The Castle of Montabino

The Castle of Montabino

The Castle of Montabino; or the Orphan Sisters: An Original Romance

Author: Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson
Publisher: Dean and Munday
Publication Year: 1810
Language: English
Book Dimensions:  12 cm x 19.5 cm
Pages: 38
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.W55 C 1810


The Castle of Montabino by Sarah Wilkinson is a riveting narration of mystery and adventure in early 1800’s Italy, centralizing around two sisters’ daring escape from the clutches of their cruel uncle.


Material History

The Castle of Montabino; or the Orphan Sisters: An Original Romance is a lengthily-titled, 38-page work of gothic fiction authored by Sarah Wilkinson. Originally, the contents of the book were stored in a fragile pamphlet of pages consisting of a blue cover and backing.  However, the book was later rebound, and is currently held in a cardstock-weight tan binding. The novel does not appear particularly aesthetically pleasing as the exterior is bland, lacking an intriguing cover and decorative effects. The contents of the book, however, tell a more interesting story. Within the yellowed, aged pages of Wilkinson’s story are small splotches, stains, tears, and other mysterious man-made marks. These pages, containing the actual text, are quite delicate, uneven in length, and frayed at the ends as if torn.

This page shows the bluebook cover, and a catalogue of books printed and sold by the publisher

The first page of the text, or the introductory catalogue, is a detailed table of books printed on faded turquoise-blue parchment paper. This catalogue contains a list of the various works, including The Castle of Montabino, mentioning that they were all printed and sold by the same publisher. The full title of the book appears on the title page after this catalogue, and interestingly, the author’s name is quite inconspicuous, wedged between the full title, the publisher’s name, and a small drawing. Wilkinson is only mentioned as the author once throughout the whole course of the text.

A frontispiece precedes the title page. This is a larger, well-depicted illustration of three women who appear to be kneeling in fear within a castle. The expressions on their faces are contorted and overdramatized, indicating astonishment and fright. Under this image is a caption with the words, “The Castle of Montabino.” The second, smaller drawing is on the title page, and resembles a lightly sketched depiction of a miniature castle surrounded by a few trees. Both images are black and white, appearing relatively simple without ornate detailing or vibrant colors.

The remainder of the book is solely text, containing no other visual aids or sources which depict scenarios relevant to the plot. While the pages are saturated with words and there is not a lavish amount of white space, there is a generous amount of contrast between the paragraphs and spaces so that the reader is not overwhelmed by a mass of text. The font is large enough to easily read, comparable with 12-point font. The dimensions of the book in terms of the external length and width are 19.5 cm by 12 cm. The lengths of the pages within the book are varied as some of the pages are more worn or torn slightly more than others. Additionally, the turquoise blue introductory page and cover are significantly smaller than the yellowed pages with the contents of the text. The material on which the text is printed is a thinner version of printer paper, more aged and discolored than expected. With a tawny yellowish-tan color, the pages appear not only frail, but slightly brittle as well. A few interesting post-production marks found on some pages within the text include an inked signature on the catalogue which appears to spell the word “Montabino” in fluid cursive, along with smaller, more arbitrary pencil markings within the text containing dates and numbers.


Textual History

Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson, the author of The Castle of Montabino; or the Orphan Sisters: An Original Romance, was a novelist known as one of the most prolific female gothic fiction writers of her time (Potter 109–10). She wrote and published over a hundred works of fiction, almost half of which were chapbooks. Many of her works were adaptations of previously existing novels, romances in particular (Baines). Many of Wilkinson’s pieces such as The Thatched Cottage and A Visit to London were abridgements. The Castle of Montabino, however, was her original work. Interestingly enough, Wilkinson is one of the few female authors whose names were printed and made visible within her published texts. Not only was her presence in the gothic fiction realm immense in the early nineteenth century, but some of her writings were also so popular that they were reprinted and recirculated multiple times (Baines). Some of Wilkinson’s more popular works included The History of Crazy Jane, Monkcliffe Abbey, and The Maid of Lochlin. By contrast, The Castle of Montabino, however, was not considered to be one of Wilkinson’s most notable or highly received works, and appears to have been less-known. 

Title page for The Castle of Montabino

Unfortunately, Wilkinson faced many difficulties in her early writing career. She was born into a lower middle-class family, living on the border of poverty in the heart of London. This continued on into her adult life as she was widowed, struggling to support herself and her family with multiple odd occupations. She held a variety of small jobs including being a schoolteacher, running a circulating library, and taking in boarders (Potter, 110–11). Simultaneously, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, leading her to petition the Royal Literary Fund for aid. She cited not only these medical issues, but the difficulty of earning a decent income as a female (Baines). Ultimately, she was fortunate enough to receive this aid and was able to continue writing and publishing until her death. 

Wilkinson’s interesting background and experiences are reflected in her bold, unconventional writing. While she did fit into the framework of gothic style, she combined typical gothic elements with more realistic aspects of daily life, making subtle statements about societal constructs and the social position of women (Baines). She was known to have mocked or satirized mainstream gothic writers such as Ann Radcliffe, depicting diametrically opposing themes such as female social liberation and freedom in her works, The Castle of Montabino being one. Rather than catering to the higher classes, Wilkinson’s works were aimed at the literate, lower-class population, specifically women. Not only did she combine typical gothic tropes with the supernatural, she also focused on the themes of female subjectivity, gender, and identity. This innovative aspect of her writing marked her as a breakthrough female gothic fiction author (Hoeveler, 3–4).

The particular edition of The Castle of Montabino held in the University of Virginia Special Collections Library was published around 1810 by Dean and Munday Publishers. In total, there are two editions and several physical copies of these two editions held in libraries across the world. In addition to the copies at the University of Virginia Special Collections Library, databases indicate that the book is also at Duke University Libraries, UCLA, Northwestern, and The British Library in London. Additionally, there is an online edition of the text available with free access for the public through Chawton House Libraries (WorldCat). Different library databases and collections cite either 1809 or 1810 as the approximate time the work was printed. There is a second edition that was published around the same time, but by S. Bailey instead of the initial publishers, Dean and Munday. While the University of Virginia library catalog indicates that it is published by Dean and Munday, the interior catalogue of the text features a table of books, including The Castle of Montabino, as being printed and sold by S.Bailey.

This page shows the shortened title of the book, and an image of three women who appear to be hunched over, fearfully looking towards a dark, cloaked figure standing in an archway

The intriguing details regarding the history of the publishing of The Castle of Montabino originate with the relationship between Dean and Munday and S. Bailey, also known as Susan Bailey. The two publishing entities were thought to have had familial ties, providing a possible explanation for the reprinting and production of two copies around the same time frame (“Movable Stationary”). Among many of Wilkinson’s works, it is a common theme that most of the pieces are published by either S. Bailey or Dean and Munday, sometimes even both. Dean and Munday as a publication company was said to have been effective in their advertising, cultivating a name as the largest supplier of movable children’s books and chapbooks, fitting Wilkinson’s niche. The company primarily published fiction chapbooks in the form of bluebooks: small, thin paper pamphlets with turquoise-blue covers and backings, illustrated clearly through the visual appearance of The Castle of Montabino (“Movable Stationary”).

Not only was Wilkinson considered an influential author of her time, but she is also studied by contemporary scholars. She is mentioned as a female gothic pioneer with her works being cited in Franz Potter’s The History of Gothic Publishing. She is often referred to as one of the most productive and gifted writers in the field, introducing bold and daring concepts for her time period (Hoeveler 3–4). Wilkinson’s impact on the development of gothic fiction is also a major focal point of discussion in Ellen Malenas Ledoux’s Social Reform in Gothic Writing. Ledoux particularly analyzes what she calls the “working-class gothic in The Castle of Montabino (77).


Narrative Point of View

The Castle of Montabino is narrated in the third-person omniscient by an anonymous narrator who is never discussed or mentioned within the text. The narration is often convoluted and consists of lengthy paragraphs that occasionally form tangents away from the central plot. The narration focuses on the internal feelings and emotions of the characters briefly during the beginning of the book through dialogue and description. Later on, this focus shifts to a centralization around action and details of the core events in the plot. The language utilized throughout the text is intricate and verbose, and transitions from one event to another often blend together. In addition, the narration is extremely hurried and events are often grouped together, depicted as occurring back to back with no pause in between.

