With its twists and turns, this transatlantic tale recounts heartbreak, love, desire, and greed. Where one end is tied, another frays, keeping readers in suspense. There is no shortage of the gothic in this text.
The cover of The Commodore’s Daughter is 21.75 cm tall and 13.5 cm wide with a spine thickness of 1.5 cm. While the cover does not have a special design, the two corners and part of the spine have a softer and lighter leather than the rest of the book’s cover, which is a rougher and darker leather. There are three stories bound within this volume and the spine is decorated with gold lettering with the titles: Lucelle. — Julia St. Pierre. — Commodore’s Daughter.
The Commodore’s Daughter, by Benjamin Barker, begins approximately two-thirds of the way into this volume. The pages are clearly in excellent shape. The title page is plain and includes the title, author, and publication information: “PUBLISHED BY E. LLOYD, 12, SALISBURY-SQUARE, FLEET-STREET, AND SOLD BY ALL BOOKSELLERS.”The next page, which starts the text of the story, also includes a detailed picture and caption, as well as the word, “complete” handwritten lightly in pencil at the top of the page. The Commodore’s Daughter was originally published as a “penny dreadful” serial, which is when small cheap portions of the story were published at regular intervals and later bound together. “No. 1,” “No. 2,” etc. appear at the bottom corners of their respective pages (outside of the border created around the text) to indicate the start of a new section of the story. Though the sections were all printed, sold, and originally purchased separately, this version is “complete” because these sections have now been bound together.
The Commodore’s Daughter is sixty-eight pages long. The text is small, always surrounded by a decorative border, and relatively easy to read with decent-sized margins. This copy of The Commodore’s Daughter also shows an error made during printing. Though the final chapter appears to be Chapter XIX, this book does not have nineteen chapters, but rather, eighteen, with one entire chapter having been skipped due to misnumbering. The book leaps from Chapter XVII to Chapter XIX, which should have been correctly numbered as Chapter XVIII. This erroneous Chapter XIX is printed on the back of the page with Chapter XVII. Interestingly, the side of the page with Chapter XVII is much more pristine and in better shape than the other side, which must have been exposed at one point to different environmental conditions.
The Commodore’s Daughter was written by Benjamin Barker—an author who was no stranger to publishing, as he released nineteen other works under his name. Two publishers produced The Commodore’s Daughter—Frederick Gleason in Boston, Massachusetts in 1846, and Edward Lloyd in London in 1847—and versions of each are housed in the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction.
The Lloyd and Gleason printings of The Commodore’s Daughter contain a few key differences. For instance, the 1846 Gleason printing (which is also available on Google Books) includes the alternate title, The Dwarf of the Channel, or, The Commodore’s Daughter. While both versions contain the same story content, the Gleason’s version prints the story in columns, and this copy also lacks the illustrations present in the Lloyd version. Lloyd’s 1847 printing also initially appeared serialized as a penny dreadful.
The Lloyd printing of The Commodore’s Daughter contains a preface dated December 1847. In this preface, “the Publisher” provides context for the story’s historical significance, characters, and plot, including the backstory and setting. The final sentence of the preface reads: “The moral of the tale is unexceptionable, and as the incidents do not violate probability, and the characters are so truly drawn, the Publisher anticipates a favourable reception for the work.”
Like much of gothic literature that has faded from view, The Commodore’s Daughter has not remained widely available and the publisher’s projected “favourable reception” was short-lived, if at all. However, there are a few notable online versions. In addition to digital copies of the Gleason printing available via Google Books, Historical Texts has a digitized version of the Lloyd edition. In 2010, the British Library Historical Print Editions released a reprinting of TheCommodore’s Daughter.
Benjamin Barker has a notable publishing history. Not only did he publish nearly twenty works under his name, but he also published under the pseudonym Egbert Augustus Cowslip. One of his most well-known works under this pseudonym was Zoraida; or The witch of Naumkeag! A Tale of the Olden Time. Another of Barker’s works published under his own name, Blackbeard, or, The Pirate of Roanoke, is listed on Amazon and, as of 2021, has several reviews including one with a complaint about its historical inaccuracies, which reiterates the preface of The Commodore’s Daughter regarding the accuracy of accounts of the American Revolution.
Narrative Point of View
The Commodore’s Daughter is narrated in the third person (and occasionally with first-person plural moments) by an unnamed omniscient narrator who does not appear in the text. The narration feels relatively modern, but still contains antiquated vernacular. The paragraphs and sentences are generally lengthy. Yet, there still are inconsistencies in the style, with some paragraphs being much longer or using more eloquent vocabulary than others. The narration describes the characters and their feelings matter-of-factly (and frequently through characters’ actions), and there is very little text dedicated to introspection. The narration also contains much more description than dialogue.
Premising that the following romance is founded upon facts, with the details of which many of our readers may possibly be acquainted, and that for particular reason, we shall claim the privilege and take the liberty of introducing our principal characters under fictitious names, we now proceed to open our story as follows… (1)
By performing that this fictional story is based on facts—a common gothic trope—the narrator effectively tells the story with increased credibility (and possibly more shock value, as well). The narrator seeks to communicate a story by establishing familiarity with the characters in the book without revealing their names, thus providing an even foundation to readers and inviting everyone to enjoy the story with shared knowledge provided by the narrator from the beginning. The use of the first-person plural “we” also gives a more rounded and less singular feeling to the narration, enabling the fictional story to mimic an actual recounting of events.
In the early days of the American Revolution, before the colonies had banded together to declare their own independence, an old and cunning man by the name of Henry Hartville desired a fortune that was supposed to be inherited by a girl named Nora. Through his meticulous planning, Henry was able to trick Nora into believing that she was his daughter, all the while finding the perfect suitor for her so that Henry could obtain this wealth. The story then asks what Henry Hartville’s plan is to arrive at his goal.
An older, “deformed” man named John Ellery, frequently described in the text as a “dwarf,” has taken under his wing a “maniac” girl, Helen Morton, whose parents died years prior. John Ellery is one day met by a man carrying a letter and a black crucifix, who leaves soon after handing him these mysterious items. Despite not knowing who this man is or who the person who wrote the letter could be, Mr. Ellery accepts the commands listed out to him on the letter without any hesitation. One of those commands being to seek Nora Hartville out to keep under his wing, which the story reveals later.
Luckily, Mr. Ellery met with a ship on its way to a New England port, carrying several passengers in its cabins. Since he is able to pilot the ship, Mr. Ellery is gratefully accepted by the captain to guide it to its destination. Mr. Ellery, however, begins to take notice of a peculiar passenger whom the captain dreaded and wanted jettisoned as soon as possible. Through a careful line of questioning, Mr. Ellery finally realizes what he had hoped to find——the girl on the ship is Nora Hartville, the one the letter instructed him to keep under his wing for the next few years.
Mr. Ellery, Helen Morton, and Nora Hartville all arrive at Mr. Ellery’s home and remain there for several months in peace, as Helen and Nora become closer in what Helen describes as a sisterhood. Unfortunately, the fateful night arrives soon enough, and Miles Warton, the man who brought the letter and the crucifix to Mr. Ellery so long ago, finally comes to collect Nora Hartville for the suitor that Henry Hartville had set up for her. Miles Warton was a criminal, so Mr. Ellery knew his arrival at the cottage meant something was wrong. Prior to their meeting, Mr. Ellery heard Nora’s objections to the forced marriage, for the girl had her heart set on another man, George Wellington. Both parties soon realize that this night will not go as planned. In a shocking turn of events, Warton is killed by none other than Helen Morton, as she defends her adoptive father from being harmed by the criminal.
Through many events to follow, George Wellington, who was originally deprived of his desire to see his love, Nora Hartville, meets up with a man named Edward Hale, Helen Morton’s former lover. It is revealed that once George and Edward work together in their search for their lovers, the cruel and conniving plans of Henry Hartville can be overturned.
Yet before their arrival, another surprising figure appears: the former wife of Mr. Ellery, whose name is Julia. Long ago, Julia (the original owner of the black crucifix) held a gun to her husband’s chest in a fit of hatred and demanded that he follow the orders of whoever bears the crucifix. Now, Julia seeks forgiveness for the trouble she has caused, and the old man gracefully accepts. Seeing that Mr. Ellery accepted her apology, Julia knows she can now rest, and she breathes her last breath at her former husband’s humble cottage.
Finally having come to peace with his life, Mr. Ellery travels with his daughters and their suitors (who have found his cottage after a long search) to the ship of a well-known commodore, where it is revealed that the villainous Henry Hartville is aboard the vessel. Cornered and seeing that all his plans have been foiled, Henry Hartville takes a pistol to his head and pulls the trigger, allowing for Edward Hale and Helen Morton to fulfill their love and Nora and George Wellington to do the same. Through much pain and sorrow, Mr. Ellery finally gets to live a happy life away from shame.
