The Recluse of the Woods

The Recluse of the Woods

The Recluse of the Woods; Or, The Generous Warrior

Author: Unknown
Publisher: J. Roe
Publication Year: 1809
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 9.8cm x 15.5cm
Pages: 36
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .R425 1809


In this circa 1809 chapbook set in the county of Sussex and featuring royalty and forbidden love, one intriguing romance revolves around an Earl’s daughter and a mysterious man’s son who lives alone in the woods. 


Material History

This particular copy of The Recluse of The Woods is especially rich in both history and mystery. At first glance, several properties of the physical appearance of the book raise questions regarding the book’s history. The binding of the book is made of plain blue paper with nothing printed on it, while also being held together by just enough stitching to keep it stable. The physical book itself is extremely thin, with its height measuring 15.5 cm and it’s width measuring 9.8 cm. Additionally, the cover of the book is completely empty and simple, signaling the inexpensive qualities of the object. Inside the book, the interior pages follow the precedent set by the exterior as the pages are very thin and worn out. The color of the pages are yellowed, representing a light cream color, however are still relatively intact without major stains. 

The title page for The Recluse of the Woods

A detailed illustration is present in the beginning of the text, showing a well-dressed man and two women greeting each other, while another man watches from the bushes afar. The illustration seems to be either hand coloring or watercoloring while still being in good condition. There’s also a castle in the background, near the upper left corner. Once again, this illustration further points to the ambiguity of The Recluse of The Woods, as there is no caption or description beneath the drawing that provides information on the meaning of the illustration. The one possible inference that can be made is that the man and two women greeting each other are colleagues, while the man watching from afar seems more suspicious and unwelcome. 

The title page prints “The Recluse of The Woods” first, followed by “Or, The Generous Warrior.” Underneath the two titles reads, “A Gothic Romance.” The mysterious qualities of the book are further exemplified by the absence of the author’s name, which is nowhere present in the chapbook. 

In terms of text within the book, all pages have closely-set text with wide margins due to the edges not being trimmed. The font is relatively small. For each page of text, the number of the page is written in the top left corner of the page, while the top of the even-page numbers read “The Recluse of” and the top of the odd-page numbers read “The Woods.” There are thirty-six pages of text total in the book. 


Textual History

While The Recluse of the Woods proves to be an interesting novel offering a unique perspective from gothic literature, the actual history of the text is quite ambiguous. A few key details about the circumstances in which The Recluse of the Woods was made are known, namely regarding the publication of the text. The novel was published in 1809 in London, printed by a man named Thomas Maiden, and the publishers were John Roe and Ann Lemoine. These three also worked together for the production of many other novels during the early nineteenth century, publishing books such as The Castle of Alvidaro and The Round Tower. Additionally, there are several copies of The Recluse of the Woods held in both the United States and England, with schools such as The University of Virginia, Yale University, and The University of Oxford each holding copies of the novel. 

While this information provides some insight into The Recluse of the Woods, the biggest mystery surrounding the novel is the identity of the author. While their identity seems to be hidden, Frederick S. Frank provides substantial information on the novel in a chapter called “The Gothic Romance,” explaining how The Recluse of the Woods was “written with Charlotte Smith’s Ethelinde; or, The Recluse of the Lake in view” (139). While the author of The Recluse of the Woods seems to be absent from most databases, Charlotte Smith was well known for her novels and poems during the late eighteenth century.

The frontispiece for The Recluse of the Woods

Charlotte Smith was an English novelist and poet, born in 1749 and living until 1806. In her career spanning twenty-two years, she produced ten novels, two translations, three books of poetry, and six educational works for children (Napier). Most of her novels earned high praise throughout the duration of her career, while also drawing some debate and criticism for her writing style and views. Among her critics, some voiced their disagreement with democratic sympathies, as well as her radical attitudes toward conventional morality and her political ideas of class equality. Some of the key qualities associated with Smith’s writing were her tendency to work self-consciously and experimentally within the fiction genre. Moreover, she often focused on the celebration of nature within her books, while also frequently adopting the prototypical figure of the wanderer as a vehicle for social commentary. Smith was also a “wanderer,” of sorts, for much of her career, making sense of her attraction towards this characterization (Zimmerman).

While Charlotte Smith saw herself as a poet first and foremost, many of Smith’s novels developed the frame of the story according to Gothic and sentimental traditions. Some of her novels even contained poetic scenes, such as the novel related to The Recluse of the Woods, namely Ethelinde; or the Recluse of the Lake. Published in 1790 in Dublin, Ireland, The Recluse of the Lake was received with mixed reviews by critics, as many saw the novel being equal in excellence to one Smith’s best-known works Emmeline, while some disregarded this notion. One particular critic directly challenges this notion, explaining, “If we compare Ethelinde with Emmeline, it will be found less full of adventure, of sudden changes of fortune, and less interesting by its humble denouement. The characters are not too prominent, nor their outlines so broad” (“Ethelinde” 57). Because the poetic scenes revolved around natural landscapes in the The Recluse of the Lake, the novel adopts a static, lingering quality exactly suited to the tone of its heroine’s introspective melancholy (Napier). While poetic scenes play an important role in The Recluse of the Lake, the novel ultimately is characterized by containing sentimental narratives with Gothic elements, similar to her three other works that she produced during the same time period, like Emmeline and Celestina (Ravin). The Recluse of the Woods harnesses the same sentimental narratives, but ultimately did not have the same critical impact or the same staying power as Charlotte Smith’s novel.


Narrative Point of View

The Recluse of The Woods is narrated in the third person by an external narrator who does not appear in the text. The narration is quite descriptive and observational, as the narrator tends to paint a picture of the scene and describe characters’ physical characteristics prior to introducing the dialogue. Also, the narrator repeatedly tells the reader about characters internal conflict and feelings throughout the novel. 

Sample Passage: 

Many other lessons were given to Eliza, by her father and the Lady Gertrude, and she was then left by them to weep for Edgar, and sigh over the hardness of her fate. About the hour of noon the shrill voice of the trumpet announced to her the approach of Lord Harold; she trembled at the sound, and as the untamed fawn flies from the approach of the passenger, she ran to her chamber, anxious to avoid all intercourse with her fellow beings. (24) 

With the presence of third-person narration in The Recluse of The Woods, characters’ feelings and thoughts are highlighted clearly, as shown through this sample passage. Key phrases like “she trembled at the sound” and “anxious to avoid” ultimately underline the fear of the character, Eliza, regarding her impending arranged marriage. Additionally, the narrator also highlights the uncomfortable elements present in this scene to heighten the anxiety-filled environment. Consequently, Eliza’s characterization becomes stronger, as her desire for a life with Edgar is contrasted with her fear of marrying Lord Harold, and both emotions are very strong. 


Summary

The novel begins in the middle of the thirteenth century at Montville Castle, a noble edifice, which lies in the county of Sussex. The Earl of Blancy, the proprietor of Montville Castle, is away in battle for the Christian Army in Palestine while his eighteen-year-old daughter Eliza lives at the castle with Lady Gertrude, a middle-aged woman who envies Eliza’s youth, beauty, and innocence. Lady Gertrude has lived with Eliza since she was eleven years old, as her mother passed away when she was young. While the castle is rich in land, there are some neighbors living nearby, one being a solitary man named Ambrose Phillips. He lives in a poor, wooded cottage area with his teenage son Edgar; both men have a young ambiance and strong appearance. No one knows anything about either of them, but they frequently encounter Eliza and Lady Gertrude on walks through the woods. 

One day, as the two groups pass each other, Eliza and Edgar share a moment of intimacy, while Lady Gertrude notices and appears unhappy with Eliza. Lady Gertrude fears a relationship forming between Eliza and Edgar, since she knows Eliza’s father would not be happy with her marrying a peasant. A few days later, the Earl returns after his long war experience, and is shocked by Eliza’s sprouting growth and beauty. Lady Gertrude tells the Earl about the neighbors the next morning, and he says they must be the poorest of his neighbors, and is suspicious of the relationship between Eliza and Edgar. 

The Earl visits Phillips with his servant Robert, who knows Phillips from past meetings. He tells the Earl that Phillips is a man in love with solitude, while also saying that Phillips has seen enough of the world to dislike it now. However, he also tells the Earl that he is a worthy man, with an entertaining personality and a good heart. Once they arrive at the cottage, they see the two men outside cutting trees, and stop immediately to listen in on their conversation. They overhear Edgar telling Phillips that he wants to be a soldier because of all the stories and books that Phillips has shared with him, but Phillips ultimately shuts this conversation down by telling Edgar he can still be a good man without becoming a soldier. Edgar even offers becoming a soldier for the Earl, but Phillips maintains his position. Once the conversation ceases, the Earl makes his presence known and invites the two to the castle for dinner. 

Once they arrive, the Earl has a great time with Phillips and Edgar, so they return repeatedly throughout the week. The Earl also particularly enjoys his time with Edgar, despite his suspicions of his interactions with his daughter. 

This is the first page of text in The Recluse of the Woods, displaying sample text as well as the two titles at the top.

One day while Lady Gertrude and Eliza are walking through the woods, Eliza demands to visit Edgar, but Lady Gertrude denies permission as a precautionary measure so as to not anger the Earl. After arguing for some time, Lady Gertrude walks away, while Eliza notices Edgar above her in a tree after a twig falls on her. After consistent pressure from Edgar, Eliza eventually agrees to kiss him, kissing until they are caught by Lady Gertrude. The two women argue for a short while before a man appears with the appearance of an aged pilgrim, clearly being elderly and fatigued. He asks to see Phillips, and Edgar takes him to see his father after Lady Gertrude and Eliza leave to return to the castle. 

Later that day, the Earl questions Lady Gertrude about past meetings between Edgar and Eliza. Lady Gertrude tells the Earl about their kiss, leaving the Earl enraged. In response, he says that he has arranged a marriage between Eliza and his old friend from battle named Lord Harold de Vanes, who is sixty-four years old. Although Lady Gertrude disagrees with this action, the Earl explains how he made this promise to Lord Harold after Lord Harold saved the Earl’s life in combat. The Earl then dispatches Lady Gertrude to go notify Eliza of this impending marriage. 

Once Eliza hears this news, she begins to weep, saying how she cannot bear to marry Lord Harold because of her love for Edgar. Although Lady Gertrude tells Eliza that she should be excited because Lord Harold is extremely wealthy, Eliza still cannot stop crying. A few moments later, Edgar and Phillips appear and tell the Earl and Eliza that they are leaving their cottage in the woods, but do not disclose why or to where they are heading. After Edgar begs the Earl to let him die at his feet, Phillips picks up Edgar and they both leave the Castle. 

The next morning, Lord Harold arrives at the castle, and immediately voices his concern to the Earl about the marriage with Eliza, lamenting that his war wounds and bald head are not attractive to a girl Eliza’s age. The Earl disagrees, but Lord Harold is still evidently distraught. When Eliza comes down to greet the Lord, she explains how she was told a past prophecy where she would be happy and fall in love with a man, but not with a man his age. Lord Harold asks her what he can do, and Eliza asks him to persuade his father to let her marry Edgar. Lord Harold agrees to this, and tells the Earl of their discussion. He specifically tells him that it is every man’s duty to guide happiness for others, and how he should let Eliza marry Edgar. 