Sample Passage:

“Thanks be to heaven,” said the Signor, her apprehensions and suspense will now be converted to joy. “Then, turning to the servants, he said—“I think I scarce need repeat any injunctions of secresy.”— “We are faithful, and would die to prove it,” was the general reply. He asked a few questions, and being informed that the Countess had ordered breakfast not to be on table till two, he proposed retiring till that hour, and Laurinda conducted the ladies and Beatrice to their respective chambers. The sisters were so much fatigued with travelling, that they were not able to converse with their usual facility; and after a few remarks, they fell into a profound slumber, from which they did not awake till the entrance of Beatrice, who came to assist them in dressing; Laurinda having supplied her with the necessary articles for that purpose. At two they descended to the breakfast saloon; Signor Rupino and the Countess were ready to receive them, the former paid them the usual compliments, in a most elegant and flattering speech, the lady spoke not- yet she cordially pressed their hands,—heavy sighs distended her bosom, and she sobbed most piteously. The Signor apologized for the Countess’s not speaking to them; he said that their presence had awakened some bitter recollections that had overcome her. She wore a thick muslin veil, and she took great care, while eating her breakfast, that no part of her face should be seen. Before their repeat was concluded, they were joined by the two gentlemen who had always accompanied Signor Rupino and the Countess in the boat; the latter whispered something to the Countess, they retired together to one of the open balconies (15).

This particular narrative style creates a fast-paced story due to the fleeting portrayal of events. In some cases, it is difficult to distinguish the start of one event and the end of another due to the fact that both the sentences and paragraphs are long and strung out. The events are portrayed as occurring one after the other, and the narration significantly contributes to the sudden nature of transitions within the plot. This aspect of the narration along with some obscured language makes it hard to identify certain contexts or intervals. In illustrating the sister’s journey in the passage above, the narrator mentions, “The sisters were so much fatigued with travelling, that they were not able to converse with their usual facility; and after a few remarks, they fell into a profound slumber, from which they did not awake till the entrance of Beatrice, who came to assist them in dressing; Laurinda having supplied her with the necessary articles for that purpose” (15). This sentence highlights the quantity of condensed details within particular points of the narration, offering an example of the culmination of ideas that are often presented in a short period of time.


Summary

The Castle of Montabino is a short gothic story set in Italy in the early nineteenth century. The plot places specific focus on Emillia and Theresa, two recently orphaned sisters faced with peril after the passing of their aunt, the Countess. The novel begins by describing the somber mood within the castle, and the despair experienced by the two sisters. Emillia and Theresa convey that they do not wish to reside in the Castle at Montabino under the care of their cold and cruel uncle, the Count. In their private apartment, they discuss their plan to escape from the castle with the help of mysterious, unidentified companions. These companions—three noble, well dressed men and one woman, soon arrive at the castle by boat. They dock their boat under the window of the sisters’ apartment, confirming their role in aiding the girls with their escape. The mysterious figures state that the two sisters are nearing imminent danger, and that they must take action in immediately ensuring their safety.

Theresa and Emillia agree that escaping from the castle the next day is the most suitable option, and they begin to make the proper arrangements to do so. Subsequently, Emillia and Theresa proceed with their normal lifestyles within the castle, engaging with their domestic employees Susette, Cosmo, and Judith. During this time, Judith, Emillia, and Theresa make the startling discovery that a ghost occupies the castle, causing slight turmoil and fright. While the sisters express their dismay at leaving their beloved employees, Susette and Judith, in the castle with the presence of a ghost, they ultimately make their daring escape that night. Following the instructions given to them by their mysterious friends, the sisters travel through arched recesses and narrow tunnels, exiting the castle and entering a desolate area filled with ruins.

Unfortunately, they cross paths with two cloaked figures. Startled, they hide behind fragments of stone, concealing themselves to avoid discovery. During this time, they learn the identity of the cloaked figures: a man named Gusmond and his servant Hugo. Their sole purpose for entering the desolate area at such an odd hour was to bury a child. The men banter about preserving secrecy and concealing the events that were to transpire, mentioning that if anyone were to find out, the Count would punish them harshly.

A page of sample text for The Castle of Montabino

After the men leave, Theresa and Emillia hastily arrive at their set meeting point, waiting in anticipation for their transportation to arrive. They discuss the strange, dreadful mystery that plagues the Castle, their relief at escaping the clutches of the Count and their hopes to never be found by him or ever return. Shortly after, the sisters are met by their companions and introduced to their attendants, Signor Rupino and Beatrice. They embark upon a carriage, and ride until dawn, taking shelter at a deserted castle for a while, restarting their journey at dusk, and later arriving at a cottage where they again take rest. Their travel progresses until they arrive at a villa quite distant from the castle. It is here that the sisters learn a treacherous secret: the Count had ordered Cosmo to poison his wife. Cosmo, unable to go through with this order, deceived the Count and instead aided the Countess in escaping under a guise. 

Upon hearing this news, the sisters are overjoyed, invigorated yet shocked by the thought of seeing their aunt. Shortly after, the sisters are reunited with the Countess, who begins to reveal the details of her story. She narrates her childhood, mentioning the hard work and sacrifices her father made to accumulate wealth and provide for the family. Leading up to the moment she was introduced to the Count, she recalls the party during which she was acquainted with him. Soon after, the Count became a frequent visitor, and made numerous proposals for the now-Countess’ hand in marriage. They were quickly married, and she soon came to realize his true intention, which was to gain wealth from her family through their union. Moreover, after the untimely death of her father, the Count refused the Countess’ request to visit her family or have any of them visit her. He became intolerable, refusing her the luxuries of a maidservant, and becoming increasingly cruel.

She briefly narrates her happiness in caring for the sisters once their parents passed away, and proceeds to reveal the night on which Cosmo assisted her in her escape. She was drugged, proclaimed dead, and later hidden in a coffin to be transported to a cottage in the woods a few miles from the Castle. It was after this fateful night that she realized the Count’s evil intentions to take her fortune, and the fortune of her nieces by first murdering her, as she was their guardian. After her departure from the Castle and knowledge of this information, the Countess contacted her friends for a place to stay, financial means, and safe passage far away from the Castle. It was later on that she contacted her mysterious allies, Beatrice and Signor Rupino, requesting them to approach her nieces in order to affect their escape, as the Count had planned to poison them as well.

While this unfolds, the Count seethes with anger upon discovering the disappearance of Emillia and Theresa. As a result, he murders Cosmo in a fit of anger while trying to extract the truth from him. Even though Cosmo is unaware of the means of their escape, he divulges that the Countess is still alive, sending the Count into a rage. The Count scours the tunnels and hidden passages of Montabino, attempting to discover what could have allowed his nieces to escape, or some clue as to where his wife has fled. However, this search ends in his accidental stabbing and eventual death.

Once the Count’s death is confirmed, friends of the Countess and noblemen from the villa begin searching all corners of the castle to uncover the treacherous secrets that the Count may have hidden. It was then that they come across a young woman, Harmina, who was locked away in a small, unkempt room with her daughter. Harmina later reveals her story, discussing her working-class upbringing, her struggles to receive her romantic and material interests, and how she came to be acquainted with the Count. She originally attracted the attentions of Fernando, a servant of the Count, who later introduced the two. The Count was enraptured by her beauty, while hiding his marriage, began to have an affair with her. He ensured that she lived in a charming villa away from the castle, visiting her occasionally and giving her the luxuries she desired. Their affair lasted for three to four years, and she bore him three children. However, Harmina later became aware that he was a married man and, dismayed, revealed to him her plan to return to her father and the rest of her family immediately.

During her escape, she was intercepted by the Count and forced into imprisonment, where her children were taken from her, pronounced dead under mysterious and vague conditions, and later buried. Gusmond, the man who Emillia and Theresa witnessed at the desolate site, confesses to murdering Harmina’s children, and is sentenced to life imprisonment. In the end, Harmina retires to a convent, and leaves her child in the care of the Countess who is joyfully remarried. Theresa and Emillia, who also get married, live happily. The story ends with the moral that those who are virtuous will be rewarded and those who are wicked will meet with punishment.


Bibliography

Baines, Paul. “Wilkinson, Sarah Scudgell (d. c. 1830), Writer: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.” (d. c. 1830), Writer | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 5 Oct. 2019.

“The Castle of Montabino; or The Orphan Sisters: an Original Romance.” WorldCat, 12 Dec. 2018.

Hoeveler, Daine L. “Sarah Wilkinson: Female Gothic Entrepreneur.” Gothic Archive: Related Scholarship, Marquette University, 1 Jan. 2015.

“Movable Stationary,” The Movable Book Society Newsletter, May 2013 (“Vintage Pop-Up Books” with further information, accessed 30 October 2019).

Potter, Franz. “The Romance of Real Life: Sarah Wilkinson.” The History of Gothic Publishing: 1800–1835, Palgrave UK, 2005, pp. 109–30.

Wilkinson, Sarah Scudgell. The Castle of Montabino; or The Orphan Sisters: an Original Romance. London, Dean and Munday, 1810.


Researcher: Medhaa Banaji

The Haunted Castle

The Haunted Castle

The Haunted Castle

Author: Unknown
Publisher: T. Maiden
Publication Year: c. 1799
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11cm x 18cm
Pages: 48
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .L34 H 1799


Follow along with the endeavors of Julian in this chapbook, written circa 1799, to reveal secrets about his past in an unsettling castle.