A collection of stories related to the sea and sailors, this 1807 chapbook includes humorous anecdotes as well as adventurous tales of heroic resilience.
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.”
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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
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
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
The Dolphin, a droll
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
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
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
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.
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
In which a dying admiral
leaves his son a small fortune devoid of dirty money.
Anecdote of a Sailor and
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.
In which a gang accosts a gentleman, claiming they need him to teach their guards manners.
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).
An anecdote about
colliers at a ball who aim to level themselves with well-clothed sailors.
Account of the Battle of
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.
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.
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.
In this 1806 Jean-Baptiste-François-Xavier Cousin de Grainville novel, embark on a journey with the last inhabitants of the world as they navigate around the universe’s impending destruction.
The Last Man, or Omegarus and Syderia, A
Romance in Futurity was originally a French text by
Jean-Baptiste-François-Xavier Cousin de Grainville. The author’s name appears
nowhere on the front cover or inside of the book. Instead, “By Mrs. Shelly
author of Frankenstein [illegible word]” is penciled in underneath the title on
the full title page of both volumes. Though the two texts share the same short
title, The Last Man, or Omegarus and Syderia, A Romance in Futurity was
written by Cousin de Grainville not Mary Shelley.
This edition, which presents the English
translation of the French original, was published in London at Grace
Church-Street in 1806 by R. Dutton, as denoted on the full title page of both
volumes. An epigraph appears underneath the title on the full title page in
both volumes and says, “Through what new scenes and changes must we pass?—The
wide, th’unbounded, prospect lies before me.—” which is from Addison’s 1713 “Cato.”
The French title is not given in this edition, but the French edition is called
Le Dernier Homme, Ouvrage Posthume. The full English title, The Last
Man, or Omegarus and Syderia, A Romance in Futurity, is only present on the
full title page of each volume and the shortened titles—The Last Man. A
Romance in Futurity. and The Last Man.—are present on the half title
page of each volume. The latter title—The Last Man.—also appears in the
top margin of the left and right pages starting from the beginning of chapter
one until the end of the last chapter.
Any designs that may have graced the
front or back covers of the book are completely gone, due to over 200 years
passing since it was originally printed. There are remnants of a wax-dripped
insignia on the spine of volume one and black printed letters on the front
cover of volume two; otherwise, the covers are a brownish-yellowish color and
are fraying at the corners. There is also worn-off blue tape on the spine that
wraps towards the center of the front and back covers in an attempt to secure
the fragile binding. The book is 11.5 cm by 19 cm and is of a medium thickness.
Volume one contains 220 pages and volume two contains 204 pages, making the
entire book a total of 424 pages.
The binding from volume two is in poorer condition than volume one, as all the pages are completely detached from the binding. In volume one, the pages are still slightly secured to the binding, albeit a third of the pages are detached from it. However, all of the pages of each volume remain intact and secured to each other with an adhesive. The paper is yellowed, and there are brown splotches of varying sizes on the majority of pages. The origin of these splotches is unknown. When the book is closed, the pages are noticeably crinkled.
The page immediately following the full title page in volume two has an advertisement for another text published by R. Dutton, The Saracen, or Matilda and Melek Adhel. A Crusade Romance with no listed author. The advertisement relates in italics, “Just published, in 4 vols. 12 mo. price 18s. in boards,” and, “This work has been highly spoken of in the L’Ambigu of M. Peltier.” On page 11 of volume two, there is a handwritten correction for a typo: someone has crossed out “Ormus” and penciled in “Eupholus.” There are no illustrations, decorative elements, table of contents, epilogue, or author’s note present within the text.
We know that this edition of The Last
Man has had many institutional homes, as a stamp of T. Norris’s Circulating
Library is glued onto the inside of the opening cover of each volume. There are
also illegible names and numbers scrawled in pencil and ink on the opening
cover and first blank page of each volume, supporting the idea that this edition
of The Last Man has passed through many hands. In both volumes, the only
writing that can be clearly deciphered is “Doris Pousonly 1927.” This constant
transfer between different people also contributed to the novel’s fragile state
and worn-out appearance.
The font used in both volumes is
identical, and it is of a larger size, making it easier to read. Copious
amounts of spaces separate paragraphs, which are generally on the shorter side
and range from one to three sentences. The spacing of sentences within
paragraphs and words are also spread apart. The first word of every chapter is
printed in a larger font size than the following words, with the first letter
in a more decorative font. The chapter headers are preceded and succeeded by
black lines, which creates ample spacing between them and the paragraphs. They
are also in a different font and size than the primary font and font size, and
the numbers are roman numerals. Page numbers appear at the top of the pages –
the leftmost side of the left page and the rightmost side of the right page.
Different printer notes are scattered
throughout the chapters in order to keep track of the page order. Below the
last sentence of each paragraph, there are catchwords placed on the bottom and
to the rightmost side of the page. These words were customary printing
techniques during the nineteenth-century to pair up pages with the same word
that appeared at the top of the next page. Also, capital letters immediately
followed by a number appear inconsistently on the middle of the bottom portions
of pages. These notes provided a map for printers on how to fold the book and
align the pages together.
The Last Man. A Romance in Futurity.
was originally written in French by Jean-Baptiste-François-Xavier Cousin de
Grainville and titled Le dernier homme. Cousin de Grainville was a
former priest at the Church of Saint-Leu in Amiens. This is also the same place
where he delivered a funeral oration defending the King of France at the time,
Louis XVI, which resulted in his imprisonment and potential death sentence. In
order to avoid the latter, he was urged into marriage, and the union simply
became a way to keep up appearances. After the marriage, he began writing Le
dernier homme, which ultimately became his life’s work. He also kept a
school in Amiens, but was shunned as an apostate priest. Due to the treatment
he endured, he committed suicide at Amiens in 1805, making Le dernier homme
a posthumous publication (Paley 67–8).
The Last Man. A Romance in Futurity. was published and received in several different manners. The original French publication received little to no attention; Morton D. Paley notes that this makes the emergence of the English version in 1806, which lists no author, strange (68). The minimum attention the novel received produced a few reviews, which were generally bad. In one instance, the reviewer deems the novel as “most extravagantly wild and eccentric” and recommends it to readers who are “much addicted to the reading of romances” but also warns, “if the same readers should be hostile to licentiousness and profaneness, and should think that translations (as this seems to be) one of the vilest books imported from the Continent, ought to be consigned to some other conspicuous place—we recommend the fire” (“Art. 21” 446). The 1811 publication of the second edition of Le dernier homme in French was influenced by Sir Herbert Croft, who was a contemporary admirer of the novel, and prefaced by Charles Nodier, who was Croft’s literary assistant; the second edition received a little more attention than the first, but still remained widely unknown (Paley 68).
Cousin de Grainville’s work is believed
to have inspired the development of other pieces of literature in the following
years of its publication. Benjamin Morgan suggests that Cousin de Grainville’s
novel stimulated the genre of “Romantic millenarianism,” which included the
works of Lord Byron’s Darkness (1816), Thomas Campbell’s The Last Man
(1823), and Mary Shelley’s The Last Man (1826) (618). All of these texts
are placed in an impending apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic world and involve a
fixation on the last man on earth. In 1831, the novel was adapted into a poem
by A. Creuzé de Lesser, which was titled “Le dernier homme, poème imité de
Grainville,” and published in Paris (Paley 68).
Today, The Last Man. A Romance in Futurity. has been attended to by many
scholars and approached as a work of science fiction, potentially one of the
earliest such works. Wesleyan University Press published an edition, translated
by I.F. Clarke and M. Clarke in 2003 as part of their Early Classics of Science
Fiction series. In one review of this newer edition, John Huntington emphasizes
common literary elements in the novel, such as “realism and “the kind of
empirical detail which will later characterize the SF [science fiction] novel”
(374). There have also been interpretations that contextualize the earth’s
deterioration in the novel. In one analysis, Morgan situates Cousin de
Grainville’s novel amidst other works that examine “ecological catastrophe”
Point of View
The Last Man. A Romance in Futurity. is a frame narrative in which
the main story is narrated in the third-person omniscient by an anonymous
narrator and the secondary tale is narrated in the first person by Omegarus.
The frame narrative is heavy on dialogue, while typically using descriptive paragraphs
to reveal that a strange or magnificent event has taken place. The secondary
narrative is related from the perspective of Omegarus, in which he tells Adam
about his history. Since the secondary narrative is in the first person while
also incorporating a lot of dialogue, Omegarus uses descriptive paragraphs to
focus on his thoughts and reactions to different situations. Omegarus also
relates stories that other characters told him at that particular instance in
his history, which can generate confusion as to the chronology of events. The
secondary narrative functions as the backstory to the main narrative, which is
narrated in the present. At times, the third-person narration of the framing
narrative interrupts the secondary narrative to remind readers that it is the
main story, as one can easily become lost in the secondary narrative and forget
about the main narrative. It also serves as a way to interact with readers, as
we are like Adam listening for the first time to Omegarus’s story.
