With its twists and turns, this transatlantic tale recounts heartbreak, love, desire, and greed. Where one end is tied, another frays, keeping readers in suspense. There is no shortage of the gothic in this text.
The cover of The Commodore’s Daughter is 21.75 cm tall and 13.5 cm wide with a spine thickness of 1.5 cm. While the cover does not have a special design, the two corners and part of the spine have a softer and lighter leather than the rest of the book’s cover, which is a rougher and darker leather. There are three stories bound within this volume and the spine is decorated with gold lettering with the titles: Lucelle. — Julia St. Pierre. — Commodore’s Daughter.
The Commodore’s Daughter, by Benjamin Barker, begins approximately two-thirds of the way into this volume. The pages are clearly in excellent shape. The title page is plain and includes the title, author, and publication information: “PUBLISHED BY E. LLOYD, 12, SALISBURY-SQUARE, FLEET-STREET, AND SOLD BY ALL BOOKSELLERS.”The next page, which starts the text of the story, also includes a detailed picture and caption, as well as the word, “complete” handwritten lightly in pencil at the top of the page. The Commodore’s Daughter was originally published as a “penny dreadful” serial, which is when small cheap portions of the story were published at regular intervals and later bound together. “No. 1,” “No. 2,” etc. appear at the bottom corners of their respective pages (outside of the border created around the text) to indicate the start of a new section of the story. Though the sections were all printed, sold, and originally purchased separately, this version is “complete” because these sections have now been bound together.
The Commodore’s Daughter is sixty-eight pages long. The text is small, always surrounded by a decorative border, and relatively easy to read with decent-sized margins. This copy of The Commodore’s Daughter also shows an error made during printing. Though the final chapter appears to be Chapter XIX, this book does not have nineteen chapters, but rather, eighteen, with one entire chapter having been skipped due to misnumbering. The book leaps from Chapter XVII to Chapter XIX, which should have been correctly numbered as Chapter XVIII. This erroneous Chapter XIX is printed on the back of the page with Chapter XVII. Interestingly, the side of the page with Chapter XVII is much more pristine and in better shape than the other side, which must have been exposed at one point to different environmental conditions.
The Commodore’s Daughter was written by Benjamin Barker—an author who was no stranger to publishing, as he released nineteen other works under his name. Two publishers produced The Commodore’s Daughter—Frederick Gleason in Boston, Massachusetts in 1846, and Edward Lloyd in London in 1847—and versions of each are housed in the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction.
The Lloyd and Gleason printings of The Commodore’s Daughter contain a few key differences. For instance, the 1846 Gleason printing (which is also available on Google Books) includes the alternate title, The Dwarf of the Channel, or, The Commodore’s Daughter. While both versions contain the same story content, the Gleason’s version prints the story in columns, and this copy also lacks the illustrations present in the Lloyd version. Lloyd’s 1847 printing also initially appeared serialized as a penny dreadful.
The Lloyd printing of The Commodore’s Daughter contains a preface dated December 1847. In this preface, “the Publisher” provides context for the story’s historical significance, characters, and plot, including the backstory and setting. The final sentence of the preface reads: “The moral of the tale is unexceptionable, and as the incidents do not violate probability, and the characters are so truly drawn, the Publisher anticipates a favourable reception for the work.”
Like much of gothic literature that has faded from view, The Commodore’s Daughter has not remained widely available and the publisher’s projected “favourable reception” was short-lived, if at all. However, there are a few notable online versions. In addition to digital copies of the Gleason printing available via Google Books, Historical Texts has a digitized version of the Lloyd edition. In 2010, the British Library Historical Print Editions released a reprinting of TheCommodore’s Daughter.
Benjamin Barker has a notable publishing history. Not only did he publish nearly twenty works under his name, but he also published under the pseudonym Egbert Augustus Cowslip. One of his most well-known works under this pseudonym was Zoraida; or The witch of Naumkeag! A Tale of the Olden Time. Another of Barker’s works published under his own name, Blackbeard, or, The Pirate of Roanoke, is listed on Amazon and, as of 2021, has several reviews including one with a complaint about its historical inaccuracies, which reiterates the preface of The Commodore’s Daughter regarding the accuracy of accounts of the American Revolution.
Narrative Point of View
The Commodore’s Daughter is narrated in the third person (and occasionally with first-person plural moments) by an unnamed omniscient narrator who does not appear in the text. The narration feels relatively modern, but still contains antiquated vernacular. The paragraphs and sentences are generally lengthy. Yet, there still are inconsistencies in the style, with some paragraphs being much longer or using more eloquent vocabulary than others. The narration describes the characters and their feelings matter-of-factly (and frequently through characters’ actions), and there is very little text dedicated to introspection. The narration also contains much more description than dialogue.
Premising that the following romance is founded upon facts, with the details of which many of our readers may possibly be acquainted, and that for particular reason, we shall claim the privilege and take the liberty of introducing our principal characters under fictitious names, we now proceed to open our story as follows… (1)
By performing that this fictional story is based on facts—a common gothic trope—the narrator effectively tells the story with increased credibility (and possibly more shock value, as well). The narrator seeks to communicate a story by establishing familiarity with the characters in the book without revealing their names, thus providing an even foundation to readers and inviting everyone to enjoy the story with shared knowledge provided by the narrator from the beginning. The use of the first-person plural “we” also gives a more rounded and less singular feeling to the narration, enabling the fictional story to mimic an actual recounting of events.
In the early days of the American Revolution, before the colonies had banded together to declare their own independence, an old and cunning man by the name of Henry Hartville desired a fortune that was supposed to be inherited by a girl named Nora. Through his meticulous planning, Henry was able to trick Nora into believing that she was his daughter, all the while finding the perfect suitor for her so that Henry could obtain this wealth. The story then asks what Henry Hartville’s plan is to arrive at his goal.
An older, “deformed” man named John Ellery, frequently described in the text as a “dwarf,” has taken under his wing a “maniac” girl, Helen Morton, whose parents died years prior. John Ellery is one day met by a man carrying a letter and a black crucifix, who leaves soon after handing him these mysterious items. Despite not knowing who this man is or who the person who wrote the letter could be, Mr. Ellery accepts the commands listed out to him on the letter without any hesitation. One of those commands being to seek Nora Hartville out to keep under his wing, which the story reveals later.
Luckily, Mr. Ellery met with a ship on its way to a New England port, carrying several passengers in its cabins. Since he is able to pilot the ship, Mr. Ellery is gratefully accepted by the captain to guide it to its destination. Mr. Ellery, however, begins to take notice of a peculiar passenger whom the captain dreaded and wanted jettisoned as soon as possible. Through a careful line of questioning, Mr. Ellery finally realizes what he had hoped to find——the girl on the ship is Nora Hartville, the one the letter instructed him to keep under his wing for the next few years.
Mr. Ellery, Helen Morton, and Nora Hartville all arrive at Mr. Ellery’s home and remain there for several months in peace, as Helen and Nora become closer in what Helen describes as a sisterhood. Unfortunately, the fateful night arrives soon enough, and Miles Warton, the man who brought the letter and the crucifix to Mr. Ellery so long ago, finally comes to collect Nora Hartville for the suitor that Henry Hartville had set up for her. Miles Warton was a criminal, so Mr. Ellery knew his arrival at the cottage meant something was wrong. Prior to their meeting, Mr. Ellery heard Nora’s objections to the forced marriage, for the girl had her heart set on another man, George Wellington. Both parties soon realize that this night will not go as planned. In a shocking turn of events, Warton is killed by none other than Helen Morton, as she defends her adoptive father from being harmed by the criminal.
Through many events to follow, George Wellington, who was originally deprived of his desire to see his love, Nora Hartville, meets up with a man named Edward Hale, Helen Morton’s former lover. It is revealed that once George and Edward work together in their search for their lovers, the cruel and conniving plans of Henry Hartville can be overturned.
Yet before their arrival, another surprising figure appears: the former wife of Mr. Ellery, whose name is Julia. Long ago, Julia (the original owner of the black crucifix) held a gun to her husband’s chest in a fit of hatred and demanded that he follow the orders of whoever bears the crucifix. Now, Julia seeks forgiveness for the trouble she has caused, and the old man gracefully accepts. Seeing that Mr. Ellery accepted her apology, Julia knows she can now rest, and she breathes her last breath at her former husband’s humble cottage.
Finally having come to peace with his life, Mr. Ellery travels with his daughters and their suitors (who have found his cottage after a long search) to the ship of a well-known commodore, where it is revealed that the villainous Henry Hartville is aboard the vessel. Cornered and seeing that all his plans have been foiled, Henry Hartville takes a pistol to his head and pulls the trigger, allowing for Edward Hale and Helen Morton to fulfill their love and Nora and George Wellington to do the same. Through much pain and sorrow, Mr. Ellery finally gets to live a happy life away from shame.
This abridged version of Percy Shelley’s 1811 novel, St. Irvyne, tells of a man high in the Alps, entangled with a pack of bandits and then with the occult, forced to learn first-hand the cost of devaluing life.
Wolfstein is presented in a now-unbound pamphlet.
It is light, being twenty-eight pages in length, 10.7cm x 17.9cm in dimension,
and lacking in a back cover. The untethered, yet remaining front cover is
composed of a marbled, and half-leather binding. This marbling effect was a
popular design of the period, and it was achieved by filling a container with
water and oil paint and dipping the cover in the swirling colors. The cover’s
corners and spine are leather, but the rest is made of faded, dark green decorative
marble paper, which appears to have once been a shade of deep blue, yellowed
with time. No indication of the author is given on the front, nor anywhere
inside the book.
Immediately upon opening the cover, the viewer will be greeted with several notes written in the handwriting of Michael Sadleir, the original curator of this collection. These reveal that there was once a “Coloured Frontispiece” and seven stories in this volume; of these, Wolfstein is the first and the only remaining. The stories are listed exactly as follows:
Wolfstein or The Mysterious Bandit / a Terrific Romance. To which is added The Bronze Statue, a pathetic tale. J. Bailey.
The Ruffian Boy or the Castle of Waldemar. A Venetian Tale. Based on Mrs. Opie’s stay of the same name. by J.S. Wilkinson. J. Bailey
Glenwar, The Scottish Bandit by an Evonian (Dean and Munday)
The White Pilgrim or the Castle of Olival trans from the Le Pelerin Blanc by Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson (Dean & Munday)
Theodore and Emma or the Italian Bandit by an Etonian. (J. Bailey)
The rips between these notes and the title page of Wolfstein indicate that the frontispiece may have been removed, perhaps along with the other six stories. The current curator of the Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library, David Whitesell, hypothesizes that these stories were likely removed in the early days of the collection, possibly when it was first moved to the library. Another mysterious note on the back of the front cover reads, “43 O.R.” What this pen-written memo means is unknown, but it was likely written in the early twentieth century.
Thus, Wolfstein’s forced isolation commands all our attention to it. The title page, though badly torn up, boldly introduces the title in three successive lines, as “Wolfstein; OR, THE MYSTERIOUS BANDIT. A Terrific Romance.” Farther down, the page reads, “TO WHICH IS ADDED, THE BRONZE STATUE. A Pathetic Tale.” The title page arranges the above text in slightly different font variations and vertical lines per each phrase. The page is without pictures or other notable visual features. Further into the chapbook, the titles appear at the top of almost every page as either Wolfstein; OR, THE MYSTERIOUS BANDIT. or THE BRONZE STATUE. The first story takes up pages four through nineteen, while the second story goes from page twenty to the final, twenty-eighth page.
