Fatal Secrets

Fatal Secrets

Fatal Secrets; Or, Etherlinda de Salmoni. A Sicilian Story.

Author: Issac Crookenden
Publisher: J. Lee
Publication Year: 1806
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 18 cm x 11 cm
Pages: 36
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.C76 F 1806


In Issac Crookenden’s 1806 chapbook, characters face betrayal, secret identities, romantic intrigues, incest, and other sinful subjects. The drama of these Sicilian nobles’ story prompts the narrator to interject with frequent lectures on morality.


Material History

Fatal Secrets is a small volume, only eighteen centimeters in length and eleven centimeters in width. As the sole chapbook included in the rebinding, it is quite slim. The cover is a solid tan paper, and the exterior is not decorated by anything but the title of the chapbook. The title is found on a rectangle of maroon leather with gold leaf stamping. “FATAL SECRETS / Issac Crookenden / 1806” is stamped into the leather. The material and quality of the cover indicate the chapbook was rebound following its first publishing. Comparison to other novels in the Sadleir-Black collection reveals that Sadleir likely rebound the chapbook in a similar style with several other books of his before selling his personal collection. 

Handwritten cover preceding the title page

Upon opening the book, the reader sees the creamy, relatively unworn paper that appears to have been inserted during the rebinding. After turning these opening pages, the first page of the original chapbook is revealed. It is in much worse condition than the paper included in the rebinding. The first and last original page is suede-colored with gray stains. In ink, someone has written “Fatal Secrets; Or, Etherlinda de Salmoni” in a cursive script at the top of the page. The next page is distinctively lighter than that of the first, but is made of a similar thin, soft paper. The pulpy pages are worn, and in some cases have small tears along their edges. They have the same grey stains as the darker pages, which are absent on the pages inserted during the rebinding. Both types of pages have signature marks. The original signature marks are printed onto the page, while the newer pages have the signature marks penciled on. On a few of the 26 numbered pages, there are holes near the spine where they were threaded together. The thread was likely removed during the rebinding.

After turning to the printed pages, the reader sees the first of two illustrations in the chapbook. The frontispiece is in black and white and depicts a dramatic scene from the story. Included in the illustration is a plaque on which is written “Fatal Secrets.” The caption also reveals the publishing date as November 1, 1806. The title page lists the author as “Issac Crookenden, Author of The Mysterious Murder, &c. &c.” This page also lists the complete title of the chapbook: “Fatal Secrets; Or, Etherlinda de Salmoni. A Sicilian Story.”Turning past the title page begins the story. The print is small but clear with the pages numbered at the top. The last of the two illustrations is on the final page of the story and is more of a closing drawing than an illustration of a scene. At the end of the original pages, there are several fly leaves which are the same as those added from the rebinding.


Textual History

The title page ofFatal Secrets

Fatal Secrets; Or, Etherlinda de Salmoni. A Sicilian Story has four publicly known copies according to WorldCat. At least three of these copies appear to be of the same edition, namely those in the University of Virginia, Duke University, and University of California, Los Angeles libraries. All available sources refer to the edition published in 1806, so there was likely only one edition. This edition was published by J. Lee, a publishing house on 24 Half Moon Street, Bishopgate. Isaac Crookenden’s only works published by J. Lee, Fatal Secrets and The Mysterious Murder; or, The Usurper of Naples, were both published in 1806 (Potter 91). J. Lee published authors other than Crookenden, including Sarah Wilkinson, another prolific chapbook author, and he also published sensationalist pamphlets and other literature outside of gothic chapbooks (Potter 91)

Fatal Secrets is just one of many of Crookenden’s works. He wrote at least ten gothic chapbooks, all under his name. Both his unabashed use of his own name and his frequent writings were very unusual in the world of gothic publishing (Potter 26). In fact, Crookenden was only second to Sarah Wilkinson in the number of gothic chapbooks published under his name (Potter 26). Over the course of twenty years, he regularly published his sensationalist chapbooks, all of them thirty-six pages each (Nevins 67). As the amount of money to be made from writing chapbooks was likely quite small and Crookenden was employed as a schoolteacher for part of his literary career, it is unlikely that he pursued this path with a mind for profit (Potter 26, 71–72). His work, however, was hardly original.