Sample Passage of Main Frame Narrative:
Scarcely had Omegarus ended the description of the two pictures, when Adam, much affected, interrupted him saying, “Omegarus, O my son! (allow me to use this appellation from my tenderness) hold an instant, and let me recover breath! Thou hast opened again in my heart a source of sentiment which I thought dried up. Ah! If thou didst but know me! – I, as well as Adam, had a wife and children, and but now fancied that I saw them, heard them, and tasted with them all the joys of a husband and father!” (vol. 2, 48–49)
main narrative, Adam stands in the same place as the readers of the novel, as
he is invested and heavily affected by listening to Omegarus’s story for the
first time. This invites readers to be sympathetic towards Omegarus and his
future. Readers also know more than Omegarus, because we know Adam’s true
identity while Omegarus is unaware of who Adam is at this point in the story.
Adam points this out in this passage as he laments, “If thou didst but know
me!” then Omegarus would understand why he is heavily affected by the story. In
expressing his emotions, Adam interrupts Omegarus’s story, bringing readers
back from the secondary narrative to the main narrative. This interjection also
acts as a break from Omegarus’s story, which contains a lot of information to
digest in one taking.
Sample Passage of Secondary Narrative:
I came. Her room decked out, the soft fragrance I inhaled, Syderia’s dress, – all were preparations that surprised me. I drew near her ; the picture of Eve with her infant son attracted and delighted my eye, and induced a wish to see the other which was veiled. No emotion ever equalled mine at the sight of the Mother of Mankind in the arms of her husband. (vol. 2, 51)
From the first sentence here, the “I” used by Omegarus denotes
this passage as originating from the secondary narrative versus the main
narrative, which makes no use of first-person pronouns outside of dialogue.
Because of this, readers have a window into Omegarus’ thoughts, specifically
about Syderia in comparison to the painting of Eve in this sample passage. This
ability invites readers to be sympathetic towards Omegarus and gain an
understanding of where he is coming from, as we are learning his history from
his own perspective, even though Omegarus’s narrative is also faulty and
biased, since it is difficult to remember every instance that has occurred in
The novel begins with an unknown speaker
being willed to enter a cave by a spirit possessing knowledge of all future
events. The spirit intends to reveal the events that will result in the end of
the universe through a magic mirror. The speaker first sees an image of a
melancholy man and woman, Omegarus and Syderia, who are the last inhabitants of
the universe. The spirit shows the speaker, who is interested by the cause of
their melancholy, a different image depicting Adam, the first father of
mankind, guarding the gates of hell as punishment for causing the human race to
have original sin. Ithuriel, an angel, comes to Adam and tells him that God has
a special mission for him, which involves sending him back to earth. In return
for his participation and success in the mission, Adam will be granted
deliverance from his punishment. Ithuriel promptly returns Adam to earth, where
God communicates that he must demand from Omegarus painful sacrifices using
only eloquence and persuasion.
Omegarus and Syderia walk outside of
their palace after being plagued by images of bleeding specters and the sound
of groans, when they see an old man, who they view as a favorable omen sent
from heaven. The old man is actually Adam, who must conceal his true identity from
Omegarus and Syderia. Adam inquires the source of their sorrows, to which
Omegarus relates the images and sounds that have plagued him and Syderia. Adam
confirms that Omegarus has committed a fault that has agitated heaven, and he
was sent to teach him how to avoid it. He asks Omegarus to tell him the history
of his life and Omegarus begins to tell his story.
Omegarus’s birth was a phenomenon, due to
procreation being fruitless twenty years prior, and was nicknamed “Manchild.”
No other children, though, were born afterwards, and shortly after the death of
Omegarus’s parents, he decided to travel to Europe. Before leaving, he visited
his parents’ tomb where the Genius of earth, who is charged with the planet’s
preservation and care, appeared to him and warned him of earth’s impending
destruction. The Genius explained that he would live as long as the earth lived
and that only Omegarus, united by marriage with a specific woman, would result
in the production of children and delay the earth’s, mankind’s, and his own
destruction. Omegarus offered to promote the Genius’ intentions, and the Genius
told him to seek out a man named Idamas, because he knew what plans heaven had
Upon entering the city that Idamas
inhabited, Omegarus encountered Policletes and Cephisa, who had been imparted
the knowledge of Omegarus’s fate. Policletes told Omegarus how he went to a
temple one day after feeling anxious about the earth’s decay and had a vision
of Omegarus as a child, who told him his anxieties would end when he laid eyes
on Omegarus’s future wife. Policletes charged this vision as the reason for
seeking out Omegarus’s wife. After this encounter, Omegarus continued searching
for Idamas, until he is stopped by a man named Palemos, who claimed that heaven
had bestowed the knowledge of the future to him and knew Idamas. He explained
how he was a guest at Idamas’s home the previous night, where he witnessed God
tell Idamas that the earth would be revived through Omegarus, who he is meant
to accompany in his journey. Policletes then took Omegarus to Idamas, and they
subsequently depart across the seas.
On their journey, Idamas related to
Omegarus the story of Ormus, who promised to bring his people into a new world
by taking control of the ocean. Initially, his people supported him, but
eventually, Ormus abandoned his plans due to his people claiming that his
actions were selfish and simply a way to have his name immortalized.
Afterwards, Ormus sought refuge in the City of the Sun in Brazil, where he was
greatly revered. Omegarus’s future wife was also in Brazil. Idamas’s narrative
was interrupted when they discovered that they had reached Brazil’s shores.
Omegarus, Idamas, and all of their companions were initially met by Eupolis and
the Americans who intended to kill all of them, since this was the law enforced
in Brazil to preserve the minimal food supply. Only a sign from heaven, which
was the gift of numerous animals from a neighboring village, caused Eupolis and
the Americans to change their intentions and lead them to Aglauros, who ruled
in the Brazils. Idamas told Aglauros of the display by heaven and convinced him
of Omegarus’s role as the reviver of the human race. He then told Aglauros that
he would name Omegarus’s wife, and Aglauros allowed Idamas to follow-through
with his plans, but imprisoned Omegarus in a tower so that he does not
accidentally choose the wrong woman.
After several weeks, Idamas told Aglauros
to order all the young American virgins to the plains of Azas where he would
name Omegarus’s wife. Meanwhile, Omegarus was visited in the tower by a
goddess, who painted an image of a perfect and beautiful woman. The following
night and onwards, the same woman visited him in the tower. Syderia also
experienced the same phenomena as Omegarus, but instead, she was visited
everyday by a young man. They fell in love with each other, which is the reason
why both Omegarus and Syderia wished to not partake in the plains of Azas.
Despite their reluctance, Omegarus and Syderia were required to go to Azas and
discovered that they were the ones they saw every day and night.
The preparations for their marriage were
immediately started, but Ormus, who was charged with uniting Omegarus and
Syderia, prophesized that their marriage would actually result in the
destruction of earth and mankind. He bestowed this knowledge onto Eupolis and a
few of the Americans. On the day of Omegarus and Syderia’s wedding, Eupolis
revealed this knowledge to everyone after Ormus and Idamas are killed by
presumably heaven’s wrath. He demanded that Omegarus return to Europe and
Syderia remain in Brazil.
That night, Forestan, Syderia’s father,
visited Omegarus and pleaded that he took Syderia with him to Europe, for
Eupolis and the Americans intended to kill both her and Omegarus to eliminate
the threat of the prophecy all together. Omegarus agreed, and him and Syderia
escaped to Europe the same night. In the following days, Omegarus was consumed
with his love for Syderia, which she refused to return in respect of her
father’s wishes to not marry Omegarus. One day, Omegarus wished to escape
Syderia’s presence and ended up in a delightful valley wherein he perceived
Syderia willingly accepting his love. Realizing it was an illusion, Omegarus
immediately rushed back to Syderia, but she still implored that they remained
separated. This caused further distress in Omegarus, who now shunned Syderia.
One day, Syderia is visited by her
father’s spirit, who revealed that he had died shortly after her departure. He
told her that heaven actually approved of her marriage to Omegarus and that his
love for her would be rekindled by two images located over the altar in the
temple. Syderia was moved by the second image, which depicted Eve and her
infant son, and presented herself under the two images so that Omegarus may
find her. Once he found her, Omegarus was moved by the first image of Eve and
Adam getting married. Shortly after, Omegarus and Syderia got married. With the
end of his narrative, Omegarus demands Adam to ask heaven whether or not their
union is favorable.
