Clairville Castle

Clairville Castle

Clairville Castle; or, the History of Albert and Emma with the Death of the Usurper Morenzi

Author: Unknown
Publisher: A. Kemmish
Publication Year: Unknown
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 17.3cm x 10.6cm 
Pages: 38
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.C532 n.d.


In this chapbook set in France, a love story is hindered by a villain’s lust and Machiavellian quest for power, full of abduction and murder. 


Material History

Clairville Castle; or, the History of Albert and Emma with the Death of the Usurper Morenzi is embedded with a varied and interesting material history. The aforementioned title of the book appears on the first page, and later, throughout the pages on the upper margins. However, the subtitle is omitted from these subsequent pages. Interestingly, the author’s name does not appear whatsoever, even on the title page. 

The title page for Clairville Castle

The chapbook is in surprisingly good condition for being over two hundred years old. The paper itself is good quality, albeit a little brown. However, the pages will not last indefinitely because the novel has been disbound, so if one were to turn the leaves the novel would loosen. Therefore, the Sadler-Black collection might rebind it in the future to prevent this from occurring. The physical dimensions of the book measure out to be 17.3 cm by 10.6 cm. The page count is thirty-eight, including a second short story titled Ogus & Cara-Khan; or the Force of Love appended at the end but not mentioned on the title page. The addition of this second story is not explained, unless perhaps both novels were a part of a larger collection of stories. Unfortunately, while the edition of the novel that is a part of the Sadler-Black library collection was previously bound, no details of the original binding are available. 

The overall appearance of the book is cheap (most likely meant to be discarded like other copies), unblemished (there is a relative lack of markings for such a copy), aged (comparatively to modern publications), and of middling quality. Offset is another descriptor here–the text was conveyed (aka “offset”) from a plate to a rubber blanket to a printing surface, which is a common practice in printing. The body pages themselves contain minimal white space, despite the font being in a relatively small size. An interesting aspect of the font of the text is the use of the long s, an archaic form of the lowercase s, which resembles an f more than an s. It generally replaces the single s and also one of the letters s when there is a double s. This used to be a somewhat common practice but has long fallen out of fashion. 

The frontispiece for Clairville Castle

The novel begins with a frontispiece illustration, facing the title page on the right-hand, or recto page. It shows an illustrated image of a man and a woman in antiquated outfits, with the woman sitting on a chair, seemingly in grief—the man is comforting, or trying to comfort, her. They are in a room with a single window, allowing light to enter the space. This scene is not explicated in the chapbook, but could be interpreted as illustrating many parts of the text. The illustration itself is an copper-plate engraving.

Something notable is that the title page has offsetting. The technical reason for this is that there were two printing presses used as they specialized in different types of printing, one for the text and one for the illustration; these would later be combined. Due to this, different inks are used, resulting in offsetting from the oxidation, which forms a brownish rectangle. 

Finally, there is one mark of ownership within the book, on the first page, for one Robert Allen. Also, on page thirty-six, there is a printer’s imprint featuring the name of the printer who printed the text—A. Kemmish. The title page contains the name of the publisher—J. Kerr. 


Textual History

The title page for the attached story, Ogus & Cara-Khan

Clairville Castle; or, the History of Albert and Emma with the Death of the Usurper Morenzi was originally published by A. Kemmish for J. Ker. Several copies were seemingly published for this book collector, about whom there is much biographical information. John Ker was the third duke of Roxburghe and lived from 1740 to 1804. There is no date of publication on Clairville Castle and no clear indication in source material of its publication date, though one WorldCat entry estimates 1805 as a potential year of publication. 

Jon Ker owned an expansive personal library, which continued to grow throughout his life. He even arranged the marriage of Anna Ker into his family, who was a gothic writer herself, and may have influenced some of the additions to his large collection of books. “Roxburghe books are today the prized possessions of many of the world’s great libraries, and their collector is immortalized by the distinction of having named after him one of the most exclusive and famous of bibliographical societies, the Roxburghe Club” (Hillyard). This aligns with the inclusion of this chapbook in the Sadler-Black collection and many others throughout the U.S. and abroad. 

There were no subsequent editions of Clairville Castle published; it was originally written in English, and was never translated into any other languages. There is no preface or introduction to the chapbook, and this appears consistent with the other editions of the novel, all of which were published at the same time. The text also does not appear to have any prequels or sequels in publication, although there are several chapbooks from this time period featuring similar characters and plots. 

The final page of Ogus & Cara-Khan

There are no contemporary reviews for the text, and so it is unknown whether it was received poorly or positively at the time of publication. The text also does not appear to have been advertised, and does not appear to have been reprinted following its original publication—the copies that exist are as follows: one in the University of Virginia library, one at the Stanford Library, one at Harvard University in the Houghton Library, one at Oxford University, one in the British Library Reference Collections, and one in Leakey’s Bookshop (which is a secondhand bookshop in Scotland). Some of these copies have been digitized recently, such as the copy the British Library houses, which was digitized on Sep 28, 2016, according to WorldCat. Also, there is a digital copy available on Google Books; this copy appears nearly identical to the one available in the University of Virginia Sadleir-Black library collection, although it does not contain a frontispiece illustration and has differing marks of ownership, such as an indiscernible signature on the title page. 

This text has not been adapted, seemingly, in any fashion. There is a clear similarity in this text to other gothic novels and chapbooks of the time period; however, it does not appear to have specifically influenced any pieces of literature following its publication. Furthermore, this work seems to have been completely unattended to by academic scholarship, and this is most likely a result of the lack of popularity concerning the chapbook. It simply appears to be one of many similar gothic texts published during this time period, which were overshadowed by each other and by even more popular works in the genre. 


Narrative Point of View

Clairville Castle; or, the History of Albert and Emma with the Death of the Usurper Morenzi is told by an anonymous narrator in the third person. This narration contains sentences that vary in length, but the style certainly feels antiquated and long-winded. The narrator strikes a balance between describing the actual plot of the story and the characters’ emotions towards these events throughout the chapbook. The narrator also uses dialogue sparingly, since there is much background information and action within the plot that is described without its use. 

