The Last Man. A Romance in Futurity.

The Last Man. A Romance in Futurity.

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

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


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


Material History

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

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

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

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

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

A stamp of T. Norris’s Circulating Library

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

A signature by a person who previously held the book

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage of Main Frame Narrative:

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

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

Sample Passage of Secondary Narrative:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Shayna Gomez

Angelina; Or, The Mystery of St. Mark’s Abbey

Angelina; Or, The Mystery of St. Mark’s Abbey

Angelina; Or, The Mystery of St. Mark’s Abbey. A Tale of Other Days

Author: Thomas Peckett Prest
Publisher: Edward Lloyd
Publication Year: 1841
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 14 x 21.5 cm
Pages: 236
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .P74 An 1841


Angelina is one of Thomas Peckett Prest’s serialized works from 1841 that centers around murder, mystery, and forbidden love.


Material History

The novel, having come out in serialized parts, was likely assembled by a G. Sharpe, whose name is handwritten on this page prior to the title page. The book was probably popular at the time and its ownership most likely transferred, leading this writing to be crossed out.

Angelina: Or, the Mystery of St. Mark’s Abbey. A Tale of Other Days by Thomas Peckett Prest was published in 1841 in serialized parts. Releasing the novel in parts lowered the cost of producing the book as a whole. Each section would have been sold using an image on the first page of the part as an incentive to purchase it. For this reason, each page with an image has a corresponding label at the bottom of the page to signify its order among the parts. The parts were presumably compiled by a G. Sharpe, whose signature appears on the blank pages prior to the assembled novel’s frontispiece and title page. Along with his signature is the date handwritten as follows: July 16, 1841. However, the name and date are crossed out, implying that this edition had multiple owners.

The book is bound in a cloth detailed with an artificially ingrained texture. Sharpe chose to use leather on the edges of the cover and the binding of the spine which has kept the exterior of the book in great condition for its age. The pages are speckled with red thinned out paint which was a common aesthetic for nineteenth-century books. The book is in very good condition due to the binding that Sharpe chose for the book. However, the pages have become slightly yellow and brittle with age. There are some pages that were saturated by a substance as well as a few torn pages that have been mended by the Special Collections archivists. The book was easily elegant in its day, as can be seen through the careful measures taken by Sharpe in binding it. The worn quality of Angelina demonstrates its popularity when Prest was at the prime of his career.

The detail in the images of Angelina are impressive compared to other texts of its days, displaying aesthetic visions specific to the author. Images during the Gothic period of literature were produced through making woodblock prints. Such prints were created by physically carving into wood to create the desired image. They would have been lined up with the text and inked during the printing process. At the beginning of the book, opposite the title page, is a frontispiece, which is the largest image in the book and the only image that possesses a quote. It reads, “They soon entered a spacious and lofty cavern, round which were piled on immense number of casks, chests, bales of goods, while arms and ammunition were there in abundance.” This sentence describes the setting most important to the narration in Angelina.

The frontispiece was created by a woodblock print, meaning that the artist carved wood with precision to create such images. This is the only image in the novel that has a quote beneath it which describes the setting central to the novel. Across from the frontispiece is the title page that includes the full title and a list of Prest’s other works below his name.

As to the type itself, the font size is much smaller than is usually seen today. The margins are typical in size, yet there is no inner margin which is a current stylistic feature for books. The images are placed every four pages on the front of the right page since it was released as parts rather than an entire novel. The images are a page and a half in size, featuring artistry of woodblock printed images that are hard to come by anymore.


Textual History

Angelina: Or, the Mystery at St. Mark’s Abbey was published in 1841 by Edward Lloyd of London. Lloyd regulated many newspapers, the most successful of them being Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper and The Penny Sunday Times and People’s Police Gazette; Angelina was published in the latter. He gained the nickname “father of the cheap press” as he sought to bring exciting literary works to the lower classes. Lloyd played a part in history through assisting the rise of the serial novel in which a new part would appear in successive weekly editions of a newspaper. Angelina, in particular, is one of many of Prest’s successful serial novels that appeared courtesy of Lloyd and his work as a newspaper proprietor. Journalist Anne Humphrey’s states that “perhaps half of Lloyd’s penny bloods” were written by Prest, who was “one of his most prolific and most successful authors”. The significance of the serial novel and the success of Angelina are both referenced in the preface of the novel Angelina.

This page of Angelina is missing letters in many places.

Interestingly, the edition of the novel housed in the Sadleir-Black Collection does not include a preface at all, though a preface does appear in other editions. The preface can be found online through a scanned edition published courtesy of the New York Public Library on Google Books. 

The preface functions as both a historical reference as well as an advertisement. The first paragraph of the preface discusses the popularity of Angelina upon its release in the “penny” press, which led its pieces to later be compiled into a novel format. The author of the preface informs the readers that Angelina’s pieces were originally published in The Penny Sunday Times and People’s Police Gazette

Prest appears most frequently in scholarly works related to his involvement with the serial novels of the penny press. Prest’s work in particular falls under the category of penny dreadfuls, or the terror genre of the penny press. This nineteenth-century phenomena began through its reproduction of eighteenth century gothic fiction via cheap means. Currently, only one of Prest’s works, The String of Pearls is more widely recognized as a significant and impactful part of this literature.

Though there is a lack of information on Prest himself, the author obviously sought to promote himself through an advertisement which is the second half of the preface. The phrase “New and Entirely Original Tale of Romance and Pathos” along with Prest’s upcoming works Emily Fitzomord; Or, The Deserted One and The Death Grasp; Or, A Father’s Curse emphasize the importance in self-promotion for both Lloyd and Prest.

Despite their combined efforts, Prest experienced a success limited to his day and age as only one of his characters is truly known today. However, Angelina, being one of Prest’s earlier works, most likely influenced the author’s writing style and, therefore, his subsequent works. In particular, the elements of terror in Angelina were just the beginning of Prest’s concepts that would appear in The String of Pearls. The latter work was adapted for the theatre which debuted in March of 1847 and is the basis for the modern-day movie adaptation Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (“Sweeney Todd”). While Angelina can be found in modern day print published by HardPress and accessible via Kindle. Its current lack of reviews allude to the lack of popularity Prest receives today. The String of Pearls, on the other hand, can be readily found in print and in theatrical adaptation.


Narrative Point of View

Angelina: Or, The Mystery of St. Mark’s Abbey is told through third-person omniscient narration. The narrator does not play an active role in the storyline; however, they hardly makes himself known until the end of the novel, when the backstories of characters are finally revealed. At this point, they speak directly to the reader before divulging events of the past that have remained hidden. Overall, the narration is very detailed and elaborative, yet the narrator remains detached in their descriptions of events and emotions. The narrator follows the protagonist, Angelina, until she becomes separated from her loved ones, which happens frequently in the novel. When Angelina gets kidnapped, the narrator proves their omniscient perspective in cycling through each scenario for Angelina, her Uncle Woodfield, and her lover Hugh Clifford.

