Stories of the Ship

Stories of the Ship

Stories of the Ship OR, THE BRITISH SEAMEN’S PLEASING COMPANION: ILLUSTRATED IN A Series of Curious and Singular ADVENTURES

Author: Unknown
Publisher: W. Harris
Publication Year: 1807
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.5cm x 18cm
Pages: 36
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .S736 1807


A collection of stories related to the sea and sailors, this 1807 chapbook includes humorous anecdotes as well as adventurous tales of heroic resilience.


Material History

Stories of the Ship is a short chapbook of thirty-six pages, written in English. The book’s dimensions are 10.5cm in width and 18cm in length.

Upon first glance, Stories of the Ship lacks a cover. The first page, before the book is opened, is completely devoid of any printed marking and allows for easy observation of the remnants of paper binding at the spine. This is typical of chapbooks in that due to their small size they were often rebound into one’s personal collection after being bought; it is probable that when sold, the book possessed a paper cover.

On the interior of the first page, the first of two illustrations within the pages of this text is found. Depicted in the foreground is a black dog and a Caucasian man gazing at one another. The man is taking refuge from the sea on the floating remnants of a wooden ship, which is exploding in the background. No other living beings, aside from the man and dog, exist in the picture. Notably, there is a slight brown discoloration in the paper under the man’s leftmost leg (from the reader’s point of view). Exactly beneath the image, very small italicized text reads: “Rarlow sculp”. Below this, in larger cursive text, the picture is captioned: “Explosion of a Dutch Ship.” Even further below, in the same small italicized text as right under the image, is a reference to the publisher that says “London. Published by W. Harris August 22nd 1807.”

The title page for Stories of the Ship

To the right is the second illustration, centered amongst various fonts and formats that fill the length of the second page. From top to bottom, the second page begins with the title, completely capitalized: “STORIES OF THE SHIP.” Succeeding the title is a semicolon that transitions the reader into the subtitle, which spans the next few lines, reading: “OR, THE BRITISH SEAMEN’S PLEASING COMPANION: ILLUSTRATED IN A Series of Curious and Singular ADVENTURES.” It should be noted that the font size of “OR, THE” is significantly smaller than that of the title, and occupies its own line. “IN A” shares these same characteristics. Both “BRITISH SEAMAN’S” and “Series of Curious and Singular” are italicized and fill their own respective lines. “PLEASING COMPANION:” and “ADVENTURES.” share the same physical characteristics as the title, but are respectively in a slightly smaller font size. Similarly, they also occupy their own lines. Following this are two sets of horizontal double lines that serve as dividers, within which is a four-line rhyme. Beneath the second divider is the aforementioned illustration, depicting in black ink what appears to be a wooden ship (in the foreground) in contact with an iceberg (in the background). Also in the foreground, to the right of the ship, are three polar bears. Even further beneath the illustration, which bears no caption, is a reference to the place of publication and sale (“London”), the publisher (“Printed for W. HARRIS, 96, High-Street, Shadwell :”), the merchants (“And sold by T. Hughes, Ludgate-Street ; Champante and Whitrow, Aldgate ; A. Cleugh, and T. Soutter, Ratcliff-Highway ; S. Elliott, High-Street, Shadwell ; Wilmot and Hill, and A. Kemmish, Borough; and J. Mackenzie, Old Bailey.”), the price (“PRICE SIX-PENCE.”), and lastly, beneath a long and flat diamond divider, the printer (T. PLUMMER, PRINTER, SEETHING-LANE. 1807.”). There is no explicit reference anywhere in these first few pages, nor anywhere else in the text, to the author.

On the next page (behind that which first mentions the title), there is a page that is blank save for “Entered at the Stamp-Office.” between a singular line right above and below. Beneath is a square outline, slightly discolored, that might have at some point been a stamp. However, there is nothing distinguishable to indicate anything more than that. As for the rest of the book, the size of the font remains constant, as do the margins, which are generally a 1.5cm indent from the outside of the page, although it is important to note that songs and poetry are more indented than the rest of the text. Page numbers appear on the top of the pages, in the outermost corners. The title of the chapbook, Stories of the Ship., is also centered, in all capital letters, at the top of every page. Pages 17 through 20 are approximately 0.75cm shorter than the rest at the bottom. There are some brown stains throughout the pages of the book, but they are very small and irregular. The book ends with “FINIS.”, and the last page of the story is also the last page of the book. At the very bottom of the page, there is another reference to the printer, T. Plummer.


Textual History

There is not substantial information on the history of Stories of the Ship. The author remains unknown; however, the publisher, printer, and booksellers are divulged on the title page. The chapbook was published on August 22nd, 1807 for William Harris and printed by Thomas Plummer, both who practiced in London. This book is likely the original and only publication and edition. There are only three copies worldwide, located at the University of Virginia, The Mariners’ Museum Library, and within the New York Public Library System. Stories of the Ship has not been digitized or reprinted since 1807; neither has it appeared in any scholarly works, which is likely due to its apparent inconsequentiality in the literature and society of its time.

The publisher, William Harris, at 96, High-Street, Shadwell, also worked as a bookbinder and was active from 1802 until 1822 (Cowie 118). Stories of the Ship seems to be the only work for which he served as publisher. The printer, Thomas Plummer, was active from 1798 until 1836 and printed many chapbooks and a couple of works related to sea fiction. The booksellers include Thomas Hughes (a. 1807–1833), Champante and Whitrow (wholesale stationers, fl. 1784–1801), Alexander Cleugh (a. 1785–1811), Thomas Soutter, S. Elliott, Wilmot and Hill, Ann Kemmish (fl. 1800), and Joseph Mackenzie (a. 1806–1807). All are located in London, and S. Elliott and Thomas Hughes are named to be some of the most frequent sellers of well-known author Anne Ker’s bluebooks. However, there is no information on the popularity or public opinion on Stories of the Ship.

The frontispiece for Stories of the Ship

There are two illustrations within the first couple pages of the book. The first, a frontispiece, is captioned by a reference to the British printmaker and engraver Inigo Barlow, reading “Rarlow sculp,” as in Barlow sculpture. Notably, the name is misspelled; however, the font and phrase match the captions of many of his other illustrations. He was active most prominently around 1790. The frontispiece image depicts a scene from the first story within the book, “Affecting Narrative of a Dutch Sailor,” in which a Dutch ship explodes. It is likely that the author derived inspiration from an actual event that occurred earlier in the year 1807. The disaster took place in Leiden, Holland, in which a wooden ship, carrying hundreds of barrels of gunpowder, exploded, resulting in fatalities, injuries, and destruction (Reitsma 1). The incident was eventually attributed to the neglect of the crew. This scenario is very similar to the plot of “Affecting Narrative of a Dutch Sailor,” in which not the ship but instead the protagonist is Dutch, and this ship is not in town, but rather out at sea. Another potential source of inspiration for the author is the municipality and castle of Ortenberg, which shares a name with the aforementioned Dutch sailor protagonist. Ortenberg (the town) is located not far from the Black Forest, and the castle, built in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, is located just above the town. Again, however, these connections are not certain.

There is an entry for a book entitled Songs of the Ship (for 1807), or, the British Seamen’s Cheerful Songster in John Stainer’s book cataloguing his collection of English song books. The details under this entry match the publisher, publication year, and page length of Stories of the Ship; however, the description, which reads “containing a valuable collection of the newest and most celebrated Sea-Songs, sung at all Places of public amusement, To which are added, a Collection of Toasts and Sentiments” is uncharacteristic of Stories of the Ship, which implies likelihood of an accompanying songbook by the same author (Stainer 79).


Narrative Point of View

The first (and longest) story of the chapbook Stories of the Ship has the most complex narrative point of view within the book, but is predominantly told in first person by a Dutch sailor. Despite its narrative complexity, the story is told in a concise and objective manner, as it recounts a past adventure. Though not necessarily of the same form, all other stories in this book maintain a similar condensed style. However, the stories within the book vary in narrative point of view. Sometimes identified, sometimes anonymous, the narrators speak either in first or third person as well as in either present or past tense. The third-person narrators within this book tend to be objective and omniscient, acting as observers to their narratives, while the first-person narrators are necessarily more limited in their narration even as they function as characters within the story themselves.

Sample of First-Person Narrator from “The Dolphin, a droll Story”:

The dame now grinned with passion, but Joe perceiving she quickened her pace, snatched up the rod and net, and made the best of his way, still pointing to the sign as he passed under it, with his mother at his heels. She’ll not look up for a guinea, thought I. No more she did, and hobbling on at a pretty quick pace, was soon out of sight. (16)

Sample of Third-Person Narrator from “An Irish Sailor’s Opinion of Matrimony, a laughable Tale”:

The steward (for he was captain’s steward) was of a disposition that required but little invitation, particularly from a friend. He ate heartily, drank free, and cracked his joke. (25)

Overall, the narrative style is plot- and action-based. It is also non-personal, and in this lack of emphasis on emotion, it becomes easy to focus on and follow the swift narrative style of so many of the sections. Notably, the lack of emotional emphasis exists even when the form is more personal, as occurs in the last story of the book, written in the form of a letter. Additionally, despite the disparity of content and narrative style, there is a surprising lack of confusion derived from these constant switches. This is likely because of the storytelling style and introduction of many of the narrators, as can be seen in the aforementioned excerpts. In “Affecting Narrative of a Dutch Sailor,” the dominant narrator is introduced by another, as if the story is being passed along repeatedly, and has eventually made its way into this book. This embedded narrative style is seen in the opening of “Affecting Narrative of a Dutch Sailor,” which reads as follows:

You know, said Ortenberg, (for that was his name), that I left Holland clandestinely. The ship in which I went, was destined to sail for Batavia; the captain was an honest fellow, and had promised to procure me a place in the counting-house of one of his friends at Java. (3)

The story begins with an implied third-person narrator; however, beyond this first sentence there is no narrative point of view other than that of the first-person narration by Ortenberg, the main character.