Material History

The title page of The Haunted Castle

The front cover of The Haunted Castle presents nothing other than bounded cardboard binding; the cover includes no text nor images. The side of the book features a small, red, leather bound print stating The Haunted Castle at the top of the novel. Other than this small print on the side, there is nothing else on any of the binding. The title of the book appears at the top of the first page in large cursive script, resembling handwriting. The author’s name does not appear on this page with the title; in fact, the author’s name never appears anywhere in the novel. The rest of the title page is blank, leaving empty, unused space. The publication date also does not appear anywhere. The second page includes a strange piece of text, printed upside down at the bottom of the page in near illegible print, which most likely translates to “sixpence novel.” This suggests that the novel was made cheaply, as also suggested by the cover. The back of this page, includes a detailed, full-page graphic of a castle that’s printed in only black and white. The illustration presents a number of knights guiding a woman outside the large entrance of the castle. A caption in thick, bold capital letters stating “Promnelli Castle,” appears below the illustration. 

The following page introduces the start of the novel, with the title appearing once again at the top of the page. The text of the story, running 48 pages long, does not contain separate chapters.

A strange page following the title page, with upside down printing suggesting the novel’s price

The pages are in very fragile condition, nearly falling apart with each turn of a page. Pages 11 and 12 are even missing from this particular copy. The cardboard binding of the book however, which is 11 cm by 18 cm, appears to be in significantly better condition than the pages inside the novel. After the conclusion of the text, several blank, thicker pages were added to this copy of the book to make the binding easier. Printer notes, such as “A2” or “C3,”appear at the bottom of many pages. These were used as a mechanism for the printer, so that they would know how to assemble and fold the pages correctly when putting together the book.

While not tiny, the print of the book is small and slightly faint. The pages also include thin margins along all sides. Most, but not all, words that have an S are printed with the long S, which looks like an f and mimics handwriting, making the novel more difficult to read. With the exception of the illustration at the start of the text, throughout the story there are no other images included until the last page. Beneath the last paragraph of text, a small depiction of another castle sits right under the final paragraph, with “Printed by T. Maiden, Sherbourne Lane” placed beneath it. This last page also includes one of the only signs of any previous owners or readers. Marked in light pencil, just to the left of the image of the castle, is “1702.” There are no other comments found in the book that can help interpret the meaning of this simple note. The bottom left corner of page 22 also features a faded stain of an unidentifiable substance. These two markings are the only signs of any prior use. 


Textual History

The author of The Haunted Castle is unknown, but most likely resided in England, since the book was published and printed in London. Thomas Maiden, Sherbourne-Lane, printed the book for Ann Lemoine, a British chapbook seller and publisher (Bearden-White 103). According to Montague Summers’s Gothic Bibliography, two other books, also titled The Haunted Castle, were published around the same time. Summers lists The Haunted Castle. A Norman Romance by George Walker as well as The Haunted Castle written by August Lafontaine (originally written in German); this latter version is contained in the collection In Tales of Humour and Romance (Summers 348). All three of these texts, however, are distinct and not related in any way. 

The frontispiece of the c. 1799 edition of The Haunted Castle that is housed in the Sadleir-Black Collection. The 1801 edition (digitized by HathiTrust) includes a different frontispiece.

The University of Virginia Special Collections Library holds the anonymously written The Haunted Castle, which Montague Summers suggests was published in 1799. This copy appears to be the first printing and has not since been digitized online. Another edition, which can be found digitized online in HathiTrust, titled The Haunted Castle; or, The Child of Misfortune, was published in 1801, as stated on its title page. These editions are nearly identical but have just a few differing qualities between the two texts. First, both titles have the segment The Haunted Castle, but the first printing includes only this piece; the longer, The Haunted Castle; or, The Child of Misfortune, was added when the book was republished in 1801. The earlier edition consists of 48 pages, while the copy from 1801 has only 44. This 1801 copy also opens with a line that appears a few sentences into the first paragraph of the earlier version. The large, detailed image that appears before the start of the novel also differs in the two versions; the illustration in the HathiTrust (1801) copy looks more applicable to the text itself as it presents a man with an expression of fear facing an apparition of a woman. The illustration in the University of Virginia’s copy shows a woman, surrounded by knights, in front of a castle with the print “PROMINELLI CASTLE” at the foot. A second, and much smaller, image of a distant castle can also be found in both versions, with just a few distinctions concerning layout. In the earlier text, this drawing appears after the final paragraph, while in the 1801 version it sits on the title page. This suggests that some text was cut and re-edited before the novel was republished in 1801. The HathiTrust copy also does not incorporate the start of a short piece at the end titled, “IVAR AND MATILDA.” The earlier edition includes just a page and a half of this story before concluding the entire book. It is completely unrelated, and was likely the start to another chapbook in a larger collection. 

Another copy of the chapbook, not digitized online, can be found in a four-volume compilation, also published in 1801, known as English Nights Entertainments. While there is not much knowledge on this edition, information provided by The Women’s History Project states a matching number of pages as the copy in the University of Virginia’s library, as well as the same publisher and publishing city. Bearden-White’s compilation notes about English Nights Entertainments also mention “IVAR AND MATILDA” appearing on pages 47 and 48, as they do in the University of Virginia copy.

No scholarly study of The Haunted Castle can be found, which may be a result of lack of information the text itself provides. There is no evidence of any advertisements when the book was released or that it has been adapted into any other forms. After the 1801 copy, there are not any other publications or reprintings that are publicly known. The book also does not have any prequels are sequels.


Narrative Point of View

The Haunted Castle is narrated by a third-person, anonymous narrator that does not appear anywhere in the text. This narrator solely follows the story of the protagonist, Julian, and his endeavors after suddenly departing from his previous lodging, where he has spent his entire life. The narration is very descriptive, using lots of adjectives and long sentences to convey the plot information to the reader in the most detailed way; it sometimes details Julian’s emotions but never explores his thoughts and rather mainly focuses just on his actions. The story is told in chronological order of events, with no jumps back or forth in time, but is narrated in the past tense. 

Sample Passage: 

To participate in some of these scenes, the disconsolate Julian, expelled from the asylum which had fostered his infancy, without fortune or friends, and only a few ducats in his pocket, with some necessary linen, and no other guardian than his integrity, nor other companion than his horse, set out from Warsenburg upon a long and doubtful journey. As he passed the drawbridge to go out, an old domestic of the family saluted him, and knowing he was taking his departure for good, crossed himself, and wished him the most prosperous adventures. (1)

While the narrator includes descriptive accounts of Julian’s adventures, the narration does not include any dramatic irony or foreshadowing. Therefore, the narration always requires the reader to follow along with Julian and includes no additional insight to what is going to happen next on his journey. Paired with this, the incorporation of long sentences also creates a further eagerness to know the fate of Julian and his trustworthy friend, Conrad. This technique also helps create an enticing and engaging format. An example of these long sentences appears in the sample passage above, which while multiple lines long, actually consists of only two sentences. All of these aspects make the story feel even more gothic, because anything that happens comes as a total surprise and feel very sudden. The pace of the novel also feels much faster because of the long sentences, since so much plot and description are compacted into one single sentence.


Summary

The opening page of text of The Haunted Castle

The story, told by a third-person narrator, mainly focuses on the life and journeys of the protagonist, Julian. It begins in Suabia, Germany, where Julian leaves the asylum in which he lived his entire life and embarks on an uncertain course. No details are given on his sudden departure. After traveling throughout the day, Julian encounters a small cabin, where he eats dinner and chooses to stay the night. However, while he tries to sleep, he is consumed by his own thoughts, which are interrupted by the sound of people talking in the front of the cabin. Julian realizes that one of the voices belongs to Count Warsenburg, from the asylum, who has come in search of Julian so that he will return. While listening to the conversation, Julian decides to escape through the window and runs through the night through a valley until he reaches a forest in the morning. He takes a brief rest before he continues to run and then finds several cottages, where he briefly eats before departing again.

Continuing to travel through the forest, Julian reaches a clearing, where there is a lawn with a large castle at the end. It spontaneously starts storming when Julian first encounters the castle. A peasant passes by him, so Julian asks if there is anywhere he can go to seek shelter. He ends up running to the drawbridge of the castle and discovers that the door is already half open, so he enters. The foyer is infested with bats, dirt, and cobwebs, and has military objects and portraits of German emperors hanging on the walls along with marble checkered floors and large windows. Julian notices that the castle is uninhabited but fully furnished, although everything is in a state of decay. He explores the rest of the castle and then decides to sleep in one of the bedrooms. He notices a family portrait above the chimney.

The closing page of The Haunted Castle

At midnight, he wakes up to screams of distress and perceives a man at the foot of the bed; the man wears a loose dress covered in blood, and Julian thinks he looks like the man from the portrait. The phantom leads Julian out of the room to a dark narrow passage where Julian then feels a cold grip around his wrist. The two enter a dungeon where a woman lies on the ground, covered in blood, with three children around her. The woman hugs him, but the narrator then cuts to Julian waking up the next day. 