After this exchange, the novel goes into a side note about the history of Ambrosio Phillips and his son, explaining how they are actually descendants of Sir Hildebrand De Raymond, a nobleman known for his bravery in the battle for the Christian army in Palestine. Edgar’s real name is Eudgene, and he is now the heir of the De Raymond castle. 

Back in the present moment, Edgar arrives at Montville Castle under the name of Sir Eugene de Raymond, asking for a meeting with the Earl. The Earl is shocked when he sees it to actually be Phillips and Edgar, and Eliza is overcome with happiness when the two embrace in joy. Lord Harold is similarly happy for Edgar and Eliza, as the two are finally married with Lady Gerturde performing the ceremony.


Bibliography

“Ethelinde; or the Recluse of the Lake.” The Critical Review, or, Annals of Literature, vol. 3, 1791, pp. 57–61.

Napier, Elizabeth R. “Charlotte (Turner) Smith.” British Novelists, 1660-1800, edited by Martin C. Battestin, Gale, 1985. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 39. Gale Literature Resource Center, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/H1200003646/LitRC?u=viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=cc8ebd20. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

Ravin, Kate. “Charlotte (Turner) Smith.” Eighteenth-Century British Poets: Second Series, edited by John E. Sitter, Gale, 1991. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 109. Gale Literature Resource Center, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/H1200003647/LitRC?u=viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=7e5dd560. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

The Recluse of the Woods, London, J. Roe and Ann Lemoine, 1809.

Tymn, Marshall B., editor. “The Gothic Romance.” Horror Literature: a Core Collection and Reference Guide, by Frederick S. Frank3, R.R. Bowker Company, 1981, pp. 3–178.

Zimmerman, Sarah M. “Smith [née Turner], Charlotte (1749–1806), poet and novelist.” Oxford     Dictionary of National Biography.  October 04, 2007. Oxford University Press. Date of access 27 Oct. 2020,<https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-25790>


Researcher: Kent B. Williams

Parental Murder

Parental Murder

Parental Murder; or, the Brothers, an Interesting Romance; in which Virtue and Villainy are Contrasted, and Followed by Reward and Retribution.

Author: Unknown
Publisher: T. and R. Hughes
Publication Year: 1807
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11cm x 18cm
Pages: 40
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.P345 1807


Set in the Italian countryside, this 1807 chapbook sees seemingly supernatural justice dealt after a deceitful and power-hungry prince murders his father, usurps the throne, and abducts his brother’s lover.


Material History

Parental Murder is anineteenth-century chapbook written by an unknown author. When the novel is opened past its first blank page, one is presented with an illustration on the second page, and the title page appears on the third. The bulk of the title page is dedicated to the novel’s full title and a brief description: “PARENTAL MURDER; OR, THE BROTHERS, AN INTERESTING ROMANCE; IN WHICH VIRTUE AND VILLAINY ARE CONTRASTED, AND FOLLOWED BY REWARD AND RETRIBUTION.” The title page indicates that the novel was printed for T. and R. Hughes by printers Lewis & Hamblin. A date at the bottom of the title page indicates that it was published in 1807. Interestingly, the title page makes no mention of the novel’s author.

The frontispiece for Parental Murder.

The illustration on the second page is in black-and-white, depicting a scene from the main text. In the image, a woman clad in flowing white robes looks down upon a man lying dead on the ground, facing upward. The illustration is accompanied by a caption reading, “A fire-ball, impelled by the arm of unerring Omnipotence, laid the libertine dead at my feet. Page 27.” As suggested, this text appears in a passage on page 27.

The chapbook itself measures 11cm wide by 18cm tall. Stitching holes in each page’s inner margins suggest that the chapbook was originally bound, but this particular book has had its binding removed, and its first blank page serves as a kind of cover. The book’s paper is thin, brittle, yellowed, and very grainy—one feels pulp as they run their finger across each page. At its edges, the paper is frayed and rough. The book appears to have been printed on relatively cheap material, and this particular copy is especially well-worn; several of its pages are on the brink of coming apart from one another.

The chapbook is numbered as containing forty pages; however, counting from the novel’s blank first page, there are actually only thirty-eight pages. The novel’s first numbered page—page 8—appears only six pages in. Every page number thereafter is consecutive; if these two pages are missing, they must have been taken from before page 8. It is ultimately unclear if any pages actually are missing; no content appears to be omitted from these first pages. It is probable that either the two absent pages are blank or that page counting simply begins at an unusual number.

The cover page for Parental Murder, complete with ownership markings.

The blank first page—while devoid of print—does contain several ownership markings. The name “Sophia” is stamped identically three times near the top. Underneath, a partially-legible script indicates the name “Barbara Bounby” and the date range June 3rd to June 16th, 1810. (However, the specific days in June are somewhat unclear—the script is blotted and individual characters become difficult to decipher.) Near the bottom of the page, “Le” is written in a similar script with identical color.

After the main body of the text begins, the title of the book appears only in its abbreviated form: “PARENTAL MURDER; OR,” alongside “THE BROTHERS.” printed in the top margins of the left and right pages, respectively. Each page in the text’s main body has thin margins. The type is small, seriffed, and heavyset. The lines are short and tightly packed; the pages, while small, are dense. The body of the text contains no illustrations beyond the introductory frontispiece on the second page.

The body text is marked on two separate pages. First, on page 22, two x-marks made in pencil surround the phrase “of his heart.” Higher up on the same page, an (ostensibly accidental) pencil marking veers off the top edge. On page 31, the word “Regicide!” is underlined in pen. These two pages are the only two with obvious, visible annotations; the rest of the text is unmarked.


Textual History

Very little information is available concerning the writing, publication, or reception of Parental Murder. Its author is anonymous—the only names listed in the chapbook are those of the publisher and printer. Published in London in 1807, it was apparently released to little fanfare: there are no records of Parental Murder being advertised or reviewed in any periodicals of its time. Furthermore, searches for contemporary literary criticism—or any other kind of secondary scholarship—on the chapbook yield few references.

There are, however, indications that Parental Murder did not go entirely unnoticed by the scholarly community. For instance: it is listed in the expansive Gothic Bibliography by Montague Summers, described simply as “Parental Murder. Chapbook. 1807” (457).A slightly more detailed listing appears in Douglass Thomson’s Gothic Writers: A Critical and Bibliographical Guide; his account includes the chapbook’s full subtitle, its city of publication, and the names of its editors (137). More interesting, however, is Parental Murder’s omission from Gothic Writers’ section on modern reprintings or updated editions. In this section, Thomson maintains a comprehensive list of reprintings, updated editions, and other reproductions of the works he tracks. From this, we can infer that Parental Murder was probably never reprinted or republished as a new edition. Thomson’s finding is consistent with searches across several online catalogs: in each case, no later editions of the chapbook appear. The available scholarly information on the chapbook, while relatively minute, suggests that only one edition has ever been published.

The title page for Parental Murder.

As previously noted, Parental Murder makes no indication of its author; it does, however, include the names of its printers and publishers. Before the body of the text, and once more at its close, the names and address of the books’ printmakers are listed: “Printed by Lewis & Hamblin, Paternoster-row” (Parental Murder 40). Similarly, the title page displays the name and address of the publishers: “Printed for T. and R. Hughes, 35, Ludgate-Hill, Corner of Stationers-Court” (Parental Murder 5). Biographical information on these figures is scarce; Lewis, Hamblin, and R. Hughes are all absent from searches for London printmakers or publishers active during 1807. A brief biographical entry for T. Hughes, however, does appear. The British Museum indicates that he was a British publisher and printmaker located at 35 Ludgate-Hill, consistent with the information in the chapbook. The page also indicates that this figure is “perhaps identical with T Hughes of Stationers’ Court” (“T Hughes”). Observing that the listed address in Parental Murder names both Ludgate-Hill and Stationers’ Court, we can confirm that these two figures likely both refer to the same printmaker.

The British Museum also notes that T. Hughes published several prints by George Cruikshank, a prominent illustrator of the time. Cruikshank was widely known for his political cartoons and illustrations for the likes of Charles Dickens, and his work remains prolific today. The uncredited illustration preceding Parental Murder is almost certainly unconnected to Cruikshank, however, as the chapbook’s publication in 1807predates Cruikshank’s rise as an illustrator in 1811.

Investigating the site of Parental Murder’s printing and publication places the chapbook at the center of the bustling London publishing and printmaking industries. Paternoster-row, the address attributed to printers Lewis and Hamblin, was a nexus of printmaking and principally occupied by “stationers and text-writers” (Thornbury chapter 23). The chapbook’s publishers, T. and R. Hughes, were situated at the corner of the nearby Stationers’ Court. Stationers’ Court is a small path that departs from Ludgate Hill Street and leads to the entrance of Stationers’ Hall (see this Ordnance Survey map to view the precise streets). Stationers’ Hall housed the Stationers’ Company, a government-chartered literary authority that extensively vetted and registered British publications: “almost every publication … was required to be ‘entered at Stationers’ Hall’” (Thornbury chapter 19). In this sense, the sites of Parental Murder’s printing and publication were both mere footsteps away from the epicenter of London publishing, pinning the chapbook’s production to the literal geographic center of a flourishing literary trade.


Narrative Point of View

Parental Murder features an anonymous, third-person narrator whose relationship to the text is left undefined. The novel’s prose is grandiose, long-winded, and, at times, almost breathless in nature: short and succinct sentences are often interposed with very long, grammatically complex ones. The narration shifts freely between making matter-of-fact observations on plot points and offering reflections on the inner thoughts, emotions, and secret motivations of the characters.

Sample Passage:

With malicious looks, Rabano saw that all the favours he had been suing for at the side of this lovely peerless maiden were unhesitatingly granted to his brother, and with such an arch plausibility of excuse, that it was impossible to refuse without exposing his disappointment and vexation. Romano afterwards danced with her, and the whisper every where ran, “What a figure! what grace! what sweetness!” “It must be so!” exclaimed Rabano inwardly; “I must—I will have her; and Zalarra shall decide upon the measures to be pursued!” (20)

Parental Murder’s willingness to freely transition between objective, plot-driven narration and inward, emotionally focused musings serves primarily to align its high-octane, action-packed storyline with a core thematic message about the supreme importance of virtue. Looking at plot events alone, the novel’s storyline traces out a familiar dramatic arc: the power-hungry, parricidal son whose sins catch up to him in the end. At the same time, the insights into characters’ private thoughts and motivations help to drive the thematic content: from these insights, it becomes clear that Romano is to be seen as virtuous, and his brother Rabano is not. In the passage above, Rabano’s inward exclamations of jealousy and lust serve to cement him as the iniquitous foil to his virtuous brother. Having established this characterization, when Romano ultimately triumphs, the narrator is able to assert that “virtue is the only true path to greatness, love, and glory!” (40). In this way, the intermingling narrative delivery of plot content and emotional content is key to presenting a compelling plot while also making a clear statement of theme.


Summary

Baretti is a powerful king who rules over an expansive dominion in Italy. He has two sons, Rabano and Romano. Romano, the younger brother, is the clear favorite of the two; he is revered by his parents for his virtuous character. In contrast, Rabano is power-hungry and ruthless. He resolves to conquer land for himself and sets his sights on the land of Ardini, a nearby ally. Baretti sees a learning opportunity: he supplies Rabano with men and armaments, hoping that brutal defeat will show Rabano to be incapable of leadership.

