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

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

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

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


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


Material History

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

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

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

This page of Angelina is missing letters in many places.

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration: 

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

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

Sample Passage of Direct Address:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Samara Rubenstein

Roxalana

Roxalana

Roxalana: Or, the Step-Mother. An Historic Tale

Author: Unknown
Publisher: Ann Lemoine and J. Roe
Publication Year: 1806
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11.5cm
Pages: 36
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .R736 1806


Published in 1806 by an unknown author, Roxalana: Or, the Step-Mother is tragic tale of family disputes and an undying jealousy leading to a family’s demise.


Material History

Roxalana: Or, the Step-Mother. An Historic Tale is a gothic text in English originally published in London by an unknown author. The text comes in the form of a chapbook with no indication of the title on the cover page, however we do know it was published in 1806 and “by and for J. Roe.” As the book was gifted to the Sadlier-Black Collection, there is no concrete history of the potential author or the context in which it was written. The title appears often, most notable on the inside of the cover page and again on the second page. Its first appearance is under a black and white illustration depicting the inside of a living room and a woman who we can assume to be the stepmother. The illustration is carefully drawn with meticulous lines shaping the room and person within. The second page portrays the title in large, spacious lettering in black ink with still no indication of the author. The title appears again at the top of every page as Roxalana.

These pages capture the illustration and title page for the opening of the chapbook

The chapbook itself is only 36 pages long with a length of 11.5 cm, its size is quite a bit smaller than the average hand. The condition of the text is extremely fragile with the first and last page hardly retaining their attachment to the rest of the pages. The paper is very thin and brittle, banded simply together with no distinct border. The faint binding remnants reflect a somewhat thicker cardboard material decorated with once brown and gold details. The only stylistic elements on the cover page is the faint impression of the illustration on the inside cover. We can easily observe the delicate nature of the chapbook, with the yellowing brown pages and pages threatening to fall out. Its worn state indicates its usage and its light weight contributed to its easy, cheap exchange. As the illustration is also in black and white, we can expect this book to have cost a small amount of money.

When analyzing the inside of the book, we can see the font is precise and aligned to allow greater space on the inner margins of the pages as opposed to the outer margins. Despite this, there is not a lot of blank space as the words have assumed a large portion of the compact page. The font initially seems small, however it still allows for easy reading without an overcrowding of words. There are no other illustrations within the chapbook save for the illustration on the inside of the cover page. In exploring potential signs to indicate prior ownership, there are no visible marks in the text nor on the cover pages; there are no stamps, stains, or names besides “I. Roe.” Staying true to making the most of out of the available space, the ending of the book finishes on the second side of the last page. Despite the compact size, the story covers a large amount of geographical space within the Middle East; this contrast seems to give the physicality of the chapbook another dimension.


Textual History

Roxalana: Or, the Step-Mother, An Historic Tale was published in 1806 by John Roe and Ann Lemoine and printed by Thomas Maiden in London. The author of the text is unknown and there are no concrete sources definitely tracing a potential author. John Roe and Ann Lemoine were book publishers in the late eighteenth century; both partook in bookselling and often worked alongside Thomas Maiden to publish numerous texts. However, because of the sheer number of books these three collectively worked on, there is still no positive inclination towards one particular author of Roxalana. Despite this ambiguity, there are a few avenues that can provide for greater contextualization of the story.

One of the inside pages containing text of Roxalana

This text is a chapbook published in English. There are no prefaces, introductions, prequels, or sequels to further guide the direction of the narrative. In approaching Roxalana through a historical lens, however, the character is indeed based off of a real historical figure in the 1500s, Aleksandra Lisovska or Hurrem Sultan in Turkish. Roxalana was a Slavic woman who was sold into the slave market at a young age to an acquaintance of Sultan Suleiman. Soon thereafter, she entered the harem and eventually became the legal wife of the sultan, a feat considered quite extraordinary. She bore him five sons and amounted a great deal of power over the course of her relationship. In grappling with Roxalana from this perspective, the reader can see the realistic aspects of the story as it derives from a nonfiction narrative (Parry).

An earlier version of Roxalana appeared in The London Magazine, Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer in 1769 as The History of Mustapha and Roxalana. The content of the story mirrors the 1806 version despite the changes in details and writing. In the 1769 story, a major difference in the plot is the father killing one of the sons rather than servants proceeding with the murder.

Another version appears in The British Moralist; or, Young Gentleman and Lady’s Polite Preceptor, a two-volume collection of “novels, tales, fables, visions, dreams, allegories” published in 1771. The collection’s title page lists several authors and then further indicates the inclusion of other “Celebrated Moderns.” Within this collection, Roxalana appears in The Merciless Mother-in-law; or, The History of Mustapha and Roxalana; a story similar to the 1806 version and the authorship listed as“from Dr. Robertson’s Charles the Fifth” (276). Dr. William Robertson was a Scottish minister and Principal of the University of Edinburgh, his work History of Charles the Fifth is part of a larger volume of works. His work A History of the Middle Ages: Describing the Progress of Society in Europe from the Subversion of the Roman Empire to the beginning of the sixteenth century extensively covers historical and geographical details, such as a deeper look into the Ottoman Empire, omitted from other versions.

The multiple versions in addition to the 1806 printing indicate that there was a market for this story. The various places Roxalana can be located also implies that the audience ranged from those who could only afford chapbooks to those who had the money to purchase Dr. Robertson’s historical books. There are no reviews of the story that can readily be found in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century newspapers, however Roxalana reflects a longer tradition of European fascination with the Middle East.


Narrative Point of View

Roxalana, or the Stepmother is narrated from a third-person point of view. The narrator remains anonymous and never self-identifies through any means throughout the story. The narrator uses simple yet regal language; the plot is not overly detailed, however the specific vocabulary used reflects royal aura of the main ruling family. Further, the narrator is very exact in tone as the story unfolds and the audience is invited to read the story as if it were true. This echoes in the latter half of the title—An Historic Tale—as the narrator contextualizes the tale by providing historic details and geographical mobility. While the narrator does not provide excessive details, the narration still offers interiority of the multiple characters in a transparent, thorough way.

Sample Passage:

Roxalana being now raised in a co-partnership in the empire, and absolute mistress of the Sultan’s will, took upon her the administration of affairs; and soon made those that composed the Ottoman court, feel the powerful effects of her hatred or good-will. Her aversion for Mustapha increased with the report of his virtues, and her blind tenderness for Bajazet with the knowledge of his vices. She even thought it her duty to repair his visible defects, by the procession of an empire, and that a dignity of that high nature was alone capable of justifying her ill-grounded preference. As for Selim, a blended mixture of vice and good qualities composed his character; and if he sympathised in any thing with Bajazet, it was only in their desire of reigning. (8)

In this passage, the style of the narrator is evident, displaying evocations of empire and a regal atmosphere. While the focus is on Roxalana’s thoughts, the narrator also codes Mustapha, Bajazet, and Selim by explaining just enough for the audience to understand their respective characters. Another significant feature of the narrative style is how the narrator is able to adopt a classic oral storytelling voice.  


Summary

Roxalana: Or, the Step-Mother, An Historic Tale centers on a royal Turkish family in the Ottoman Empire period. The story opens up with a discussion of women and their feminine charm, specifically how women can manipulate their charm to be powerful enough to rule over men and societies.

The first page with the beginning of Roxalana

The narrator then introduces the family through this sentiment by bringing in Solyman, the current Sultan, and characterizing him as a just, respected ruler. Solyman had a Georgian wife, who passed away, with whom he had his first son, Mustapha. Solyman continues to have affairs with other women and a particularly powerful relationship with one Turkish servant, Roxalana. The story describes Roxalana as an evil stepmother capable of severe malevolence and intensely wicked in intention and actions. Together, Roxalana and Solyman have four boys and one daughter: Mahomet, Selim, Bajazet, Zeangir, and Cameria.

Solyman’s prized possession is his first son Mustapha and it is through this love that Mustapaha eventually marries and becomes a respected Prince of Amazia, a neighboring region. Roxalana utterly despises Mustapha and desires her son, Bajazet, to be the successor after Solyman’s death. To execute such a role, she realizes the importance of formally wedding Solyman and thus deceives a religious figure into blessing the matrimony of the pair; she then unleashes her limitless cruelty in securing her son’s position as Sultan. Bajazet and Selim take after their mother’s temperament while Zeangir imitates Mustapha’s renowned demeanor, prompting him to join Mustapha. During Zeangir’s stay with Mustapha they fall into battle with the Sophi of Persia and his army, resulting in Mustapha’s win over the Sophi. Mustapha’s grace extends to even the war prisoners, creating an almost peaceful, mediated space between the rivaling forces. Zeangir assumes power over one of Persia’s territories and falls in love with the Sophi’s daughter, Perselia. Zeangir confides in Mustapha about his love for Perselia and eventually, with Mustapha’s permission, leaves to pursue her after she returns to her home in Tauris. There, Zeangir meets with an anxious Perselia to profess his love and further intensify his goal of marrying her. Perselia responds by indicating the inappropriateness of their private conduct (regarding different sexes) and encourages him to offer a truce with the Sophi, who similarly wants an end to the conflict. Zeangir realizes the critical nature of securing this truce in wanting to marry Perselia, thus he quickly leaves and returns to Mustapha.