In other instances, there is an objective narrator that infrequently uses first person, as their role within the story is limited. Such is the case in “The Dolphin, a droll Story,” excerpted above. This casual approach to the narratives encourages an element of humor as well as insinuates that the book is perhaps meant to be read aloud.


Summary

Stories of the Ship is a collection of short stories and anecdotes; the length of each section ranges from a few lines to multiple pages. The following summaries, listed in the order they appear within the chapbook, will reflect these inconsistencies in length. Additionally, the capitalization and punctuation within titles reflect their printing in the book.

Affecting Narrative of a Dutch Sailor

This story is told by a sailor named Ortenberg, who recalls “the Explosion of the Ship in which he was, and his miraculous preservation” (3). This ship experiences smooth sailing until an alarm is raised regarding a fire in the hold; a huge endeavor is made to extinguish the fire, but the efforts prove fruitless. There is no land or ship in sight, and general panic aboard the ship heightens. Most everyone steals away on boats, and the captain and Ortenberg attempt to chase them down in the ship, but success is again just out of reach. Shortly thereafter, the oil-casks catch fire, and it is not long before the entire ship explodes.

Upon returning to his senses, Ortenberg discovers himself to be the only survivor and laments his circumstances. He and his dog are reunited. Ortenberg then catches sight of the longboat, which had once accompanied the ship, a great distance away. As dawn rises the following day, the boat is near, and he is able to join those aboard who had escaped the ship before its calamity. Ortenberg is appointed captain of the longboat. They journey on, eventually run out of food, and are forced to resort to eating Ortenberg’s dog. Meanwhile, the people grow doubtful that land is near, and Ortenberg is given three days to discover land, or a plan of cannibalism will unfold. As a storm clears from the sky, land and a Dutch fleet are revealed. The story ends with the weary survivors being rescued and fed.

A British Seaman’s Humanity

Narrated in first-person by “a Gentleman,” this story recounts the gentleman opening a subscription at a library for a crazy old cottager who had lost her sailor lover (13). An English sailor, upon hearing her story, laments her tale in a series of metaphors comparing the woman to a ship. As the sailor departs the library, a Bond-street lounger insults him behind his back. The sailor overhears this comment and defends himself as a sailor under a commendable and honorable king, simultaneously attacking the honor of the lounger and leaving him looking like a fool.

The Dolphin, a droll Story

Told by an anonymous first-person narrator, begins with a mother chastising her son, Joe, for not catching enough fish. She proudly declares that she will do much better than he has, and will even catch a dolphin. The woman casts her line into deep and muddy water, and somehow her rod snaps. She then pulls the line in only to find that she had pulled in a stone. Having made a fool of herself (broken rod, muddy dress, and all), Joe pokes fun at her predicament.

Remarkable Instance of the Affection of a Bear for her Cubs, extracted from Commodore Phipps’ Voyage

Narrated in third-person, this tale begins with three bears, a mother and two cubs, making their way over ice towards ships nearby where a sea-horse had been killed. Feasting on the sea-horse, the bears are shot by the sailors, killing the cubs, and wounding the mother. Though in pain, the mother bear presents more meat to her cubs, hoping in vain that they are alive. They remain unmoving and she “endeavor[s] to raise them up” with no success (17). Moaning all the while, she walks away but returns repeatedly, and when she realizes they are dead, growls towards the ship, to which they respond by shooting her dead.

Adventures of Arthur Douglas, the little Scotsman, and Tom Reefem, an English Tar, an affecting Story

This story unfolds with Tom, an experienced sailor, offering aid to a despairing Arthur, who has run away from home to travel the world. Tom, taking pity on Arthur, feeds him, but not before Arthur has mistaken the returning Tom for a ghost. After eating, Arthur’s suspicions of Tom wane in favor of gratitude. Tom introduces Arthur to the captain, whose approval is contrasted by that of a London trader, who sentences Arthur to return to his parents. Arthur, despairing, is given an opportunity by the captain to work aboard his ship. He works under Tom, who he grows to love as a father, and after a few years, returns to England having become well-learned. However, just before docking, war has been declared against France, and Tom and Arthur are wounded in a fight against the French. Arthur, however, proves valiant in further engagements and is appointed midshipman by an admiral. Tom continues to accompany Arthur in his new role, and their friendship is well known.

An Irish Sailor’s Opinion of Matrimony, a laughable Tale

Narrated in third-person, this is a conversation between shipmates Patrick and Thomas. Thomas wants their captain to be married, but Patrick wholeheartedly disagrees with the notion, indicating that marriage is too confining. Thomas responds by advocating the absence of danger in marriage; Patrick refutes that indeed there is danger, most prominently in the form of jealousy, but also in marriage’s other passions and complexities.

This page shows the formatting used to separate stories and anecdotes.
Nocturnal Illumination

Also told by a third-person narrator, this anecdote describes a “finical lieutenant” asking for a light, which he calls a “nocturnal illumination” to be put out, and when he is misunderstood, he complains of the sailor’s stupidity (28). The boatswain, to whom the lieutenant speaks, translates the command into the words of a sailor, and the job is completed.

Anecdote of Admiral Haddock

In which a dying admiral leaves his son a small fortune devoid of dirty money.

Anecdote of a Sailor and Quaker

In which an English sailor attempts to instigate a Quaker to violence, to which the Quaker squeezes and shakes but does not strike the sailor into submission.

The Press-Gang

In which a gang accosts a gentleman, claiming they need him to teach their guards manners.

Extraordinary Instance of Bravery

This is a story of a hero who first sneaks aboard an enemy French ship and attempts to pull down their colors, while holding off, successfully, several attackers. He then saves a fellow countryman’s life, and shortly thereafter narrowly escapes death with a fractured leg, but continues to fight on his knees. After, he is doing well in the hospital. 

The Admiral’s Escutcheon

In which an admiral’s home is mistaken for an alehouse by a sailor, who asks for a cup of ale. The admiral then orders his servant to bring one to the sailor, and tells him that he might pay the next time he comes by.

King Charles II and the Sailor

This is a correspondence between Jack, “the best seamen in [the] navy,” headed for the gallows as a result of stealing, and King Charles Rex, who saves him from the gallows (32). 

A Sailor’s Frolic

This anecdote tells of a sailor endeavoring for “every tub [to] stand upon its own bottom” (32).

Wapping Ball

An anecdote about colliers at a ball who aim to level themselves with well-clothed sailors.

Account of the Battle of Trafalgar

A letter from a sailor by the name of Jack Handspike to his landlord regarding his experience in the Battle of Trafalgar. He begins by commending Lord Nelson but quickly transitions to the onset of the battle, during which Jack injures two of his fingers and ends up cutting them off and wrapping them so that he is able to captain a gun on the main-deck until the British victory. He then asks for several items to be bought for his wife, Sall, and reassures that although he is injured, and that he will be well recompensed for his service to the country. The letter ends with a song celebrating the death of Lord Nelson.


Bibliography

“Ann Kemmish”  The British Museum, The Trustees of the British Museum, www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG235671.

“Champante and Whitrow.” The British Museum, The Trustees of the British Museum, www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG155232.

“Cleugh, Alexander” [WorldCat Identities], www.worldcat.org/wcidentities/lccn-no2017003446.

Cowie, George. The Bookbinder’s Manual: Containing a Full Description of Leather And Vellum Binding : Also, Directions for Gilding of Paper & Book-edges, And Numerous Valuable Recipes for Sprinkling, Colouring, & Marbling : Together With a Scale of Bookbinders’ Charges : a List of All the Book And Vellum Binders In London, &c., &c. 5th ed. London: William Strange, 18501859.

“Harris, William” [WorldCat Identities], www.worldcat.org/identities/lccn-no2016030213/

“Inigo Barlow.” The British Museum, The Trustees of the British Museum, www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG198601.

“Hughes, Thomas”  [WorldCat Identities], www.worldcat.org/wcidentities/lccn-no2015023168/.

“Mackenzie, Joseph” [WorldCat Identities], www.worldcat.org/wcidentities/lccn-no2019147675/.

“Plummer, Thomas” [WorldCat Identities], www.worldcat.org/wcidentities/lccn-nr93018798/.

Reitsma, H.J., and A. Ponsen. “THE LEIDEN DISASTER OF 1807.” Icon, vol. 13, 2007, pp. 1–18.

“Soutter, Thomas” [WorldCat Identities], www.worldcat.org/wcidentities/lccn-no2019147374/.

Stainer, John. Catalogue of English Song Books Forming a Portion of the Library of Sir John Stainer: With Appendices of Foreign Song Books, Collections of Carols, Books On Bells, &c. London: Printed for private circulation by Novello, Ewer, 1891.

Steele, John Gladstone. “Anne and John Ker.” Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text, no. 12, 2204. 

Stories of the Ship OR, THE BRITISH SEAMEN’S PLEASING COMPANION: ILLUSTRATED IN A Series of Curious and Singular ADVENTURES. William Harris, 1807.


Researcher: Lauren Smits

Arthur and Mary

Arthur and Mary

Arthur and Mary, or the Fortunate Fugitives 

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


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


Material History

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

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

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

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

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


Textual History

The title page for Arthur and Mary

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

The advertisement for Arthur and Mary

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Example of Third-Person Narration:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Carolyn R. Santangelo

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

Lucretia

Lucretia

Lucretia; or, The Robbers of the Hyrcanean Forest: A Romance

Author: Frederic Chamberlain
Publisher: J. Lee
Publication Year: Unknown
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.2cm x 17.3cm
Pages: 19
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.C43 L n.d.


In this chapbook by Frederic Chamberlain, a beautiful young lady is rescued from a group of murderous banditti by her father.


