romances that must overcome the divides created by religion and class, while trust is tested by unknown foes with sinister motives


Material History

Half-title page

The Magician is a novel by Leitch Ritchie, published in 1846 by Simms and M’Intyre (also written as Simms and McIntyre) of Belfast and later also London. The book itself is 390 pages, and its font is small and closely set together. Its margins are likewise small with the right and left margins being 1.35 cm and the top and bottom margins being 1 cm. The book is 16.5 cm long, 10.5 cm wide, and 3.0 cm in thickness, making it physically quite compact. This edition is bound together as one novel, but as implied by the dedication on page five, it has also been published in multiple volumes. There are two other editions, one with two volumes and one with three, both of which were published in 1836. The cover of the book is intricate, with calf leather covering the spine and corners of the book which indicates it was half bound, and the rest of the cover is marbled in blue and red. The leather on the front and back covers is decorated with a floral design that was impressed using a bind-rolled floral tool. On the spine, the design resembles a thistle, which could be a reference to Ritchie’s homeland, Scotland, whose national flower has been the thistle since 1249. The author is also referenced many times inside the book. His name is embossed on the spine, is labeled on pages 3 and 4, and referenced again in the notes at the end of the book. On page 3, his name is also accompanied by some of the titles of his other novels and is followed by “etc. etc.” indicating that he has written many works. There are two title pages, the first with only with The Magician printed on it, and the second (on page 3) with The Magician printed along with Ritchie’s name and other works. This page is outlined in a black lined box. The other stories referenced that were written by Ritchie include The Game of LifeRomance of French History, and Journey to St. Petersburgh and Moscow. Also included on this page is the publisher along with their location along with the publication date of the novel. A note from the author precedes the main text, and here Ritchie explains the lack of magic in the novel, despite its title. He also explains his inspiration for many of his characters, many of which were based on historical figures. One last inclusion is Ritchie’s mention of the character Gilles de Retz, whom he had previously written about three years earlier in Wanderings by the Loire, an account of the character’s history and background.

The book is in relatively good condition, with its spine being the only thing in slightly poor physical condition. The spine is cracked severely but still holds the novel together, while the inside pages look untouched. Also of consideration, the spine is tightly bound, which might contribute to the anomaly that while from the outside it looks worn, the inside is in good condition, as it takes effort to open the novel and in doing so the spine is worn out at an accelerated rate. 

Armorial bookplate of John Waldie, Hendersyde and book label

Inside the book, one of the first things of interest is an armorial bookplate belonging to John Waldie of Hendersyde Park which is located in Ednam, Scotland, a small town near Kelso in the Scottish Borders. The bookplate also has a capital E written in the top left corner. Under the bookplate, is a blue book label that states “Novels and Romance; No. 893” indicating that this novel belonged to a large private collection of Waldie. This was most likely placed at the same time as the armorial bookplate but added second as it abuts the armorial plate so closely. Only the armorial bookplate has left an impression on the page adjacent to the back of the front cover. This is most likely because the bookplate’s paper, as opposed to the book label’s, is thicker and the ink used when printing it has transferred onto the facing page. 

The interior of the book is void of any illustrations except for an intricate drawing of the first letter in the first chapter on page seven. The letter I (belonging to the first word of the novel, “in”) is shaded and drawn to have flowers adorning it. The first and last two pages of the novel (which are not in the official page count) are blank and are thinner and more yellowed in comparison to the rest of the pages, which are slightly brittle but in overall better condition. The pages all together are stiff and inflexible, but this could be due to the novel’s tight binding and resulting infrequent use. 

Receipt of purchase by Robert Black from George Bates’ Rare and Interesting Books in 1939

A unique feature of this novel is that in the back it contains a receipt of purchase by Robert K. Black. It is in linen paper which was determined by holding up the receipt up to the light where the watermark “698 Linen Faced” is revealed, which describes the type and brand of paper. Some of the aspects (name, address, telephone, telegram, etc.) appear to be previously printed onto the paper, while other details look to have been added by a typewriter (including the date of purchase, the book purchased, and the buyer). The receipt comes from George Bates Rare and Interesting Books in London, and it shows that the novel was purchased by Robert Black on August 8, 1939, almost one hundred years after The Magician’s publication. This would have also been one year after Black’s purchase of Michael Sadleir’s collection in 1938 which was immediately placed at the University of Virginia. From 1938 to 1942, Black continued to add more novels into the gothic collection, one of which was The Magician. On the receipt, it can even be seen that the seller incorrectly typed many parts of the receipt. On it, the book purchased is The Nagician (which was not amended) and Ritchie’s last name was originally incorrectly spelled with a “w” at the end, which was later typed over with an e. The date of the book’s publication was also originally incorrectly typed, stating originally 1848, and the 8 was later typed over with a 6.


