An abridged plagiarism of Sir Walter Scott’s 1823 novel Quentin Durward, this chapbook follows the grotesque adventures of Scottish cavalier Quentin Durward and his romance with the beautiful Countess Isabelle.
Durward and Isabelle appears to be a flimsy few scraps of paper being held together by what looks like a piece of twine. The full title is simply Durward and Isabelle. The book is bound together with another chapbook, Mary, the Maid of the Inn, which precedes Durward and Isabelle. It appears as though the back of Mary, the Maid of the Inn, was ripped out, since there are remnants of torn paper at the last page. The paper of Durward and Isabelle is not as yellow compared to Mary, the Maid of the Inn, and the two texts are printed in different fonts. This suggests that Durward and Isabelle was likely bound to Mary, the Maid of the Inn at a later time.
The origins of this chapbook remain a mystery,
as there is no listed author. However, the publisher is listed at the bottom of
the final page as “Dean and Munday, Threadneedle-Street, London.” Mary, the
Maid of the Inn has a title page with a different publisher listed. The
cover of Mary, the Maid of the Inn does have some handwriting on it, but
it is impossible to know if this was written before or after the chapbooks were
The dimensions of the book are about 11cm x 16
cm, so it is fairly small. Durward and Isabelle is thirty-six pages
long, while the previous story is twenty-five pages, making for a total of sixty-one
pages bound together by a single piece of fraying string. The last page of Durward
and Isabelle has fallen off but is still kept with the book in the library.
The pages are very brittle and dry, and are also very frail and yellowed,
likely due to the wear and tear that the book has been subject to over the
years. The margins are decently sized while the font is relatively small but
not difficult to read. There is a surprisingly large amount of spacing between
paragraphs. The margins are uneven: there is little to no space at the top at
the top of the book, while there are much larger side margins.
While Mary, the Maid of the Inn contains
a fold-out illustration, there are no illustrations in Durward &
Isabelle. There are some words handwritten on the cover: in the top right
corner, the word “romance” is written in pencil and “1822” (the year Mary,
the Maid of the Inn was published) in ink. On the bottom of the cover,
there is a series of numbers and letters without clear meaning.
Durward and Isabelle is a chapbook that is a plagiarized and abridged version of Quentin Durward, a novel written by Sir Walter Scott published in 1823. The author of Durward and Isabelle is not known. At only thirty-six pages, the chapbook is much shorter than the original novel and brushes over many of the major plot points. While the original novel is focused on Quentin Durward and his adventures, the chapbook is more focused on Durward’s adventures that involve his relationship with Isabelle, hence the title Durward and Isabelle. The plagiarized chapbook was published by Dean and Munday, as printed on the last page of the book. Dean and Munday was a popular publishing institution established in 1810 that published many other chapbooks. The Dean and Munday families lived together and raised their children together in their home behind the shop on Threadneedle Street. Two cousins, Thomas Dean and Thomas Munday, became apprentices, then later became partners in the firm. This partnership lasted until 1838, when it was permanently dissolved (Potter 86). According to Franz Potter, “During these early years at Dean & Munday, the firm also reissued a number of well-known gothic pamphlets originally published by other booksellers” (87). Durward and Isabelle is listed as one of the one-shilling pamphlets published by Dean and Munday in a book titled The French Revolution of 1830: Being a Succinct Account of the Tyrannical Attempt of Charles X. to Overturn the French Constitution. Interestingly, Mary, the Maid of the Inn is also on this list of Dean and Munday pamphlets printed with The French Revolution of 1830, though the copy of Mary, the Maid of the Innbound with the Sadleir-Black Collection’s copy of Durward and Isabelle was published by Orlando Hodgson not Dean and Munday.
Given Sir Walter Scott’s significance, there is an abundance of
information about his original novel Quentin Durward by contrast with
the dearth of information on the plagiarized and abridged Durward and
Isabelle. In a late nineteenth-century edition of Quentin Durward edited
by Charlotte M. Yonge, Yonge includes a historical introduction in which she
writes that Scott “held that it was lawful for art to throw together historical
characters and facts with more regard to effect than to accuracy or detail, and
thus to leave a stronger impression on the mind. And there can be no doubt that
the tale he has given us has fixed on thousands of minds a strong and definite
impression of the characters of Louis XI” (14). In writing this, Yonge
identifies the significant impact that the characters of Quentin Durward
had on the public point of view.
There are other notable adaptations of Scott’s novel, including Quentin
Durward; a dramatic adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s novel, in three acts and
three scenes, by Charles Andrew Merz and Frank Wright Tuttle.This
adaptation was published in 1914 and is associated with the Yale University
Dramatic Association. There are digital copies of the original Quentin
Durward and its adaptations available on ProQuest One Literature and the
HathiTrust Library. The novel was even adapted into a film called The
Adventures of Quentin Durward, released in 1955.
Narrative Point of View
Durward and Isabelle is narrated in the third
person, and the narrator is never named nor are we given any context on how
they learned of the story. The story is told in a very straightforward fashion,
yet still manages to incorporate feelings of characters. The narration is
filled with expansive sentences, with an emphasis on depicting events and with minimal
The young and beautiful Isabelle had fled from Burgundy, to avoid being married to one of the Duke’s favourites; and whether she was really under King Louis’s protection, was not certainly known. Durward could not help conjecturing, from circumstances, that the young lady he had seen in the morning, and with whose charms he had been smitten, was, in fact, the young countess. While the knowledge of her rank and misfortunes interested him yet more strongly in her fate, it tended to damp any presumptuous hopes which love might have induced him to form. (8)
As seen here, in Durward and Isabelle the
narration is succinct and descriptive, and effectively explains the characters’
thoughts and feelings at certain moments. This can be seen when Durward deduces
that the woman he saw is the countess, and the narration presents not only what
he knows but how he feels with his subsequently lowered “hopes.”
Durward and Isabelle tells the tale of a fifteenth-century Scottish cavalier, Durward,
and Isabelle, a Countess. The story begins when Durward is met by King Louis XI
of France by chance. Durward introduces himself as a cadet of Scotland, who
came to France to seek fortune. It is later revealed that his father and
remaining family members were killed by a rivaling clan, and this caused his
mother to die of grief. Upon Durward’s introduction, the King also discovers
that he knows Durward’s uncle, Lesie, who comes to the castle to meet him and
the king. The king eventually decides to recruit this young cavalier as one of
his men, after consulting with his astronomer, Martius Galeoletti, who says
that Durward has good intentions. Durward has multiple encounters with Isabelle
throughout the beginning of the story, as she is residing at the castle where
the king lives.
One day while Durward is strolling through the garden, he comes
across a man hanging from a tree. Appalled by this circumstance, he immediately
climbs up the tree and cuts the rope, onlooking Bohemians react badly to this
action. The king’s right-hand man, Provost Marshall, takes them all prisoner.
Durward thinks he is going to be hanged along with the Bohemians but then
proceeds to defend himself, claiming he is from Scotland which is an allied
country. His life is spared.
It is revealed that the reason Isabelle is under the king’s
protection is because she fled from Burgundy after discovering that she was to
be married to one of the duke’s men. A count sent by the Duke of Burgundy
appears while searching for the ladies (Isabelle and her Aunt). The king
refuses to give them up and, after the count threatens to wage war on the
kingdom, the king decides to send Isabelle and her aunt away to Liege to be
under the protection of the bishop. The king appoints Durward in charge of
taking Lady Isabelle and her aunt to Liege with three soldiers and a guide.
Throughout their journey they encounter many men who want to claim possession
of Isabelle, including William de la Marck, a feared man from the area, and the
Duke of Orleans, who is to be wed to Isabelle’s sister but would rather marry
William de la Marck, in a fit of rage, decides to take over the city of Liege and murders the bishop in cold blood. Durward and Isabelle must escape together. During the siege, Durward presents himself to Willam de la Marck and says that if they are to be allied with France, they must not present themselves with this sort of conduct, so William de la Marck complies, and they all leave. De la Marck then threatens to return because he hears word that Isabelle is still hiding in the city. Isabelle at this point is willing to sacrifice herself to the Duke of Burgundy and decides she will offer to give up her patrimonial estates and ask permission to retire in a convent. They make it back to the Duke of Burgundy and the same day, the king decides to visit him too. The Duke of Burgundy hears about William de la Marcks violent tactics and believes that this is King Louis’ doing. He imprisons the king and plans for his execution.
After days of trials and Durward’s statement is given, the duke
determines that the king is innocent and decides they are to combine forces to
capture William de la Marck. Who will receive Isabelle’s hand in marriage
remains in question, so as incentive, the duke says that whoever is successful
in killing de la Marck wins Isabelle’s hand in marriage. Upon hearing this,
Durward searches for de la Marck, and finds him decapitated. In defeat, he
returns to the castle only to discover his uncle Lesie standing with William de
la Marck’s head, which he brought on Durward’s behalf. Durward and Isabelle are
both pleased with the arrangement and end up married together happily ever
Durward and Isabelle. London, Dean & Munday, n.d.
The French Revolution of 1830:
Being a Succinct Account of the Tyrannical Attempt of Charles X. to Overturn the French
Constitution, Etc. [With a Plate.]. Dean & Munday, 1830.
Merz, Charles Andrew, and Frank Wright Tuttle. Quentin
Durward: a Dramatic Adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s Novel, in Three Acts
and Three Scenes.New
Haven, Yale University
Dramatic Association, 1914.
Potter, Franz J. Gothic Chapbooks, Bluebooks
and Shilling Shockers, 1797–1830. University of Wales Press, 2021.
Yonge, Charlotte M.
“Introduction.” Quentin Durward, by Sir Walter Scott. Boston, Ginn & Co, 1895.
Isaac Crookenden’s 1805 chapbook tells a tale of betrayal, terror, and romance. The shocking discovery of a skeleton in a castle dungeon is just one of its many twists.
This copy of The Skeleton; or, Mysterious Discovery, A Gothic Romance by Isaac Crookenden is a small collection of brittle and yellowed pages, delicately held together with a bit of thread and paste. The chapbook lacks binding, and the pages could potentially have been ripped from a larger volume containing an assortment of tales. Assembling these smaller stories into larger volumes was common practice at the time.
In its present state,The Skeleton resembles a small pamphlet. The book and its pages have a width of 9.5 centimeters and a height of 17.75 centimeters. In its entirety, the book consists of 38 pages, including a blank cover page, a page containing an illustrated frontispiece, an official title page, another blank page, and two pages reserved for an author’s introduction.
This version of the text was published in London in 1805. It was printed and published by A. Neil at the Sommers Town Printing Office. The address of the office is listed as No. 30 Chalton Street. The title page notes that the story is sold by “all other booksellers” as well as Sommers Town. On the book’s title page, the price is listed to be six-pence—fairly cheap for its time.
Currently, this copy has a card indicating the University of Virginia’s possession and ownership of the text attached to the blank first page that was likely added in the 1930s or 40s. This card indicates that the book was presented by Robert K. Black. The notecard also has a handwritten inscription indicating that the text has been microfilmed.
Following the blank first page with this card
is the second page containing a detailed frontispiece illustration of a man
standing in an elegant stone hall holding an open flame. His face expresses
shock as the flame illuminates a skeleton. Beneath the illustration is the text
“Adolphus discovers the Skeleton of the Baron de Morfield” as well as
publication information and attribution for the artwork. This is certainly the
biggest artwork included in the text; however, on page 6, there is a small
image of a rose to signify the end of the introduction.
There is no shortage of unique defects to the
text, making it one of a kind. Because of the lack of binding and seemingly
careless way it was removed from its original bound copy, the text is held
together loosely. The first ten pages are especially fragile and could easily
be separated from the rest. There is a small rip midway down the first blank
cover page. There are small stains throughout, but most noticeably on the
bottom of page 35 there is a dark splotch on the page with unknown origins. The
ink for the printed text has faded considerably in some parts of the book.
As well as defects,
there are other intentional printed indicators of the book’s era. There are
various letter/number combinations along the bottom of certain pages called
signature marks, indicating the proper folding of the paper for the printer.