Sample Passage:

Emma had for some time enjoyed the retirement, from which she was aroused by a  confused sound of voices that proceeded from below—she started up and recollecting her perilous situation, which the height of the sun beaming through the curtains painted in strong colors; she felt her apprehensions of pursuit renewed—she adjusted her dress, and tied on her straw bonnet, in order to seek her father, when he suddenly entered–he found her so apprehensive from the interval of time that they had lost at the inn, that he ventured to inform her of Albert’s arrival, and his impatience to behold her. The glow of pleasure animated her fair cheek, but was instantly succeeded by a deadly paleness. (30)

This narration succeeds in moving the plot along quickly, by utilizing long compound sentences (such as the passage above) in order to describe the events and the characters’ feelings towards them. By balancing these descriptions of the plot and the internal sentiments of the characters, the narrator is able to allow for lulls in the action of the story so that the plot does not progress too quickly. The minimal use of dialogue also highlights the importance of what the characters say, and works as a plot device in and of itself. All of these features of the narration combine to create a story that is fast paced but still leaves room for the reader to breathe when necessary. 


Summary

Clairville Castle; or, the History of Albert and Emma with the Death of the Usurper Morenzi, told by a narrator in the third person, begins with a character description of a peasant named Bernard and his daughter, Emma. Although they are not wealthy, the father is a well-respected member of the community of Clairville due to his generous and benevolent nature. His daughter shares these qualities as she joins village festivities and is doted on by her father. Despite the death of Emma’s mother in years past, the two live a happy life as a family unit. 

This page shows an example of the text in Clairville Castle

Bernard works as a bailiff under the Marquis de Clairville—until his untimely death, that is, which ushers in a general sadness as exemplified by his funeral which is attended by many, with all attendees displaying great amounts of grief. During the procession, a young Swiss man named Albert arrives at the castle, and decides to join the ceremony after learning who had died from one of the townsfolk. At the church where the funeral is being held, a group of women begin to lay flowers on the coffin of the late Marquis; one is a beautiful girl, whom Albert immediately notices and is enchanted by. He follows her down the middle aisle of the church, and sees her embracing her father, both mourning the man in the casket. Not daring to interrupt, he asks another peasant for the girl’s name, which he learns is Emma. The peasant offers Albert a bed in his cottage, and he agrees immediately, since it is near Bernard and Emma’s abode, and he plans to ask for her hand in marriage already. 

The story of the late Marquis’s life is then embellished upon—his wife and infant child were ambushed by some bandits several years prior, resulting in his wife’s death and his son’s kidnapping. This drove him to great melancholy, but he remained generous at heart and treated the townspeople as his own children. Following his death, his lands and estates became those of the Baron of Morenzi, who is a much crueler man. He discards his subjects’ complaints and pays them no heed. He also carries a heavy debt, which he does not pay, instead pursuing a life of vice and leisure. 

Meanwhile, Albert has gained the affections of Emma and the approval of Bernard. She reads to him often, having amassed a great collection of books, all of which impress Albert immensely. He begins to fall in love with her and she reciprocates. However, her father declines to support their proposal of marriage because he believes that they are of two distinct social classes. Promising to receive his father’s support for the match, Albert returns to his native country. Bernard then proceeds to tell Emma to relinquish all notions of this potential marriage occurring, and she submits to her father’s request. 

The Baron meets Emma a little while later while roaming his lands, and immediately falls for her, planning to seduce her despite Bernard rebuking his advances. One day, a messenger from the castle arrives at Emma’s doorstep and informs her that her father has suddenly been struck ill. She hurries to the castle, only to find the Baron, who threatens her into staying with him, displaying his power over her father. She rejects him, and flees the castle, finding her father at the gates (the Baron’s steward, Du Val, had instructed him to remain there under false pretenses); both return to their cottage. Fearing the Baron’s wrath, they decide to flee to the castle of Brinon, some twenty miles away and where his late wife had labored. On the way, they stop at an inn where the landlord offers them refreshments and water for their horses. 

The final page of Clairville Castle

Albert had returned to his home, to the estate of his father, the Count de Bournonville. He tells his father of Emma and begs his permission to marry her. In response, the Count tells him that he is in charge of his own destiny, and reveals that he merely adopted Albert, whose real name is Henry de Clairville. The Count’s infant son had recently died of an illness while they were travelling from France to Switzerland. When the Count and his inconsolable wife came upon the result of a bandit attack and found a dying servant coddling an infant boy, they decided that they must raise Albert as their own. They named him, then, after their late son. The assassin who killed his mother was none other than the Baron de Morenzi. Learning all of this, Albert resolves to avenge his mother and returns to France with a retinue. 

During this time, Du Val attempts to capture Emma for the Baron. Finding her cottage empty, he returns to the castle and informs the Baron, who flies into a rage—both set out in pursuit of the fugitives. Albert reaches the inn in which Bernard and Emma are staying, and explains to the father all that he had recently learned. The Baron, too, arrives, and Albert confronts him with extreme anger. However, he is unarmed, unlike the Baron and his retinue, so his men restrain him and drag him to another room where they lock themselves inside. The Baron, feeling immense regret for his past actions, draws a pistol and shoots himself in the head before Du Val can stop him. Albert returns to the room and finds the lifeless body, proclaiming it to be a just death for a murderer, to the onlookers.  

Bernard informs Emma, in her chamber, of what has just occurred, and offers her hand in marriage to Albert, or Henry, in his eyes. Albert’s adopted father also approves of the match wholeheartedly. With the usurper now dead, Albert becomes the new Marquis of Clairville—he also marries Emma. The people of the village rejoice at this turn of events and all ends merrily. 


Bibliography

Hillyard, Brian. “Ker, John, Third Duke of Roxburghe.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 23 September 2004. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/15452 

Steele, John Gladstone. “Anne and John Ker: New Soundings.” Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text 12, summer 2004, www.romtext.org.uk/reports/cc12_n03/

Clairville Castle; or, The History of Albert & Emma. With the Death of the Usurper, Morenzi. London, A. Kemmish.


Researcher: Shankar Radhakrishnan

Fatal Vows

Fatal Vows

Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk, a Romance

Author: Unknown
Publisher: Thomas Tegg
Publication Year: 1810
Language: English
Dimensions: 18.4cm x 11.3cm. 
Pages: 16
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.F368 1810


In this circa 1810 chapbook, backdropped against the outskirts of Italy, a complicated web of family, loyalty, and betrayal spirals a noble family into conspiracy and murder. 