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration: 

Saint Mark’s Abbey had evidently been a splendid edifice, but it had been left to decay for many years, and few persons in the place would venture to approach it after night-fall, for, like most old buildings, it was reported to be haunted, and many appalling legends were related by the old gossips, as they sat trembling before their blazing fire on a winter evening, concerning the dreadful crimes which had been perpetrated within its mouldering walls. The more reasonable, and less superstitious portion of the community, however, accounted for the noises that had been heard to issue at various periods from the gothic pile, in a far more probable way; and it was strongly suspected that the abbey was, in fact, the retreat of a gang of robbers or smugglers—more particularly the latter, and although the proper authorities had hitherto failed in making any satisfactory discovery, it was still hoped that they would succeed ere long in doing so, and in setting all doubts upon the subject at rest. (2)

In this passage, the narrator is describing the setting most central to the novel, St. Mark’s Abbey, or what is left of it. The description of the abbey is done through focusing on the conditions surrounding the ruins, which sets the tone for the setting itself. The narrator uses their omniscience to impart the emotions of the surrounding peoples who keep their distance from the ruins, regardless of what they believe. The narrator first relays the more superstitious group of people who have heard rumors of terrible crimes being committed within its now decaying walls. After this, the narrator describes the more realistic option, which foreshadows the end of the novel when it is revealed that Angelina’s mother, Matilda, and her mother’s cousin, Emmeline, are still alive. The narrator’s knowledge of both scenarios reflects their omniscience.

Sample Passage of Direct Address:

We will now proceed to detail the particulars of the “strange eventful history” connected with the principle characters in our narrative, and with which the reader is, no doubt, anxious to be made acquainted. (215)

This passage occurs at the end of the novel, just before the backstories are revealed. The narrator uses the pronoun “we” to describe who is telling the story, an intimacy that is reinforced by the inclusion of the word “our” later in the sentence. Interestingly, the narrator, who usually sets the mood though their lengthy descriptions, here decides to directly address the readers. By saying that the reader is “no doubt, anxious to be made acquainted,” the narrator breaks the fourth wall, reminding the reader of the fictive nature of the content in making a clear cut between the present and the past.


Summary

The novel begins with the protagonist, Angelina, who is accompanied by her cousin, Lauren Woodfield. While in the deserted ruins of St. Mark’s Abbey, the young ladies see the apparition of a woman that warns Angelina not to return there for her own safety. However, Angelina’s brave spirit only causes her to become increasingly curious as she sees another apparition while exploring a nearby cavern during a storm. This apparition is a handsome man that plays the flute and appears later in Angelina’s dreams. Upon waking from this dream, Angelina returns to the cave, this time finding a door leading to a gallery. Coincidentally, this gallery belongs to St. Mark’s Abbey. To her surprise, Angelina finds she is not alone when she sees the villainous Baron de Morton and his servant Rufus. The pair are quietly discussing a terrible secret. Angelina accidently reveals herself to the Baron, who becomes frightened upon believing her to be a ghost related to his dark deeds. The narrator here divulges the Baron’s history, most importantly stating the interesting nature of his brother’s disappearance followed by his marriage to a widowed baroness. Angelina then overhears a conversation between Rufus and the Baron, in which they speak about Angelina and proclaim that she must die. Angelina returns home shaken.

The cover of the book is cloth detailed with an artificially ingrained texture.

The first apparition of the woman returns, this time visiting Angelina’s uncle, Arthur Woodfield, with whom she lives. The apparition speaks to him privately, causing Arthur to be stern during an unexpected meeting with the Baron when he shows up at the Woodfield’s. Afterwards, the Baron leaves obviously upset and Arthur refuses to talk to his family about either the Baron or the woman. The only insight he gives them is through the promise he forces Angelina to make: she can never return to the Abbey.

Despite her promise, Angelina returns many weeks later, this time discovering a sliding picture frame that conceals a room similar to Angelina’s dreams. She witnesses a woman running about the ruins but she refuses to speak and runs away instead. Upon searching the premises, she is startled upon finding a chest containing bones. Angelina resolves to leave but runs into the Baron, who is frightened of her, initially believing her to be a ghost. Suddenly, the Baron grabs her arm and attempts to end her life, just as she had experienced in her dreams. The flute-playing apparition appears and saves her from the Baron, revealing himself to actually be a young man. Without introducing himself, he makes it obvious that he wants to protect Angelina. The next night, Angelina hears a sweet melody coming from beyond her window; she looks out to see the stranger once again. 

The next day, Angelina is wandering outside, contemplating her feelings toward the mysterious stranger, when he appears and admits his feelings towards her, presenting her with a miniature of himself. That evening, while exploring the cavern, she sees the handsome stranger with some smugglers. Angelina is captured and taken aboard a ship by a different group of bandits. They eventually reach land, where she discovers she has been captured under the designs of the Baron, who questions her of her origins and her parents; Angelina knows none of her descent beyond the Woodfields. Bridget, who resents being married to one of the bandits, takes care of Angelina. It is only after Angelina attempts to make her solo escape that Bridget opens up to her. The castle where Angelina is being held captive has a dark history including the possible murder of the Baron’s brother who mysteriously disappeared; this information is striking to Angelina as she has felt a cold arm on her every night as she sleeps. Bridget then hints towards the portrait on the wall, behind which is a doorway that leads to a room where Angelina can overhearing the Baron’s conversation with Rufus. The Baron states that his suspicions have been confirmed and Angelina must be executed; Rufus  tells him to wait. Shaken by these comments, Angelina puts her faith in Bridget, who sacrifices herself to save Angelina. 

Returning to the Woodfields, the narrator reveals that the female apparition is actually a woman known as Kate of the Ruins who is friends with the mysterious stranger and smuggler, Hugh Clifford, or Angelina’s mysterious stranger. After Kate seeks out Arthur, Hugh reveals his plans to rescue her; Bridget aids them. Kate speaks to Angelina, warning her against reciprocating the flirtatious nature of her relationship with Hugh. Later that night, Angelina wakes to see yet another apparition giving her a kiss on the cheek, which Kate attributes to her imagination. However, Bridget had mentioned that Kate of the Ruins was in touch with the supernatural and had bewitched the grounds of St. Mark’s Abbey. 