Textual History

The Magician is a novel written by the Scottish author Leitch Ritchie. Before its publication, Ritchie had already written multiple novels, sketches, and short stories, some of which include The Romance of History, France (1831) and The Game of Life (1830). Ritchie was well known in the literary sphere due to his numerous works and had gained merit from his short stories (The Athenaeum 396). A year after The Magician was published in 1836, Ritchie had even embarked on a tour for his series, Ireland, Picturesque and Romantic; or, Heath’s Picturesque Annual for 1838, which was well-received (Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine 684). The Magician was published in four main editions in Ritchie’s lifetime. The original publication was in 1836, and during that year it was distributed by two publishers: John Macrone as well as Carey, Lea, & Blanchard. John Macrone was based in London but passed away in 1837, a year after The Magician’s publication (Simkin). His version was distributed in three volumes. Carey, Lea, & Blanchard published the novel in two volumes, and this was published in the United States, giving The Magician a larger audience. Later, in 1846, his novel was published in one volume by Simms & M’Intyre, a London and Belfast based publisher. Their first version was in 1846, where the volume consisted of 390 pages and was reprinted in the “Parlour Novelist” (a collection of fiction reprints); this is the edition held by the University of Virginia Sadleir-Black Collection. Simms & M’Intyre’s second printing of The Magician was in 1853 and consisted of 320 pages and was reprinted in the “Parlour Library,” another series of fiction reprints. 

Second title page, including Ritchie’s other works, along with the publisher and date of publication

In periodicals at the time, The Magician was advertised frequently by Macrone and Simms & M’Intyre. Its advertisements were smaller on the page than larger names at the time, such as Charles Dickens in The Athenaeum. Ritchie’s advertisements, in contrast, were often found among groups of novels that were either listed in “Lately Published” or “In the Press” sections (The Athenaeum 1021; The Literary Gazette 12). In a select few of the advertisements, Ritchie’s work would be given more space in print in order to describe a brief summary. Despite the different periodicals it could be found in, such as Gentleman’s Magazine and The Court Magazine and Belle Assemblee, the blurb was consistently “The Magician, the scene in France, and the epoch the end of the English dominion in the fifteenth century, connected with the favourite studies of the period, alchemy and magic, by Mr. Leitch Ritchie” (The Court Magazine and Belle Assemblee vii).

Alongside this promotion, there were few reviews for The Magician, all of which had varying opinions on the quality of the novel. Two of the more notably detailed ones, written in The Literary Gazette and The Athenaeum delivered negative feedback. The Literary Gazette labeled The Magician as “a complete failure” and commented specifically on the striking similarities to the Bible’s tale of Isaac and Rebecca (The Literary Gazette 360). Due to this, the reviewer questioned the originality of the plot and likened parts of it to another previously published novel, Kenilworth, stating that two of The Magician’s main characters created a dynamic that was “an exaggerated copy of Leicester and Alasco” (The Literary Gazette 360). The Athenaeum’s review was less harsh, but still nowhere near positive. Though the author praised Ritchie for his earlier works, he emphasized that he has “been less successful when his canvas was more ambitiously enlarged” (396). This review harped more on the concept of the title and its relation to the book, as any magic that is described in the book is later refuted by Ritchie and revealed to be mere tricks of the eye, stating “we cannot, however, understand why Mr. Ritchie should neutralize the effect of his story, by a careful and systematic destruction of the wonders it contains” (The Athenaeum 396). This review mainly consisted of criticism regarding introducing the idea of sorcery and gramarye only to in the end dissuade his readers from believing in its existence entirely. The Magician’s more positive reviews are less prevalent and take the form of short blurbs. The Examiner referenced a small review by The Globe in which they wrote, “We congratulate Mr. Ritchie on the sensation he has produced,” and the Athenaeum quickly referenced it as a “clever and forcible romance” (The Examiner 688; The Athenaeum 625). This seems to be the extent of the positive reviews, with only a couple more sources eliciting some optimistic words in his direction. Despite this, Ritchie is often referenced in reviews or advertisements for his other works, such as in the Examiner when Wearfoot Common is noted as being by “Leitch Ritchie, Author of ‘The Magician,’” which could indicate its approval by the general public as opposed to the critics, who seemed to have taken a negative stance on its content (The Examiner 181). 

Presently, The Magician has been adapted into digital copies, most notably the Simms & M’Intyre 1846 version has been electronically reproduced by HathiTrust Digital Library in 2011. HathiTrust has also reproduced volumes one through three of the 1836 Macrone publication and volumes one and two of the Carey, Lea & Blanchard 1836 publication. The 1853 version seems to be the only one missing in their digital library. Google Books has electronically reproduced these specific volumes as well.