Material History

Fatal Vows is presented in a disbound pamphlet. The pamphlet was once bound, but there is no longer a hardcover. Paste on the spine of the pamphlet and gilding on the top edge of the pages reflect its previous state. Presumably, Fatal Vows was at some point bound with other pamphlets for ease of storage and style—a common practice at the time. The pages themselves are a linen blend (with perhaps a bit of cotton) in fairly decent shape. The paper is browned by age, but not brittle. There are no significant stains and few splotches—none that obscure the text or decrease legibility. 

The title page for Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk, along with the printer’s information

Fatal Vows is 18.4 x 11.3 cm in dimension, and sixteen pages long. Along the top of the pamphlet the pages are uniformly trimmed, but all other edges are slightly irregular. This variation is presumably due to the nature in which the collection of pamphlets was bound. Commonly, pamphlets of varying sizes were trimmed to the dimensions of the largest pamphlet. Works smaller than the largest pamphlet were often missed by the blade on a few sides, leading to irregularities in page edges like Fatal Vows’.

The front page of the pamphlet, once the University of Virginia note is moved aside, reads “William Coventry // Piccadilly.” This inscription indicates that the text was likely part of a personal collection. The next two pages feature the only two illustrations in the pamphlet, one in the frontispiece and one on the title page. The frontispiece illustration is brightly colored and depicts two men standing outside of a building. The man on the right, with a red cape and green suit, is holding out a sword. The man on the left, with yellow trousers and a blue tunic, appears to be making a vow on the sword. This illustration is helpfully captioned “Rinaldo binding Montavoli by an Oath.” Below the caption is the mark of the publisher, “Pub. By T. Tegg June 1810.” 

The second illustration follows immediately after the title. At the top quarter of the page is the title, which varies between flowing cursive and block lettering (indicated by italicized and non-italicized text, respectively) reading: “Fatal Vows, // or // The False Monk, // a // Romance.” Below the title is the second illustration, depicting a man in purple leading a man in green down a staircase and into a stone room. The caption curves around the bottom of the illustration and reads “The Spirit of Montavoli’s Brother ledding him to a place of Safety.” Below the caption, once again, are three lines of the publisher’s information. The first line, “London”, indicates the city Fatal Vows was printed in. The next line repeats “Printed for Thomas Tegg, III, Cheapside June 1-1810” and the final line indicates the price: “Price Sixpence.”

Once the story itself begins, the page layout is relatively consistent. Aside from the first page, which repeats the title (interestingly adding a “the” before the title, the only point in the chapbook where this occurs) before beginning the story about halfway down the page, the margins on the page vary slightly from page to page but average out to a 2 cm outer margin, 1 cm inner margin, 2.5 cm bottom margin, and 0.5 to 0.75 cm top margin. At the top of each page, centered just above the text, is the title in all caps: FATAL VOWS. The page numbers are on the same line as the title, to the far left (for even number pages) or right (for odd number pages) edge of the text. The text itself is single-spaced. The only notable features in the story pages are the occasional letters at the bottom center of the page. Page six has a B, page nine has B3, page seventeen has a C, page nineteen has a C2, and page twenty-one has a C3. These letters serve to assist the printer in ordering the pages—pamphlets like these were generally printed on one large sheet, folded together, and then trimmed to allow for page-turning.


Textual History

Unfortunately, there is very little either known or recorded on Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk, a Romance. Both the author and illustrator are unknown. Francis Lathom has been named as the author, notably by Google Books, due to the similarities in titles between Fatal Vows and his work The Fatal Vow; Or, St. Michael’s Monastery, but this is a misattribution. Only two copies of Fatal Vows are available online: one on Google Books courtesy of the British Library (although the author is misattributed, as Francis Lathom), and one through the University of Virginia’s Sadleir-Black Collection. Fatal Vows is mentioned in a handful of catalogs listing known gothic novels, but with no opinion or further insight attached to it, with one exception.

The frontispiece for Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk

Fatal Vows has not been featured in much academic work. However, that does not mean Fatal Vows was entirely unnoted beyond the commercial sphere. Its one notable reference is an allegation that Fatal Vows is a plagiarism of, or at least very heavily influenced by, Matthew Gregory Lewis’s The Monk. In Peter Otto’s introduction to the Rare Printed Works from the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction at the Alderman Library, University of Virginia, he notes: “Like Radcliffe’s works, Lewis’s novel inspired a host of plagiarizers, imitators and competitors. The mystery of the black convent (London: A. Neil, [n.d.]) and Fatal vows, or The false monk, a romance (London: Thomas Tegg, 1810) are two of the many chapbooks that draw heavily on The Monk.” This is the only academic work to articulate opinions on Fatal Vows, although it is cited in other works and catalogs.

There appear to be no prequels, sequels, reprints, translations, or adaptations connected to Fatal Vows. Even when published, there is no surviving (if any) mention of Fatal Vows in the ads or articles of the time. There was no announcement in the newspapers of the time and no evidence that Fatal Vows stirred any public notice or controversy.

The only name that can be reliably connected to Fatal Vows is the publisher of the novel. T. Tegg (or Thomas Tegg III) is listed on both available scans as the publisher and bookseller and is comparatively much more well documented. Tegg set himself apart from his contemporaries by both the low prices and the lower quality of the books he produced. His self-description as “the broom that swept the booksellers’ warehouses” fairly articulates his practice of reprinting successful novels, works past copyright protections, and remainders (Curwen 391). Considering the nature of the works published by Tegg, it is perhaps not unsurprising that Fatal Vows was published with little fanfare.


Narrative Point of View

Fatal Vows combines the main story told in the third person by an omniscient, detached narrator, and interpolated stories told by characters explaining things that either occurred off-page or before the story began. There is no meta-narrative of the story’s origin or any relation to the narrator, but characters often narrate their own backstories through letters and oral stories, which are narrated in the first-person voice of the relevant character. The style is fairly formal, with no contractions and winding prose. The epistolary narratives vary slightly depending on the character narrating them, ranging from powerful emoting to detached cynicism, but the overall tone is still formal and vaguely antiquated.