After consulting with heaven, Adam drags
Omegarus from the palace and reveals that Syderia is pregnant and their child
will be the father of an ill-fated generation of humans. Omegarus is unwilling
to believe Adam, as he is still unaware of his true identity. Adam cites all of
the bad events that have taken place since Omegarus and Syderia have been in
each other’s company, and Omegarus admits that he was in the wrong, but refuses
to allow Syderia’s death and the death of their child. This refusal causes Adam
to reveal his true identity to Omegarus as the “Father of Mankind,” and he
tells Omegarus the mission that God has entrusted to him. Although at first
unwilling to let Syderia die, Omegarus changes his mind when God shows him a
vision of the future where his future generations are at war with each other.
Omegarus signs a tree and carves that he is innocent in hopes that Syderia
reads it and officially parts ways with her. She ultimately perishes as a
result of his absence. The Almighty opens the graves of the dead and shields
Omegarus from the havoc the dead causes. The novel concludes with Omegarus
witnessing the end of the universe.
Cousin de Grainville,
Jean-Baptiste-François-Xavier. The Last Man, or Omegarus and Syderia, A
Romance in Futurity. London, R. Dutton, 1806.
Angelina is one of Thomas Peckett Prest’s serialized works from 1841 that centers around murder, mystery, and forbidden love.
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.
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.
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 TimesandPeople’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.
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 TimesandPeople’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.
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 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.
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).
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.
In this novella written by John Corry and published in 1803, a nobleman uses an all-female boarding school in England to seduce and subsequently elope a young woman, only to abandon her in France.
The Unfortunate Daughter: Or, the Danger of the Modern System of Female Education was written by John Corry and published on March 1, 1803. This particular printing of the story is found as the second tale in a book labeled Corry’s Tales, sandwiched between two of Corry’s other stories also published by J. Corry in September 1802 and May 1803: Edwy and Bertha; Or, the Force of the Connubial Love and Memoirs of Edward Thornton; Or, a Sketch of the Modern Dissipation in London. In this time, it was common to bind multiple books by the same author to save shelf space in libraries. This single book measures 10.5 cm wide by 17.8 cm tall and totals 192 pages, using 55 pages for Edwy and Bertha, and 72 pages each for The Unfortunate Daughter and Memoirs of Edward Thornton, respectively. The book is half-bound with a leather spine and corners framing a unique marble paper cover that features red ripples running through a black-speckled background. The spine features Corry’s Tales written horizontally in gold print on a red background with five sets of gold lines as embellishment above and below the writing. The front cover shows more signs of wear than the back cover, and the blunted corners suggest that this book was well-read in its shelf life. The inside pages are speckled, yellowed, and softened while some more intact pages retain the look of slight vertical lines like that of watercolor paper. The printing ink appears faded in some sections of the book, namely in the middle, yet it still remains readable. Also, there is one quite substantial rip on a page in The Unfortunate Daughter, although it is unclear when this rip was obtained. Overall, despite obvious signs of use, this version of Corry’s Tales is preserved in decent condition.
On the inside, each story receives its own title page and detailed black and white illustration depicting a scene from within the story. In the case of Edwy and Bertha and Memoirs of Edward Thornton, the illustrations are accompanied by a quote written in cursive directing readers to a specific passage in the respective book with a page number, while the illustration before The Unfortunate Daughter lists “page 70” at the top but lacks a caption. Each story’s title page is structured in a similar way; first, it states the title and sub-title of the story, then the author’s name, followed by a quote from a famous person, and the printing information. All stories except Edwy and Bertha advertise a price of one shilling at the time they were published, equating to around $5 each in modern times. The title pages are followed by a page labeled “Advertisement.” in each story, except that of Edwy and Bertha, which feature a short summary of the story.
Despite these three stories being originally published separately and at different times, the font, line spacing, margins, pagination, and presentation of the title pages remain consistent and unchanged in this printing of Corry’s Tales. The book features a serif font that is well-sized. The text is given plenty of space for readability in this edition of the book—the lines contain small gaps between them, there are large spaces after periods, and the margins are considerable on each side of the page. In terms of textual layout, all three stories feature clear paragraphs and the author uses double quotation marks to indicate dialogue instead of single quotation marks. All three stories include catch words, or the repetition of the last word on the preceding page at the beginning of the following page, and signature marks, or letters systematically arranged A, A1, A2, etc., on the bottom of paragraphs, so that publishers could be assured they were aligning the pages properly. The page numbers are printed inside closed parentheses at the top of each page, and the pagination starts anew at the beginning of each book after the title page or advertisement, respectively.
This book has a fair number of markings in the front likely unique to this printing. On the back of the front cover, there are two separate annotations in graphite pencil. On the page opposite to the front cover, “Thomas Chiviley to his Sister Sarah 21 July 1808” is written in ink suggesting that this book was once owned by Thomas and given as a gift. Immediately below this, there is a graphite smudge showing the remnants of a cursive annotation currently illegible below it. Below this are more pencil markings that resemble a handmade table of contents listing the titles of the stories in the book as well as “Crosby 1803” indicating who the stories were printed for. On the right hand side of the following page, there is one more handwritten memo about Edwy and Bertha. Additionally, there is a small newspaper clipping pressed after the page with the note about Edwy and Bertha advertising the sale of another “fine copy” of one of Corry’s works titled The Gardener’s Daughter of Worcester: or, the Miseries of Seduction. A Moral Tale.
John Corry (fl. 1792–1836), the author of The Unfortunate Daughter, was an Irish-born writer. Corry was a journalist in Dublin and later moved to London (Goodwin). In London, Corry was the editor of a periodical, a member of the Philological Society in Manchester, and a bookseller and publisher at Princess Street, Leicester Square. In his lifetime, Corry produced a broad literary canon including histories, biographies, socio-political satires, and children books. In his early career, Corry mainly focused on poetry shown through his publication of Poems (1780)and later shifted his attention towards histories, biographies, and satirical stories. Corry wrote around eight biographies of famous men including The Life of George Washington (1800) which went on to be reprinted in multiple countries. Corry’s most notable historical work is The History of Liverpool (1810), and he later went on to write at least three other histories of cities in England. As for his fiction writing, Corry wrote a variety of short tales that were typically published in series. The first-published series was Corry’s Original Tales (1798–1800) which included seven short stories. Following that, Corry produced a multitude of other series including: Friend of Youth (1797–1798), Domestic Distresses, exemplified in five pathetic original tales (1806), An Illustration of Passions; or, Man in Miniature (1798), and Tales for the Amusement of Young Persons (1802). Outside of these series, Corry wrote two stand-alone novels—A Satirical View of London (1801) and The Mysterious Gentleman Farmer (1808) (Pitcher 83–90).
The Unfortunate Daughter was published as a novella by Crosby and Co. in 1803, yet sources speculate that this story may have been reprinted from a previous series. It is noted in The Edinburgh Magazine, or Literary Miscellany that The Unfortunate Daughter was published in January 1803 as tale no. 5 in Corry’s Original Tales (“Books and Pamphlets Published in London in January 1803”). However, there appears to be evidence that the story later belonged to a series titled An Illustration of the Passions. This series is known to include Edwy and Bertha, The Miseries of Seduction, The Pleasures of Sympathy, and The Elopement. The second story in this series is also known as The Gardener’s Daughter of Worcester which is the story found on the newspaper clip found in the Sadleir-Black Collection’s edition of The Unfortunate Daughter. Furthermore, Pitcher speculates that this series also includes Memoirs of Edward Thornton, which appeared in a pamphlet with Edwy and Bertha published by Crosby and Co. in 1803 (Pitcher 88). Since An Illustration of the Passions is known to include the two stories that sandwich The Unfortunate Daughter in the Sadleir-Black Collection’s edition of the novella and since it is speculated that other stories belonged to this series, it is possible that The Unfortunate Daughter also belonged to this series.
The Sadleir-Black edition of The Unfortunate Daughter lists J. Corry as the publisher of the novella on March 1, 1803. On the title page, there is a long list of people and companies who the story was printed for: B. Crosby and Co., T. Hughes and M. Jones, Tegg and Castleman, R. Ogle, J. Stuart, and C. Chapple. Most notably, the publisher B. Crosby and Co. was the publisher to whom Jane Austen sent her original manuscript of “Susan,” which was later revised to become the well-known novel Northanger Abbey (Harman). Further, this edition of The Unfortunate Daughter was printed by W. S. Betham. The frontispiece lists the name M. Betham below it, suggesting that he or she was the illustrator.
It is unclear how many different editions of The Unfortunate Daughter there are. WorldCat lists a second edition of the novella that was published in the Baptist pamphlets. This edition has a longer title, The Unfortunate Daughter, or, the danger of the modern system of female education: containing an account of the elopement of a young English lady, with a nobleman, and a shorter length totaling 59 pages, versus the 72 pages found in the Sadleir-Black edition. It is unclear whether the discrepancy in length is due to smaller font and margins or actual textual changes. Additionally, The Unfortunate Daughter can be located on Google Books. This version parallels the appearance of the edition found in the Sadleir-Black Collection.