Narrative Point of View

The Magician is narrated in the third person, conveying the thoughts of all of the characters as opposed to just one. The anonymous narrator provides information about background and history that the characters, individually or collectively, might not know. Within this third-person narration, the narrator also occasionally uses the first-person, particularly utilizing “we” when relaying background knowledge. This is done sparingly, only at the beginning of chapters or in the midst of a description. The narrator also directly addresses “the reader” within the narration.

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

The attention of the scholar [David] was now directed exclusively to the space within the circle; and after an interval which appeared painfully long, he saw a light-coloured vapor rising from the altar, which was followed by a sudden flame, illuminating for an instance the whole apartment. But the smoke and flame vanished as suddenly as they had arisen, and, at the same moment, the appearance of a man clothed in black armor stood by the table. (258)

Sample Passage of Pauline Narrating a Dream:

“I followed him, for I could not help it. He called my name, and I mounted after him into the air, higher, higher than the lark soars or the cloud rolls. The stars swept in circles above our heads, hissing through the golden air and the earth was like a star beneath our feet, only stationary and alone. Then Prelati turned round, and I saw that he was a demon of the abyss, and I flew shrieking down the fields of space, till the whole universe rang with my cries. But he seized me; he caught me by my long hair, that streamed in the wind, when suddenly his arm was struck from his body by the blow of a sword. We are now safe. Hide me, love, in thy coat, and lay the Bloody Heart next to mine. But take away the dead arm that still clings to my hair. –Faugh! it makes me shudder. Cut off the tress-there– ‘O Douglas, Douglas, Tender and true!’” (261)

Sample Passage including an Interjection and Reference to the Reader:

Soon however, his mind seemed to revert to its usual occupations. He was evidently preparing to retire for the night; and, after having opened the door of a closet, where his bed appeared to be placed, he sank down upon his knees to pray. In his prayer, which was delivered with energy and deep devotion, the student joined mentally; and as the form of supplication was not particular to the personages of our history, but common to many of those who were in that day engaged in similar pursuits, we think it well to present the reader with the following copy. (52)

The third-person narration reveals the actions that occur in the novel as well as the motivations or reasonings behind these actions. They also contribute to the many interpretations of the situations that multiple characters simultaneously encounter. By presenting each character’s experiences, the narration builds a bigger picture of the overarching plot. The example above shows how David is conceptualizing the resurrection of Prelati, but this is only one point of view. Later, the narrator also presents Pauline’s thoughts in the form of the dream she had when she fainted from the sight of Prelati. From her perspective, an impending danger regarding Prelati, and her safety is secured by Douglas (Archibald) is foreshadowed. While the introduction to her position and story is in the third person, her dialogue is told in the first person. Alongside developing these relationships among the novel’s characters, by consistently using “we” the narrator also develops a relationship between himself and the reader. With this relationship, he can also include new knowledge that is essential to understand the context of the novel’s settings and characters.


Summary

This is the first page of main text in the novel. The first letter is illustrated with flowers and vines growing off it.

The novel begins in 1497 in Paris, during the welcome parade for the new prince, where 3000 people are waiting. A young unnamed Scottish knight is introduced and, he enters the crowd, disappearing past the gates of Paris. Stopping on a bridge, the knight talks to the echevin, Jacquin Houpelande who is a member of the legislative body, introducing Scotland’s part as an ally of Paris in the war. The French needed their help in defeating England during the Hundred Years War. The knight stops to think about how well-designed Paris is for the occasion, with everyone dressed up, and he concludes that everyone is represented but the Jews, who were banished by the edict of the past prince. He continues into the city, stopping by the university to watch the parade, full of royals and dignitaries. In it is the dauphin, who is betrothed to Margaret, the young princess of Scotland. While walking further, the unnamed knight is attacked by three English students who draw their swords, but a man, Douglas, shouts at them, and descends into the streets followed by three other men. Douglas, and his three companions, Nigel, Bauldy, and Andrew, defend the Scottish knight, and once the fight is over, the knight goes to talk to his rescuers. He realizes that he knows their leader who was his childhood friend, Archibald, as they are both from the Douglas clan from Scotland.

All leave to go to Archibald’s room, and upon entering, David and Archibald begin to argue over an unlit candle about David’s choice to become a student, which leaves him unpaid. The flame suddenly flashes up, though David takes no notice. David leaves for the night, entering a doorway that leads him to a tunnel under the university. Here, David’s master is introduced, the alchemist Messire Jean, along with his master’s daughter whom David has developed feelings towards over the years. The two men hear a noise and a knock on the final door, which turns out to be Messire Jean’s friend Prelati. Prelati introduces the concept of the philosopher’s stone and then brings up Jean’s enemy Gilles de Retz, who betrayed him long ago. While they begin to talk, David talks to the daughter who tells him her secret: she’s Jewish. She makes him promise not to reveal what he knows as his knowledge could kill them.