The next day Angelina and her uncle return home, only to hear a knock on the door and find Hugh, wounded. The Woodfields take care of him and Laura senses the romantic tension between Angelina and Hugh. Despite Kate’s warning, the affections between the pair only intensify until Arthur catches them during a rendezvous. Arthur reprimands them both and is backed up by the sudden appearance of Kate, who reminds them of the conversations she had with each of them. Their forced separation leads to despair for all parties involved. Angelina’s aunt and cousin question Arthur’s decision; he responds ambiguously, expressing empathy yet stating that the pair cannot be. Kate makes Angelina promise not to become involved with Hugh, revealing that she is speaking on behalf of Angelina’s deceased mother. The sight of her mother baffles her as it is the same apparition who kissed her on the cheek earlier. Angelina’s depressive state convinces Arthur to send Angelina to stay with Mrs. Montmorency, a distant relative whose daughter, Charlotte, is around the same age as Angelina. 

This image shows Angelina’s surprise in observing the apparition of her mother. This is the beginning of the seventeenth part of this serially published novel. Small woodblock images are placed at the beginning of each part as incentive to buy and read it.

A few months later, Angelina looks out the window to see that Hugh has found her. The pair argue about their fate due to his persistence in finding her, but they are interrupted by ruffians who kidnap them. Ruthven takes Angelina to an underground dungeon in which she hears the moans of someone suffering; the Baron shows her that it is Bridget and she passes out. When Angelina comes to in a nice room, the Baron enters, proceeding to profess his love for her but is steadily refused; he attempts to bribe her with Hugh’s freedom and refrains from kissing her when he looks upon the painting behind her in fear. Angelina is reunited with Bridget, who has healed and is to be contained with her. Bridget goes on to tell her story, which is very similar to Angelina’s; however, in this case, it was Bridget’s parents who forbid their relationship, believing the façade that Rufus showed them. She married Rufus against her will, after which they eventually ended up at the old Grey Tower. It was then that Rufus left, returning with Angelina in tow. When it was discovered that Bridget helped Angelina escape, she is tortured and nearly dies of starvation. Bridget then discloses information about Ophelia de Morton, the woman in the portrait, whom she says that Angelina resembles. She speaks of the mysterious death of Ophelia’s husband, Baron Edward de Morton. Shortly after, the baroness married Edward’s brother since she was carrying his child. The baroness, referred to as the “Lady of White,” was brought to the old Grey Tower, where she bore a stillborn child, although there is said to be some doubt about its fate. It is said that this Lady’s musical talents, once heard in the tower, can still be heard from the ruins of St. Mark’s Abbey. After this bonding experience, Bridget and Angelina are forced onto a boat.

Meanwhile, Ms. Montmorency and Charlotte look for Angelina and write to Mr. Woodfield about her disappearance after they find blood near her miniature of Hugh. Mr. Woodfield persists on seeing the baroness Orillia, Baron de Morton’s wife, to demand the Baron’s location, explaining the situation to her. She is flustered as he catches her in the middle of an affair and is uncompromising as she thinks that Angelina is replacing her in the eyes of her husband. Mr. Woodfield responds by hinting at having more noble blood than she does. The baroness feels vengeful towards Angelina and sends for the Marquis Florendos, whom she has grown fond of, so he can assassinate them. 

Mr. Woodfield leaves knowing he must get justice for both himself and the baroness to protect his niece. He becomes suspicious of the help from Kate of the Ruins, but she changes his mind in revealing her knowledge of his true identity, Sir Eustace Arlingham, and produces a treasure which he had left in the ruins of the Abbey years ago. The pair proceed to talk about his long-deceased sister Emmeline, who she reveals herself to be. She admits to him that Angelina is not her child and that Angelina’s mother, baroness Matilda de Morton, is alive. Furthermore, she states that Hugh is her child but he has yet to find out. Emmeline explains that her and Matilda have been watching over Angelina and assures him of her own innocence. He believes her and follows her to the vaults in which Matilda has been living.

Returning to Hugh’s circumstances, he is being held captive and losing hope for his lover, Angelina. He is saved by Winston, a former crew member of his, who is sent to attend to him. The pair leave together, explaining the reasoning behind Bridget and Angelina’s sudden leave from the old Grey Tower.

The ship carrying Bridget and Angelina wrecks, and the pair miraculously end up at the fisherman’s hut where Hugh and Winston are taking shelter. They all return home the day after Emmeline’s confession, but before their lineage can be exposed, the baroness Matilda enters, giving in to Angelina’s cries for her mother.

The narrator goes on to tell the story of the family Arlingham, which was of wealthy and noble descent. Lady Emmelina and Sir Eustace are the children of Sir Edward Arlighman and the baroness Arlingham. The four of them lived in a castle with their cousin, the orphan child of the baroness’ sister. After the sudden death of the baroness, Sir Edward passed away, leaving Eustace in charge of himself, his sister, and their cousin. Eustace and Matilda both found lovers who got along with one another as well as Emmeline. One day, the five of them witness a shipwreck which leads to their meeting of Sir Vincent Rosenford and his two companions. Upon seeing Vincent, Eustace’s wife shudders at him and begins to go mad. Sir Vincent and one of his companions, Lord Dalton, make frequent visits, and Lord Dalton eventually asks for Emmeline’s hand. Eustace urges her to marry him and she eventually gives in. However, after a short period, she elopes with Sir Vincent. As a result, Eustace’s wife gets deathly sick but has one last period of reason in which she admits that Sir Vincent was her first love and that they had an affair after his repeated visits and persistence with her. With this confession, she passes away. Eustace’s bad luck continues as Emmeline’s story is viewed as scandalous, causing him to lose his title in the court. Before he can receive a prison sentence, he escapes on a ship headed to Flanders, where he recreates his identity and eventually remarries. One day, he finds a baby at his door with a note from Emmeline to take care of her child, which she wanted to name Angelina.

Returning to present day, Emmeline apologizes to Eustace and points out that he should not have forced her into marriage. She then explains that her marriage with Lord Dalton became a good one, and that she actually bore his child, contrary to rumors. However, Lord Vincent Rosenford followed her and confessed his love, becoming cynical upon her denial of him. He told her that she should not deny him and proceeded to kidnap her while she is on a walk one evening. Emmeline expresses the anguish she felt as she was forced upon a ship that was then destroyed by a storm. It was not until after this event that she met Captain Clifford, who saved her and her infant son from drowning. Captain Clifford then became a smuggler, but he continued to look after Emmeline’s child. Emmeline recalls that he made a vow to be another parent to the child regardless of circumstance. Emmeline had then attempted to return home only to hear of Eustace’s scandals, which she emphasizes are now irrelevant. Shortly after, Emmeline returned to Captain Clifford and was introduced to his wife, who also takes pity on her. Emmeline also sought out her cousin’s current husband, the Baron de Morton, brother of her prior husband. To her shock, he informed her that the baroness has passed away. Unfortunately, it was upon her return to the Cliffords in which she was kidnapped, this time by Rufus and some ruffians; she was taken to the old Grey Tower. Upon her escape, she returned to the Cliffords to find that his wife has passed away, causing him to return to sea with her child, Hugh. Luckily, having possession of some money allowed Emmeline to return to a place that Captain Clifford had shown her, which was connected to the ruins of an old abbey, which the readers know as St. Mark’s Abbey. To her astonishment, Emmeline finds the baroness Matilda there. Emmeline then stops her narrative there, requesting that the baroness herself iterate the rest of the story. After the baroness refuses, Emmeline continues, telling of the cruel manner in which Matilda’s second husband treated her.