Throughout the book, the
pages are yellowed and tattered. The margins are a uniform 1.5 cm on every
page, and the printing is generally clean and well done. Occasionally, letters
are displaced; this is a result of the moveable type that was used to print the
book. Some seemingly random letters—A, A2, A3, A6, and B—can be found on
different pages near the beginning of each story. These are signature marks, a
common technique of traditional bookmaking: since books were printed on large
sheets of paper that had to be folded and cut, signature marks helped
bookbinders to order the pages correctly.
feature near the beginning of the book is on the backside of the cover page. A
patch, roughly page-colored and a little over an inch in size, is stuck on the
page; looking closely, one can see that its application tore the word “blue”
from the body of the text where the first chapter starts on the following page.
This patch was applied long ago to repair a rip in the title cover, conceivably
when the volume was being moved to the library, but its current presence
appears somewhat ironic, as the title page is now badly torn up. As such, it
seems that the book may have been tattered for quite some time.
Information on Wolfstein;
or The Mysterious Bandit’s textual history is sparse and sometimes
contradictory, especially when it comes to the publication date. In Montague
Summers’s extensive, usually detailed Gothic Bibliography, the entry on
this story is a one-liner, reading, “Chapbook. n.d. [c. 1800]” (561). Indeed,
the circa 1800 publication date is the definite, albeit vague, consensus
amongst all sources, though some sources specify the year of 1822, noting one
crucial detail: Wolfstein is not an original work. Unlike its publishing
companion, The Bronze Statue, published by Anna Jane Vardill, who signed
her work as “V”, Wolfstein is not marked anywhere with any indication of
an author. Instead, the credit for the work is given to author Percy Bysshe
Shelley, as Wolfstein is a condensed, sixteen-page version of Shelley’s
1811 novel St Irvyne; or The Rosicrucian.
Herein the problem is introduced: which came first, The Rosicrucian or The Mysterious Bandit? Frederick S. Frank writes that Wolfstein is a “plagiarized abridgment of various Räuber-roman” and that “P. B. Shelley may have obtained the name of his morose hero in Saint Irvyne … from this lurid little shocker” (“The Gothic Romance” 173). Other sources, however, seem to indicate the opposite. The frontispiece of the chapbook, as found in the New York Public Library, lists the date issued as “1822 (Questionable).” The WorldCat library catalogue, too, describes Wolfstein as “a slightly altered and much abridged version of P. B. Shelley’s 1811 novel, St. Irvyne … published shortly after J. Stockdale’s 1822 re-issue of St. Irvyne.” Finally, in discussing gothic literature’s “fetishisation and moralisation of the formulaic,” Franz J. Potter asserts, “There are multiple redactions and adaptations of what are now viewed as trade novels,” among them, “Percy Shelley’s juvenile novel … was deftly converted into Wolfstein” (The History of Gothic Publishing 54).
Shelley’s St. Irvyne,
at its comparatively whopping length of about two-hundred pages, contains many
plot points common to Wolfstein, while having mostly different character
names. Wolfstein’s breakneck pace, then, can be justified through its
impressive inclusion of many of St. Irvyne’s plot points. The abridgment
is not perfect, though; Wolfstein spends almost no time on Shelley’s
female characters, who, in St. Irvyne, have characterization, dialogue,
and plot lines of their own. Wolfstein’s Serena, the only notable woman
in the chapbook, pales in comparison to Shelley’s Olympia, who, while still
being portrayed primarily as a sexual object, does more than just get captured
and murdered (Finch). Wolfstein goes from barely skimming St. Irvyne’s
waters to totally diving in, even directly copying the text, as in the
“mouldering skeleton” and “terrible convulsions” of the final scene (Wolfstein
19, Shelley 236). The unique similarities of the plots suggest that Wolfstein
was published after Shelley’s novel, possibly in 1822.
Plagiarized chapbooks like Wolfstein were not an irregularity. The printer and publisher of Wolfstein, John Bailey, published many adaptations and abridgements of popular novels as it was “a financially sound investment for printers and publishers exploiting the readers’ appetite for entertainment” (Potter Gothic Chapbooks 89). However, the author, or rather abridger, of Wolfstein is nowhere to be found, whether due to the popularity of anonymity at the time or the fact that the story was a plagiarism. Oftentimes, details like authors and dates remain absent; in total, Bailey dated only five of his thirty-eight pamphlets, these dates ranging from from 1808 to 1823 (Potter Gothic Chapbooks 89). Bailey established himself as a publisher on Chancery Lane by 1800, and his overall contribution to Gothic literature was momentous, finding “market value … in the sensationalism and horror that readers craved” (Potter Gothic Chapbooks 90). Throughout his career, Bailey published and priced a broad range of works at sixpence—very cheap—thus targeting “the general reader whose interest varied by age and need” (Potter Gothic Chapbooks 91).
John Bailey’s gothic pamphlet publications usually contained a frontispiece—which Wolfstein did have, albeit separated—and is now available through the New York Public Library Digital Collections. As described by the WorldCat library database,Wolfstein’s frontispiece was a “folding engraved hand-colored frontispiece with caption beginning, ‘Deeper grew the gloom of the cavern,’ depicting the final scene: a giant skeleton, a lightning bolt, the terrified Wolfstein.” Bailey often commissioned frontispieces from artist George Cruikshank (Potter Gothic Chapbooks 90). Overall, the Bailey family contributed at least seventy-six pamphlets to the “gothic pamphlet marketplace,” making up 19 percent of the total number of Gothic chapbooks (Potter Gothic Chapbooks 91). Their contribution was essential to the genre. Wolfstein is but a singular example of the Bailey family’s gothic legacy.
According to WorldCat,
five known copies of Wolfstein exist. One of them is in the University
of Virginia’s Special Collections Library; one is at the University of
California, Los Angeles; one is in New Jersey, at Princeton University; one is
in the New York Public Library; and one is across the seas at the University of
Point of View
Wolfstein is narrated in the third person,
including both an objective and an omniscient point of view. Although the
narrator is anonymous and physically absent from the story, they sometimes
offer omniscient insight into the characters. Mainly, though, the focus is on
the fast-moving plot, following the terrific story of Wolfstein as he delves
into a life of crime. The narration is almost jarringly engaging, with each
page or two seeming to start a new arc of the story, and sprawling,
multi-clause sentences describing settings and streams of consciousness. While
the narration does pause to zoom-in on specific descriptions, its mere
fifteen-page length requires quick movement through the many beats of action it
contains. This action ranges from murder, thievery, and poisoning to suicidal
contemplation, dreams, and phantasmal appearances. The narration also centers
primarily on Wolfstein, informing us always of his perspective and emotions.
As Pietro concluded, a universal shout of applause echoed through the cavern; and again the goblet passed round, when Wolfstein eagerly seized an opportunity to mingle the poison. The eyes of Barozzi, which had before regarded him with so much earnestness, were intentionally turned away; he then arose from the table, and, complaining of a sudden indisposition, retired.
Stiletto raised the goblet to his lips. “Now, my brave fellows, the hour is late, but before we retire, I here drink success and health to every one of you.” Wolfstein involuntarily shuddered as Stiletto drank the liquor to the dregs, when the cup fell from his trembling hand, and exclaiming, “I am poisoned!” he sank lifeless on the Earth. (11)
Wolfstein’s narrative style frequently deals with
action, but by no means does it lack description or other, slower modes of
fiction. Action verbs in sentences are always surrounded by expressive,
carefully chosen adverbs and adjectives, so that every action is afforded some
reason or emotion. Additionally, the dynamic characters guarantee that the
reasoning and feelings surrounding each action are also dynamic, making the
narration riveting and surprising throughout the tale. For the Alpine Bandits,
power is obtained and maintained through stealth, strength, and wit, so
intelligence is a crucial quality. Taking this into account, the selectively
omniscient point of view aids in the fortune of some characters and expedites
the downfall of others, including Stiletto. The main characters, Wolfstein and
Barozzi, are favored by the narrator in terms of detail and perspective, and
since their thought processes are presented most thoroughly, the book depicts
them as the only characters who are thinking deeply. In a world where success
is based on cunning, they make all other characters seem static and unthinking
in comparison, and those characters’ lives are treated as unimportant and
easily discarded. The narrative’s marking of Wolfstein and Barozzi as
intellectually superior sets them up to search for eternal life and heightens
the irony of their eventual defeat and ruin.
High in the Alps, a terrible thunderstorm “borne on the wings of
the midnight whirlwind” is raging (4). Against a rock, a man named Wolfstein
watches the storm. Wolfstein is tormented by sadness, and he “curse[s] his
wayward destiny… [seeing no point in a life both] useless to himself and
society” (4). Overcome by emotion, he rushes to jump off the cliff, but instead
faints and falls to the ground. His body is quickly found by a group of
traveling monks. They initially suppose him to be dead, but when he wakes up
and lashes out at them, they try to comfort him. Abruptly, the group is
ambushed by the Alpine Bandits, who attack and rob the monks. They threaten
Wolfstein, who says that he has nothing to lose and nothing to fear. Upon
hearing this, they invite him to join their group, and he agrees with little
thought. The banditti take Wolfstein to the “summit of a rocky precipice,”
where they enter a cavern that serves as the bandits’ base camp (5). In the
cavern, they enjoy a banquet made by a woman kept there and eventually retire
to bed. Before going to bed himself, Wolfstein recounts the sorrows of his
life, having been “driven from his native country” by an unnamed force that
presents an “insuperable barrier to ever again returning” (6). Eventually, he
goes to sleep.
As he “inure[s] more and more to the idea of depriving his
fellow creatures of their possessions,” Wolfstein becomes a courageous bandit
(6). His new lifestyle is tested when an Italian count comes to the Alps, and
he goes out to scout alone. While scouting, he discovers that a detached party
of the banditti has already overtaken and killed the count, now dragging a
woman’s “lifeless … light symmetrical form” out of their carriage (7).
Immediately, Wolfstein becomes infatuated with her; but the bandit chief,
Stiletto, seems to desire her for himself.
That night, the woman, whose name is Serena, is invited to the
banquet and seated at the right side of Stiletto, much to Wolfstein’s
displeasure. Filled with “indignation,” he determines to “destroy his rival”
(8). He slips a white powder into Stiletto’s goblet and later proposes a toast.
Just when Stiletto is about to drink, another robber, Barozzi, “dashe[s] the
cup of destruction to the earth” (8). Barozzi is a reserved, cryptic man. He
tells nothing about himself to anyone, and he has never “thrown off [his]
mysterious mask” (9). The interference enrages Wolfstein further, and he
decides to attempt the murder once more, reasoning that he is not worthy of
“the celestial Serena, if [he] shrink[s] at the price… for her possession” (9).
The day after, the bandits are drunk and merry again. Stiletto asks Pietro, a
robber who knows many poems, to tell an old German story to pass the time.