Scholarly analysis of Crookenden’s works largely focuses on one aspect of them: their plagiarism. He is accused of being “the most notorious counterfeiter of legitimate Gothic novels,” the “master counterfeiter of long Gothics,” and a plagiarist of “better-known English and German Gothics” (Tymn 59, Frank 19, Nevins 67). Crookenden was in no way unusual among his peers for abridging and even stealing more famous novels’ plots. What did make him notable, however, was the fact that he published this stolen work under his own name (Frank 143).

A sample page of Fatal Secrets

Fatal Secrets itself may be a plagiarized combination of Ann Radcliff’s A Sicilian Romance and The Italian (Frank 133). It certainly shares many popular Gothic tropes with the novels, including an imprisoned mother, evil father, hidden parentage, and possible fratricide (Nevins 303–5). Still, it is unclear whether Crookenden’s contemporaries recognized Fatal Secrets as plagiarism or cared whether it was so. There is little evidence for Fatal Secrets’s advertisement or subsequent reception. There do not appear to be any reprintings or adaptions. As of 2021, it is listed under both Amazon and AbeBooks, but neither website seems to sell any copies, digital or otherwise. Other than references to Crookenden’s plagiarism, Fatal Secrets is only mentioned in scholarship within lists of Gothic texts (Tracy 30). Fatal Secrets appears to have had neither significant scholarly nor cultural significance beyond its publishing. It blends into the fabric of the hundreds of gothic chapbooks published over several decades that briefly entertained their audience.


Narrative Point of View

Fatal Secrets is narrated in an omniscient third-person point of view, except for a letter written in the first person. The narration is highly dramatic and emotional, but clear. Sentences are lengthy and segmented. The narrator changes between the present and backstory multiple times. The narrator frequently interjects into the storytelling various direct addresses to the reader about the morality of the characters’ choices and human nature. The narrator clearly condemns some characters’ actions and portrays others as faultless heroes. The dedication at the beginning of the chapbook states that these addresses are meant to guide the reader’s personal morality. 

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

In the mean time, the degeneracy of his son, had a visible effect on the Marquis’s happiness; and at last precipitated him into those very vices for which the former had been excluded his paternal home. So inconsistent is human nature; and “so apt are we to condemn in others what we ourselves practise without scruple.” 

The Marquis, as we have before observed, collecting his scattered property retired to a seat he had recently purchased in the vicinity of Beraldi Castle; but they lived such a secluded life, that altho’ Ricardo found them out by means of seeing Alicia accidentally, yet he little imagined it was his own parents who resided there. (35)

Sample Passage from the Letter:

I look round in vain to see my beloved Count? ah, how often do I fix my eye on the vacant spot where you used to sit, and strive to collect your every attitude, and those dear engaging features which shed such tender benevolence when I applied you to be my friend in my helpless state.—I told you that I had been the victim of a villain’s perfidy, you pitied my situation, and sheltered me in your castle.—Ah ! why did you so? for it was this kindness that begot gratitude in my soul, and gratitude soon ripened into love !—How often have you told me that you loved me, and not even Theodora herself should rival me in your heart*. (31)

Fatal Secrets’ narration fits the story it tells. The narrator’s knowledge of all the characters’ motivations and past actions both make the story clearer and serve its theatrical nature through the inclusion of dramatic irony. Full of twists that evoke horror and disgust in the characters, the black-and-white narrative descriptions simplify the quandaries it creates. The clear narrative division between the heroes and the sinners provides the story with a neat ending. The constant moralizing from the narrator is in clear conflict with the shocking and obscene story it tells but allows for the story to claim both sensationalist and righteous audiences.


Summary

Before the story begins, Crookenden dedicates the chapbook to a “Madam *******.”  Here he accounts his anonymization of her to her assumed unwillingness to be associated with the story, but assures her that he will use the depravity of his story to teach the reader of morality.

The frontispiece of Fatal Secrets

Fatal Secrets starts with Theodora de Beraldi worried about her husband’s delay at one of his estates. She is comforted by Ricardo, the cousin of Count Beraldi, who is staying with her and his cousin after being disowned by his father for debauchery. While Ricardo comforts Theodora, she squeezes his hand and he begins to believe that she is in love with him. He lusts after her and is about to declare his intentions when her husband returns. Theodora, ignorant of Ricardo’s feelings, is overjoyed at her husband’s return, but Count Beraldi seems troubled.