The next morning, David has a hard time dealing with the news, so he seeks out Archibald to confess to him his secret life. They walk through Paris and Archibald, a staunch believer in Christianity, over David’s choice to indulge in Hermeticism. While passing people, David mentions that he recognizes a man named Orosmandel, a famed philosopher. Archibald’s past is explained; he came to Paris to assist Margaret, Princess of Scotland, on her journey to meeting the Dauphin of France. On the way he saved a woman known as Mademoiselle de Laval, who warned him that her attacker is the Black Knight and tells him to make friends with a man named Orosmandel. The flashback ends, and now Archie stands in the theatre recognizing her in the crowd with Orosmandel.

The next day, David explains to his roommates Nigel, Andrew, and Bauldy, that he must leave, and they accuse him of valuing his life above their own. Hearing this, David is stunned and leaves the apartment, along with his education at the university. He meets with Messire Jean, who tells him to accompany his daughter, Hagar, to Nantes. David agrees and tells Jean in his absence to find his three friends to uptake the position of his assistant. Around the same time, Andrew, Bauldy, and Nigel receive a visit from Archibald who is trying to find David. They don’t know where he went, but Archibald later receives an anonymous note telling him to meet at the inn and tavern, Pomme-du-Pin. David and Hagar meet him, and David tells Archibald that he is going to work for Orosmandel as his assistant. Archibald insists that he will pursue alchemy if David can prove it is real. Hagar tells them she must leave but tells them to wait for her. While waiting, David inquires about Archibald’s relationship with Mademoiselle de Laval, who Archibald confesses he loves. Upon Hagar’s absence, they resolve to travel together to Brittany. While stopped for the night, Archibald encounters a young woman who tells him that the Damsel de Laval is in danger and he must go to the ruinous castle nearby. There, he overhears a plot to capture the Damsel, and he escapes as the Black Knight enters.

Hagar is now talking to two other women, Pauline and Marie, who want her to join their journey. Hagar insists that she must go straight to Nantes, but Pauline will not let her leave. Marie helps Hagar escape, switching cloaks with her, and Hagar passes the guards without suspicion. In the morning, Marie and Hagar leave for Nantes and end up traveling alongside a parade, where Gilles de Retz is seen. Hagar, now startled, says she is going to seek out Rabbi Solomon, who resides in Nantes, as he will grant her safety and she will be able to live there with her people. Marie’s betrothed, Jean, hears this and tells her that he will oversee her travels there. He instead betrays her, leading her to Gilles de Retz’s city apartment, locking her in to be kept prisoner. Elsewhere, the Damsel de Laval thinks about Archibald, questioning if he loves her for her money or if he has true intentions. She reveals that she is Pauline, who spoke to Hagar earlier. Pauline goes to talk to Orosmandel, who is employed by her father, and his assistant, the dwarf.

On the road to Brittany, David tells Archibald that he is worried about Hagar, and Archibald insinuates that David is falling in love with someone who is “unfit” causing David to draw his sword in her defense. The peasant girl interrupts the fight, telling them that her name is Marie, and that she is getting married. Her cousin, Lissette sings an ominous bridal song, which and Marie leaves crying. David also leaves, and he runs into the dwarf who tells him that it’s his job to escort David to La Verrieré. There, Orosmandel and Gilles, talk about their plans to sacrifice a willing virgin to the devil. They plan on sacrificing one of three girls, Gilles’ daughter Pauline, Hagar, or Marie. They contemplate sacrificing Hagar because she would be willing to save either her father or David’s life, and Marie because she left before she could consummate her marriage. Later Lissette taps on Andrew’s window, telling him that Marie is lost. Archibald runs into the woods, and there he finds the Black Knight and his men. At the same time, Nigel, Bauldy, and Andrew enter the same part of the woods, and after escaping the Black Knight, they all agree to save David, who they fear has been put into grave danger. When they arrive at Nantes, Messire Jean, whose name is Caleb, is with them, as he left Paris with the trio. All try to figure out how to infiltrate La Verrieré to find David.

David is working for Orosmandel, using his position to figure out how to rescue Hagar. Later that night, Orosmandel sends for both David and Pauline so they can watch him summon the ghost of Prelati. Pauline faints, causing David to have to carry her to another room, Hagar’s prison. There, David warns Hagar to not take anything given to her, and he leaves saying that their religion no longer separates them as they are all equal at the gates of death.

Andrew finds the house of Rabbi Solomon, where he meets Caleb. While talking, two men, Claude Montrichard and Beauchamp, enter asking Caleb for gold so they can capture one of Gilles’ territories. They explain that Gilles is being investigated for his perversion of nature and religion and the government plans on arresting him. Caleb agrees to help them so long as they promise to rescue Hagar.