Pietro recites a poem about Sir Eldred the bold, a crusader who died in battle
in Palestine. At his death, his lover wept, “raised her eyes to the banner’s
red cross, / And there by her lover she died” (11). After the story was told, a
goblet was passed around, and Wolfstein again slipped poison into it. At this,
Barozzi “intentionally turn[s] away,” then rises from the table and retires
(11). Stiletto raises the drink, toasting to the “success and health to every
one of you” (11). He drinks it and immediately becomes ill, crying, ““I am
poisoned!” and collapsing (11).
The devastated banditti begin to search for the culprit, but the
search distresses Wolfstein, and he confesses. They are about to kill him when
Barozzi intervenes, insisting that they leave him unhurt on the condition that
he immediately leaves. Wolfstein does. In “half-waking dreams,” he hears
Stiletto’s ghost cry out for justice (12). As he ventures out from the cabin,
he spots Serena lying on the ground. Seeing her as the reason he “forfeited all
earthly happiness,” he takes his sword and stabs her in the breast (12). He
continues on his way, finds an inn to stay in, and Barozzi shows up. In
exchange for saving him from the banditti, Barozzi demands Wolfstein’s
protection and commands that Wolfstein listen to his story. Feeling indebted, Wolfstein
swears to do so, and Barozzi takes his leave. In dreams, Wolfstein sees himself
on the edge of a precipice, being chased by a dreadful figure. Barozzi saves
him, but then the monster throws Barozzi off.
One evening, Wolfstein wanders outside late at night,
“shudder[ing] at the darkness of his future destiny” (14). As he is going back
inside, Barozzi grabs his arm. Jolted, Wolfstein asks if Barozzi is there to
make good on his promise. Barozzi replies: “‘I am come to demand it, Wolfstein,
(said he) art thou willing to perform?’” (14). Wolfstein gathers his strength
and proclaims that he is ready, conducting Barozzi inside. Inside, Barozzi says
it “neither boots [Wolfstein] to know nor [him] to declare” about his past, but
he plans to do so anyway (15). He tells Wolfstein that every event in his life
has been known and guided by his machinations, and tells him to not interrupt,
regardless of how horrifying the tale might be.
At seventeen years old, Barozzi set out on a journey from his
city of Salamanca. The sky that night was completely black and covered by
clouds, and Barozzi “gazed on a torrent foaming at [his] feet” (15). He then
planned to commit suicide. Right before jumping, he heard a bell from a
neighboring convent that “struck a chord in unison with [his] soul” (16). It
made him give up the plan, and he fell to the foot of a tree, crying. In sleep,
he dreamed he stood on a cliff high above the clouds. Amid the mountain’s dark
forms, he felt an earthquake and saw “the dashing of a stupendous cataract”
(16). Suddenly, he heard sweet music, and everything became beautiful; “the
moon became as bright as polished silver; pleasing images stole imperceptibly
upon my senses … louder swelled the strain of seraphic harmony” (16). It calmed
his violent passions. Then, the sky divided, and “reclining on the viewless
air, was a form of most exact and superior symmetry” (16). Speaking “in a voice
which was rapture itself,” it asked, “Wilt thou come with me—wilt thou be
mine?” (16). Barozzi, upset by the proposition, firmly declined. Upon this, he
heard a deafening noise, and his neck was grasped by the phantom, who turned
hideous. It mocked Barozzi, saying, “‘Ah! Thou art mine beyond redemption,’”
and asked him the same question again (17). Frenzied and terrified, he replied
yes, and awoke. From that day forward, a “deep corroding melancholy usurp[ed]
the throne of [his] soul,” and he dived into philosophical enquiries. There he
found a method for eternal life “connected [with his] dream” (17). He lamented to
Wolfstein that this secret may not be shared with anyone else. Barozzi tells
Wolfstein to meet him at midnight in the ruined Abbey St. Pietro—there, he
says, he will reveal the secret to eternal life.
In the still night, Wolfstein ventures there and descends into
the vaults. He trips over a body, and in horror, finds it to be the body of
Serena. On her face, there was a “laugh of anguish” still remaining, and it was
accompanied by wild, knotted hair. Wolfstein “dashe[s] [her body] convulsively
on the earth” and, consumed by almost-madness, runs into the vaults. Thirsting
for knowledge, he waits patiently, and at the midnight bell, Barozzi appears at
last. Desperation alone pushes Barozzi on. His figure thin and his cheek sunken
and hollow, he greets Wolfstein, saying they must get to work. Barozzi throws
his cloak to the ground, shouting, “I am blasted to endless torment!!!” (19).
The cavern grows darker, and lightning flashes in it. From thin air, “the
prince of terror” emerges. He howls and shouts, “‘Yes… yes, you shall have
eternal life, Barozzi!” (19). Barozzi’s body “moulder[s] to a gigantic
skeleton, yet two pale and ghastly flames glazed in his eyeless sockets” (19).
Wolfstein convulses and dies over him.
The tale ends with a statement from the narrator: “Let the
memory of these victims to hell and to malice live in the remembrance of those
who can pity the wanderings of error” (19). The voice remarks that endless life
should be sought from God, the only one who can truly offer eternal happiness.
Finch, Peter. “Monstrous Inheritance: The Sexual Politics of Genre in Shelley’s ‘St. Irvyne.’” Keats-Shelley Journal, vol. 48, Keats-Shelley Association of America, Inc., 1999, pp. 35–68, http://www.jstor.org/stable/30213021. Accessed 15 November 2021.
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 et al., Westport, Conn, Greenwood Press, 2001, pp. 133–146, ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uva/detail.action?docID=3000461. Accessed 15 November 2021.
——. “The Gothic Romance 1762–1820.” Horror Literature: A Core
Collection and Reference Guide, edited by Marshall B. Tymn., New York &
London, R.R. Bowker Company, 1981. Accessed 15 November 2021.
Potter, Franz J. Gothic Chapbooks, Bluebooks and Shilling Shockers, 1797–1830, University of Wales Press, 2021. Accessed 15 November 2021.
——. The History of Gothic Publishing, 1800–1835: Exhuming the
Trade. Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. EBook Collection (EBSCOhost).
Accessed 15 November 2021.
Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley. St. Irvyne, Or, the
Rosicrucian: A Romance. London, J.J. Stockdale, 1811.
Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. London, The Fortune Press, 1941.
“Vardill, Anna J, John Bailey, John Bailey, and Percy B. Shelley. Wolfstein; Or, the Mysterious Bandit: A Terrific Romance … to Which Is Added, the Bronze Statue, a Pathetic Tale. London: Printed & published by J. Bailey, 116, Chancery Lane, 1822.” Entry in WorldCat. http://uva.worldcat.org/oclc/7130368. Accessed 15 November 2021.
Wolfstein; Or, the Mysterious Bandit: A Terrific Romance … To Which Is Added, the Bronze Statue, a Pathetic Tale. J. Bailey, n.d.
This chapbook, set on the island of Mauritius, tells the forbidden love story of two best friends. The author, Bernardin, lived on this island for a short period and part of this story was inspired by an actual shipwreck he witnessed there.
The volume is 17.8 cm long, 10.8 cm wide. The book lacks a cover and the pages are held together by a half-worn binding spine. The first page is blank and does not include any information like the author’s name or title of the book. This shows that the book had a cover once but was torn off over time. There is a big sticker on the upper left of the first page indicating that the book is the property of the Sadleir-Black Collection. The last page of the book also acts as the last page of the story. There is a relatively larger “FINIS.” printed at the bottom center of the final page. Also printed at the very bottom of this page is “Printed by T. Maiden Sherbourne Lane,” indicating the exact location where the book was produced.
The book does not include any chapters. From beginning to end, the text is continuous and not interrupted by any titles or subtitles which explains why there is not a table of contents page at the beginning of the book.
Turning the pages requires full attention because they are very light and delicate. The first two pages have noticeable discoloration from age. Other pages have some brown and yellow spots resembling fingerprints, but they are mostly in a good condition. Also, on a few pages, there are some deformations in letters that make the reading challenging but not impossible.
At the top of the first page, there is a shortened title of the book, “Paul and Virginia.” This frontispiece page contains an illustration from one of the most thrilling incidents of the book. We see the devastated face of Paul and his companion mourning near Virginia’s dead body. Also, in the background, there is a sinking ship that gives some clue regarding how this incident might have occurred. Below the illustration, there is a caption: “The corpse of Virginia discovered upon the beach” and a page number (41) indicating where in the story this event occurs.
The title page follows, containing the full title of the book, “The History of Paul and Virginia or the Shipwreck.” The title is written with bold and varying font sizes. Some letters have extra inks on them which gives a spillover feeling. The title is followed by the author’s name which is the first and only time it appears. After the author’s name, there is a shipwreck illustration which is a similar version of the frontispiece. At the bottom of the page, the publication details are included which gives information about the publication location, the printer’s name, address of the publication facility, and the publication date. At the very bottom of the page, the price of the book included as “[Price Six-Pence.]”
This chapbook is an abridgement of a much longer novel originally published in French by Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. Paul and Virginia was first published in 1788 as the fourth volume of Studies of Nature in the French language with the original title of Paul et Virginie. The book was translated to English in 1789, for the first time by Daniel Malthus as Paul and Mary: An Indian Story, published in London. The novel is considered the first extensive exotic novel in France, and nineteenth-century authors quoted the book many times. Even though Bernardin’s most famous work is Paul and Virginia, he published many other books as a volume of Studies of Nature. As a result, he became a very popular literary figure during the French Revolution. The king granted him the administration of “Garden of the King” in July 1972 as a result of his literary accomplishments. After the revolution, Bernardin served as a professor of republican morality in the Ecole Normale Supérievre (Cook).
It is believed that, in 1777, Bernardin read selections from Paul and Virginia before its publication in the salon of Suzanne Necker (Cook). Hence, there is a good possibility that Bernardin started to work on his novel over ten years before its publication date. He finished the luxury quarto editing of the novel in 1806. This edition had gorgeous illustrations and designs but did not sell as much as expected. Cook notes that Paul and Virginia “has never been out of print.”
The story of Paul and Virginia is based on an island. A New York Times article, “The First Idea of Paul and Virginia,” explains that Bernardin was designated as an engineer on Madagascar in charge of the road construction team. After over five months of an exhausting voyage, he learned that he had been called in to manage the slave trade. He refused to go to Madagascar and remained instead on the Isle of France. He could not make any friends there because of his political opinions and lived in a solitary state with his only friend, a dog. He spent most of his time studying botany and natural history, and witnessed the wreck of a St. Gérant ship while he was living there. Everyone in the ship died except seven sailors. The Times article explains that the captain of the ship refused to take off his clothes and swim to the shore even though he had the opportunity. It is suggested that Bernardin watched all the incidents from the shore and that this story inspired the author greatly. When Bernardin wrote Paul et Virginie, he changed very few details of this incident.
Paul and Virginia was performed as an opera many times in Europe and North America, including the 1806 production Paul and Virginia: A Musical Entertainment, in Two Acts written by James Cobb. Even though the main scenario of the book was not changed, Cobb added some new characters to the script that do not appear in the book. Another notable opera adaptation was written by well-known French composer Victor Masse. Another New York Times article, “Affairs in France,” gives important details about how Bernardin’s character of Virginia was shaped. According to this article, in regards to the captain who went down with the shipwreck, “It would not be appropriate for a man of his position and dignity to arrive on shore entirely naked; besides he also has valuable state papers.” By contrast, Bernardin’s fictional Virginia was on the same ship and she actually swam to shore almost entirely naked. Virginia was not actually drowned because of her modesty, but the captain was.