Ricardo later finds a letter in the Count’s library that reveals Count Beraldi is having an affair. He leaves the letter for Theodora to find, and when she does, she falls ill. At this time, Count Beraldi is away. Ricardo leaves under the guise of finding the Count to make him return to his ill wife. In reality, he tasks a group of robbers to capture the Count and leave him in the dungeon of one of the Count’s estates. Having replaced all the servants of the estate with people loyal to him, Ricardo takes control of the Count’s land and rules while his wife is ill. Ricardo confesses his feelings for Theodora, who is horrified and refuses him. He imprisons her and separates her from her son, Ormando. She again falls ill, and, after being separated from her son for the final time, dies having never granted Ricardo’s wishes.

Ricardo takes in his lover’s daughter, Etherlinda, and raises her as the heir to Count Beraldi’s estate. He also raises Ormando, but as an orphan under his care rather than the true heir. Eventually, the two fall in love with each other. Ormando confesses his feelings and Etherlinda returns them. Ricardo sends Ormando off to serve him with the understanding that, if he returns and still loves Etherlinda, he will have Ricardo’s blessing.

The final page of Fatal Secrets and its accompanying illustration

Etherlinda is the daughter of Alicia whom Ricardo seduced and bore Etherlinda out of wedlock. Alicia is the daughter of the Marquis Salmoni, but she concealed this from Ricardo out of shame. The Marquis lost much of his wealth to debauchery and moved to his only remaining land with his wife and daughter. Ricardo eventually stole Etherlinda away from Alicia and stopped providing for the mother of his child. Alicia then went to Count Beraldi (before he was imprisoned) and implored his assistance. The two began an affair, the same one that was revealed in the letter. Ricardo discovered that Alicia was the mistress of Count Beraldi after he imprisoned the Count. He was enraged by this and imprisoned her in a separate dungeon.

On Ormando’s journey, he stops at a convent and is welcomed by a monk. This monk is Marquis Salmoni, although Ormando does not know it. The Marquis became a monk after his wife died of the grief caused by her missing daughter. When Ormando departs, he accidentally leaves behind the letter Alicia wrote Count Beraldi. This letter had been misplaced by Ricardo and was hidden for seventeen years before Ormando found it. Ormando did not get a chance to read it before he dropped it, so he is unaware of its contents. The Marquis died shortly after reading the letter and learning of his daughter’s sin.

Later in his journey, Ormando is kidnapped by Ricardo’s robbers and taken to a castle. Here Ricardo reveals himself to Ormando, having closely watched him the entire time. Ricardo leads Ormando into the dungeon and tells him that if he does what he says he will be entitled to Etherlinda and Ricardo’s estates. Ormando is horrified when Ricardo commands him to kill Alicia, who has been kept in the dungeon for all these years. She reveals that she is Etherlinda’s mother and that Ormando is Count Beraldi’s son. She and Ricardo argue, and she reveals her last name to be de Salmoni. Ricardo realizes that Alicia is his sister and dies of shock. Alicia believed her brother to have been dead and is horrified by the revelation.

Ormando releases both Alicia and Count Beraldi from captivity. He is announced as the true heir and marries Etherlinda. Etherlinda never finds out her true ancestry and bears Ormando many children. Alicia is reunited with her daughter but then spends the rest of her life at a convent, repenting.


Bibliography

“‘The Absolute Horror of Horrors’ Revised: A Bibliographical Checklist of Early-Nineteenth-Century Gothic Bluebooks.” Romantic Textualities, 29 Jan. 2013, http://www.romtext.org.uk/reports/cc09_n03/.

Crookenden, Isaac. Fatal Secrets: Or, Etherlinda De Salmoni. A Sicilian Story. J. Lee, 1806. 

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

Nevins, Jess. The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana. Monkeybrain, 2005.

Potter, Franz J. Gothic Chapbooks, Bluebooks and Shilling Shockers, 1797–1830, University of Wales Press, 2021.

Tracy, Ann B. The Gothic Novel 1790–1830: Plot Summaries and Index to Motifs, University Press of Kentucky, 2014.