After leaving the castle, he runs into the same peasant, Conrad, as the day before. The two stick together and end up going to a funeral of an unidentified woman. They are informed that the deceased is Jemima, the Lord’s daughter. Julian is distraught, because it is revealed at the end of the novel that Jemima is his former lover. 

That night, Julian returns to the castle, intrigued. Again at midnight comes another cry of distress from someone. The phantom appears, and Julian realizes that it is his father, who tells him that his whole family has been murdered and mentions the name Marquis of Vicanze. The next day, Julian learns that the Marquis now resides in Italy, so Julian and Conrad decide to search for him. They encounter a man at an inn, who reveals that the Marquis is there. Julian’s aunt appears, and it is revealed here that Julian’s family haunts the castle, and that he survived only because the Count found Julian floating in a river, rescued him, and raised him as his own. The Marquis, however, murdered the Count, and now Julian wants vengeance. 

Julian returns to the castle and arranges a funeral for all of the murder victims. While searching a passage beyond a trap door, Jemima appears. Both Julian and Jemima are thrilled to see each other and discover that they are both alive; Jemima explains that her death was staged, because she was trying to escape the control of her father. The novel ends with a meal shared by Julian and Jemima, in which she reconnects with father and brother to create a happy ending.


Bibliography

Bearden-White, Roy. How The Wind Sits: History of Henry and Ann Lemoine, Chapbook Writers and Publishers of the Eighteenth Century. Laughing Dog Press, 2017. 

English Nights Entertainments. London, Ann Lemoine, 1801.

“English Nights Entertainments. The Haunted Castle; or, The Child of Misfortune.” The Women’s Print History Project. https://dhil.lib.sfu.ca/wphp/title/13553 

The Haunted Castle. London, T. Maiden, [c. 1799]. 

The Haunted Castle; or, The Child of Misfortune. A Gothic Tale. London, T. Maiden for A. Lemoine, 1801. HathiTrust, https://hdl.handle.net/2027/uiuo.ark:/13960/t1qg3f098

Lafontaine, August. The Haunted Castle. In Tales of Humour and Romance. American ed. New York, R. Holcroft, 1829. 

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

Walker, George. The Haunted Castle. A Norman Romance. Minerva-Press, William Lane. 


Researcher: Reny Horner 

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

Koenigsmark the Robber

Koenigsmark the Robber

Koenigsmark the Robber, or, the Terror. of. Bohemia, in which is Introduced, Stella, or, the Maniac of the Wood, a Pathetick Tale

Author: H. J. Sarrett
Publisher: Tegg and Castleman
Publication Year: c. 1803
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 3 volumes, each 10.5cm x 8cm, 4 cm deep
Pages: 80
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .M356 1802 v.3 no.1


This chapbook translated by H.J. Sarrett and published around 1803 tells a story of murder, magic, and a maniac. A knight and his lover once separated by death may never be reunited as long as the town’s robbers are still on the loose.


 Material History

The full title of this book is Koenigsmark The Robber or the Terror of Bohemia in Which is Introduced Stella of the Maniac of the Wood, A Pathetick Tale. The cover of this edition is 10.5 cm by 8 cm and the entire novel is 4 cm deep. The front cover of this book has fallen off and is separated from the rest of the intact book; however, the cover is still included with the text. The cover is dark, chocolate-brown leather, including the binding. The leather is smooth and waxy from years of use and direct contact with skin whose oils can smooth the texture of the leather. On the spine, there are golden floral designs. The combination of leather binding and gold accents on the spine could mean this book was printed for long wear and quality. The pages are thick and smooth, similar to the texture of the average paper in a twenty-first century novel. It is sturdy and unstained, yet the paper is slightly yellowed, most likely due to age. The pages all  have small margins, about 1 cm on each side. The text fills up most of the pages. It is a small font and closely set. Most page edges are slightly worn with very few tears.

A handwritten partial table of contents for this compilation of tales appears in the opening leaves of the volume. Though Koenigsmark the Robber is the first tale in this book, whoever wrote this list did not list it here.

Koenigsmark, The Robber is the first book that appears in a compilation of seven stories listed in the following order: Koenigsmark, The Robber (1803), Phantasmagoria: Or the Development of Magical Deception (1803), Ildefonzo & Alberoni, or Tales of Horrors (1803), Ulric and Gustavus, Or Unhappy Swedes (1803), Blanche and Carlos; Or the Constant lovers: including the adventures of Valville and Adelaide, A Mexican Tale. (1803), Maximilian and Selina; Or, the Mysterious Abbot (1804), and The Voyages and Discoveries of Crusoe Richard Davis, the Son of a Clergyman in Cumberland (1801). Koenigsmark, The Robber is the only story within this book that has the author printed on the title page. The rest have no author mentioned within the book and do not appear to be by the same author as Koenigsmark, The Robber. The first six books are all printed by Tegg & Castlemen, whereas Blanche and Carlos was printed by S. Fisher. The stories do not have any evident relationship to one another except that they were published within a short time period (1801–1804) and are all of the Gothic genre. Koenigsmark, The Robber is 80 pages long.

When you first open the book, there is a bookplate with the name “Richardson Harrison” printed on it. As you turn the page, there are four blank leaves, two containing a handwritten table of contents numbered 1 through 7, correlating with the seven stories compiled together in this book. The only numbers that are filled out, though, are numbers 4 and 6.

Frontispiece and title page for Koenigsmark the Robber

Situated after the handwritten table of contents and as the first book in the volume, Koenigsmark opens with a frontispiece featuring an illustration from one of the last scenes in Koenigsmark when Koenigsmark is stabbed. Beneath the scene are the words, “Koenigsmark the Robber.” in a large font, and underneath it reads “Published June 1st 1803 by Tegg & Ca”, the publishing company for the book, Tegg and Castleman. The title page is adjacent to the frontispiece. The title covers the majority of the page and multiple lines; each line of text is a different font than the previous one. The author’s name, H. J. Sarrett, is printed in italics immediately beneath the title in a similar-sized font, as well as details about the author’s other works.

Throughout the rest of the story there are no other decorative elements: no captions, images, or texts other than the story, page numbers, and the abbreviated title, Koenigsmark, the Robber, at the top of each page.


Textual History

This edition of Koenigsmark the Robber Or, the Terror of Bohemia was published in 1803 in London by Tegg & Castleman and is credited, on the title page, to H.J. Sarrett. The book was originally written in German by Rudolf Erich Raspe and titled Koniksmark der Rauber; oderr, Der Schrecken aus Bohmen. The German version was published in 1790. H.J. Sarrett translated and adapted Raspe’s text, publishing it as Koenigsmark, The Robber in 1803. The English version by Sarrett “became the basis for a pirated chapbook purporting to be by M.G. Lewis,” the author of The Monk (Bridgwater 195). Sarrett also translated another work, The Three Monks!!!, which is mentioned on the title page of this edition of Koenigsmark.

Part of the ownership history of Koenigsmark the Robber can be traced thanks to this bookplate

There appear to be several editions of this novel published in the early nineteenth century. Montague Summers and Ann B. Tracy both identify the first publication as 1801 (Summers 380, Tracy 155). Tracy lists this edition as published by William Cole in one volume (155). The edition primarily discussed here is dated 1803, was published by Tegg & Castleman, and has 80 pages. It is collected in the third volume of a collection entitled The Marvelous Magazine and Compendium of Prodigies. There is also a shorter 38-page chapbook published by James Williams that is undated. The chapbook contains the same frontispiece as the 1803 version (but without the note regarding the 1803 publication date) and the title is slightly different: the longer version uses “A Pathetic Tale” while this 38-page chapbook uses “An Affecting Tale.” This chapbook also lists no author on the title page, and there is no link in the printed text between Sarrett and the text. This chapbook is the same story with the same plot, but the longer version goes into more detail and adds more dialogue between characters.

A separate chapbook with a different title, Koenigsmark the Robber, or, The Terror of Bohemia, including the History of Rosenberg and Adelaide, and their Orphan Daughter and attributed to Matthew Lewis was published by William Cole. This edition has only 24 pages and is not dated. Interestingly, in the longer version of Koenigsmark, the orphan daughter character is particularly minor, though here she is referenced in the title. Instead of the black-and-white frontispiece, this chapbook version has a fold-out page featuring several color illustrations (“Gothic Chapbooks”).

This work does not have any prefaces or introductions in any of the editions. Based on its multiple editions, this book appears to have garnered some interest among readers. Nonetheless, since the time of its printing, there have been no additional twenty-first-century reprintings. All editions are available online through Google Books. In scholarship, the novel is used as an example of a gothic romance text as it depicts the supernatural, betrayal, romance, and violence. Popular Romanticism, for instance, gives the chapbook version attributed to Lewis as an example of gothic chapbook form.


Narrative Point of View

Koenigsmark the Robber is narrated in the third person by an anonymous narrator who never appears in the text. The narration is laconic—often brief and to the point—and focuses on filling in gaps in the story or furthering the reader’s understanding of the scene. Throughout the novel, the narration will provide insight into the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists, but never does so for the antagonists.