Narrative Point of View
The History of Paul and Virginia is narrated in third person by an anonymous narrator with an omniscient point of view. The novel is written in the past tense without using flourished language. The narrator does not dive into the characters’ psychology; instead, the narrator uses simple expressive sentences to describe characters’ internal features and emotions. The story is told by using many flashbacks via Virginia’s letters to her mother which helps the novel to be more dramatic.
In this manner lived those children of nature. No care had troubled their peace, no intemperance had corrupted their blood, no misplaced passion had depraved their hearts. Love, innocence, and piety, possessed their souls: and those intellectual graces unfolded themselves in their features, their attitudes, and their motions. Still in the morning of life, they had all its blooming freshness: and surely such in the garden of Eden appeared our first parents, when coming from the hands of God, they first saw, and approached each other, and conversed together, like brother and sister. Virginia was gentle, modest, and confiding as Eve; and Paul, like Adam, united the stature of manhood with the simplicity of a child. (19)
In the novel, characters generally express themselves with dialogue, however, from time to time the narrator intervenes to portray their relationship in a wider context. The narration in this passage accounts for the intensity of Virginia and Paul’s affection for each other. The narrator justifies why it is morally and even Biblically right for Paul and Virginia to be together by emphasizing the innocence and purity of their relationship and aligning their romantic relationship with the bond of siblings, both of which are encompassed here by the comparison with Adam and Eve.
The novel starts with a long description of the island of Mauritius. The island is described as having a pleasant unbounded landscape that gives the feeling of having uninterrupted solitude to those who live there. The story of Paul and Virginia starts with the narration of an old man. He begins the story by telling important parts of Monsieur de la Tour’s life.
Monsieur de la Tour is a soldier in the French army. He decides to seek his fortune on the island of Mauritius and arrives there in 1726. He brings Madame la Tour with him to settle down and live a peaceful life. Monsieur and Madame de la Tour come from two different social classes. She belongs to a rich and noble family, while he belongs to an ordinary family without high social status. Even though her parents do not approve of this marriage, they marry without obtaining her parents’ permission. Soon, Monsieur de la Tour travels to Madagascar to purchase a few slaves to help him establish a plantation on the island. After landing in Madagascar, he becomes very ill and, after a while, he dies.
Madame de la Tour lives on the island on her own and learns that she is pregnant. She becomes friends with a young woman named Margaret who was abandoned by her husband when he learned she was pregnant. Margaret gives birth to a boy and Madame de la Tour gives him the name of Paul. After a short while, Madame de la Tour gives birth to a girl. This time, at the request of Madame, Margaret gives her the name of Virginia. The similar destiny of Madame and Margaret provides them with a strong friendship and they start to raise their children together. Paul and Virginia spend all their time together as if they are brother and sister.
After Paul and Virginia enter their teenage years, they begin to see each other as more than a friend. They start to express their emotions to each other with poetic descriptions. Even though both of them know there are sexual and romantic feelings between them, neither of them dares to advance their friendship to a romantic relationship at first. Virginia has a difficult time keeping her affection for Paul to herself. Madame de la Tour understands her daughter’s uneasiness and tells her that God placed them on earth to test their virtue and she will be rewarded after if she can be virtuous in this life. Virginia misinterprets her mother’s advice to be that it is not right to have a romantic relationship with Paul. Hence, she refuses to respond to Paul’s affection for her.
In the meantime, Margaret asks Madame about why do not they let their children marry since they have a strong attachment for each other. Madame de la Tour says that they are too young and poor to start a family together. She believes that they would not live a happy life until Paul comes of age to provide for his family by his labor. Virginia’s aunt wants her niece to return to France in order to give Virginia a proper education and help her to marry a nobleman. She also promises to leave all her fortune to Virginia. Madame de la Tour thinks this would be a good opportunity to separate Paul and Virginia until they come to an age where they can build a happy marriage. Virginia sees her mother’s request as a duty and decides to go to France.
One and a half years passes and, finally, a letter arrives for Madame de la Tour. Virginia says that even though she received a very good education on various subjects, she is still not happy to be so far away. Her aunt forces her to renounce the name of “la Tour” which she refuses to do out of respect to her father. In the meantime, Paul dreams about going to France, to be near Virginia and make a great fortune by serving the king. He believes that then Virginia’s aunt will allow them to get married.
After a while, Virginia sends her mother a letter about her aunt’s ill-treatment of her because of her request to marry Paul. The aunt disinherits Virginia and sends back her to Mauritius during hurricane season. Upon Virginia’s arrival on the island, a terrific hurricane appears. As a result, the ship is torn apart. Even though sailors tell Virginia to take her clothes off to be able to swim, she refuses to do so. She stays in the ship and drowns as Paul watches. After Virginia’s death, Paul’s health starts to decline rapidly. He becomes severely ill and dies two months later.
Mary, the Maid of the Inn: or the Secrets of the
Ruins; A Melancholy and Interesting Narrative; shewing the singular way in
which she discovered her lover to be both a Robber and a Murderer; with an
account of his Trial, Conviction, and Execution: Together with her madness and
forlorn wanderings, until she is found frozen to death: to which is added, the
Featuring themes of superstition, mental illness and moral dilemmas, this 1822 chapbook—adapted from a popular Robert Southey poem—follows Mary as she uncovers the terrible crimes of her betrothed and goes mad.
in the Sadleir-Black Collection at the University of Virginia is a copy of Mary, the Maid of the Inn: or the Secrets of the Ruins; A Melancholy
and Interesting Narrative; shewing the singular way in which she discovered her
lover to be both a Robber and a Murderer; with an account of his Trial,
Conviction, and Execution: Together with her madness and forlorn wanderings,
until she is found frozen to death: to which is added, the celebrated
recitation. On the following page the title appears simply as Mary, the Maid of the Inn: or the Secrets of the Ruins. Throughout
the book at the header of every page the title is shortened again and printed
only as Mary, the Maid of the Inn.
This 24-page chapbook measures 6.5 cm by 10.8 cm and is coverless, with the thread-bound spine exposed. The title page lists the publishing location as London and the publisher as Orlando Hodgson, Maiden Lane. No author is listed throughout the text.
particular note is the fold-out color illustration at the front, preceding the
title page, which when extended, measures 21.2 cm by 16.4 cm. In this image, a
female figure, presumably Mary, stands in the foreground of an exterior
setting, expressing horror upon observing in the background two gentlemen
carrying a limp body. The illustration is captioned with the shortened title, Mary the Maid of the Inn and some
illegible writing underneath that seems to have been cut off in the printing
process. The image appears to have been printed lopsided on the page. The
folding lines on the illustration page are made so that the image folds in on
itself and fits the size of the chapbook, thus it is protected from view when
the book is closed.
interior pages of the text feature a small font, with margins ranging from 1 to
1.4 cm in size. The text is justified and appears in noticeably long paragraphs,
leaving very little white space in between.
chapbook features minimal handwriting. Most notable is the date “1822”written in calligraphy on the blank
front (on the opposing side of the illustration)—this is likely the date of
publication. Other handwritings include the word “Romance”written in pencil (presumably by someone else) on the front page
as well as some number-letter combinations – perhaps old library call numbers
which appear to be in the same handwriting as the date.
the bottom of page 23, the words “Plummer and Brewis, Printers, Love Lane,
Eastcheap” appear. The following page, which is not numbered, recites Robert
Southey’s popular poem Mary, the Maid of
the Inn otherwise known simply as Mary.
The recitation appears in a smaller font than the rest of the book and is set
in two columns with a bordering line between.
This chapbook features an additional story after the recitation of Mary, the Maid of the Inn called Durward and Isabelle. This story has no title page (though there is evidence it may have been ripped out) and lists no author. The paper seems to be a lighter color and the format of this additional text differs from Mary, the Maid of the Inn, suggesting it was bound to the original at a later date, baring no evidence that it is in any way related to the first. It is bound by thread, is half detached from Mary the Maid of the Inn, and along the spine is attached what appears to be matted hair—possibly part of the original binding. Remnants of the original book cover also appear on the spine.
Overall, this copy of Mary the Maid of the Inn appears frail, though remarkably intact. It is only its binding to Durward and Isabellewhich appears to be failing and remains attached only by a single thread.
the Maid of the Inn first appeared as a ballad
published in a newspaper by the celebrated poet laureate and author Robert
Southey at the turn of the nineteenth century. Following the initial printing,
the poem was republished in many other periodicals and newspapers. It was so
popular that it was adapted and mass-produced into chapbooks from multiple
printers and publishers and even dramatized into plays. There is no evidence
that Southey himself ever wrote any version of these adaptations. More likely,
one chapbook publisher produced it and many others copied the storyline to
their liking. Southey posits that perhaps the poem’s popularity is due to the
meter used throughout, which he adapted from “Mr Lewis’s Alonzo and Imogene”
(“Poetical Works” 404). He is, of course, here referring to the celebrated
gothic author, Matthew Lewis. According to Southey, the idea for the poem
transpired after a schoolboy told him a story that was said to be true and was
also recorded in ‘Dr Plot’s “History of Staffordshire”’ (“Poetical Works” 404).
During his active years as a poet, Southey
made clear his support for the French Revolution and socialism through works
such as Joan of Arc (Carnall). At one stage, he even considered
emigrating to the United States of America to start a pantisocracy—a society
where everyone is equal in social status and responsibility (Carnall).
While the Sadleir-Black Collection holds at
least three other mid-nineteenth-century chapbook copies of this narrative,
none are exactly the same and all have different publishers. The long titles
have slight variations and none of the narratives are entirely consistent, with
many altered details such as character names and places. This, along with the
variety of publishers and editions, suggests that unlike the poem, the longer
narrative of Mary, the Maid of the Inn was
not written by Southey.
This particular edition published by
Orlando Hodgson in 1822 is also unique in its inclusion of original poetry
throughout the text. Although all three copies have different publishers, one
of the other copies includes an almost identical fold-out color illustration
both done by the same illustrator, John Lewis Marks, recognizable by the
matching signature on each image. There is little information available on this
illustrator, although some of his works appear in the National Portrait Gallery. All three copies include appendices of
Southey’s original poem, which in this edition appears on the final page headed
The play held in the Sadlier-Black collection
titled The Innkeeper’s Daughter: A
Melo-Drama, in Two Acts presents an even looser adaptation of the poem,
whereby the characters have different names, the setting is completely
different with a German theme with German character names and German phrases
Other adaptations of Robert Southey’s poem, Mary, the Maid of the Inn, held in the Sadleir-Black Collection:
The History of Mary, the Maid of the Inn: A Melancholy and Affecting Narrative: Detailing her Unfortunate Attachment, her Singular Courage, and Showing the Miraculous Manner in which she Discovers her Lover to be both a Robber and a Murderer: with an Account of his Trial and Execution; and also Describing the Forlorn Wanderings of the Unfortunate Mary, who Became a Wretched Maniac, and was found Frozen to Death on her Mother’s Grave. From the Celebrated Poem by Robert Southey which is here also added. Publisher: Thomas Richardson
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: DA539 .L56 1837 no.6
Although Mary, the Maid of the Inn is primarily written in the third person,
there are some instances when the narrator uses personal pronouns that indicate
a first-person perspective. The identity of the narrator, however, remains a
mystery. The narrative seems rushed; while the narrator spends a lot of time
describing the characters, a lot less time is spent describing the action.