Material History

The physical text of Lucretia is small, only 10.2 x 17.3cm, and contains only 19 pages relating to the titular story—the remaining 11 pages are devoted to an unrelated story titled The Libertine. The text appears to have been ripped from a larger book or removed from a binding of some sort, which left navy blue residue with gold leaf on the spine. The paper pages are thick, yellowing, and quite soft, and are held together by the exposed thread binding. On the blank front cover page some previous owner has written the word “adventure” in cursive. While it may have been Sadleir, who donated the story to the collection, a handwriting analysis has not been done to confirm this.

The title page for Lucretia.

Upon opening the slim volume, the reader is greeted with an illustration of one of the scenes of the book, titled “Lucretia rescued from the Embraces of the Robber, by her Father.” On the opposite side is information about the writer and publisher of the novel, as well as the price. The full title of the work is printed here as well—Lucretia, or the Robbers of the Hyrcanean Forest: A Romance. It is written by Frederic Chamberlain, published in London by J. Lee at Half Moon Street, Bishopsgate, and “sold by all the booksellers.” This page also lists the price of the work: sixpence. The unrelated story, The Libertine, which follows Lucretia is not mentioned on this title page.

Page 3 is blank, but page 4 is where the main text of the story begins. Centered at the top of the page is “Lucretia,” in bolded text. Page numbers are in the outer corners of the pages. The main body of the text is extremely plain—there are no illustrations, and no additions to the pages beyond the page numbers. The text is typed, and there are no irregularities in the printing beyond a fading due to age. The font is similar to the modern Times New Roman, but seems to be slightly smaller than most modern books, and would probably be classified as a 10 or 11point font today.

The lines are fairly close to each other, with not a lot of white space in between, but the margins on the pages are actually quite large. On page 9 they measured 1 cm on each side, 1.5 cm on top, and 2.5 cm on bottom. When Lucretia ends, the text simply stops on page 19, and on page 20 the title of the next work, The Libertine, is bolded and placed at the top of the page above the text. In some places within the chapbook, the text is slightly faded, but never to the point of being illegible. It seems likely to be the result of age rather than a misprinting, as the rest of the book is fairly uniform in its print style.

Overall, despite its age this chapbook appears to be in pretty good condition, with only minor wear and tear that can be attributed to its age. The addition of the extra story in the back is most likely due to the way the books were constructed. Chapbooks were printed on a large sheet of paper that was then folded to create the book, and sometimes there would be extra pages at the end that the main body of text didn’t fill. In that case the publishers would put a short story on those remaining pages so as to not to lose money on wasted materials.


Textual History

Lucretia was written by Frederic Chamberlain, a relatively unknown author who appears to have not been very prolific in his writing, publishing only two chapbooks through J. Lee in London at Half Moon Street, Bishopsgate: Lucretia and Edward and Eleonora. Lucretia appears to have been relatively unpopular in its time, with no critical reviews appearing anywhere. It also appears to have had a limited printing run, since according to WorldCat, the only surviving copy is the one located in the University of Virginia’s Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction.

This is the first page of the second story contained within the same chapbook as Lucretia, called The Libertine.

While there are no surviving references to Lucretia from the time when it was published, it is listed in Gothic Writers with some other gothic chapbooks. The book notes that it is “A typical Räuberroman or robber romance. This type of Gothic derives originally from Friedrich Schiller’s 1781 drama Die Räuber [The Robbers]” (Frank 133). There are no glaring similarities between the plot of Frank Schiller’s drama and Lucretia, so it is likely that Chamberlain was inspired by the genre and wrote a chapbook, rather than stealing a plot and putting it in chapbook form, which was a fairly common practice at the time.

One of the challenges of seeking out information about Chamberlain is that he appears to have written as a hobby rather than full time, as he is credited with writing only two chapbooks. However, he also contributed to one other book called The Cuckold’s Chronicle ; or New bon ton : being a selection of modern and ancient popular trials for crim. con. This book is held at the Harvard Law School Library, and the description in their library catalogue notes that it was published/printed by Joseph Lee in 1808­–1812. This is presumably the same J. Lee that published Chamberlain’s chapbooks. The Cuckold’s Chronicle was initially used as the title for a book compiling court cases dealing with adultery, cuckoldry, etc., that was first published in London in 1793 and then republished in Boston in 1798, with no author being credited for either work. The University of Virginia holds copies of both, and the content appears to be practically identical, with the 1793 copy being “PRINTED FOR H. LEMOIN, BISHOPS-GATE CHURCHYARD” and the 1798 copy being “PRINTED FOR THOSE TO CHOOSE TO PURCHASE” (Lemoin 1, Choose to Purchase 1).

The version printed by J. Lee was probably a cheap reprint of the original after it had gone out of print. What is interesting about this copy is that the “author” is listed as Joseph Lee, but the description in Harvard’s library catalog also includes an “attribution” section, which says “by Frederic Chamberlain, Esq. late of the Temple. Embellished with superb engravings. To be continued every fortnight.” After emailing Harvard to determine the purpose of the “attribution” section, Research Librarian Deanna Barmakian confirmed that Frederic Chamberlain was the actual author, and Joseph Lee was simply the printer/publisher. The fact that Chamberlain is listed as “Esq. late of the Temple,” gives another clue to his identity; as Ms. Barmakian suggested, it most likely indicates Chamberlain’s membership at the Inns of Court, or the professional associations for barristers in England. While the Inner Temple Admissions Database does not show Chamberlain as having been a member, it is probable that he was at one point a lawyer and a member of the Inns of Court, perhaps in the Middle Temple. This would also explain why he would author a book about court cases, which was a large departure from his gothic chapbooks. Unfortunately, no information about his legal career is known.


Narrative Point of View

Lucretia is narrated in the third person by an omniscient narrator who will sometimes directly address the reader when communicating characters’ emotions, or while changing from one storyline to another. The narration keeps the long sentences and flowery writing of a more antiquated writing style. While there is a fair amount of action within the story, it is narrated rather dryly, and the narrator instead chooses to focus on the characters’ inner motivations and reasonings.

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

We must now leave our heroine, and particularize the situation of the distressed duke and his amiable wife, who, almost distracted, had searched the principal avenues that led to the forests but in vain. Night had now thrown her sable curtain over the whole face of the earth; not a luminary was to be seen; and the afflicted duchess could take no repose: At the peep of dawn, the duke, with his faithful servant, Osmin, mounted their horses, and proceeded to the thickest part of the forest, but a contrary way to that by which Lucretia was borne. Having searched nearly the whole of the day, and not meeting a human soul, they became fatigued, and, tying their horses to the branches of a small tree, retired a short distance from each other to rest their weary limbs, when sleep closed their eyes for a temporary time. During their repose the horses broke their reins, and sought after better pasturage. Soon after the duke was awakened by the sonorous noise of Osmin, who lay stretched out on his grassy couch, and dreamt he saw the fair Lucretia amidst myriads of scorpions, and at other times on the eve of falling over craggy and horrid precipices, into a deep gulp of stagnated water, filled with reptiles and monsters, whose mouths opened wide to receive those whom accident or misfortune led thither. Thus the mind is disturbed when any object or circumstance arrests its particular attention. (7)

Due to the dry narration style and the insistence on explaining aspects of the plot that are unnecessary, like the fact that the duke and Osmin go the wrong way, there is often a lack of suspense for the reader. While there are some descriptive adjectives, the narration is generally not expressive enough to create a complete picture of the environment, indicating that the scenery is relatively unimportant beyond the broad strokes of “forest,” “castle,” etc. The narrative style serves to distinguish the reader from the characters by giving the reader information the characters do not have, even while informing readers of what the characters are feeling. Overall, the story is presented in a very factual manner, and the narration does not ask the reader to do much work in figuring out what is going on, or why it is happening.


Summary

The story begins with an unnamed nobleman retiring to a modest life after squandering his fortune, something that his wife Eliza has been warning him about for years. He has an eighteen-year-old daughter named Lucretia, who is tremendously beautiful and has a talent for art and music. One day, Lucretia is outside sketching when a bandit approaches and attempts to woo her. A pistol shot from the woods startles her into swooning, and the bandit takes advantage of this and carries her away to an ancient castle, where she wakes up just as they arrive. She puts up a fight, but is subdued by a number of new banditti, and is then escorted into the main room of the castle. The banditti leave in search of more treasure as Lucretia laments her situation.

Partially hidden below the UVA insert is the word “adventure” in cursive, possible written by Sadleir, or another previous owner.

At this point, the story ceases to focus on Lucretia and switches over to focus on the previously unnamed nobleman, who is now called the Duke. He and his wife are concerned about their missing daughter, and at the dawn of the next day the Duke and his faithful servant Osmin leave to look for Lucretia. After having no luck for much of the day, they decide to take a short rest, at which point their horses escape and Osmin dreams about Lucretia being attacked by scorpions and monsters. Unable to travel any further, they decide to climb a tall tree, and by doing so are able to see the top of the castle where the banditti reside. Coincidentally, when they descend the tree, they are attacked by members of the same group of banditti that attacked Lucretia. Since their weapons are on their missing horses, they are forced to surrender, and are taken to the same castle where Lucretia is being held. Osmin, however, has managed to obtain the same cloak the robbers are wearing, and disguises himself to slip away before being taken into the castle.

The story again switches back to Lucretia—the chief of the banditti, Rufanus, has been soliciting her constantly, but she refuses him every time. After multiple refusals, Rufanus attempts to rape her, but is stopped by the second in command of the banditti, Dupardo, who secretly desires Lucretia for himself. Alfando, the third in command of the banditti, calls Rufanus and Dupardo away before a physical altercation breaks out between them, and Lucretia is left shaken. Rufanus enters the main hall to find that the Duke has been captured and that his servant Osmin has escaped. He orders that the Duke be thrown in the dungeon. After finding out that the banditti have brought back no treasure, he tells them to leave tomorrow morning, at which point he plans to rape Lucretia when no one is around to help her or hear her scream.