Mustapha accepts the news willingly and secretly, unbeknownst to Solyman, sends an offer to the Sophi through a servant, Achmet, who later proves to be disloyal. Throughout this unfolding, Roxalana continues to wreak havoc by inducing paranoia in Solyman regarding his sons and taking steps to ensure the destruction of Mustapha. Solyman discovers the offer Mustapha makes and through Roxalana’s authoritative influence becomes enraged over his son’s actions. He then issues for the kidnapping of Perselia and summons his sons in Amazia to return to his palace. Roxalana continues to scheme and employs Rustan, the husband of her daughter, as her loyal ally in carrying out her horrors. When Bajazet falls in love with the captive Perselia, Roxalana and Rustan deceptively create traps for the other men to fall into: they prevent Bajazet from seeing Perselia (whom Roxalana despises), distract Zeangir by letting him meet with Perselia, and convince Solyman of his ultimate demise due to Mustapha wanting to overthrow him. Roxalana creates a lie regarding Mustapha’s desire to replace Solyman and elicits terror in Solyman.

This page shows the closing of the chapbook

Solyman, fearing replacement, orders Rustan and his men to murder Mustapha in order to retain his position as Sultan. Rustan and his men pursue Mustapha, who has realized his stepmother’s evil character, and succeed in murdering him despite Mustapha’s fighting stance. Zeangir, whom Perselia warned about the cruelty in Roxalana and Rustan, discovers he is too late and rushes to the bloody scene of his dead brother. Zeangir and many army men endure great agony in seeing the death of their beloved leader and mobilize to discover the cause. Zeangir then faces his father and accuses him of submitting to Roxalana’s influence and his own weaknesses. Zeangir then stabs himself in the breast and dies while Solyman finally realizes the truth of the situation.

Despite Solyman acknowledging the truth, he still persists in obeying Roxalana’s wishes and mourns her greatly after her natural death two years later. Prior to her death, Roxalana and Rustan force Solyman to consent to the death of Mustapha’s wife and child. Perselia returns to her father and is followed by Bajazet, who is still strongly in love with her in spite of Perselia’s disgust towards him. Solyman, overcome with grief and guilt, orders for the murder of Bajazet in the same fashion Mustapha had been murdered. Solyman eventually passes away with old age and Selim assumes the role of the next Sultan, a role portrayed as respected and fair. 


Bibliography

“The History of Mustapha and Roxalana.” The London Magazine or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer, vol 38, 1769.  https://books.google.com/books?id=RxUrAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA345&lpg=PA345&dq=roxalana+or+the+step-mother&source=bl&ots=U_Wbsu68Zk&sig=ACfU3U3MgAbpB7t8EGLD9roeELty0juQqA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjyqIHc357lAhVyiOAKHb0gBQsQ6AEwA3oECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=roxalana%20or%20the%20step-mother&f=false

The Merciless Mother-in-law; or, The History of Mustapha and Roxalana.” The British Moralist; or, Young Gentleman and Lady’s Polite Preceptor. London. 1771, https://books.google.com/books?id=7KQ_AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA275&lpg=PA275&dq=the+merciless+mother+in+law+mustapha&source=bl&ots=lUz0QVB9SY&sig=ACfU3U3ijflLtapqlNzwqR0ef1zPs9g0uw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwit_IH84p7lAhXIV98KHUWcAuAQ6AEwA3oECAYQAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

Parry, V.J. “Süleyman the Magnificent.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 16 May 2019, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Suleyman-the-Magnificent.

Robertson, William. “General History of Europe During the Reign of The Emperor Charles V.” History of the Middle Ages. London. 1850.

Roxalana: Or, the Step-Mother. An Historic Tale. London, I. Roe, 1806.


Researcher: Iqra Khalid Razzaq

Fisher’s Cheerful Companion

Fisher’s Cheerful Companion

Fisher’s Cheerful Companion to Promote Laughter; Being a Humorous Collection of Interesting Stories for a Winter’s Evening Fireside; or Amusement for Summer, in a Shady Retreat.

Author: Unknown
Publisher: S. Fisher
Publication Year: 1800
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10cm x 18cm
Pages: 48
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.F468 1800


This chapbook printed in 1800 by S. Fisher contains thirteen humorous yet captivating short stories set in cities across Europe. The stories touch on a variety of themes—from romance to murder—and are sure to provide for an entertaining read.


Material History

Upon first glance, Fisher’s Cheerful Companion to Promote Laughter is a small, unassuming book comprised of 48 delicate pages. There is no binding on the book, although it appears as though there was one at some point in time as the edges are slightly frayed with pieces of material hanging off of them. The book itself is quite small, only being 10 cm in width and 18 cm in height. It is also very delicate since there is no binding, and it must be handled with care.

When initially opening the book, the first thing you see is the title page on the right-hand side. Since the title is unusually long, it ends up covering half of the whole page. This book contains thirteen different short stories, so below the title all thirteen of the stories’ titles are listed out. These stories include: The Three Dexterous Thieves, The Wishes, The Widgeon, The Lucky Disaster, The Hunch-back’d Minstrels, The Conjurer, The Fortunate Peasant, The Two Rogues, The Humorous Miller, The Adventures of Scaramouch, The Unfortunate Spaniard, The Ghost, and Mutual Confidence on the Wedding Night. Below these titles is a simple quote: “If you wish for to pass a dull hour away, Purchase this Cheerful Companion I pray.” There is nothing that indicates who the author is, however further below this quote it says that it is printed and sold by S. Fisher. The book was published in the year 1800 in London at No.10, St. John’s Lane, Clerkenwell, and was also sold by T. Hurst, No. 32, Paternoster Row. In addition to the publication information, a line with the text “Price Sixpence” is placed in the bottom right corner.

The frontispiece and title page for Fisher’s Cheerful Companion

Facing this first page is a well-maintained black and white frontispiece which happens to be the only illustration in the entire book. The illustration depicts a scene from the first story of this book— The Three Dexterous Thieves—and contains the quote that it is portraying: “Unhappy wretches! You will certainly come to the same end with me (Page 6).” Above this illustration, very small font reads: “London. Pub Jan.1.1800, by S. Fisher,” which is a repetition of the publication information on the adjacent page.

While the pages themselves are dainty, they are also made out of a fairly thick cotton-like material. The pages are yellowed and stained and seem to be quite worn and weathered throughout the years. Some of the margins are crooked, and the text is printed at an angle, which is the most evident on the first page of the first story. Throughout the book it is apparent that some of the text has bled or been smudged. Additionally, some of the text is faded or heavily bolded in patches. While the book may seem short, the text is very small and closely set with a medium sized margin. At the bottom of a few pages there is a single capital letter which exists as an aid during the original binding of the book to determine how to fold the pages. Each story begins with the title surrounded by separating lines and begins right after the other story is finished, rather than being printed on the next page. At the top of each of the pages is the name of the current story. Another interesting thing to note about this book is that a “long s” is used throughout the book, which was a style used during this time period. It appears to mimic handwriting, and the s’s in the middle of a word more closely resemble f’s.


Textual History

There is not much known about the history of the text Fisher’s Cheerful Companion, or its printer, Simon Fisher. The book was originally published in London in 1800, with another edition that came out shortly after in 1801. The first edition contained 48 pages, while the second edition contained only 42 pages total. Each edition has a different frontispiece, with the first one containing an illustration from the story “The Three Dexterous Thieves” and the second one with an illustration from “The Hunch-back’d Minstrels.” Simon Fisher’s smaller-scale printing business specialized in publishing “bluebooks,” which are short works of gothic fiction that were common in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (Potter 44). Fisher’s Cheerful Companion was only published in English with no translated versions of it. This book was also sold by a T. Hurst who is mentioned on the opening title page of the book. Fisher also published other gothic texts, including The Life and Singular Memoirs, of Matilda (1802), The Black Castle (1803), The True and Affecting History of the Duchess of C**** (1803), The Mysteries of Udolpho: A Romance (1828), Castle of Wolfenbach (1824), and Children Of The Abbey (1824) (see Potter 167–77; Summers 268, 274).

Currently, there are numerous digital copies of Fisher’s Cheerful Companion, and many other electronic reproductions and microfilms. Specifically, the first edition of the book was digitized in Eighteenth Century Collections Online. There is a digital copy of the second edition available on Google Books. Aside from the many digital copies, there also are hard copies published in 2010 by Gale that can be found on Amazon or Ebay. Nabu Press also published a reprint of the book in 2011. Aside from these limited findings, there is not much else that is known about this book, or Simon Fisher.


Narrative Point of View

Fisher’s Cheerful Companion is narrated in third-person by an unknown narrator who never appears in the text itself. The narration does not have a lot of insight into the minds of the characters, and focuses a lot on the flow of events. This is displayed in run-on sentences and a fast-paced plot, quickly moving from one action to the next. While the sentences can be lengthy, there is a choppy sort of feel to it. Additionally, the narration also provides a moral, of sorts, for each story.

Sample Passage:

Scaramouch being arrived at Rome in the month of December, where the north wind is felt more severely than in any other place in Italy; and having only a little silk cloak, which covered him behind (his father having driven him from Naples because he made too free with his fingers), began to consider how he should defend himself from cold and hunger, whom he looked upon as his greatest enemies. (35)

In this passage and throughout the book, the narration appears like a long stream of thoughts, strung together. By doing so, it makes the book much more captivating and difficult to put it down. One sentence seems to go on forever and eases into the next, which is enough to put someone in a sort of trance while reading it. While this is effective in this sense, at times it can become hard to follow, and often sidetracks before returning back to the plot. These tangents, however, only strengthen effect of the stories, appearing as if someone were just rambling on and on. Frequently, this narration feels as though it is intended to be read aloud.