There is an excessive use of semicolons, creating very long sentences, many of
which make up entire paragraphs. The structure of dialogue is inconsistent; in
some sections, the dialogue is contained in quotation marks which are repeated
at the beginning of each line on which the dialogue continues, where in other
parts the dialogue is written more like a script, with the character stated
before the dialogue and no quotation marks. Throughout the narrative, the
narrator refers to the characters with different names. For example, John
Simpson is also referred to as “Mr Simpson,” “Goodman Simpson,” “Master
Simpson,” and simply “Simpson” in different sections of the text.
KATHLEEN, the cherished rib of mine host of the Wheatsheaf, was a masculine, sour looking female, robust and corpulent, with a ruddy complexion, borrowed from the brandy bottle, and carotty hair; a woman, with whom good humour had long since shaken hands, and parted; indeed, it is strongly suspected that she left her whole stock of it, which never was much, with the parson the day she became a wife; yet to be frequenters of her house, she was all complaisance and subserviency; and acted towards them with an overstrained civility, bordering on meanness. (5)
This excerpt exemplifies the lengthy, colorful,
descriptive language used throughout the text, prioritizing description of
character over narrative action. The narrator here uses many commas and
semicolons rather than any periods, which increases the pace of the narrative.
Kathleen’s name, much like the other characters introduced in the text, is
printed in all caps. Moreover, the narrator uses the pronoun “mine” in a
passage that otherwise reads as third-person narration, suggesting some
narrative intimacy with the characters. At once, the narrator’s assessment of
Kathleen is rather savage.
Mary, the Maid of the Inn opens with a description of an Inn in northern
England named Wheatsheaf. The
innkeeper is John Simpson, who, though he appears to run the inn, comes second
in command to his wife, Kathleen Simpson, who is masculine and sour looking.
Their only daughter, Mary, is alluring in her beauty and she is betrothed to
Richard Jarvis, who although handsome and seemingly respectable, is known to
many others as having an “idle turn” and being “dissolute in his morals” (8).
One stormy night, two horsemen come to Wheatsheaf seeking shelter. They
are welcomed in and treated with special care due to their gentlemanly
appearance. Once settled, Mrs. Simpson entertains the gentlemen with the
history of the deserted monk abbey not far from the inn. She tells them stories
she has heard of ghosts frequenting the abbey. One of the gentlemen knows the
stories but both gentlemen remain sceptical on the truth behind them. Mrs.
Simpson tells them that though nobody ventures there after dark for fear of
spotting a ghost, her daughter Mary frequents the abbey at all hours of the day
and night, seemingly fearless and courageous. After supper, Mary enters the
room to serve punch to the gentlemen and they comment on her beauty. The
gentlemen ask Mary to prove her courage, challenging her to venture to the
deserted abbey, collect a branch from the alder tree that grows there, and
return it to them. They wager her courage for another bowl of punch and a new
bonnet for Mary. Mrs. Simpson insists that she obliges and Mary, with no
choice, readies herself.
Meanwhile, Jarvis waits at his home for his friend Nicholls, intending
to commit a highway robbery that same evening. While he is waiting, Jarvis
feels some guilt and hesitation in his intentions and expresses this to
Nicholls but eventually Jarvis succumbs to Nicholls’s influence. They go to an
alleyway where they know their victim will pass with a plentiful bounty. When
Squire Hearty passes on his horse, they accost him, demanding money. He resists
their efforts drunkenly. One of the men pulls out a pistol and the other cuts
Squire Hearty’s horse’s reins. He is
overpowered. As they drag his body from
the horse, the pistol fires, killing Squire Hearty instantly. The men soon
decide to carry the body to the deserted abbey.
Meanwhile, Mary arrives at the abbey to collect the branch when she is
overcome with a “deadly weight” and ponders what the meaning of it could be
(21). Nevertheless, she plucks the branch from the alder, but hears a voice
that frightens her. She listens carefully and realises there are two voices,
and wonders whether these might really be the voices of ghosts. She is
determined not to believe it and, continuing to listen. she discerns that they
are two men’s voices. She then spies a head and hears footsteps. Hiding behind
a pillar, she sees two men carrying a body between them and she shrieks and
collapses to the ground. The men flee at the sound of her scream, having no
idea where it has come from. Upon recovering, Mary sees that one of the men has
dropped his top hat. She collects it, thinking it may be a useful clue and
returns to the inn in shock of what she has seen. As she tells Mrs. Simpson and
the two gentlemen what happened, Jarvis shows up at the Inn, enquiring after
her. She tells him she has witnessed two murderers disposing of a body but that
she has a top hat, which might help identify them. She realises there might be
a name in the lining of the top hat. She rushes to check the lining and reads
aloud the name “Richard Jarvis.” With no way to escape, Jarvis is detained by
the two gentlemen and sent to trial.
At the trial, Mary grapples with her affection for Jarvis and her moral
obligation. Eventually, in tears, she testifies against Jarvis and Nicholls,
which results in their guilty charge and sentencing to death by hanging. Mary
is horrified by the outcome, shrieks in court, and collapses. Once recovered,
she looks at Jarvis and starts laughing hysterically. She yells to the judge,
“Wretch, hang me up too for I am his murderer.” She then starts attacking
people nearest to her with her fists and is eventually restrained in a
straightjacket. Her father, Mr Simpson, is greatly affected by her performance
and retires to his bed where he eventually dies. Wheatsheaf falls into
disrepair, debt accumulates, and Mrs. Simpson eventually kills herself. Mary’s
“disorder” stabilises into a “fixed and gloomy melancholy” (23). She lives in
the wild off wild fruits and the charity of others. Her body withers away; her
beauty disappears. She is eventually found frozen to death in the snow.
Carnall, Geoffrey. “Southey, Robert
(1774–1843), poet and reviewer.” Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography. January 06, 2011. Oxford University Press. Date
of access 28 Oct. 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/26056
History of Mary, the Maid of the Inn: A Melancholy and Affecting Narrative:
Detailing her Unfortunate Attachment, her Singular Courage, and Showing the
Miraculous Manner in which she Discovers her Lover to be both a Robber and a
Murderer: with an Account of his Trial and Execution; and also Describing the
Forlorn Wanderings of the Unfortunate Mary, who Became a Wretched Maniac, and
was found Frozen to Death on her Mother’s Grave. From the Celebrated Poem by
Robert Southey which is here also added. Thomas
“John Lewis Marks (circa 1796-1855), Publisher and printmaker.” National Portrait Gallery, https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp16780/john-lewis-marks. Accessed 21 November 2019.
the Maid of the Inn, or the Murder at the Abbey. J.
Johnson, 15a, Kirkgate. 1850.
Southey, Robert. Poems by Robert Southey. 2nd ed., Bristol. 1797. Eighteenth
Century Collections Online.
Maid of the Inn: or the Secrets of the Ruins; A Melancholy and Interesting
Narrative; shewing the singular way in which she discovered her lover to be
both a Robber and a Murderer; with an account of his Trial, Conviction, and
Execution: Together with her madness and forlorn wanderings, until she is found
frozen to death: to which is added, the celebrated recitation. London,
Orlando Hodgson, 1822.
Poetical Works of Robert Southey with a Memoir. New
York. 1837. HathiTrust Digital Library.
Soane, George. The Innkeeper’s Daughter: A Melo-Drama, in Two Acts. Neal & Mackenzie,
201 Chestnut Street. Philadelphia. 1828.
In this novella written by John Corry and published in 1803, a nobleman uses an all-female boarding school in England to seduce and subsequently elope a young woman, only to abandon her in France.
The Unfortunate Daughter: Or, the Danger of the Modern System of Female Education was written by John Corry and published on March 1, 1803. This particular printing of the story is found as the second tale in a book labeled Corry’s Tales, sandwiched between two of Corry’s other stories also published by J. Corry in September 1802 and May 1803: Edwy and Bertha; Or, the Force of the Connubial Love and Memoirs of Edward Thornton; Or, a Sketch of the Modern Dissipation in London. In this time, it was common to bind multiple books by the same author to save shelf space in libraries. This single book measures 10.5 cm wide by 17.8 cm tall and totals 192 pages, using 55 pages for Edwy and Bertha, and 72 pages each for The Unfortunate Daughter and Memoirs of Edward Thornton, respectively. The book is half-bound with a leather spine and corners framing a unique marble paper cover that features red ripples running through a black-speckled background. The spine features Corry’s Tales written horizontally in gold print on a red background with five sets of gold lines as embellishment above and below the writing. The front cover shows more signs of wear than the back cover, and the blunted corners suggest that this book was well-read in its shelf life. The inside pages are speckled, yellowed, and softened while some more intact pages retain the look of slight vertical lines like that of watercolor paper. The printing ink appears faded in some sections of the book, namely in the middle, yet it still remains readable. Also, there is one quite substantial rip on a page in The Unfortunate Daughter, although it is unclear when this rip was obtained. Overall, despite obvious signs of use, this version of Corry’s Tales is preserved in decent condition.
On the inside, each story receives its own title page and detailed black and white illustration depicting a scene from within the story. In the case of Edwy and Bertha and Memoirs of Edward Thornton, the illustrations are accompanied by a quote written in cursive directing readers to a specific passage in the respective book with a page number, while the illustration before The Unfortunate Daughter lists “page 70” at the top but lacks a caption. Each story’s title page is structured in a similar way; first, it states the title and sub-title of the story, then the author’s name, followed by a quote from a famous person, and the printing information. All stories except Edwy and Bertha advertise a price of one shilling at the time they were published, equating to around $5 each in modern times. The title pages are followed by a page labeled “Advertisement.” in each story, except that of Edwy and Bertha, which feature a short summary of the story.
Despite these three stories being originally published separately and at different times, the font, line spacing, margins, pagination, and presentation of the title pages remain consistent and unchanged in this printing of Corry’s Tales. The book features a serif font that is well-sized. The text is given plenty of space for readability in this edition of the book—the lines contain small gaps between them, there are large spaces after periods, and the margins are considerable on each side of the page. In terms of textual layout, all three stories feature clear paragraphs and the author uses double quotation marks to indicate dialogue instead of single quotation marks. All three stories include catch words, or the repetition of the last word on the preceding page at the beginning of the following page, and signature marks, or letters systematically arranged A, A1, A2, etc., on the bottom of paragraphs, so that publishers could be assured they were aligning the pages properly. The page numbers are printed inside closed parentheses at the top of each page, and the pagination starts anew at the beginning of each book after the title page or advertisement, respectively.
This book has a fair number of markings in the front likely unique to this printing. On the back of the front cover, there are two separate annotations in graphite pencil. On the page opposite to the front cover, “Thomas Chiviley to his Sister Sarah 21 July 1808” is written in ink suggesting that this book was once owned by Thomas and given as a gift. Immediately below this, there is a graphite smudge showing the remnants of a cursive annotation currently illegible below it. Below this are more pencil markings that resemble a handmade table of contents listing the titles of the stories in the book as well as “Crosby 1803” indicating who the stories were printed for. On the right hand side of the following page, there is one more handwritten memo about Edwy and Bertha. Additionally, there is a small newspaper clipping pressed after the page with the note about Edwy and Bertha advertising the sale of another “fine copy” of one of Corry’s works titled The Gardener’s Daughter of Worcester: or, the Miseries of Seduction. A Moral Tale.