This page shows a typical example of the long paragraphs present in the text of Lucretia.

During the night, Lucretia discovers that there is a trapdoor in the room where she is being kept that opens up into her father’s dungeon. They reunite and talk about their misfortunes for the whole night, the Duke becoming increasingly disheartened as he learns more about their situation. They hear footsteps and the Duke returns to his dungeon. Rufanus checks to make sure Lucretia has not escaped, and then sends all of his banditti, except for Dupardo and Alfando, out to raid the villa of a Marchioness. She had left only a steward and his wife there to guard it, but luckily Osmin had arrived earlier and alerted the police, who are now keeping watch on the villa themselves. When the banditti attempt to rob the villa, they are met with the police force. All of the banditti are killed except for one, who they hope will give them information about Lucretia and her father. Unfortunately, he is too injured for speech, and must be nursed back to health before he is able to communicate the location of the castle and the current situation related to Lucretia.

While this is happening, Rufanus keeps going after Lucretia, but is continually rebuffed by Dupardo. The Duke laments his ostentatious lifestyle, and thinks that if he had just followed the advice of his wife none of this would be happening right now. Rufanus becomes irritated at the delay of the banditti and dispatches Alfando to discover what has happened. Alfando returns having found out nothing, so Dupardo leaves and discovers that all of the banditti have been killed. Rufanus is enraged, but tells Dupardo that he should leave and get some provisions in case they are trapped in the castle for a while. He intends to rape Lucretia while Dupardo is gone, but unbeknownst to him Dupardo plans to pick up poisons with the provisions so he can kill the chief and get Lucretia for himself.

The frontispiece for Lucretia.

While Dupardo is away, Rufanus convinces Alfando to help him get rid of Dupardo. Upon Dupardo’s return, Alfando attempts to shoot Dupardo with two pistols, but one does not fire while the other simply grazes Dupardo. Rufanus then stabs Dupardo, who dies. Elated, Rufanus prepares to celebrate with the poisoned provisions, and wants Alfando and Lucretia to join him. During his absence, Lucretia has found a sword and two pistols, which she gives to her father. She claims to be ill, but Rufanus insists they eat in her room anyway. She gets the unpoisoned part of the food by luck, while Rufanus and Alfando eat the poisoned parts, quickly falling ill. Alfando falls over first, and Rufanus uses this chance to once again attempt to rape Lucretia, but the Duke comes through the trapdoor and shoots him. As he lies dying, Rufanus repents of his life of violence, and tells the story of how he killed the last chief of the banditti to gain his position.

With all of the banditti now dead, Lucretia and her father are able to leave the castle. Osmin and the police have been following the wounded banditti back to the castle, and arrive just in time to meet the freed family. The castle is explored and the treasure divided up amongst all of the men. A room is discovered with the skeletons of Rufanus’s previous female victims, which causes Lucretia to faint into the arms of the police chief, with whom she subsequently falls in love. Everyone returns home to Lucretia’s mother, the Duchess, and the police chief receives the castle that previously belonged to the banditti. He and Lucretia marry, and it is said that ever after he spends his time hunting down banditti, becoming the bane of their existence.


Bibliography

Barmakian, Deanna. “Re: Who is the author of ‘The Cuckold’s chronicle; or New bon ton : being a selection of modern and ancient popular trials for crim.’” Message to Dorothea LeBeau. 27 Oct. 2020. Email.

Burn, Richard. The Justice of the Peace, and Parish Officer. The Twenty-fifth Edition, Vol. II. London, A. Strahan, 1830.

Chamberlain, Frederic. Lucretia, or the Robbers of the Hyrcanean Forest: A Romance. London, J. Lee, n.d.

The Cuckold’s Chronicle: Being Select Trials for Adultery, Incest, Imbecillity, Ravishment, &C. … . printed for H. Lemoin, Bishopsgate Church-Yard, 1793.

The Cuckold’s Chronicle: Being Select Trials for Adultry, Incest, Imbecility, Ravishment, &C. Volume I. Printed for those who choose to purchase, 1798.

Frank, Frederick S.. Gothic Writers : A Critical and Bibliographical Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated, 2001.

The Inner Temple. “The Inner Temple Admissions Database.” The Inner Temple Admissions Database: Search Page, http://www.innertemplearchives.org.uk/search.asp#name, Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

Rider, Claire. “The Inner Temple.” The Inns Of Court And Inns Of Chancery And Their Records, Vol. XXIV No. 101, British Records Association, 1999, https://www.innertemple.org.uk/who-we-are/history/historical-articles/the-inns-of-court-and-inns-of-chancery-and-their-records/.


Researcher: Dorothea Starr LeBeau

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

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

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

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


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


Material History

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

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

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

This page of Angelina is missing letters in many places.

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration: 

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

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

Sample Passage of Direct Address:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Samara Rubenstein

The Castle of Montabino

The Castle of Montabino

The Castle of Montabino; or the Orphan Sisters: An Original Romance

Author: Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson
Publisher: Dean and Munday
Publication Year: 1810
Language: English
Book Dimensions:  12 cm x 19.5 cm
Pages: 38
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.W55 C 1810


The Castle of Montabino by Sarah Wilkinson is a riveting narration of mystery and adventure in early 1800’s Italy, centralizing around two sisters’ daring escape from the clutches of their cruel uncle.


Material History

The Castle of Montabino; or the Orphan Sisters: An Original Romance is a lengthily-titled, 38-page work of gothic fiction authored by Sarah Wilkinson. Originally, the contents of the book were stored in a fragile pamphlet of pages consisting of a blue cover and backing.  However, the book was later rebound, and is currently held in a cardstock-weight tan binding. The novel does not appear particularly aesthetically pleasing as the exterior is bland, lacking an intriguing cover and decorative effects. The contents of the book, however, tell a more interesting story. Within the yellowed, aged pages of Wilkinson’s story are small splotches, stains, tears, and other mysterious man-made marks. These pages, containing the actual text, are quite delicate, uneven in length, and frayed at the ends as if torn.

This page shows the bluebook cover, and a catalogue of books printed and sold by the publisher

The first page of the text, or the introductory catalogue, is a detailed table of books printed on faded turquoise-blue parchment paper. This catalogue contains a list of the various works, including The Castle of Montabino, mentioning that they were all printed and sold by the same publisher. The full title of the book appears on the title page after this catalogue, and interestingly, the author’s name is quite inconspicuous, wedged between the full title, the publisher’s name, and a small drawing. Wilkinson is only mentioned as the author once throughout the whole course of the text.

A frontispiece precedes the title page. This is a larger, well-depicted illustration of three women who appear to be kneeling in fear within a castle. The expressions on their faces are contorted and overdramatized, indicating astonishment and fright. Under this image is a caption with the words, “The Castle of Montabino.” The second, smaller drawing is on the title page, and resembles a lightly sketched depiction of a miniature castle surrounded by a few trees. Both images are black and white, appearing relatively simple without ornate detailing or vibrant colors.

The remainder of the book is solely text, containing no other visual aids or sources which depict scenarios relevant to the plot. While the pages are saturated with words and there is not a lavish amount of white space, there is a generous amount of contrast between the paragraphs and spaces so that the reader is not overwhelmed by a mass of text. The font is large enough to easily read, comparable with 12-point font. The dimensions of the book in terms of the external length and width are 19.5 cm by 12 cm. The lengths of the pages within the book are varied as some of the pages are more worn or torn slightly more than others. Additionally, the turquoise blue introductory page and cover are significantly smaller than the yellowed pages with the contents of the text. The material on which the text is printed is a thinner version of printer paper, more aged and discolored than expected. With a tawny yellowish-tan color, the pages appear not only frail, but slightly brittle as well. A few interesting post-production marks found on some pages within the text include an inked signature on the catalogue which appears to spell the word “Montabino” in fluid cursive, along with smaller, more arbitrary pencil markings within the text containing dates and numbers.


Textual History

Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson, the author of The Castle of Montabino; or the Orphan Sisters: An Original Romance, was a novelist known as one of the most prolific female gothic fiction writers of her time (Potter 109–10). She wrote and published over a hundred works of fiction, almost half of which were chapbooks. Many of her works were adaptations of previously existing novels, romances in particular (Baines). Many of Wilkinson’s pieces such as The Thatched Cottage and A Visit to London were abridgements. The Castle of Montabino, however, was her original work. Interestingly enough, Wilkinson is one of the few female authors whose names were printed and made visible within her published texts. Not only was her presence in the gothic fiction realm immense in the early nineteenth century, but some of her writings were also so popular that they were reprinted and recirculated multiple times (Baines). Some of Wilkinson’s more popular works included The History of Crazy Jane, Monkcliffe Abbey, and The Maid of Lochlin. By contrast, The Castle of Montabino, however, was not considered to be one of Wilkinson’s most notable or highly received works, and appears to have been less-known. 

Title page for The Castle of Montabino

Unfortunately, Wilkinson faced many difficulties in her early writing career. She was born into a lower middle-class family, living on the border of poverty in the heart of London. This continued on into her adult life as she was widowed, struggling to support herself and her family with multiple odd occupations. She held a variety of small jobs including being a schoolteacher, running a circulating library, and taking in boarders (Potter, 110–11). Simultaneously, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, leading her to petition the Royal Literary Fund for aid. She cited not only these medical issues, but the difficulty of earning a decent income as a female (Baines). Ultimately, she was fortunate enough to receive this aid and was able to continue writing and publishing until her death. 