Sample Passage:

By the time the two friends reached the inn, the night continued stormy, and they found many travelers who were unwilling to continue their journey in such horrid weather. “Bolfield,” said Herman, addressing the landlord, “you will oblige me, my friend, with giving us particulars of Rosenberg’s death, as you heard it from this servant. “Herman,” said the landlord, “since you request it, I will comply, though the subject distresses me. Konigsal you know, lies about twelve miles from this place, across the forest. Rosenberg wished to cross the forest that night, not heeding the representations of his servant, but replied, “that a soldier ought never know fear.” As they proceeded a distant clock struck twelve; they heard the cries of murder seemingly issuing from a clump of trees at a small distance from them. (9)

As in this passage, the vast majority of the narrative is told through dialogue among the characters. The dialogue is condensed together within paragraphs rather than being separated out by character. The third-person narration primarily functions to set the scene and to provide connection and context between instances of dialogue. This makes transitioning scenes as the story progresses rather easy to follow and clear.


Summary

On a dark and stormy night, two young men named Theodore and Herman went to spend a few hours at an inn in the woods where townspeople would meet up and relax together by smoking and telling stories. On the walk there, Herman tells Theodore a story of a young woman named Adelaide and how she lost her husband. Theodore had not lived in the village for long, so he did not know the story. Herman went on to tell him that a man named Adolphus Rosenberg was a young man who had fallen in love with General Kaempfer’s daughter. When Adolphus went to ask the general to marry his daughter, the general said he would only allow it if Adolphus became a soldier for him. He made him the aid-de-camp to the Colonel Monteculi.

A sample page of text from Koenigsmark the Robber, showing the start of the story

Soon after, they set off on a long voyage and ended up being attacked by assassins in the woods called the Banditti. Adolphus saves the general’s life and for that, Kaempfer gave him his blessing to be with his daughter. Only a few weeks later they married and later had a child. Unfortunately, Adolphus was called for another voyage soon after. Adelaide felt that it was a bad idea, and it turned out she was correct. Her husband was killed in the woods by assassins and when the news came back to the general, he told his daughter that he was sick and was stuck on his voyage.

This is all Herman knows. They have reached the inn where they ask the innkeeper, Bolfield, if he knows anything else about Rosenburg’s death. He tells them the story he heard from Adolphus’s servant: they were travelling through the woods when they heard a woman’s cries. When they went to help her, a group of assassins attacked them. Adolphus was fatally shot but the servant was saved by a passerby. Theodore and Herman are told a similar story by someone else in the inn, claiming supernatural occurrences, though Theodore and Herman are skeptical.

Later, a few of the Banditti including their leader, Koenigsmark, arrive the inn where Theodore overhears their plans to attack Kaempfer. Theodore us so moved by the stories that he wants to warn Kaempfer and protect him so that Adelaide would not be fatherless as well. Theodore gathers some friends and they set off to Koningsal, where Kaempfer resides. They tell him of the Banditti’s plan and prepare for them to arrive. When the Banditti show up, Theodore and his men attack and one of the banditti says that they were ordered there by Koenigsmark and that they should beware of him, because he is invincible. Theodore and his men set off to kill Koenigsmark.

They find Koenigsmark in the woods but Theodore is quickly captured and just as they were about to torture him, Koenigsmark’s lieutenant requested that they do not harm Theodore because he had saved his life in a previous battle. Koenigsmark obliges, but says Theodore will be his prisoner in the cave they keep secret in the woods forever.

Later that night, the lieutenant that requested Theodore to be left alone comes to him in his cell. They make a plan to break him out. The next day, the pair, as well as the guard for the cell, Steinfort, escape to Kaempfer who told them to go kill Koenigsmark.

When they return to the cell to fight, the lieutenant is shot and killed while Koenigsmark gets away. So, Theodore and Herman return to the inn where they met Stella: the. maniac of the woods. Bolfield tells them the tragic story of her lover, Raymond, being executed right in front of her after he harmed a servant for his money.

A while later, Theodore receives a letter telling him that colonel Kaempfer is dead and that Adelaide has taken her baby and run into the forest. Theodore and Herman her lying lifeless on the ground without her baby, but she is still alive. They discover that Koenigsmark took the child so they fight him. While he is distracted, Steinfort, the freed servant of Koenigsmark, finds the baby and takes it to safety. Theodore wounds Koenigsmark but keeps him alive so that he can kill him later. When Adelaide is reunited with her baby, a flash of lightening lights up the room and Rosenburg’s ghost appears. Adelaide leaves her body and joins him as a ghost—leaving the baby as an orphan.

Konenigsmark is hanged for execution when a cloaked spirit appears and stabs him, telling him that he fulfilled his promise. The town holds funerals for Colonel Kaempfer and Adelaide. Colonel Monteculi then adopts the child as his own and appoints Theodore and Steinfort as their guardians and protectors if he were to ever die. Theodore and Herman then leave for the army where they are great warriors with lots of success.


Bibliography

Bridgwater, Patrick. The German Gothic Novel in Anglo-German Perspective. Rodopi, 2013.

“Gothic Chapbooks.” Popular Romanticism. poprom.streetprint.org/narratives/90.

Koenigsmark, the Robber: Or, The Terror of Bohemia: Including the History of Rosenberg and Adelaide, and Their Orphan Daughter. Johns Hopkins Library, catalyst.library.jhu.edu/catalog/bib_2655132.

Koenigsmark the Robber: Or, the Terror of Bohemia; In Which is Introduced Stella, or, The Maniac of the Wood, a Pathetick Tale. Portsea, James Williams, n.d.

Sarrett, H. J. Koenigsmark the Robber: Or, the Terror of Bohemia; In Which is Introduced Stella, or, The Maniac of the Wood, a Pathetick Tale. London, Tegg and Castleman, 1803, in The Marvelous Magazine and Compendium of Prodigies, vol. 3. London, Tegg and Castleman, 1802–1804.

Sarrett, H. J. The Three Monks!!! From the French. [A Translation of Les Trois Moines, by M. De Faverolle, Pseudonym of Elisabeth Guénard, Afterwards Brossin, Baroness De Méré.] 1803.

Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. The Fortune press, 1941.

Tracy, Ann B. The Gothic Novel 1790­­–1830: Plot Summaries and Index to Motifs. Lexington, The University Press of Kentucky, 1981.


Researcher: Lucy E. Gilbert

Ghost and No Ghost

Ghost and No Ghost

Somerset Castle; or the Father and Daughter. A Tragic Tale. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. To which is added, Ghost and No Ghost; or The Dungeon

Author: Unknown
Publisher: Ann Lemoine and J. Roe
Publication Year: 1804
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11.5cm x 18cm 
Pages: 38
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .S648 1804


Published with Somerset Castle in 1804, this chapbook tells of a story with romance and adultery that meets murderers, mysteries, and more.


Material History

Ghost and No Ghost is the second story within Somerset Castle; or the Father and Daughter. A Tragic Tale. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. To which is added, Ghost and no Ghost; or The Dungeon, published in 1804 by IRoe and Ann Lemoine. This full title is printed on the fourth page of the book, but a shortened version of the other text’s title is printed two pages earlier: Somerset Castle; or the Father and Daughter. This shorter title is printed on the original exterior of a pamphlet in which these stories were published. Now with a new binding, the old cover page becomes the second page. Also on the title page and underneath the publisher information, the price of the novel is revealed to be a sixpence, indicating it was made very cheaply. No author is mentioned for Somerset Castle or Ghost and no Ghost on any page within the book. 

Title page for Somerset Castle and Ghost and no Ghost with frontispiece.

The book’s new binding is a tan colored paper over boards, which gives it a more sturdy feeling. On the spine, the words Somerset Castle / 1804 appear in gold lettering over a maroon strip of fabric. Because the original pamphlet that these stories were published in was quite thin (only 28 pages), the book binder elected to place additional blank pages around the original ones to make the book thicker and therefore easier to bind. One new page is placed before the original cover; the final page with text is followed by eight pages of added paper; then, the original back cover appears, followed by one more newly added page. In total, the new binding of this book includes 38 pages front and back. The original pamphlet pages are made of a darker colored, more visibly worn paper, and the newer pages are made of white cotton that is thicker than the originals, producing a new book that is double the size of the original. These newer pages also have no writing or markings of any sort on them, revealing that they were not used for note taking but result from a choice made by the book binder. 

Sample page of text in Ghost and no Ghost with rips at the bottom.

The binding of the book measures 11.5 centimeters wide and 18 centimeters tall. When looking at one of the original pages with text, the font appears rather small with closely set margins and page numbers that are printed on the top outside corners of each page. The first story, Somerset Castle, is printed on the pages numbered 5 through 29, and the second story, Ghost and no Ghost, appears on pages 30 through 38. On these pages a shortened title is printed at the top of the page, Somerset Castle on the first section and The Dungeon on the second section. In addition to page numbers at the top, some pages have numberings on the bottom in the middle of the page, such as A1, A2, B1, etc. These numbers serve to aid the book binder when printing the pages. Starting out with a large grid of pages printed on one sheet, the book binder would have to fold the pages until the grid was turned into the shape of a book; these numbers were printed strategically on the original grid to ultimately progress in a logical manner when the pages were folded. This technique allowed the book binder to be certain that the pages of the final product had been folded in the correct order.