John Corry (fl. 1792–1836), the author of The Unfortunate Daughter, was an Irish-born writer. Corry was a journalist in Dublin and later moved to London (Goodwin). In London, Corry was the editor of a periodical, a member of the Philological Society in Manchester, and a bookseller and publisher at Princess Street, Leicester Square. In his lifetime, Corry produced a broad literary canon including histories, biographies, socio-political satires, and children books. In his early career, Corry mainly focused on poetry shown through his publication of Poems (1780)and later shifted his attention towards histories, biographies, and satirical stories. Corry wrote around eight biographies of famous men including The Life of George Washington (1800) which went on to be reprinted in multiple countries. Corry’s most notable historical work is The History of Liverpool (1810), and he later went on to write at least three other histories of cities in England. As for his fiction writing, Corry wrote a variety of short tales that were typically published in series. The first-published series was Corry’s Original Tales (1798–1800) which included seven short stories. Following that, Corry produced a multitude of other series including: Friend of Youth (1797–1798), Domestic Distresses, exemplified in five pathetic original tales (1806), An Illustration of Passions; or, Man in Miniature (1798), and Tales for the Amusement of Young Persons (1802). Outside of these series, Corry wrote two stand-alone novels—A Satirical View of London (1801) and The Mysterious Gentleman Farmer (1808) (Pitcher 83–90).
The Unfortunate Daughter was published as a novella by Crosby and Co. in 1803, yet sources speculate that this story may have been reprinted from a previous series. It is noted in The Edinburgh Magazine, or Literary Miscellany that The Unfortunate Daughter was published in January 1803 as tale no. 5 in Corry’s Original Tales (“Books and Pamphlets Published in London in January 1803”). However, there appears to be evidence that the story later belonged to a series titled An Illustration of the Passions. This series is known to include Edwy and Bertha, The Miseries of Seduction, The Pleasures of Sympathy, and The Elopement. The second story in this series is also known as The Gardener’s Daughter of Worcester which is the story found on the newspaper clip found in the Sadleir-Black Collection’s edition of The Unfortunate Daughter. Furthermore, Pitcher speculates that this series also includes Memoirs of Edward Thornton, which appeared in a pamphlet with Edwy and Bertha published by Crosby and Co. in 1803 (Pitcher 88). Since An Illustration of the Passions is known to include the two stories that sandwich The Unfortunate Daughter in the Sadleir-Black Collection’s edition of the novella and since it is speculated that other stories belonged to this series, it is possible that The Unfortunate Daughter also belonged to this series.
The Sadleir-Black edition of The Unfortunate Daughter lists J. Corry as the publisher of the novella on March 1, 1803. On the title page, there is a long list of people and companies who the story was printed for: B. Crosby and Co., T. Hughes and M. Jones, Tegg and Castleman, R. Ogle, J. Stuart, and C. Chapple. Most notably, the publisher B. Crosby and Co. was the publisher to whom Jane Austen sent her original manuscript of “Susan,” which was later revised to become the well-known novel Northanger Abbey (Harman). Further, this edition of The Unfortunate Daughter was printed by W. S. Betham. The frontispiece lists the name M. Betham below it, suggesting that he or she was the illustrator.
It is unclear how many different editions of The Unfortunate Daughter there are. WorldCat lists a second edition of the novella that was published in the Baptist pamphlets. This edition has a longer title, The Unfortunate Daughter, or, the danger of the modern system of female education: containing an account of the elopement of a young English lady, with a nobleman, and a shorter length totaling 59 pages, versus the 72 pages found in the Sadleir-Black edition. It is unclear whether the discrepancy in length is due to smaller font and margins or actual textual changes. Additionally, The Unfortunate Daughter can be located on Google Books. This version parallels the appearance of the edition found in the Sadleir-Black Collection.
This edition of The Unfortunate Daughter contains a short advertisement before the story. This functions as an introduction describing the tale’s contents briefly. Furthermore, this edition includes two quotes before the story—one on the title page and one below the advertisement. The quote on the title page is from Alexander Pope’s Epistles to Several Persons and reads: “‘Tis Education forms the common mind, Just as the twig is bent, the tree’s inclin’d.” The quote under the advertisement is from Nicholas Rowe’s The Fair Penitent and reads: “Were you, ye Fair, but cautious whom ye trust; Did you but know how seldom Fools are just; So many of your sex would not, in vain, Of broken vows and faithless men complain.” Similarly to the advertisement, both of these quotes serve as summaries of the lessons that will be taught in The Unfortunate Daughter. Furthermore, the presence of these quotes mirrors the structure found within the novella, as Corry quotes Pope again on page 2 of the story and later quotes a Robert Anderson poem on page 45.
There is no evidence of book reviews or criticisms surrounding The Unfortunate Daughter following its publication. However, some of Corry’s other works were the subject of book reviews in periodicals including Edwy and Bertha, Memoirs of Alfred Berkley, The Detector of Quackery, and The Life of Joseph Priestley. Further, despite its presence on Google Books, The Unfortunate Daughter is rarely cited by modern scholars. The novella is briefly used as an example of traditional female education believes in P. J. Miller’s journal article about women’s education in the eighteenth century (Miller 303–4). However, scholars have not entirely ignored Corry’s canon. For example, Memoirs of Edward Thornton, A Satirical View of London, and The Detector of Quackery have been analyzed as criticisms of urban London culture (Mulvihill).
Narrative Point of View
The Unfortunate Daughter is narrated in third-person by an unnamed narrator adhering to an omniscient point of view. The narration is unadorned and uses rudimentary language to convey major plot points efficiently without the need for additional linguistic flourishing. As such, the sentences are typically simple, making for a quick read. The narrator rarely dwells on characters’ feelings; rather, he focuses on moving the plot along through a series of quickly described events. Further, many sentences deftly employ modifiers to aid in presenting coherent images of different characters and settings. This passage below illustrates the unembellished language and readability of this novella:
Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:
Being a voluptuary who gloried in the seduction of young women, he offered Nannette five hundred a year, on condition that she should engage as governess in a boarding school for young ladies, and assist him in the seduction of the most beautiful girl entrusted to her care. The unprincipled Nannette agreed, and Mrs. V’s school was the place where the most diabolical scheme was to be carried into execution. (13)
The Unfortunate Daughter is set up as a story to illustrate the downfall of women brought about by improper education, as the narrator asserts in the first page of the novella: “Doubtless, many of the unfortunate females who are now ‘prostitute for bread’ in this metropolis, were educated with uncommon care” (5). To address this critique, the narrator briefly pauses to assert his opinion of the female education system at various points in the story. Additionally, the story intertwines various quotations from other prominent literary works. This passage provides an example of the narrator’s interjecting commentary:
Sample Passage of Narrator’s Interjections:
This is one, among many instances, of the pernicious effects of improper female education. Is there then a father or mother solicitous for the future honour and happiness of their daughter, who would entrust her into one of those modern temples of affectation, called Boarding-schools? No; rather let the loveliest part of our species be educated at home, beneath a mother’s guardian eye; or, if the mother be incompetent to the task, let a modest preceptress instruct the blooming girl, beneath that paternal roof, where seduction will not presume to appear, under the assumed name of refinement. This mode of education will preserve the morals of the virgin, and be particularly useful and practicable among those in the middle classes of society; as girls can not only make a regular process in useful and ornamental knowledge, which renders beauty even more amiable; but they may also be initiated in those early-acquired arts of domestic economy, peculiar to their sex. (34–35)
The editorial omniscient point of view gives the narrator substantial power to shape the story as he pleases. Since the novella begins as a warning about female education that will be displayed through a story, The Unfortunate Daughter reads as a cautionary tale with a concrete lesson to be learned, rather than a story picked up for the mere pleasure of reading. The quick, simple sentences also reflect this admonitory tone highlighting that the narrator’s primary goal is to relay his warning without any chance for errors in misinterpretation that could be caused by any ornate diction. Moreover, the supplementary quotations from outside literary works aid readers’ understanding of the narrator’s overarching message. Furthermore, the lack of insight about characters’ inner thoughts emphasizes the story’s focus of demonstrating the dangers that actions, not emotions, can cause in a young woman’s life. The narrator’s commentary, as presented above, also serves to add a satirical edge to The Unfortunate Daughter.
The Unfortunate Daughter recounts the story of Eliza Meanwell, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Meanwell. The family lives in the countryside of England. Eliza has three sisters, Nancy, Maria, and Emma, and she is said to be the most beautiful and talented of them all. Mrs. Meanwell believes that boarding school will provide a worthwhile education for Eliza and persuades Mr. Meanwell to let her attend a boarding school. Mr. Meanwell abides, and Eliza is sent off to an unnamed boarding school owned by Mrs. V.
At school, Eliza begins learning French from her teacher named Nannette Racemier. It is revealed that Nannette used to be married to a man named Lord Wiseacre who later divorced her because she was too spritely. Despite their divorce, Lord Wiseacre offered Nannette a sum to teach at the boarding school to find and seduce an appropriate young woman to be his suitor. Upon Eliza’s arrival, Nannette finds her suitable for Lord Wiseacre and takes Eliza under her wing as her pupil. In addition to teaching Eliza French, she encourages Eliza to take up music, dancing, and jumping rope, as Nannette believes that success in these domains makes women more prone to seduction.
After two years at school, Eliza has grown into a fine, young woman. Nannette gains the headmaster’s permission to leave campus with Eliza on special field trips and decides to take Eliza to the theatre. Here, they run into Lord Wiseacre who later offers the pair a ride back to school; instead, he takes them to his palace where he confesses his love for Eliza and asks for her hand in marriage. Eliza is bashful and intrigued by the offer, but worries about what her dad would think of the proposal. After reflection, Eliza agrees to see Lord Wiseacre again, but the pair does not wed immediately. Back at the boarding school, Nannette continues prepping Eliza to be vulnerable to seduction. In her pursuit, Nannette brings Eliza to an Imperial Female Society meeting, which calls for equality between the sexes, and she later instructs Eliza to read romance novels and to look at scandalous drawings in hopes of brewing her sexuality.
Just as Eliza is deemed ready to elope, Mrs. Meanwell surprisingly comes to the boarding school to take Eliza home. Eliza is upset, and once at home, she acts pretentious, speaks to her family in French, and asks for a special room to conduct her music and dance. Presumably after some time has elapsed, Nannette goes to the Meanwell’s home. Here, she declares that she quit her job at the boarding school and bears news that Lord Wiseacre has a plan for them to escape to Margate via ship and get married there. The next morning, Eliza runs off with Nannette, and they meet Lord Wiseacre at the predetermined meeting space and set sail. However, Lord Wiseacre does not steer the ship to Margate; instead, they land in Dunkirk, France.