After forcing a secret marriage in the middle of the night, the baron stole her away to the old Grey Tower, in which she bore him a baby girl. Matilda was told that her baby was a stillborn; however, she felt that the baron was somehow responsible not only for the fate of their child, but for the mysterious disappearance of her first husband. After Matilda healed, she sought out her old nurse, explaining the situation to her. She instead found the daughter of her nurse, who was told by her husband of the deliverance of a baby to their neighbors. Matilda ran next door, looked upon the baby, and instantly recognized her as her own. The baroness also recognized a mark of companionship on her daughter’s arm, signifying that it was Bridget’s parents who saved baby Angelina. Matilda resolved then to live in the abbey, following the same line of thought as Emmeline in seeking shelter in the supposedly haunted place. In this way, Matilda and Emmeline were reunited. Captain Clifford returned, informing Matilda that her child was being attended to by a nearby nurse. The women related to him their plan of being covert in order to deliver retribution. Emmeline then relates that it was her who delivered the baby to Eustace so that he would care for the child. Emmeline recalls having been worried about the locket which she had left with Angelina; Eustace recalls his curiosity about it initially. 

The storyline ends here as Emmeline concludes by coming back to her warnings to Eustace, Hugh, and Angelina, which can be understood as prevented due to its ill-timing as this was before the true nature of their births were revealed. The book finishes with a conclusion that doles out poetic justice. Sir Eustace Arlingham seeks justice via the court for himself, his sister, and their cousin. The king pities them and returns to them their respective riches and titles, having heard some news of the baron’s death along with his confessions of treason. Emmeline is reunited with her husband, and Hugh with his true parents. Orillia shamefully runs off with the Marquis Florendos after hearing word of her husband’s death. Angelina and Hugh get married and are surprised when they are approached by Bridget, who was miraculously cured. These three live together in their castle near the Woodfields and the Daltons. Angelina’s cousin, Laura, finds a gentleman whom she marries. Lady de Morton revives the abbey and the narrator explains the use of Emmeline’s scare tactics, such as the chest of bones, to ward of any early discovery of the pair’s plot. The author ends with “Thus, then, do we end ‘This round unvarnished tale’”—referring to the cyclic tropes of the novel and of life in general (236).


Bibliography

Humpherys, Anne. “Edward Lloyd.” British Literary Publishing Houses, 1820-1880, edited by Patricia Anderson and Jonathan Rose, Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 106. Detroit, Michigan, Gale, 1991. Literature Resource Center.

“Preface” to Angelina; or, The Mystery of St. Mark’s Abbey. A Tale of Other Days by Thomas Prest. London, Edward Lloyd, 1841 via Google Books.<https://books.google.com/booksid=UQUoAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false>

Prest, Thomas. Angelina; or, The Mystery of St. Mark’s Abbey. A Tale of Other Days. London, Edward Lloyd, 1841.

“Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, https://www.pbs.org/kqed/demonbarber/penny/index.html.


Researcher: Samara Rubenstein

Don Algonah

Don Algonah

Don Algonah: Or the Sorceress of Montillo. A Romantic Tale

Author: Unknown
Publisher: T. Hurst
Publication Year: 1802
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10cm x 17.5cm.
Pages: 71
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .D651 1802


Don Algonah: the Sorceress of Montillo, published in 1802 and republished several times, is a tale of adventure, magic, violence, and a quest for unforbidden love that takes place in Madrid, Spain.


Material History

Don Algonah: Or the Sorceress of Montillo. A Romantic Tale consists of 71 pages and is approximately 10 cm by 17.5 cm. The author is unknown because there is no author name printed on any of the pages. At first glance, the book appears very aged because of the missing cover and discolored pages that are loosely hanging onto the binding. You must be careful while looking through the book as to not accidentally fold the brittle and thin pages. Some pages can be seen peeking out from the side because they are no longer attached to the rest of the book. The outer edges of the book are also discolored and shriveled. Surprisingly, none of the pages are missing and the text is still very clear and readable. 

The title page for Don Algonah: Or the Sorceress of Montillo

The original front and back cover of the book is missing, leaving a blank page on both sides. This is most likely because this book was originally part of a pamphlet consisting of multiple stories. It was very common for multiple stories to be printed into one pamphlet. As a result, some booksellers thought they could make a larger profit by selling the stories individually, so they would rip the stories out of the pamphlet. Although both front and back covers are missing, we can still see traces of brown, fuzzy leather with blue and gold designs on the binding. It is very likely that the covers of the book were made of the same leather material. There are also three small holes near the binding on every page and a piece of string strewn between a different set of holes. The pages were originally sewn with a needle, but someone pulled the pages apart and then bound it back together again. The blank front page also has the word “romance” written on the top left corner. 

On page three there is a title page with the book’s full title printed at the top and a detailed black and white illustration of men sitting around a fire. There is another black and white illustration on the left page of a tall man with a knife. Both illustrations use hatching which is a technique used to create different shades. This book was probably produced very cheaply because non-colored illustrations were much cheaper. A previous owner of the book also handwrote their name on the top corner of page three. 

Every page has a page number printed on the top. Some pages also have a capital letter followed by a number at the very bottom. The pages of a book were printed on a large sheet of paper and the book binder would have to fold the paper with multiple pages on the front and make and make sure the pages were in the right order. The letter and number pair was for the book binder to make sure the pages were in order without having to know the page numbers. 


Textual History

Don Algonah: Or the Sorceress of Montillo is the second edition published by T. Hurst in 1802. The first edition was published the same year. The book does not explicitly state who the author is, but the bottom of the title page mentions that the book was printed for T. Hurst and sold by J. Wallis. The authorship is unknown. Thomas Hurst was a publisher in London during the nineteenth century. The novel does not explicitly state who the illustrator is, but underneath the black and white image, the names Rhodes Sculp and Craig Pinx are printed in a tiny font. There are several other digitized books online with a similar illustration style on the cover and the name Rhodes Sculp written underneath. 