Back at La Verrieré, Hagar, contemplates her feelings for David and questions Gilles’s motives. She tries to leave, but the guard tells her that she needs permission from the baron. Hagar goes to request it, but the baron tells her that he cannot give freedom nor can she receive it. She bargains that if David is set free, she won’t try to leave. David enters to talk to Gilles, and Andrew comes in as the ambassador of Houpelande. Gilles tells David to leave, but David refuses, saying he is there to protect Hagar. Hagar reveals Prelati is alive, and before they all part, David tells Andrew to meet him later that night. Andrew heads for the tower, where David tells him to relay to Archibald that he must ally with Beauchamp and Montrichard, Prelati is alive, and Pauline is in danger. David later discovers a trapdoor in the floor, where Orosmandel and Prelati must have staged the summoning. He hides behind the curtain as Orosmandel and Gilles talk about their sacrifice, determining that Pauline must die. Later that night, David hears his name and discovers Marie in Gilles’ arms. Gilles runs, and David helps Marie escape through the newfound trapdoor. 

Andrew travels back to Nantes to meet with the rest of the men, and from there they split up. Andrew and Archibald take the road with Montrichard, while Nigel and Bauldy set forth on Houpelande’s wagon. While this is happening, Orosmandel and Gilles set up the ritual, and since Pauline won’t be a willing participant (which is required for the ceremony’s success), they convince Hagar, telling her David has died, and she is sent back to her cell. In another location, David has successfully convinced Caleb of his love for Hagar.

Hagar is taken from her cell by the Orosmandel, who has told her he will take her away as he wants her for his mistress. She refuses him, claiming love for David and that Orosmandel is too old for her to love. It’s at this moment that, Orosmandel tears away his beard and cloak, revealing that he was Prelati all along. While Prelati is distracted, Caleb stabs him and is subsequently thrown into the nearby wall by Prelati. Both die, and Hagar leaves with David. In another part of the castle, Archibald rescues Pauline. The novel concludes with the anonymous narrator giving an account of what has happened since then. Archibald and Pauline marry, as do Andrew and Marie, along with Bauldy and Felicité. David and Hagar leave together to travel to far and foreign lands. Three years later, a procession is held for Gilles where he is charged for sorcery and burned for being a wizard.


Bibliography

“Advertisement.” The Athenaeum, no. 1348, 1853, pp. 1021.

“Advertisement. “ Examiner, no. 1499, 1836, pp. 688.

“Book Review.” Examiner, no. 2460, 1855, pp. 181-182.

‘THE BOOKS OF THE SEASON.” Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine, vol. 4, no. 47, 1837, pp. 678–688.

“LITERARY INTELLIGENCE.” The Court Magazine and Belle Assemblee, July 1832-Jan.1837, vol. 8, no. 2, 1836, pp. 7.

“LITERARY NOVELITIES.” The Literary Gazette : A Weekly Journal of Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts, no. 989, 1836, pp. 12.

“The Magician.” The Athenaeum, no. 449, 1836, pp. 396.

“The Magician.” The Literary Gazette : A Weekly Journal of Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts, no. 1011, 1836, pp. 360.

Ritchie, Leitch. The Magician. Belfast, Simms & M’Intyre, 1846.

Simkin, John. Spartacus Educational, Spartacus Educational, https://spartacus-educational.com/PRmacrone.htm.

“A Summer Amongst the Bocages and the Vines.” The Athenaeum, no. 667, 1840, pp. 623­–62.


Researcher: Rebecca E. Laflam

Manfredi; or, The Mysterious Hermit

Manfredi; or, The Mysterious Hermit

Manfredi; or, The Mysterious Hermit, an Interesting and Original Romance

Author: Unknown
Publisher: G. Stevens
Publication Year: 1790s
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 18cm x 11cm. 
Pages: 30
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .T32 1790


A plagiarism of Sarah Lansdell’s 1796 (and much longer) novel, Manfredi, Baron St. Osmund, this 1790s chapbook features romance, betrayal, and an Italian hermit who is more courageous and honorable than he seems.


Material History

The title page featuring the chapbook’s only illustration, which shows Altieri’s reencounter with the hermit.

The full title of this book is Manfredi, or the Mysterious Hermit, an Interesting and Original Romance. The initial impression of the book, physically, is that it is rather long because Manfredi is the first chapbook in a compilation of eighteen chapbooks. It was common practice at the time to bind many chapbooks together in one book, and Manfredi is only thirty pages out of many in a compilation entitled Tales & Romances. The page numbers are not continuous throughout the compilation, instead they start over at the beginning of each new chapbook. There is no stated author for this book, but it states that it was published by G. Stevens, with the given address at 10 Borough Road, Southwark. There is also no table of contents in the collection, and the stories start one right after the other, often with only one title page separating them that is decorated with a beautiful illustration. At the beginning of Manfredi, there is a detailed watercolor illustration captioned “Altieri’s Re-encounter with the Hermit,” with the title and the publisher on the same page.