Summary

Fisher’s Cheerful Companion contains thirteen separate stories:

This page shows the beginning of the first story, as well as the crooked margins

The Three Dexterous Thieves

Two brothers Hamet and Berard, and their accomplice Travers are described as rogues and are said to be in the business of kidnapping and pilfering. When walking through the woods one day, Hamet and Berard decide to show their talents in thieving. Hamet steals and replaces the eggs from underneath a magpie, without disturbing the bird. While doing so, Berard unbuttons Hamet’s pants without Hamet knowing. Travers is so astonished by both of these acts that he claims he cannot keep up with them and renounces thieving forever. He goes back to live in his village with his wife, and saves enough money to buy a hog for Christmas.

Soon enough, Hamet and Berard come to Travers’s village to reunite with their old friend. Travers leaves to work in the fields right as the brothers come to visit, and his wife relays this information to them. Before they leave, they notice the hog and decide to steal it and eat it when the night falls.  Travers returns and upon hearing of the brothers’ visit, he hides the hog. When night falls, the two brothers arrive and discover that the hog has been moved. Travers hears a noise and leaves to go check on his stables. Upon hearing him leave, Berard mimics his voice and calls out to Travers’ wife asking where the hog went. His wife, Mary, responds and tells him exactly where it is, and the two brothers successfully steal the hog. Travers soon returns and hears of their antics and quickly sets off after them. He soon comes upon Berard carrying the hog, and mimics Hamet’s voice to steal the hog back. Upon discovering Travers’s antics when Berard catches up to Hamet, Berard disguises himself as Mary and runs back to Travers’s home.

Once again, Berard tricks Travers into giving him the pork by claiming he heard something in the stables and demanded Travers go investigate. Once Travers discovers he has been tricked again, he runs for the forest where he assumes they will escape to. He sees a light and discovers Hamet and Berard cooking the meat. Travers then strips himself naked and climbs into a tree to pretend to be a hanging corpse. Once they return, Travers screams at them which scares them off, and then victoriously reclaims his hog. He and his wife start cooking the hog in a cauldron to eat. Before long, both of them drift off to sleep and the two brothers return. They climb onto the roof and use a long stick to pierce pieces of the pork in the cauldron to steal. Travers’ awakes to catch them in the act and realizes that he cannot keep doing this so he invites them in to eat the pork together and reconnect.

The Wishes

The duke d’Offona regularly disguises himself and walks around the city so that he learns of the commoner’s grievances and can address them. On one particular night when he is walking around the city, he runs into three soldiers and joins them for a drink. After a while of drinking and singing, they decide to go around and each say what they think would make them happiest for the rest of their lives. The first one says that he wishes to have “the sum of one thousand crowns” (9). The second wishes to be a captain of one of the duke’s guards. The third says that he wishes to spend a night with the duke’s wife. Finally, the duke says that his wish is to be the duke so that he can grant each of the soldiers’ wishes. Once they are finished, the duke finds out each of the soldiers’ names and sends for them the very next day. The duke asks each of the soldiers’ wishes again. He graciously grants the wishes of the first two soldiers. However, when it comes to the third soldier, the duke says that he cannot grant him his wish, but he can introduce him to his wife. The story ends with the last soldier wishing that he had a different wish.

The Widgeon

This page shows the transition between two separate stories

The two main characters in this story are Jack Sawwell, a carpenter, and his wife, Mrs. Anne. Jack gives his wife money to buy dinner for them, and she goes to the market to buy what she thinks is a wild duck, when it is in fact a widgeon. When Mrs. Anne serves the widgeon to Jack—who has hunted widgeons in the past—he immediately identifies it as a widgeon and not a duck. Mrs. Anne starts arguing with Jack, insisting it is a duck. The argument quickly transpires into a physical fight between husband and wife. Jack is the victor, and Mrs. Anne goes back to being a passive obedient wife. At dinner the next night, Mrs. Anne brings up the matter of the duck again, and another flight quickly ensues. Jack claims that Mrs. Anne enjoys arguing just for the sake of arguing. When Mrs. Anne hurls a large plate at Jack’s head, the plate smashes into a set of china, shattering it. Soon the neighbors arrive, startled by the load noises, and the fight dissipates. For every night from now on, a fight breaks out between the couple over the duck. 

The Lucky Disaster

Monsier Mignard is a widowed apothecary with one daughter named Susan. Susan marries a physician who is the son of one of Monsier Mignard’s friends, Dr. Eloy. Monsier Mignard brings in a woman named Agnes to council Susan. Susan quickly realizes that the man she married is not a very promising husband, and her attention is drawn to a man named Gorillon who comes from a lower-income family. Agnes supports Susan’s relationship with Gorillon and helps them to meet secretly with each other. When her father is out of town, Susan invites Gorillon over. While Gorillon is waiting in Monsier Mignard’s chamber for Susan—who is meeting with unexpected visitors—he becomes thirsty and drinks a glass of what appears to be water. Little does he know, Monsier Mignard has just made this narcotic water which puts whoever consumes it in a profound sleep. Once Gorillon drinks this, he falls into a deep death-like sleep. Susan and Agnes come into the room and encounter his lifeless body. They think he is dead, and try to decide what to do with his body. Agnes looks around and discovers a large wooden box from a gunsmith’s shop in the middle of the street which they decide to place the body in. At this time, the gunsmith remembers that his men had left the box out in the street and goes back with them to put it away. The men are too tired to realize that the box became significantly heavier, and they place the box in the kitchen.

At three in the morning, Gorillion wakes up and escapes from the box. This wakes the people in the house up, and they soon discover Gorillon and think he is a thief. The police come and interrogate him; however, Gorillon refuses to mention Susan for fear that their relationship will be discovered, so he is thrown into a dungeon. His case soon spreads across the city and Agnes and Susan hear about it. Monsier Mignard also returns from his trip and complains about how his narcotic water is missing. Agnes puts the pieces together, and Agnes and Susan explain the situation to the gunsmith allowing for Gorillon’s release. The gunsmith happens to be friends with Monsier Mignard, and talks with him to allow for Gorillon and Susans marriage.

The Hunch-back’d Minstrels

A hunchbacked man lives in a castle near a small town. He is a very ugly man, but he has amassed quite a bit of wealth. There is one woman in the town that catches his eye, and he requests her hand in marriage. Even though she is repulsed by him, because of his wealth, she cannot say no and they are married. Around Christmas, three hunchbacked minstrels show up at the castle. They start making fun of the hunchbacked man, but he takes it surprisingly well and invites them in to eat. When they are leaving, the local man warns the minstrels to never come back again or he shall kill them. They leave and the man leaves as well, walking toward the country.

His wife then calls out to the minstrels who are leaving and tells them to come back. They entertain her until her husband returns and knocks on the door. The wife panics and tells the three men to hide in three empty trunks that are in the room. After her husband leaves again, the wife opens the trunks to find that all three men have suffocated and died. She spots a countryman passing and asks him if he can help her dispose of a body in exchange for money as long as he does not say anything. She shows him the first body, which he throws in a river. Then when he returns, she shows him the next, which the countryman believes is the same one as before that has returned from the river. He takes this second body down to the river and is shocked when he returns and sees the body for a third time. The wife claims it must be a sorcerer, and the man ties a stone around the body’s neck so that it cannot escape again. When the man is returning from throwing a body in the river for a third time, he runs into the husband who is returning from the country. He thinks that the hunchbacked husband is the same body that keeps appearing back in the castle, so he kills him and throws him in a sack and into the river. When the countryman returns and tells the wife of his encounter, she realizes what has transpired and is delighted that her husband is dead. She pays the countryman the sum of money that she promised, and he goes on his way.

The Conjurer

Robin is a poor old villager and will do anything to become wealthy and to taste luxurious food and liquors. He comes up with a plan to move to a part of the country where no one knows him and say he is a conjurer, which is a well-respected profession. Robin sets off on his journey and soon arrives at the gates of Tony Simpleton, a well-known man of great wealth. Tony’s servants had recently stolen his wife’s diamond ring and his wife was determined to figure out what had happened to it, so she turned to the conjurer for his aid. Robin tells her that he can find the ring after three days, but he needs to be fed luxurious foods and a place to stay during his search. She complies and Robin is fed the best meal of his life. The next day, Robin feasts again and drinks to his heart’s content. One by one, on each day Robin is there, each of the three servants that had taken part in stealing the ring go up to see if Robin has discovered their secret. Robin is drunk every time they see him and they all misinterpret his drunken words and are soon convinced Robin knows their secret.

On the last morning, the three servants go up to Robin and give him the ring, pleading for mercy. Robin is thrilled by his luck and pretends to have known all along. He says he will keep their secret, so he forces one of the turkeys in the yard to eat the ring. He informs the lady where the ring is, and tells them to kill the one that he fed the ring. The ring is recovered and the lady is in awe with the conjurer and insists that he stay another night to meet Tony who returns from his travels the next day. Tony immediately thinks Robin is an imposter and threatens to have him kicked out. The lady insists that he put Robin’s powers to a test before he is kicked out. Tony captures a small robin in a handkerchief and asks Robin to tell him what is in the handkerchief. Robin knows he cannot say what is in it and exclaims his name and his misfortunes. Since his name—Robin—is what is actually in the handkerchief, Tony invites him to stay longer and grants all of his wishes.