Example of Third-Person Narration:

Rinaldo now informed Count Montavole that Miranda was his own daughter by Serina. The Count grew very faint; to encrease his misery Rinaldo added: “Know likewise that it is a BROTHER who is the death of thee.” He had no sooner finished this speech than he was seized for the murder of the Count, and as he quitted the dungeon he put a paper into Alberto’s hands. Montavole only lived to ejaculate, “a brother ! Miranda too my daughter ! oh—” (25)

Example of Interpolated Oral Tale of Susanna’s Confession:

Unconscious of what I did, I took the dreadful oath, and went gently into Lady Leonora’s room, and changed children with her, by which means Montavole has reared up his brother’s son instead of his own. (20)

Example of Interpolated Tale of Rinaldo’s Letter:

Hereupon I was seized by two footmen in livery, who dragged me to a noble palace: I was conducted to an elegant saloon, when a nobleman, for so I learnt he was, desired me to relate the whole adventure; accordingly, I did. He then observed that I had been used ill, and in return desired his nephew to give me a diamond ring. (26)

Overall, this chapbook’s narration focuses much more internally than externally—there is little imagery or scene building, but a heavy emphasis on the actions of the characters, which drive the majority of the plot. This contrasts with the low-key delivery the narrator uses to convey plot twists or surprises, as exemplified in the first passage. Miranda being the daughter of Count Montavole is a devastating plot twist even by itself, but Rinaldo being the brother of Count Montavole is even more so. However, the verbs used to describe Rinaldo’s proclamation are low-energy (“informed” and “added” are not exactly declarations) and Montavole’s death (who, in fairness, was already on the way out) is received without much fanfare. Within the scene, the room is full of characters that would be rattled by these announcements, but their perspectives are not noted. Even the announcement of Miranda’s parentage reads like an afterthought. 

When characters themselves are narrating, more of their personality is able to shine through and influence the story. Susanna’s passage, when she explains the kidnapping she committed almost two decades ago, is full of qualitative adjectives and descriptors; Susanna is one of the kinder, moral characters in the story. This is juxtaposed against Rinaldo describing an altercation in his boyhood, where he describes his own actions with more understated neutrality.


Summary

Fatal Vows takes place on the outskirts of Italy, in a castle owned by a Count named Savini. Count Savini has two sons: Montavole and Alberto. Alberto is the youngest and is a charming and obedient son, while Montavole is morose and selfish. Montavole leaves home at an early age to pursue his own interests, breaking Count Savini’s heart. While on his travels, Montavole is attacked by bandits. His life is saved by a stranger, who identifies himself as Rinaldo and commands Montavole to repay his debt by swearing a vow of friendship and loyalty. Montavole is troubled but agrees, and Rinaldo vanishes into the night with an ominous “be careful of Saint Peter’s day” (7).

This page shows the first page of the actual story, along with one of the folding guide markings

Eventually, Montavole hears word that his father is critically ill and returns home to see him before he passes. Unfortunately, he is too late, but in their grief Montavole and Alberto reconcile and Montavole decides to settle down. Montavole marries a rich woman named Leonora, and Alberto marries his fianceé, Matilda. Montavole and Leonora are miserable, as their marriage was one for money rather than love and Leonora is afraid of Rinaldo, who Montavole now keeps company with, but Alberto and Marilda are happy and in love. However, tragedy strikes one night when Alberto is murdered. The murderer escapes into the night, and the heavily-pregnant Matilda dies of grief in labor shortly after. 

Over the next twenty years, two things of note occur. Firstly, Rinaldo is arrested after killing a man in a dispute, but escapes from jail just before his execution. Secondly, a baby girl is left on Montavole and Leonora’s doorstep with a letter in her crib. Leonora reads the letter, swoons, and decides to raise the child (now named Miranda) as her own, locking the letter away without explanation. 

At the end of these twenty years, Leonora is now on her deathbed. Montavole and their son, Alphonso, (who is in love with Miranda despite the two being kept apart by his father) have been out of the kingdom for weeks, leaving only Miranda around to tend to Leonora. Knowing her time is coming to an end, Leonora decides it is time for Miranda to know the truth about her birth. She gives Miranda a key to a cabinet that holds the mysterious letter from her crib. Leonora directs her to read the letter, burn it, and then leave the castle to join the nearby convent. Her only warning is to avoid the castle’s resident monk, Roderigo, who she finds suspicious. After Leonora dies, Miranda goes to the cabinet, but the letter is not there. She despairs, but is interrupted by a mysterious voice that tells her “You have a father living… your father is a murderer!” (13—14). Overcome with shock, Miranda faints. 

 Alphonso and Montavole return, too late to say goodbye to Leonora. Alphonso rushes to Miranda but Montavole stops him. He has betrothed Alphonso to the daughter of a man to whom he owes a significant amount of money. In exchange for Alphonso’s hand (and prestigious family name) the man will not only forgive Montavole’s debts but offer a substantial dowry. Alphonso is heartbroken but consents. 

Miranda, in the meantime, goes for a walk in the surrounding countryside to bolster her spirits. She comes across a cottage with an old woman named Susanna and her nephew, Alonzo, who is insane. Susanna tells Miranda that eighteen years ago, a woman who looked very much like her came to the cottage and died, leaving behind a baby who was taken away by a “mean-looking man” (15). Miranda concludes that she must have been the baby, but returns homes before uncovering anything else. However, as soon as she returns home Roderigo (the suspicious monk Leonora was so afraid of) seizes her and locks her in an abandoned tower. Montavole ordered her to be locked away so she could not get in the way of Alphonso’s wedding, and Roderigo tells her she will stay there for the rest of her life.

Meanwhile, with Miranda effectively out of the picture, Alphonso and Cassandra’s wedding goes off without a hitch. In the ceremony, however, Cassandra drinks a goblet of wine (provided to her by Roderigo) and dies of poisoning. There was another goblet of wine meant for Alphonso, but he disappears shortly after the ceremony and is spared from the chaos. The castle descends into an uproar. 

After a few days in the tower, Miranda discovers a key to the door and flees to Susanna’s cottage. She begs Susanna to let her stay the night before she leaves the kingdom, and Susanna readily agrees. That night, however, Montavole and Roderigo break into the cottage. Miranda tries to intervene but she is powerless to stop Montavole and Roderigo, and they murder Alonzo. Susanna comes down just in time to see his death and exclaims “Count Montavole you have killed your son, the real offspring of Leonora… you cruel man!” (19—20). Shocked, Montavole flees. Roderigo takes away the body, and Susanna confesses Alonzo’s backstory to Miranda.

Susanna used to be a servant at the castle. When Matilda died, her child had actually survived, but lord Montavole commanded her to take the child away to the cottage and raise it as her nephew. However, Susanna switched Alberto’s child (Alphonso) with Montavole’s (for no discernable motive) and took him instead. Shortly after confessing, Susanna dies of grief. Miranda returns to the castle, hoping to beg Alphonso for protection, but comes across Roderigo instead. He gives her the letter Leonora had meant to leave her and leaves the room. Miranda finally learns her origins.