Tymn, Marshall B. Horror Literature: A Core Collection and Reference Guide. Rr Bowker Llc, 1981.


Researcher: Chloe Fridley

Cordelia

Cordelia

Cordelia, Or a Romance of Real Life

Author: Sophia King Fortnum
Publisher: Minerva Press
Publication Year: 1799
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11cm x 18cm
Pages: 212
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.F63 C 1799


In this 1799 gothic novel, a young woman named Cordelia struggles with her father’s abandonment of her family, tries to improve her situation, and is ultimately faced with deceit and tragedy.   


Material History

Cordelia, or a Romance of Real Life by Sophia King Fortnum is presented in leather binding with a marbled paper cover, giving it an elegant and high-quality appearance. The marbled decoration of the front would have been achieved by hand, using water and oil colors to create a unique design, and shows the care that was taken into the appearance of the book.

The title page of Cordelia

The spine is decorated with a few thin horizontal lines and has subtle embellishments surrounding the title, in capital letters, CORDELIA. The book still gives a refined impression, but its age shows with small fractures stemming from a substantial vertical crack down the spine and faded coloring of the cover. The top and bottom right corners of the paper cover appear worn off and torn, which could indicate the possible existence of leather, or another material, corners that came off at one point in its history. The book is 11 by 18 cm and 212 pages in length.

Inside, the pages are yellowed and occasionally darkly spotted on the tops and edges, which is referred to as foxing and is common in paper as it ages. This could possibly be due to oxidization, humidity, or other factors depending on the environments and conditions impacting the paper. The ink in the book is only somewhat faded and still easy to see, but brownish stains blemish many of the pages and one blue stain bleeds through page seven onto eight.

The pages alternate between two lengths and are curled slightly on all edges, leading to pages sticking together as they’re turned. Horizontal folds split the paper into thirds, showing that the paper could have been folded before it was bound in its leather and marbled paper dressings.

Sample page of text that shows folds in page and blue stain.

Opening the novel, the title is displayed on the second page as Cordelia, or a Romance of Real Life in fanciful font, and on the third page again. The author’s name appears below the title on the third page. Throughout the novel, on the tops of pages, the title is printed as CORDELIA.

The font of the story is prominent, and the lines of text are decently spaced apart. Wide margins, consisting of a larger bottom margin and thinner top margin, also make the text easy to read. As was common in printing at the time, the letter s in Cordelia is usually printed as a “long s,” which appear similar to f, and can cause some confusion for modern readers. Many of the pages feature letters and numbers at the bottoms. These signature marks are meant to indicate to the printer how to fold the pages in the correct order before binding them. Each chapter begins with a quote relevant to the chapter and a word or few words completely capitalized. The text’s format then continues generally uniformly, which fits in with the overall high-quality impression of the book. 


Textual History

Cordelia, or A Romance of Real Life was published in two volumes in 1799 by the Minerva Press and is Sophia King Fortnum’s second novel (Summers 284). Fortnum was born around 1782 to John King and Deborah Lara, though she may have been born earlier and misconstrued her age (Brown et al.). She was of Sephardic Jewish heritage, and her father was a moneylender and radical political actor in England with a notorious career known as the “Jew King” (Brown et al., Baines). Her parents divorced in 1784 or 1785 after her mother took two of the children, possibly including Fortnum, with her to Italy to try to prevent her father’s marriage to the dowager countess of Lanesborough, an English noblewoman, and failed (Brown et al., Endelman). Fortnum and her sister, Charlotte Dacre, author of Zofloya and other gothic novels, published a collection of poetry together dedicated to their father called Trifles of Helicon in 1798 (Brown et al.). Fortnum married Charles Fortnum and began publishing under Sophia Fortnum instead of Sophia King in 1801 (Brown et al.). 

Sample page of text that shows folds in page.

Fortnum published other gothic novels throughout her career, as well as poetry. She was the author of Waldorf, or the Dangers of Philosophy, A Philosophical Tale in 1798, The Victim of Friendship in 1800, The Fatal Secret: or, Unknown Warrior. A Romance of the Twelfth Century in 1801, and her final novel, Victor Allen: a Novel in 1802 (Summers 86). Fortnum published much of her poetry in newspapers under the name “Sappho” and published her only verse collection in 1804: Poems, Legendary, Pathetic and Descriptive (Brown et al.). The date of Fortnum’s death after these publications is unknown.