Wilkinson’s interesting background and experiences are reflected in her bold, unconventional writing. While she did fit into the framework of gothic style, she combined typical gothic elements with more realistic aspects of daily life, making subtle statements about societal constructs and the social position of women (Baines). She was known to have mocked or satirized mainstream gothic writers such as Ann Radcliffe, depicting diametrically opposing themes such as female social liberation and freedom in her works, The Castle of Montabino being one. Rather than catering to the higher classes, Wilkinson’s works were aimed at the literate, lower-class population, specifically women. Not only did she combine typical gothic tropes with the supernatural, she also focused on the themes of female subjectivity, gender, and identity. This innovative aspect of her writing marked her as a breakthrough female gothic fiction author (Hoeveler, 3–4).

The particular edition of The Castle of Montabino held in the University of Virginia Special Collections Library was published around 1810 by Dean and Munday Publishers. In total, there are two editions and several physical copies of these two editions held in libraries across the world. In addition to the copies at the University of Virginia Special Collections Library, databases indicate that the book is also at Duke University Libraries, UCLA, Northwestern, and The British Library in London. Additionally, there is an online edition of the text available with free access for the public through Chawton House Libraries (WorldCat). Different library databases and collections cite either 1809 or 1810 as the approximate time the work was printed. There is a second edition that was published around the same time, but by S. Bailey instead of the initial publishers, Dean and Munday. While the University of Virginia library catalog indicates that it is published by Dean and Munday, the interior catalogue of the text features a table of books, including The Castle of Montabino, as being printed and sold by S.Bailey.

This page shows the shortened title of the book, and an image of three women who appear to be hunched over, fearfully looking towards a dark, cloaked figure standing in an archway

The intriguing details regarding the history of the publishing of The Castle of Montabino originate with the relationship between Dean and Munday and S. Bailey, also known as Susan Bailey. The two publishing entities were thought to have had familial ties, providing a possible explanation for the reprinting and production of two copies around the same time frame (“Movable Stationary”). Among many of Wilkinson’s works, it is a common theme that most of the pieces are published by either S. Bailey or Dean and Munday, sometimes even both. Dean and Munday as a publication company was said to have been effective in their advertising, cultivating a name as the largest supplier of movable children’s books and chapbooks, fitting Wilkinson’s niche. The company primarily published fiction chapbooks in the form of bluebooks: small, thin paper pamphlets with turquoise-blue covers and backings, illustrated clearly through the visual appearance of The Castle of Montabino (“Movable Stationary”).

Not only was Wilkinson considered an influential author of her time, but she is also studied by contemporary scholars. She is mentioned as a female gothic pioneer with her works being cited in Franz Potter’s The History of Gothic Publishing. She is often referred to as one of the most productive and gifted writers in the field, introducing bold and daring concepts for her time period (Hoeveler 3–4). Wilkinson’s impact on the development of gothic fiction is also a major focal point of discussion in Ellen Malenas Ledoux’s Social Reform in Gothic Writing. Ledoux particularly analyzes what she calls the “working-class gothic in The Castle of Montabino (77).


Narrative Point of View

The Castle of Montabino is narrated in the third-person omniscient by an anonymous narrator who is never discussed or mentioned within the text. The narration is often convoluted and consists of lengthy paragraphs that occasionally form tangents away from the central plot. The narration focuses on the internal feelings and emotions of the characters briefly during the beginning of the book through dialogue and description. Later on, this focus shifts to a centralization around action and details of the core events in the plot. The language utilized throughout the text is intricate and verbose, and transitions from one event to another often blend together. In addition, the narration is extremely hurried and events are often grouped together, depicted as occurring back to back with no pause in between.

Sample Passage:

“Thanks be to heaven,” said the Signor, her apprehensions and suspense will now be converted to joy. “Then, turning to the servants, he said—“I think I scarce need repeat any injunctions of secresy.”— “We are faithful, and would die to prove it,” was the general reply. He asked a few questions, and being informed that the Countess had ordered breakfast not to be on table till two, he proposed retiring till that hour, and Laurinda conducted the ladies and Beatrice to their respective chambers. The sisters were so much fatigued with travelling, that they were not able to converse with their usual facility; and after a few remarks, they fell into a profound slumber, from which they did not awake till the entrance of Beatrice, who came to assist them in dressing; Laurinda having supplied her with the necessary articles for that purpose. At two they descended to the breakfast saloon; Signor Rupino and the Countess were ready to receive them, the former paid them the usual compliments, in a most elegant and flattering speech, the lady spoke not- yet she cordially pressed their hands,—heavy sighs distended her bosom, and she sobbed most piteously. The Signor apologized for the Countess’s not speaking to them; he said that their presence had awakened some bitter recollections that had overcome her. She wore a thick muslin veil, and she took great care, while eating her breakfast, that no part of her face should be seen. Before their repeat was concluded, they were joined by the two gentlemen who had always accompanied Signor Rupino and the Countess in the boat; the latter whispered something to the Countess, they retired together to one of the open balconies (15).

This particular narrative style creates a fast-paced story due to the fleeting portrayal of events. In some cases, it is difficult to distinguish the start of one event and the end of another due to the fact that both the sentences and paragraphs are long and strung out. The events are portrayed as occurring one after the other, and the narration significantly contributes to the sudden nature of transitions within the plot. This aspect of the narration along with some obscured language makes it hard to identify certain contexts or intervals. In illustrating the sister’s journey in the passage above, the narrator mentions, “The sisters were so much fatigued with travelling, that they were not able to converse with their usual facility; and after a few remarks, they fell into a profound slumber, from which they did not awake till the entrance of Beatrice, who came to assist them in dressing; Laurinda having supplied her with the necessary articles for that purpose” (15). This sentence highlights the quantity of condensed details within particular points of the narration, offering an example of the culmination of ideas that are often presented in a short period of time.


Summary

The Castle of Montabino is a short gothic story set in Italy in the early nineteenth century. The plot places specific focus on Emillia and Theresa, two recently orphaned sisters faced with peril after the passing of their aunt, the Countess. The novel begins by describing the somber mood within the castle, and the despair experienced by the two sisters. Emillia and Theresa convey that they do not wish to reside in the Castle at Montabino under the care of their cold and cruel uncle, the Count. In their private apartment, they discuss their plan to escape from the castle with the help of mysterious, unidentified companions. These companions—three noble, well dressed men and one woman, soon arrive at the castle by boat. They dock their boat under the window of the sisters’ apartment, confirming their role in aiding the girls with their escape. The mysterious figures state that the two sisters are nearing imminent danger, and that they must take action in immediately ensuring their safety.

Theresa and Emillia agree that escaping from the castle the next day is the most suitable option, and they begin to make the proper arrangements to do so. Subsequently, Emillia and Theresa proceed with their normal lifestyles within the castle, engaging with their domestic employees Susette, Cosmo, and Judith. During this time, Judith, Emillia, and Theresa make the startling discovery that a ghost occupies the castle, causing slight turmoil and fright. While the sisters express their dismay at leaving their beloved employees, Susette and Judith, in the castle with the presence of a ghost, they ultimately make their daring escape that night. Following the instructions given to them by their mysterious friends, the sisters travel through arched recesses and narrow tunnels, exiting the castle and entering a desolate area filled with ruins.

Unfortunately, they cross paths with two cloaked figures. Startled, they hide behind fragments of stone, concealing themselves to avoid discovery. During this time, they learn the identity of the cloaked figures: a man named Gusmond and his servant Hugo. Their sole purpose for entering the desolate area at such an odd hour was to bury a child. The men banter about preserving secrecy and concealing the events that were to transpire, mentioning that if anyone were to find out, the Count would punish them harshly.

A page of sample text for The Castle of Montabino

After the men leave, Theresa and Emillia hastily arrive at their set meeting point, waiting in anticipation for their transportation to arrive. They discuss the strange, dreadful mystery that plagues the Castle, their relief at escaping the clutches of the Count and their hopes to never be found by him or ever return. Shortly after, the sisters are met by their companions and introduced to their attendants, Signor Rupino and Beatrice. They embark upon a carriage, and ride until dawn, taking shelter at a deserted castle for a while, restarting their journey at dusk, and later arriving at a cottage where they again take rest. Their travel progresses until they arrive at a villa quite distant from the castle. It is here that the sisters learn a treacherous secret: the Count had ordered Cosmo to poison his wife. Cosmo, unable to go through with this order, deceived the Count and instead aided the Countess in escaping under a guise. 

Upon hearing this news, the sisters are overjoyed, invigorated yet shocked by the thought of seeing their aunt. Shortly after, the sisters are reunited with the Countess, who begins to reveal the details of her story. She narrates her childhood, mentioning the hard work and sacrifices her father made to accumulate wealth and provide for the family. Leading up to the moment she was introduced to the Count, she recalls the party during which she was acquainted with him. Soon after, the Count became a frequent visitor, and made numerous proposals for the now-Countess’ hand in marriage. They were quickly married, and she soon came to realize his true intention, which was to gain wealth from her family through their union. Moreover, after the untimely death of her father, the Count refused the Countess’ request to visit her family or have any of them visit her. He became intolerable, refusing her the luxuries of a maidservant, and becoming increasingly cruel.

She briefly narrates her happiness in caring for the sisters once their parents passed away, and proceeds to reveal the night on which Cosmo assisted her in her escape. She was drugged, proclaimed dead, and later hidden in a coffin to be transported to a cottage in the woods a few miles from the Castle. It was after this fateful night that she realized the Count’s evil intentions to take her fortune, and the fortune of her nieces by first murdering her, as she was their guardian. After her departure from the Castle and knowledge of this information, the Countess contacted her friends for a place to stay, financial means, and safe passage far away from the Castle. It was later on that she contacted her mysterious allies, Beatrice and Signor Rupino, requesting them to approach her nieces in order to affect their escape, as the Count had planned to poison them as well.