The frontispiece for Don Algonah: Or the Sorceress of Montillo

The book was printed by J. Cundee, a British printer located at Albion Press, Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row in London. The book was originally printed in English as a chapbook. A chapbook is a small inexpensive booklet containing short literature. There is a third edition printed the same year, 1802, and it is the second story in volume I of The Marvellous Magazine and Compendium of Prodigies. The entire magazine comprises of four volumes and each volume consists of many gothic stories from the nineteenth century. All four volumes were published individually between 1802 and 1804. In the version of Don Algonah that appears in The Marvellous Magazine, the story is the same and there is a new illustration of an owl on the front title page. 

The entire text was digitized by the Internet Archive in 2017 with funding from University of Illinois Urbana Champaign Alternates. The digital version includes an image of the vignette design on the front and back cover that is missing from the copy in the University of Virginia Special Collections Library. The book has also been reprinted multiple times in the twenty-first century. There are hardcover and paperback copies available to be ordered online through Amazon. These newer versions shortened the title to just Don Algonah. The space where the author’s name is usually written, just has “Algonah (Don, fict. name.).” 

It is unknown whether or not the book sold well or poorly. A short snippet of the work was included in the Georgia Courier, a weekly newspaper for Albany, Doughtry County Georgia. On June 7, 1827 pages 13–16 of the book were printed in two columns of the newspaper and left to be continued (Georgia Courier). Michael Kelly, a playwright who produced dozens of works between 1797 and 1821, composed a play called Algonah, which was performed in Drury Lane, London on April 30, 1802 (“Reminiscences of Michael Kelly”). There are no details on the play in The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, but it appeared the same year as Don Algonah: Or the Sorceress of Montillo.

Although this book has been reprinted, digitized, and well preserved, this work has not been referenced frequently within academic scholarship. William Whyte Watt wrote a book published in 1932, called Shilling Shockers of the Gothic School: A Study of Chapbook Gothic Romances. In this book, Watt analyzes different gothic works including, Don Algonah: Or the Sorceress of Montillo (29). 


Narrative Point of View

Don Algonah: the Sorceress of Montillo is narrated in the third person for the majority of the text. There are also some interpolated tales in the middle of the story when some characters, such as D’Antares and Marano, share their past experiences. In these interpolated tales, the stories are told in first-person narration. During these moments when the character is sharing his own story, the narration focuses more on how that character feels as he relives his past experiences. When the characters finish telling their stories, the narration switches back to the third-person narrative. In both the interpolated tales and the third -person narration, there is a lot of dialogue between multiple characters.

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

The Inquisitors themselves saw it, and looked terrified. –“Tell what the chamber contained!” exclaimed the Suprema, “or the rack shall force it from you!” –“I know nothing of the chamber alluded to,” replied the Don, hardily. “You deny also,” said the Suprema, “any knowledge of your two wives?” –“I do,” said Algonah. A sigh was heard from the corpse of Amaranta. (66) 

Sample Passage of an Interpolated Tale told by D’Antares:

“Marano, every day more enraptured with the portrait, sought for the original every where: lamenting the singularity of his fate, which precluded him from knowing if his mistress were old or young, dead or alive. Quitting Grenada in about a fortnight after this adventure, we entered the inn yard of a village in Andalusia. — Here a travelling fortune-teller, mounted on a tub, was amusing the gaping countrymen with his nostrums and gestures. Observing us to smile, he turned to us and said, ‘Senors. I know that which one or both of you would give the world to know; mark that, Senors!’ Marano immediately whispered me that the speech applied to himself, and, continued he, ‘I will have this man to sup with us when the villagers are gone.’” (10)

The third-person narration stretches across multiple plots and characters. As the passage above indicates, this narration frequently relies on dialogue to express different characters’ emotions. Within this overarching third-person narration, the many personal tales told by the characters means that the narration jumps between different characters’ storylines, which can be disorienting. During the characters’ interpolated tales, they sometimes leave open questions that will not be answered until other characters relay their own separate experiences in the future. The interpolated tales span across a large period of time so they feel fast-paced, and they focus on specific characters, thus developing more individual complexity. 


Summary

On the day of a grand festival in Madrid, Duke d’Axala hosts a large celebration and invites every wealthy family. Don Algonah and his daughter Aramenta arrive at the party at midnight. Olivaro immediately notices Aramenta and expresses to his friend, Marquis d’ Antares, his admiration for the girl. Marquis d’Antares proceeds to tell Olivario that Aramenta’s father is forcing her to live in a convent, leaving Olivaro in sadness.

This page shows the thread binding the pages together

Later that night, a fire erupts in a saloon and Olivaro runs to the scene to find Aramenta trapped in the building, so he saves her and carries her to a garden. When Aramenta awakes, she confirms to Olivario that she is retiring from the world to live a life of monastic seclusion. Before Olivaro can respond, Algonah appears and orders Aramenta to leave with him. When Olivaro is leaving the garden, he meets Marquis d’ Antares again, who asks Olivaro to follow him. When they both arrive at Marquis d’ Antares home, he tells Olivaro a story. 

Marquis d’ Antares tells a story about his adventures with his close friend, Marano de Pinato. One day, the two men were on a small boat exploring Grenda when it suddenly began to storm. They lost sight of Grenada as the skies became dark, and they came across a ruined Moorish castle and decided to use it for shelter. As they look around the castle, Marano finds a dagger rusted with blood and he decides to preserve it because he believes it is the blood of an innocent soul. When the rain stops, they find out their boat had been destroyed by the storm. Marano tells Marquis d’ Antares that the same agent that led them to the castle will guide them back to Grenada. Marano says his belief in magic is confirmed by an event that happened to him nine months ago, and he proceeds to tell Marquis d’ Antares the story. 

Marano’s story begins with him foraging for food for his comrades. During his search, he sees a lame soldier and Marano asks him why he is straggling behind his comrades. The soldier says that he has received a deadly blow in his heart and that Marano was the only person who could save him. The soldier asks Marano to swear to avenge his wound or a terrible fate will fall upon his house. Marano agrees and the wounded soldier disappears. Marano says that the dagger they found in the castle reminded him of this story. 

The two friends wait in the castle until the next morning to find that the castle had been partly destroyed by a fire ordered by Philip to prevent resistance from the Moors. Marano also finds a small portrait of a beautiful woman. He proclaims his admiration for the woman in the portrait, and Marquis d’ Antares tells him that the lady is wearing a Moorish dress which means she most likely died from the cruel edict of Philip’s orders. The two men safely travel back to Grenada on foot. 