One day, Ardini’s men trespass on Baretti’s land, and Rabano seizes the opportunity to mount a retaliatory attack. But when it becomes clear that Rabano is interested in senseless brutality, Baretti and his men come to Ardini’s aid; their forces combined, Rabano will certainly suffer crushing defeat. Rabano, realizing this, develops a burning hatred for his father and resolves to get revenge. He enlists his trusted assistant Zalarra to disguise himself as a priest and sneak to Ardini’s camp, where Baretti is currently staying. Zalarra finds Baretti in the camp and tells him that Rabano is prepared to make a peace offering.

Baretti follows him to meet Rabano in an isolated dell. But when he arrives, Rabano gives his father an ultimatum: betray Ardini and aid in the conquest of his land, or be killed where he stands. Baretti realizes that the peace offering was a setup and begins to fight his assailants, but he is eventually overcome and stabbed. Baretti is buried in a prepared grave, and the assassins return home.

The next morning, Ardini’s camp is in a state of confusion. Without orders from Baretti, the supplementary forces will not go into battle—condemning Ardini to certain defeat at the hands of Rabano. They enact a short truce with Rabano while they search for Baretti—but find nothing.

Rabano takes the throne. He is shocked, however, when Zalarra finds Baretti’s grave unearthed and the body missing. Rabano is shaken by this discovery, but he rules as if nothing is wrong. He sends Romano on a mission to a neighboring chief, and he plans to throw a party to celebrate his ascension to power. Despite their strained relationship, Ardini is invited.

At the party, Ardini is accompanied by his beautiful daughter Miranda. When Rabano sees her, he is immediately enamored and resolves to make her his own. He asks her to dance, but she refuses. Suddenly, Romano bursts into the party. Romano explains that the hostile neighboring chief detained him, but he managed to escape and make his way home. Rabano promises to look into the matter later.

Romano catches glimpse of Miranda. He asks her to dance, and she gladly accepts. Rabano is incensed at seeing this, and he plans how he will win Miranda’s hand. Rabano pulls Miranda and Ardini into a private apartment. Ardini steps into a neighboring room to give them some privacy, but the door is shut on him and he finds himself trapped. Now alone with Miranda, Rabano urges her to marry him, but she confesses that she already loves Romano.

Unprompted, Miranda remarks that Rabano and Zalarra look suspiciously similar to two hooded figures she saw on the night of Baretti’s murder. That same night, she had planned a secret meeting with Romano—in the same isolated dell where Baretti was murdered. She arrived at the dell before the murderers, but when she heard them approaching, she hid behind a tree. She has not mentioned anything out of fear for herself and Romano.

Rabano cautions her to keep quiet. If her story got out, Romano could be in serious danger; he too was missing on the night of the murder. Miranda agrees and swears to stay silent. Rabano renews his attempts at courting her. When she refuses again, he forces her towards a hidden chamber.

Meanwhile, Ardini suspects foul play when he is not let out of the locked room. He escapes through a window, finds Romano, and explains that he fears for Miranda; the group heads for the castle’s private apartments. When a guard stops them, they slay him and rush upstairs just in time to catch Rabano forcing Miranda into the hidden chamber.

Miranda steals Rabano’s weapon and tries to stab him, but the blade breaks in two and fails to injure him. Soldiers alerted by Zalarra descend on the group and arrest Romano and Ardini for high treason. Until their trial, Miranda is to be detained in the hidden apartment, where Rabano persists in his attempts for her hand almost daily.

Sample page from the body of Parental Murder, with an underline marked beneath the word “Regicide!”

One night, Rabano sneaks into Miranda’s chamber while she is asleep and plants a kiss on her lips. He prepares to rape her, but a suit of armor steps off its pedestal and stands between them. It shouts: “Thy reign is short! At the trial, parricide, thou shalt behold me again” (30). The apparition scares Rabano off from his attempts to violate Miranda.

The night before the trial, Rabano and Zalarra get drunk together. Zalarra continues to give Rabano alcohol until he passes out on the floor. Zalarra also has an eye for Miranda; he steals the keys to her secret chamber, sneaks in, and kisses her while she sleeps. Before he can continue, however, a figure in black robes shouts “Regicide!” (31). The figure warns Zalarra to repent. Zalarra flees, wakes Rabano, but decides not to tell him about what he saw. Instead, Zalarra suggests they search the castle for any other apparitions. While searching, they discover that Miranda has escaped from her chamber. Their efforts to locate her are fruitless.

Secretly, Miranda was conveyed by a mysterious monk to a cottage outside of the castle through a hidden tunnel. In the cottage, she meets a former servant of Baretti, who promises to lead her to the chamber where the trial will be held, so she can expose Rabano and Zalarra. On the day of the trial, Ardini is tried first; he confesses to killing guards in pursuit of Rabano, but he expects that the detention of his daughter will justify his conduct. Romano is tried next. A priest steps up and testifies the dying confession of a deserting soldier named Afran, who had allegedly stumbled upon Romano burying Baretti’s body. He had pursued Romano, but Romano escaped, and Afran was mortally wounded in the struggle. He did, however, manage to grab a gorget bearing Romano’s name during the fight.

Romano explains that he was present at the dell on the night of the murder—but only to see Miranda. As he arrived, he saw a figure stab the victim. He was unable to reach the assassins in time, so he unearthed the body and resolved to carry it to a nearby house. The body was too heavy, however, so he instead brought it to a nearby cave. Afran, seeing Romano carry the body, mistook him for the assassin and attacked.

The judge is prepared to issue a death sentence for Romano when Miranda bursts in. She presents the cloak and banner Baretti wore on the night of his murder, which were found in Rabano’s strongbox. The courtroom descends into chaos until the aforementioned priest announces that he has one more piece of evidence—a piece of paper naming the murderer, given by Afran in his final moments. Zalarra snatches the paper from him and rips it to pieces. Chaos returns, and the priest suddenly blows a whistle. The room is instantly flooded with soldiers, and a figure appears at the head of the courtroom.

To everyone’s surprise, the figure is Baretti himself. He explains that he survived the assassination attempt. After being carried to the cave, he told Afran that Rabano was guilty. Since then, Baretti has been living in the cottage, disguised as one of his own servants.

The courtroom instantly condemns Zalarra and Rabano. The judge assigns both fiends formidable sentences. Rabano is confined to a cell at the top of a large tower, which eventually collapses and crushes him to death. Romano is declared the worthy successor to Baretti, and he reigns “with unabated splendor” (40).


Bibliography

“George Cruikshank.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 23 Sept. 2020, www.britannica.com/biography/George-Cruikshank.

Ordnance Survey. Director General of the Ordnance Survey, Chessington, Surrey, 1953. Map. https://maps.nls.uk/view/102904585.

Parental Murder. London, T. and R. Hughes, 1807.

Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. London, Fortune Press, 1964.

Thomson, Douglass H., et al. Gothic Writers: A Critical and Bibliographical Guide. Greenwood Press, 2002.

Thornbury, Walter. Old and New London: Volume 1. London, Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878. British History Online. 27 October 2020. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol1.

“T Hughes.” British Museum, www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG163433.


Researcher: Joe Kerrigan

Arthur and Mary

Arthur and Mary

Arthur and Mary, or the Fortunate Fugitives 

Author: John Corry
Publisher: B. Crosby and Co. 
Publication Year: 1803
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.80cm x 17.15cm
Pages: 32
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.C674 A 1803


A tale of adventure, romance, and friendship, John Corry’s 1803 chapbook follows a protagonist’s escape from political persecution, and later follows the story of distant lovers. 


Material History

Arthur and Mary, a gothic novel written by John Corry, was published in 1803. Arthur and Mary is currently located in the Sadler-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction in the University of Virginia’s Special Collections Library. It is interesting to note that the edition of Arthur and Mary in the University of Virginia’s Special Collections Library bears the full title Arthur and Mary, or the Fortunate Fugitives. The title page of this book looks especially modern, with a clear description of the title, author, and publisher of this book. The author’s name, John Corry, is qualified by a sentence reading “author of a satirical view of London, The Detector of quackery, & c.” While the general organization of the book looks modern, such as the title page and the way that book is split into chapters with page numbers at the top of each page, the age of this book is clearly seen in the novel’s appearance. This novel is fairly small, about 6.75 inches long by 4.25 inches wide, with delicate, thin pages. These pages are yellowed, somewhat textured, brittle, and have faint fingerprints on a few pages. The color of these pages resembles a paper that is covered with marks from tea bags. It appears as though only a thin layer of glue is holding the pages of this book together, as there is no clear material binding. This novel most likely had a leather binding with string running through each page holding the pages together, as this was a common binding method during the time period in which Arthur and Mary, or the Fortunate Fugitives was printed. Similarly, there are multiple holes on the side of the pages, suggesting that there was in fact a string that used to hold this book together. This book is clearly aged, and representative of what a book printed over two-hundred years ago would look like.

The frontispiece for Arthur and Mary depicting Mary holding on to a rock after a shipwreck

The overall appearance of this book is worn, used, and stained. The structured format of the title pages and chapters as well as the detailed illustration on inside of the front cover, gives an elegant feel to the book, and suggests thoughtful writing. However, the fact that the original binding of this book is not preserved and that the gothic genre was considered an unsophisticated genre during the time that this book was printed lends a cheap feel to this book. When looking at a randomly selected page in the book, it is clear that there is consistency within the novel. For instance, like the various pages in the novel, the randomly selected page was yellowed, somewhat textured, brittle, and had faint fingerprint marks. The text on all of the pages appears smaller than a standard font in more modern novels, which might be due to the small size of the book in general. 

The illustration on the inside cover of the first page is captioned “Mary half dead, held by the rock with the instinctive eagerness of self-preservation,” and depicts a scene from the novel. In the foreground, this illustration depicts a woman holding on to rocks in the middle of a sea, in somewhat of a helpless way. In the background, this illustration depicts a shipwreck, as well as another person located on the other side of the rocks. There are no illustrations throughout the rest of the book, but there does appear to be decorative elements on the title page and on the pages that start a new chapter. The last page of the book is the last page of the story. There is no additional page after the final page of text. 

There are no indications of ownership in this book: no names written in the book, notes in the margin, stamps from libraries, bookplates, inserts, or other post-production marks. This could suggest that the book was in the hands of only a few people. 


Textual History

The title page for Arthur and Mary

John Corry—author of Arthur and Mary, or the Fortunate Fugitives—was born in north Ireland, and began his writing career in Dublin as a journalist (Mulvihill). His upbringing and education are unknown, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that he is presumed to have been self-taught (Goodwinn). In the early 1790s, he moved to London where he became a bookseller and publisher at Princess Street, Leicester Square, and also became a member of the Philological Society of Manchester (Mulvihill, Pitcher 83). The journals The Miscellaneous Works of John Corry, and Romantic London: John Corry and the Georgic City both cite the difficulty in articulating John Corry’s cannon (Mulvihill, Pitcher 83). The Miscellaneous Works of John Corry cites that the reason for this lack of a cannon is because “many of [John Corry’s] publications have been difficult to date accurately, because new editions and reissues of titles were frequent, and because works first published as part of a series were often reprinted separately” (Pitcher 83). However, it is certain that Corry’s work included poetry, novels, biographies, histories, satires, and juvenile literature (Mulvihill, Pitcher 83). Corry’s main writings in London are A Satirical View of LondonThe English MetropolisMemoirs of Edward Thornton, and A Sketch of Modern Dissipation in London (Mulvihill). Corry’ biographical writings include biographies on George Washington (1800), William Cowper (1803), and Joseph Priestley (1804) (Goodwinn). In addition to Arthur and Mary, John Corry published seventeen other books from 1800 to 1815. Limited information about John Corry’s life after 1825 is known, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that his “works have now fallen into complete obscurity” (Goodwinn).