Montavole was Miranda’s real father all along. Her mother, Serina, was a noblewoman with a sickly father and little money. Montavole secretly murdered her father, who had attempted to keep him away from Serina, took Serina in, and got her pregnant. He strung her along for a while, promising that once his father died they would get married, but one day Rinaldo revealed to Serina that Montavole’s father had died long ago. Moreover, he had been married to a rich woman for the past twelve months. Serina fled, selling her clothes and jewelry, but was robbed by a coachman. She made her way to Susanna’s cottage and died of grief, and baby Miranda was taken away to the castle. 

Meanwhile, Count Montavole is hiding out in one of his dungeons, having been led there by his brother’s ghost—but it is not his ghost. Alberto has been alive the entire time. Roderigo (who is revealed as Rinaldo) bursts in, in the middle of an unspecified fight with Alphonso, but switches tactics to kill Montavole. In Montavole’s final breath he realizes Miranda is also his daughter.

Miranda and Alphonso marry, and Rinaldo is put to death. A letter he wrote before his arrest reveals his own motivation. Rinaldo was actually Alberto and Montavole’s half-brother. His mother, Angelina, was seduced by Alberto and Montavole’s father (Count Savini), but he grew tired of her and abandoned her. Angelina gave birth to Rinaldo and managed to get by for a few years, but caught small-pox and lost her beauty. All her admirers abandoned her, and they were forced to sell all their furniture and move into a small apartment. They eventually ran out of money, and when Rinaldo was nineteen they were evicted. Angelina died in the streets, penniless and heartbroken, but before she passed she told Rinaldo about his father and begged him to avenge her death. 

Now it is Alberto’s turn to reveal how he survived. Count Montavole had hired an assassin to kill him, but the wound was not fatal. One of Rinaldo’s servants saved him but locked him in a dungeon in the castle, where he lived until the servant slipped up and left behind a key. The servant himself had conveniently died a few days ago. With all the mysteries explained, everyone lives happily ever after.


Bibliography

Curwen, Henry. “Thomas Tegg: Book-Auctioneering and the “Remainder Trade.” A History of Booksellers, the Old and the New 1st ed., Chatto and Windus, 1873. 

Fatal Vows: or the False Monk, a Romance. Thomas Tegg, 1810.

Fatal Vows: or the False Monk, a Romance. Thomas Tegg, 1810, Google Books, books.google.com/books?id=mDfNxphLieoC&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

Otto, Peter. “Introduction.” Rare Printed Works from the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction at the Alderman Library, University of Virginia. http://www.ampltd.co.uk/digital_guides/gothic_fiction/Introduction7.aspx. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.


Researcher: Brynn Jefferson

Feudal Days

Feudal Days

Feudal Days; or, the Noble Outlaw. An Historical Romance of the Fourteenth Century

Author: Unknown
Publisher: J. Bailey
Publication Year: 1820s
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.5cm x 16.5cm
Pages: 28
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.F462 n.d.


Published in the 1820s by an unknown author, this chapbook set in England features a disgraced outlaw obsessed with his rival’s daughter and a religious Prior determined to right the characters on the path of piety.


Material History

Feudal Days, a simple and small book, measures 16.5cm long by 10.5cm wide and contains twenty-eight pages. The book currently has no cover; the reader first encounters a blank yellowed page. All pages in the chapbook are brittle and thin; some are slightly ripped at the edges, and the pages’ top ends are all discolored brown. A small amount of black thread loosely links these pages together, although one can observe holes on the left size of pages where thread was likely once used to tightly bind the book.

The title page for Feudal Days

Opening the book, the reader will observe a pull-out frontispiece illustration on the left side of the first page and the title page on the right side. The title page contains the full title of the chapbook: Feudal Days; or, the Noble Outlaw. An Historical Romance of the Fourteenth Century. The title appears in different variations throughout other places in the text. At the top of the first page of text, it appears as Feudal Days; or, the Noble Outlaw without the second line, and at the top of all pages of text, it reads The Noble Outlaw; (on the left page) and Or, Feudal Days (on the right side), thus reversing the order seen on the title page. An author’s name does not appear throughout the chapbook; however, the name J. Bailey appears on the title page, the last page of text, and on the final two pages. These mentions reveal that J. Bailey of 116 Chancery Lane “printed and sold” the book and also published numerous other chapbooks listed on the last two pages of this chapbook. The title page finally lists the price of the chapbook—6 pence.

Venturing past the front pages of the book, the reader will notice that the body text is closely-set and single-spaced and that many pages do not have paragraph breaks. On most pages, the margins are roughly 1cm all around; between pages 22 and 24, the bottom margin increases slightly to 2cm. Pagination on the top of pages begins on the second page of body text at page 4 and continues to the last page of body text (26). In addition to pagination, publishers have included a few extra printed markings on the bottom of pages: “A2” is printed on what would be denoted page 3; “A3” is on page 5; “A4” on page 7; “A5” on page 9; and “B” is printed on page 25. These markings, called signature marks, were printed in order to aid the accuracy in the binding of the chapbook.

Although almost all of the book contains text without any illustration, the frontispiece on the opposite page from the title page provides the singular illustration, depicting a woman stabbing a man inside a cave that is decorated with a chandelier. This frontispiece is unique in the chapbook, both because it is the only use of color and because is the only exception to the dimensions of the chapbook: it folds outward to comprise an overall width of 21cm and height of 16.5cm. This page bears the captions of “FRONTISPIECE” above and a reference to the body text below: “Nay then Ermina, cried Rudolph, ‘I will not brook delay’—when, by one bold effort she released her hand, and seizing my shining sword”. The content of this caption, while not a direct quotation, is a condensed version of dialogue recounted on page 14 of the text; additionally, this caption is printed slightly off-the-page; for this reason, exact punctuation is uncertain.

While most attributes described in this chapbook are particular to the entire batch that this book was printed in, it is finally worthwhile to point out a few characteristics that are likely unique to this particular copy in the Sadlier-Black collection. Overall, this book is devoid of most markings. The three particular marks include potential pen markings in a straight line at the top of the final page, a circular mark which may be glue or wax, and a bit of blue color that has spotted the front and back pieces of the book, which may be the remnants of a cover or binding.