The book is 18 centimeters by 11 centimeters, with a sturdy, well-made cover. The binding is made of leather, and it is clearly worn from frequent reading because there are superficial, vertical cracks down the entirety of the spine. The front and back covers are made of marbled paper that has been rubbed away in the center of both sides. There are leather accents on the corners of the cover that seem to be in good condition. The pages themselves are thin, yellow, and feel brittle. One has the urge to treat them with great care and patience so as to not tear them. The margins on the sides and bottom are 1 centimeter each, and the top margin is 2 centimeters. In the middle of the top margin is the page number, which is large in comparison with the rest of the text. The text is dense and rather small, but not extremely tiny. The only other notable characteristic of the book is that there is a translucent, thin piece of paper inserted on pages 15–16 to mend a tear. Overall, the book can easily be described as worn, high-quality, understated, and beautiful.


Textual History

The last page of Manfredi, which lists the printer as Ann Kemmish

The publisher of Manfredi, Or the Mysterious Hermit is London-based G. Stevens, who published many other books, including The Maid and the Magpie: an Interesting Tale Founded on Facts and A Trip to the Fair, Or, A Present for a Good ChildThe Maid and the Magpie was published in 1815 or 1816, and A Trip to the Fair was published somewhere between 1810 and 1819. There have been two versions of Manfredi, Or the Mysterious Hermit published, one in the 1790s and one in the 1800s. The printer of the 1790s edition, as noted at the bottom of the last page, is Ann Kemmish. There is no known author, illustrator, or editor. There is one visible difference between the two editions, in that library catalogs frequently credit Sarah Lansdell as the author of the 1790s edition. In actuality, Sarah Lansdell was not the author of this text. She instead wrote a different book entitled, Manfredi, Baron St. Osmund, An Old English Romance in 1796 which encompasses two volumes, each of which take up about 200 pages. This is in direct contrast with Manfredi, Or the Mysterious Hermit, an Interesting and Original Romance, which takes up only 32 pages. Sarah Lansdell’s longer version of the book provided a basis for the shorter, anonymous chapbook. As Angela Koch explains, longer versions of Gothic novels were written and frequently sold to wealthier buyers and libraries, while chapbooks were adapted from them and sold for a much lower price, usually sixpence or one shilling, to the general public. They were often directly plagiarized from the original texts by anonymous authors, and this text is no exception (Koch 21). 

This is the first page of text, showing the epigraphs at the beginning of the chapter.

There is no preface or introduction in this book, only a title page with the publisher and an illustration.

There are epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter. The introductory chapter features epigraphs by William Cowper and William Shakespeare, though they are uncredited. William Cowper’s comes from his poem, “The Task” (1785): 

Nor rural sights, but rural sounds
Exhilarate the spirit, and restore
The tone of languid Nature

Shakespeare’s quote is from the play Cymbeline (1623): 

Being scarce made up
I mean, to man he had no apprehension
Of roaring errors; for defect of judgement
Is oft the cause of fear.

The quotes are slightly misstated, omitting the word “alone” after the word “sights” in the Cowper quote and exchanging “the effect” for “defect” in the Shakespeare quote. These quotes relate metaphorically to the content of the book, as do the rest of the epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter. 

There were no reviews or advertisements published for this text, nor have there been any recent reprintings. As cheap literature—designed for quick entertainment, rather than as a longer, higher-quality novel—there has been little scholarly work on this text. There are a few texts related to Manfredi, but it is unlikely that they were based on the chapbook and more likely that they were based on the original novel by Sarah Lansdell. A play by William Barrymore was published in 1815 entitled Manfredi the Mysterious Hermit: A Romantic Melodrama in Two Acts, and was performed in New York at Fox’s Old Bowery Theatre in 1863 (“Manfredi, the Mysterious Hermit”). WorldCat lists another play published anonymously in 1841 called Manfredi, or, the Mysterious Hermit: in two acts; the original is held at the British Library. There are no contemporary digital copies of this text, but there is an archival copy of a scan of the Chapter 1 introductory page on WorldCat. Additionally, there is a digital copy of Manfredi, Baron St. Osmund. An old English Romance. In two volumes by Sarah Lansdell on the database Eighteenth Century Collections Online. 