This edition of The Unfortunate Daughter contains a short advertisement before the story. This functions as an introduction describing the tale’s contents briefly. Furthermore, this edition includes two quotes before the story—one on the title page and one below the advertisement. The quote on the title page is from Alexander Pope’s Epistles to Several Persons and reads: “‘Tis Education forms the common mind, Just as the twig is bent, the tree’s inclin’d.” The quote under the advertisement is from Nicholas Rowe’s The Fair Penitent and reads: “Were you, ye Fair, but cautious whom ye trust; Did you but know how seldom Fools are just; So many of your sex would not, in vain, Of broken vows and faithless men complain.” Similarly to the advertisement, both of these quotes serve as summaries of the lessons that will be taught in The Unfortunate Daughter. Furthermore, the presence of these quotes mirrors the structure found within the novella, as Corry quotes Pope again on page 2 of the story and later quotes a Robert Anderson poem on page 45.
There is no evidence of book reviews or criticisms surrounding The Unfortunate Daughter following its publication. However, some of Corry’s other works were the subject of book reviews in periodicals including Edwy and Bertha, Memoirs of Alfred Berkley, The Detector of Quackery, and The Life of Joseph Priestley. Further, despite its presence on Google Books, The Unfortunate Daughter is rarely cited by modern scholars. The novella is briefly used as an example of traditional female education believes in P. J. Miller’s journal article about women’s education in the eighteenth century (Miller 303–4). However, scholars have not entirely ignored Corry’s canon. For example, Memoirs of Edward Thornton, A Satirical View of London, and The Detector of Quackery have been analyzed as criticisms of urban London culture (Mulvihill).
Narrative Point of View
The Unfortunate Daughter is narrated in third-person by an unnamed narrator adhering to an omniscient point of view. The narration is unadorned and uses rudimentary language to convey major plot points efficiently without the need for additional linguistic flourishing. As such, the sentences are typically simple, making for a quick read. The narrator rarely dwells on characters’ feelings; rather, he focuses on moving the plot along through a series of quickly described events. Further, many sentences deftly employ modifiers to aid in presenting coherent images of different characters and settings. This passage below illustrates the unembellished language and readability of this novella:
Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:
Being a voluptuary who gloried in the seduction of young women, he offered Nannette five hundred a year, on condition that she should engage as governess in a boarding school for young ladies, and assist him in the seduction of the most beautiful girl entrusted to her care. The unprincipled Nannette agreed, and Mrs. V’s school was the place where the most diabolical scheme was to be carried into execution. (13)
The Unfortunate Daughter is set up as a story to illustrate the downfall of women brought about by improper education, as the narrator asserts in the first page of the novella: “Doubtless, many of the unfortunate females who are now ‘prostitute for bread’ in this metropolis, were educated with uncommon care” (5). To address this critique, the narrator briefly pauses to assert his opinion of the female education system at various points in the story. Additionally, the story intertwines various quotations from other prominent literary works. This passage provides an example of the narrator’s interjecting commentary:
Sample Passage of Narrator’s Interjections:
This is one, among many instances, of the pernicious effects of improper female education. Is there then a father or mother solicitous for the future honour and happiness of their daughter, who would entrust her into one of those modern temples of affectation, called Boarding-schools? No; rather let the loveliest part of our species be educated at home, beneath a mother’s guardian eye; or, if the mother be incompetent to the task, let a modest preceptress instruct the blooming girl, beneath that paternal roof, where seduction will not presume to appear, under the assumed name of refinement. This mode of education will preserve the morals of the virgin, and be particularly useful and practicable among those in the middle classes of society; as girls can not only make a regular process in useful and ornamental knowledge, which renders beauty even more amiable; but they may also be initiated in those early-acquired arts of domestic economy, peculiar to their sex. (34–35)
The editorial omniscient point of view gives the narrator substantial power to shape the story as he pleases. Since the novella begins as a warning about female education that will be displayed through a story, The Unfortunate Daughter reads as a cautionary tale with a concrete lesson to be learned, rather than a story picked up for the mere pleasure of reading. The quick, simple sentences also reflect this admonitory tone highlighting that the narrator’s primary goal is to relay his warning without any chance for errors in misinterpretation that could be caused by any ornate diction. Moreover, the supplementary quotations from outside literary works aid readers’ understanding of the narrator’s overarching message. Furthermore, the lack of insight about characters’ inner thoughts emphasizes the story’s focus of demonstrating the dangers that actions, not emotions, can cause in a young woman’s life. The narrator’s commentary, as presented above, also serves to add a satirical edge to The Unfortunate Daughter.
The Unfortunate Daughter recounts the story of Eliza Meanwell, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Meanwell. The family lives in the countryside of England. Eliza has three sisters, Nancy, Maria, and Emma, and she is said to be the most beautiful and talented of them all. Mrs. Meanwell believes that boarding school will provide a worthwhile education for Eliza and persuades Mr. Meanwell to let her attend a boarding school. Mr. Meanwell abides, and Eliza is sent off to an unnamed boarding school owned by Mrs. V.
At school, Eliza begins learning French from her teacher named Nannette Racemier. It is revealed that Nannette used to be married to a man named Lord Wiseacre who later divorced her because she was too spritely. Despite their divorce, Lord Wiseacre offered Nannette a sum to teach at the boarding school to find and seduce an appropriate young woman to be his suitor. Upon Eliza’s arrival, Nannette finds her suitable for Lord Wiseacre and takes Eliza under her wing as her pupil. In addition to teaching Eliza French, she encourages Eliza to take up music, dancing, and jumping rope, as Nannette believes that success in these domains makes women more prone to seduction.
After two years at school, Eliza has grown into a fine, young woman. Nannette gains the headmaster’s permission to leave campus with Eliza on special field trips and decides to take Eliza to the theatre. Here, they run into Lord Wiseacre who later offers the pair a ride back to school; instead, he takes them to his palace where he confesses his love for Eliza and asks for her hand in marriage. Eliza is bashful and intrigued by the offer, but worries about what her dad would think of the proposal. After reflection, Eliza agrees to see Lord Wiseacre again, but the pair does not wed immediately. Back at the boarding school, Nannette continues prepping Eliza to be vulnerable to seduction. In her pursuit, Nannette brings Eliza to an Imperial Female Society meeting, which calls for equality between the sexes, and she later instructs Eliza to read romance novels and to look at scandalous drawings in hopes of brewing her sexuality.
Just as Eliza is deemed ready to elope, Mrs. Meanwell surprisingly comes to the boarding school to take Eliza home. Eliza is upset, and once at home, she acts pretentious, speaks to her family in French, and asks for a special room to conduct her music and dance. Presumably after some time has elapsed, Nannette goes to the Meanwell’s home. Here, she declares that she quit her job at the boarding school and bears news that Lord Wiseacre has a plan for them to escape to Margate via ship and get married there. The next morning, Eliza runs off with Nannette, and they meet Lord Wiseacre at the predetermined meeting space and set sail. However, Lord Wiseacre does not steer the ship to Margate; instead, they land in Dunkirk, France.
Once in Dunkirk, Lord Wiseacre bribes a poor man to pretend to officiate their wedding. Now, Eliza and Lord Wiseacre are “married,” though Eliza does not realize this trick yet. At this point in the book, the narrator intervenes to warn the readers about the dangers of female education in a boarding school, rather than traditional domestic education in their paternal home. The narrator claims that boarding schools offer the promise of refinement of character, which really means that boarding schools make woman more prone to seduction.
After this interlude, Eliza finds a note from Lord Wiseacre that admits his intentions with Eliza revealing that they were never legally married. Further, he advises her to leave him and gives her money to spend on her return home. Eliza runs off and takes shelter at a widow’s house in the French countryside. The widow, whose name is Christine, agrees to shelter Eliza temporarily, as Eliza does not want to return home and face the shame of her parents. Christine attempts to make her feel better by relaying the tragic story of her dead husband, Andre, and her two believed-to-be-dead sons, Henry and James. According to Christine, Andre died before the revolution, leaving only her sons to support her with their farm work. Unfortunately, Henry and James got heavily involved in politics and enlisted in the French army during the revolution. After some time away, Christine received word that both her sons had passed in war. As a result, she is left to live out her days alone.