On the inside cover of the original pamphlet, the novel’s only image appears. A scene of a woman and a child is depicted; they appear to be in a cave containing objects of death, such as a coffin and a skull. Surrounded by architectural decorations continued from the picture above, the title Somerset Castle is printed with the phrase page 22 to indicate the events of this scene occur on page 22. Underneath the title, the words Alais Sc. are printed, revealing the name of the artist of the image. There are no images within the novel that reference the story of Ghost and no Ghost.

In Ghost and no Ghost on pages 31 and 33, there is tearing on the bottom of the pages, and on pages 33 through 38, there is a hole that continues through the bottom corner of these pages. Two small pencil markings are also found near the back of the book. The number “402” or “702” is written on the last page of text of Ghost and no Ghost near the printing of finis. While this number may have meant something to a previous owner, the meaning is unknown now. On the back of the original pamphlet’s cover, the letters L. and E. are written in pencil, possibly noting the initials of one of this book’s previous owners. Even though this book lacks many personal written additions from previous owners, the condition of the original pages shows that the pamphlet was well used and appreciated in its past life. 


Textual History

Ghost and No Ghost and Somerset Castle were published together anonymously by Ann Lemoine and J. Roe in 1804. Because the authorship is unknown to this day, the two stories could have been written by the same author or different ones. Ann Lemoine was a very famous publisher of the time and worked closely with J. Roe. Lemoine began publishing in 1795 after her husband was imprisoned, and over the course of the next twenty-five years, she published over four hundred chapbooks (Bearden-White 299). Thomas Maiden printed Somerset Castle as well as many other chapbooks for Ann Lemoine. By 1796, Maiden was Lemoine’s primary printer, helping her give her chapbooks a more consistent and expensive appearance (Bearden-White 310). 

Other than the copy of Somerset Castle in the Sadleir-Black Collection at the University of Virginia, there are four copies in collections around the world. Yale University and The University of Illinois both have copies of the 1804 publication in their libraries. The National Library of Wales and the British Library also have copies. The British Library’s copy is slightly different from the version in the Sadleir-Black Collection. At the end of the British Library’s copy, there is a second illustration with the title, Subterraneous Passage, and a date of July 23, 1804 underneath. This additional page suggests that Somerset Castle and Ghost and No Ghost were at one time printed in a collection that also included Sarah Wilkinson’s story, Subterraneous Passage. Many of Wilkinson’s stories were also published by Ann Lemoine and J.Roe, and because the publishing date of the two is so close, it is possibly the two were printed together at one point (Wilkinson; Bearden-White 299, 316). 

Although little is known about this text, some scholarly work does reference the story and the illustration it contains. A Gothic Bibliography cites Somerset Castle and Ghost and No Ghost exactly the same as the Sadleir-Black Collection, including the lack of an author, both stories printed together, and with a date of 1804 (Summers 509). The Women’s Print History Project has an entry for this chapbook with the publication date as 1800. In Angela Koch’s article entitled “‘The Absolute Horror of Horrors’ Revised,” she includes this chapbook as part of a list of nineteenth-century gothic bluebooks, mentioning the copy in the University of Virginia and Yale libraries. As part of a collection of gothic images, Gothic Fictions: Prohibition/Transgression by Kenneth W. Graham includes a photo of the frontispiece with a description of “the skull, the rib cage, and carelessly tossed sarcophagus” that help develop the gothic mood of the story. This reference only cites a title of Somerset Castle; or, The Father and Daughter with no mention of the Ghost and no Ghost (Graham 271). 

When looking for contemporary references to this story, there is not much information that has survived to today. This lack of knowledge about its reception among readers can tell us that this story was not immensely popular or appreciated by its contemporary readers. 


Narrative Point of View

Ghost and no Ghost is told in a different manner than its accompanying tale, Somerset Castle. This story takes the form of a frame narrative. The main narrator is third-person and limited to the character of the Spanish soldier. As the events progress, the man who the soldier has met begins to tell a story. This secondary tale is told mostly in quotes through first-person narration, and there are only a few times when the story is interrupted to return to the main story until the second tale is completed. At the end of the secondary story, the narration fully turns back to third-person frame narrative, telling of the two men’s actions with the woman in the dungeon. 

Sample Passage of Secondary Tale: 

“But as soon as I came into her presence, I felt at once a tenderness, and a horror, which would not allow me to proceed. At last I determined to destroy her by hunger, carrying her every day only half a pound of mouldy bread, and a little mug of water. It is now just a fortnight that she has been in this condition, without her ever seeing the light of the sun, hearing a word from me, or speaking a word herself, when I carry her this miserable pittance. It is, Sir, but a fortnight this day, and yet, to me, it has appeared fourteen thousand years.” (36)

The first person style in the secondary narrative allows the reader an intimate look into the character’s internal feelings including his internal conflicts and even his admission of faults. By clarifying the man’s emotions, the soldier’s unknown emotions become more intriguing, switching the focus to how the soldier will respond to the events of this story. Because the man continues his story without letting the soldier interrupt, the readers do not know the soldier’s emotions until the frame narrative in resumed completely. 

Sample Passage of Third-Person Frame Narrative:

As soon as he had said this, he lighted a flambeaux, and again besought him to follow. After crossing a little garden, he opened the door of that dismal place, which he had made the sad depositary of all his evils. On one side lay a carcase stretched on the ground, covered with wounds; on the other lay the remains of a body torn to pieces, the side quite laid open, and the heart lying upon a bench before the eyes of the most finished beauty, that, perhaps, nature ever formed. (36) 

At this point in the story, the secondary tale has just been completed, catching up to the present. As the narration switches back to the third-person style, the narrator includes more pieces of description about the setting. With this shift, the reader now is focalized primarily through the perspective of the soldier who is new to these events and discovering the situation of this man and woman along with the reader. 


Summary

Sample page of text with the start of Ghost and No Ghost; or The Dungeon. Only the subtitle is featured at the top of the pages.

A Spanish soldier sets out on a journey to Milan. As he is walking along his path, a cavalier with a hawk on his arm approaches him. The cavalier tells the soldier he has lodging close by where he can take a rest from his journey. Even though the soldier feels a little uneasy about the cavalier, he follows him. When they arrive at his house, it appears rundown and dirty, and all of the servants seem to be depressed. As they enter the house, the cavalier offers no directions to the soldier but instead tells the soldier he needs to tell him the story of his grief. 

His story begins happily; the cavalier tells the soldier he previously lived a more enjoyable life. When he was young, the cavalier did not think about marriage until he saw the most beautiful woman one day in a garden. He found out that the woman was unmarried, so he approached her. The couple fell in love easily and soon got married. Then, the cavalier’s story shifts to more recently. A phantom had come to haunt his house. Every time the phantom was spotted, the cavalier would go out into the garden to see it, but the phantom would disappear by the time he got there. When he returned to his room, his wife was very scared and took lots of persuading to open the door even after he had assured her it was him. After a few days of this occurring, the cavalier suspected that his wife was lying about why she could not open the door, so he set out a guard to watch for the phantom. The guard reported that the cavalier’s friend, Cornelio, was using the phantom as a distraction to allow him to sleep with the cavalier’s wife. After hearing his report, the cavalier stabbed the guard and dragged him to the cellar. When the cavalier returned to his wife, she knew something had changed, but he did not speak with her about the issue yet. The next day, the cavalier and Cornelio went out hunting together, but when it was time to return home, the cavalier said he had to stay out because he lost one of his hawks. After sending the rest of his servants away, the cavalier returned home. He found a hole in the wall underneath his bedroom, behind where a painting of the adultery of Venus and Mars usually hangs. There was a ladder hanging down from the hole, so the cavalier pulled the ladder down and ran up the stairs to his room. His wife opened the door right after he knocked on it, but he saw Cornelio trying to escape. Because he pulled the ladder down before, Cornelio fell and broke both of his legs. The cavalier went downstairs and stabbed Cornelio in the heart. He returned upstairs to kill his wife, but he kept dropping the knife because she was so beautiful and he used to love her. As an alternative to killing her, the cavalier decided to put her in a vault with Cornelio’s body and the body of the murdered guard. For the past fortnight, he has been only feeding her a pound of bread and some water every day. 

Now that he has caught his story up to the present, the cavalier wants to show his wife to the soldier. When they get to the vault, the cavalier is very sad to see his wife in this state. The soldier attempts to calm the cavalier, telling him he will not tell his secret. The woman tells her side of the story, saying Cornelio had never come out of the picture before that day and she did not cheat on her husband. To persuade her husband of the truth, she says she will die to prove her words. Her husband is completely convinced of her innocence now, so he runs to the house to get her liquid to drink. The men bring her back into the house and give her medicine until she fully recovers. After a few weeks, the couple is happy, and the soldier resumes his journey to Venice.