The advertisement for Arthur and Mary

In 1803, Crosby and Co, a London-based publishing company, published Arthur and Mary (Mulvihill). Crosby and Co. published Arthur and Mary in English, and English is assumed to be the only language that Arthur and Mary has been published in as there are no indications of this book being translated. The journal article “Making Austen Mad: Benjamin Crosby and the Non-Publication of ‘Susan,’” examines all of Crosby and Co.’s publications, and notes that Crosby and Co. published mainly “musical pieces and songs,” as well as “numerous children’s works” (Mandal 513). These musical pieces and songs mainly consisted of religious discourses and sermons, and the children’s works mainly consisted of conduct-books and educational textbooks (Mandal 513). Thus, Arthur and Mary was a less popular type of publication for Crosby and Co. The journal article argues that Crosby and Co. “was certainty not as low-key as” some critics have professed, as proven by prominent titles that Crosby and Co. published (Mandal 513). This journal article, however, does not categorize Arthur and Mary as one of these prominent titles, and states that “Crosby and Co.’s less eminent credentials are underlined by the fair number of chapbooks it published” (Mandal 513). In its footnote, this journal article cites Arthur and Mary as one of these chapbooks.

One edition of Arthur and Mary is located in the Sadleir-Black Collection in the Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia. Arthur and Mary is cited in Montague Summers’s Gothic Bibliography (236). The WorldCat database indicates that other than the University of Virginia library, there are only four other libraries that have Arthur and Mary in their collections. These libraries include the Northwestern University Library in Illinois, US, the University of Notre Dame Library in Indiana, US, and the University of Oxford Library in the UK. This suggests that there are not many publications of Arthur and Mary in circulation, and possibly not many printings or subsequent editions of this book. There is no indication that this book has any prequels or sequels, or that there are any contemporary digital copies of this book on the Internet. 

There is not much information about how Arthur and Mary was received when it was originally published, demonstrated by the absence of reviews about this book, or of any information about how many copies of this book were sold. Arthur and Mary, however, is mentioned in Franz J. Potter’s The History of Gothic Publishing, 1800–1835 in Appendix 2 “Gothic Bluebooks, 1799–1835” (166). 


Narrative Point of View

Arthur and Mary is narrated in third person by an omniscient narrator who is never introduced in the text. The narrator’s style consists of detailed descriptions of scenery, events, and characters’ internal emotions. The narration begins following only Arthur, the protagonist of the novel, and his journey away from his home due to political persecution. The narrator later follows Mary, Arthur’s love interest, in addition to Arthur, and tells both storylines of the characters falling in love and each character’s journey traveling from Ireland to London. The narration is chronological, told in the past tense, and does not contain any flashbacks. The narrator writes in concise, yet descriptive, sentences with a hopeful and passionate tone. 

Example of Third-Person Narration:

When Mary retired to her room she found this letter, and read it with a tumultuous emotion of mingling passions. Surprise, love, and joy, electrified every nerve. She resolved to answer the letter, which she read repeatedly, and her vanity was not a little gratified with the contents. It was the first love-letter she had ever received; but how to answer it was the point. She placed paper upon the table before her, dipped her pen into the ink, and after casting a scrutinizing glance round her chamber, she began with a palpitating heart. Her hand trembled so much that she could not write one word — she desisted — went to a window and opened it to admit fresh air — her spirits revived, and summoning all her fortitude, she wrote as follows… (14)

The narrator’s concise yet heavily detailed sentences are present throughout this passage. This passage occurs directly after Mary finds Arthur’s letter, in which he professes his love for her, and directly before the narrator tells of what is said in Mary’s letter back to Arthur. The explicit description of Mary’s emotions after Mary reads Arthur’s letter, using words like “tumultuous,” “mingling,” “electrified,” “palpitating,” and “trembled,” adds to the suspense of the novel, as these words signify such great levels of feeling and passion. Consequently, this passage, as representative of the narration throughout the novel, demands attention from the reader. The thorough description of Mary’s actions after reading the letter are also consistent with many gothic tropes, including romance, mystery and fear, and confinement. Verbs like “began” and “revived” in this passage reveal the hopeful and passionate tone found throughout the novel, as this language suggests possibility. 


Summary

This novel begins by introducing Arthur, a sixteen-year-old boy living just outside of Newry, Ireland. Arthur is the son of a farmer, and is taken out of school in order to be homeschooled in agriculture. The novel quickly transitions to Arthur at the age of twenty-two, and describes Arthur as a “tall and well-made” man, whose “mind was ardent,” “passions [were] strong,” and who “view[ed] the world through the medium of enthusiasm” with an “erroneous opinion” (6). With Ireland’s politics in turmoil, Arthur joins the popular party. His outspoken opinions prompt a neighbor to inform the town of Newry, Ireland, that Arthur is a “disseminator of sedition” (6). As a result, soldiers arrive at Arthur’s home and search for him, but Arthur escapes and sets out for England.

On his journey across Ireland, Arthur travels over mountains, passing small villages, and appreciates the mountains, sea, and nature surrounding him. Hunger prompts him to find a large farmhouse, where Owen Conolly, the owner of the farm, receives him with hospitality. Owen is the proprietor of the valley in which this farm is located, and his ancestors had taken possession of this valley when they sought asylum from English King Oliver Cromwell. Arthur sleeps over at this farmhouse, and when he wakes up, he is introduced to Owen’s eighteen-year-old daughter, Mary.

Mary is reserved and bashful, and her “feminine charms” catch Arthur’s admiration (2). As a result, Arthur decides that he should stay at the farm until the political persecution in Newry is over, and during this time he will tutor Mary each day to “further [the] improvement of her mind” (11). Each day, Mary’s beauty captivates Arthur, and he begins falling in love with her. Arthur writes a note to Mary detailing that he has liked her since the moment he saw her, and now he is in love with her and requests that she accept his heart. In finding this letter, Mary is filled with emotions, and writes back saying that she worries Arthur is not genuine in his expression of love, as he is a “gentleman” and she is a “poor woman” (14). Nevertheless, Arthur professes his love for Mary a second time while on a walk together, and she reciprocates these feelings. They kiss, and vow to temporarily keep their love a secret.

This page shows the large margins, justified text, and worn pages, as well as the confrontation when the soldiers find Arthur.

Owen’s oblivion to Arthur and Mary’s love prompts him to give his blessing to Terence Finn, a rich young farmer who became enamored with Mary after seeing her at mass. Terence arrives at the farmhouse, and professes his affection for Mary, but Mary rejects this affection and turns down Terence. Earlier that evening, Owen informed Terence of Arthur’s predicament, and how he is seeking protection from Newry soldiers. When Terence realizes that Mary is in love with Arthur, Terence rides to Newry and informs Arthur’s rivals of Arthur’s whereabouts.

The following day, soldiers arrived at the farmhouse. The soldiers take Arthur into custody, and shove Mary to the ground as she runs to Arthur’s defense and demands that the soldiers take her too. Enraged by the soldier’s aggression towards Mary, Arthur attacks the soldier, and consequently is shot and taken to the county jail in Newry. In distress, Mary travels to the county jail with her loyal friend, Anna. Anna creates an escape plan where she and Arthur switch clothes in order to create a disguise for Arthur. This plan works and Arthur escapes with Mary. Mary returns to her village and Arthur travels to Liverpool. 

Jobless with no friends in Liverpool, Arthur travels to Birmingham. One night during the journey, he wakes up with a fever due to his extensive travels. He slowly recovers after a week of illness, and continues his journey to Birmingham with no money and no home. During this journey, he meets Mr. Heron, a native of Ireland who had just sold his small estate in Ireland. Mr. Heron is traveling across Europe by foot, and Arthur joins him on his way to Birmingham. Throughout their journey, Arthur is charmed by Mr. Heron’s charisma and has a strong belief that philanthropy is a “duty we owe to society” (23). When they reach Birmingham, Mr. Heron urges Arthur to accompany him further on his journey across Europe. Mary’s “voice of love secretly remind[s] Arthur of his solemn promise,” and prompts Arthur to refuse Mr. Heron’s request. Arthur and Mr. Heron part ways (23).

Arthur sets out to London and starts an academy for instructing the youth of London. He constantly writes to Mary, and urges her to come to London. Upon getting Owen’s approval, Mary prepares to travel to London with Anna. Mary and Anna begin their voyage at sea, and Mary is devastated to leave her father and possibly never again return to Ireland, but determined to reconnect with Arthur. Mary and Anna come in contact with a major storm towards the end of their voyage, as they are just off of the Welsh Coast. This storm creates massive waves, thrusting the ship towards the rocky Welsh Coast. The ship crashes into the coast and breaks into pieces, forcing the passengers to swim to shore for survival. Mary and Anna grab wood from the destroyed ship, and venture towards the coast. As they arrive on the coast, Anna helps Mary get on to a rock, but as she attempts to also get on the rock, her traction is lost. The strong waves forcefully throw Anna into the rock, and she is killed.

Other survivors of the shipwreck carry Mary to a farmhouse on the coast, where Mary is distraught about Anna’s death. She writes to Arthur, telling him about the shipwreck, and about her arrival in Conway, Wales. Arthur arrives in Conway and he and Mary are reunited. When they reunite, Mary forgets all of her misfortunes. 

Arthur and Mary get married in Conway, and set out for Arthur’s home in Birmingham the next day. Arthur is said to love England, and to frequently write both his parents and Owen. The novel ends with Arthur happily in love with Mary, engaged in teaching the youth as his occupation, and enjoying “all those social gratifications which are essential to rational felicity” (36).


Bibliography

A. A. Mandal. “Making Austen Mad: Benjamin Crosby and the Non-Publication of ‘Susan.’” The Review of English Studies, vol. 57, no. 231, 2006, pp. 507–25

Corry, John. Arthur and Mary: Or the Fortunate Fugitives. Printed for B. Crosby and Co. [etc.], 1803.

Goodwinn, G. “Corry, John” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 2004, September 23. doi:https://www-oxforddnb-com.proxy01.its.virginia.edu/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-6357 

Mulvihill, James D. “Romantic London: John Corry and the Georgic City.” Studies in the Literary Imagination, vol. 40, no. 1, 2007. Gale Literature Resource Centerhttps://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A180642018/LitRC?u=viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=0215b794. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

PITCHER, E. W. “The Miscellaneous Works of John Corry (1760?–1825?).” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 80, no. 1, 1986, pp. 83–90.

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


Researcher: Carolyn R. Santangelo

The Convent of Saint Usurla

The Convent of Saint Usurla

The Convent of Saint Usurla, or Incidents at Ottagro. An Italian Romance.