After some time has passed, it is revealed that Eliza is pregnant which provides further incentive to avoid her childhood home. Meanwhile, Mr. Meanwell searches for Eliza all over England and even submits missing person information to local newspapers without any avail, as Eliza is in France not England. Back at Christine’s, someone knocks on the door, and it happens to be Henry with his wife, Fatima, which is revealed later. Henry tells Christine that he was sent to Egypt and recounts stories of multiple battles and horrific scenes that he encountered in his time abroad at war. During a battle in Egypt, Henry prevents his troops from killing an enemy soldier. At this point, the enemy introduces himself as Amurath and expresses his gratitude to Henry by surrendering himself as Henry’s prisoner. Soon after, Amurath introduced Henry to his wife and his daughter, Fatima, at a feast. Having grown fond of Henry, Amurath told him that if he were to die in combat, he would entrust Henry with his estate and the lives of his wife and Fatima. Soon after this, Amurath died in an intense battle, leading Henry to sell his estate, move back to France with Amurath’s wife and daughter, and marry Fatima. The couple presumably leaves Christine’s house after telling this story.
In the winter, Eliza gives birth to a baby boy who dies just a few days later. Eliza falls into a depressive episode, and her health eventually resolves by the spring. Christine convinces Eliza to return home, and Eliza abides; however, Eliza reneges upon her return to England and seeks out shelter with a farmer not far from her childhood home. She passes some months here, and one day coincidentally runs into her father on a walk. Her father forgives her, and she lives at home for a while. Ultimately though, her parents send her to live out her life with a distant relative elsewhere in England.
“Books and Pamphlets Published in London in January 1803.” The Edinburgh Magazine, Or Literary Miscellany, 1785-1803, 1803, pp. 141–44.
Corry, John. The Unfortunate Daughter: Or, the Danger of the Modern System of Female Education. London, J. Corry, 1803.
Goodwin, Gordon. “Corry, John (fl. 1792-1836), writer.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept. 23, 2004, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/6357. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019.
Harman, Claire. “Jane Austen (1775–1817).” British Writers, Retrospective Supplement 2, edited by Jay Parini, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002, pp. 1–16. Literature Resource Center, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX1383100011/LitRC?u_viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=342fce08. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019.
Miller, P.J. “Women’s Education, ‘Self-Improvement’ and Social Mobility—A Late Eighteenth Century Debate.” British Journal of Educational Studies, vol. 20, no. 3, Taylor & Francis, Ltd., Oct. 1972, pp. 302-314, DOI: 10.2307/3120775. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019.
Mulvihill, James D. “Romantic London: John Corry and the Georgic City.” Studies in the Literary Imagination, vol. 40, no. 1, 2007, Literature Resource Center, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A180642018/LitRC?u=viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=0215b794. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019.
Pitcher, E.W. “The Miscellaneous Works of John Corry (1760?–1825?).” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 80, no. 1, 1986, pp. 83–90.
In this 1845 Eugène Sue novel, the Female Bluebeard is believed to have killed her past three husbands and now has three lovers: a pirate captain, a hide dealer, and a cannibal.
The Female Bluebeard:
or the Adventurer is originally a French text by Eugène Sue; this edition presents
the English translation. This edition does not give the original French title,
but the French edition is entitled L’Aventurier
ou la Barbe-bleue, with the name Barbe-bleue, or Bluebeard, coming
from a French folk tale. In this edition, the full English title, The Female Bluebeard: or the Adventurer,
appears on the fifth page and across every set of adjacent pages. Additionally,
the author’s name appears on the fourth page under an illustration of the
author, and again on the fifth page, under the title. It is on the fifth page
that the book also gives the name of the illustrator, Walmsley, and the
publisher, W. Strange.
The translator of this particular English edition is not specified, but we do know it was done in London in November of 1844, and the copy was published by William Strange in his office at 21, Paternoster Row, London, England in 1845. The text features thirty-four illustrations by Walmsley, and a separate epilogue to the story entitled “The Abbey of Saint Quentin.” The translator provides the reasoning behind the epilogue, noting that Eugène Sue was notorious for tying up the rest of his stories very quickly and in an “unsatisfactory manner” (286). Thus, this additional story gives a finished outcome and resolves any unanswered questions.
The translator prefaces both the full story and the epilogue. The epilogue was published separately by T.C. Savill, Printer, 107, St. Martin’s Lane in London.
The book is entirely unique, the cover of the
book being a hard paper board which has been hand painted with a marbling
technique. This particular cover has a muted, gray-green color with small
swirls of reds, yellows, and blacks mixed in. The spine and the corners of the
book are bound with dark brown leather, and the spine has both seven sets of
parallel gilded lines going across it and a shortened version of the title, Female Bluebeard, also in gilt on the
top of the spine. The book is 12.5cm by 18.5cm,
and the edges of the cover and around the leather are worn. The binding of the
book is still well intact; however, it is fragile upon opening it.
Inside of the book, the first couple pages are
end sheets of a thicker, more brittle paper, and the rest are of a softer,
thinner sheet. There is a table of contents after the title page with both the
chapter names and corresponding pages indicated. There are thirty-eight
chapters plus an additional two for the epilogue. The pages of the book are
identified with numbers indicated on the top left and top right of the pages,
consecutively. There is a total of two-hundred and seventy-six pages for The Female Bluebeard: or the Adventurer,
and the full story including the epilogue concludes on page three-hundred and
six. Roman numerals, appearing at the bottom of some select pages, going up to
the numeral XX, or twenty, were indicators to the people who bound the books
which sections went in order.
The font of the text is rather small and closely
set, and the margins are not very large. The illustrations appear both at the
beginning of some chapters with the first letter of the first word in that
sentence incorporated into the drawing, as well as throughout the chapters.
They are all done in black ink by wood cuts. The illustrations don’t feature a
caption, but they reflect scenes from that particular page or section. In some
of the illustrations, the name of the illustrator, Walmsley, can be found
cleverly hidden. For instance, in the opening of the chapter there is an
illustration in which Walmsley’s name appears under the shadow of a fallen
This particular book has some marks from previous
ownership and from natural weathering. There is a name on the first page of the
first chapter, written in pencil and signed in cursive, as well as a number
scrawled in the corner of one of the first pages of endpapers. The significance
of both is unknown. The pages show some browning and staining from air
pollution interacting with the books over time, but little to no stains are
from human error.
The author of The
Female Bluebeard: or the Adventurer, Eugène Sue, was well known across Europe, his French texts
being adapted into every European language. He was lauded as the nautical
romance author of Europe. His early works, generally maritime and romance
focused, were immensely popular and enjoyed, but ultimately viewed as immoral
and depraved. Many authors and publications were quick to defend Eugène
Sue’s own moral character though, and his popularity in France led him to be
elected as a representative of the people. After publishing several books then
going into debt, Sue decided to leave Paris and abandon his upper-class roots
to be among the people. This prompted his most popular novels, Mathilde and Les Mystères de Paris, which gave rise to many imitations
and put him in the spotlight as a great socialist philosopher and novelist. Sue
wrote some of the dramatic adaptations of these novels as well as for some of
his other works, including the
Morne-Au-Diable, an adaptation of The
Female Bluebeard: or the Adventurer (“Eugene Sue: His Life and Works” 54–66).
The Female Bluebeard
was published in several manners. The book could be purchased whole as a single
volume, but there was also the option to buy it in sections. It was sold in
twenty parts in a magazine, for a price of one penny each. The sections
contained two of the illustrations each. This twenty-number option could be
bought by the publisher in London at 21 Paternoster-row, or “at all booksellers
in England, Ireland, and Scotland” (The
Standard 1). The W. Strange edition from 21 Paternoster Row, in 1846, just
published, could also be purchased whole for three sickles (“Popular Books” 32).
The English version of the text was published by several companies in London
and by one in New York. The first English edition was the London edition by W.
Strange. The New York version of L’Aventurier
ou la Barbe Bleue, published in 1844 by J. Winchester, is titled
differently as The Female Bluebeard; or
Le Morne au Diable, taking from the name of the Female Bluebeard’s
habitation. It is only one hundred and fifteen pages. The London publisher,
Stokesley pr. owned by J.S. Pratt, likewise, used this title in their
publication of the novel in 1845. This edition contained two volumes, measuring
445 pages, and a two-page insert about the other novels published by Pratt at
Stokesley. The French text was translated to English for this edition by
Charles Wright. Later, in 1898, The
Female Bluebeard had several of its chapters published weekly in a London
newspaper on “tales of mystery,” and it was advertised as a story of “love,
intrigue, and adventure” (“Tales of Mystery” 241). There are several advertisements regarding the editions and
where they could be bought. Stock of The
Female Bluebeard was even auctioned off by a book collector at his house,
boasting a thousand perfect copies of the eight-volume edition, illustrated
with woodcuts with about one hundred and ten reams (“Sales by Auction” 546).
The Female Bluebeard:
Or the Adventurer was adapted for the stage several times. It appeared in
England for one of the first times at the Drury Lane Theater in an adaptation
entitled Adventurer in the Fiend’s
Mountain (Amusements, &C
246). It was also adapted into a play by C. A Somerset Esquire at an
amphitheater in Manchester (“Provincial Theatricals”). Both performances seemed
to attract favorable attention and were deemed by the press a success. The
novel likely had many more shows, as Eugène Sue himself, wrote an adaptation of it.