This page shows discolorations on the margins

Marano becomes obsessed with the woman in the portrait and tries to find her everywhere. When the two friends leave Grenada for Andalusia, they meet a fortune teller, Rimanez. Marano shows Rimanez the portrait and asks him if the woman lives. Rimanez says the woman is gone forever and quickly leaves, but Marano and Marquis d’ Antares do not believe him. The two friends continue on their journey to Tolosa, where Marano complains about superstitious activities. One night a pale soldier appears at Marquis d’ Antares bedside and asks him to follow him into the woods. Marquis d’ Antares agrees and the soldier orders Marquis d’ Antares to observe something hidden in the branches of a tree. Suddenly, Marquis d’ Antares hears two men approach the tree and the wounded soldier disappears. The two men under the tree talk about losing a dagger to two travellers in a Moorish castle and a dreadful deed they committed. Marquis d’ Antares hears this and jumps out of the tree and stabs one of the murderers, Perez. The other man, Pedro, shoots Marquis d’ Antares with a pistol and escapes. 

Two sisters, Clementia and Aramenta, find the wounded Marquis d’ Antares and takes him to the Castle of Montillo for assistance. Marano comes to the castle and tells his injured friend that he is the nephew of Don Algonah, the castle’s leader. Marquis d’ Antares learns from Marano that Algonha’s first wife, Juliana, died. He married his second wife, Lady Cleona, around the time of Philip’s persecution of the Moors. She also died, leaving a daughter, Amaranta. Vertola, an old stewardess living in the castle, sees Marano’s small portrait and says that it is Lady Juliana. Vertola tells the two friends about Lady Juliana’s suspicious death. On the day her coffin was screwed, Lucilia, Juliana’s maid, saw Juliana kneeling in her old bedroom. Algonah caught Lucilla and carried her to her chamber. After Lucilla told Vertola this story, he never heard from her again. Vertola continues to talk about Algonah’s second wife. Lady Cleona was married to Count Alvarez and had a daughter with him. Algonah was a friend of Count Alvarez and fell in love with Cleona. The edict of Philip at the time tried to exile Moorish families, so Don Alvarez attempted to escape to Algnoah’s castle, disguised as a soldier. Unfortunately, Don Alvarez was murdered along the way by assassins. Algonah then transported the Countess and her daughter to Grenada. Shortly after, he married Lady Cleo in his castle. During the wedding reception, the figure of a murdered Alvarez threatened Algonah. The first daughter of Lady Cleona was sent to Grenada by Algonah, and was reported to have died. 

During Marquis d’ Antares stay at the castle, he begins to feel affection towards one of Algonah’s daughters, Clementia. When Algonah arrives home to his castle, the two men decide to see what was in the chambers of the castle. As Marquis d’ Antares is travelling across the stairs, he hears Algonah and the assassin, Pedro, conducting a plan to keep the two friends at the castle for a few days longer so that Pedro could assassinate them. The next morning, the two men immediately leave the Castle of Montillo. Marquis d’ Antares and Marano say their sad goodbyes and separate to leave for their individual homes. 

When Marquis d’ Antares finishes his story, Olivaro tells Marquis d’ Antares that they will free Clementia and Amaranta from Algonah. Marquis d’ Antares is excited to hear this and he visits the palace of Count de Bellara where Aramenta is staying and requests to speak to her. He tells her about Olivaro’s plans to marry her so she can be free. Right after Marquis d’ Antares leaves, Algonah confuses Marquis d’ Antares as Aramenta’s lover. He is so upset that he orders his daughter to be sent to the convent that night. When Olivaro hears of this news he asks his cousin Emelina to help Amarenta escape, who agrees to enter the convent to help her cousin. Olivaro requests Amarenta to meet him in the garden for her escape. When the day arrives for the two lovers to meet, Amarenta and Emelina meet Olivaro in the garden. Before they could escape, Amarenta is stabbed by Pedro hiding in the bushes. Pedro tries to escape and Olivaro chases after him. Algonah is waiting outside the convent and accidentally stabs Pedro, mistaking him for Olivaro. Before Algonah could plunge the sword again, Marano fires a pistol at Algonah. Olivaro rushes back to Amaranta, where she dies in his arms. The Inquisition appears at the murder scene and arrests everyone. 

The final page of the story shows some rips and holes

Marano tells his story about finally finding his mistress, Seraphino, after he and Marquis d’ Antares went on their separate ways. Seraphino was a slave in a castle owned by Lady Juliana’s brother, Solyman. Marano expresses his love to Seraphino, and he finds out that Seraphino is Count Alvarez’s daughter who was sent to Grenada and sold as a slave. Rimanez and Lady Cleo also arrive at Solyman’s castle and the conjurer explains how he was hired by Algonah to kill Lady Cleona. He pitied the lady, so he spread a rumor that she had drowned and then confined her in a castle for all these years. Marano, Rimanez, Seraphino, and Lady Cleo are travelling together when they find Lady Juliana locked in the eastern chamber of the Montillo castle. Juliana explains how Algonah was the only person who knew about the secret passage. Her maid and old stewardesses were also locked up because they found out Algonah had buried a wax figure in her coffin. The group then set off to Madrid. 

During the examination, all of Algonah’s past wrongdoings are revealed. Algonah stabs himself with a dagger and dies. During the trial, a sorceress also revealed that the soldier who was haunting Marano was Count Alvarez, and he wanted his remains to be buried. 

After the trial ends, Marano performs the funeral rites for the remains of Count Alvarez and buries his daughter Amarnata beside him. Algonah’s widows get to choose which apartments of the castle they want to live in. Clementia and Marquis d’ Antares are reunited again and Marama is happily in love with Seraphino. After Amaranta is respectfully buried, Emelina consents to marry Olivaro. The three friends and their relatives live the rest of their lives in happiness. 


Bibliography

Don Algonah: Or the Sorceress of Montillo. A Romantic Tale. London: Printed for T. Hurst, 1802.

“Don Algonah, Or the Sorceress of Montillo: A Romantic Tale.” Georgia Courier, 7 June 1827.

The Marvellous Magazine and Compendium of Prodigies. London: Printed for T. Hurst, 1802. 

“Reminiscences of Michael Kelly, of the King’s Theatre, and Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Including a Period of nearly Half a Century; with Original Anecdotes of Many Distinguished Persons, Political, Literary, and Musical.” The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, vol. 7, no. 28, 1825, pp. 475-498.

Watt, William Whyte, 1912-. Shilling Shockers of the Gothic School: a Study of Chapbook Gothic Romances. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1932.


Researcher: Helen Lin

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 Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina

The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina

The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance.

Author: Unknown (possibly Delwyn)
Publisher: Minerva Press
Publication Year: 1804
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11 cm x 17.7 cm
Pages: approximately 31
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .E575


Sometimes published with Arabian Lovers, this chapbook takes place in Germany and centers around Seraphina, a pious girl who must resist the temptation and power of a mysterious man who claims to be her promised husband.