Textual History

In addition to the copy of Feudal Days held by the University of Virginia, WorldCat indicates that multiple other copies exist in print form in fifteen other libraries. These copies are not concentrated in one geographic region: a copy of Feudal Days can be found at four Canadian libraries, one United Kingdom library, two Spanish libraries, and nine United States libraries (including the University of Virginia). In addition to the print forms of Feudal Days, there is also another digitized copy of the book held by New York Public Library (NYPL), which is accessible through HathiTrust and Google Books.

The frontispiece for Feudal Days, featuring misprinted margins

Multiple factors support an inference that there were multiple printings of Feudal Days when it was originally published: first, the digitized NYPL copy available on HathiTrust includes an additional cover page that the University of Virginia copy does not have. This page includes a notation that the book was “Printed and Published by S. Carvalho, 18, West Place, Nelson Street, City of London”. A few pages later, the cover page indicating that the book was printed by J. Bailey is still included, and the rest of the book looks exactly identical to the version held by the University of Virginia. S. Carvalho may have reprinted the entire book or simply added an additional cover onto the original printing by J. Bailey. Second, the date that Google Books lists for the publication of the NYPL version of Feudal Days is 1829, but the University of Virginia library catalog indicates a date range of 1820 to 1829. While this may not alone be enough to pin down potentially different printings, the WorldCat catalog record for Feudal Days notes that, according to I. Maxted’s London Book Trades, J. Bailey operated at the printed address (116 Chancery Lane) only between 1808 and 1827, not 1829 (Maxted, cited in WorldCat Catalog Record). Regardless, the wide circulation of Feudal Days in international libraries indicates that even if the book only went through one printing, it may have been printed in large volumes.

WorldCat lists three contributors to Feudal Days: J. Bailey, George Cruikshank, and Friedrich Schiller. The British Museum states that J. Bailey was a British “publisher active between 1799 and 1825,” and that he traded with William Bailey, who may have been a family member, during the latter period of his flourishing years, 1823–1824 (“J Bailey”). In addition to the list of chapbooks printed by J. Bailey in the back of Feudal Days, the British Museum also lists a few prints and pamphlets printed by him, including “The life and military career of Napoleon Bonaparte,” which was illustrated by George Cruikshank, evidence that J. Bailey collaborated with Cruikshank on multiple occasions (“Pamphlet”). George Cruikshank is thought to be the illustrator or the author of Feudal Days according to different sources. Cruikshank (1792–1878) was a fairly prominent British graphic artist; he started his career as a caricaturist and then moved to book illustration. Some of his most notable works include working with Charles Dickens on illustrations for Oliver Twist from 1837–1843 and the famous temperance comic The Bottle in 1847 (Patten). Most sources, including HathiTrust and University of Virginia library catalog, credit Cruikshank with illustrations; however, Diane Hoeveler credits Cruikshank himself with adapting Friedrich Schiller’s play Die Räuber into Feudal Days (Hoeveler 197). Finally, Friedrich Schiller (1759­–1805) was a famous German playwright, poet, and philosopher (Witte). Schiller wrote his own unfinished gothic novel, The Ghost-Seer, but the most concrete link between Schiller and Feudal Days is the assertion that Feudal Days is based off an English translation of Schiller’s German drama Die Räuber (Andriopoloulos 1–2, Hoeveler 197).

The second-to-last page of Feudal Days, featuring advertisements for other books printed and sold by J. Bailey

Die Räuber is a drama about two brothers, one of whom is cast out by the father under the influence of the evil brother and who joins a band of outlaws. Although threads of outlawdom and banditti are common to Feudal Days, it seems that the plot of Feudal Days is not an exact adaptation of Die Räuber, primarily because it is missing the element of familial rivalry (“The Robbers”). However, an opera called The Noble Outlaw may also be a source of influence for Feudal Days. The Noble Outlaw, produced in 1815 in England, is “founded upon” Beaumont and Fletcher’s opera The Pilgrim (“Noble Outlaw” Theatrical 310). The Noble Outlaw is about an outlawed robber who returns to his beloved’s residence, disguised as a pilgrim, in order to leave with her (“Noble Outlaw” Monthly 302). As a resolution of the plot, the Outlaw of the opera saves his rival’s life, and “all ends happily” (“Noble Outlaw” Theatrical 311). Similar to Die Räuber, the common thread of outlawdom is present; in addition, plot points such as breaking into a woman’s home in a disguise and saving a rival’s life as a plot resolution are common to both the opera and Feudal Days. No source exists indicating that The Noble Outlaw specifically influenced Feudal Days, but given the time proximity and the name and plot similarities, this may be the case. As evidenced by a search on HathiTrust, there are many other chapbooks with “Feudal Days” or “The Noble Outlaw” constituting part of the title. Online copies of these other chapbooks are limited, so the degree to which these related works are similar is unknown. Therefore, Feudal Days could have other influences and could have influenced other works; at the same time, these numerous titles may indicate that “Feudal Days” and “Noble Outlaw” were simply popular book titles.

Notably inaccessible is information about Feudal Days’s marketing and reception during the time period, reprintings, prequels, and sequels, and any scholarly analysis of the book after its publication. One hypothesis for the absence of such information is that Feudal Days is one in a list of many gothic chapbooks published by J. Bailey during this time period, as evidenced by the final two pages of the chapbook listing other titles (Feudal Days 26–7). Therefore, Feudal Days might not have stood out amongst its counterparts enough to warrant independent reviews or scholarship. In sum, however, the information that can be gleaned about Feudal Days does lead to several inferences regarding its relative importance. First, given the numerous copies available of the book currently, it may have been fairly popular. Second, its plot may have been influenced by multiple, mixed-media sources, including well-known theatrical works like Die Räuber or The Pilgrim. Finally, one of Feudal Days’s potential contributors, George Cruikshank, would later achieve fairly notable status later in his career.


Narrative Point of View

The present-tense section of Feudal Days is narrated by a third-person anonymous narrator who never appears in the text. This narrator relies on recounting dialogue rather than independently describing or analyzing plot. While a minority of the story is recounted by this narrator in the present tense, the text also contains flashbacks and interpolated tales, narrated by the character who experienced the flashback. The majority of the text is spent on Rodolph’s interpolated tale, in which he recounts his descent into lawlessness. This tale is narrated in the first person by Rodolph, and every paragraph opens and closes with quotation marks, to indicate that Rodolph is telling his story during continuous conversation with Father Francis. Both the anonymous narrator and Rodolph often employ long sentences, containing multiple clauses joined by semicolons and oftentimes-unclear referential pronouns. Unlike the anonymous narrator, however, Rodolph utilizes elements of description and recounts his own feelings and state of mind, rather than simply narrating the dialogue of others.