While this unfolds, the Count seethes with anger upon discovering the disappearance of Emillia and Theresa. As a result, he murders Cosmo in a fit of anger while trying to extract the truth from him. Even though Cosmo is unaware of the means of their escape, he divulges that the Countess is still alive, sending the Count into a rage. The Count scours the tunnels and hidden passages of Montabino, attempting to discover what could have allowed his nieces to escape, or some clue as to where his wife has fled. However, this search ends in his accidental stabbing and eventual death.

Once the Count’s death is confirmed, friends of the Countess and noblemen from the villa begin searching all corners of the castle to uncover the treacherous secrets that the Count may have hidden. It was then that they come across a young woman, Harmina, who was locked away in a small, unkempt room with her daughter. Harmina later reveals her story, discussing her working-class upbringing, her struggles to receive her romantic and material interests, and how she came to be acquainted with the Count. She originally attracted the attentions of Fernando, a servant of the Count, who later introduced the two. The Count was enraptured by her beauty, while hiding his marriage, began to have an affair with her. He ensured that she lived in a charming villa away from the castle, visiting her occasionally and giving her the luxuries she desired. Their affair lasted for three to four years, and she bore him three children. However, Harmina later became aware that he was a married man and, dismayed, revealed to him her plan to return to her father and the rest of her family immediately.

During her escape, she was intercepted by the Count and forced into imprisonment, where her children were taken from her, pronounced dead under mysterious and vague conditions, and later buried. Gusmond, the man who Emillia and Theresa witnessed at the desolate site, confesses to murdering Harmina’s children, and is sentenced to life imprisonment. In the end, Harmina retires to a convent, and leaves her child in the care of the Countess who is joyfully remarried. Theresa and Emillia, who also get married, live happily. The story ends with the moral that those who are virtuous will be rewarded and those who are wicked will meet with punishment.


Bibliography

Baines, Paul. “Wilkinson, Sarah Scudgell (d. c. 1830), Writer: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.” (d. c. 1830), Writer | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 5 Oct. 2019.

“The Castle of Montabino; or The Orphan Sisters: an Original Romance.” WorldCat, 12 Dec. 2018.

Hoeveler, Daine L. “Sarah Wilkinson: Female Gothic Entrepreneur.” Gothic Archive: Related Scholarship, Marquette University, 1 Jan. 2015.

“Movable Stationary,” The Movable Book Society Newsletter, May 2013 (“Vintage Pop-Up Books” with further information, accessed 30 October 2019).

Potter, Franz. “The Romance of Real Life: Sarah Wilkinson.” The History of Gothic Publishing: 1800–1835, Palgrave UK, 2005, pp. 109–30.

Wilkinson, Sarah Scudgell. The Castle of Montabino; or The Orphan Sisters: an Original Romance. London, Dean and Munday, 1810.


Researcher: Medhaa Banaji

Fisher’s Cheerful Companion

Fisher’s Cheerful Companion

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

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


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


Material History

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

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

The frontispiece and title page for Fisher’s Cheerful Companion

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

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


Textual History

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage:

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

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


Summary

Fisher’s Cheerful Companion contains thirteen separate stories:

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

The Three Dexterous Thieves

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

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

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

The Wishes

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

The Widgeon

This page shows the transition between two separate stories

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

The Lucky Disaster

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

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

The Hunch-back’d Minstrels

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

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

The Conjurer

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

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

The Fortunate Peasant

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

The Two Rogues

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

The Wedding Night

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

The Humorous Miller

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

The Adventures of Scaramouch

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

The Unfortunate Spaniard

This page shows the conclusion of the book

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

The Ghost

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Eliza Eddy

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

Somerset Castle

Somerset Castle

Somerset Castle; or the Father and Daughter. A Tragic Tale. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. To which is added, Ghost and no Ghost; or The Dungeon

Author: Unknown
Publisher: Ann Lemoine and J. Roe
Publication Year: 1804
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11.5cm x 18cm 
Pages: 38
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .S648 1804


Published with Ghost and No Ghost, this 1804 chapbook tells how a young couple’s forbidden love leads them down a path of death and despair, ending with the demise of some characters as well as the prosperity of others.


Material History

Somerset Castle is the first story within Somerset Castle; or the Father and Daughter. A Tragic Tale. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. To which is added, Ghost and no Ghost; or The Dungeon, published in 1804 by IRoe and Ann Lemoine. This full title is printed on the fourth page of the book, but a shortened version is printed two pages earlier: Somerset Castle; or the Father and Daughter. This shorter title is printed on the original exterior of a pamphlet in which these stories were published. Now with a new binding, the old cover page becomes the second page. Also on the title page and underneath the publisher information, the price of the novel is revealed to be a sixpence, indicating it was made very cheaply. No author is mentioned for Somerset Castle or Ghost and no Ghost on any page within the book. 

The book’s new binding is a tan colored paper over boards, which gives it a more sturdy feeling. On the spine, the words Somerset Castle / 1804 appear in gold lettering over a maroon strip of fabric. Because the original pamphlet that these stories were published in was quite thin (only 28 pages), the book binder elected to place additional blank pages around the original ones to make the book thicker and therefore easier to bind. One new page is placed before the original cover; the final page with text is followed by eight pages of added paper; then, the original back cover appears, followed by one more newly added page. In total, the new binding of this book includes 38 pages front and back. The original pamphlet pages are made of a darker colored, more visibly worn paper, and the newer pages are made of white cotton that is thicker than the originals, producing a new book that is double the size of the original. These newer pages also have no writing or markings of any sort on them, revealing that they were not used for note taking but result from a choice made by the book binder. 

This page shows the difference between the old cover page and the new pages which have been added.

The binding of the book measures 11.5 centimeters wide and 18 centimeters tall. When looking at one of the original pages with text, the font appears rather small with closely set margins and page numbers that are printed on the top outside corners of each page. The first story, Somerset Castle, is printed on the pages numbered 5 through 29, and the second story, Ghost and no Ghost, appears on pages 30 through 38. In addition to page numbers at the top, some pages have numberings on the bottom in the middle of the page, such as A1, A2, B1, etc. These numbers serve to aid the book binder when printing the pages. Starting out with a large grid of pages printed on one sheet, the book binder would have to fold the pages until the grid was turned into the shape of a book; these numbers were printed strategically on the original grid to ultimately progress in a logical manner when the pages were folded. This technique allowed the book binder to be certain that the pages of the final product had been folded in the correct order.

On the inside cover of the original pamphlet, the novel’s only image appears. A scene of a woman and a child is depicted; they appear to be in a cave containing objects of death, such as a coffin and a skull. Surrounded by architectural decorations continued from the picture above, the title Somerset Castle is printed with the phrase page 22 to indicate the events of this scene occur on page 22. Underneath the title, the words Alais Sc. are printed, revealing the name of the artist of the image. There are no images within the novel that reference the story of Ghost and no Ghost.

Revealing elements of the novel’s history, pages 11 and 12 in the Somerset Castle story have a stain of some liquid. In Ghost and no Ghost on pages 31 and 33, there is tearing on the bottom of the pages, and on pages 33 through 38, there is a hole that continues through the bottom corner of these pages. Two small pencil markings are also found near the back of the book. The number “402” or “702” is written on the last page of text of Ghost and no Ghost near the printing of finis. While this number may have meant something to a previous owner, the meaning is unknown now. On the back of the original pamphlet’s cover, the letters L. and E. are written in pencil, possibly noting the initials of one of this book’s previous owners. Even though this book lacks many personal written additions from previous owners, the condition of the original pages shows that the pamphlet was well used and appreciated in its past life. 


Textual History

Somerset Castle and Ghost and No Ghost were published anonymously by Ann Lemoine and J. Roe in 1804. Because the authorship is unknown to this day, the two stories could have been written by the same author or different ones. Ann Lemoine was a very famous publisher of the time and worked closely with J. Roe. Lemoine began publishing in 1795 after her husband was imprisoned, and over the course of the next twenty-five years, she published over four hundred chapbooks (Bearden-White 299). Thomas Maiden printed Somerset Castle as well as many other chapbooks for Ann Lemoine. By 1796, Maiden was Lemoine’s primary printer, helping her give her chapbooks a more consistent and expensive appearance (Bearden-White 310). 

Title page for Somerset Castle and Ghost and no Ghost with frontispiece.

Other than the copy of Somerset Castle in the Sadleir-Black Collection at the University of Virginia, there are four copies in collections around the world. Yale University and The University of Illinois both have copies of the 1804 publication in their libraries. The National Library of Wales and the British Library also have copies. The British Library’s copy is slightly different from the version in the Sadleir-Black Collection. At the end of the British Library’s copy, there is a second illustration with the title, Subterraneous Passage, and a date of July 23, 1804 underneath. This additional page suggests that Somerset Castle and Ghost and no Ghost were at one time printed in a collection that also included Sarah Wilkinson’s story, Subterraneous Passage. Many of Wilkinson’s stories were also published by Ann Lemoine and J.Roe, and because the publishing date of the two is so close, it is possibly the two were printed together at one point (Wilkinson; Bearden-White 299, 316). 

Although little is known about this text, some scholarly work does reference the story and the illustration it contains. A Gothic Bibliography cites Somerset Castle and Ghost and No Ghost exactly the same as the Sadleir-Black Collection, including the lack of an author, both stories printed together, and with a date of 1804 (Summers 509). The Women’s Print History Project has an entry for this chapbook with the publication date as 1800. In Angela Koch’s article entitled “‘The Absolute Horror of Horrors’ Revised,” she includes this chapbook as part of a list of nineteenth-century gothic bluebooks, mentioning the copy in the University of Virginia and Yale libraries. As part of a collection of gothic images, Gothic Fictions: Prohibition/Transgression by Kenneth W. Graham includes a photo of the frontispiece with a description of “the skull, the rib cage, and carelessly tossed sarcophagus” that help develop the gothic mood of the story. This reference only cites a title of Somerset Castle; or, The Father and Daughter with no mention of the second story in the chapbook, suggesting the two were not always published together (Graham 271). 