The Fortunate Peasant

A king travels across the country in disguise and converses with regular people. One day, he comes upon a peasant who instantly recognizes the king despite his disguise. The peasant claims he does not recognize him and the king continues talking to him. The peasant tells him how much money he makes—eight-pence—and the king questions how he spends his money. The peasant tells him he spends two-pence on himself and his wife, two-pence to pay debts, two-pence he lends, and another two-pence he gives away. The king wants to be of service to him, but makes him promise not to tell anyone of their conversation until he sees the king’s face again. The next day the king sends off some men to solve this problem of how the peasant spends his money, and promises them a reward if they explain it correctly to them. One of these men goes to try to find the peasant and ask him what the explanation is. Once he finds him, he bribes him with a handful of gold and gets the explanation out of the peasant. The message is relayed to the king and even though the king knows the peasant broke his promise, he still gives the man his reward. The next day he goes out to see the peasant again and asks him why he broke his promise. The peasant says the he did in fact see the face of the king again on the pieces of gold, so he was allowed to say what they discussed. The king is pleased with this answer and appoints the peasant to be prime minister.

The Two Rogues

Squire Hedgedich is riding his horse across the fields belonging to a farmer named Hobnail. Hedgeditch comes up to an open gate next to Hobnail, which Hobnail closes, and stops Hedgeditch in his tracks. Out of anger, Hedgeditch hits Hobnail across the shoulders. Hobnail complains about this to an attorney from London named Goosequill who talks him into pressing charges for battery. Goosequill needs to travel to the court of assizes, and decides to buy a horse from an innkeeper to take him there. The innkeeper realizes that Goosequill knows nothing about horses and sells him the weakest horse he owns. The horse cannot carry him very far and collapses underneath him. Goosequill gets to the next inn where he buys another more fit horse, leaving the weaker horse at that inn. He eventually makes it and ends up winning the case for Hobnail. Goosequill returns to retrieve his weak horse that has become much stronger since being in the care of this other innkeeper. However, the horse still cannot carry him back to London. Goosequill sends the horse to London for an easy journey back, and soon gets to London himself by different means. Once in London, he gets back on his horse and rides to the inn where he was sold the horse, pretending that he just got back from the long journey. The innkeeper is shocked that the horse was able to carry him that far and offers to buy the horse back. Goosequill says he will only sell the horse at a high price which the innkeeper cannot afford. Goosequill leaves and then immediately sends his servant Tom to the innkeeper to attempt to buy his horse. Tom and the innkeeper agree on the high price and Tom pays half of it saying he will pay the rest the next day. However, the next morning Goosequill says he needs to leave immediately on his horse. The innkeeper says he sold the horse, and gives Goosequill the money.

The Wedding Night

On a newlywed couple’s wedding night, as the couple lies in bed, the man says that he will tell her a secret of his. He says that before he met her four years ago, he had a child with another woman. He says that if she allows him, he can send for the child to come home. The wife responds with her own story of how she had a child herself and will send for her child to come home if he allows it. The husband runs outside and starts yelling like a madman. This wakes the mother and father-in-law. The mother-in-law goes to check on the daughter and asks what the daughter said to have caused her husband to yell like that. Meanwhile, the curious father-in-law listens at the door. The daughter tells her what happened, and the mother yells at her, telling her daughter she should not have said that and that she herself has had multiple children before she married her husband. The father-in-law hears this at the door and goes to talk to the wallowing husband; they share their common misfortunes with each other.

The Humorous Miller

An evil lord who enjoys tormenting people learns about an astrologist named Mumbletext who everyone thought to be a practitioner of black magic. The lord calls for Mumbletext and tells him to answer four questions or he will tell everyone that he is an imposter. The four questions that the lord asks him to answer are: where is the middle of the world, how much am I worth, what do I think, and what do I believe. The lord says he has to answer these questions or confess that he is a cheat. Mumbletext buys more time by asking for an extra day to answer so that he can consult the planets. On his way back, he bumps into a clever miller who offers to disguise himself as Mumbletext to answer the lord’s questions for him. The next day, the miller disguises himself as Mumbletext and goes up to the lord. The miller says that he can show the lord where the middle of the earth is since it is not far from his house. The miller shows him the exact spot in a field where the middle of the earth is. The lord cannot disprove it so he asks each of the other questions to which the miller has a clever response. The lord is impressed by these answers and is thoroughly entertained so he says that the miller is welcomed into his house any time and will remit Mumbletext’s punishment.

The Adventures of Scaramouch

Scaramouch comes to Rome in the middle of the winter with no money and no food. He begs in front of a snuff-merchant’s shop and asks people for a pinch of the snuff when they leave the store. He collects a full bottle of this during the day and resells it at night. A Swiss guard comes into the shop, and when he is leaving Scaramouch attempts to take some snuff from him. The guard hits him with a halberd and leaves him bruised. Scaramouch leaves Rome, fearing for his life and goes to a town called Civita-Vecchia. There he encounters two slaves counting up money that they have earned, and pretends that they stole from him. He is able to convince the judge that it is his money, and leaves a richer man. He then sets off for another town called Lombardy and hires a valet. They stop at an inn where Scaramouch eats and drinks too much and passes out soon after. The valet steals all of Scaramouch’s belongings, leaving him with nothing. Scaramouch arrives at another town and is immediately jumped by a man who mistakenly thinks that he is a runaway slave. Once the mistake is realized, Scaramouch leaves and realizes he can’t keep living this way and he needs a new way to make money.

The Unfortunate Spaniard

This page shows the conclusion of the book

A Spaniard named Diego decides to travel to France for a vacation. He dresses very extravagantly, and is laughed at and called a madman everywhere he goes in Paris. Crowds start to form around him and slowly become more hostile with people throwing dirt and pushing him around. Diego rushes into the first open house that he can see, however the people surrounded the house and started throwing stones at him. Everywhere he goes, Diego is greeted by more angry people, and the mob gets worse and worse. Two women begin fighting and Diego sees this as a distraction for the crowd and he sprints to a church. Everyone in the church beings to laugh at him. Diego is eventually saved by his landlord and returns home to Spain, determined to tell everyone not to visit France.

The Ghost

A young count of the Hobenloe family is sent to Paris to improve his manners. His house mate is another young man from a noble family and the young Hobenloe begins to learn a lot very quickly from this man. The young count soon dies and gives his new friend the money that he has inherited. Two English noblemen arrive at the same house that they were staying, and stay in a room adjacent to where the dead body is being held. The room is small, so the two men must share a bed. During the night, one of the Englishmen heard people talking in the kitchen and went to join them. When he returns to his room, he goes into the wrong room and gets into bed with the dead body. He notices how cold the body is and starts asking it questions, assuming it to be his friend. A servant enters the room carrying a coffin. The man jumps up, realizing his mistake. However, the servant thinks that it is the dead body jumping up and runs out of the room to get more people. Meanwhile the Englishman returns to his room in shock. A priest comes with holy water to deal with what they think is a ghost, and everyone regards him as a saint for the body doesn’t move again. The friend of the count who died goes to get the inheritance money, and is mistaken for the count by a banker and his wife. The friend decides to impersonate the dead count, so when the banker goes to visit the house where the count resided, he is shocked to learn of the count’s death. The people in the house and the banker both think that they have seen a ghost.


Bibliography

Fisher’s Cheerful Companion to Promote Laughter; Being a Humorous Collection of Interesting Stories for a Winter’s Evening Fireside; or Amusement for Summer, in a Shady Retreat. London, S. Fisher, 1800.

“Fisher’s Cheerful Companion to Promote Laughter;” Google Books, Google, https://www.google.com/books/edition/Fisher_s_Cheerful_Companion_to_Promote_L/KaBbAAAAQAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0&kptab=overview.

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

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


Researcher: Eliza Eddy

Falkner

Falkner

Falkner: A Novel

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


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


Material History

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

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

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

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

A bookplate from the personal library of John G. Rebow

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

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage:

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

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


Summary

The marbled cover of Falkner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This page shows how a chapter is denoted and begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Kenzie M. Hampton

The Convent Spectre

The Convent Spectre

A Convent Spectre; or Unfortunate Daughter

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


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


Material History

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

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

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

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

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

The title page and frontispiece of The Convent Spectre

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

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


Textual History

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

The final page of the chapbook lists the printer information

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration: 

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

Sample Passage of Don Pedro recounting his personal story:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Lindsay Grose

The Spectre Mother

The Spectre Mother

The Spectre Mother: Or the Haunted Tower

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


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


Material History

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

The title page with accompanying illustration and a visible marking

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage:

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

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

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


Summary

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

The opening scene in Chapter One of The Spectre Mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This page describes the first visit from the ghost of Julia

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Ruby G. Peters

Koenigsmark the Robber

Koenigsmark the Robber

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

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


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


 Material History

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

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

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

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

Frontispiece and title page for Koenigsmark the Robber

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Lucy E. Gilbert

Rose Sommerville

Rose Sommerville

Rose Sommerville: Or, a Husbands Mystery and a Wifes Devotion. A Romance

Author: Ellen T.
Publisher: Edward Lloyd
Publication Year: 1846
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 21.5 cm x 14 cm
Pages: 175 
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.T24 Ro 1847


A tale of love, murder, and regret, this 1846 novel by Ellen T. revolves around an innocent, beautiful girl marrying a man who has a very dark past.


Material History

The exterior of Rose Sommerville is very simple yet classic, with a dark brown leather binding and a light brown cloth cover. There are no decorations or words on the cover—the title and author can be found on the binding, indented into the leather and painted over with gold. On the edges of the pages of the book, there are speckled red flecks of paint as an added decorative element. This novel is 21.5 cm by 14 cm and 172 pages long. The pages themselves are fairly thin and frail, showing a large amount of yellowing and wear. The book reveals its true age through the pages themselves, as the binding and cover does not show much wear. 