Sample Passage from Rodolph’s Interpolated Tale:

“O, Ernulf! my friend, wealth, honour, fame, are now lost to me; malignant stars have crossed my fondest hopes; Rodolph no longer bears the name of brave, but skulks an outlaw, the meanest slave of passion, who, like the prowling monster of the forest, avoids pursuit, and sheds unguarded blood.” (7)

Sample Passage of Impersonal and Anonymous Third-Person Narrator:

“Hold! (cried the Prior) God commands that ye shall not proceed, re-sheath your swords, and release your captive.” Rodolph started, and gazed with amazement on the Prior. “What man art thou, (said he) that dare oppose my will; disclose to me thy name and purpose?” – “To preach repentance, (replied the prior) and to prevent evil.” Much more the Prior said, for he found that he had gained attention.

Rodolph raised his head, and gazing on the sky, an unwonted smile played o’er his features. “Thou holy man, (he kindly said) thy exhortations wind like infant tendrils round a sinner’s heart, and have taught my soul to know what constitutes true happiness on earth; thy words have chased error from my mind.” (18)

The anonymous narrator guides the reader along through the thoughts and lives of different characters without offering any independent commentary. The only character that the narrator independently comments on is the Prior, whom the narrator repeatedly describes as virtuous. This technique of guiding the narrative with a heavy focus on transcribing dialogue makes the characters of Feudal Days appear more developed than there may otherwise be space for in a twenty-eight-page chapbook. Additionally, the oftentimes-unclear sentences may require a second or third reading of a passage. These tactics combine to make the story appear longer and more action-heavy than what may be expected for a book of its size.

Rodolph’s narration, on the other hand, provides personal and descriptive insights, showcasing broader character development and highlighting Rodolph as the protagonist of the story. Rodolph is frequently over-dramatic, utilizing exaggerated similes such as, in the passage above, “like the prowling monster of the forest” to evoke his strong feelings and emphasize the weightiness of his tumult. The Prior’s eventual ability to calm even Rodolph’s tormented mind, as shown in the sample passage, lends extra weight to the anonymous narrator’s assertion that the Prior is inarguably virtuous. Although Rodolph’s style of narration may appear disjointed from the impersonal and brief narration of the rest of the chapbook, the fact that every paragraph of his tale is offset by quotation marks renders his interpolated tale as a long-form version of the dialogue relayed by the anonymous narrator. Therefore, Rodolph’s narrative style showcases an extended version of the character development tactic utilized by the anonymous narrator and is in fact consistent with the rest of the chapbook.


Summary

Feudal Days opens with a description of the Priory of Birkenhead, which sits close to the Mersey inlet, a place where ships frequently wreck. Beyond the inlet, there lies a “bleak and dreary” waste of vegetation; the pious father of the priory (the Prior) cautions travelers to avoid the “track on the right” when navigating through the waste and take the “track on the left” (3). 

On a dark night, the Prior summons one of his men, Father Francis, to accompany him down to the water so that they can encounter any struggling travelers and give them aid. As they walk down to the water, the Prior recalls when Francis was rescued in a similar condition—on a night like this, the Prior slipped and fell walking back up to the priory, and locked eyes with Francis, also suffering on the ground and exhausted due to the weather. The Prior called the other brothers of the priory, and the two men were brought up to the priory and nursed back to health.

Back in the present, the men complete their journey down to the water; as the night gets even darker, they decide to head back to the priory. Before they can leave, they catch a glimpse of a man “in warlike form” wielding a sword, but the figure disappears (5). When they return to the priory and go to sleep, the Prior is haunted by dreams related to that figure.

The next morning, Father Francis steals away from morning prayers to sit in solitude in a sea cave on Mersey’s shore. Father Francis recalls his life before becoming a priest, when he was called Ernulf. Father Francis, in mental turmoil, recounts his parting with his lover, Angela. Father Francis killed Angela’s husband, Arden; Angela also died that night in shock, despite her love for Francis. Francis pleads with God to “forgive their murders,” when, suddenly, he sees the warlike figure from last night (6). The figure turns out to be Francis’s old friend, Rodolph. Rodolph first provides clarity to Francis’s backstory, then launches into his own story, declaring himself an “outlaw” and the “meanest slave of passion” (7).

Rodolph was fighting on behalf of the current king, King Henry, against Henry’s rival Edward and commanding other lords to join the fight. Lord Silbert had not yet joined the fight for Henry, so Rodolph resolved to convince him. Rodolph traveled to Silbert’s estate, where he was received by the Lady of Lord Silbert and their daughter, Ermina. At dinner, Rodolph was not able to convince Silbert to join the fight for Henry; in fact, Silbert believed Henry’s rival Edward had a legitimate claim to the throne. The two men began trading threats of violence against each other and Rodolph left the estate quickly.

However, once Rodolph left the estate, he started thinking about Silbert’s daughter Ermina and her charms, quickly forgetting “his king, friends, and country” (9). Unable to gain access to the estate in a conventional fashion, he sought advice from his friend Lord Redwald, and decided to enter the mansion in the disguise of a peasant. When he revealed himself to Ermina inside the mansion, she told him that he had to leave; Rodolph then kidnapped Ermina with the help of Redwald’s men and brought her to Redwald’s mansion. Silbert, about to greet Edward’s troops, realized that Ermina had been taken. He later received word that a peasant had taken Ermina and offered a reward for intelligence about her whereabouts. Rodolph’s identity and location were betrayed for the reward, and Silbert arrived with his men at Redwald’s estate to fight for Ermina’s freedom. Redwald received a fatal wound during the fight with Silbert’s army, but before he died, he conveyed knowledge of a secret passageway within his mansion that could be used as an escape, and Rodolph, his men, and Ermina left via that route.

Page 14 of the main text, depicting Rodolph and Ermina’s confrontation in the cave

Once they left the castle and found themselves in nature, Rodolph turned his attention back to Ermina, whose affections towards him had not warmed. She told Rodolph that she would not marry him until her father consented, but he resolved to marry her quickly and have her “share [his] couch tonight” despite her wishes (13). He had Ermina brought “shrieking” to his cavern, and told Ermina to swear to be his (13). Before Rodolph could rape Ermina, Ermina seized Rodolph’s own sword and plunged it into his bosom. She thanked God for preserving her honor, then fled from the area.