When looking for contemporary references to this story, there is not much information that has survived to today. This lack of knowledge about its reception among readers can tell us that this story was not immensely popular or appreciated by its contemporary readers. 


Narrative Point of View

Somerset Castle is narrated in the third person omniscient style by an unknown narrator who never appears in the text. Switching from the story of Harriet to the story of the father back at the castle, the narrator has knowledge of both stories, informing the reader of events in both as they become necessary. The narrator writes in a refined tone, using language that is respectful of the family in the text. Only referring to the main character as “Lady Harriet” and the father as “Earl” or “Lord Somerset,” the narrator keeps a feeling of sophistication throughout the story. Through the use of many exclamation points and vivid descriptions of the characters’ feelings, the narration style easily conveys the emotions of the characters and how their emotions change throughout the story. 

Sample Passage:

VIRTUE and discretion, while they require that young persons should maintain a strict guard against the dangerous influence of passions, impose obligations equally strong upon parents. The foibles of youth, a season incapable of reflection, and denied the grand lesson of experience, ought to be corrected with a gentle hand. The authority of a father, they tell us, is an image of that of the Divine Being upon earth. Surely then man cannot, in his imperfect state, make a more near approach to the dignity of that Being, than by restraining every idea that borders upon rigour, than by giving an unbounded scope to the dictates of lenity and benevolence. Besides, the soothing remonstrances of a father or mother, leave more deep impression on the hearts of children, than, threats and severity; severity, which by rendering them desperate, frequently hurries them from one fault, which might be soon repaired into another, ‘till they are at length lost in a labyrinth of infamy and guilt.


Of these truths the story of Lady Harriet Somerset exhibits a striking instance… (5)

The narration in this paragraph highlights the cautionary tone that continues throughout the story. Beginning with these instructions to preserve “virtue and discretion” and to be conscious of the actions of “a father or mother,” the narrator foreshadows the story’s morals. The narrator also includes the readers in an “us,” implying that these lessons are applicable to all and that every reader should be aware of how these elements of character and influences of religion play out in their lives. The narrator’s reference to the power of the “Divine Being” also connects to the moral instruction exemplified through the lives of these characters. This introduction easily transitions to the presence of judgements about the characters’ actions that appear later in the story.


Summary

The story begins with a backstory of the main character, Lady Harriet of Somerset. Lady Harriet was born to a mother who idolized her, but unfortunately her mother died when Harriet was just a child. Since then, Harriet’s father, the Earl of Somerset, has taken on the role of raising her. The loving relationship previously shared between Harriet and her mother is not reflected in her relationship with her father. The Earl only speaks to Harriet in a rigid tone, focusing solely on her education and setting high expectations for her academically and socially. 

Sample page of text with heading for Somerset Castle.

When Harriet grows up, she begins to like one of the merchants’ sons who comes around the castle often, Charles Belford. Belford is handsome but not from a rich family like Harriet. Due to his family’s status, Harriet expects her father to not approve of their love, so she keeps her love for him secret. Unknown to her, Belford also has strong feelings of love for her, but he is scared to reveal them. One day while no one is around in the garden, Belford is professing his love out loud, and Harriet happens to be sitting near him in the garden where he cannot see, hearing his whole confession. She decides to reveal herself and her love for him, but because of their different statuses, they both know they cannot be together. Soon the couple begins to regret their confessions as they realize the consequences they could face if their families found out. Their solution to this problem is to keep seeing each other but only in secret. These secret meetings escalate quickly; soon they cannot resist having sex. After this, both Harriet and Belford consider killing themselves, but since Harriet already thinks she is pregnant, she stops them both from committing suicide for the sake of their child. Harriet hopes she can tell her father without him being too upset, but after overhearing one of his conversations where he condemns other women for being in her position, she decides to leave town without telling him. 

After trying to get help from Belford’s uncle with no success, the couple goes to a clergyman for help. The clergyman, Doctor Willis, brings in the Earl of Somerset and tells him of Harriet’s pregnancy and relationship with Belford. The Earl is angered by her confession and goes to stab Belford, but Harriet steps in front of him, making her father put down his sword. The Earl tells Harriet he is not her father anymore so she must leave the castle. In response to his words, Harriet almost faints, so the Earl allows her to come back to the castle. While on their way there, the Doctor is suspicious of the Earl’s intentions for bringing her and Belford back to the castle, so he gives them a letter to a woman he knows in Norwich and tells them to escape to the woman’s house. They find out her name is Mrs. Crofts, but she does not like the couple. After only a few days, Harriet and Belford are forced to leave her house as well. By this time, Harriet is about to have her child, so the couple finds a cottage on a farm to settle in. This farm is owned by a nice man named Norris who hears their story and decides to treat Belford like a son by not making him do hard labor. 

Back in Somerset, the Earl is trying to forget his daughter and focus on his ambition. His sister is there comforting him and helping take his mind off of her. On the farm, Harriet has a baby boy, named Charles. The family’s situation is good for a while until Norris gets sick. With Norris unable to run the farm, his son Richard takes over and makes Belford do physical, harsh work to earn his stay. Even after Harriet goes to Richard and begs him to be kinder to her husband, Richard does not change his mind. When it becomes clear that this work is killing Belford, Harriet goes to tell Norris of her situation. Norris gets very angry at Richard for the way he has been acting, saying Richard will die in poverty for what he has done. After this confrontation with Richard, Norris dies. Belford has to keep working hard on the farm, and one day he pushes too far. Harriet finds Belford where he is dying, and he tells her that she should go to her father and ask him to pardon her after he dies. Harriet leaves to get help, but one of the servants comes to tell her Belford has died and Richard has said she cannot stay there anymore. Leaving the farm with her son, Harriet has nowhere to go. She comes to a cottage and writes a letter to her father telling him what has happened and asking for forgiveness. 

In Somerset, her father has become sad without his daughter, thinking about her often. His sister receives Harriet’s letter, but she does not show it to the Earl because she wants him to move on. The sister leaves the castle soon after. The Earl confesses to Doctor Willis that he would forgive his daughter now and treat her husband like a son. Still wandering without a home, Harriet is forced to beg for food, now thinking her father will not forgive her because he has not returned the letter. One day, she sits down to rest and begins to hear voices. With nowhere left to go, Harriet thinks death is surrounding her, so she considers killing herself and her son. When she grabs her son to kill him, she snaps out of her trance and focuses on getting out of this place. She runs to where the voices have been coming from and finds a dying man calling out to her. Quickly, Harriet finds some water for this man. Once he has drank the water, she realizes this man is Richard. Richard tells her his farm was taken from him and as he was escaping from the farm, a gang of robbers attacked him and left him with nothing. Now, he wants to ask her for forgiveness, but he dies before she can respond. 

Harriet continues to wander the street for food, asking God if her son will forever be cursed like she is. In a village, she finds a woman who will give her a pen and paper to write to her father again. She is on her deathbed, but she cannot think about dying until she knows her son will be taken care of. When the Earl receives this letter, he immediately sets out to find his daughter and help her. Harriet does not give up hope that her father will come, and the woman who gave her the paper is taking care of her. Harriet prays to God that he will let her see her father before she dies. She writes one last letter to her father in case she cannot stay alive telling him to love and take care of her son. Just before her father arrives, Harriet dies with her son in her arms. When the Earl comes, he is devastated to see his daughter dead. As they continue to live their lives, the Earl’s grief never goes away, but he dedicates himself to religion and his grandson. He raises his grandson with love and kindness, and when Charles grows up, he establishes a hospital over the site where his mother died to take care of women who are less fortunate. Much later, Charles dies as a model of virtue and benevolence. 


Bibliography

Bearden-White, Roy. “A History of Guilty Pleasure: Chapbooks and the Lemoines.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 103, no. 3, Sept. 2009, pp. 283–318. doi:10.1086/pbsa.103.3.24293816.

Graham, Kenneth W. Gothic Fictions: Prohibition/Transgression. AMS Press, 1989.

Koch, A. ‘“The Absolute Horror of Horrors’ Revised: A Bibliographical Checklist of Early-Nineteenth-Century Gothic Bluebooks’, Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text 9 (Dec 2002). http://www.romtext.org.uk/reports/cc09_n03/

Somerset Castle: Or the Father and Daughter. A Tragic Tale … To Which Is Added, Ghost and No Ghost: Or, the Dungeon. London, Printed by T. Maiden, for Ann Lemoine, and J. Roe, 1804.

“Somerset Castle; or the Father and Daughter. A Tragic Tale. If You Have Tears, Prepare to Shed Them Now. To Which Is Added, Ghost and No Ghost; or, the Dungeon.” Edited by Kandice Sharren, The Women’s Print History Project , dhil.lib.sfu.ca/wphp/title/13465.

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

Wilkinson, Sarah Scudgell. The Subterraneous Passage; or, Gothic Cell. A Romance. London: J. Roe, Ann Lemoine, 1803.


Researcher: Mason Wilson

Oswick, The Bold Outlaw

Oswick, The Bold Outlaw

Oswick, the Bold Outlaw: A Tale of the Eighth Century.

Author: Unknown
Publisher: T. Hurst
Publication Year: 1802
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 12.5 cm x 18 cm
Pages: 85
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .O675 1802


This 1802 novel details a tale of violence, manipulation, and deceit, as an outlaw attempts to evade his capture and destined fate. Will poetic justice be served or will evil continue to reign?