They are as follows: A on page 3, B on page 15, B3 on page 19, C on page 27,
and C3 on page 21. The book may be considered difficult to read to a modern
reader on account of the printer’s use of the long S in which “s” look like
The Skeleton is a gothic chapbook written by Isaac
Crookenden. An edition of the chapbook is currently in the University of
Virginia’s Special Collections Library as a part of the Sadleir-Black
Collection of Gothic Fiction, where it was received as a gift. This chapbook
was published by A. Neil in 1805 and it originally sold for six-pence at a
variety of booksellers. This edition of the chapbook was published at the
Sommers Town Printing Office at No. 30 Chalton Street in London, near the
Crookenden was born
in 1777 in Itchenor, a village in West Sussex, England, as the youngest of nine
children. His father was a shipbuilder who experienced bankruptcy. Crookenden
overcame a presumably impoverished childhood to marry Elizabeth Pelham Fillery
in 1798, and had a son, Adolphus, in 1800. His educational experience is
alluded to in The Skeleton’s title page, on which he describes
himself as the “Late assistant at Mr. Adams’ Academy in Chichester.”
Crookenden’s status as a former schoolmaster indicates he was educated enough
to educate others. Franz Potter hypothesizes that perhaps he advertised his
former position as an educator in The
Skeleton to heighten the shock and scandal of his work—that someone
associated with children could conceive the horrors in the tale (71–2).
Crookenden published the chapbook Berthinia,
or, The Fair Spaniard in 1802, and nine other publications of the same
variety are known. His main genre was gothic, though he experimented with a
more purely romantic approach in 1808’s Venus
on Earth (Baines). While some of his works were published as late as 1824,
Crookenden died in Rotherhithe, Surrey in 1809 at just thirty-two (Potter 72).
Crookenden had an infamous reputation as one of the most prolific plagiarizing writers of the gothic genre. Frederick S. Frank describes Crookenden as “probably the most notorious counterfeiter of legitimate Gothic Novels” (“Gothic Romance” 59). His name is often mentioned alongside Sarah Wilkinson’s, and both authors have been said by Frank to pursue “lucrative careers of Gothic counterfeiting.” (“Gothic Chapbooks” 142). It should then come as no surprise that The Skeleton has no shortage of similarities to a gothic novel published in 1798 called The Animated Skeleton. While the author of the original work is unknown, Crookenden’s rendition of the story includes many borrowed plot points and thematic resemblances, mainly the discovery of a skeleton to incite terror. The key difference comes from the distinct castle settings and character names, as well as the fact that in The Animated Skeleton, the skeleton’s reanimation is found to be mechanized, whereas in Crookenden’s iteration, the skeleton is of a more supernatural variety (Potter 72). Frank notes that “Crookenden plundered the plot from The Animated Skeleton” (“Gothic Gold” 19). Frank, in a separate instance, also notes that The Skeleton “proves to be a refabrication of the anonymous Animated Skeleton of 1798 together with bits and pieces of the author’s extensive Gothic gleanings” (“Gothic Romance” 59)
WorldCat lists four
copies of the chapbook around the world, each with the same publication date of
1805. Along with the University of Virginia’s copy in Charlottesville,
Virginia, The Skeleton can be found
in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC in the Rare Book/Special
Collections Reading Room. The University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library’s Weston
Stacks in Oxford, United Kingdom holds a copy of the chapbook as well. The
Bodleian’s library catalog describes the binding as “sprinkled sheep” and
indicates that it is bound with seven other items. The Monash University
Library in Clayton, Australia holds the fourth and final of the catalogued
copies of The Skeleton.
Narrative Point of View
The Skeleton is mostly narrated in the third person, with
brief, occasional interjections of first-person narration providing commentary
on the actions or events taking place in the chapbook. The introduction is a
note to the reader in the latter style, condemning critics that call gothic
romance unrealistic and directly warning the reader not to judge a book by its
cover. Though the narrator often uses “we” when referring to their subjective
thoughts, the introduction is signed “Your humble servant, The AUTHOR.” The
story and action are presented in the third person, however, and the narrator
makes abundant use of commas, dashes, and semicolons to present a unique voice.
Letters are also included in the story, presented as written by the characters
within the chapbook.
Almira now observed two horsemen issue from the wood, and as they directed their course towards her, she soon discovered them to be hunters. As they approached nearer, she retired towards the cottage; when the foremost of them sprung off his horse, and coming up to her, “I hope, Madam,” said he, bowing, “I have not disturbed your meditations at this serene and tranquil hour.” While he was speaking, Almira had leisure to observe his dignified deportment, his engaging and affable manners, and his polite address. His full, dark, expressive eye spoke a language which Almira’s hear instantly interpreted, and which on discovering, she cast her’s on the ground. — To keep the reader no longer in suspense, this young man was no other than Rotaldo; and his attendant was the individual– we wish we could add, the virtuous– Maurice. (17)
This style of narration evokes the feeling of
being told a story by an unknown but still familiar voice. Because of certain
story elements including the castles, romance, and suspense in the chapbook,
this narration can resemble the style in which one tells a child a bedtime
story. The prolonged and choppy sentence structure with the variety of
punctuation could be read as mimicking an oral form of storytelling. The
interjected claims and commentary with the plural “we” serve to liven up the
story and engage the reader, providing breaks to clarify or emphasize
characterizations or actions that may seem less clear due to the brevity of a
chapbook. For example, because Maurice’s villainous nature is not able to be
developed over many pages in The
Skeleton, the narrator makes
sure to clearly telegraph his lack of virtue in the above paragraph. This
narration style makes the writing feel less stiff, and thus it has aged more
gracefully than some of its blander contemporaries.
On a stormy night, Lord Ellmont resides in
his castle with his two children. Lord Ellmont is a former warrior, now
committed to domesticity after nobly defending his castle for many years. His
twenty-two-year-old son, Rotaldo, embodies masculinity with a perfect heart,
while his seventeen-year-old daughter Elenora is described at length as
incredibly beautiful. The castle is located in Scotland and consists of a blend
of many different styles and forms of architecture. Though Lady Ellmont died in
childbirth, the castle always seems full on the birthdays of both children, and
it is a mirthful affair when Rotaldo’s birthday arrives.
At the base of the mountain that the castle
sits upon is the home of the peasant Viburn. He has a twenty-year-old son named
Adolphus who has heart as well as temper. One day, Rotaldo asks Adolphus to be
his sporting companion, but Adolphus mysteriously declines, hurting Rotaldo’s
feelings. Rotaldo still wishes for a friend and thinks he finds one in the form
of Maurice, an ugly and deceptive older peasant. Maurice is quickly taken by
Elenora’s beauty, but he fears he will be rejected by her or her family because
of his status. It is implied that his attraction to her is not entirely pure,
and he develops an unhealthy lust for her.
In a valley further from the castle is the
cottage of Volcome, an old peasant with only one surviving child. He was once
rich and of nobility but his family fell upon difficult times, and he was
exploited. He believes his brother was murdered under mysterious circumstances
long ago, and his sister-in-law died while giving birth to a nephew he never
got to meet. His wife also died, leaving him in charge of his
seventeen-year-old daughter Almira, who is described as beautiful as she is
innocent. One day, Rotaldo and Maurice come across their cottage and introduce
themselves while riding horses. Rotaldo is deep in thought riding back from
their cottage when a storm disturbs his horse and nearly flings him off a
cliff. A stranger appears and stops the horse, harming himself in the process.
The benevolent savior is revealed to be Adolphus, who Rotaldo invites back to
the castle to be treated for his injuries. However, Maurice fears Adolphus as
competition for Elenora. Adolphus says he declined Rotaldo’s earlier attempt at
companionship because he must tend to his parents, which Rotaldo dismisses and
graciously offers Adolphus and his family the castle and any assistance they
Adolphus and Elenora instantly connect, while
Rotaldo is overcome with passion for Almira and writes her a love letter.
Elenora receives a proposal from the miserable Baron de Morfield, but her
father knows she would be unhappy with him and declines on her behalf. Almira
receives Rotaldo’s letter and soon receives a visit from Rotaldo himself as
they confess their love. He visits her often, but one day he is returning to
the castle from her cottage when an assassin shoots at him. Rotaldo swiftly
draws his sword and fells the assassin who is revealed to be Maurice. Maurice
expresses remorse for his treachery and gives a cryptic warning about his plans
Returning home, Rotaldo finds his family in
distress. Adolphus has been captured and taken by enemies in the night by the
Baron de Morfield, and is imprisoned in a dungeon. As Adolphus ponders why he
deserves this fate, the narrator reveals the villainous motives of Maurice and
the Baron. It is revealed that Maurice planned to force himself upon Elenora
and then propose an elopement to save her honor. However, Adolphus overheard
this proposal and intervened. Maurice begged for forgiveness and Elenora found
him deserving; Adolphus, however, was less understanding. Maurice later swore
vengeance upon Adolphus, informing the Baron de Morfield that Elenora scorned
him for Adolphus. Maurice then forged a letter in Adolphus’s hand stating that
Adolphus has plans to kill Rotaldo and flee the castle.
Elenora and Rotaldo compare their experiences
with each other, and Adolphus’s innocence is revealed. They fear that they may
have been too late to save him from Maurice’s plans. In his dungeon cell,
Adolphus discovers a secret passage, in which he finds a bloodied dagger and is
shocked by a skeleton. Adolphus returns to his cell with a manuscript
supposedly written by the dead man. It reveals that the real Baron de Morfield
is the skeleton who had been forced to give up his estate though he had an
infant son and heir just after he was killed. The supposed Baron presently
interrogating and kidnapping Adolphus is a usurper.
At midnight, Adolphus is freed from his cell by a mysterious man. As they make their escape, the man turns and stabs the usurping Baron. The helper and Adolphus set out to return to the Ellmont castle. Back home, the Ellmonts despair, though Almira has now been taken into the castle after her father’s passing. Her relationship with Rotaldo as well as a friendship with Elenora provides them both great comfort as they fear Adolphus to be dead.
Adolphus is received with joyous welcomes
upon his return. Adolphus’s supposed father reveals he found Adolphus in the
woods nearly the same time the true Baron’s letter was datedmeaning Adolphus is
the true son of the Baron de Morfield. Almira reveals she is also of Morfield
descent, making her and Adolphus cousins. Almira’s father’s story about his
brother’s murder and sister-in-law’s unknown child all come together before the
group. The Ellmonts return to the Morfield castle and witness the usurping Baron
on his deathbed as Adolphus is yielded his claim to the castle. Adolphus then
marries Elenora as a baron and Rotaldo marries Almira. The story ends with
festivity and moralizes that “although villany may triumph for a time, yet, in
the end, Happiness must be finally united to Virtue.” (38)
A story of love and tragedy, this 1805 chapbook features plagiarized excerpts from Charlotte Smith’s 1789 novel Ethelinde.
The Affecting History of Caroline, or the Distressed Widow: A True
Tale is the fourth gothic story in a collection of four volumes. In the back of
the front cover of the collection, there is a note written in pencil that
states “4 Vol,” denoting there are four rebound volumes in the set. Notably,
none of the volumes have an author listed at the front.
The chapbook collection consists
of a front and back cover made of chipped, faded red-dyed paper, with the spine
of the book dyed green and highlighted by a black outline on the front and
back. Both sides are blank, leaving a polished but plain look. From the top of
the spine, there is a gold fabric label printed with the word, “ROMANCES”
bordered by a series of decorative black lines and dots arranged symmetrically.
Including the cover, the book is approximately 18 cm long, 10.5cm wide, and
1.4cm thick. Inside, the pages are evenly cut, but yellowed and worn.
Although the pages are very thin
and easy to flip through, their texture is rough like sandpaper. Without any
spots or signs of damage other than age, the book is in fairly good
The title page features the main
title, The Affecting History of Caroline,
settled at the top half of the page in large fine black font. The alternative
title, Distressed Widow, is italicized.