This page shows pencil markings left by a previous owner

Upon opening the novel, there are two blank pages and then a title page, which features the full title of the book, Rose Sommerville; or A Husbands Mystery and A Wifes Devotion, the author, and some additional information about the novel. The author’s name is not fully spelled out, but instead has an abbreviated last name, written as “Ellen T.” Underneath her name in smaller font it says, “Authoress of …” with a list of her other prominent works. On the bottom of the title page is the publishing information: this novel was printed and published in London by E. Lloyd: 12, Salisbury Square, Fleet-street in 1847. The novel begins with a brief preface written by someone other than the author, which reveals that this text was released weekly in separate parts and is now being bound together. This is evident because at the bottom of the first page there is a “No. 1” written, revealing that this begins the first part. At the bottom of the 9th page there is a No. 2, showing that this begins the second part. The novel has 22 parts in total. In pencil on the first page of the preface, “1847” is written, and these pencil notes are also found on the last page of the novel. 

The first chapter begins with an illustration in all black ink that looks like a line drawing. This illustration shows a very beautiful woman kissing a man, and another man behind the couple looking upset and holding a dagger. After this illustration, the novel begins. These black ink illustrations are dispersed throughout the novel, either in the middle of text or on their own page. No captions accompany the illustrations, however the illustrations typically depict the event that is occurring on the page. The artist of these illustrations is not named anywhere in the novel. The text in this novel is written in a very small font and closely set together; there is very little white space per page. The wear of the novel can be seen in the text, as many sections are difficult to read due to fading of the ink or stains on the page. 

On the last page of the novel, there is writing in pencil that looks like a signature. Upon close examination, the signature seems to say “Mr. Morlen.” Also on this page there is a “10” written in pencil after the last line and at the top of this page the numbers “9876” and “1/2 64” are written. These markings were most likely left by a former owner of this novel.


Textual History

Rose Sommerville was published in sections in the newspaper The People’s Periodical and Family Library from October 10, 1846 to October 2, 1847. It was published by Edward Lloyd in London, England. Edward Lloyd had a myriad of periodicals that he published during this time such as The Daily Chronicle and Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper—he was one of the nineteenth century’s leading newspaper proprietors of cheap fiction available to the masses (“Léger-St-Jean). The cheap works of fiction that he published were often called “penny bloods.” Lloyd brought literature to the masses, catering to the new market of people who were now literate but not wealthy. 

The title page of Rose Sommerville, which includes a pencil marking at the bottom with the publication date

Rose Sommerville begins with a “Preface” written by an unknown author who speaks on behalf of Ellen T., thanking the readers for reading her publications week after week and formally saying goodbye to them, for now. The preface also gives a small summary of what the book is going to entail, describing briefly the main character, Rose, and the fact that she will go through many struggles. The first chapter begins with a statement in the first person which functions as a narratorial interjection, using “I,” but the storytelling voice is primarily in the third-person omniscient throughout the novel. After the end of the plot, there is a horizontal black line and then a paragraph in which the speaker, using the first-person plural pronoun “we,” thanks the readers again for reading, and announces that this is the end of the novel. 

There is a notice for Rose Somerville found in the July 23, 1853, issue of Reynold’s Miscellany of Romance, General Literature, Science, and Art written by George W. M. Reynolds that states that the New York booksellers Stringer and Townsend have printed and published Rose Sommerville; Or, A Husband’s Mystery and credited Reynolds to be the author. Reynolds claims that he never wrote this text and would like to take all legal action against these publishers to punish them for this claim (416). He does not, however, attribute the work to its rightful author, Ellen T., for it seems as though he does not know the true author. 

There are many different titles of Rose Sommerville: some copies are simply titled Rose Sommerville, while others are titled Rose Sommerville; Or, A Husband’s Mystery, Rose Sommerville: or, A Husband’s Mystery and A Wife’s Devotion: A Romance, and Rose Sommerville: or, the Double Crime (Summers 488). Ellen T. also authored Ravensdale: A Romance, which was published in 1847 by G. Purkess, but printed by Edward Lloyd. Her other known works of fiction are Eardley Hall: A Tale, which was published in 1850 by Edward Lloyd, and Emily Percy: or, The Heiress of Sackville: A Romance, which was published by G. Purkess in 1845. She also published two poems in The People’s Periodical and Family Library: “Lines on a Birthday” and “To Christmas.” The abbreviation of her last name most likely made it difficult to keep a good documentation of her works. 

One can purchase a paperback copy of Rose Sommerville online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble—these copies were published by Gale and The British Library. There are also numerous digital copies found on the internet of this novel, which are all images of paperbacks digitized into a PDF form. There are also dozens of libraries worldwide that own this novel with varying years of publication. 


Narrative Point of View

Rose Sommerville is narrated by a third-person, omniscient narrator who never appears in the text. The narrator gives insight into the thoughts and feelings of the characters in the story, and often jumps back and forth between settings to show what multiple characters are doing at once. The narrator also occasionally interrupts the text and uses the pronouns “I” and “we,” either to make a comment or act as though the narrator personally knows these characters. So even though the narrator is not a character in the story, they are able to use the “I” pronoun to insert their own opinions. The narrator focuses on both plot and feelings of the characters, often taking breaks from long sections of dialogue to discuss the characters’ inner thoughts and feelings about the subject. 

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

Albert meant to be, and judged he was, acting kindly towards Rose; but, with all his knowledge, he knew little of a woman’s heart, and her fond devotion to one she loves. His lot deemed a dull and gloomy one; his thoughts and feelings were all tinged by a sombre hue, and unfit, he thought, to be shared by such a young and light-hearted girl as Rose. (26)

Sample Passage of a Narratorial Interjection:

Rose Sommerville, sweet, fairy, bright-eyed Rose Sommerville—I think I see her still tripping across the lawn with the light buoyant step of early youth—earth surely never held a fairer creature than Rose; the sweet smile that played around her dimpled mouth possessed all the soft beauty of infancy, her light auburn tresses waved luxuriantly around her fait and sunny brow, and for figure never did I see a more sweet and graceful form. (1)

Through the use of the third-person omniscient narration, the narrator is able to bring more depth and personality into each character—the reader is able not only to see their actions, but also to witness their thoughts behind those actions. Through this, the reader is able to fully understand many characters in the novel, because so many aspects of their interiority and motivations are revealed through their thoughts. The fact that this narration gives the narrator the ability to switch quickly from setting to setting gives the reader a breadth of knowledge about what each character is doing at once, instead of being confined to one character and their surroundings. The added use of the first-person interjections dispersed throughout the novel also brings more insight into what the narrator thinks about specific characters, especially Rose, as shown through the passage above. The insertion of the narrator’s opinions tells the reader how to feel about some characters and situations, and the reader can either agree or disagree. For example, the narrator thinks very highly of Rose, whether or not the reader feels accordingly.


Summary

Rose Sommerville is breathtakingly beautiful. She is of humble birth, and she possesses such gentleness and innocence that it is as if she has never known sorrow in her life. In the summer, her family would take people into their house to live with them temporarily. This year, their visitor is Albert Moreland: a very solemn, tall, and melancholy man. Rose, contrary to the fact that he is her exact opposite in demeanor, immediately fell in love with him. At the end of the summer, Albert asks her father for her hand in marriage and he obliges. Even though they are both deeply in love with each other, Albert looks extremely nervous at the wedding. 

The beginning of the first chapter of the novel, as well as an illustration of what seems to be Florence and Charles kissing and Albert holding a knife behind them

Rose soon meets Albert’s sister, Marian, and they form a deep friendship. In the weeks after their marriage, Rose notices that Albert is acting increasingly strange—even repeatedly shouting the name “Florence” in his sleep. Rose decides to ask Marian who Florence is, for she worries that Albert is cheating on her. Marian begrudgingly relays the story to soothe Rose’s worries. Albert and Marian had a stepbrother who they both had a very close relationship with and loved deeply. Albert and Charles decided one summer that they wanted to travel through Europe together. While they were in Italy, they both fell in love with the same woman, who was in a relationship with both of them, unbeknownst to the other. According to Marian, Charles walked in on Albert and Florence together and, in a fit of rage, stabbed Florence. Marian received the details of this story through a letter. However, upon asking Edward, Marian’s husband, about the event, Edward claims that he read the same letter and it was actually Albert who stabbed Florence, not Charles. Rose is extremely distressed and does not know what to believe. 

Edward and Rose start forming a stronger and stronger friendship as the next few days go by—it seems as though Edward has feelings for Rose. Rose accompanies Marian, Edward, and Edward’s best friend, Henry Melville, to the opera. Henry immediately tells Edward how beautiful he finds Rose, and that angers Edward because he claims it is disrespectful to his brother-in-law to say such things about his wife. Rose likes Henry very much, and they form a friendship, amicably conversing for most of the ball the following night. Edward decides that Rose must know Henry’s true intentions, from Edward’s point of view, so he tells Rose that Henry told Edward he was in love with Rose and wanted to be with her. This surprises Rose but causes her to cooly distance herself from Henry. Henry immediately notices this and confronts Edward about it—Edward defends his actions and tells him to stay away from Rose. This interaction causes Henry and Edward to have a rivalry. 

Albert has been keeping to himself as Rose goes on all of these social events, even though Rose would much rather him with her. He has been acting more melancholy and paranoid than usual, and it is affecting Rose negatively. Albert notices this and suggests that Rose visit her family in the country for a few weeks. Around this time, Rose realizes she is pregnant with Albert’s child. Rose obliges to Albert’s wishes and returns to her home in the country. When she arrives, she learns that her brother, Henry, is to marry her childhood friend, Agnes. 