Bibliography

Bearden-White, Roy. “A History of Guilty Pleasure: Chapbooks and the Lemoines.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 103, no. 3, Sept. 2009, pp. 283–318. doi:10.1086/pbsa.103.3.24293816.

Graham, Kenneth W. Gothic Fictions: Prohibition/Transgression. AMS Press, 1989.

Koch, A. ‘“The Absolute Horror of Horrors’ Revised: A Bibliographical Checklist of Early-Nineteenth-Century Gothic Bluebooks’, Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text 9 (Dec 2002). http://www.romtext.org.uk/reports/cc09_n03/

Somerset Castle: Or the Father and Daughter. A Tragic Tale … To Which Is Added, Ghost and No Ghost: Or, the Dungeon. London, Printed by T. Maiden, for Ann Lemoine, and J. Roe, 1804.

“Somerset Castle; or the Father and Daughter. A Tragic Tale. If You Have Tears, Prepare to Shed Them Now. To Which Is Added, Ghost and No Ghost; or, the Dungeon.” Edited by Kandice Sharren, The Women’s Print History Project , dhil.lib.sfu.ca/wphp/title/13465.

Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. The Fortune press, 1941.

Wilkinson, Sarah Scudgell. The Subterraneous Passage; or, Gothic Cell. A Romance. London: J. Roe, Ann Lemoine, 1803.


Researcher: Mason Wilson

The Three Ghosts of the Forest

The Three Ghosts of the Forest

The Three Ghosts of the Forest, A Tale of Horror. An Original Romance.

Author: Unknown
Publisher: D. N. Shury
Publication Year: 1803
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.2cm x 16.5cm
Pages: 34
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .T565 1803


In this 1803 chapbook, jealousy, secrecy, kidnapping, and murder erupt as Orlando pursues romance with Isabella, Octavia, and Adela—three sisters.


Material History

At first glance, this book looks very frail and worn. With dimensions of 10.2cm x 16.5cm and a thickness of about 0.5cm, it is very small and thin. The cover is completely blank, and it is only yellowed paper (there is no kind of leather or hardback cover on the front). Also, there is no back cover of the book, it is just a piece of paper with writing from the beginning of another story.

The title page for Three Ghosts of the Forest

The title of this particular gothic book has a few different forms. Because the frail cover of the book is blank, the first place where the title appears is on the backside of the cover. In this location, the title is Three Ghosts of the Forest. The font of the title is relatively large, and it is fancy because the letters are outlined in black but have no color on the inside of the letters. The only other information on this page is the illustration as well as the artists’ names under the illustration. On the title page, which faces the inside of the cover, the title of the book is printed as The Three Ghosts of the Forest, A Tale of Horror. An Original Romance. The font here is solid black and much larger. The title page features a short four-line poem, and some decorations are present on the title page which include black lines separating the different parts of the title and separating the poem from the list of publishers underneath. It also includes the city of publication, London, and the year it was published, 1803. The decorative black line also appears below the word “finnis” on page 34. Once again, on the first page of the text, the title reads The Three Ghosts of the Forest. While this book has a title printed within it several times, it lacks an author’s name. This component does not appear anywhere throughout the book.

The novel also contains a frontispiece illustration. It is a black and white picture of two women wearing long white dresses, and they are surrounded by trees and grass. There is no caption beneath this picture, but the shorter version of the title is written underneath it. The artists’ names, however, appear underneath the illustration.

One of the most compelling parts of this book is a piece of patchwork that one of the original owners glued onto the back of the title page. There must have been a rip on this page, so somebody took the liberty to paste a fragment of a piece of paper over the rip. The patch has cursive handwriting in ink on it, and it is amazing to think that somebody wrote that so long ago. Other than the University of Virginia Special Collections Library stamp on the front of the book, this is the only mark of ownership.

This page features a hole over what appears to be the word “virtue”

This book has a relatively small font just because the book itself has such small dimensions, but it is not difficult to read the text. The text is not particularly closely set. Surprisingly, the margins of this book vary by page. Sometimes, as on page 5, the margins are much thinner on the right side than on the left, although on page 27 for example the margins are extremely crooked. As a result, the text is slanted on the page. This is a great example of the book’s individuality; every copy probably does not have the same margins since the printer that was used obviously printed some of the pages crooked.

This fragile book lacks a strong binding. The binding is paper, and it is held together by strings. There are no decorations on the outside of the book, and what would be the back binding is just the first few sentences of another different story. The book’s paper is very worn and yellowed. Many of the pages are stained with dark spots. The paper is thin and brittle, and page 13 actually has a hole in it which impends the reader from seeing one of the words.


Textual History

This book has an epigraph on the title page in the form of a short four-line poem. This poem appears to be original to this story, and it functions to give the reader an idea of some of the story’s themes. The narrator of the poem wants to escape his conscience because it will not let him forget some of the worst things he has ever done. This is relevant to the story since Orlando regrets his crimes so deeply by the end of the book.

Illustration showing Isabella’s ghost warning Adela about Orlando

There is little information available about the contemporary reception of The Three Ghosts of the Forest. However, the work does appear in several modern examinations of Gothic literature. One example of this book appearing in a twentieth-century work is Ann B. Tracy’s The Gothic Novel 1790–1830: Plot Summaries and Index to Motifs (1981). This resource provides a summary of the story, as well as summaries of many other gothic stories from the same time period, all organized alphabetically (177–81). It is interesting to note that despite the alphabetical organization, The Three Ghosts of the Forest also has thematic links with its surrounding stories. The summary featured before The Three Ghosts of the Forest is of a book called Tales of the Dead that also features ghosts. The book that is summarized after The Three Ghosts of the Forest is called Rosalind de Tracy; while this summary does not include ghosts, it includes elements similar to The Three Ghosts of the Forest such as marriage problems and death.

The Three Ghosts of the Forest also appears in Toni Wein’s 2002 work, British Identities, Heroic Nationalisms, and the Gothic Novel, 1764–1824. Wein comments on the unlikeliness of Isabella being able to escape her captivity because a servant accidentally left the door open. She also mentions the anonymous author’s message that indulgence and absence of religion make for a terrible person, as well as the message that wealth has too much influence on people and that it can keep good people from seeing the wrongdoings of evil people (161­–2). Something that is extremely interesting is the fact that in this source, the gothic book that is discussed on the next page is called Tales of the Dead, which is the exact same book that The Three Ghosts of the Forest was grouped with in Tracy’s work. According to Wein, Tales of the Dead also includes themes of economic corruption (163).

The Three Ghosts of the Forest is also featured in Franz J. Potter’s The History of Gothic Publishing, 1800–1835. This 2005 work provides information regarding the publishing of many gothic books, but it only mentions The Three Ghosts of the Forest once. Surprisingly, this source states that the author of The Three Ghosts of the Forest is named Alexander Thomson. No other references of the book in other sources mention an author, and there is no author listed anywhere within the actual book, so it is unclear where this information originates. The History of Gothic Publishing also states that the book was “repackaged…into blue-book format” in 1803 (54).

There is a contemporary digital copy of this book, which can be found with the full text on Google Books. It features the same exact image that is on the hard copy of the book in the Sadleir-Black Collection. It even includes the first three pages of the story The Miraculous Preservation of Androcles which is exactly what the UVA Library’s copy includes at the end of the text. A difference between the two copies of these books is that the online version includes red stamps on some of the pages that say “British Museum 1560,” indicating its unique history of ownership.


Narrative Point of View

The Three Ghosts of the Forest includes both first- and third-person narration. The book is narrated in the third person for most of the first twenty-two pages of the book, and then it is narrated in the first person until the second paragraph of page thirty-three. After that, the remaining page is narrated again in the third person. The third-person narrator is anonymous and does not appear in the text. The narration in the third-person sections feels very emotionless and detached because, at some points, the narrator simply states the plot points. At other times, though, the anonymous narrator provides the reader with the characters’ emotions and processes of reasoning. The interpolated first-person narrative, which begins on page twenty-two is marked by a title, “The Confession of Orlando.” Orlando is the first-person narrator, and he gives more insight into his own feelings and reasons for his actions while explaining his point of view from his death bed. His narration feels very straightforward, as he is confessing and finally providing important information to help the reader understand the plot of the story.