Author: Unknown, but abridged from a Sarah Wilkinson novel
Publisher: John Arliss
Publication Year: 1809
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11cm x 18cm
Pages: 40
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.C664 1809


In this abridged version of Sarah Wilkinson’s 1807 novel “The Fugitive Captive,” Magdalena retells the story of the peculiar circumstances in which she has been forced to escape her mysterious husband, the Count de Ottagro.


Material History

The Convent of Saint Usurla, or Incidents at Ottagro. An Italian Romance was published in London on August 22, 1809 with no named author. The full title appears only on the title page; in the header of every other page, it appears only as The Convent of Saint Usurla. It is important to note the spelling of Usurla, not Ursula, in the title. The reason for this misspelling seems to be intentional, as it appears in that form throughout the book; however, the reasoning is unknown. In addition, printing and publishing credit appears on the bottom of the frontispiece and title page, as well as the final page of the book and indicates both printer and publisher to be John Arliss at Bartholomew-Close.  

The title page for The Convent of Saint Usurla

The book is fairly small in size (18 x 11 cm) and without a cover, aside from the title page. This is consistent with the fact that it is likely from an inexpensive chapbook with several other stories. Additionally, the book is disbound. It is precariously held together by thread, evidenced by three small puncture holes on the interior of the pages which it is wound through. On one page, a small fragment of the thread pokes out. Furthermore, the pages are yellowed in an uneven quality throughout the book and scalloped around the edges. Some pages are shorter in width than others. This low quality in binding and appearance can be attributed to its nature as an economical source of entertainment for the public.   

Upon opening the book, one is met with two illustrations. There is a large (13 x 8 cm) illustration on the frontispiece and a smaller (3.5 x 5.5 cm) one on the title page. Both are black and white depictions of scenes from the book. There is a slight reverse image transfer from the large frontispiece illustration onto the adjacent title page. This is due to the differing properties in ink from the two pages. 

The remaining forty pages relay the story of The Convent of Saint Usurla. The text is closely set and fairly small with margins ranging from 1.5 to 2 cm. There are few paragraph indentations, leading to long blocks of uninterrupted text which give the page a crowded appearance. Some pages present words that are precise and clearly distinguishable, while others have ink globs and letters that appear fuzzy. This particular copy of the book has no post-production markings other than one small dark yellow rectangular stain on pages 20 and 21, most likely from a previous owner leaving a scrap of paper in the book for a long period of time. 

At the bottom of various pages, there are signature marks. In the production process, multiple pages were printed on the same large roll of paper which then needed to be folded in the correct order. These signature marks assisted the printers in the folding and binding of the text. Such signature marks appear on pages 3, 5, 15, 19, 25, 27, and 37 and are labeled B, B2, C, C3, D, D3, and E, respectively. Interestingly, each section under a particular signature mark, has a different paper and ink quality than those surrounding it. For example, the paper in signature mark section D is of a visibly lower quality than section C3. Despite the presence of these signature marks, a mistake in the folding of this copy was discovered which led to duplicate copies of pages 25 and 26.  


Textual History

In addition to the copy in the Sadlier-Black Collection at the University of Virginia, The Convent of Saint Usurla, or, Incidents at Ottagro. An Italian Romance (1809) can be found in various forms. For instance, in 2017, a copy of the chapbook was digitized to Google Books by the British National Library. It appears to be the same chapbook edition published by John Arliss, even exhibiting the same mistakes in page numbering. Additionally, the story was republished in Literary Mushrooms: Tales of Horror and Fiction from the Gothic Chapbooks, 1800–1830 by Franz J. Potter in 2009 with the author listed as Sarah Wilkinson. Likewise, a 2004 reprint by the Zittaw Press publishing company lists Sarah Wilkinson as the author as well. 

The reason for this ambiguity regarding the author comes from the fact that the brief chapbook story is an abridged version of the full-length novel, The Fugitive Countess or, Convent of Saint Ursula (1807) by Sarah Wilkinson. Sections of the chapbook story are pulled directly from the novel, with a few small changes. One alteration is the name change of “Ursula” in the novel, which has been printed as “Usurla” in the chapbook. Similarly, the name “Ottagio” in the novel is slightly altered to “Ottagro” in the chapbook. It is unknown if Sarah Wilkinson herself abridged her novel into the chapbook released in 1809, or if it was plagiarized by a counterfeiter, which was a common practice in the day (Frank 142). 

As aforementioned, The Fugitive Countess (1807), written by Sarah Wilkinson and published by J.P. Hughes, is a four-volume novel that expands upon the short chapbook story The Convent of Saint Usurla (1809). There do not appear to be any critical reviews of the novel or chapbook at the time of original publication; however, The Fugitive Countess is found to be advertised in newspapers. For example, the novel is mentioned under the section “New Novels, just published” in the London based newspaper Morning Post on June 12, 1807. Also, in the Morning Post, it is listed as number six in the “Popular novels/Romances” section on January 1, 1808 which indicates that it was at least marginally popular.

Despite the few mentions of the novel at the time of its release, The Fugitive Countess has received some scholarly critical analysis in recent years. In his work, The History of Gothic Publishing, 1800–1835: Exhuming the Trade, Franz Potter notes a striking similarity between Clementina’s interpolated tale from The Fugitive Countess and one of Wilkinson’s previous chapbooks, The Wife of Two Husbands, which was itself an adaptation of a theater musical. He asserts that in the novel, Wilkinson, “drew from other popular themes found in Gothic novels, most notably from Eliza Parsons’s The Mysterious Warning” (128). Despite these similarities, The Fugitive Countess appears to be a legitimate, original novel that was only heavily influenced by popular Gothic works of the time, not plagiarized (History of Gothic Publishing 120).     

A signature mark is shown at the bottom of this page

Nowadays, The Fugitive Countess can be found digitized in the Corvey Collection, a massive collection of European literature from 1790–1840 (Behrendt). It can also be found in, English Language Women’s Literature of the18th & 19th Centuries published by Belser Wissenschaftlicher Dienst in 2004. This republishing of The Fugitive Countess, along with other recent republishings of its chapbook version, may be attributed to the revival of interest in Gothic chapbooks, and author Sarah Wilkinson herself in recent years, as “a case study of middling to lower-class female authorship during the early nineteenth century” (Hoeveler 184). 

A well-known chapbook author of her day, Sarah Carr Wilkinson (1779–1831) was the author of over one-hundred chapbooks, gothic novels, and abridged versions of plays, operas, and popular gothic novels—making her one of the most prolific writers of her genre (“Writing for the Spectre of Poverty” 23). Early on, Wilkinson’s writing career began with children’s books, but she soon transitioned primarily to writing short Gothic chapbooks, also called bluebooks, and full-length novels (Hughes 253). Wilkinson produced many more chapbooks, which were cheaply constructed and sold, than novels. Ultimately, chapbooks were a more profitable venture for her, and writing was her primary source of income (“Writing for the Spectre of Poverty” 23). Her most active and successful years were between 1803 and 1812, in which she received modest popularity in her genre (History of Gothic Publishing 116). Unfortunately, despite her relative popularity in the chapbook scene, Wilkinson “never had the comfort of literary or economic success” and faced a life-long struggle against poverty (“Writing for the Spectre of Poverty” 18). Her financial concerns intensified around 1820, which is exemplified in the many petitions (and denials) for financial assistance from the Royal Literary Fund (History of Gothic Publishing 113). In 1824, after being diagnosed with breast cancer, her plea for assistance was finally granted. The petition was endorsed by several of her publishers and cites, “a depression in the Book trade” as a reason for her need of assistance. This interesting inclusion indicates the waning popularity of the genre that had once sustained her. Unfortunately, Wilkinson’s health and financial situations both continued to deteriorate, culminating in 1831 when she passed away in a London workhouse (History of Gothic Publishing 113–15). 

Currently, there are varying opinions on the merit of Wilkinson as a serious author. Some of her harshest critics have gone as far as to assert that she engaged in “Gothic counterfeiting” (Frank 142). Others have called her a “‘hack’ writer” who pumped out contrived, formulaic stories for the sole purpose of making money (Hoeveler 184). On the other hand, more generous critics admit that Wilkinson wrote to sustain herself and often employed “recycled scenes and motifs” from the genre, even as some argue that her works also show an “ability to construct clear and simple story lines free from dense subplotting that often encumbered Gothic novels” and are important in that they “uniquely show the amalgamation of the bluebook and the novel” (History of Gothic Publishing 116, 130).


Narrative Point of View

The Convent of Saint Usurla is told in two alternating perspectives. Primarily, the novel is written from a third-person point of view. The narrator is unspecified, but omniscient to all of the characters’ thoughts, feelings, and actions. The chapbook is written in a fairly formal style, frequently employs long sentences, and often delves into the interiority of the protagonists. In contrast to this style of writing, the novel also has several interpolated tales inserted throughout which are written in a first-person perspective. These tales extend for many pages at a time and function to recount relevant past events. Since they are told from an individual’s perspective, they are limited to only this character’s point of view. Despite this, however, they are imbued with a great level of detail and highly specific dialogue.   

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

On this occasion the count visited Tivoli; and having remained there a few days, escorted his daughter to the convent, to the regret of her governess, who did not give her assent to this visit. The journey was delightful to Magdalena: everything was novel, consequently pleasing to her youthful mind; and she chatted with the utmost gaiety. The count could not withhold his love and admiration; but her presence forcibly reminded him of the injury he had done to her, and the necessity of preserving his own reputation unblemished. (7–8)

This passage from near the beginning of the novel demonstrates the omniscient qualities of the third-person point of view. In this case, this narrative perspective functions to give the reader a sense of the motivations of the characters which justify their subsequent actions in the story. 

Sample Passage of First-Person Narration in an Interpolated Tale:

A few days after this I was ordered to receive Ottagro as my husband. Such was my desperation, that being left alone with the count, I, on my knees, confessed my prior marriage, and its consequences, beseeching him not to betray me, but to form some pretext for preventing our approaching union. He raised me in his arms. “You have acted,” said he, “with honorable candour, never shall your confidence be betrayed. Lenardo’s widow must be my bride. If I act in conformity to your wishes your father will seek another alliance; the next suitor may not act with the same generosity as myself. Let me, in the character of husband, be your defender from ill.” (26) 

This passage is from Clementina de Lusini’s interpolated tale in which she recounts her backstory to Magdalena. A first-person perspective is important here because the readers are not given all aspects of the story, only the parts known to Clementina, herself. Due to this, the reader does not receive all relevant information until the end when all of the stories connect together. In addition, the interpolated tale format creates a non-chronological sequence of events. These elements propel the story forward and create mystery that can only be resolved by fully completing the novel. 


Summary

The chapbook, The Convent of Saint Usurla, begins in the middle of an action-packed scene in which the protagonist, Magdalena, the Countess de Ottagro, closely escapes imminent death at the hand of her husband, the Count de Ottagro. Upon fleeing, Magdalena and her maid, Laura, take refuge in the Convent of Saint Usurla where her loving aunt Viola is the Abbess. With this, the novel goes back in time in order to tell the story of how Magdalena came to be in this situation. 