Once in Dunkirk, Lord Wiseacre bribes a poor man to pretend to officiate their wedding. Now, Eliza and Lord Wiseacre are “married,” though Eliza does not realize this trick yet. At this point in the book, the narrator intervenes to warn the readers about the dangers of female education in a boarding school, rather than traditional domestic education in their paternal home. The narrator claims that boarding schools offer the promise of refinement of character, which really means that boarding schools make woman more prone to seduction.
After this interlude, Eliza finds a note from Lord Wiseacre that admits his intentions with Eliza revealing that they were never legally married. Further, he advises her to leave him and gives her money to spend on her return home. Eliza runs off and takes shelter at a widow’s house in the French countryside. The widow, whose name is Christine, agrees to shelter Eliza temporarily, as Eliza does not want to return home and face the shame of her parents. Christine attempts to make her feel better by relaying the tragic story of her dead husband, Andre, and her two believed-to-be-dead sons, Henry and James. According to Christine, Andre died before the revolution, leaving only her sons to support her with their farm work. Unfortunately, Henry and James got heavily involved in politics and enlisted in the French army during the revolution. After some time away, Christine received word that both her sons had passed in war. As a result, she is left to live out her days alone.
After some time has passed, it is revealed that Eliza is pregnant which provides further incentive to avoid her childhood home. Meanwhile, Mr. Meanwell searches for Eliza all over England and even submits missing person information to local newspapers without any avail, as Eliza is in France not England. Back at Christine’s, someone knocks on the door, and it happens to be Henry with his wife, Fatima, which is revealed later. Henry tells Christine that he was sent to Egypt and recounts stories of multiple battles and horrific scenes that he encountered in his time abroad at war. During a battle in Egypt, Henry prevents his troops from killing an enemy soldier. At this point, the enemy introduces himself as Amurath and expresses his gratitude to Henry by surrendering himself as Henry’s prisoner. Soon after, Amurath introduced Henry to his wife and his daughter, Fatima, at a feast. Having grown fond of Henry, Amurath told him that if he were to die in combat, he would entrust Henry with his estate and the lives of his wife and Fatima. Soon after this, Amurath died in an intense battle, leading Henry to sell his estate, move back to France with Amurath’s wife and daughter, and marry Fatima. The couple presumably leaves Christine’s house after telling this story.
In the winter, Eliza gives birth to a baby boy who dies just a few days later. Eliza falls into a depressive episode, and her health eventually resolves by the spring. Christine convinces Eliza to return home, and Eliza abides; however, Eliza reneges upon her return to England and seeks out shelter with a farmer not far from her childhood home. She passes some months here, and one day coincidentally runs into her father on a walk. Her father forgives her, and she lives at home for a while. Ultimately though, her parents send her to live out her life with a distant relative elsewhere in England.
“Books and Pamphlets Published in London in January 1803.” The Edinburgh Magazine, Or Literary Miscellany, 1785-1803, 1803, pp. 141–44.
Corry, John. The Unfortunate Daughter: Or, the Danger of the Modern System of Female Education. London, J. Corry, 1803.
Goodwin, Gordon. “Corry, John (fl. 1792-1836), writer.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept. 23, 2004, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/6357. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019.
Harman, Claire. “Jane Austen (1775–1817).” British Writers, Retrospective Supplement 2, edited by Jay Parini, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002, pp. 1–16. Literature Resource Center, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX1383100011/LitRC?u_viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=342fce08. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019.
Miller, P.J. “Women’s Education, ‘Self-Improvement’ and Social Mobility—A Late Eighteenth Century Debate.” British Journal of Educational Studies, vol. 20, no. 3, Taylor & Francis, Ltd., Oct. 1972, pp. 302-314, DOI: 10.2307/3120775. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019.
Mulvihill, James D. “Romantic London: John Corry and the Georgic City.” Studies in the Literary Imagination, vol. 40, no. 1, 2007, Literature Resource Center, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A180642018/LitRC?u=viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=0215b794. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019.
Pitcher, E.W. “The Miscellaneous Works of John Corry (1760?–1825?).” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 80, no. 1, 1986, pp. 83–90.
Published in 1847 and written by the mysterious Ellen T., Ravensdale follows the intersecting love stories of characters across societal boundaries, while capturing love’s vivacity, disparity, and ultimate fatality.
Ravensdale: A Romance is a leather and sheep-skin bound book with a hard
cover lined in navy cloth. The book’s binding is an orange hue and the cover is
not comprised of distinct detail or decoration. The title of the book is
engraved simplistically in the middle on the spine, and the cover is blank. The
full title only appears on the title page, and the shortened title, Ravensdale, appears at the top left-hand
side of each page and is the title engraved on the binding. As for the title
page, the font remains simplistic and uniform to the rest of the book’s text.
However, the title of the book is printed in a different, more formal font, and
appears as though it was printed separately from the initial printing of the
book. The rest of the title page is blank except for the bottom where the
printing and publishing information is given: “1847 / London: Printed by E.
Lloyd, Published by G. Purkess; Compton street, Soho; Strange Paternoster row.”
The illustrator is not acknowledged, and there are no illustrations in the introductory pages of the book. The first illustration appears on the beginning page of Chapter 1. Before Chapter 1, there is a page-long, anonymous preface unveiling to the reader the unattributed work of the author, Ellen T.
The book is decorated simply, with subtle decorative elements that add some embellishment to the book’s cheap production. There is a decorative letter at the beginning of Chapter 1, and each of the following chapters begin with a short poem. The edge of the novel is slightly rough and is speckled with burgundy paint for decorative distinction.
The cover of the book is 13.2 cm wide and 21 cm long and filled with 116 pages. These pages are filled with small, closely-set text, which makes for relatively wide margins. Ravensdale’s text is faint-black due to weathering, use, and printing; however, on some pages the text appears to be inconsistently bolded.
The pages are yellowed with the edges slightly browning from aging and storage. On some pages, there are brown speckles that appear on the corners. The book’s pages are well intact and are firm and stiff when turning the page. Some pages have oil stains due to prior handling, but the stiffness of the pages suggests a strong binding and that the book was handled somewhat infrequently.
Visually, the book lacks
uniqueness. There are subtle decorative elements that give Ravensdale individuality, however outside of these elements, the
book was produced simplistically and cheaply. The book has black and white
illustrations that appear relatively frequently and are uncaptioned. These
illustrations represent significant scenes in the chapter, the Chapter 1-page
illustration displaying the two main characters standing under their favorite
tree, a willow. Black and white illustrations were less expensive than colored
illustrations to produce: after printing the initial black and white image,
color was placed by another printing or by hand. Thus, adding color and extra
detail to these illustrations was too expensive for the production of this
a 116-page book printed and published by Edward Lloyd, George Purkess, and
William Strange in London. The title page gives the printer and publisher
information, revealing the novel’s publishing location of Compton Street and
Paternoster-Row. The author is identified as Ellen T., withholding her last
name. Ellen T. was a nineteenth-century writer who has written two other books
titled Rose Sommerville: Or, A Husband’s
Mystery and a Wife’s Devotion. A Romance and Eardley Hall. Rose
Sommerville was published
the same year as Ravensdale (1847),and Eardley Hall was published in 1850.
printed by Edward Lloyd, a nineteenth-century printer who has been called “the
father of the cheap press” (Humphreys). He operated a publishing empire founded
on “penny bloods” and optimized on this emerging mass market. He spearheaded
printing, advertising, and distributing techniques that helped with mass
production of these publications. His career began with printing volumes of
cheap novels, and then he shifted to printing newspapers; one of his early
publications was Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper,
which became widely successful. His original office was located on Curtain Road
in Shoreditch, but then he relocated in 1843 to 12 Salisbury Square. He
published, often unlawfully, the works of famous authors, however he also
published the works of smaller, underappreciated authors like Harry Hazel,
Faucit Saville, Mrs. M. L. Sweetser, and B. Barker. Lloyd was notorious for
aggressive advertising and for undercutting competitor’s prices, often by
plagiarizing. His most famous newspaper was Lloyd’s
Penny Sunday Times and People’s Police Gazette. Ellen T. was one of the
smaller authors that Lloyd printed, and multiple of her works were printed by
him and her poems were published in his newspapers (Humphreys).
also printed and published by George Purkess and William Strange. Both
companies were operated in London; George Purkess worked out of his Compton
Street office, and William Strange’s office was located on 21 Paternoster-Row
(Lill). Purkess was known for his dealing of cheap fiction in the 1840s, and
Strange was known as a significant publisher of cheap literature for working
classes, specifically in more urban areas (Anglo 81). Yet, Strange was also
involved in more satirical publishing: his most famous publication was a comic
journal titled Figaro in London.
Strange involved himself in various activities of rebellion, like the
resistance of newspaper stamps and other “taxes of knowledge,” while also
linking himself to various libel and infringement of copyright cases (Bently
238). Strange and Purkess were regarded as popular figures in radical
publishing movements of the 1830s. Throughout their careers, both Strange and
Purkess were regarded as publishers who moved between “radical politics,
literary populism and popular enlightenment” (Haywood 133). These two men
exploited savvy strategies often used by prolific publishers at the time,
combining both the publishing of popular, cheap penny bloods and short
publications to fund new and rousing periodicals; two of their most popular
being the Monthly Theatrical Review and
the Girl’s and Boy’s Penny Magazine
two editions. One is the edition published in 1847 held in the University of
Virginia’s Sadleir-Black Collection and in the libraries of Yale, Notre Dame,
and the British Library, both digitally and physically. Another version of Ravensdale was published in The Ladies’ Journal: A Newspaper of Fashion,
Literature, Music, and Variety which can be found in the British Library (Léger-St-Jean).
The Ladies’ Journal was an extension
of Lloyd’s newspaper that ran from April 3 to September 18, 1847. Ravensdale
was one of four texts published in the extension: the other texts were Widow Mortimer. A Romance,
The Pirate Queen,and The
Creole. This newspaper was one of Lloyd’s unsuccessful publications and ran
for a shorter period of time (Léger-St-Jean). Ellen T.’s other works were
featured in Lloyd’s publications; specifically, her poems “To Christmas”and “Lines on a Birthday”
were featured in The People’s Periodical
and Family Library. In the 1847 edition of Ravensdale, there is an
anonymous preface detailing the unappreciated nature of the author. It ends
with “London, November 1847,” and expresses the talent of the author. In Ellen
T.’s other novel, Rose Sommerville,
another anonymous preface exists, and it portrays the methods and wants of the
Point of View
is narrated in third person through an anonymous character who is not
interwoven within the novel’s plot. This narrator frequently uses
differentiating descriptors in order to convey certain character’s
dispositions. When describing the two Clavering sisters, Grace and Edith, the
narrator juxtaposes each description: Edith is often described with a sense of
earnestness and fragility, whereas Grace is described with sublime diction. The
narrator primarily uses dialogue for plot progression, and thus does not apply
large amounts of narrative authority over the description of events. However,
the narrator interrupts dialogue for eloquent character description, often
detailing the characters’ temperaments flamboyantly. She deploys flowery
diction when choosing to describe characters, often theatrically illustrating
their emotions. Yet, she sometimes decides to include generalized comments on
the plot progression, which occasionally reveal a narrative presence.
Additionally, in order to dramatize certain moments of emotional uncertainty,
the narrator adds exclamations and rhetorical questions as if attempting to
converse with the reader. On some occasions, the narrator directly engages with
the reader, demanding that he regard a character’s actions in a certain way.