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

The affrighted ruffians fled, leaving the wretched Octavia, unknowing whether she would live or die, in the forest—but she died in great agony about an hour later. (16)

Sample Passage of First-Person Narration:

I was left heir to a plentiful fortune, but the indulgence I had long enjoyed now led me to associate with what are called men of spirit; but never having met with any enlightened character to warn me of my evil, to shun those men of spirit that I thought wise, but were totally living under the idea of their own self knowledge and protection, having no knowledge of God, so that I was living like a wild man of the woods. (22–23)

The third-person narration is significant to the story because it has a way of distancing the characters from the reader. The description of Octavia’s death is very brief and abrupt. The absence of any of her last thoughts or wishes makes it difficult for the reader to empathize with her or mourn her death as a character. On the other hand, Orlando’s first-person narration allows readers to understand precisely how he is feeling. There is a heavy emphasis on circumstances and fate versus free will in his portion of the story. He appears to have a lack of agency which is caused by his circumstance that he is surrounded by ungodly men. Attributing his poor decisions to fate, he does not even consider the possibility of taking control and seeking out godly men who can help him change his ways. Octavia, while also lacking agency due to the fact that she is killed, does not get to have a long first-person narrative before her death. Readers are only given the in-depth perspective of the single male character in the story rather than also getting the perspective of one of the many female characters. This suggests that although both female and male characters lack agency, only the male character is important enough—and has enough agency as a storyteller—to give a testimony before death.


Summary

This story begins with an introduction of a few of the main characters. The Baron Arnhalt lives in the Chateau, and he has three daughters: Isabella, Octavia, and Adela. He plans to leave an equal share of his fortune to each of his daughters when he dies, and if any of them were to die unmarried, he would leave that portion to his nephew, Orlando. Orlando is also a wealthy man, and he wishes to marry one of the three daughters. Isabella is the oldest daughter, who has very good manners and is described as being “noble” (A2). Octavia is the second oldest daughter; she is artful, witty, and pretty. Adela, the youngest of the three, is described by the narrator as being very similar to Isabella, with an almost identical personality. Their father dies when Isabella is eighteen, and Orlando does not know which daughter he prefers yet.

Orlando starts to visit the Chateau much more frequently after the death of his uncle. He is able to rule out Adela as a possible suitor because she is being educated in a convent and he has not seen her in several years. He likes Isabella the best, but although she likes him as a person, she does not like him romantically. Octavia, though, is in love with him, and she wishes he would see her the way he sees Isabella.

This page features a handmade patch

Octavia makes friends with Orlando, and she tells Orlando that she will try to convince Isabella to accept his offers of marriage, but Octavia is not as innocent as she appears to be. Isabella had previously been in love with a man named Honorio, but he started to prefer Octavia. Isabella is such a good person that she encourages them to be together despite her love for Honorio.

Soon after, Honorio and Octavia are married. Once Isabella knows Honorio is with Octavia instead of her, she falls in love with a man who does not have much money. Honorio is not happy being Octavia’s husband, and they do not live together happily. Three months after their wedding, he is accidentally killed in the forest by ruffians. He hates being with Octavia so much that very soon after their wedding he made his will and left her basically nothing. The story returns to the present moment when Octavia assumes that now that she is a widow, Orlando will pursue her, but he still fancies Isabella.

One day, Orlando gets so fed up by the fact that Isabella does not love him that he and Octavia arrange for a group of people to kidnap her when she is outside alone to get some fresh air. Isabella finds herself in a furnished room with heavy bars on the doors and windows to prevent her escape. She is given anything that she wants or needs, and after a week of being kidnapped, she has nothing to complain about other than the fact that she wonders why she was taken away and wishes to be back at home. She also worries about how Octavia is doing not knowing where her sister is, when in fact Octavia is partly the reason for her kidnap. On the sixth day of her kidnapping, a disguised man comes into the room. He tells Isabella that she can be freed if she agrees to be his mistress, and he gives her three days to decide. After the three days have passed, he returns, and when he speaks this time, Isabella realizes that it is the voice of her cousin Orlando. He throws off his disguise, and she cannot believe he did such a thing to her. She scolds him and asks if he understands God’s laws, and after her speech, Orlando tells her that Octavia has him under her spell and that she is the reason he did this. He also tells Isabella that Octavia wants her to suffer and wants to take her fortune. Isabella is devastated by this news. She tells Orlando that if all her suffering is Octavia’s fault, she’ll return home and forget that he kidnapped her, but he tells her she must stay and be his mistress. Orlando leaves the room, reasoning that he will either keep her there until she dies unmarried or convince her to marry him, so either way he can receive her fortune.

News of Isabella’s disappearance has reached Adela’s convent. She decides to return home rather than take the veil. When Adela returns, Orlando sees how similar she is to Isabella and develops feelings for her. Whenever he thinks of releasing Isabella, he decides against it since Adela, his new object of affection, would surely hate him for doing that to her sister.

Octavia, still annoyed that Orlando does not love her, decides to threaten to tell Adela all that he has done. Octavia and Orlando agree to meet the next day at Orlando’s castle. Orlando then arranges for four men to stop Octavia on her way to his castle and take her to a distant convent and force her to take the veil. As Octavia is walking to the castle, a storm rolls in, and as she approaches the spot where Honorio was killed, the four men jump at her and one of them accidentally pierces her with his sword as she tries to escape. As this happens, Honorio’s ghost appears and says that his death had been avenged, with the same sword that killed him.

The same night, Isabella escapes from Orlando’s castle when a servant accidentally leaves the door open. As she runs through the woods, a robber comes out from behind a tree and takes everything she has, stabbing her to death afterwards.

When Adela hears of the deaths of her two sisters, she has to be carried to her bed and spends the next two weeks in a frenzied state of mind. When Orlando hears the news, he is not shocked about Octavia, but he is surprised to hear of Isabella’s death. Rather than dwell on depressing thoughts, he decides to go see Adela and try to win her hand in marriage. Adela agrees to marry him after the time of mourning has passed, not knowing of his involvement in her sisters’ lives.

One day, after Adela visited Orlando, he was walking Adela home just after sunset and the ghost of Octavia appeared. Octavia’s ghost tells Orlando that his time is near and then disappears. Orlando leads a distressed Adela to the end of the forest, but before they get out, Isabella and Honorio’s ghosts appear as well. Honorio looks angrily at Orlando, while Adela follows Isabella’s ghost away from Orlando. Once they arrive at the bank of a small river, Isabella’s ghost tells Adela not to marry Orlando because he has murder on his conscience. After that, the ghost disappears. Although she feels torn because she loves Orlando, Adela decides never to see him again and runs home.

The next day, Orlando wakes up with a terrible sickness, and he fears that Octavia’s ghost’s prediction is coming true. Adela only agrees to go visit Orlando because it is his dying request. When she gets there, she’s shocked at his sickly appearance and he starts telling her his confession of all the evil that he has done.

He starts his story at the beginning of his life, talking about how he was spoiled as a child and how his parents died when he was eighteen, leaving him a fortune. He lived an indulgent life, spending most of his inheritance and blaming his bad character on the unreligious people that he surrounded himself with. When Adela’s father died, he figured he should marry one of his daughters in order to gain their third of the fortune. He tells the story of how he loved Isabella and how he and Octavia conspired to get Octavia and Honorio together. Orlando became friends with Honorio and would always talk to him about how great Octavia was and how awful Isabella was, leading Honorio to marry Octavia. However, shortly after being married, Octavia told Orlando how terrible it was being married to someone who did not actually love her, and she requested that Orlando get rid of Honorio somehow. Orlando sent hired ruffians to kill Honorio, but afterwards, the guilt consumed him. Octavia did not regret it at all, and she expected to become rich by inheriting Honorio’s fortune. Although, as we already know, he left her nearly nothing in his will. Octavia then worried about the fact that Isabella was to marry a poor man, because she knew he would not want Isabella to keep helping Octavia financially. For this reason, Orlando says Octavia convinced him to kidnap Isabella. He felt very guilty after this and after acting odd around Octavia, they both knew that they were not on the same side anymore. One day, after Octavia left his house, an anonymous man requested to speak to Orlando about something urgent. He told Orlando that Octavia planned to poison him when they met the next day, so Orlando decided to hire the same ruffians from Honorio’s death to kidnap Octavia and take her to a convent. The ruffians return, though, to report to him that they had accidentally killed her and that they saw Honorio’s ghost. With both Octavia and Isabella dead, Orlando figured he could now pursue Adela without anything getting in his way. Octavia’s ghost haunted him constantly, saying she would not rest until he was dead.

Finished with his story, Orlando tells Adela to be happy that she escaped a terrible sister as well as a marriage with a terrible man. He begs God for mercy, and Adela cries for him. Happy to receive her pity, he finally dies. At his funeral, Adela thinks of how she wishes to escape this wicked world, so she decides to go live in the convent, donating one third of her fortune to the convent and the other two thirds to those she thought worthy. Whoever she donates the final two thirds of her fortune to remains ambiguous in the text.


Bibliography

Potter, Franz J. The History of Gothic Publishing, 18001835, Exhuming the Trade, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

The Three Ghosts of the Forest, A Tale of Horror. An Original Romance. London, D. N. Shury, 1803.

Tracy, Ann B. The Gothic Novel 1790–1830: Plot Summaries and Index to Motifs, Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2014.

Wein, Toni. British Identities, Heroic Nationalisms, and the Gothic Novel, 17641824, Palgrave, 2002.


Researcher: Julia Wright