 Meanwhile, Marian has been conspiring to figure out where Charles is, and she has found out: he is still in Italy. She also notices Albert sending a mystery letter to Italy but says nothing of it. While Rose is gone, Marian speaks to Lucy, Henry Melville’s sweet sister, about how she suspects that Rose is in love with Edward. Lucy denies the idea, but Marian is very mad and wants to expose her. Rose writes to Edward, sending him back the document detailing Florence and her death because she did not want to read it. Her letter arrives when Marian and Lucy are in the house, and it solidifies Marian’s beliefs.

An illustration of Henry and Marian seeing Rose and Edward kissing

While everyone is at a ball, Albert is alone in his office and very distraught, speaking out loud about regret and death. He feels horrible about something he has done in his past, and regrets marrying Rose because he cannot make her as happy as she deserves. At the ball, Lucy confronts Edward about the contents of the letter and he tells her he cannot reveal any information concerning the letter, which makes her mad. The next day, Henry overhears Fairford, Mortimer, and Edward talking about Rose—specifically the conversation entails Edward boasting about how he is going to win her over and seduce her. Henry is furious and bursts through the door, scolding and threatening Edward. 

Miles away in the country, Rose receives two letters: one from Albert and one from Lucy. The letter from Lucy asks her the contents of the letter she sent Edward which she knows she cannot reveal and the letter from Albert is distanced and slightly cold which makes her very upset. Henry and Agnes get married in a beautiful ceremony, but Mrs. Sommerville is increasingly worried for Rose. Rose returns home and receives a warm welcome from Albert which makes her very happy. Very shortly after she returns, Edward comes over to visit. As they are having a conversation, Edward is overcome with passion and kisses Rose, who is shocked and pulls away, but not before Henry and Marian come through the door and see them. Marian immediately runs and tells Albert, who is extremely sad and angered. Rose comes in to talk to Albert and explain her innocence but no one believes her. Albert says that Rose must leave at once and if she refuses to leave then he will leave and never come back—she has one day to come to her decision. Albert and Marian retreat to a different room and weep together. Rose becomes hysterical, screaming that she is innocent and weeping. She soon becomes extremely ill, and they fear that she is in danger of dying. Lucy stays by her bed the whole night and Rose gives birth to a stillborn son. 

An illustration showing Rose sick in bed after falling ill of grief when Albert told her to leave in anger.

Henry is very angry at Edward’s actions and proposes a duel which he accepts. The duel takes place in a secluded valley, where the two men who were once best friends fires guns at each other. Edward receives a fatal wound and Henry receives only a gunshot to the arm. Marian receives news that Edward has been shot and immediately rushes to him. On his death bed, Edward tells Marian the true story of what happened between him and Rose, proving her innocence. Marian then tells everyone of Rose’s innocence. Soon Rose awakens in a much better state, and Albert comes in to express his apologies—he stays by her side for the next few days, vowing never to separate from her again. 

Three years have now passed, and Marian has married Fairford, Agnes and Henry have two children, and Lucy has married Mortimer. Rose is a changed woman, having taken on many of Albert’s somber traits—her cheerful demeanor and endearing innocence are gone. Rose and Albert decide to travel to Naples, where they stay in the house of Donna Rosalina, an old friend of Albert’s. Her young nephew, Charles, is very sweet and forms a strong friendship with Rose throughout their time in Naples. Very quickly, Albert’s health begins declining. As he is about to die, Albert tells Charles that he is his father and Florence is his mother; they both weep and embrace. Soon after, Albert says his tearful goodbye to Rose and dies. Donna Rosalina then tells the true story of Albert and Florence to Rose and Charles: Albert was the one who walked in on Florence and Charles together and tried to kill Florence, but Charles dove to protect her and Albert accidentally killed Charles. This event changed Albert forever, as he has just killed his kin and his best friend. After Albert’s death, Rose’s health begins to decline more and more, and she soon peacefully dies with her one wish: to be reunited with Albert. Everyone at home is deeply upset at the news of Rose and Albert’s death, but they soon move on and all lived very happy lives. 


Bibliography

Ellen T. “Lines on a Birthday.” The People’s Periodical and Family Library, vol. I, no. 13, 1847, p. 205. Nineteenth Century Collections Online

Ellen T.. Rose Sommerville: or, A husband’s Mystery and a Wife’s Devotion: A Romance. London, Edward Lloyd, 1847.

Ellen T. “To Christmas.” The People’s Periodical and Family Library, vol. I, no. 13, 1847, p. 205. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.

Léger-St-Jean, Marie. Price One Penny: A Database of Cheap Literature, 1837–1860. [29 June 2019]. Faculty of English, Cambridge.

Reynold’s Miscellany of Romance, General Literature, Science, and Art [London], Vol. 10, Iss. 263, (Jul 23, 1853): 416.

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


Researcher: Madeleine Berrigan

The Three Ghosts of the Forest

The Three Ghosts of the Forest

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

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


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


Material History

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

The title page for Three Ghosts of the Forest

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

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

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

Illustration showing Isabella’s ghost warning Adela about Orlando

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

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

Sample Passage of First-Person Narration:

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

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


Summary

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

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

This page features a handmade patch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Julia Wright

The Female Bluebeard

The Female Bluebeard

The Female Bluebeard: or the Adventurer

Author: Eugène Sue
Publisher: W. Strange
Publication Year: 1845
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 12.5cm x 18.5cm
Pages: 306
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .S83 F 1845


In this 1845 Eugène Sue novel, the Female Bluebeard is believed to have killed her past three husbands and now has three lovers: a pirate captain, a hide dealer, and a cannibal.


Material History

The Female Bluebeard title page

The Female Bluebeard: or the Adventurer is originally a French text by Eugène Sue; this edition presents the English translation. This edition does not give the original French title, but the French edition is entitled L’Aventurier ou la Barbe-bleue, with the name Barbe-bleue, or Bluebeard, coming from a French folk tale. In this edition, the full English title, The Female Bluebeard: or the Adventurer, appears on the fifth page and across every set of adjacent pages. Additionally, the author’s name appears on the fourth page under an illustration of the author, and again on the fifth page, under the title. It is on the fifth page that the book also gives the name of the illustrator, Walmsley, and the publisher, W. Strange.

The translator of this particular English edition is not specified, but we do know it was done in London in November of 1844, and the copy was published by William Strange in his office at 21, Paternoster Row, London, England in 1845. The text features thirty-four illustrations by Walmsley, and a separate epilogue to the story entitled “The Abbey of Saint Quentin.” The translator provides the reasoning behind the epilogue, noting that Eugène Sue was notorious for tying up the rest of his stories very quickly and in an “unsatisfactory manner” (286). Thus, this additional story gives a finished outcome and resolves any unanswered questions.

Translator’s Note for The Female Bluebeard

The translator prefaces both the full story and the epilogue. The epilogue was published separately by T.C. Savill, Printer, 107, St. Martin’s Lane in London.

The book is entirely unique, the cover of the book being a hard paper board which has been hand painted with a marbling technique. This particular cover has a muted, gray-green color with small swirls of reds, yellows, and blacks mixed in. The spine and the corners of the book are bound with dark brown leather, and the spine has both seven sets of parallel gilded lines going across it and a shortened version of the title, Female Bluebeard, also in gilt on the top of the spine. The book is 12.5cm by 18.5cm, and the edges of the cover and around the leather are worn. The binding of the book is still well intact; however, it is fragile upon opening it.

The opening of Chapter 1

Inside of the book, the first couple pages are end sheets of a thicker, more brittle paper, and the rest are of a softer, thinner sheet. There is a table of contents after the title page with both the chapter names and corresponding pages indicated. There are thirty-eight chapters plus an additional two for the epilogue. The pages of the book are identified with numbers indicated on the top left and top right of the pages, consecutively. There is a total of two-hundred and seventy-six pages for The Female Bluebeard: or the Adventurer, and the full story including the epilogue concludes on page three-hundred and six. Roman numerals, appearing at the bottom of some select pages, going up to the numeral XX, or twenty, were indicators to the people who bound the books which sections went in order.

The font of the text is rather small and closely set, and the margins are not very large. The illustrations appear both at the beginning of some chapters with the first letter of the first word in that sentence incorporated into the drawing, as well as throughout the chapters. They are all done in black ink by wood cuts. The illustrations don’t feature a caption, but they reflect scenes from that particular page or section. In some of the illustrations, the name of the illustrator, Walmsley, can be found cleverly hidden. For instance, in the opening of the chapter there is an illustration in which Walmsley’s name appears under the shadow of a fallen candlestick.

This particular book has some marks from previous ownership and from natural weathering. There is a name on the first page of the first chapter, written in pencil and signed in cursive, as well as a number scrawled in the corner of one of the first pages of endpapers. The significance of both is unknown. The pages show some browning and staining from air pollution interacting with the books over time, but little to no stains are from human error.


Textual History

Portrait of Eugene Sue printed in
The Female Bluebeard

The author of The Female Bluebeard: or the Adventurer, Eugène Sue, was well known across Europe, his French texts being adapted into every European language. He was lauded as the nautical romance author of Europe. His early works, generally maritime and romance focused, were immensely popular and enjoyed, but ultimately viewed as immoral and depraved. Many authors and publications were quick to defend Eugène Sue’s own moral character though, and his popularity in France led him to be elected as a representative of the people. After publishing several books then going into debt, Sue decided to leave Paris and abandon his upper-class roots to be among the people. This prompted his most popular novels, Mathilde and Les Mystères de Paris, which gave rise to many imitations and put him in the spotlight as a great socialist philosopher and novelist. Sue wrote some of the dramatic adaptations of these novels as well as for some of his other works, including the Morne-Au-Diable, an adaptation of The Female Bluebeard: or the Adventurer (“Eugene Sue: His Life and Works” 54­–66).