The next day, Rodolph came to and heard that Ermina had vanished without a trace. Walking around the area with one of his men, Edric, he saw a stranger, who asked him where to find the “lawless” Rodolph (15). Rodolph dueled with this man, killed him, and read his dispatches. According to these papers, a reward of 500 marks was placed on Rodolph’s head, his lands had been bestowed to Silbert, and his mansion had been used by the rival Edward’s troops. With that development, Rodolph ends his backstory, lamenting his new position as an outlaw. Francis states that the turn of events is beneficial, for Rodolph would have violated Ermina’s honor for a few seconds of pleasure, and invites Rodolph to join the priory for the day and give his penitence.

Meanwhile, another stranger—Lord Silbert—knocks on the door of the priory and asks to stay a night before he continues on his journey. The next morning, Silbert is guided along his journey by one of the priory’s domestics, Gaspar. The Prior watches them leave and realizes that Gaspar is leading Silbert along the wrong path to the right, contrary to the Prior’s constant warnings. On this wrong path, an armed band attacks Silbert, and he is about to die when Rodolph shows up and saves Silbert’s life. Rodolph now has Silbert at his mercy, and demands that Silbert give away Ermina to him. Silbert refuses, and then the Prior shows up to intercede. He urges Rodolph to not keep Silbert captive, and Rodolph quickly acquiesces to his exhortations. Rodolph asks Silbert for forgiveness and pledges to find Ermina for him, and Silbert quickly forgives Rodolph and thanks him for saving his life. As they are about to return to the convent, they come across the wounded Gaspar, who betrayed Silbert. The Prior tells Gaspar that he must repent, and Gaspar reveals that beneath this hill lies a secret cavern where a band of murderers, his companions, live.

Rodolph and Silbert resolve to raid this secret cavern. Once they enter the cavern, they find it fully decorated and quickly kill all of the banditti. They also free a woman who had been kneeling before the chief of the band pleading for mercy. This woman is revealed as Ermina, who was taken by this band when she fled from Rodolph. The chief of the banditti took a liking to her, and threatened to kill her unless she consented to marry him.

After the battle is over, the Prior enters the cavern with a messenger of Silbert, who tells Rodolph that if he swears allegiance to Edward and lays down his arms, he will not only be pardoned, but given a royal favor. Rodolph agrees because King Henry is dead and King Edward has the mandate of the people, and Silbert and Rodolph pledge allegiance to each other.

As the party walks back to the priory, they spot a priest, falling into the water. The priest dies soon after and is revealed as Father Francis. Despite this development, the characters of the book wrap up their story happily—Silbert gives Ermina as a gift to Rodolph and consents to their marriage, Silbert and Rodolph give Lord Redwald a proper burial, and King Edward declares that the men can destroy the robber’s cave and give the proceeds to be split amongst his followers. When the Prior dies a few years later, they all mourn “the good man’s death” together (26). 


Bibliography

Andriopoloulos, Stefan. “Occult Conspiracies: Spirits and Secrets in Schiller’s Ghost Seer.” New German Critique, vol. 35, no. 1, 2008, pp. 65­–81.

Feudal Days; or, the Noble Outlaw: An Historical Romance of the Fourteenth Century. London, J. Bailey, n.d.

Feudal Days; or, the Noble Outlaw: An Historical Romance of the Fourteenth Century. London, J. Bailey, 182-. HathiTrust Digital Library. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433112071521&view=1up&seq=11.

“J Bailey.” The British Museum, n.d., https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/AUTH227817.

Hoeveler, Diane L. “Prose Fiction: Zastrossi, St. Irvyne, The Assassins, The Coliseum.” The Oxford Handbook of Percy Bysshe Shelley, edited by Michael O’Neill et al. Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 193–208.

Maxted, Ian. The London Book Trades 1775–1800: A Preliminary Checklist of Members. Dawson, 1977.

“The Noble Outlaw.” The Monthly Theatrical Reporter, vol. 1, no. 8, 1815, pp. 301–303. ProQuest.

The Noble Outlaw.” Theatrical Inquisitor, and Monthly Mirror, Feb.1813–June 1819, vol. 6, 1815, pp. 310–312. ProQuest.

“Pamphlet, Frontispiece, Print.” The British Museum, n.d. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1867-1214-1577

Patten, Robert L. “Cruikshank, George.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 25 May 2006.

“The Robbers: drama by Schiller.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 29 September 2011, https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Robbers.

Witte, William. “Friedrich Schiller: German writer.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 31 May 2007, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Friedrich-Schiller/additional-info#history.


Researcher: Lydia McVeigh

The Last Man. A Romance in Futurity.

The Last Man. A Romance in Futurity.

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

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


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


Material History

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

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

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

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

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

A stamp of T. Norris’s Circulating Library

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

A signature by a person who previously held the book

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage of Main Frame Narrative:

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

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

Sample Passage of Secondary Narrative:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Shayna Gomez

Falkner

Falkner

Falkner: A Novel

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


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


Material History

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

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

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

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

A bookplate from the personal library of John G. Rebow

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

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage:

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

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


Summary

The marbled cover of Falkner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This page shows how a chapter is denoted and begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Kenzie M. Hampton

The Spectre Mother

The Spectre Mother

The Spectre Mother: Or the Haunted Tower

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


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


Material History

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

The title page with accompanying illustration and a visible marking

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage:

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

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

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


Summary

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

The opening scene in Chapter One of The Spectre Mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This page describes the first visit from the ghost of Julia

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Ruby G. Peters

Koenigsmark the Robber

Koenigsmark the Robber

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

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


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


 Material History

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

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

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

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

Frontispiece and title page for Koenigsmark the Robber

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Lucy E. Gilbert

The Female Bluebeard

The Female Bluebeard

The Female Bluebeard: or the Adventurer

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


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


Material History

The Female Bluebeard title page

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

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

Translator’s Note for The Female Bluebeard

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

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

The opening of Chapter 1

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

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

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


Textual History

Portrait of Eugene Sue printed in
The Female Bluebeard

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

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage:

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


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

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


Summary

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

Angelina, the Female Bluebeard, reads in her gilded bed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An illustration depicting an execution

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Halle Strosser