Underneath, outlined by a thin
horizontal line, is the subtitle, A True
Tale. The footer of the title page includes publishing information:
“London, published by S. Carvalho, 19 Castle Calley, White Chapel.” This is
followed by the chapbook’s individual sale price: sixpence. Then, at the very
bottom, there appears to be a misaligned line of text that cuts off past the
margins, plausibly additional publishing information.
Positioned at the center of the
title page is a small printed illustration of a woman in a red dress holding a
baby in a blanket. The illustration is painted over in watercolors, which gives
the image a glossy texture that stands out from the rest of the pages. There is
no caption for the illustration, but it is implied that the woman pictured is
the titular “Distressed Widow.”
Furthermore, there is a
frontispiece that consists of a full color spread of a woman and young girl
standing on a paved road while a smiling man appears to lead them to a
carriage. Similar to the title page illustration, this picture was hand-painted
in watercolor, which gives the page additional heavy weight in comparison to
other pages. The twentieth (and final) page of the story includes a printed
illustration of various household items at the bottom, such as two bowls.
Pagination of Caroline does not begin until page 4,
and the chapbook is twenty pages long. Every left page of the open book
includes the abbreviated title Caroline
in the header, with the page number listed above it. The markers for printing
sections B and C are located on pages three and fifteen, respectively, in the
center of the footer. These sections denote to the publisher when to fold the
pages so that the book is bound in the right order. The pagination continues to
another story, titled The Negro: An
Affecting Tale, which then closes its respective volume. Each of the four
rebound volumes has its own pagination, so they are not continuous among one another.
The Affecting History of Caroline: or, The Distressed Widow was
published in 1805. This twenty-five-page chapbook entered the Sadleir-Black
Gothic Collection at the University of Virginia as one of four chapbooks
rebound into a single volume, yet a digital copy of the chapbook as its own
isolated volume, with a front and back cover, is publicly available through
Duke University Library and HathiTrust.
There are few differences between
the University of Virginia and Duke copies of the text. One that stands out is
the alignment of the title page. Whereas the print of University of Virginia’s
copy is slightly tilted and thus parts of the text cut off at the bottom
margins, the print is fully aligned, listing details on publishing information,
“E. Billing, Printer, 187, Bermondsey Street.” Furthermore, the Duke copy has a
marbled cover, whereas the University of Virginia’s rebound copy uses a paper
cover. Otherwise, the pagination, font, publication date, and publishing
company are all the same. Furthermore, neither copy lists an author anywhere in
According to WorldCat, S.
Carvalho, the publishing company, was located in London and published other
novels between 1805 and 1831. Their other works followed a similar subject as The
Affecting History of Caroline: a woman’s reflection on her life, such as in
The Lady’s Revenge: a Tale Founded on
Facts (1817) and The History of Miss
Patty Proud (1820). Yet, throughout S. Carvalho’s legacy, there were no
other reprints of Caroline, nor any
known translations. However, in 2015, two publishing companies dedicated to
revitalizing old books, BiblioBazaar and FB&C Limited, reprinted the
original text in a new paperback edition. FB&C Limited would go on to
publish a hardcover edition of The
Affecting History of Caroline in 2018.
The Affecting History of Caroline is actually an excerpted
plagiarism of a Charlotte Smith novel, Ethelinde,
or the Recluse of the Lake, published in 1789. From the years 1789–1792,
multiple serialized magazines such as TheEuropean Magazine and London Review and Walker’s Hibernian
Magazine published an excerpt of Ethelinde
under the title, The Affecting History of
Caroline Montgomery. This story aligns almost exactly with The Affecting History of Caroline. In TheEuropean
Magazine, The Affecting History of
Caroline Montgomery was released in two parts, just one month apart from
each other. The first sixteen pages of the 1805 version of The Affecting History of Caroline match the first part of The Affecting History of Caroline Montgomery
word-for-word; there are plot variations in the second half of the two stories.
Perhaps what is most interesting is that all magazines cite the acclaimed author
Charlotte Smith and Ethelinde as the
source of their release of The Affecting History of Caroline Montgomery, bur
the 1805 version of The Affecting
History of Caroline does not make
To verify this link, one can
observe the stark similarities between The
Affecting History of Caroline, and an excerpt from Charlotte Smith’s Ethelinde. The text of The Affecting History of Caroline from pages 1–16 aligns almost word-for-word with chapter
16 of Ethelinde (Smith 128–55). Differences
between the texts include formatting preferences, such as Ethelinde
using the long S that looks closer to an f, as well as spelling changes like
how The Affecting History of Caroline
uses “mamma” whereas Ethelinde spells
the same word as “mama.” The most stark difference is the textual context: in Ethelinde, Caroline Montgomery tells her
tale to the titular character, Ethelinde; in The Affecting History of Caroline, mentions of Ethelinde are
completely removed. This change is understandable, for if the intent of The Affecting History Caroline was to
present the plagiarized text as an original story, then any evidence of being
associated with plot elements from the world of Ethelinde needed to be
removed. Attempts at erasing ties to Ethelinde
are most noticeable following page 16 of The
Affecting History of Caroline. From just pages 16–18 of The Affecting History of Caroline, over
ten paragraphs of Ethelinde are skipped over, but these cuts are
presented as a seamless transition between not only paragraphs but sentences as
well (Smith 155–61). There are also noticeable changes in phrasing, such as the
line “Lord Pevensey took this opportunity of departing,” versus the line from Ethelinde, “Lord Pevensey took that
opportunity to depart” (Affecting History of Caroline 16, Smith 155).
It is not surprising that someone
would want to plagiarize Charlotte’s Smith’s work, for she was an illustrious
novelist during her time. From 1784 to 1806, Smith used her writing to support
her large family of twelve children as a single mother. She is known for
influencing the Romantic era, particularly for writing with an emphasis on
nature and human emotions. Although there are no reviews of The Affecting
History of Caroline, scholarship
does attend to Ethelinde (see Hawkins).
With this context in mind, it is understandable how the illegitimate chapbook The Affecting History of Caroline was
classified as a “Romance” when rebound, as it sits at the intersection of
gothic, romance, and Romantic literature.
Narrative Point of View
The Affecting History of Caroline is narrated in the first-person
singular voice of the titular character, Caroline, who delineates the events of
her childhood and upbringing. In The Affecting History of Caroline, the narrator focuses less on
descriptive language and more on singular plot-relevant events, however, this
pattern deviates in moments of intense emotion, such as when Caroline falls in
love. The sentence structure is dense, but direct, which allows for a clear
narrative to unfold. At times the narrator mentions the second person “you,” as
if retelling the story of her life to an unnamed individual.
I will not detain you with relating the various expedients for accommodation, which were in the course of the first month proposed by the relations of the family, who knew the tenderness the late lord Pevensey had for my mother; that he considered her as his wife, and that her conduct could not have been more unexceptionable had she really been so. Still lingering in France, and still visiting a house into which his cruelty had introduced great misery, the proceeding of lord Pevensey wore a very extraordinary appearance. My mother now continued almost entirely to her room; and Montgomery concealed from her his uneasiness at what he remarked; but to me he spoke more freely, and told me he was very sure his lordship had other designs that he suffered immediately to appear. In a few days the truth of this conjecture became evident. (15)
The narrator, Caroline, uses an
individualized first-person point of view to create an intimate and engaging
voice. Referring to an unnamed “you” implies the narration is directed at an
audience outside of Caroline’s world—hence, the story becomes an attempt at
reaching out to this world. The differentiation between “late lord” and “lord”
Pevensey establishes a clarity in the narrative that stands out from other
gothic works that utilize confusion and chaos as a tool for narration. This
easy-to-follow narration is ideal when communicating to an audience unfamiliar
with these past events, suggesting the implied audience is a stranger to
Caroline’s life and irrelevant to her past. Furthermore, the characters around
Caroline are characterized primarily by their actions in relation to Caroline,
such as the mother “continued almost entirely to her room,” and Montgomery, who
“spoke more freely,” rather than through a direct description of inward
thoughts or feelings. Interestingly, even their conversations only seem to
happen in summarized instances, with no direct dialogue. This means even the
conversations Caroline has every day are ultimately translated by Caroline’s
perspective, first, before being narrated. This limited point of view creates a
story tailored to Caroline’s perspective on her life, with all of her potential
bias, allowing for a deeper understanding of Caroline as a character.
The story of The Affecting
History of Caroline begins and
ends in Scotland. The titular character retells her life story from childhood
into adulthood with all of the trials and tribulations she faced along the way.
The first tragedy in Caroline’s life is the loss of her father, a Scottish
nobleman. He died as a casualty in a military campaign for Scotland’s
independence from Britain. At the time of his death, Caroline was an infant,
and her mother became a young single mother without anyone to support them. So,
they begin the story struggling in poverty with just the remaining money left
by Caroline’s father. Although the war her father fought in eventually ended,
she along with the rest of the Scottish community continued to struggle to
rebuild stability. Despite this, Caroline’s mother soon finds out that in
Caroline’s grandfather’s will, no money was allocated to her. Soon afterwards,
Caroline’s grandfather also passes away, but he only left money for Caroline’s
uncle from England. The death of the grandfather spurs Caroline’s mother to
migrate to England in hope of seeking assistance from her brother. At first,
Caroline’s uncle appears to be welcoming and kind to his sister and niece.
However, his wife is much more reserved, and repeatedly tells her husband not
to be so hospitable to Caroline and her mother. Although the husband agrees to
pay for a small home in London for Caroline and her mother to stay in, he soon
becomes too influenced by his wife and limits the funds for Caroline’s small
family, and so the girl and her mother must continue to struggle through
Caroline’s mother has no one to
comfort her, and so she also continues to grieve for her deceased husband. It
is in this state that she comes across a gentleman one day, named Pevensey, who
falls in love with her at first sight while she walks through town with
Caroline. The man orders a carriage to take Caroline and her mother home, and
then insists on accompanying them in the carriage. On the carriage ride home,
Pevensey admits that he is from the same noble lineage of Caroline’s father,
and this is how he knew of the widow beforehand. What was once curiosity,
however, has now turned into infatuation, and so he begins courting Caroline’s
Their romance appears to go quite
smoothly until Pevensey admits that he is actually already married. Granted, it
is an arranged marriage to a woman he despises, and no longer lives with, yet,
they are still married under the law. After revealing this, the man proposes to
have Caroline and her mother live with him, where they would no longer have to
live in a shabby home and instead build a family together. This proposal causes
Caroline’s uncle and auntie to see Caroline’s mother with a new form of respect,
and so they are receptive to the nobleman. Caroline’s mother, however, is still
haunted by the loss of her husband, and the fact that they can never truly be
married, so she deliberates before ultimately agreeing to fully love the man
and live with him.
Caroline and her mother adjust
well to their new lifestyle. Her mother gains a bit more peace of mind now that
she no longer feels like her brother’s burden, and Caroline is able to live a
more enriching childhood and gain a stellar education. Unfortunately, their joy
is soon cut short when the nobleman dies from disease while on a business trip.
Even worse, all of his property rights and wealth were passed on to his
brother, leaving Caroline and her mother in poverty once again. However, this
time, they are not alone. A friend of Pevensey, Mr. Montgomery, takes them
under his wing so that they no longer have to suffer. At this time, Caroline
falls in love with Mr. Montgomery. In a bittersweet display of love, they get
married the night before her mother also passes away from illness.
Then, finally, Caroline’s luck starts to turn for the better. Her husband wins a duel against Pevensey’s brother, who finally agrees to respect Caroline’s right to her step-father’s inheritance as retribution. In another turn of events, war returns to Caroline’s life via the conflict between France and England. Montgomery enlists in the English regiment, and Caroline leaves with him so that they are not separated. Eventually, though, they are separated as Montgomery gets more involved in the war. Meanwhile, Caroline becomes pregnant and eventually gives birth to a son. They do not reunite until the war finally ends, and then retire together to live with their new family in Paris.
Their marriage remains true and
fulfilling until Montgomery dies from illness, leaving Caroline as a single
mother, just as her mother once was. She decides to raise her son back in
Scotland, where they are able to spend the rest of their lives in peace.