The Female Bluebeard was published in several manners. The book could be purchased whole as a single volume, but there was also the option to buy it in sections. It was sold in twenty parts in a magazine, for a price of one penny each. The sections contained two of the illustrations each. This twenty-number option could be bought by the publisher in London at 21 Paternoster-row, or “at all booksellers in England, Ireland, and Scotland” (The Standard 1). The W. Strange edition from 21 Paternoster Row, in 1846, just published, could also be purchased whole for three sickles (“Popular Books” 32). The English version of the text was published by several companies in London and by one in New York. The first English edition was the London edition by W. Strange. The New York version of L’Aventurier ou la Barbe Bleue, published in 1844 by J. Winchester, is titled differently as The Female Bluebeard; or Le Morne au Diable, taking from the name of the Female Bluebeard’s habitation. It is only one hundred and fifteen pages. The London publisher, Stokesley pr. owned by J.S. Pratt, likewise, used this title in their publication of the novel in 1845. This edition contained two volumes, measuring 445 pages, and a two-page insert about the other novels published by Pratt at Stokesley. The French text was translated to English for this edition by Charles Wright. Later, in 1898, The Female Bluebeard had several of its chapters published weekly in a London newspaper on “tales of mystery,” and it was advertised as a story of “love, intrigue, and adventure” (“Tales of Mystery” 241). There are several advertisements regarding the editions and where they could be bought. Stock of The Female Bluebeard was even auctioned off by a book collector at his house, boasting a thousand perfect copies of the eight-volume edition, illustrated with woodcuts with about one hundred and ten reams (“Sales by Auction” 546).

Translator’s Preface for 1845 W. Strange edition of The Female Bluebeard

The Female Bluebeard: Or the Adventurer was adapted for the stage several times. It appeared in England for one of the first times at the Drury Lane Theater in an adaptation entitled Adventurer in the Fiend’s Mountain (Amusements, &C 246). It was also adapted into a play by C. A Somerset Esquire at an amphitheater in Manchester (“Provincial Theatricals”). Both performances seemed to attract favorable attention and were deemed by the press a success. The novel likely had many more shows, as Eugène Sue himself, wrote an adaptation of it.

There were mixed reviews for The Female Bluebeard, as it did not quite capture the hearts of the people as much as many of his other works did. This novel, again, brought scrutiny on Sue’s character. One critic published that The Female Bluebeard was “licentious,” leading the translator of the W. Strange edition to write to the paper and defend the novel’s values. The translator argued that while not many French novels possessed a moral to their story, The Female Bluebeard did, and a valuable one at that (“Literature: The Female Bluebeard”). Moreover, there were some reviews that raved of its success, calling it “the most curious and exciting work” produced by Eugène Sue (“Popular Books” 32).

This particular text is not well attended to by scholars, as Eugene Sue produced a plethora of novels which garnered more attention and acclaim. His novel, Les Mystères de Paris, or The Mysteries of Paris, inspired several other locations-based mysteries such as the Mysteries of London and the Mysteries of Munich, and has been published since by the company Penguin Classics. His novel, the Wandering Jew, has also been published by modern companies, and has gained more attention, particularly for its strong anti-Catholic sentiments. In many of his popular novels, his socialist ideology attracted scholars and inspired a great deal of the emerging writers at the time. Sue’s work is thought to have influenced Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, and Alexandre Dumas. Alexandre Dumas wrote the biography of his friend and fellow writer, Eugène Sue (“Eugene Sue: His Life and Works” 54).


Narrative Point of View

The Female Bluebeard: or The Adventurer is narrated in the third person, not through a specific character, but by an anonymous narrator. The narrator continuously interjects throughout the novel to guide the audience’s reading along, directly addressing the reader as a willing participant in learning the history of the characters. The narration has a sense of self-awareness, being cognizant of and acknowledging the ridiculousness of some of its characters as well as several aspects of the story. There is a controlled omniscience throughout, as the characters’ emotions and motives are blatantly revealed. However, regarding some secrets, the author chooses to withhold their answers until it is needed for the plot. The narration is rich, striking a balance between complex and uniquely singular characters, vibrant and multi-sensory descriptions, and a wild and dynamic plot. Finally, some parts of the narration are left in French, as there was not quite as fitting a translation in English, either because of word play or connotations not being expressed in the same manner once translated.

Sample Passage:

We beg, therefore, to inform the reader, who has, doubtless, long since seen through the disguise, and penetrated the mystery of the Boucanier, the Flibustier, and the Carib, that these disguises had been successively worn by the same man, who was none other than THE NATURAL SON OF CHARLES THE SECOND, JAMES DUKE OF MONMOUTH, EXECUTED IN LONDON, THE 15TH OF JULY, 1685, AS GUILTY OF HIGH TREASON.


We hope such of our readers as have had any ill opinion of the Female Bluebeard within their hearts will now do her ample justice. (141)

The narration, particularly in this paragraph, capitalizes on the involvement of the reader in the analysis and reading of the text, creating a greater sense of investment on the reader’s part and making each reveal that much more impactful. While, the narrator gives the reader the benefit of the doubt of likely predicting the mystery element, this simultaneously invites the unaware reader to look retrospectively at the story and recall any clues or foreshadowing, keeping the reader participating. Through the inclusion of the reader throughout the novel, the narrator grabs the readers’ attention, continuously checking in on the progress of their interpretation and ideas about the text. By actually calling forth to the reader, each reader is figured as a singular person whose participation matters to the story, rather than having the story appeal to the emotions of many. This feigned exchange creates an even greater sense of a tale being told by word of mouth, and holds the possibility of investing the reader more into the story. As this connection is made, and mutual involvement and shared knowledge is established, the narrator is more effective in dispelling any of the reader’s disbeliefs or disparagements against the story. In the above sample passage, the narration dispels any aspersions on the Female Bluebeard’s character. The narrator, by voicing what the reader has “doubtless” thought, creates this idea that the reader’s and narrator’s opinion and view of the story will logically match up throughout the story, not just in this one singular instance. Therefore, the narration figures the reader as likely to go along with the rest of what the narrator presents and take it as truthful to the history. Thus, through the inclusion of the reader in the progress of the story, the author is able to give the feel of a spoken tale and interestingly sway the reader to accept what the author says as fact.


Summary

The novel opens up on the ship, the Unicorn, which has presently left la Rochelle for the island, Martinique, and is occupied most usually by Captain Daniel, a small crew, Reverend Father Griffon, and most unusually, by the Gascon, the Chevalier Polyphemus Amador de Croustillac. It is May of 1690, and France is at war with England. The Chevalier de Croustillac has chosen to wait until a less conspicuous time to reveal himself from where he has hidden on board the ship in order to get safe passage to Martinique and eventually, to America. Being a man of great immodesty and foolhardiness, he assumes a spot at supper with no word on how he arrived on board the moving vessel. The Chevalier manages to evade all questioning of his mysterious appearance on board the ship through extreme flattery, party tricks, and by the promise to only confess his intentions to Father Griffon. Nearing the end of the journey to Martinique, Captain Daniel offers the Chevalier de Croustillac a place on board his ship as a permanent source of entertainment, and Reverend Father Griffon, wanting to help the poor adventurer, offers for him to reside with the Reverend at his house in Macouba, where he can attempt to earn some capital. However, this all changes when word of the Female Bluebeard is passed around the ship and meets the ears of the Chevalier.

Angelina, the Female Bluebeard, reads in her gilded bed

The Female Bluebeard, like her folktale namesake, Bluebeard, is believed to have killed her past three husbands, and currently holds the abominable company of three ugly lovers: Hurricane, the pirate captain; a hide dealer boucanier coined, “Tear-out-the-soul”; and a Carib cannibal from Crocodile Creek, Youmaale. Despite these alarming and less than spectacular qualities possessed by the elusive Female Bluebeard, the Chevalier de Croustillac decides that he will show her a true gentleman and win her heart, and with it her fortune, regardless of the potential of her being old and ugly. And so, the Chevalier decides to go with Father Griffon, if only to leave after a night’s repose. This plan is met with strong disagreement from the Father, for he knows some truth to the story of the Female Bluebeard having received confession from a man who encountered her at her home on the Devil’s Mount, or the Morne au Diable. While staying with Father Griffon and resting for supper, a threat to forget his pursuit of the Female Bluebeard comes to the Chevalier in the form of a note tied to an arrow which narrowly misses his flesh. The Chevalier goes against both warnings, sneaks out of Father Griffon’s care, and embarks on a harrowing trek to the habitation of the Female Bluebeard at the Morne au Diable.

It is during this time that we catch a glimpse of the equally daunting and troubling journey to the Morne au Diable, full of danger and risk of death, of the Colonel Rutler, a partisan of the new king of England, William of Orange, who is tasked with a mission which will later be revealed.

Back at the Morne au Diable, the Female Bluebeard, revealed to be exceptionally fine and beautiful, is seen flirting with a man named Jacques, who she also lovingly calls Monsieur Hurricane. It is here that she also learns that the Chevalier de Croustillac is after her hand in marriage, and she, consequently, sends word to the Boucanier, Tear-out-the-soul, to bring him to her.

The Chevalier de Croustillac, led by his gut and the magnetism of his heart to the Female Bluebeard’s, stumbles into the Carib’s camp, exhausted, bloodied, and starving. He is met with a feast of the most unusual variety, and is led to the Morne au Diable, albeit with some feigned protestation from the Boucanier. Upon arriving at the magnificent dwelling of the Female Bluebeard, the Chevalier, wishing to impress the lady, requests a change of clothes for his own sullied and ripped ones, and is put into the garments of the Female Bluebeard’s late first husband.