As a young girl, Magdalena lost her mother and thus received a sheltered upbringing by her father, the Count de Verona. The Count de Verona was from an esteemed family in Tivoli; however, he was a gambler and managed to gamble away all of his money, as well as Magdalena’s inheritance. Due to this, Magdalena has no dowry, and thus little prospect for a favorable marriage. To avoid this problem, the Count de Verona wants Magdalena to become a nun and sends her to the Convent of Saint Usurla for a visit. Here, Magdalena becomes close to her Aunt Viola and makes friends, coming to appreciate the convent as she considers taking the oath.

While, at the convent, Magdalena meets the Count de Ottagro, who is a wealthy nobleman and friend of her father’s. The Count takes a liking to her, though she feels impartial, and two continue to meet. Suspecting his marital intentions and questioning his character, Aunt Viola expresses her disapproval of these meetings to Magdalena’s father. In response, the Count de Verona removes Magdalena from the convent and transfers her to the Castle de Ottagro. 

At the Castle de Ottagro, Magdalena spends several weeks with her father, the Count de Ottagro, and his cold sister, Lady Jacintha. In this time, Magdalena also grows close to the Lusini family—the amiable daughter Angelina and handsome son Ernestus—who live nearby; however, this is disapproved of as a bad blood exists between the Count de Ottagro and the Lusini’s for some unknown reason. In addition, Magdalena passes her time secretly reading in the castle library, in which she is forbidden. One late night in the library, Magdalena briefly sees a mysterious woman in white, and she flees in terror. The next day, Magdalena returns to the library and finds a mysterious note, addressed to her, which warns her of some unspecified danger. 

Soon after this strange occurrence, the Count de Verona orders Magdalena to marry the Count de Ottagro. He says that by doing this, Ottagro will erase the gambling debts that he has incurred and will even give him a future loan. At first, Magdalena rejects the idea since she is suspicious of Ottagro. However, the Count de Verona threatens suicide, so she ultimately agrees. The next morning, Magdalena unhappily accepts the Count de Ottagro’s marriage proposal, and the wedding ceremony is set for two weeks’ time. 

The frontispiece for The Convent of Saint Usurla

In the interim, one-night Magdalena spots the Count de Ottagro and his sister, Lady Jacintha, carrying a covered basket to the library. There, the two open a hidden trapdoor and descend. Now, Magdalena is highly wary of her groom-to-be and suspects that there is a secret prisoner in the library. Nevertheless, she proceeds with the marriage. 

A few weeks later, on a night in which the Count de Ottagro is out of town and Lady Jacintha is sick, Magdalena returns to the library and opens the trap door. She descends down a staircase and a long passage where she then reaches a locked door. Disappointed, Magdalena starts to return to the surface; however, Lady Jacintha’s maid Thomasine finds her. Magdalena fears that Thomasine will turn her in, but instead she unlocks the door to reveal the secret. Inside, there is a small child and a dying woman who is identified as Clementina de Lusini—the first wife of the Count de Ottagro.  

At this point, the dying Clementina de Lusini retells the story of how she came to be imprisoned in the library dungeon in the Castle de Ottagro. As a teen, Clementina fell in love with Lenardo di Orizzi, the son of her father’s arch nemesis. She was forbidden to marry him, but the two secretly eloped. Soon, their elopement was discovered by Lenardo’s family and because of this, he was sent far away to war where he was killed in action. After this devastating tragedy, Clementina discovered that she was pregnant. Fortunately, her family was scheduled to go on a long trip without her, during which she gave birth to a baby boy. She called him Lenardo and gives him to her doctor and his wife to raise. The doctor and his family, including young Lenardo, then moved to England.  

Ignorant to all of the events that had taken place, Clementina’s family returned from their trip with a friend, the Count de Ottagro. Thinking her lover to be dead, Clementina married the Count de Ottagro, but before long, her guilty conscience prompted her to tell the Count of everything that had occurred. Surprisingly, the Count de Ottagro accepted her admission, but over time grew resentful and unkind. After some time, Clementina became pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl, Adeline, but the Count de Ottagro remained unhappy, as he wanted a male heir. 

After several years, Clementina visited her family’s mansion, where she found Lenardo, her lover, to be alive and well. Apparently, he was not sent away to war, but imprisoned by his father for his indiscretion and declared dead to the world. Upon the recent death of his father, he was freed. However happy, Clementina was also greatly troubled at this news, as she had already remarried.

Almost immediately, the Count de Ottagro discovered that Lenardo was alive, and he and Clementina have met. With this knowledge, he accused Clementina of plotting to murder him and took her to the dungeon under his library. There she found Lenardo and her maid, Drusilla, who was imprisoned as an accomplice to Clementina’s perceived betrayal. In a rage, Ottagro murdered Lenardo and Drusilla, and Clementina was devastated. The Count de Ottagro realized that he cannot free Clementina as she could expose him; however, he also does not want to kill her. As a result, he faked her and their daughter’s deaths and imprisons them in the library dungeon where they have been for the last five years. Soon after relaying this story, Clementina dies. 

Soon after this wild discovery, the Count de Ottagro grows suspicious that Magdalena has uncovered his secret. Under pressure, she admits. The Count threatens Magdalena, but ultimately swears her to secrecy. Two years pass by with this arrangement, when one-night Magdalena sees the Count de Ottagro smuggle a teen boy into the library dungeon. She secretly enters the dungeon and discovers that it is Clementina’s son, Lenardo. Lenardo tells her that he was raised in England by his adopted family, but upon growing older was told of his true past. On hearing this, he vowed to take revenge on Ottagro and started heading for Italy. However, all of this time, the Count de Ottagro kept tabs on the boy, so he was intercepted on his journey and imprisoned. With the help of Magdalena, Lenardo manages to escape and arrives safely at the Lusini home. The Count de Ottagro discovers this and, furious, he nearly kills Magdelena. However, Magdalena escapes and flees to the Convent to take refuge. This is where the various timelines of the novel converge.  

Fearing exposure, the Count de Ottagro rapidly flees the castle when his carriage crashes and he dies. Magdelena is now free from the evil Count de Ottagro and she and the handsome Lusini son, Ernestus, get married. 


Bibliography

Behrendt, Stephen C. “European Literature, 1790–1840: The Corvey Collection.” Gale Primary Sources: Nineteenth Century Collections Online. https://go-gale-com.proxy01.its.virginia.edu/ps/aboutThisCollection?userGroupName=viva_uva&inPS=true&mCode=4UVC&prodId=NCCO

The Convent of Saint Usurla, or, Incidents at Ottagro. An Italian Romance. London, John Arliss, 1809. 

Frank, Frederick S.. Gothic Writers: A Critical and Bibliographical Guide, edited by Douglass H. Thomson, and Jack G. Voller, Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated, 2001. ProQuest Ebook Central. 

Hoeveler, Diane Long. “More Gothic Gold: the Sadleir-Black chapbook collection at the University of Virginia library.” Papers on Language & Literature, vol. 46, no. 2, 2010, pp. 164–193. 

Hughes, William. Historical Dictionary of Gothic Literature, Scarecrow Press, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central. https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.proxy01.its.virginia.edu/lib/uva/detail.action?docID=1144297

“Multiple Classified Ads.” Morning Post [London], Issue 11322, June 12, 1807, p. 2. Gale Primary Sources: British Library Newspapers.

“Multiple Classified Ads.” Morning Post [London], Issue 11503, Jan. 1, 1808, p. 4. Gale Primary Sources: British Library Newspapers.

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

Potter, Franz. ‘Writing for the Spectre of Poverty: Exhuming Sarah Wilkinson’s Bluebooks and Novels.” Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text, issue 11, 2003, pp. 17–34.

Wilkinson, Sarah. The Fugitive Countess or, Convent of Saint Ursula. London, J.P. Hughes, 1807.


Researcher: Samantha K. Venables

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

The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina

The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina

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

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


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


Material History

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

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

The full table of contents in Michael Sadleir’s handwriting

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

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


Textual History

The half-title page for The Magician

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

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

The full-title page for both stories

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Jennifer Li

Arabian Lovers

Arabian Lovers

The Arabian Lovers, A Tale.

Author: [Claude Savary]
Publisher: Minerva Press
Publication Year: 1804
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11 cm x 17.7 cm
Pages: approximately 45 pages
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .E575


This chapbook, sometimes published with The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina, was originally in Arabic, translated into English and French by Claude Savary, and describes the story of heartbreak and reunion between Ouardi and Anas-Eloujoud.


Material History

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

Inside the book, there are five other stories, printed with different fonts and margins than The Magician and Arabian Lovers. The book starts with The Magician and Arabian Lovers, followed by the five additional stories. Each of the stories also restarts the page numbering instead of a continuous numbering throughout all of the stories. Some of the stories have frontispieces with illustrations, although The Magician and Arabian Lovers does not. There is even a frontispiece in hand-painted color for one of the stories, although the rest of the frontispieces are black-and-white. This suggests that the book was a collection of different chapbooks, a common practice at the time. The pages of the book are speckled with small grey bits of paper and yellowed with age. Overall, the pages feel worn and delicate, with the paper being thin enough to see through to the back of the page. Arabian Lovers take up around 45 pages of the overall book, which is roughly 290 pages. There are also some marks of ownership inside the book, including a handwritten table of contents in the front in what appears to be Michael Sadleir’s handwriting. The table lists the stories inside the book, along with publication years and potential author names, but those are unclear.

The handwritten table of contents in Michael Sadleir’s handwriting

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

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


Textual History

Arabian Lovers had its origins sometime during or before 1789, when it was first mentioned and summarized in The Literary Magazine (“Les Amours” 449). The tale was originally in Arabic, although it was translated into French by Claude Savary, sometimes referred to as Mr. Savary, from an Arabic manuscript (“Les Amours” 449; Kennedy 62). As a result, the story has been published under multiple names such as The Loves of Anas-Eloujoud and Ouardi and The Loves of Anas-Eloujoud and Ouardi, an Arabian Tale along with the original French name prior to the 1804 title in The Entertainer (Brown 4; Elegant Tales 7; “Les Amours” 449). Savary is not credited in the version of the story found in The Entertainer. It is also unclear at which point the story was translated into English, but Savary is credited for doing so in The Looking-glass, another collection of stories from 1794(Brown 4, 46).Savary died either young or unexpectedly, as his death is denoted as “premature” before he could finish translating the stories he had acquired in his travels, but he was able to finish Arabian Lovers (“Les Amours” 453). Given the timing and his travels, Savary is likely Claude-Etienne Savary, “a French Orientalist who traveled to Egypt in 1776” who lived from 1750–1788 (Kudsieh 46). In The Literary Magazine, Savary’s translation of Arabian Lovers is applauded for his authentic translation “of oriental manners” (“Les Amours” 449). Savary’s death also seemed to sadden the publishers, suggesting that his work was well-respected and credited in some literary communities (“Les Amours” 453). Another note lamenting his death and inability to finish translating stories can be found in Elegant Tales (264).