Material History

The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which is Added the Arabian Lovers, a Tale is a collection of two Gothic stories grouped together, referred to as The Magician and Arabian Lovers at the tops of the pages of the respective stories. From the outside, the book has a marbled, brown leather binding. This marble effect was a common trend for binding books, in which a weak acid would be used to create the marbled appearance. There are no prominent illustrations on the front or back, but the spine of the book is decorated in gold-leaf illustrations of wreaths and flowers as well as some gold-leaf horizontal stripes, separating the illustrations and symbols. On the spine, the book is referred to as The Entertainer and the number three, potentially indicating the volume or edition number. Also, the edges of the pages are speckled with blue ink. This is the result of a book decoration method in which the speckles would be hand-painted onto the edges of the paper. The book is roughly 11 centimeters wide, 17.7 centimeters long, and 2.2 centimeters thick.

Inside the book, there are five other stories, printed with different fonts and margins than The Magician and Arabian Lovers. The book starts with The Magician and Arabian Lovers, followed by the five additional stories. Each of the stories also restarts the page numbering instead of a continuous numbering throughout all of the stories. Some of the stories have frontispieces with illustrations, although The Magician and Arabian Lovers does not. There is even a frontispiece in hand-painted color for one of the stories, although the rest of the frontispieces are black-and-white. This suggests that the book was a collection of different chapbooks, a common practice at the time. The pages of the book are speckled with small grey bits of paper and yellowed with age. Overall, the pages feel worn and delicate, with the paper being thin enough to see through to the back of the page. The Magician takes up approximately 31 pages of the overall book, which is roughly 290 pages. There are also some marks of ownership inside the book, including a handwritten table of contents in the front in what appears to be Michael Sadleir’s handwriting. The table lists the stories inside the book, along with publication years and potential author names, but those are unclear. Additionally, there is a “J Phillips” written on the half-title page for The Magician.

The full table of contents in Michael Sadleir’s handwriting

Focusing specifically on The Magician, the font and margins are consistent across the text. The bottom margin is wider than the top, with a fair amount of white space around the main text on each page. In terms of spacing, the words are on the tighter side and the font is also a moderate size. There is a half-title page for only The Magician before the full-title page which contains the complete title for both The Magician and Arabian Lovers. The half-title page and full-title page are formatted differently, with different line breaks in the title and fonts. There is no author printed on the full-title page, however, the title page does list the publication location and year, 1804. While there is no frontispiece for these two stories, there is a small illustration of flowers at the end of The Magician.

Overall, the book itself externally appears to have a relatively nice, higher quality binding and attention to detail on the outside, as seen by the marbled leather and speckled pages. Inside the book, the quality of the paper feels cheaper and worn with time. The book is also inconsistent with its formatting throughout the different stories, so at one point the stories may have been separated. 


Textual History

The half-title page for The Magician

In 1803, The Magician was published by itself as part of a collection of stories in an earlier version of The Entertainer (Frank 136). Even earlier than that, The Magician was published under the title The Story of Seraphina in Literary Leisure with a date in 1800 printed above it (Clarke ii, 78). At the top of this version of The Story of Seraphina there is a headnote from the author explaining that he found the story in “the hand-writing of poor Delwyn” and that he did not know if the story was a German translation or something Delwyn wrote himself. Additionally, the author anticipates that it will be well-received since the author notes that “perhaps it may not be unacceptable to my readers” (Clarke 78). It seems that this could be the basis of why The Magician is referred to as a German story. However, no author is mentioned in both of the University of Virginia’s copies and there are no known precise German origins beyond this headnote.

As the title The Magician: Or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which Is Added the Arabian Lovers, a Tale suggests, the two stories were originally published separately in the early eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There are two versions of the publication at the University of Virginia library, one of which is simply the two stories in a small chapbook. The other version (described above) is in a collection of other stories in a book named The Entertainer. Both versions at University of Virginia are from 1804. Around the world, the two stories are published together in chapbooks owned by multiple libraries, with versions appearing from 1803 and 1804.

The full-title page for both stories

While it is unclear exactly at which point the two stories were first published together, the Minerva Press certainly did so in 1804, which is the year printed on the copy in the University of Virgina’s edition of The Entertainer. The Minerva Press was an extremely popular Gothic publishing company created by William Lane (Potter 15). Not only did Lane’s company publish Gothic literature, but they also had circulating commercial libraries, which helped boost the popularity of Gothic texts (Potter 15; Engar). However, these libraries were still not affordable to the poorest demographics, although they certainly made the Gothic more accessible to the general population (Potter 15). The Minerva Press was often criticized for the cheap quality of its publications and “lack of literary excellence” (Engar). Books printed at the Minerva Press were made using cheap, flimsy materials and sometimes contained errors. Furthermore, publications from the Minerva Press were often re-bound by others (Engar).

There does not seem to be a significant presence in modern academic scholarship of The Magician. Considering that the stories were published by the Minerva Press, this could be due to their lower quality production and the company’s reputation (Engar). There are, however, copies of both The Magician and Arabian Lovers available for sale online. One paperback version lists the two stories together with the same title as The Entertainer does, with no authors listed. This version is sold on Amazon and was printed in 2010, although the description of the book does note that it “is a reproduction of a book published before 1923.” There are digital versions of archival copies of The Magician and Arabian Lovers as a paired story from 1803available online, found on Google Books.


Narrative Point of View

The Magician is narrated by a third-person narrator who is not present in the plot. Early on in the story, the narrator supplies additional details about the backgrounds and personalities of some of the minor characters such as Bianca. The narrator often focuses on thorough descriptions of the surroundings, especially scenes of luxury and opulence. When describing the environment, the narration is flowery and elegant with longer sentences. The narrator supplies Seraphina’s feelings and thoughts quite frequently, although the mysterious man’s thoughts are kept hidden. Unlike the long-winded descriptions, however, the narration style alternates between a choppier or longer style depending on Seraphina’s mood and the tone of her thoughts. Additionally, the narration provides dialogue from Seraphina’s various conversations.