The reader must conceive with what transport this billet was perused, and how rapturously the young man carried it to his lips–how fondly each little word was treasured in his memory. Oh! ‘tis sweet to trace, in the letters of those we love, the soft breathings of a spirit that yearns for our return, to whom all things are as nothing while we are not. Thus felt Edward Villiers, as he read with a throbbing bosom the letter that was penned by Grace, her whom he was seeking to forget; and though her true sentiments towards him were concealed beneath the veil of feminine modesty and true of feeling, he saw sufficient to convince him that he was loved–that he had inspired her with no transitory or evanescent passion for himself, but a love that bade defiance to all obstacles that was no more easy to be extinguished than the flame that was likewise kindled in his own breast. (26–27)
This passage both demonstrates the
narrator’s engagement with the reader while also exemplifying the narrator’s
descriptive style. Instead of mere depiction of progressing events, this
anonymous narrator interrupts pivotal moments of plot progression and connects
directly with the reader. When summoning the reader’s attention, the narrator
desires him to internalize the sentiments described and prompt internal
reflection. She calls on the reader to look within himself and think back to a
past memory where he felt the same emotion. She shifts from third-person
perspective and employs first person narrative with her use of “we” and “our.”
The narrator asks the reader to join her in telling this story, suggesting that
personal attachment provides advantageous insight that grasps the complexity of
characters and their accompanied emotions. In the latter half of this passage,
the narration resumes its ordinary form, providing ornate description of the
character’s state of mind and observations. She describes the emotions felt by
Edward when receiving the letter from Grace, utilizing physical elements of
Edward’s body to personify the extent of his love. Instead of describing
intense emotion, the narrator often uses physical elements in hope of capturing
the authenticity of the character’s emotions. She deploys phrases like “a
throbbing bosom,” and “the flame that was likewise kindled in his own breast,”
which depict the physicality of Edwards love for Grace, and this allows for a
deeper clarity on the extent to which the two love each other. Ultimately, the
narrator wants the reader to intensely connect with the emotions described.
with the introduction of the Clavering family, centering around the two amiable
cousins of Grace and Edith, who differ in disposition, but hold the utmost
strength of family companionship. Edith embodies the essence of gentility and
loving nature, her soft countenance and sweetness extending through all of her
relationships. Juxtaposing this nature, Grace contains wild exuberance, and
carries a powerful vivacity. Arthur and Grace are both children of Ms. Manning,
the sister of the countess of Clavering, and Edith the daughter of the
countess. After the birth of Grace, an incurable illness imposes itself upon Ms.
Manning, and she bestows a wish of the marriage between the two cousins: Arthur
and Edith. Upon the death of Ms. Manning, the countess intends for her wish to
come true. Edith then reaches the maturity that shows she is fit for marriage.
Upon Arthur’s maturity, he travels around Europe and Edith anticipates his
return. Fully aware of his destiny to marry Edith, Arthur is instantly
enchanted by her sweetness and beauty, and the Claverings prepare for the
highly anticipated ceremony. One of the guests at this beloved ceremony is
Edward Villers, a former acquaintance of Arthur’s. Grace is given the task of
properly entertaining this unknown visitor, and the two become pleasantly
acquainted. In their time together, Edward suggests that Arthur’s heart contains
not just Edith but another—a former lover from his travels. Yet, Grace is
assured by Edward that this connection is indeed former. Edward and Grace
acquire a mutual appreciation for each other and promise to see each other
After Edward’s return to
London, we are introduced to Catherine Montravers, a governess to a wealthy woman,
Mrs. Porters, and a teacher of her children, while rushing along the streets of
Paris. Simply dressed, Catherine is a dark and intricate beauty with
magnificent raven features. She is introduced in a state of anguish as she is
stopped on the street by an admirer, Ernest Moreton, who shows a deep concern
in her mental fragility and ill health. When she returns to her school room, the
reader learns of her despairing solitude and afflictions with a former lover.
In London, Edward is struck
by ennui, and expresses to his family
and a close friend, Helen, his love for Grace and his wishes to marry her. Mrs.
Villers suggests the disparity in their social standings and proposes Helen to
be a better pairing for him: a dutiful, devoted, and helpful woman. Edward
refuses, and exclaims his determination to marry Grace.
Edith and Arthur are
married, yet Edith is struck by an apparent uneasiness about Arthur’s devotion
to her. Grace’s fondness for Edward grows, and she becomes aware of her love
for him and wishes to see him again. She expresses her sentiments to Edith, who
appears uneasy with Grace’s decision to marry outside her class. While the two
sisters converse, a letter appears by a servant addressed to Arthur, and Edith
attempts to retrieve it. Instead, Grace possesses the letter and throws it into
We return to the story of
Catherine, who while sitting in her school room, receives two letters from her
former lover. She is afflicted by their contents and continues her melancholic
suffering when Mr. Porter expresses an interest in returning to London.
Arthur, known as the Earl of
Clavering, Edith, and Grace attend the Opera where they are met by Edward.
Grace and Edward express their love and mutual wishes to marry, which Arthur rejects. Yet, this
does not stop their dedication, and Grace conveys her intentions of disobeying Arthur’s
marital wishes for her.
Meanwhile, Helen expresses
her love for Edward, and Edward fabricates his ignorance towards her affections
and explains that if aware, he would have asked for her hand if not already
promised to Grace. He requests that she leave the Villers household with a
promise to return to her if rejected by Grace. Meanwhile, Edith happens upon a
letter left behind by Arthur, and believing it is intended for his mother,
reads it. The letter is actually addressed to Catherine, and Edith is awakened
by the bitter reality of her husband’s love for another.
In the midst of this
contention, the reader is introduced to three men: Edward Moreton, Christopher
Warden, and John Lawton. The three are discussing Morten’s love for Catherine,
when Marie, the former lover of Christopher, enters and is described as a soft
and changing beauty. She professes her love and destitution to Christopher, and
he agrees to support her, but orders her and their unborn child to distance
themselves from his deteriorating illness. Marie resists, insisting her
devotion and desire to care for Christopher, but Lawton insists on this
separation. After observing the conversation between Christopher, Lawton, and
the neglected Marie, Moreton tends an emerging dislike for these two men and a
restless desire to investigate their character.
When returning to the
household of the Villers, Catherine hears of the disappearance of her sister,
Helen, and comes to immediate aid. Convinced that Helen’s disappearance is
inextricably linked to Edward, she writes him a letter impersonating Helen and
asks him to meet in the middle of the night.
Consistent with the promises
of Lawton, Marie is brought to the establishment of Madame Chevasse, an elderly
woman with sharp eyes and cunning disposition. In evaluating and feeling
assured of her cruelty, Marie refuses to stay with Madame and allow her to care
for her unborn child. Lawton again insists that Christopher’s support only
reaches so far, and her refusal of Madame’s care will cause a further disunion
between them. Marie then agrees to Madame’s hospitality.
In anticipation of her
nightly rendezvous, Catherine appears at the meeting place before its expected
time, when she sees a dark figure approaching her. Arthur, her former lover,
emerges from the darkness and professes his love and undying desire to provide
for her every need. She is sickened by his advances and exclaims that although
his status allows the exemption of punishment, his complete neglect of her
warrants her reprehensibility and hatred. Arthur pushes back on her claims
until Edward approaches the meeting place. Arthur hides, and Edward begins to
explain, to whom he perceives as Helen, his supposed marriage to Grace. Then,
Arthur jumps out from the bushes and yells that this marriage will no longer be
held. Arthur describes Edward’s unworthiness of marrying his sister, and that
the only way that he can redeem his character is through a duel.
Catherine finds Helen’s
place of habitation, and the two again reconcile their inseparable sisterhood. Catherine
councils Helen never to see Edward again, as his devotion still lies with
Grace. Yet, Helen refuses and attempts to convince Catherine of his love.
Catherine rejoices in their rekindled sisterhood, but she still shows
apprehension for her sister’s dedication to Edward.
The reader returns to the
residence of Madame Chevasse, where Lawton specifies the intended role of her
caretaking, which is one of ultimately killing Marie’s unborn child. Lawton
expresses that with Christopher’s life-threatening illness, he will be unable
to provide a righteous life for their child. Madame Chevasse agrees to Lawton’s
request, yet demands an expensive reward. She then begins this process by
poisoning Marie, which leads to her ultimate death.
In response to the events of
his rendezvous with Catherine and Arthur, Edward writes a letter to Grace
explaining the misunderstanding. Grace receives this letter while confronted by
Arthur about Edward’s character and unworthiness of her hand. Grace assures Arthur
that his allegations are false. Grace and Edward meet again and reconfirm their
mutual love for one another, and Edwards professes his intention to convince
Arthur of his love. Meanwhile, Helen writes a letter to Edward, demonstrating
her relentless devotion.
It is then that Lieutenant
Marston, an acquaintance to Arthur, presents himself to Edward and conveys a message.
The Lieutenant reveals Arthur’s wishes to duel Edward in his sister’s honor, with
the man who prevails deciding Grace’s marital fate. The Lieutenant explains
that he will be a third-party preparing Edward for this scheduled duel, and the
two become acquainted.
Meanwhile, Ernest Moreton
confronts Lawton and Christopher about Marie’s death, and insists that Lawton is
guilty of this monstrous crime. He then announces his quest for revenge, and
the conversation ends with Christopher’s desire to look upon his deceased
The final rejection of
Helen’s devotion by Edward sufficiently extinguishes her passion and hope
towards their elopement. Coupled with Catherine’s dismissal from governess of
Mrs. Porter, the two decide to live together.
As Lieutenant Marston
prepares Edward for the upcoming duel, the two obtain a mutual like for each
other, and the good nature of the Lieutenant’s character is acknowledged. The
day of the duel comes, and it results in the life-threatening injury of Edward.
Edward is rushed to the nearby cottage of Helen and Catherine, where Helen
tends to him with undying devotion.
Meanwhile, Lawton and
Christopher visit Marie’s corpse. Christopher is alarmed by the haunting
spectacle that has taken Marie’s place and repeatedly exclaims the foolishness
of his visit. Madame Chevasse and Lawton continue to hide their responsibility
for her death, however Morten observes them with a skeptical eye and believes
that he has caught their criminality. After this fateful visit, Christopher is
never the same and the intensity of his illness brings him to his mortal
Helen’s suppressed devotion
towards Edward resurfaces in full force after his injury, but her relentless
care is not enough, and Edward dies from his honorable duel. When notified of
her lover’s death by Arthur, Grace falls into a deep sadness, an illness that
removes all of her recent memories and convinces her that her marriage to
Edward will still occur. In hope for this bliss to remain, the Claverings
decide to entertain Grace’s absence from reality. On her imagined wedding day,
Grace drowns in the river where she attempts to meet Edward, and the Claverings
mourn their spirited daughter’s loss.
Meanwhile, the Lieutenant
provides Catherine and Helen their first group of pupils at their shared
cottage, while also developing a great appreciation and love for Helen. After
frequent visits to the cottage, the good-natured Lieutenant asks for Helen’s
hand in marriage, which she accepts. Finally, Catherine is visited by Ernest
Moreton and his mother, who demonstrate a great respect for her character, and
Ernest asks for her hand in marriage.
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