There were mixed reviews for The Female Bluebeard, as it did not quite capture the hearts of the
people as much as many of his other works did. This novel, again, brought
scrutiny on Sue’s character. One critic published that The Female Bluebeard was “licentious,” leading the translator of
the W. Strange edition to write to the paper and defend the novel’s values. The
translator argued that while not many French novels possessed a moral to their
story, The Female Bluebeard did, and
a valuable one at that (“Literature:
The Female Bluebeard”). Moreover, there were some reviews that raved of
its success, calling it “the most curious and exciting work” produced by Eugène
Sue (“Popular Books” 32).
This particular text is not well attended to by scholars, as
Eugene Sue produced a plethora of novels which garnered more attention and
acclaim. His novel, Les Mystères de Paris, or The Mysteries of Paris, inspired several other
locations-based mysteries such as the
Mysteries of London and the Mysteries
of Munich, and has been published since by the company Penguin Classics.
His novel, the Wandering Jew, has
also been published by modern companies, and has gained more attention,
particularly for its strong anti-Catholic sentiments. In many of his popular
novels, his socialist ideology attracted scholars and inspired a great deal of
the emerging writers at the time. Sue’s work is thought to have influenced Charles
Dickens, Victor Hugo, and Alexandre Dumas. Alexandre Dumas wrote the biography
of his friend and fellow writer, Eugène Sue (“Eugene Sue: His Life and Works” 54).
Point of View
The Female Bluebeard:
or The Adventurer is narrated in the third person, not through a specific
character, but by an anonymous narrator. The narrator continuously interjects
throughout the novel to guide the audience’s reading along, directly addressing
the reader as a willing participant in learning the history of the characters.
The narration has a sense of self-awareness, being cognizant of and
acknowledging the ridiculousness of some of its characters as well as several
aspects of the story. There is a controlled omniscience throughout, as the
characters’ emotions and motives are blatantly revealed. However, regarding
some secrets, the author chooses to withhold their answers until it is needed
for the plot. The narration is rich, striking a balance between complex and
uniquely singular characters, vibrant and multi-sensory descriptions, and a
wild and dynamic plot. Finally, some parts of the narration are left in French,
as there was not quite as fitting a translation in English, either because of
word play or connotations not being expressed in the same manner once
We beg, therefore, to inform the reader, who has, doubtless, long since seen through the disguise, and penetrated the mystery of the Boucanier, the Flibustier, and the Carib, that these disguises had been successively worn by the same man, who was none other than THE NATURAL SON OF CHARLES THE SECOND, JAMES DUKE OF MONMOUTH, EXECUTED IN LONDON, THE 15TH OF JULY, 1685, AS GUILTY OF HIGH TREASON.
We hope such of our readers as have had any ill opinion of the Female Bluebeard within their hearts will now do her ample justice. (141)
The narration, particularly in this paragraph, capitalizes
on the involvement of the reader in the analysis and reading of the text,
creating a greater sense of investment on the reader’s part and making each
reveal that much more impactful. While, the narrator gives the reader the
benefit of the doubt of likely predicting the mystery element, this
simultaneously invites the unaware reader to look retrospectively at the story
and recall any clues or foreshadowing, keeping the reader participating.
Through the inclusion of the reader throughout the novel, the narrator grabs
the readers’ attention, continuously checking in on the progress of their
interpretation and ideas about the text. By actually calling forth to the
reader, each reader is figured as a singular person whose participation matters
to the story, rather than having the story appeal to the emotions of many. This
feigned exchange creates an even greater sense of a tale being told by word of
mouth, and holds the possibility of investing the reader more into the story.
As this connection is made, and mutual involvement and shared knowledge is
established, the narrator is more effective in dispelling any of the reader’s
disbeliefs or disparagements against the story. In the above sample passage,
the narration dispels any aspersions on the Female Bluebeard’s character. The
narrator, by voicing what the reader has “doubtless” thought, creates this idea
that the reader’s and narrator’s opinion and view of the story will logically
match up throughout the story, not just in this one singular instance.
Therefore, the narration figures the reader as likely to go along with the rest
of what the narrator presents and take it as truthful to the history. Thus,
through the inclusion of the reader in the progress of the story, the author is
able to give the feel of a spoken tale and interestingly sway the reader to
accept what the author says as fact.
The novel opens up on the ship, the Unicorn, which has
presently left la Rochelle for the island, Martinique, and is occupied most
usually by Captain Daniel, a small crew, Reverend Father Griffon, and most
unusually, by the Gascon, the Chevalier Polyphemus Amador de Croustillac. It is
May of 1690, and France is at war with England. The Chevalier de Croustillac
has chosen to wait until a less conspicuous time to reveal himself from where
he has hidden on board the ship in order to get safe passage to Martinique and
eventually, to America. Being a man of great immodesty and foolhardiness, he
assumes a spot at supper with no word on how he arrived on board the moving
vessel. The Chevalier manages to evade all questioning of his mysterious
appearance on board the ship through extreme flattery, party tricks, and by the
promise to only confess his intentions to Father Griffon. Nearing the end of
the journey to Martinique, Captain Daniel offers the Chevalier de Croustillac a
place on board his ship as a permanent source of entertainment, and Reverend
Father Griffon, wanting to help the poor adventurer, offers for him to reside
with the Reverend at his house in Macouba, where he can attempt to earn some
capital. However, this all changes when word of the Female Bluebeard is passed
around the ship and meets the ears of the Chevalier.
The Female Bluebeard, like her folktale namesake, Bluebeard,
is believed to have killed her past three husbands, and currently holds the
abominable company of three ugly lovers: Hurricane, the pirate captain; a hide
dealer boucanier coined, “Tear-out-the-soul”; and a Carib cannibal from
Crocodile Creek, Youmaale. Despite these alarming and less than spectacular
qualities possessed by the elusive Female Bluebeard, the Chevalier de
Croustillac decides that he will show her a true gentleman and win her heart,
and with it her fortune, regardless of the potential of her being old and ugly.
And so, the Chevalier decides to go with Father Griffon, if only to leave after
a night’s repose. This plan is met with strong disagreement from the Father,
for he knows some truth to the story of the Female Bluebeard having received
confession from a man who encountered her at her home on the Devil’s Mount, or
the Morne au Diable. While staying with Father Griffon and resting for supper,
a threat to forget his pursuit of the Female Bluebeard comes to the Chevalier
in the form of a note tied to an arrow which narrowly misses his flesh. The
Chevalier goes against both warnings, sneaks out of Father Griffon’s care, and
embarks on a harrowing trek to the habitation of the Female Bluebeard at the
Morne au Diable.
It is during this time that we catch a glimpse of the
equally daunting and troubling journey to the Morne au Diable, full of danger
and risk of death, of the Colonel Rutler, a partisan of the new king of
England, William of Orange, who is tasked with a mission which will later be
Back at the Morne au Diable, the Female Bluebeard, revealed
to be exceptionally fine and beautiful, is seen flirting with a man named
Jacques, who she also lovingly calls Monsieur Hurricane. It is here that she
also learns that the Chevalier de Croustillac is after her hand in marriage,
and she, consequently, sends word to the Boucanier, Tear-out-the-soul, to bring
him to her.
The Chevalier de Croustillac, led by his gut and the
magnetism of his heart to the Female Bluebeard’s, stumbles into the Carib’s
camp, exhausted, bloodied, and starving. He is met with a feast of the most
unusual variety, and is led to the Morne au Diable, albeit with some feigned
protestation from the Boucanier. Upon arriving at the magnificent dwelling of
the Female Bluebeard, the Chevalier, wishing to impress the lady, requests a
change of clothes for his own sullied and ripped ones, and is put into the
garments of the Female Bluebeard’s late first husband.
The Chevalier meets the Female Bluebeard, who we learn is
called Angelina, with great awe and wonderment, and attempts to inspire
Angelina with much of the same amazement and admiration that he holds for her.
Angelina bemuses the Chevalier, speaking falsities and making fun of the
Chevalier’s brash actions. She sticks close to her lovers, further aggravating
the mind and heart of the Chevalier. She does offer him a limited position as
her new husband, which shall end before a year is up through rather gruesome
means, an offer the Chevalier is reluctant to accept, aside from his previous
promises of marriage. However, Angelina recognizing that the Chevalier is not
falling for her murderous and sinful façade, relates to the Chevalier that her three
lovers are actually her guards, and her proposition to the Chevalier was made
to poke fun at him and amuse herself. She then proposes to make him a new offer
the next evening.