Narrative Point of View

Manfredi, or the Mysterious Hermit, an Interesting and Original Romance has a straightforward narrative style. The third-person, omniscient narrator is not a character in the text but has consistent knowledge of and sometimes opinions on the actions of the primary characters and the events of the story. The story is not told from a purely objective, detached viewpoint, but one that is colored by the opinions of the anonymous narrator. The style of narration feels like relaxed, conversational storytelling. The sentences are densely packed with information in shorter, plain sentences that focus more on the events of the story than complex language, possibly because this book was plagiarized from a much longer version of the story. The narrator gives some insight into the feelings of the characters, but it is told matter-of-factly in the same manner as the events of the story.

Sample Passage:

PETER according to his promise hastened to the garden of the palace, “Ah” said he “tired of staying—these Indian manners, do not suit us Englishmen—Mr. Hermit seems too genteel to keep lis [sic.] time.” While he was indulging himself, a servnt [sic.] passed. “Where are you going” enquired Peer, “Going” answered the man, “did you never knay [sic.] a lady in a hurry when she was going to be married? I seek the Marquis.” “I can assure you he is not at this part of the garden, but see comes this way.” “My Lord.” said the man, anessing [sic.] Alteri, “the ceremony awaits your presence.” “Ah,” he said mournfully, “a few moments repite [sic.], the air of this garden, refreshes me and will make me more cheerful for the ceremony.” Then tuning [sic.] to Hugo, he enquired, “What makes your father eye me so,—does he suspect aught: Peter, me honest friend, can I serve you.”— “No my Lord, nor can I serve you—I am honest,” replied, the suspecting fisherman; “Be cautious, father, or you’ll offend the Marquis,” said Hugo— “Be cautious Hugo” retorted Peter, “or you’ll offend your father.” With this unpalatable speech, he left the garden, and Alteri, fearful of offending the powerful Marquis Vincenza and his beautiful daughter, went to fulfil the vows which he tought [sic.] would purchase his future bliss. (16)

This passage uses a concise, informative narrative style to maintain clarity and provide the audience with the most succinct description possible. This has the effect of making sure that the text is not too long or unwieldy. The use of quotes and description of the characters’ feelings appeals to relatable emotions and interesting dialogue that is frequently engaging and interesting. Similarly, the use of dramatic language makes for a gripping narrative.


Summary

Manfredi, or the Mysterious Hermit, an Interesting and Original Romance opens with a description of the castle of Vincenza, which is on a lake in Italy. A nice man who honored the family line owned the castle, and he remained dignified but still treated the peasants well. He married a nice woman and had a kind, intelligent daughter named Marcelina. The neighboring Marquis Altieri wants to marry Marcelina. 

A mysterious hermit lives across the lake from them, and the ferryman Peter recognizes him. Peter’s wife is Paulina, his daughter is Jacintha, and his son is Hugo, who works for Marquis Altieri. A rough, yet charming young man named Stephano who likes Jacintha wants to know who the hermit is. Peter comes home and tells them that he found a portrait of Olivia Altieri, Marquis Altieri’s first wife, in the hermit’s house. Hugo takes it from him, saying that he is going to put it back in the hermit’s house because stealing is wrong, while Stephano sets off to learn about the hermit. The hermit comes to see Peter and accuses him of stealing the portrait from his house, to which Peter replies that it is being put back and confronts him about it looking like Olivia Altieri. The hermit says Marquis Altieri is a villain and will prove it if he comes to the garden at one in the morning. Following this, the hermit brings Olivia, who is miraculously still alive, into his cave. Stephano watches secretly from the side. They talk about how Marcelina is going to be another victim of Marquis Altieri if the marriage goes through, but Manfredi, the hermit, has a plan to expose him to the world as a terrible person. Olivia only wishes that he spares his life because he is still her husband.

This page of text is from the middle of the book, showing a patched hole.

Meanwhile, Hugo brings the portrait of Olivia Altieri to Marquis Altieri, not the hermit’s house, and tells him that Olivia is still alive living with Manfredi. They collude that they must disguise themselves to go to the hermit and kill her. Stephano, ever ill-mannered, is in Manfredi’s house beginning to eat his food and make himself comfortable when he hears Hugo’s voice outside the door and hides while Marquis Altieri and Hugo come in and search the house. Manfredi comes home and knows someone is inside from the disturbance in the entryway. Stephano reveals himself to Manfredi and warns him that the Marquis is there and he is in danger. Manfredi gives Olivia to him, telling him to guard her and take her away with him. Manfredi and the Marquis talk, and the Marquis asks him if Olivia is alive and if anyone else knows. Manfredi says only he and a peasant know, then calls him by his name, exposing his disguise, and says he will see him tomorrow. The Marquis is terrified for his life. Hugo rushes Manfredi, but he is prepared and pulls two pistols and retreats to the back of the cave. Hugo wants to chase him, but their guns aren’t loaded anymore and his are.