Hartley, Cathy. A Historical Dictionary of British Women.
London: Europa Publications, 2005.
Hawkins, Anne. Romantic Women Writers Reviewed, Taylor
& Francis, Vol 5, Issue 2, 2020, pp.40–41.
Smith, Charlotte. Ethelinde, Or The Recluse of the Lake. T.
“The Affecting History of Caroline Montgomery.” The European Magazine, and London Review, 1790, pp. 353–58, 457–62.
“The Affecting History of
Caroline Montgomery.” Walker’s Hibernian Magazine, Or, Compendium of Entertaining
Knowledge, vol.1, 1790, pp. 38–40
The Affecting History of Caroline; or, The Distressed Widow. A True
Tale. London, S. Carvalho, 1805.
The Affecting History of Caroline; or, The Distressed Widow. A True Tale. BiblioBazaar, 2015.
The Affecting History of Caroline; or, The Distressed Widow. A True
Tale. FB&C Limited, 2015.
Set in Scotland, England, and Italy, Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson’s 1807 chapbook is a complicated tale of vengeance, violence, and long-lost love. And there’s a ghost!
At first glance, The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors: A Gothic Story is nothing more than a small, nondescript book. It is bound in a spotless cardboard cover, with no title or images on the front or back. The spine has a small red rectangle in which The Castle Spectre or Family Horrors is written in gold writing. The chapbook is about 12 centimeters wide, 20 centimeters long, and 1 centimeter thick.
Upon opening the book, it is evident that it has been rebound. The pages inside are soft, yellowed, and worn. The edges are tattered and uneven and the pages are of different sizes. The frontispiece appears to have been glued to a blank page for structural support, as it was ripped and about two inches of the page is missing from the bottom. This page contains a colorful image of two knights in front of a red castle. They are holding blue shields with gold crosses and are wearing red skirts. Behind the knights is a woman in a pink dress; she is surrounded by what appears to be sunbeams and looks as if she is floating with her arm raised. Some of the colors go beyond the edge of the picture, indicating it may have been painted with watercolor. Beneath the image is a caption that says, “GERTRUDE rising from the Rubbish before the CASTLE”. Below the caption is a note about the print company.
The title page
contains the title, written as follows: “The // Castle Spectre; // or, //
Family Horrors: // A Gothic Story.” The words are all uppercase, except for “A
Gothic Story,” which is written in a more elaborate gothic typeface. Beneath
the title is a quote by Langhorne, and then a note on the publisher: “London:
// Printed for T. and R. Hughes, // 35, Ludgate-Street.” “London” is written in
the same gothic font, while the rest is again all capitalized. Beneath this is
the publishing date: 1807. The title page has a small, rather illegible phrase
written in pencil in the upper left corner, and a large stain on the right. The
back of the title page is blank, except for a small stamp in the bottom left
corner that says, “Printed by Bewick and Clarke, Aldergates-street.” It should
be noted that the name of the author is never mentioned.
On the first page of the text, the title is again printed, but this time as The Castle Spectre. The chapbook contains thirty-eight pages, and the page sizes vary slightly. The upper and lower margins range from about 1.5 centimeters to 2.5 centimeters. “Castle Spectre” is written on the top margin of every page, and there are page numbers in the upper corners. The text is small and tight, and the inner margin is very narrow. On the left pages, the words run almost into the spine. On some pages, the text is fading and in certain instances, can be seen through from the back of the page. The pages are speckled with light stains, but none that obscure much text. The bottom margins of a few pages contain signature marks, such as B3, C, and C3. These marks indicate how the pages should be folded together, as the book was printed on one large sheet and then folded and trimmed. This binding technique also explains why the pages vary in size. There are nine blank pages at the end of the book. These pages seem newer and are larger; they were likely added to make the book slightly thicker, as it is difficult to bind such a thin book.
An index card is
loosely placed in the front of the book, containing the title and publishing
information. It appears to be written in Michael Sadleir’s handwriting and was
likely used for cataloging purposes. The note indicates that the book was
originally unbound, but then mounted on modern board and engraved. This
explains the discrepancy between the wear of the cover and that of the pages.
“Louisiana” is written on the upper left corner; Sadleir presumably got the
book from someone who lived there. A line on the bottom of the card indicates his
belief that the plot was plagiarized, as he notes the book is “a theft of title
The Castle Spectre by Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson was
printed by Bewick and Clarke for T. and R. Hughes in 1807. According to Michael
Sadleir’s handwritten note, the copy in the University of Virginia
Sadleir-Black Collection was originally unbound and then rebound as a
stand-alone chapbook. It appears there is only one edition, the 1807 version,
but some other copies are bound in volumes with other chapbooks. According to
WorldCat, there are six copies of this edition located at Dartmouth Library,
Columbia University Library, and the National Library of Wales, among others.
As of 2021, there are no digital copies of the story, though GoogleBooks has
information about the title, author, and publishing company.
Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors: A Gothic Story is often misinterpreted
as being inspired by Matthew Gregory Lewis’s play The Castle Spectre.
Though part of the title is the same, the actual plot, characters, and setting
are entirely unrelated. The
confusion has arisen because Wilkinson published two chapbooks with similar
titles: The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors: A Gothic Story in 1807 and
The Castle Spectre: An Ancient Baronial Romance; Founded on the Original
Drama of M. G. Lewis in
1820. This second text, The Castle Spectre: An Ancient Baronial Romance,
is in fact based upon Lewis’s play (as accurately suggested by the subtitle),
with the same characters, setting, and plot. By contrast, the 1807 chapbook, The
Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors, remains separate and unrelated except
for its similar main title.
Though the two Castle Spectre texts by
Wilkinson are entirely separate, they are frequently confused for one another.
For instance, Franz J. Potter notes in The History of Gothic Publishing
that Wilkinson “also adapted two versions of Matthew Lewis’s melodrama ‘The
Castle Spectre’ publishing The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors (2.58)
in 1807 with Thomas Hughes, and The Castle Spectre; An Ancient Baronial
Romance, Founded on the Original Drama M. G. L. (2.57) in 1820 with John
Bailey” (119). In his section on the “Family Horrors” version of
Wilkinson’s chapbook, Frederick S. Frank notes that she “transformed Lewis’s Gothic drama, The
Castle Spectre [l-219], back into a Gothic novel” (171). Franz J. Potter
similarly states that this “Family Horrors” version was “founded on Lewis’s The
Castle Spectre. A Drama in Five Acts” (Gothic Chapbooks 39). Even an
article in UVA Today makes this common error, stating “Lewis’ work was
regularly plagiarized and used in this way, as it is in ‘The Castle Spectre,
or, Family Horrors: a Gothic Story,’ by Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson” (McNally).
that make the claim of a link between The Castle Spectre and Matthew
Lewis’s play cite Montague Summers’s Gothic Bibliography, which lists The
Castle Spectre by Sarah Wilkinson without specifying the subtitle or a
publication date. Summers’s entry reads: “Castle Spectre, The. By Sarah Wilkinson. Founded upon Matthew
Gregory Lewis’ famous drama, The Castle Spectre, produced at Drury Lane
on Thursday, December 14th, 1797” (268). Of the libraries that own The
Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors, many list M. G. Lewis as an author, and
these library catalogs frequently reference Summers’s Gothic Bibliography,
echoing his statement that the story is “Founded
upon Matthew Gregory Lewis’ famous drama ‘The castle spectre’.” Some
libraries note the link to Lewis’s play based upon The National Union
Catalog Pre-1956 Imprints, and this source also cites back to Summers’s Gothic
Bibliography. It is possible Summers’s entry for The Castle Spectre
was misunderstood to be about the “Family Horrors” version, when it was meant
to reference the “Baronial Romance” version, which specifically claims to be
founded upon Lewis’s play. Whatever the reason, this misunderstanding has
spurred many sources, including library catalogs, to erroneously note a
connection between the plot of Lewis’s The Castle Spectre play and
Wilkinson’s The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors chapbook.
It should also be noted that some sources
discuss a similarity between the two distinct chapbooks Wilkinson wrote under
the titles The Castle Spectre. Diane L. Hoeveler, for instance, suggests
that Wilkinson was plagiarizing herself in these two chapbooks, indicating she
believes the plots to be “virtually identical and indicate how authors as well
as publishers had no qualms about ‘borrowing’ literary texts from others as
well as themselves” (14). Hoeveler writes, “Wilkinson’s The Castle Spectre:
An Ancient Baronial Romance is actually her second attempt to capitalize on
the popularity of Lewis’s 1797 drama The Castle Spectre”, naming as the
“other version” The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors: a Gothic Story
(14). Yet while it is true that Wilkinson used the same main title for two
different books, they are not “virtually identical”: the plots, characters’
names, and setting of the story have no similarities. A potential reason for
the similar titles was that Wilkinson used the phrase “Castle Spectre” precisely
because of its popularity at the time to attract readers, despite the “Family
Horrors” version being a unique story.
On a separate note, the title page of The Castle Spectre; or, Family
Horrors includes a portion of a poem by John Langhorne. It appears to be an
edited stanza from a longer poem entitled “Fable VII. The Wall-flower” from his
collection of poems, The Fables of Flora (Johnson 447). It is unclear
whether the poem was adapted by Wilkinson or the publishing company, but the
poem alludes to the idea of remembrance and telling the stories of the dead.
This theme reflects in the story of Gertrude’s death and Richard’s journey of
Narrative Point of View
Spectre is, for the most
part, narrated in the third person by an anonymous narrator who is not present
in the plot. There are a few occasions throughout the story when the narrator
speaks in first-person plural, referencing the history of the story and its
translations. The narration follows the knight, Sir Richard, throughout the
entire story, and much of the chapbook contains dialogue and interpolated tales
spoken by a variety of the characters with whom Richard interacts, such as
Douglas. The narrative focuses more on plot and less on characters’ thoughts,
and the sentences are often long and descriptive. There is a bit of insight
into Richard’s feelings, but the narrator does not discuss other characters’
emotions unless the characters reveal their feelings aloud in dialogue. There
is also an instance where Sir Richard and Sir Kenelm exchange letters, which
are printed within the text in quotation marks; both Sir Richard and Sir Kenelm
refer to themselves in the third person in their letters. At times when Elenora
(also known as Gertrude) appears as a ghost, she also refers to herself in the
third person during her tales.
The moon, emerging from a black cloud just as he entered, enabled him to ascertain he was in a grand spacious hall, in the centre of which stood a large banquetting table He seized an extinguished taper, which he with difficulty lighted by the friction of some wood he found on the hearth. He had now an opportunity to observe the place more accurately. The table was laden with viands, some in a putrid state, some mouldering to powder; and to his eager view appeared vases filled with the juice of the generous grape. In a corner of the apartment he beheld the body of a man extended in death on the floor, the boards of which were stained with congealed blood. A murder had been committed here but a short time before. The sight of this did not alarm him; he knew not fear, but emotions of pity rose in his breast, for the unfortunate object before him, and a desire to develope the mysteries of the place he was in, prevailed over ever other consideration. (6)
First-Person Plural Narration:
But we must not anticipate in our story too much, and the Scottish manuscript from whence we translate, mentions some transactions that will better appear hereafter. In the mean time we must observe that after much consultation on these transactions, Lord Mackworth advised Sir Richard to appoint a meeting with Sir Kenelm at midnight. (16)
Sample of Sir
Richard’s Third-Person Letter to Sir Kenelm Cromar:
Sir Richard, brother to Lady Gertrude, returning from the Holy Wars, finds his venerable father mouldering into dust, brought to the grave by grief for the untimely fate of a beloved daughter, whose fair fame was basely called into question, and her dear life sacrificed to lawless love. —Sir Kenelm must account for this, and inform Sir Richard what is become of a dear sister. For which purpose Sir Richard challenges Sir Kenelm to meet him, in single combat, near that castle-gate where he, Sir Kenelm, banquetting with his new bride, beheld the injured shade of Lady Gertrude, when, for a slight offence, he stabbed his cupbearer. Eight days hence, exactly at the hour of twelve, Sir Richard will be there, with two of his most trusty friends. (16)
Sample of Sir Henry
Mackworth’s Interpolated Tale:
At his return to Palestine, finding I was in confinement, his generosity and friendship made him hazard his life to rescue me from my confinement. He succeeded beyond our most sanguine expectations. We continued together some time. We had but one heart, one purse, and were a pattern of friendship throughout camp and country. Clemena was often the subject of our conversation. I ventured to hint the inclination I felt for her, from his description and the picture I had seen. ‘Alas!’ said he, ‘I dare not flatter you with the least hope of success; my sister has been educated in a convent, and ever been intended by our parents for a nun, their fortune being too small to support us both in a manner suitable to our rank…’ I remonstrated with Vertolini on the cruelty of secluding a beloved sister, for life, within the dreary walls of a convent… (33).