According to Montague Summers’s A Gothic Bibliography, the Minerva Press was owned by William Lane and was the “most famous publishing house which issued Gothic romances” (ix). Cordelia also had a French translation published by C. Chanin in Paris in 1800: Cordelia, ou la Faiblesse Excusable, histoire de la vie telle qu’elle est (Summers 284). A contemporary review of Cordelia by Tobias George Smollett called the novel a “gloomy tale” that was not “very probable in its incidents” or “interesting in its progress” (235–36). Smollett’s review also stated that the novel lacked an “attractive style” and called the “morality… inconsistent with the prevailing ideas of female virtue” (236). Editions of the first and second volumes of Cordelia were published by Gale Nineteenth Century Collections Online in 2017 and are available on Amazon, though the second volume is out of print.


Narrative Point of View

Cordelia, or a Romance of Real Life, is narrated in the first person by its protagonist, Cordelia. Cordelia recounts the events of the story in retrospect, rarely describing specific scenes and often summarizing her own judgements on situations and people to convey what happened. Cordelia goes on tangents about her beliefs and judgements within the text, saying she has “digressed” multiple times after long-winded statements of her opinions (8, 50). The wording of sentences can be lengthy, using many colons, semicolons, and commas, but the language is not overly ornate, and it communicates ideas clearly.

Sample Passage:

The folly and conceit of this ridiculous couple forcibly excited my contempt; I easily developed the character of Mrs. Milner, whose brain was turned by wits, and pretended Literati. They found that by humouring her caprices, and flattering her ignorance, they should reap considerable advantages from her fortune and connections. Authors and philosophers swarmed at her table like butterflies; they praised her works, drank her wine, and dedicated poems to her. Mrs. Milner was therefore well pleased, and expended her fortune almost wholly among designing parasites, Democrats, and madmen, for I believe few who visited her were exceptions to this rule; as to the little conceited Citizen, he was a particular friend and almost totally governed her. As she was, however, a woman of rank and fortune, she did not meet with her deserved portion of contempt, but was in some measure countenanced by persons of fashion, and vitiated taste: for instance, titled profligates, romantic misses, and antiquated dowagers, who joined in her follies, and attended her levees, believing they by that means improved their manners and understanding. (48–50)

The narration overall emphasizes Cordelia’s opinions and feelings and pays less attention to action and plot. One effect of this style of first-person narration is that there is no objective view of the story or characters. In the above passage, Mrs. Milner’s characterization is completely based on Cordelia’s view of her. Cordelia states that Mrs. Milner “pretended Literati” and people praised her only to gain something from her “rank and fortune,” declaring her own “contempt” for Mrs. Milner (48, 49). She frames Mrs. Milner as untalented and ignorant and others’ praise as insincere, but there is no objective point of view to confirm this. The audience can only rely on Cordelia’s perception of herself and others to judge characters’ intelligence or morality. Throughout Cordelia, Cordelia’s impressions of others guide the framing of the story, and when her impressions prove to be inaccurate, as with Lioni’s character, the effect is unpredictability.


Summary

The narrative of Cordelia, or A Romance of Real Life, Volume I is told from the first-person perspective of Cordelia, the protagonist of the story. The novel begins with Cordelia’s rantings and criticisms of people’s disregard of religion and virtue in place of fame and fortune. Cordelia admits to being susceptible to these kinds of romantic notions at one point in her life and begins to tell her backstory. Cordelia’s family consisted of her mother, her sister Rosina, and her brother Collville. Her mother was married early in life to Mr. Arden, Cordelia’s father, but he soon deserted her and their children to be with a woman named Lady Lindern. Mr. Arden and Lady Lindern lived a luxurious life while Mr. Arden’s family was left with no prospects and infrequent visits. Cordelia describes her mother as pale, melancholy, and perpetually in love with Mr. Arden, believing he will return to her someday. She describes herself as “a sort of ringleader” of her siblings, and as the story starts, her father begins to favor her because of her apparent “genius” (20, 22). Cordelia grows to love and respect her father despite his cruel treatment of her family. However, she also becomes more dissatisfied with her situation after seeing how Mr. Arden and Lady Lindern live. 