The full-title page for The Magician and Arabian Lovers

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

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

There does not seem to be a significant presence in modern academic scholarship of Arabian Lovers. Considering that the stories were published by the Minerva Press, this could be due to the lower quality production and the company’s reputation (Engar). There are, however, copies of Arabian Lovers available for sale online. One paperback version lists the story together with The Magician using the same title as The Entertainer does, with no authors listed. This version is sold on Amazon and was printed in 2010, although the description of the book does note that it “is a reproduction of a book published before 1923.” Another paperback version sold online is of Arabian Lovers in French, printed in 2012, and also available on Amazon. In the French version, the description credits Claude Savary as the author and lists the original publication year as 1799. There are digital versions of archival copies of The Magician and Arabian Lovers as a paired story from 1803available online, found on Google Books.


Narrative Point of View

Arabian Lovers begins with a first-person narrator, although it is unclear who the narrator is as they never appear in the plot. For the rest of the story, the narrator occasionally references themselves in the first-person, although this happens very rarely. In the self-references, the narrator also calls the story a song. The rest of the story functions more in a third-person narration style, with the narration often focusing on the various characters’ feelings and thoughts. During these moments, the narration becomes more extravagant or abrupt according to what the characters are thinking and experiencing. The narration also features plenty of dialogue, which uses more archaic and grandiose language. Additionally, the narrator tends to provide many descriptions of the surroundings, especially scenes of nature or luxury like the castles. In these descriptions, the narrative style is more embellished and uses longer sentences, similar to the feeling of the dialogue.

Sample Passage:

The daughter of the Visier, the beautiful Ouardi, is about to appear in my song. With secret emotion she had beheld this illustrious youth as he passed along; already had swift-winged Fame proclaimed his success; she ran to her window to witness his glorious return. Innumerable torches lighted his triumphal march. The conqueror was accompanied by two thousand Mamalukes, skilled in the use of the bow. Mounted on the courser of the Sultan, he rode in the midst of the troops, and his towering head appeared above them all. His turban was decorated with a green bough, the signal of victory. Ouardi saw him in the flower of youth, and crowned with glory. She felt the first symptoms of a rising passion, which robbed her of her rest: for the first time she ex-perienced desires, and her heart, by an irresistible impulse, flew towards Anas-Eloujoud. In the contemplation of his grace, his beauty, and his noble deportment, she inhaled the insidious poison of love. Confused and agitated, she wishes to turn her eyes from this fascinating object, but in vain: they immediately return, to fix on her conqueror with redoubled eagerness. The bright colour of his cheeks, the clearness of his complexion, the equal curves of his black eyebrows, the fire of his eyes, alternately attract her admiration, and tempt her to exclaim – “Happy the woman whom fate has destined to thee, who shall pass the days by thy side, or in thine arms. Alas! I love thee: may thy heart burn with an equal flame!” (35)

The third-person narration allows for exploration of both the characters’ emotions and additional details about the setting and the society. The narrator clearly acknowledges that they are, in fact, narrating by calling the story “my song.” At the very beginning, the narrator also acknowledges this song when introducing Anas-Eloujoud. These rare self-identifications create a sense of distance in the story by establishing that the narrator is not directly present in the plot and that the story and the characters are a part of a song. However, the rest of the story functions in more of a third-person narrative style like the rest of the passage, which helps to build the emotions through combinations of description and providing insight to the characters’ thoughts. The flowery descriptions emphasize how intense Ouardi’s feelings are for Anas-Eloujoud and vice versa. Her eyes “immediately return” to look at Anas-Eloujoud’s “cheeks,” “complexion,” “eyebrows,” and “eyes,” indicating how she is drawn to him, to the point where she is unable to control her gaze. Also, the focus on the luxury and power present in the surroundings shows how powerful Ouardi’s and Anas-Eloujoud’s connection is. Even in a crowd of “two thousand Mamalukes,” Ouardi immediately spots her future lover. Throughout the text, the narration often contrasts the two lovers’ feelings with their environment. Despite being continuously surrounded by opulent and stunning settings, Ouardi’s heart and thoughts belong only with Anas-Eloujoud. The added distance from the characters created by the narrator’s self-acknowledgement, combined with this contrast, creates a sense of the star-crossed nature of their love through their inexplicable attraction to each other.


Summary

Anas-eloujoud is introduced as a beautiful, graceful, and intelligent hero, loved by everyone. Even the Sultan of the Persian kingdom Ispahan, later revealed to be named Chamier, strongly favors him as a cup-bearer and commander. On the anniversary of the Sultan’s crowning, Anas-eloujoud participates in combat and horse-racing, outperforming everyone. The daughter of the Sultan’s Visier, a prominent official, sees Anas-eloujoud and falls in love for the first time. The girl, Ouardi, goes home and asks her governess to bring Anas-eloujoud a love letter. Once he reads the letter, he falls in love with Ouardi and sends the governess back with his own love letter, which excites Ouardi. The governess acts as a messenger and is eventually caught by the Visier, Ibrahim, on her way to deliver another letter. Ibrahim is furious at Ouardi, ready to kill her to avoid dishonor. His wife, however, suggests that they exile her to Solitary Island, to which he agrees. Ibrahim accompanies Ouardi on a ship to the island and shows her around the palace’s many luxuries. To avoid suspicion, the Visier hurries back to Persia.

The first page of Arabian Lovers

Back in Persia, Anas-eloujoud is heartsick over not hearing back from Ouardi. He eventually finds a message she left and realizes she has been exiled so he decides to try to find her, but fails for three years. As he stumbles around, he finds a cave and desperately asks if anyone has seen his beautiful love. An old man invites him into the cave and they speak about the old man’s life, who lost everything by falling in love with a slave. Once Anas-eloujoud tells his own story, the old man gives him directions to Solitary Island. He then travels to a river and finds someone to take him to the island, although they are thrown overboard by a storm. After struggling in the rough waters, Anas-eloujoud reaches shore and falls asleep.

Meanwhile on the island, Ouardi has spent the past three years in heartsickness, with no amount of material comfort alleviating her grief. Eventually, she decides to escape when she realizes that Anas-eloujoud cannot find her. When she’s alone in the forest, she finds a fisherman and escapes on his boat. She lands in Bagdad and is received by Diwan, Bagdad’s Sultan. Ouardi tells him about her father, Ibrahim, and Ispahan’s Sultan, Chamier. Once Ouardi tells Diwan that the only thing that can make her happy is seeing Anas-eloujoud, Diwan sends his own Visier to Chamier to ask for Anas-eloujoud to be sent to Bagdad on Ouardi’s behalf. On Solitary Island, Anas-eloujoud wakes up and enters the castle, only to find out Ouardi just escaped.

Once Diwan’s Visier reaches Ispahan, they find out Anas-eloujoud disappeared three years ago. Since Ouardi is Ibrahim’s daughter, Chamier threatens Ibrahim to find him. When this news reaches Ouardi, she feels intense worry for both her father and her lover. Ibrahim sets sail for Solitary Island, trying to figure out how his daughter escaped, only to bump into Anas-eloujoud. While Ibrahim is initially angry, he calms down once Anas-eloujoud professes his love for Ouardi. They return to Ispahan, where they expect Chamier to bless the marriage, even going as far as sending word to Ouardi that they will be united soon. However, the jealous court officials spread rumors that Anas-eloujoud and Ibrahim are actually working against Chamier to usurp him, so Chamier orders for the both of them to be arrested. 

When a month has passed with no word from her father or Anas-eloujoud, Ouardi sends someone to Ispahan to investigate. When they hear about the arrest, Diwan takes his armies toward Ispahan, conquering lands on the way. Although Diwan offers to relinquish his conquered lands back to Chamier if Anas-eloujoud and Ibrahim are released, his messenger is killed, sparking a fierce battle between the two Sultans and their armies. As the battle wears on, it seems like Diwan is doomed to lose when suddenly Anas-eloujoud, accompanied by the soldiers he used to command, rides into battle, defeating many of Ispahan’s soldiers. The tide changes as Bagdad’s forces beat Ispahan’s, with Chamier barely escaping.

After this victory, Anas-eloujoud, Diwan, and Ibrahim return to Bagdad, where Ouardi has a tearful reunion with her family. Diwan reveals that he is appointing Ibrahim to be his second Visier, Anas-eloujoud to be commander of his armies, and blesses Ouardi and Anas-eloujoud’s marriage before leaving. Ouardi and Anas-eoujoud plan to get married the next day, so Ouardi undergoes a ceremony to prepare her for marriage, briefly feeling nervous and insecure about her worth to Anas-eloujoud. Once the ceremony is over, Diwan presents Ouardi to Anas-eloujoud as a bride. Overwhelmed by their happiness, Ouardi faints and is revived by a kiss. Diwan leaves, secretly jealous of Anas-eloujoud, but happy to see them together. The lovers spend the rest of their lives together happily and the story ends by revealing that their heirs eventually become the rulers of Ispahan.


Bibliography

Brown, John. The looking-glass or, The compendium of entertaining knowledge containing the most curious and useful subjects in every branch of polite literature. 2nd ed., 1794. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.

Elegant Tales, Histories and Epistles of a Moral Tendency: love, friendship, matrimony, conjugal felicity, jealousy, constancy, magnanimity, cheerfulness and other important subjects, by the author of woman or historical sketches of the fair sex. Printed for G. Kearsley, 1791. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.

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

Kennedy, Philip F. Scheherazade’s Children: Global Encounters with the “Arabian Nights.” New York University Press, 2013.

Kudsieh, Suha, and قدسية سهى. “Beyond Colonial Binaries: Amicable Ties among Egyptian and European Scholars, 1820–1850 / ﺗﺨﻄﻴﺎً للثنائيات الكولونيالية: روابط المودة بين العلماء المصريين والأوروبيين ١٨٢٠ – ١٨٥٠.” Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, no. 36, 2016, pp. 44–68.

“LES AMOURS D’ANAS-ELOU OUD ET DE OUARDI, &C.” The Literary Magazine and British Review, vol. 3, Dec. 1789, pp. 449–453.

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

Savary, Claude. “Les Amours D’Anas-Eloujoud Et De Ouardi: Conte Traduit De L’arabe: Ouvrage Posthume.” Amazon, Bleuet, 2012.

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Jennifer Li

Statira

Statira

Statira: Or, The Mother; A Novel

Author: [Mrs. Showes]
Publisher: Minerva Press
Publication Year: 1798
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11cm x 18cm
Pages: 200
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .S53 S 1798


This 1798 novel written by Mrs. Showes examines the strength of marital versus motherly love in the face of jealousy and deception.


Material History

The marble paper cover of Statira with quarter leather binding

A copy of Statira; Or, the Mother. A Novel by the “Author of Interesting Tales” is found in the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction at the University of Virginia. The title and author of the novel appear as stated above on the title page. However, the University of Virginia library catalog has listed the author as Mrs. Showes. There is no indication on the book itself that the author of Statira; Or, the Mother is a woman.

The cover of Statira holds no markings other than this shortened title stated on the spine in gold lettering. The cover is merely an abstract pattern made of marbled paper, a decorative technique that dates back to 118 CE and was commonly used for book binding in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries due to its simple and inexpensive method of production involving only water, ink, and paper. The book is held together sturdily by quarter sheep binding that can be identified by the grain patterns on the leather. However, a descriptive insert in this copy, likely placed by Michael Sadleir himself, states that the book is bound by quarter calf leather. To have “quarter” binding is to have leather that extends across the spine as well as a small portion of the front and back covers. The descriptive insert is comprised of an index card and handwriting in pen, including all of the information stated on the title page such as the official title, the author’s pseudonym, the publisher “Minerva Press,” and the dedication “for William Lane, 1789.” The official dedication on the title page reads, “For William Lane Leadenhall-Street.”