The various types of
narration in The Castle Spectre allow for a deeper exploration of
different characters’ actions and emotions, as well as greater detail on the
setting and history of the story. The Castle Spectre utilizes several
techniques to augment suspense. On numerous occasions, the names of the
characters Richard meets are not revealed until the end of that individual’s
story, and the reveals often occur casually amidst the dialogue or narrative
with little emphasis. The reveal of the characters’ names has a great impact on
the entire plot, and the narration’s nonchalant delivery augments the suspense
and adds an element of surprise. As a result, many key details and surprises
are revealed suddenly and without foreshadowing. Though the narrator does not
touch on characters’ feelings often, the dialogue provides greater insight into
the different characters’ personalities and emotions. Because so many different
plots are embedded into the chapbook, the story is both engaging and, at times,
confusing: the chapbook is extremely fast-paced because so much action is
packed into each sentence, and in some cases it is difficult to follow the story
and to distinguish who is speaking or who characters are because the plot jumps
back and forth in time or between the different story lines. The moments of
first-person plural narration detail the story as if it were true by discussing
the sources from which the story was translated. These moments where the
narrator speaks as “we” directly to the reader, along with the detailed setting
and long rambling sentences, all conspire to make the story oral in feel, as if
being told to a friend.
Spectre follows the knight
Sir Richard over a period of several years. The story begins on a stormy night
in the Scottish Highlands. Sir Richard is traveling to his father’s castle in
the Grampian Mountains after a four-year deployment to the Holy War in
Palestine. He seeks shelter to ride out the storm, but no one will take him in.
In a flash of lightning, he sees the turret of a castle; he sounds his bugle
numerous times with no response, so he dismounts his horse and tries the door.
By chance, the door is unlocked, and Richard enters the banquet hall of the
castle. With only the moon and occasional flash of lightning to guide him, the
knight explores. The hall is filled with food and drink that appears to have
been placed there recently. In the corner of the hall lies the dead body of a
man; the floor is soaked with congealed blood. Sir Richard vows to unravel the
mystery of the catastrophe that occurred.
Sir Richard tours
the rest of the castle, which is magnificently decorated in gothic splendor. No
one is to be found and all is silent. He comes upon a great bed, and as he is
exhausted from his journey, he jumps in and falls into a deep sleep. At one
o’clock, a bell rings and Sir Richard wakes to the curtains of the bed being
ripped open. Standing at the foot of the bed bathed in blue light is a veiled
woman in a white dress. As he approaches her, the woman’s veil falls off and a
stream of blood gushes from a wound in her side. Richard looks into the woman’s
face, and it is none other than his sister! He calls to the apparition “by her
name Elenora” (though later in the story she is referred to predominantly as
Gertrude, with no explanation given for the shift in name) (7). Elenora the
apparition stands, not speaking, while holding her hand over the seemingly
fresh wound in her side. After repeated prodding, Elenora explains the story of
her brutal murder in the castle, revealing that two years after Richard left,
she married the owner of this castle, and in a fit of frenzy he stabbed her
(while she was pregnant) and left her corpse in a rubbish pile. Left to rot
without a proper Christian burial, she haunts her murderer and his new wife.
The scene that Richard came upon in the banquet hall was the remnants of their
wedding, which was ruined when Elenora appeared and terrorized the guests.
Finally, with a clap of thunder and a flash of lightning, Elenora vanishes in a
swirl of blue flame.
Shocked and overcome
with emotion, Sir Richard decides to leave and avenge his beloved sister. He
lets his horse take the reins on the way to his father’s estate and does not
realize the horse has gone down the wrong road. They come upon a cottage where
he is treated with great hospitality. The owner, Douglas, tells the story of
his childhood and time as a soldier, where he saved the life of the “worthy
nobleman, under whose banners I had enlisted” and was thus assured protection
and this cottage (11). Douglas explains that the nobleman has died and his son
is at war; he fears thar if he does not return, Sir Kenelm Cromar will take
over his estates and leave Douglas and his family to live out their days in
poverty. During this story, Douglas reveals the name of his former nobleman to
be Duncan, and Sir Richard reveals that Duncan was his father! This means that
Sir Richard is the son who has now returned home; the Douglas family rejoices.
Douglas’s story also reveals that Sir Kenelm’s first wife was Elenora (now
predominately referred to as Gertrude in the story). Upon Gertrude and Kenelm’s
marriage, Ally (Douglas’s daughter) moved into the castle where Sir Kenelm
“began to take great liberties with her” (12). Douglas says Lady Gertrude is
now missing and so is Ally. Because of Gertrude’s ghost’s daily visits, Sir
Kenelm and his new wife have moved to his hunting lodge so the castle remains
uninhabited. Sir Richard thanks Douglas and promises him a life of friendship
When he finally
arrives home, the servants rejoice at the return of their young lord. They tell
the knight all that has happened and grieve for the good young lady Gertrude
and their master Duncan. Enraged, Sir Richard vows to avenge her and lay her
body to rest in a Christian burial. He seeks out his father’s friend, Lord
Mackworth, and tells the man the story. Richard decides to challenge Sir Kenelm to
single combat, with Mackworth’s assistance. As part of their agreement,
Mackworth wants Sir Richard to marry his daughter and Sir Richard agrees. Sir
Kenelm accepts Richard’s request, mentioning that though it is illegal to fight
in this manner, he will do it anyways to honor the memory of the venerable
Duncan. Meanwhile, Kenelm sends a letter to the king, requesting that he send
men and imprison Richard before the fight occurs. Instead, the king decides the
two men will have an impartial hearing at his court and he will support
whichever cause is more just.
It is now the night
of combat, and the marshal Lord Glencairn asks if any last-minute
accommodations can be made. Richard declines, unless Sir Kenelm will admit to
murdering Gertrude and surrender to public justice. Kenelm refuses, saying that
Gertrude abandoned him for a lover, and Richard is about to stab him in rage
when suddenly, they are both commanded prisoners and summoned to the king’s
court. Before they leave with the soldiers, the clock strikes one and in a
swirl of thunder and lightning, Gertrude appears. She shares her story and
explains that three times now she has prevented Kenelm from murdering his new
wife. She requests a proper burial, asks Mackworth to protect Richard, and
vanishes in a thick blue flame amidst a crack of lightning and tremendous peal
of thunder. Richard breaks the silence and tells the soldiers to bring them to
the court, so that he can share the full story in front of the king. The
hearing occurs, and Kenelm is found guilty and sent to prison; he later has a
public trial and is condemned to death. Gertrude’s remains are recovered and
she has a proper burial; all the churches in the surrounding area hold masses
in her honor and her final wish is granted.
goes home. He keeps his house open to serve his father’s tenants, and the
neighboring nobility congratulate him on his return from the war and for
bringing Kenelm to justice. Nevertheless, Sir Richard is unhappy; he mourns the
loss of his father and sister and misses his lost love Lady Jane. The story now
shifts back many years, before Richard went to the Holy Land. He fell in love
with Mackworth’s daughter, Jane, and she waited for him to return from the war.
In the four years of his absence, Jane denied many marriage offers from wealthy
prospects, one of them being Lord Glendour. Finally, Richard returns and they
are set to marry. We learn that two years before Richard left, Mackworth’s son
went to war and never returned. They mourned his death, and Mackworth received
Richard as a son and the heir to his estates and domains. As they prepare for
the wedding at the Mackworth estate, Richard returns to his familial castle,
and in his absence, an unfortunate event occurs. One evening, Jane is kidnapped
while on a walk through the gardens. Mackworth sends news to Richard, who vows
never to return until he finds his love. He searches for weeks with no sign of
Jane, until he comes across a hut offering refreshments to travelers. The man
inside mentions that a gagged woman and man had come through just before and
were on their way to Italy. Richard chases them to the river’s edge and
resolves to follow them. For years, he traverses all of Italy, hopelessly
searching convents for his lover. He falls ill and almost dies from grief, but
dreams of Jane and vows to recover and free her.
The story jumps back
in time to Jane’s kidnapping, and it is revealed that Lord Glendour, one of
Kenelm’s friends, fell madly in love with her and kidnapped Jane to be with
her. He requests her hand in marriage, but she refuses. She tricks him into
allowing her to pass the time in a convent in Italy, where she is watched over
by the Lady Abbess and not allowed to leave. Back in the present, Richard meets
an English man in the middle of Venice. They become friends and visit the man’s
villa. Richard recognizes someone in one of the family pictures and asks the
man to share the story of why he left England. The man says the story is long,
but he has written it down for his children and will one day give Richard a
copy to read. After months of visits, Richard reads the man’s story and is
surprised by the similarities between them. The man, Wentworth, was the eldest
son of a noble house in England. He fell in love with a peasant girl Louisa,
and though he was promised to marry a noble woman Anna, he runs away with his
lover. He fakes illness and tells his father he will go to the Holy War; Louisa
goes with him, and they marry and have a son and daughter. He returns from the
war and vows to sort out his betrothal to Anna. Leaving his wife and children
in the protection of her father, he goes back to his paternal castle. He sets a
plan for his brother, William, to marry Anna instead, and it works. Elatedly,
Wentworth returns to the cottage and is devastated to find Louisa and his
infant son missing. They were tricked by a letter claiming to be from him, and
Wentworth suspects his own father to have sent it. For five years, Wentworth
and his daughter travel the world, though nothing can make him forget Louisa.
Receiving word of his father’s ill health, he returns to England. On his death
bed, Wentworth’s father reveals he sent Louisa to a convent in Italy, but she
escaped. Wentworth and his daughter go back to Italy to search for her, but he
never finds Louisa. He lives like a recluse in his villa, and this is where Richard
reenters the story.
Richard again visits
Wentworth. The man reveals he is Richard’s uncle but used a fake family name so
that he may retire in peace, away from the nobility. Richard explains that
during his search for Jane, he saw Louisa and her son in the Pyrenees.
Together, Richard and Wentworth begin their journey to the mountains to find
the long-lost wife and son. They come across a cottage that Richard had visited
before and reunite with Louisa and the son. Wentworth, now revealed to be
called Sir George, decides to return to his family home in England. Richard
promises to join them, if they can spare a few weeks for him to search for
One night on his
return to the Italian villa, Richard sees two criminals attacking a man. He
intervenes, and they admit they were hired by Count Vertolini to kill him.
Richard and the man go back to his house, so they may speak safely. The young
man then explains his story: he came from England to fight in the Holy War and
had a father and sister at home who he had not heard from in years. During the
war, he became great friends with an Italian man, Vertolini, who had a sister
named Clemena. The man falls in love with her, but is then taken prisoner in
Palestine. Four years later, Vertolini bribed the soldiers and freed his
friend, and they carry on their travels together. The Italian man reveals his
sister is promised to a convent, so she cannot be with his friend despite his
love for her. They meet the sister in Italy, where he becomes even more
enamored. Clemena admits she does not want to join the convent, but it is
necessary for her honor. Vertolini vows to save her before she takes the veil,
and the siblings try in vain to convince their father to free her. The father,
Count Vertolini, refuses the young man’s wedding proposal, and advises him to
leave Italy immediately. It is now revealed that the young man is Sir Henry
Mackworth, Lord Mackworth’s long lost son and Jane’s brother.