Material History

This image shows the lack of front cover and delicate state of the binding of pages

This edition of Oswick, The Bold Outlaw, A Tale Of The Eighth Century is rather worn, with no front cover, back cover, or substantial binding. The pages are held together by weathered remnants of paper binding, with a few pages falling loose. Upon opening the book, the reader is met with an intricate illustration, the only departure from the otherwise simple and consistent printing. This frontispiece depicts a man with a sword standing over a slain body in the midst of trees. The man who has been slain seems to have been a knight of sorts, as his helmet is lying beside his body on the ground. The image is composed entirely of line-work, with all shading being a manipulation of the density of lines, with there being either an abundance or absence of lines. The image is captioned with the following: “They beheld Blight standing over the mangled body of Egbert: his countenance betrayed the violent emotions of his mind—agitated by remorse—pg. 21”

The title page features the only appearance of the title in the entire book. There is no mention of the author, and thus the author of this work is unknown. However, “printed for T. Hurst, Paternoster-row” does appear on the title page, followed by “By J.D. Dewick, aldersgate-street” in much smaller, almost miniscule font, suggesting that such is not the author but rather the publisher.

The novel is 85 pages long, and is printed in a simplistic manner, on textured, rough, yellowed paper, with the edges browning. The pages feature a page number on the top and justified blocks of text, with large margins and small font, in a rather uniform fashion for the entirety of the 85 pages of the novel. However, some of the blocks of text on certain pages are unevenly placed, with some being crooked and having larger margins than others. It is to be noted that other versions of this novel have been found, which are printed as chapbooks and only feature thirty-some pages. One feature that can be seen in this edition is the appearance of letters in small font followed by a number at the bottom of certain pages. At the time, this was a mechanism to indicate how to correctly line up and fold the pages when printing. The book features no chapters.

This image shows pages of sample text, with markings of age and irregular margins

Other irregularities of the book are merely a result of wear and age. The image featured on the back of the first page has left a slightly darkened imprint on the front of the second page. The frontispiece and title page are the most worn, being significantly darker and browner than the rest of the pages. Every page features three small holes in the middle left/right, towards the spine, as the pages were likely originally bound through these holes. There is a uniform brown spot on the top right of pages 8 through 15, as if something was spilt. The pages towards the end of the book are significantly whiter, firmer, and less worn, suggesting that the novel was not read all the way through much. There is a notable hole on page 79. The text is faded in certain parts, with no pattern. The simplistic pages and the absence of an author suggest the book was cheaply printed.


Textual History

Oswick, the Bold Outlaw: A Tale of the Eighth Century has many versions in circulation. In addition to the 86-page edition published in 1802 by T. Hurst, there is also a chapbook version of Oswick. One version of this chapbook was published in 1806 in a volume of The Entertainer III and under the title, Surprising Achievements of Oswick, the Bold Outlaw, Chieftain of a Band of Robbers: Containing Also an Interesting Account of Enna, His Fair Captive, as Related by Her Son to King Alfred. A Tale of the Eighth Century. Another chapbook, again with the shorter title of Oswick, the Bold Outlaw: A Tale of the Eight Century,was published by Dean and Munday in 1823; this chapbook has 38 pages and a colored illustration instead of the black and white illustration.

T. Hurst, the publisher of the 1802 edition, published many other gothic texts in the early nineteenth century. The publishers Dean and Munday also published many chapbooks in the early nineteenth century, primarily between 1810 and 1855. Dean and Munday were known as pioneers of moveable books for children, which were books with interactive features such as pop-ups and flaps. The company was a small family business, founded in 1702, and later growing to a larger scale in the eighteenth century.

While some university library catalog entries note that this title appears in A Gothic Bibliography by Montague Summers on page 455, it in fact does not. The title noted on that page is Oswick the Outlaw which is a different text than Oswick the Bold Outlaw. Oswick the Outlaw was written by G Smith, Jr. and published by Southwark : G. Smith and Co. in 1815, is 24 pages, and is a children’s story that was performed as a play.

The frontispiece and title page for Oswick, The Bold Outlaw

The title page of the 1802 work contains a five-line poem. This is an excerpt from King Arthur: An Heroick Poem in Twelve Books by Sir Richard Blackmore M. D., published in 1697. The original poem is as follows:

Hell’s greatest Masters all their Skill combin’d
To form and cultivate so fierce a Mind,
Till their great Work was to Perfection brought,
A finish’d Monster form’d without a Fault.
No Flaw of Goodness, no deforming Vein
Or Streak of Vertue did their Offspring stain.

However, the lines included in the front of the book exclude the third line. The chapbook editions feature a different variation of only 4 lines.

There are no translations of this work and no traces of the reception of this book from the nineteenth century. In addition, its printing as a chapbook suggests it was a cheap work. There are no modern reprintings of the work or digital editions available. There is no scholarship on this text, also suggesting that it was not particularly popular.


Narrative Point of View

Oswick, the Bold Outlaw: A Tale of the Eighth Century is narrated anonymously in third person. The sentences generally lack significant amounts of description or insight into the characters’ thoughts and feelings, and rather focus mainly on plot development and observable actions. The description that is offered is akin to that which might be expected of a casual audience member of a play describing a scene, noting the anxiety on a character’s face or the pace of someone’s steps. The narration frequently consists of long, compound sentences comprised of short fragments bound together by many commas, colons, and semicolons, especially when describing a series of events taking place in succession, and many times punctuated with a period only at the end of the paragraph.

Sample Passage:

Oswick never before had seen the inside of a dungeon, and he shuddered. Blight was discovered extended upon his back in the damp vault ; his legs and hands were chained to the ground ; a basket of coarse bread was by his side, and a pitcher of stinking water ; pestiferous animals drew their train along the ground, and across his body ; a lamp burned in one corner of the dungeon, that emitted but a faint light, and materially added to the gloomy horrors of the place. (50)

The third-person narration plays a significant role in amplifying the suspense of the plot since much of the plot is spent with Oswick, the protagonist, incognito and attempting to avoid his capture. The narrator explains, “Oswick … beheld written in large characters, the promise of a great reward for his apprehension; and he stopped to read on, which ran thus: ‘Ten thousand crowns reward are offered to him … who will bring in the head … [of] Oswick the Outlaw’” (44). Here, the repetition of Oswick’s name in describing his actions and juxtaposing it against the mention of his name in a wanted poster emphasize the urgent and dire situation of Oswick and the shock and fear of seeing one’s own name being hunted. Furthermore, the staccato pace of the narration coincides with the pace of the dialogue to create a generally fast-paced tone, adding to the thrill of the plot. The style of narration also emulates that of a myth or tall tale by boasting the grandeur and fearful reverence of Oswick, as if he is a mythical villain.


Summary

The novel begins with the narrative of a King, Alfred, traveling through parts of his constituency to better understand what the people want. While doing so, one night, the King decides to take a detour off his route in favor of the beautiful scenery surrounding him. He quickly loses his way, day turns to night, and a storm afflicts him, forcing him to seek shelter in a stranger’s home. Alfred is warmly invited in, but upon being shown his room, finds a trembling boy under his bed, clutching a dagger. Alfred demands the boy to make clear his intentions and finds out that his mother, Enna, sent the boy to supply the dagger as a means of protection for Alfred as he is actually within the home of a notorious bandit, Oswick, and will be killed as he sleeps.

Enna was indeed right, as Oswick and his gang attack Alfred later in his chamber in an attempt to kill him. Alfred and the boy are able to undermine and overpower the assailers, killing Oswick and Blight, a member of his gang. Oswick unfortunately kills Enna.

As news of Oswick’s demise spreads, the town erupts in celebration. Oswick had been a heartless tyrant and all of his constituents lived in constant fear. After the dust settles, the boy, Egwald, begins to relay his story and the story of Oswick to Alfred.

Egwald, Enna, and his father, Egbert, had been the first victims of Oswick’s. In a similar situation as Alfred, they were forced to spend the night at Oswick’s because of a storm. Upon first glance at Enna, Oswick, astonished by her beauty, fell in love. However, his love was a violent one, as he prohibited her from leaving her chamber that night, stating that she was not allowed to continue her journey that night.

Egbert was killed by Oswick, leaving Enna and Egwald entirely at his mercy. He spared Enna because of his love for her, and honored her passionate pleas to spare her child as well. Enna and Egwald were then forced to live within the confines of a dungeon, until the unlikely night that Enna was permitted to make her journey. In the dungeon Enna was violated by Oswick and spent the majority of her years in a deep depression.

Egwald then relays how Oswick rose to power. He and his banditti gained a notorious reputation by making a pact that no one would ever leave the banditti’s chambers alive. As the banditti slay stranger after stranger, one of them, Gilbert, began to try to lead a revolution within the banditti to overthrow the tyranny of Oswick. Gilbert faltered as he was about to kill Oswick, overcome in a moment of compassion. Left alive, Oswick ensnared Gilbert in a manipulative plan to frame him, thus resulting in his death as revenge for his lack of loyalty. In doing so, Oswick accidentally ensnared himself as well and needed to go to great lengths to reestablish his credibility as a vicious monster. The tale followed his adventures of manipulation under disguise as he attempted to evade apprehension and regain his status. Along the way, he was betrayed by many of his own, who are overpowered by the allure of the monetary reward offered for Oswick’s capture. The novel comes to a close with Oswick scarcely escaping his arrest by own of his own comrades, with the plot coming full circle to the fateful night of the storm which forced Alfred into Oswick’s home.


Bibliography

Blackmore, Sir Richard. King Arthur: An Heroick Poem in Twelve Books. The Camelot Project. University of Rochester. https://d.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/text/blackmore-king-arthur-I

Oswick, the Bold Outlaw: A Tale, of the Eighth Century. London, Dean and Munday, 1823.

Oswick, the Bold Outlaw: A Tale of the Eighth Century. London, T. Hurst, 1802.

Surprising Achievements of Oswick, the Bold Outlaw, Chieftain of a Band of Robbers: Containing Also an Interesting Account of Enna, His Fair Captive, As Related by Her Son to King Alfred. A Tale of the Eighth Century. Printed by Dewick and Clarke, for T. Hughes, 1806.


Researcher: Archisha Singh