Stephano and Olivia make it to the cottage and Jacintha tries to visit but Stephano teases her and won’t let her in because Olivia is there. She becomes upset and pretends to leave but actually stays to eavesdrop. Stephano recognizes that she is upset but doesn’t take it seriously. Jacintha hears Stephano presume that he can win her forgiveness by crying in front of her and pretending to kill himself and sees Olivia through the window, which causes her to get extremely jealous and vow revenge. Manfredi arrives at Stephano’s cottage and reveals his plan to save Marcelina.

The next day, Peter comes to the garden and finds the Marquis. He pretends like he doesn’t suspect anything, but is curt. The Marquis goes to the wedding. Everyone is at the wedding, and it is beautiful but very solemn. Marcelina’s father promises her and his property to Marquis Altieri. Just then, a stranger bursts in and says the Marquis has forgotten Olivia, then sits down to stay when pressed by the Marquis to reveal how he knows this. It turns out the stranger was originally paid to kill Olivia but it didn’t happen. The Marquis says in confidence that it still can and tells him to meet him at the ruins. Peter bursts into the wedding with a letter to Vincenza stating that Olivia is alive and the Marquis is a villain. He denies it and demands to know where the accuser is. On cue, Manfredi comes in and says he can produce Olivia, and the wedding is postponed.

This page of text from the middle of the book shows a patched hole and wrinkled page.

The Marquis plots to ally himself with banditti to find Olivia before Manfredi can produce her. The Marquis and Hugo want to befriend the hermit, but the stranger says they must repent for that to happen. They reply that they never will and try to kill him but he’s too strong. He throws the Marquis on the ground and warns him to beware of tomorrow. He warns that Olivia is going to betray the Marquis.

The banditti and the hit man Spaldro begin their search. They find Jacintha and use her jealousy of Olivia to get her to reveal that she is in the cabin with Stephano. They find Olivia and are going to murder her there but decide that they don’t want to do it in front of Jacintha. They then try to move to the woods, but are stopped by Stephano and Jacintha. Stephano sends Jacintha to the castle to warn Marcelina’s father. Hugo stabs the stranger and leaves him to die on the ground.

An aside is given to the reader that explains the history between Manfredi and Olivia. It states that D’Estalla was a respected name in Tuscany, and that the count with that name had two respected sons who were best friends. The elder one provided well for the younger even though he inherited all of the wealth. They each married and had a child with high-status women from the court, who were Olivia and Manfredi. Manfredi’s mother died following his birth, and his father died of grief soon after, so he was raised with Olivia. He grew to love her romantically, not as a sister, but she didn’t love him back and instead liked Altieri. They were married and it was okay for a while, but then he wanted to marry Marcelina for money because he lost everything gambling. The count was ill and entrusted the care of Olivia to Manfredi because he strongly distrusts the Marquis. Manfredi disguised himself as Spaldro, the hit man, and instead of killing Olivia hid her away with him.

Coming back to the present day, Stephano gets into the castle using Hugo’s name, then lets down the gates to let Peter in. He is stopped by Hugo who also wants to come in, but he won’t let him. It turns out that Manfredi is wounded but not dead, and comes to find them. The banditti betray the Marquis by not killing Olivia. Hugo and the Marquis are so desperate to find Olivia that they vow to set the castle on fire if they don’t capture her. Peter and Stephano use a boat in the moat to linger beneath the window of Olivia’s cell with a crowbar. The Marquis is about to fire a cannon on the castle with the explosive charges lain but then sees them escaping with his wife! In the confusion he still orders Hugo to fire, and unable to disobey his master, he does. Olivia, Peter, and Stephano escape from the fire while Manfredi fights viciously and kills the Marquis. 

In the end, Olivia is very sad over her husband dying but eventually agrees to marry Manfredi. Marcelina marries a man from France, and Hugo dies along with the other people who fought against Manfredi. Stephano and Jacintha get married. Manfredi’s house is revered by everyone across the land who learns the story, and Olivia builds a church there to commemorate her savior. A pious recluse begins to live in Manfredi’s old house.


Bibliography

Barrymore, William. Manfredi the Mysterious Hermit: A Romantic Melodrama in Two Acts. London, 1815. 1970. Print.

Koch, Angela. “Gothic Bluebooks in the Princely Library of Corvey and Beyond.” Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text, Issue 9 (Dec. 2002), pp. 5–25.

Manfredi, or The Mysterious Hermit, an Interesting and Original Romance, London, G. Stevens, 1790s.

Manfredi, Or, the Mysterious Hermit: In Two Acts. London, Submitted to Lord Chamberlain, 1841. 

“Manfredi, the mysterious hermit.” Music in Gotham: The New York Scene 1862–75, CUNY Graduate Center. https://www.musicingotham.org/work/11973


Researcher: Katie G. Coleman