Back in the present,
Richard and Henry plan to rescue Clemena. While at the convent, a girl hands
the knight a note telling him to return at midnight to find something of great
importance. He listens, and that night, finds Lady Jane at the convent! She
explains her story and begs him to free her. Richard and Henry return to the convent
to demand her release, but the Lady Abbess refuses. The next day, Henry
interrupts the veiling ceremony and saves Clemena from the convent. Richard
goes back to England with Henry and Clemena, where he hurries to find
Mackworth. Together, they apply to the king and receive his royal mandate to
imprison Lord Glendour. The king sends word to the Pope, and Mackworth and Sir
Richard go back to Italy to retrieve a freed Jane. With Richard’s lover in tow,
they return to England. Wentworth lives in his castle with his family, there
are numerous weddings, Glendour dies in a convent, and Sir Richard is blessed
with years of happiness with Jane, Henry, Wentworth, and the others. They all
live happily ever after.
Frank, Frederick S. “A Gothic Romance.” Horror
Literature: A Core Collection and Reference Guide, by Marshall B. Tymn, New
York City, R.R. Bowker, 1981.
This early nineteenth-century chapbook by Emilia Grossett is a Scottish tale featuring various encounters with the mythical White Maid of Avenel. The story is believed to be plagiarized from The Monastery by Walter Scott.
The Monastery of St. Mary by Emilia Grossett is a short text, only twenty-four pages
in length. The size of the pamphlet is only 17.4 by 10.8 centimeters. The pages
are yellowed with age and relatively thin. The font appears to be one that is
standard to today’s texts, similar to Times New Roman. The pamphlet is not
bound by any sort of cover, though pamphlets from this era were frequently
bound with a leather cover or bound with other similar pamphlets together as a
Since this copy of the pamphlet is unbound, the first thing
that the viewer sees is the label that reveals that it is from the
Sadleir-Black Collection at the University of Virginia. On the backside of that
page is the only illustration that can be found in this pamphlet. The
illustration is in color, and it shows a man in a kilt and a woman wrapped in a
white sheet. The man’s brightly colored pink socks have bled through the page,
and the ink can be seen on the previously mentioned cover page. The pink
marking caused by the bleeding of the sock color seems irregular and is likely
not visible in most other copies of this pamphlet. After the illustration comes
the pamphlet’s title page, which states the full title, The Monastery of St.
Mary: Or, the White Maid of Avenel. A Scottish Tale,followed by the
author’s name and the publishing information. On this title page, a faint mark
of the previous illustration can be seen as though it was printed onto the page
like a watermark. This mark is most likely sun damage or staining, and not an intentional
addition to the text.
One noticeable and possibly confusing part of the book to
the untrained eye is the page numbers. The standard page numbers, which number
up to twenty-four on the final page, are in the top corner of the text. There
is a second set of numbers, however, that appears at the bottom of the first
five odd-numbered pages. These numbers have the letter A in front of them (A2,
A3, etc.) and are useless to the reader, but very important to the printer of
the text. When pamphlets like these were printed in large sheets and then
folded and cut into the order that they were meant to be read in, the printer
used these numbers to ensure that the pages were configured correctly.
Some final details that one might notice when looking
through the pamphlet include the publishing information and the price. The
price is listed on the title page as sixpence. The publishing information
appears on the title page below the price, and on the final page below “The
End.” This reveals that the pamphlet was published in London, despite its
advertisement as a Scottish tale.
One of the most important things
to note about Emilia Grossett’s chapbook, The Monastery of St. Mary, is
that it was almost certainly plagiarized from Walter Scott’s 1820 novel, The
Monastery. Both the novel and the chapbook have the same characters as well
as the same plotlines, except for the chapbook being a simplified version of
the plot due to its brevity in length. This makes it difficult to find
information about the chapbook specifically, because any mention of the
character names or locations in the chapbook almost always lead to mentions of
There is a beautiful frontispiece
in The Monastery of St. Mary, but unfortunately the illustrator’s name
is either unlisted or illegible. The illustrations of similar scenes such as
one titled Halbert Glendinning’s First Invocation of The White Maid of
Avenel in an 1821 London edition of Walter Scott’s The Monastery
were done by a man named Richard Westall, but they are clearly not by the same
illustrator as the chapbook version because Westall’s work looks much more
polished and professional than the frontispiece in The Monastery of St. Mary
Under the caption of the
frontispiece, the publisher of the chapbook is listed as “J. Bailey.” This was
a publisher who operated out of London at 116 Chancery Lane. According to E. W.
Pitcher, Bailey was active at that address from the years 1809 to 1815, however
there is also evidence pointing to Bailey publishing before 1809 and after
1815, including this chapbook which, though undated, was presumably published
after the 1820 novel that it plagiarizes (Pitcher 78, Koch 75). According to
the British Museum’s archives J. Bailey was active in publishing from 1799 to
1825 when the press was eventually shared with at least one other man by the
same surname, William Bailey, suspected to be his son (“J Bailey”). J. Bailey
is listed as the publisher for many gothic chapbooks and pamphlets from the
early nineteenth century, among other small literary works and informational
handbills (Bonnets 41).
Emilia Grossett is a fairly
mysterious author with not much credited work in the literary field. There are
a couple texts that have her listed as the author, however, including The
Spirit of The Grotto from 1799, and The Freebooter’s Wife from 1819
(Summers 56). The latter title is listed as a book, not a chapbook, published
as one volume. Montague Summers’s Gothic Bibliography and several
library catalogues, including WorldCat, spell the author’s surname as “Grosett”
as opposed to “Grossett” as it appears on the title page of The Monastery of
St. Mary. Grossett’s other known texts were not published by J.
Point of View
The Monastery of St. Mary is written in the third person by an anonymous narrator who
is not a character in the text. The narrator mostly focuses on the dialogue and
events that transpire throughout the world of the story, but they occasionally
exhibit omniscience by describing the characters’ thoughts or feelings that are
unvoiced in the story. The language used by the narrator is modern enough that
it reads very easily, with the exception being the dialogue, which sounds a
little more antiquated than the general writing style in the text. As would be
expected, the text uses British spelling which is noticeable in instances such
as writing “pedlar” instead of “peddler.”
Father Philip, eager to acquaint the Abbot of the discovery he had made, rode homeward as quick as his mule would carry him ; and in spite of the haste he made, the moon had risen before he reached the banks of the river, which it was necessary for him to cross to reach the Monastery. As the Monk came close to the water’s edge, he saw a female sitting under the remains of a large broken oak tree, looking on the current, and weeping most piteously ; surprised to see a female there at that time of night, yet supposing her grief arose from her wish to cross the river. Father Philip politely addressed her, and offered to carry her across on his mule. (5)
This excerpt demonstrates the
narrator’s use of the third person, the description of scenery and events in
the story, and insight into the characters’ (in this case Father Philip’s)
thoughts and emotions in response to events or other characters in the text.
This description of the internal reaction that the woman causes in the monk
offers a clearer idea of how the character feels about the White Maid of Avenel
than just a description of her appearance would. In the description of the
woman, the narrator also offers an interpretation of her emotional state, that
she is “weeping most piteously,” which seems to be the way that Father Philip
perceives the woman and not necessarily just a description of what she is
The Monastery of St. Mary is set on the border of Scotland, where the magnificent
Monastery of St. Mary sits on the bank of a river. Simon Glendenning and his
family live in the Tower of Glendearg, which is located a few miles from the
monastery in a hidden glen. Despite the tower’s inaccessible nature, Simon is
called to war and dies at the battle of Pinkie. His widow Elspeth surrenders
her tower and is pitied by the Englishmen.
The widow of Sir Walter Avenel,
whose husband was killed in the same manner as Simon Glendenning, has been
forced from her home by the Englishmen and is roaming helplessly around the
country with her children. They find shelter in the home of a shepherd, Martin,
and his wife, Tibb, but their cattle have been killed and they will soon starve
if they stay there. The group decides to take a chance and go to the Tower of
Glendearg, hoping that Elspeth will welcome them due to Lady Avenel’s high
status, which she does.
Lady Avenel intends to return to
her mansion once the country is more peaceful, but Julian Avenel seizes
possession of the mansion. Therefore, Lady Avenel stays at Glendearg where her
health gradually declines due to the death of her husband. Elspeth sends Martin
to fetch the priest at the monastery so that Lady Avenel can confess before she
dies. The priest emerges from her chamber after a long wait and is in a foul
mood. He says that he suspects the house to “be foul with heresy” (5). Elspeth
is alarmed but admits that Lady Avenel often reads out of a black book. Father
Phillip is horrified when he sees that it is a book of holy scriptures, which
is a sin when possessed by anyone but a priest. He takes the book from them.
On his way back, the priest
reaches the river and sees a woman weeping on the bank. He calls out to help
her. She leaps on the back of the mule and leads it into the water, then dunks
the priest in the water thrice and throws him on the bank where he lies
unconscious. Once he is found, the book of scriptures is gone. His jumbled
story is questioned by many people, including Father Eustace, who goes to
Glendearg to enquire about the priest’s visit.
Father Eustace is informed of a
strange figure who returned the book, which he again confiscates. On his way
back, the priest’s mule stops suddenly at a turn in the road and hears an
unbodied female voice whispering to him. He is then thrown from his mule,
unconscious, and wakes up in the dark. Upon returning to the monastery, the
priest learns that a trooper had gone to confession after seeing a white woman
on the path where he intended to murder Father Eustace that night. The trooper,
named Cristie of the Clinthill, accepts a gold cross from the father before
departing. The priest realizes that the book is once again gone.
Days later, Halbert Glendenning
goes out alone and summons the White Maid. She helps him retrieve the book,
then disappears. Halbert returns to the Tower with the book, and finds a miller
and his daughter, Mysie. Soon after their arrival, Cristie of the Clinthill and
Sir Piercie Shafton arrive, hoping to find hospitality there since the knight
is fleeing death in England. Halbert and the knight clash with one another, due
to their mutual superiority complexes.
The next day, Halbert is once
again offended by Sir Piercie, and goes to summon the White Maid. She gives no
advice but hands him a token to use when Sir Piercie boasts again. Upon
returning to the tower Halbert is once again offended by Sir Piercie, so he
presents the token. It works, and the knight is immediately calmed, but
realizes Halbert’s power over him and says that it will cost the boy his life.
They agree to duel in the woods the following morning. When the morning comes,
they go to the site of the enchanted fountain to fight. They find in its place
a neatly dug grave and shovel, which Halbert denies preparing.
They duel, and despite the knight
being a more skilled fighter than Halbert, the latter stabs Sir Piercie,
apparently killing him. Halbert tries to summon the White Maid, but nothing
happens, and he screams curses at her for putting him in this position. Fleeing,
Halbert finds a man in the valley who he drags back to the site of the duel,
hoping to save the knight. They find the grave filled, but the only trace of
the knight is his doublet that was laid down before the duel. The stranger,
named Henry Warden, listens to the story and advises Halbert to find shelter at
the castle of Julian Avenel instead of returning home.
At the castle they find Julian
accompanied by a young woman, Catherine, who is unmarried although pregnant.
This offends Henry because he is a preacher, and he advises Julian to marry the
woman. Julian is enraged by his advice and throws Henry in the dungeon. Halbert
is locked in a bedroom to stop him from interfering. Halbert escapes his room
through a window.
Meanwhile, the inhabitants of
Glendearg are alarmed that Halbert and Sir Piercie have yet to return, and they
send Martin out to look for them. Martin finds the grave, the bloodstains, and
the doublet. Martin returns and is telling the others what he found, when Sir
Piercie walks into the apartment wearing blood-stained clothes. This leads them
to believe that Halbert is dead, and Edward decides to get revenge for his
brother’s death. He confines the knight to a guarded room until the grave can
be searched the following morning. Father Eustace arrives at the castle and
requests a private meeting with Sir Piercie, who admits that Halbert wounded
him and he fell unconscious, before waking up with the realization that his
wound had miraculously healed.