On his journey to meet the Female Bluebeard, the Chevalier fights a group of feral cats

The Chevalier meets the Female Bluebeard, who we learn is called Angelina, with great awe and wonderment, and attempts to inspire Angelina with much of the same amazement and admiration that he holds for her. Angelina bemuses the Chevalier, speaking falsities and making fun of the Chevalier’s brash actions. She sticks close to her lovers, further aggravating the mind and heart of the Chevalier. She does offer him a limited position as her new husband, which shall end before a year is up through rather gruesome means, an offer the Chevalier is reluctant to accept, aside from his previous promises of marriage. However, Angelina recognizing that the Chevalier is not falling for her murderous and sinful façade, relates to the Chevalier that her three lovers are actually her guards, and her proposition to the Chevalier was made to poke fun at him and amuse herself. She then proposes to make him a new offer the next evening.

Meanwhile, we catch a glimpse of the interactions between the nervous and sweaty governor, Monsieur le Baron de Rupinelle, and Monsieur de Chemeraut, the envoy of France, aboard a French frigate, regarding a state secret vested in the Morne au Diable and backed up by Father Griffon. Monsieur de Chemeraut requests of the governor, ships with thirty of his best armed guards and a ladder, and advances towards the Morne au Diable. Father Griffon learns of their swift advance to the Devil’s Mount, and alarmed that they have learned the secret that only he possesses and fearing the safety of la Barbe-Bleue, he hurries to beat the French frigate to the Morne au Diable. Colonel Rutler, who we learned of earlier, has at this moment, escaped great perils and landed in the interior garden of the Morne au Diable, and is lying, hidden, in wait. 

Back at the Morne au Diable, the Chevalier’s rambling poetry and protestations of love, are met with amusement and some fondness by la Barbe-bleue or the Female Bluebeard. However, she relates to the Chevalier that she was expecting his arrival from word by her good friend, the Father Griffon, and had used the Chevalier’s foolishness for means of entertainment. They wander into the garden, the Chevalier becoming increasingly humiliated and affected, his love for the Female Bluebeard being genuine, and each of her words stinging and hurting his heart and hubris. To add to this, she offers him diamonds to reconcile his hurt feelings which only worsens the injury to his pride. La Barbe Bleue claims that humiliation was not her intent, and that she was under the incorrect notion that the Chevalier was only after her money and posed a threat to her and the inhabitants of the Morne au Diable. She demands his forgiveness, calling him her friend, and offering him a place to stay at her home, which completely reverses the anger and sorrow raging inside the Chevalier. The Female Bluebeard leaves to look for Youmaale and grab a more deserving present for the Chevalier, and in her absence the Colonel Rutler, still hiding in the garden, rushes toward the Chevalier. Pulling a hood over the Chevalier’s face and binding his hands, Colonel Rutler arrests him for high treason.

Colonel Rutler mistakes the Chevalier for the believed late husband of the Female Bluebeard, calling him “my Lord Duke,” and the Chevalier plays the part of the royal Englishman to gain information, learning that la Barbe Bleue’s husband is wanted by the King of England, William of Orange, for treason. The Lord Duke had posed a threat to the King, possessing great fortunes and having previously led a group of devoted partisans against the King, fighting for his royal father of a falcon of Lancaster. The Duke had, after his attempt at revolt, been executed, or at least thought to be until of late. All this being said, the Chevalier promptly decides to assume the personage which has already been given to him, without raising alarm to Angelina, in a means to gain the affection and permanent gratitude of la Barbe Bleue for saving her husband, who she loves dearly.

Arousing great surprise, the bound Chevalier and the Colonel are met by Angelina herself, disguised as one of her domestics, and she gives the Chevalier the Lord Duke’s sword and cloak to further cement his false identity. She leaves to relate the news to her husband, who we find out was masquerading as all three of her lovers, and is in reality, James Duke of Monmouth, the son of Charles the Second. Angelina believes them saved, but her dreams are disrupted when the Duke will not let the Chevalier risk his life for him. To add to her dismay, Father Griffon arrives with the news that the French Frigate knows of the Duke’s existence and location, and had questioned the Father of his whereabouts outside. Upon the arrival of the French frigate, Colonel Rutler had attempted to strike the Chevalier disguised as the Duke, and his blade had broken. This action did not go unnoticed by the French envoy, Monsieur de Chemeraut, and furthered confirmed his suspicions that the fallen and gagged man, was indeed the James Duke. Monsieur de Chemeraut propositions the Chevalier, believing him to be the Duke, to rejoin his partisans and place him back at the head alongside his royal uncle, James Stuart, by driving the “usurper,” William of Orange from his throne of England. Later, he informs the Chevalier that refusing the offer would mean imprisonment. Thus, the Chevalier accepts.

An illustration depicting an execution

The Chevalier de Croustillac, guarded closely by the Monsieur de Chemeraut, happens upon Angelina and Captain Hurricane conducting in improper displays of affection, and is horrified by her actions, the Captain’s real identity still unknown to the Chevalier. After much arguing, frustration, and consideration of the Chevalier’s trustworthiness, Angelina and the Duke reveal their secret, leading the Chevalier to readopt his plan and secure the lovers their safety and security. We also learn how the Duke had evaded death despite there being a witnessed execution.

The Gascon Chevalier, in his natural element, puts on a show for the French envoy and condemns the Female Bluebeard to a seemingly horrible fate, sending her and her lover away on the ship, the Cameleon, to a deserted island where they shall live out the rest of their limited days together. He rejects the Female Bluebeard brutally, while secretly arranging them both safe passage out of the Morne au Diable. Angelina bestows upon the Chevalier a medallion with her initials, and it is all the Chevalier needs to face the unpredictable hardships which lie ahead of him.

The Chevalier puts off his departure several times, afraid of the charade being discovered, but ultimately boards the ship to England, with little suspicion from the Monsieur de Chemeraut. It is at this time that Captain Daniel, commander of the ship, the Unicorn, approaches Monsieur de Chemeraut, requesting to sail alongside him for protection against pirates. Monsieur de Chemeraut refuses, but Captain Daniel sails alongside them anyways, carefully maneuvering his ship to avoid any attacks by the Fulminate, Monsieur de Chemeraut’s ship. The convenience of these ships’ locations works well for the Chevalier, as his treachery is discovered aboard the Fulminate by the Duke’s most adoring partisans, Lord Mortimer, Lord Rothsay, and Lord Dudley, and to avoid death or imprisonment, he jumps into the surrounding sea. The ship, the Cameleon, holding both Angelina and John, having appeared alongside the Fulminate as well, gives the Chevalier the distraction he needs to escape and board the Unicorn. The Chevalier, and Angelina and John tearfully part ways, the revered Lord Duke being pursued by the befuddled and furious French frigate. On board the Unicorn, Father Griffon and the Captain Daniel fill the Chevalier in on the orders they had received to accept him onto the ship, and surprise him with the last gift of the Lord Duke and Angelina; the ship, the Unicorn, and all its cargo. Again, receiving it as a hit to his ego, the Chevalier prescribes to Father Griffon in a note that he refuses the gift and has left the ownership to the Reverend to use charitably, as he sees fit. The Chevalier departs, beginning a new journey to Muscovy where he will enlist as a soldier under the Czar Peter.

The Abbey of Saint Quentin: An Epilogue to the Female Bluebeard
The opening page of “The Abbey of Saint Quentin”

The epilogue opens up on a convent, roughly eighteen years after the events of the Female Bluebeard, where the monks are corpulent and greedy. Two young farmer’s children by the names of Jacques and Angelina are approached by one of Reverends, who demands of them the produce and grains indebted to him by their father. Diseased since the last couple of months, the father is bedridden and incapable of work, their mother taking care of him, leaving them all penniless. Regardless, the Reverend threatens to displace them and lease their farm to a more able farmer. These words are heard by an old man with sad eyes and furs, and he approaches them feeling sympathy for their situation. Upon hearing their names and witnessing the startling similarities between them and the woman he once loved, the man, the Chevalier is overcome with emotion as always.  He requests of the children to stay in their barn and to be given a simple dinner which he will pay for. They depart together to see their father, and upon entering and seeing their mother, who is now middle-aged and dressed very plainly, the Chevalier faints. Angelina, the Female Bluebeard, does not recognize the Chevalier until she and her children come across the medallion she had once gifted him, tied around his neck just beside his heart.

The three old friends reunite, and the Chevalier asks of them to stay in their company for the rest of his life, paying rent to cover the needs of the struggling family. They accept after some groveling, neither party quick to accept gifts, and the Chevalier decides to search for the Father Griffon to reclaim his money from the sale of the Unicorn. The Father, still alive and having spent much of the money to become the proprietor of an estate, happily gives it to the three friends who reside there with their children for the rest of their days, their lives blissful and peaceful at last.


Bibliography

“Amusements, &C.” The Lady’s Newspaper, no 512 (October 18, 1856): 246.

“Eugene Sue: His Life and Works.” Bentley’s Miscellany (July 1858): 54-66.

“Literature: The Female Bluebeard,” Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, no 96 (September 22, 1844).

“Popular Books to be had by Order of All Booksellers.” Reynolds Miscellany (November 14,1846): 32.

“Provincial Theatricals.” The Era, no 335 (February 23, 1845).

The Standard [London], Issue 6273 (August 26, 1844): 1.

“Sales by Auction.” The Athenaeum, Issue 1178 (May 25, 1850): 546.

Sue, Eugène. The Female Bluebeard: or The Adventurer. London: W. Strange, 1845.

“Tales of Mystery: A Noble Scamp.” The London Journal (September 10, 1898): 241.


Researcher: Halle Strosser