This insert was written by the book collector Michael Sadleir

This copy of Statira is evidentially aged, but remains in good condition. Vertical seams along the leather binding indicate that it has been read more than once. The pages between the front and back covers are thin, brittle, and yellowed, but all pages are present and untorn.

The print of the text appears to be an average size and font, corresponding to the text one would find in a twenty-first century printed book. However, this copy utilizes the “long s” form of the lowercase letter S. This is not uncommon to find in books printed in the eighteenth century. A “long s” resembles an f without the midline. It was derived from the appearance of written text, in which cursive writing sometimes altered the appearance of the s depending on its location in a word and the surrounding letters to which it would be connected. Therefore, an s at the beginning of a word almost always appears normally, while some appear in the form of a long s in the middle of a word. This copy of Statira includes no illustrations of any kind. Both the fourth and fifth chapters in this edition of are labeled “CHAP. IV.,” though this is the only indication of a printing error. The tops and bottoms of the pages also include notations that are not found in contemporary books. These notations involve a lettering and numbering system that may appear as “B2”, “B3”, “C1”, etc. The purpose of this system is to serve as a map that informs the printer of how the pages should be arranged in the physical production of the book.


Textual History

Statira: Or, The Mother was written by Mrs. Showes and published in 1798 by the Minerva Press. Mrs. Showes previously released a collection titled Interesting Tales that was translated from German and published anonymously in 1797 by Minerva Press. This volumecontained multiple short stories including “Biography of a Spaniel,” “The Mask,” “The Florist,” “The Robber,” “The April Fool,” and “The Idiot.” Statira lists the authorship as “by the author of Interesting Tales.”

The title page of Statira

It was not uncommon for fictional works by female authors to be published anonymously in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Minerva Press, founded by William Lane in 1780, was the largest fiction publishing company from the time of its founding until the early 1800s. The company is well known for its role in giving a voice to women by routinely publishing their work. The Minerva Press published more literature written by female authors than any other publisher at this time (Peiser). The attention given to female authors by this company likely explains the vast amount of anonymously published work that they released. Each novel printed by The Minerva Press in the year 1785 was published anonymously, as were half of the novels in the year 1800 (Engar).

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, gothic fiction grew increasingly popular among the public. These novels would commonly include a female protagonist, castles, romance, a villain, and supernatural elements. Recognizing the popularity of such stories, Minerva Press primarily printed gothic literature. However, the repetitive nature of the works released by the company was received with some criticism, along with the quality of the printed stories. One review of a Minerva production posted in the August 1797 edition of Monthly Mirror states “If we merely apprize our readers that there exists a novel bearing the title above mentioned, we think we shall do sufficient honour to the Wanderer of the Alps [1796], and the author ought to thank us for not proceeding any further” (Engar).

Statira falls within the classic pattern described above that some deemed monotonous. The novel features a female protagonist, a castle setting, romance, and a villain. Even so, the book seems to have received respectable reviews. The London periodical The Critical Review, or, Annals of Literature, published in April of 1799, included a review of Statira. The review stated, “This volume contains two novelettes, nearly of the same length, founded on the passion of jealousy. That which is entitled Statira is the more instructive; the other is extravagant and feeble. They seem to have been translated from German” (473). The archival digital copy of Statira on Eighteenth Century Collections Online appears to be the same edition that is found in the University of Virginia Sadleir-Black collection. This review is the only indication that there may be an alternative edition of Statira which was originally printed in German.


Narrative Point of View

Statira is told from the third-person point of view by an omniscient narrator who is not characterized in the novel. The narrator communicates the thoughts and feelings of every character in the story, and uses these elements to both enrich and advance the plot. The language used by the narrator is eloquent yet straightforward, often utilizing compound sentences in which many ideas are connected by colons, semicolons, or commas. The narrator also utilizes an active voice, seemingly guiding the reader’s interpretation of the events in the novel.

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

But let no one censure the Count of Countess with precipitation or asperity; for the former was not a barbarian, although he may appear so at first sight—he was an unhappy misguided man, a tool in the hands of a villain that used the power he has over him for the basest purposes; and let those that are inclined to blame in credulity, remember, that a sickly constitution often occasions a debility of understanding, and that apathy and peevishness, the usual attendants of illness, naturally render the weakened mind   susceptible and suspicious, open to fraud, and inclined to jealousy; and that the fawning sycophant who makes a proper use of such opportunities, seldom fails gaining his purpose. This may be offered as some excuse for the Count’s conduct, but surely much more may be said in the Countess’s favour. A patient endurance of unmerited injuries, although it may be suffered long, will weary at last, and is always limited to a certain point; but tried beyond that, the weaker sex often exceeds the stronger in stability and resolution. (59)

While dialogue and verbal expression are often used as tools to understand characters, this passage demonstrates the role of the narrator to convey the characters’ perspectives in the absence of conversation. However, the limited dialogue in Statira does not prevent the reader from understanding the characters’ thoughts and feelings due to the role of the third person omniscient narrator. The narrator conveys the characters’ thoughts and feelings in a manner that provides the reader with a complete picture of the events taking place by offering multiple perspectives. For example, this excerpt offers a possible justification for each of the characters’ actions in light of their impending separation.

This novel also includes an interpolated found in chapter eight, when the third person omniscient narrator is replaced by Clara as she is asked to recount the story of a beautiful woman in a painting.

Sample Passage from Interpolated Tale:

“If you know her story Clara, I wish you would relate it to us; —by doing so you will oblige my friend and me.” “I will do so with pleasure; but it is long, and I fear will tire your patience. However if you are disposed to listen to me, I will satisfy your curiosity.” They seated themselves near the gate, and Clara related as follows.


“That beautiful woman was daughter to Baron Kirchberg, who lived some centuries ago, in the unfortunate times of the feuds that subsisted amongst the Nobles of Switzerland.” (81–82)

Clara’s narrative continues for the duration of the chapter, describing the story of a young man and woman who ultimately separate due to jealousy and misunderstanding despite being very much in love. In Statira, the Count and the Countess experience very similar issues that result in their separation. One effect, then, of the interpolated tale in this chapter is that it invites parallels between the two stories. Additionally, the fact that this story is shared between characters allows the Count to hear and interpret this story in the context of his own life.


Summary

Statira: Or, The Mother recounts the story of a dedicated wife and mother in the face of jealousy and deception. The novel introduces the female protagonist, Statira, as a beautiful young woman who is sought after by many esteemed men. She respectfully denies their affection because she is in love with Count Harton. When the couple turns thirty the two marry, eventually having two daughters and a son. They are exceptionally happy in their domestic life for many years, until a deep sadness overcomes Statira upon the death of her parents. Just as she starts to recover from her depression a year later, the Count falls gravely ill. While his physical health ultimately improves, his mental health remains deteriorated. The Countess spends her days accompanying him in his gloom, trying relentlessly to lift his spirits.

Here, the narrator introduces the novel’s primary antagonist: Count Harton’s servant and presumed friend, a man by the name of Murden who aims to undermine Statira’s efforts. Murden has long dreamed of gaining control of the Count’s property and wealth. The servant has always envied Statira and viewed her as a threat to his agenda. He seizes the opportunity presented by Count Harton’s reduced state to eliminate Statira as a threat and establish himself as Harton’s primary companion. Murden’s plan is to convince the Count of Statira’s infidelity and encourage the Count to indulge in an extended trip to Italy. Murden successfully plants suspicion in Harton’s mind regarding his wife’s loyalty by insinuating that she is having relations with another servant, a man she does indeed respect as he is a close family friend who once saved her parents from a carriage crash.  This jealousy builds until the Count publicly and aggressively accuses his wife of her nonexistent crime.

This page shows the use of the long s in print, as well as the letter D which illustrates the system that informs the printer of how pages should be arranged in the production of the book

A ruined reputation, along with a now dysfunctional domestic life, puts Statira in a state of misery and total isolation. Despite her attempts to convince her husband of the truth, he remains resentful and cold towards her. Resigned and distraught, she flees the estate with her eldest daughter. Her abandonment is received poorly, seemingly confirming her guilt, and Harton demands a divorce. Recognizing that there is no chance of finding love between her and her husband again, the divorce is finalized. Devastatingly, she loses custody of her children and is left entirely alone. The Countess initially returns to her hometown, but later decides to explore Europe. She never returns, and few people receive letters from her. The Count promptly departs for his planned trip to Italy, leaving his children with a distant relative.

On his way to Italy, the Count visits his friend’s sister, who is a nun at a convent in Switzerland. During his visit, he inquires about a painting of a woman hanging on the wall. The nun tells him the woman’s unfortunate story in its entirety. Idela was the daughter of a Baron by the name Kilchberg, and deeply in love with her husband Henry Toggenburg. In a battle with Kilchberg and Toggenburg’s enemy, Henry was captured and arranged to be executed. Idela resolved to find her husband, determined to either rescue him, die with him, or die for him. With elaborate disguise and deception, she took his place as prisoner accepting that she would either die in his place or be granted mercy. Fortunately, she was shown grace and convinced her husband’s executioner to show him forgiveness. Despite this demonstration of love and sacrifice, a simple misunderstanding one year later caused Henry to question Idela’s faithfulness. In a fit of rage and jealousy, he attempted to murder her. Upon realizing his error, he begged her for forgiveness, but Idela declared that she was no longer his. She spends the remainder of her life in the convent where Harton now sits, considering for the first time the possibility of his wife’s innocence.

The Count returns from his trip to find his estate in shambles and that he is in great debt.  Murden has since passed away, but the Count deduces that Murden was in fact deceitful as his wife suggested. He also receives a letter from his relative reporting that his children have smallpox and are close to death. Harton rushes to his children’s side, and joyfully finds them in better health thanks to the unremitting care of their new governess, Madame Laborde. The Count, wishing to thank Madame Laborde, learns that she has since contracted smallpox and is near death according to the physicians. The Count enters her room regardless and finds none other than Statira, who composed a new identity in the hopes of filling out her role as a mother to her children. She dies of her illness later that evening, joyful that she gets to claim her children in front of her husband in her final moments. Count Harton spends his days lamenting her loss and coping with the severity of his transgression.


Bibliography

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

Peiser, Megan. “Review Periodicals and the Visibility of William Lane’s Minerva Press.” Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, 26 Sept. 2016. http://rs4vp.org/review-periodicals-visibility-william-lanes-minerva-press-megan-peiser-university-missouri/

Showes, Mrs. Interesting Tales. London, Minerva Press, 1797.

Showes, Mrs. Statira; Or, The Mother. A Novel. London, Minerva press, 1798.

“Statira, or the mother. A novel, by the author of interesting tales.” 1799. The Critical review, or, Annals of literature Vol. 25, 1799: 473.


Researcher: Janie Edwards

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 Magician

The Magician

The Magician

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


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


Material History

Half-title page

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

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

Armorial bookplate of John Waldie, Hendersyde and book label

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

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

Sample Passage of Pauline Narrating a Dream:

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

Sample Passage including an Interjection and Reference to the Reader:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Rebecca E. Laflam