It is forgotten that Mysie’s bedroom
is within the larger room in which the knight is being held, and she overhears
his conversation with Father Eustace. Mysie takes pity on the knight and
decides to save him. She goes to the door and whispers to Edward that she is
trapped. Edward opens the door and Mysie and the knight exit the apartment,
undiscovered by Edward due to the lack of light in the stairwell. The knight
flees with Mysie on a horse but is almost immediately seen and shot at by
Edward. They manage to escape, and they eventually stop in a village to rest.
Mysie disguises herself as a man.
Meanwhile, Halbert has found an
inn in which to stay and there he meets a pedlar who knows where to find the
recipient of Henry Warden’s letter, Lord Moray. The two men agree to travel
together the following morning, and they find themselves before the Earl of
Moray. The Earl is informed that the Monastery of St. Mary is surrounded by
English troops who are searching for Sir Piercie Shafton. Halbert is instructed
to lead the men to the monastery and advise the two sides to wait until the
Earl arrives to fight. The Earl and Sir John Foster arrive simultaneously, and
the former announces that his purpose was fulfilled, since they had captured
Sir Piercie. Upon closer inspection, they discover that the person they
captured is in fact Mysie.
All of the troops arrive in
procession at the monastery, in search of Sir Piercie. The knight advances from
the crowd and says that he is leaving England with his bride, Mysie. Halbert
and Mary Avenel marry and regain possession of the Castle of Avenel. They live
there with Elspeth, Martin, and Tibb happily ever after. Edward joins the
Monastery of St. Mary and beholds the last sight of the White Maid of Avenel,
whose fountain eventually dries up and is never seen again.
Koch, Angela. “‘The Absolute
Horror of Horrors’ Revised: A Bibliographical Checklist of
Early-Nineteenth-Century Gothic Bluebooks.” Cardiff Corvey: Reading the
Romantic Text 9 (Dec 2002), pp. 45–110.
BONNETS. 1819. The British Stage and Literary Cabinet 4, (35) (11): 41–2.
A tale of magic, secrets, and betrayal, Leitch Ritchie’s 1846 novel set in France features several romances that must overcome the divides created by religion and class, while trust is tested by unknown foes with sinister motives
a novel by Leitch Ritchie, published in 1846 by Simms and M’Intyre (also
written as Simms and McIntyre) of Belfast and later also London. The book
itself is 390 pages, and its font is small and closely set together. Its
margins are likewise small with the right and left margins being 1.35 cm and
the top and bottom margins being 1 cm. The book is 16.5 cm long, 10.5 cm wide,
and 3.0 cm in thickness, making it physically quite compact. This edition is
bound together as one novel, but as implied by the dedication on page five, it
has also been published in multiple volumes. There are two other editions, one
with two volumes and one with three, both of which were published in 1836. The
cover of the book is intricate, with calf leather covering the spine and
corners of the book which indicates it was half bound, and the rest of the
cover is marbled in blue and red. The leather on the front and back covers is
decorated with a floral design that was impressed using a bind-rolled floral
tool. On the spine, the design resembles a thistle, which could be a reference
to Ritchie’s homeland, Scotland, whose national flower has been the thistle
since 1249. The author is also referenced many times inside the book. His name
is embossed on the spine, is labeled on pages 3 and 4, and referenced again in
the notes at the end of the book. On page 3, his name is also accompanied by
some of the titles of his other novels and is followed by “etc. etc.”
indicating that he has written many works. There are two title pages, the first
with only with The Magician printed on it, and the second
(on page 3) with The Magician printed along with Ritchie’s
name and other works. This page is outlined in a black lined box. The other
stories referenced that were written by Ritchie include The Game of
Life, Romance of French History, and Journey to St.
Petersburgh and Moscow. Also included on this page is the publisher along
with their location along with the publication date of the novel. A note
from the author precedes the main text, and here Ritchie explains the lack of
magic in the novel, despite its title. He also explains his inspiration for
many of his characters, many of which were based on historical figures. One
last inclusion is Ritchie’s mention of the character Gilles de Retz, whom he
had previously written about three years earlier in Wanderings by the Loire,
an account of the character’s history and background.
The book is in relatively good condition,
with its spine being the only thing in slightly poor physical condition. The
spine is cracked severely but still holds the novel together, while the inside
pages look untouched. Also of consideration, the spine is tightly bound, which
might contribute to the anomaly that while from the outside it looks worn, the
inside is in good condition, as it takes effort to open the novel and in doing
so the spine is worn out at an accelerated rate.
Inside the book, one of the first things of interest is an armorial bookplate belonging to John Waldie of Hendersyde Park which is located in Ednam, Scotland, a small town near Kelso in the Scottish Borders. The bookplate also has a capital E written in the top left corner. Under the bookplate, is a blue book label that states “Novels and Romance; No. 893” indicating that this novel belonged to a large private collection of Waldie. This was most likely placed at the same time as the armorial bookplate but added second as it abuts the armorial plate so closely. Only the armorial bookplate has left an impression on the page adjacent to the back of the front cover. This is most likely because the bookplate’s paper, as opposed to the book label’s, is thicker and the ink used when printing it has transferred onto the facing page.
The interior of the book is void of any
illustrations except for an intricate drawing of the first letter in the first
chapter on page seven. The letter I (belonging to the first word of the novel,
“in”) is shaded and drawn to have flowers adorning it. The first and last two
pages of the novel (which are not in the official page count) are blank and are
thinner and more yellowed in comparison to the rest of the pages, which are
slightly brittle but in overall better condition. The pages all together are
stiff and inflexible, but this could be due to the novel’s tight binding and
resulting infrequent use.
A unique feature of this novel is that in the back it contains a receipt of purchase by Robert K. Black. It is in linen paper which was determined by holding up the receipt up to the light where the watermark “698 Linen Faced” is revealed, which describes the type and brand of paper. Some of the aspects (name, address, telephone, telegram, etc.) appear to be previously printed onto the paper, while other details look to have been added by a typewriter (including the date of purchase, the book purchased, and the buyer). The receipt comes from George Bates Rare and Interesting Books in London, and it shows that the novel was purchased by Robert Black on August 8, 1939, almost one hundred years after The Magician’s publication. This would have also been one year after Black’s purchase of Michael Sadleir’s collection in 1938 which was immediately placed at the University of Virginia. From 1938 to 1942, Black continued to add more novels into the gothic collection, one of which was The Magician. On the receipt, it can even be seen that the seller incorrectly typed many parts of the receipt. On it, the book purchased is The Nagician (which was not amended) and Ritchie’s last name was originally incorrectly spelled with a “w” at the end, which was later typed over with an e. The date of the book’s publication was also originally incorrectly typed, stating originally 1848, and the 8 was later typed over with a 6.
The Magician is
a novel written by the Scottish author Leitch Ritchie. Before its publication,
Ritchie had already written multiple novels, sketches, and short stories, some
of which include The Romance of History, France (1831)
and The Game of Life (1830). Ritchie was well known in the
literary sphere due to his numerous works and had gained merit from his short
stories (The Athenaeum 396). A year after The Magician was
published in 1836, Ritchie had even embarked on a tour for his series, Ireland,
Picturesque and Romantic; or, Heath’s Picturesque Annual for 1838,
which was well-received (Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine 684). The Magician was
published in four main editions in Ritchie’s lifetime. The original publication
was in 1836, and during that year it was distributed by two publishers: John
Macrone as well as Carey, Lea, & Blanchard. John Macrone was based in
London but passed away in 1837, a year after The Magician’s publication
(Simkin). His version was distributed in three volumes. Carey, Lea, &
Blanchard published the novel in two volumes, and this was published in the
United States, giving The Magician a larger audience. Later,
in 1846, his novel was published in one volume by Simms & M’Intyre, a
London and Belfast based publisher. Their first version was in 1846, where the
volume consisted of 390 pages and was reprinted in the “Parlour Novelist” (a
collection of fiction reprints); this is the edition held by the University of
Virginia Sadleir-Black Collection. Simms & M’Intyre’s second printing
of The Magician was in 1853 and consisted of 320 pages and was
reprinted in the “Parlour Library,” another series of fiction reprints.
In periodicals at the time, The
Magician was advertised frequently by Macrone and Simms &
M’Intyre. Its advertisements were smaller on the page than larger names at the
time, such as Charles Dickens in The Athenaeum. Ritchie’s
advertisements, in contrast, were often found among groups of novels that were
either listed in “Lately Published” or “In the Press” sections (The
Athenaeum 1021; The Literary Gazette 12). In a select
few of the advertisements, Ritchie’s work would be given more space in print in
order to describe a brief summary. Despite the different periodicals it could
be found in, such as Gentleman’s Magazine and The
Court Magazine and Belle Assemblee, the blurb was consistently “The
Magician, the scene in France, and the epoch the end of the English dominion in
the fifteenth century, connected with the favourite studies of the period,
alchemy and magic, by Mr. Leitch Ritchie” (The Court Magazine and Belle
Alongside this promotion, there were few reviews for The Magician, all of which had varying opinions on the quality of the novel. Two of the more notably detailed ones, written in The Literary Gazette and The Athenaeum delivered negative feedback. The Literary Gazette labeled The Magician as “a complete failure” and commented specifically on the striking similarities to the Bible’s tale of Isaac and Rebecca (The Literary Gazette 360). Due to this, the reviewer questioned the originality of the plot and likened parts of it to another previously published novel, Kenilworth, stating that two of The Magician’s main characters created a dynamic that was “an exaggerated copy of Leicester and Alasco” (The Literary Gazette 360). The Athenaeum’s review was less harsh, but still nowhere near positive. Though the author praised Ritchie for his earlier works, he emphasized that he has “been less successful when his canvas was more ambitiously enlarged” (396). This review harped more on the concept of the title and its relation to the book, as any magic that is described in the book is later refuted by Ritchie and revealed to be mere tricks of the eye, stating “we cannot, however, understand why Mr. Ritchie should neutralize the effect of his story, by a careful and systematic destruction of the wonders it contains” (The Athenaeum 396). This review mainly consisted of criticism regarding introducing the idea of sorcery and gramarye only to in the end dissuade his readers from believing in its existence entirely. The Magician’s more positive reviews are less prevalent and take the form of short blurbs. The Examiner referenced a small review by The Globe in which they wrote, “We congratulate Mr. Ritchie on the sensation he has produced,” and the Athenaeum quickly referenced it as a “clever and forcible romance” (The Examiner 688; The Athenaeum 625). This seems to be the extent of the positive reviews, with only a couple more sources eliciting some optimistic words in his direction. Despite this, Ritchie is often referenced in reviews or advertisements for his other works, such as in the Examiner when Wearfoot Common is noted as being by “Leitch Ritchie, Author of ‘The Magician,’” which could indicate its approval by the general public as opposed to the critics, who seemed to have taken a negative stance on its content (The Examiner 181).
Presently, The Magician has
been adapted into digital copies, most notably the Simms & M’Intyre 1846
version has been electronically reproduced by HathiTrust Digital Library in
2011. HathiTrust has also reproduced volumes one through three of the 1836
Macrone publication and volumes one and two of the Carey, Lea & Blanchard
1836 publication. The 1853 version seems to be the only one missing in their
digital library. Google Books has electronically reproduced these specific
volumes as well.
Point of View
narrated in the third person, conveying the thoughts of all of the characters
as opposed to just one. The anonymous narrator provides information about
background and history that the characters, individually or collectively, might
not know. Within this third-person narration, the narrator also occasionally
uses the first-person, particularly utilizing “we” when relaying background
knowledge. This is done sparingly, only at the beginning of chapters or in the
midst of a description. The narrator also directly addresses “the reader”
within the narration.
Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:
The attention of the scholar [David] was now directed exclusively to the space within the circle; and after an interval which appeared painfully long, he saw a light-coloured vapor rising from the altar, which was followed by a sudden flame, illuminating for an instance the whole apartment. But the smoke and flame vanished as suddenly as they had arisen, and, at the same moment, the appearance of a man clothed in black armor stood by the table. (258)
Sample Passage of Pauline Narrating a Dream:
“I followed him, for I could not help it. He called my name, and I mounted after him into the air, higher, higher than the lark soars or the cloud rolls. The stars swept in circles above our heads, hissing through the golden air and the earth was like a star beneath our feet, only stationary and alone. Then Prelati turned round, and I saw that he was a demon of the abyss, and I flew shrieking down the fields of space, till the whole universe rang with my cries. But he seized me; he caught me by my long hair, that streamed in the wind, when suddenly his arm was struck from his body by the blow of a sword. We are now safe. Hide me, love, in thy coat, and lay the Bloody Heart next to mine. But take away the dead arm that still clings to my hair. –Faugh! it makes me shudder. Cut off the tress-there– ‘O Douglas, Douglas, Tender and true!’” (261)
Sample Passage including an Interjection and Reference to the Reader:
Soon however, his mind seemed to revert to its usual occupations. He was evidently preparing to retire for the night; and, after having opened the door of a closet, where his bed appeared to be placed, he sank down upon his knees to pray. In his prayer, which was delivered with energy and deep devotion, the student joined mentally; and as the form of supplication was not particular to the personages of our history, but common to many of those who were in that day engaged in similar pursuits, we think it well to present the reader with the following copy. (52)
The third-person narration reveals the
actions that occur in the novel as well as the motivations or reasonings behind
these actions. They also contribute to the many interpretations of the
situations that multiple characters simultaneously encounter. By presenting
each character’s experiences, the narration builds a bigger picture of the
overarching plot. The example above shows how David is conceptualizing the
resurrection of Prelati, but this is only one point of view. Later, the
narrator also presents Pauline’s thoughts in the form of the dream she had when
she fainted from the sight of Prelati. From her perspective, an impending
danger regarding Prelati, and her safety is secured by Douglas (Archibald) is
foreshadowed. While the introduction to her position and story is in the third
person, her dialogue is told in the first person. Alongside developing these
relationships among the novel’s characters, by consistently using “we” the
narrator also develops a relationship between himself and the reader. With this
relationship, he can also include new knowledge that is essential to understand
the context of the novel’s settings and characters.
The novel begins in 1497 in Paris, during the welcome parade
for the new prince, where 3000 people are waiting. A young unnamed Scottish
knight is introduced and, he enters the crowd, disappearing past the gates of
Paris. Stopping on a bridge, the knight talks to the echevin, Jacquin
Houpelande who is a member of the legislative body, introducing Scotland’s part
as an ally of Paris in the war. The French needed their help in defeating
England during the Hundred Years War. The knight stops to think about how
well-designed Paris is for the occasion, with everyone dressed up, and he
concludes that everyone is represented but the Jews, who were banished by the
edict of the past prince. He continues into the city, stopping by the
university to watch the parade, full of royals and dignitaries. In it is the
dauphin, who is betrothed to Margaret, the young princess of Scotland. While
walking further, the unnamed knight is attacked by three English students who
draw their swords, but a man, Douglas, shouts at them, and descends into the
streets followed by three other men. Douglas, and his three companions, Nigel,
Bauldy, and Andrew, defend the Scottish knight, and once the fight is over, the
knight goes to talk to his rescuers. He realizes that he knows their leader who
was his childhood friend, Archibald, as they are both from the Douglas clan
All leave to go to Archibald’s room, and upon entering,
David and Archibald begin to argue over an unlit candle about David’s choice to
become a student, which leaves him unpaid. The flame suddenly flashes up,
though David takes no notice. David leaves for the night, entering a doorway
that leads him to a tunnel under the university. Here, David’s master is
introduced, the alchemist Messire Jean, along with his master’s daughter whom
David has developed feelings towards over the years. The two men hear a noise
and a knock on the final door, which turns out to be Messire Jean’s friend
Prelati. Prelati introduces the concept of the philosopher’s stone and then
brings up Jean’s enemy Gilles de Retz, who betrayed him long ago. While they
begin to talk, David talks to the daughter who tells him her secret: she’s
Jewish. She makes him promise not to reveal what he knows as his knowledge
could kill them.
The next morning, David has a hard time dealing with the
news, so he seeks out Archibald to confess to him his secret life. They walk
through Paris and Archibald, a staunch believer in Christianity, over David’s
choice to indulge in Hermeticism. While passing people, David mentions that he
recognizes a man named Orosmandel, a famed philosopher. Archibald’s past is
explained; he came to Paris to assist Margaret, Princess of Scotland, on her
journey to meeting the Dauphin of France. On the way he saved a woman known as
Mademoiselle de Laval, who warned him that her attacker is the Black Knight and
tells him to make friends with a man named Orosmandel. The flashback ends, and
now Archie stands in the theatre recognizing her in the crowd with Orosmandel.
The next day, David explains to his roommates Nigel, Andrew,
and Bauldy, that he must leave, and they accuse him of valuing his life above
their own. Hearing this, David is stunned and leaves the apartment, along with
his education at the university. He meets with Messire Jean, who tells him to
accompany his daughter, Hagar, to Nantes. David agrees and tells Jean in his
absence to find his three friends to uptake the position of his assistant.
Around the same time, Andrew, Bauldy, and Nigel receive a visit from Archibald
who is trying to find David. They don’t know where he went, but Archibald later
receives an anonymous note telling him to meet at the inn and tavern,
Pomme-du-Pin. David and Hagar meet him, and David tells Archibald that he is
going to work for Orosmandel as his assistant. Archibald insists that he will
pursue alchemy if David can prove it is real. Hagar tells them she must leave
but tells them to wait for her. While waiting, David inquires about Archibald’s
relationship with Mademoiselle de Laval, who Archibald confesses he loves. Upon
Hagar’s absence, they resolve to travel together to Brittany. While stopped for
the night, Archibald encounters a young woman who tells him that the Damsel de
Laval is in danger and he must go to the ruinous castle nearby. There, he
overhears a plot to capture the Damsel, and he escapes as the Black Knight
Hagar is now talking to two other women, Pauline and Marie,
who want her to join their journey. Hagar insists that she must go straight to
Nantes, but Pauline will not let her leave. Marie helps Hagar escape, switching
cloaks with her, and Hagar passes the guards without suspicion. In the morning,
Marie and Hagar leave for Nantes and end up traveling alongside a parade, where
Gilles de Retz is seen. Hagar, now startled, says she is going to seek out
Rabbi Solomon, who resides in Nantes, as he will grant her safety and she will be
able to live there with her people. Marie’s betrothed, Jean, hears this and
tells her that he will oversee her travels there. He instead betrays her,
leading her to Gilles de Retz’s city apartment, locking her in to be kept
prisoner. Elsewhere, the Damsel de Laval thinks about Archibald, questioning if
he loves her for her money or if he has true intentions. She reveals that she
is Pauline, who spoke to Hagar earlier. Pauline goes to talk to Orosmandel, who
is employed by her father, and his assistant, the dwarf.
On the road to Brittany, David tells Archibald that he is worried about Hagar, and Archibald insinuates that David is falling in love with someone who is “unfit” causing David to draw his sword in her defense. The peasant girl interrupts the fight, telling them that her name is Marie, and that she is getting married. Her cousin, Lissette sings an ominous bridal song, which and Marie leaves crying. David also leaves, and he runs into the dwarf who tells him that it’s his job to escort David to La Verrieré. There, Orosmandel and Gilles, talk about their plans to sacrifice a willing virgin to the devil. They plan on sacrificing one of three girls, Gilles’ daughter Pauline, Hagar, or Marie. They contemplate sacrificing Hagar because she would be willing to save either her father or David’s life, and Marie because she left before she could consummate her marriage. Later Lissette taps on Andrew’s window, telling him that Marie is lost. Archibald runs into the woods, and there he finds the Black Knight and his men. At the same time, Nigel, Bauldy, and Andrew enter the same part of the woods, and after escaping the Black Knight, they all agree to save David, who they fear has been put into grave danger. When they arrive at Nantes, Messire Jean, whose name is Caleb, is with them, as he left Paris with the trio. All try to figure out how to infiltrate La Verrieré to find David.
David is working for Orosmandel, using his position to
figure out how to rescue Hagar. Later that night, Orosmandel sends for both David
and Pauline so they can watch him summon the ghost of Prelati. Pauline faints,
causing David to have to carry her to another room, Hagar’s prison. There,
David warns Hagar to not take anything given to her, and he leaves saying that
their religion no longer separates them as they are all equal at the gates of
Andrew finds the house of Rabbi Solomon, where he meets
Caleb. While talking, two men, Claude Montrichard and Beauchamp, enter asking
Caleb for gold so they can capture one of Gilles’ territories. They explain
that Gilles is being investigated for his perversion of nature and religion and
the government plans on arresting him. Caleb agrees to help them so long as
they promise to rescue Hagar.
Back at La Verrieré, Hagar, contemplates her feelings for David
and questions Gilles’s motives. She tries to leave, but the guard tells her
that she needs permission from the baron. Hagar goes to request it, but the
baron tells her that he cannot give freedom nor can she receive it. She
bargains that if David is set free, she won’t try to leave. David enters to
talk to Gilles, and Andrew comes in as the ambassador of Houpelande. Gilles
tells David to leave, but David refuses, saying he is there to protect Hagar.
Hagar reveals Prelati is alive, and before they all part, David tells Andrew to
meet him later that night. Andrew heads for the tower, where David tells him to
relay to Archibald that he must ally with Beauchamp and Montrichard, Prelati is
alive, and Pauline is in danger. David later discovers a trapdoor in the floor,
where Orosmandel and Prelati must have staged the summoning. He hides behind
the curtain as Orosmandel and Gilles talk about their sacrifice, determining
that Pauline must die. Later that night, David hears his name and discovers Marie
in Gilles’ arms. Gilles runs, and David helps Marie escape through the newfound
Andrew travels back to Nantes to meet with the rest of the
men, and from there they split up. Andrew and Archibald take the road with
Montrichard, while Nigel and Bauldy set forth on Houpelande’s wagon. While this
is happening, Orosmandel and Gilles set up the ritual, and since Pauline won’t
be a willing participant (which is required for the ceremony’s success), they
convince Hagar, telling her David has died, and she is sent back to her cell.
In another location, David has successfully convinced Caleb of his love for
Hagar is taken from her cell by the Orosmandel, who has told her he will take her away as he wants her for his mistress. She refuses him, claiming love for David and that Orosmandel is too old for her to love. It’s at this moment that, Orosmandel tears away his beard and cloak, revealing that he was Prelati all along. While Prelati is distracted, Caleb stabs him and is subsequently thrown into the nearby wall by Prelati. Both die, and Hagar leaves with David. In another part of the castle, Archibald rescues Pauline. The novel concludes with the anonymous narrator giving an account of what has happened since then. Archibald and Pauline marry, as do Andrew and Marie, along with Bauldy and Felicité. David and Hagar leave together to travel to far and foreign lands. Three years later, a procession is held for Gilles where he is charged for sorcery and burned for being a wizard.
“Advertisement.” The Athenaeum, no.
1348, 1853, pp. 1021.
“Advertisement. “ Examiner, no.
1499, 1836, pp. 688.
“Book Review.” Examiner, no. 2460, 1855, pp. 181-182.
‘THE BOOKS OF THE SEASON.” Tait’s Edinburgh
Magazine, vol. 4, no. 47, 1837, pp. 678–688.
“LITERARY INTELLIGENCE.” The Court Magazine
and Belle Assemblee, July 1832-Jan.1837, vol. 8, no. 2, 1836, pp. 7.
“LITERARY NOVELITIES.” The Literary Gazette
: A Weekly Journal of Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts, no. 989,
1836, pp. 12.
“The Magician.” The Athenaeum, no. 449,
1836, pp. 396.
“The Magician.” The Literary Gazette : A
Weekly Journal of Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts, no. 1011, 1836,
Ritchie, Leitch. The Magician. Belfast,
Simms & M’Intyre, 1846.