Meanwhile, we catch a glimpse of the interactions between
the nervous and sweaty governor, Monsieur le Baron de Rupinelle, and Monsieur
de Chemeraut, the envoy of France, aboard a French frigate, regarding a state
secret vested in the Morne au Diable and backed up by Father Griffon. Monsieur
de Chemeraut requests of the governor, ships with thirty of his best armed
guards and a ladder, and advances towards the Morne au Diable. Father Griffon
learns of their swift advance to the Devil’s Mount, and alarmed that they have
learned the secret that only he possesses and fearing the safety of la
Barbe-Bleue, he hurries to beat the French frigate to the Morne au Diable.
Colonel Rutler, who we learned of earlier, has at this moment, escaped great
perils and landed in the interior garden of the Morne au Diable, and is lying,
hidden, in wait.
Back at the Morne au Diable, the Chevalier’s rambling poetry
and protestations of love, are met with amusement and some fondness by la
Barbe-bleue or the Female Bluebeard. However, she relates to the Chevalier that
she was expecting his arrival from word by her good friend, the Father Griffon,
and had used the Chevalier’s foolishness for means of entertainment. They
wander into the garden, the Chevalier becoming increasingly humiliated and
affected, his love for the Female Bluebeard being genuine, and each of her
words stinging and hurting his heart and hubris. To add to this, she offers him
diamonds to reconcile his hurt feelings which only worsens the injury to his
pride. La Barbe Bleue claims that humiliation was not her intent, and that she
was under the incorrect notion that the Chevalier was only after her money and
posed a threat to her and the inhabitants of the Morne au Diable. She demands
his forgiveness, calling him her friend, and offering him a place to stay at
her home, which completely reverses the anger and sorrow raging inside the
Chevalier. The Female Bluebeard leaves to look for Youmaale and grab a more
deserving present for the Chevalier, and in her absence the Colonel Rutler,
still hiding in the garden, rushes toward the Chevalier. Pulling a hood over
the Chevalier’s face and binding his hands, Colonel Rutler arrests him for high
Colonel Rutler mistakes the Chevalier for the believed late
husband of the Female Bluebeard, calling him “my Lord Duke,” and the Chevalier
plays the part of the royal Englishman to gain information, learning that la
Barbe Bleue’s husband is wanted by the King of England, William of Orange, for
treason. The Lord Duke had posed a threat to the King, possessing great
fortunes and having previously led a group of devoted partisans against the
King, fighting for his royal father of a falcon of Lancaster. The Duke had,
after his attempt at revolt, been executed, or at least thought to be until of
late. All this being said, the Chevalier promptly decides to assume the
personage which has already been given to him, without raising alarm to
Angelina, in a means to gain the affection and permanent gratitude of la Barbe
Bleue for saving her husband, who she loves dearly.
Arousing great surprise, the bound Chevalier and the Colonel
are met by Angelina herself, disguised as one of her domestics, and she gives
the Chevalier the Lord Duke’s sword and cloak to further cement his false
identity. She leaves to relate the news to her husband, who we find out was
masquerading as all three of her lovers, and is in reality, James Duke of
Monmouth, the son of Charles the Second. Angelina believes them saved, but her
dreams are disrupted when the Duke will not let the Chevalier risk his life for
him. To add to her dismay, Father Griffon arrives with the news that the French
Frigate knows of the Duke’s existence and location, and had questioned the
Father of his whereabouts outside. Upon the arrival of the French frigate,
Colonel Rutler had attempted to strike the Chevalier disguised as the Duke, and
his blade had broken. This action did not go unnoticed by the French envoy,
Monsieur de Chemeraut, and furthered confirmed his suspicions that the fallen
and gagged man, was indeed the James Duke. Monsieur de Chemeraut propositions
the Chevalier, believing him to be the Duke, to rejoin his partisans and place
him back at the head alongside his royal uncle, James Stuart, by driving the
“usurper,” William of Orange from his throne of England. Later, he informs the
Chevalier that refusing the offer would mean imprisonment. Thus, the Chevalier
The Chevalier de Croustillac, guarded closely by the
Monsieur de Chemeraut, happens upon Angelina and Captain Hurricane conducting
in improper displays of affection, and is horrified by her actions, the
Captain’s real identity still unknown to the Chevalier. After much arguing,
frustration, and consideration of the Chevalier’s trustworthiness, Angelina and
the Duke reveal their secret, leading the Chevalier to readopt his plan and
secure the lovers their safety and security. We also learn how the Duke had
evaded death despite there being a witnessed execution.
The Gascon Chevalier, in his natural element, puts on a show
for the French envoy and condemns the Female Bluebeard to a seemingly horrible
fate, sending her and her lover away on the ship, the Cameleon, to a deserted
island where they shall live out the rest of their limited days together. He
rejects the Female Bluebeard brutally, while secretly arranging them both safe
passage out of the Morne au Diable. Angelina bestows upon the Chevalier a
medallion with her initials, and it is all the Chevalier needs to face the
unpredictable hardships which lie ahead of him.
The Chevalier puts off his departure several times, afraid
of the charade being discovered, but ultimately boards the ship to England,
with little suspicion from the Monsieur de Chemeraut. It is at this time that
Captain Daniel, commander of the ship, the Unicorn, approaches Monsieur de
Chemeraut, requesting to sail alongside him for protection against pirates.
Monsieur de Chemeraut refuses, but Captain Daniel sails alongside them anyways,
carefully maneuvering his ship to avoid any attacks by the Fulminate, Monsieur
de Chemeraut’s ship. The convenience of these ships’ locations works well for
the Chevalier, as his treachery is discovered aboard the Fulminate by the
Duke’s most adoring partisans, Lord Mortimer, Lord Rothsay, and Lord Dudley,
and to avoid death or imprisonment, he jumps into the surrounding sea. The
ship, the Cameleon, holding both Angelina and John, having appeared alongside
the Fulminate as well, gives the Chevalier the distraction he needs to escape
and board the Unicorn. The Chevalier, and Angelina and John tearfully part
ways, the revered Lord Duke being pursued by the befuddled and furious French
frigate. On board the Unicorn, Father Griffon and the Captain Daniel fill the
Chevalier in on the orders they had received to accept him onto the ship, and
surprise him with the last gift of the Lord Duke and Angelina; the ship, the
Unicorn, and all its cargo. Again, receiving it as a hit to his ego, the
Chevalier prescribes to Father Griffon in a note that he refuses the gift and
has left the ownership to the Reverend to use charitably, as he sees fit. The
Chevalier departs, beginning a new journey to Muscovy where he will enlist as a
soldier under the Czar Peter.
The Abbey of Saint Quentin: An Epilogue to the Female
The epilogue opens up on a convent, roughly eighteen years after the events of the Female Bluebeard, where the monks are corpulent and greedy. Two young farmer’s children by the names of Jacques and Angelina are approached by one of Reverends, who demands of them the produce and grains indebted to him by their father. Diseased since the last couple of months, the father is bedridden and incapable of work, their mother taking care of him, leaving them all penniless. Regardless, the Reverend threatens to displace them and lease their farm to a more able farmer. These words are heard by an old man with sad eyes and furs, and he approaches them feeling sympathy for their situation. Upon hearing their names and witnessing the startling similarities between them and the woman he once loved, the man, the Chevalier is overcome with emotion as always. He requests of the children to stay in their barn and to be given a simple dinner which he will pay for. They depart together to see their father, and upon entering and seeing their mother, who is now middle-aged and dressed very plainly, the Chevalier faints. Angelina, the Female Bluebeard, does not recognize the Chevalier until she and her children come across the medallion she had once gifted him, tied around his neck just beside his heart.
The three old friends reunite, and the Chevalier asks of them to stay in their company for the rest of his life, paying rent to cover the needs of the struggling family. They accept after some groveling, neither party quick to accept gifts, and the Chevalier decides to search for the Father Griffon to reclaim his money from the sale of the Unicorn. The Father, still alive and having spent much of the money to become the proprietor of an estate, happily gives it to the three friends who reside there with their children for the rest of their days, their lives blissful and peaceful at last.
&C.” The Lady’s Newspaper, no 512
(October 18, 1856): 246.
Sue: His Life and Works.” Bentley’s Miscellany
(July 1858): 54-66.
The Female Bluebeard,” Lloyd’s Weekly
Newspaper, no 96 (September 22, 1844).
Books to be had by Order of All Booksellers.” Reynolds Miscellany (November 14,1846): 32.
Theatricals.” The Era, no 335
(February 23, 1845).
The Standard [London], Issue 6273 (August 26,
by Auction.” The Athenaeum, Issue
1178 (May 25, 1850): 546.
Sue, Eugène. The
Female Bluebeard: or The Adventurer. London: W. Strange, 1845.
of Mystery: A Noble Scamp.” The London
Journal (September 10, 1898): 241.