Sample Passage:

This mixture of menace and submission terrified Seraphina, who found herself completely in his power, in a room most luxuriantly fur-nished, where not a single being but themselves appeared, and where every thing bespoke the uncontrouled voluptuousness of the master. In a few minutes a small table, covered with the most exquisite dainties, appeared in the recess, and Seraphina gazed in wonder. Her lover besought her to take some refreshment. She had not eaten since she quitted the hotel with her aunt in the morning, and she really wanted food. She suffered him, therefore, to persuade her, but she took merely some sweetmeats, and resolved to forbear touching salt while she staid; for, dazzling as was the magnificence with which she was surrounded, she had no wish but to escape. She felt restrained in eating too, as her strange companion still retained her fingers in his energetic grasp. At length, he prevailed on her to drink a glass of wine; wine; it was exquisite, but Seraphina was alarmed, and insisted on diluting it with water. (23–24)

By using third-person narration, the chilling power and demeanor of the mysterious man is amplified. Even “surrounded” by the “magnificence” and material comforts of the castle, Seraphina is unable to truly enjoy anything since “she had no wish but to escape.” The third-person narration aids the story from this viewpoint, since spending more time on the setting is the narrator’s choice, while Seraphina is more focused on her escape and emotions for the majority of the story. The narrator continues to describe the environment and explore Seraphina’s thoughts as the man attempts to convince her to consent to him, both by threatening her with his wrath and by offering her all the luxuries at his disposal. However, Seraphina continuously feels “restrained” from enjoying any of the material comforts surrounding her by her fear of the mysterious man, which is evident in her paranoia in eating or drinking too much of the food he provides her. By continuously describing the environment, the narration serves as a reminder of how Seraphina is not only emotionally surrounded by the man’s presence, but how she is also physically enclosed in this extravagant space, itself a reminder of his authority. Not only does Seraphina feel restrained, but the man physically restrains her by constantly holding her hand every time they are together, which the narrator emphasizes by how he “still retained her fingers in his energetic grasp” in this passage and throughout the rest of the text. What the man truly plans for Seraphina is hidden from her and the narration, so the fear and uncertainty she experiences becomes more palpable. Seraphina is constantly surrounded by “the mixture of menace and submission” the man exudes, through his threats and his physical presence in the form of the perpetual handholding. The narration bolsters this fear by providing insight into her feelings and continuously contrasting the luxurious environment with the man’s unsettling, constant presence that haunts Seraphina even when she is alone.


Summary

The story of The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina begins with the yearly fair in Francfort in 1464. The Italian Lady Bianca d’Alberto attends the fair with her sixteen-year-old niece, Seraphina, who is also Bianca’s adoptive daughter. Bianca’s husband, the Colonel, and his brother, Seraphina’s father, were both serving in the army when Seraphina’s father died. The Colonel promised his dying brother that he would adopt Seraphina and kept true to his promise before also passing away, leaving Bianca to raise the “pious and innocent” Seraphina (2). While in Francfort, Bianca and Seraphina go to see a conjurer with a nefarious reputation who performs supernatural acts such as transformations and fortune telling.

As they watch the show, the magician, Gortz, amazes the crowd. At one point, a sudden, unidentified voice shouts Gortz’s name, but the show continues. Gortz focuses on Seraphina and offers to reveal her future husband. Seraphina refuses, but Bianca pushes her to listen to Gortz. However, Seraphina believes that this type of magic is evil and does not want to participate. At one point, Seraphina sees a regally dressed man across the room, staring intently at her. When Gortz makes a magic circle around a fire and tells Seraphina to enter the circle, she hesitates, only to see an illusory version of herself get up. The fake Seraphina enters the circle and chaos erupts, smoke and shrieks coming out of the circle. Everybody, including Bianca, runs away, leaving Seraphina alone with Gortz’s body when the smoke clears. She attempts to leave, at first trying the door and then piling benches up to reach the windows, but fails.

The last page of The Magician with a small illustration of flowers

Seraphina again sees the noble, “majestic” man from earlier and they stare intently at each other (13). He holds her hand, refusing to let go, and tells her that he will take care of her. The man reveals that he’s sent the fake Seraphina with her Aunt and that he is extremely powerful. He then gives Seraphina an ultimatum: either become his friend and wife or face his power if she refuses. However, Seraphina already has a childhood friend, Ferdinand, at home interested in marrying her. The man even claims that Seraphina’s father promised her to him when he died in the army. At this point, Seraphina faints and wakes up in his castle and the man again appears before her. Seraphina asks the mysterious man for some time and he gives her a week to decide, telling her that he knows what she thinks, so she cannot deceive him. Once he leaves, a servant attends Seraphina, but she is too scared to even cry. Eventually, she speaks aloud, asking where she can go in the castle. The man appears before her, dressed magnificently, and takes her around the castle. Seraphina is stunned by the many servants, jewels, and luscious flowers they pass by. The man leads her to an empty room, still holding her hand even as she eats. He orders for people to start dancing as entertainment. As they watch the dancing, the man tells her that she must consent to him if she wants to see his true self. At this point, Seraphina decides that his power must come from an evil source and to refuse him at the end of the week.

For the rest of the week, the man holds many exquisite events for her like plays and tournaments. He continuously holds her hand and confesses his love throughout the week, but Seraphina remains disgusted and fearful. Once the week finally ends, he meets Seraphina and asks if she’ll stay with him. Seraphina refuses, saying that she will never give in to magic and then “those sacred names” (29). Immediately, Seraphina wakes up in a bed in Francfort with her aunt. Bianca reveals that she has just received word from Italy that Ferdinand has finally gotten permission to marry her and Seraphina has been sleeping the whole time after the magic show. The story ends with a statement on how upholding virtue will ultimately result in happiness.


Bibliography

Clarke, Hewson. Literary Leisure: or, The Recreations of Solomon Saunter, Esq. [Pseud.]. vol. 2, W. Miller, 1802.

Engar, Ann W. “The Minerva Press; William Lane.” The British Literary Book Trade, 1700–1820, edited by James K. Bracken and Joel Silver, Gale, 1995. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 154. Literature Resource Center.

Frank, Frederick S. “Gothic Chapbooks, Bluebooks, and Short Stories in the Magazines (1790–1820)” Gothic Writers: A Critical and Bibliographical Guide, edited by Douglass H. Thomson, and Jack G. Voller, Greenwood Publishing Group Inc., 2001: 133–146.

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

 “The Magician; or The Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which Is Added The Arabian Lovers, a Tale.” Amazon, Minerva Press, for Lane and Newman, 2010.

The Magician: Or, The Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which Is Added The Arabian Lovers, a Tale. Minerva Press, 1803. Google Books.

 The Magician: Or, the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. a German Romance. to Which Is Added the Arabian Lovers, a Tale. London: Printed at the Minerva-Press, for Lane and Newman, 1803. Print.

The Magician: Or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which Is Added the Arabian Lovers, a Tale. Printed at the Minerva Press, for Lane and Newman, 1804.


Researcher: Jennifer Li

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

The Magician

The Magician

The Magician

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


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


Material History

Half-title page

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

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

Armorial bookplate of John Waldie, Hendersyde and book label

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

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

Sample Passage of Pauline Narrating a Dream:

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

Sample Passage including an Interjection and Reference to the Reader:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Rebecca E. Laflam