Sample page of text that shows a poem written by Mrs. Milner.

Cordelia and her siblings want to leave England, but because their mother still holds onto hope that Mr. Arden will return to her, she is determined to stay. Cordelia wants to run away, but her mother discovers this and tells her father. Mr. Arden gives Cordelia the opportunity to work for a wealthy writer, Mrs. Milner, and become more involved in society as an attempt to address her unhappiness with her situation. He orders her to hide their familial relation, and she starts to work for Mrs. Milner. She finds Mrs. Milner silly and untalented, but Cordelia does well and begins to interact with more writers, philosophers, and other friends of Mrs. Milner. She becomes more like them, calling herself “vain and ridiculous” in retrospect (54). One day, Cordelia edits one of Mrs. Milner’s essays heavily, and Mrs. Milner finds the rewrite insulting, reprimanding her. Cordelia leaves after this, abandoning the post her father recommended her for. When her father finds this out, he tells her that she has lost his good opinion and is an ungrateful daughter. Cordelia tries to appeal to Lady Lindern’s sympathy and has an outburst about her role in destroying her family. Lady Lindern is offended and tells Mr. Arden. Cordelia receives a letter from her father telling her it is better if they do not see each other, and she loses all hope of bettering her situation.            

Cordelia decides to run away and fantasizes about obtaining fame and fortune. With the help of her sister, Rosina, she gets money together and leaves home. She eventually finds somewhere to stay, but her hostess charges her a high price and drains her funds quickly. Throughout this time, she tries to apply for jobs with theater companies but is denied. After many rejections and having to seek the assistance of a family friend, Mrs. Larlston, she gets news that her application to join a theater company was accepted. At her new job, she meets Lucinda, who she is initially wary of but becomes close friends with. Their work for the company is physically demanding and pays very little, and Cordelia remains unhappy with her life. They eventually meet a man named Count Victor Lioni and his younger companion Charles Mandani. Cordelia is suspicious of Lioni but finds Mandani agreeable and develops feelings for him. Lucinda tells Cordelia that Lioni is a childhood friend and later tells her that they have gotten married.

Sample page of text that shows letters between Olivia and Mandani.

Lucinda, Lioni, Mandani, and Cordelia go on a trip to Italy and Cordelia is unsure of Mandani’s sentiments towards her. Cordelia asks Mandani about Lucinda and Lioni’s marriage and he sees the idea as ridiculous, revealing to Cordelia that Lioni and Lucinda are not married and that Mandani perceives Cordelia to have loose morals. After Cordelia clears the confusion about her morality, Mandani makes it seem like he intends to form a serious union with her. Cordelia confronts Lioni about the lie of his and Lucinda’s marriage, and the Count makes an advance towards her. After Cordelia’s poor response to this, he tells her she and Mandani are his captives. Cordelia sends a letter to Lioni asking him to let her leave, but he refuses and reveals that Mandani is lying to her. Lioni gives Cordelia a pile of papers and letters, which reveal that Mandani is married. According to the letters, Mandani loved Lioni’s sister Olivia, but at sixteen, Olivia took her vows in a convent. Mandani wanted to marry her and convinced her to run off to France with him and elope. Olivia’s guilt over breaking her vows caused her to leave him and move back to a convent. Lioni forgave Mandani, but if Mandani ever forgot Olivia and moved on with another woman, Lioni promised to kill him on behalf of his sister.

Cordelia cannot tell Mandani she knows about his past and marriage, and the Count gives her money to leave and have a life away from Mandani as a gesture of friendship. Cordelia overhears Mandani say that Olivia is dead to him, and he loves only her now, but she knows they cannot be together because of Lioni’s threat. She plans to leave for Switzerland and live in peaceful and comfortable solitude with Lioni’s money, but before she can make it, she encounters armed men who attack her and tie her up. She is confused and terrified but then wakes up in what she thinks is a madhouse. She despairs and adds “shrieks” to the “groans of lunacy,” but “Nature” eventually rescues her by sending her into a “happy insensibility” (212).


Bibliography

Baines, Paul. “Fortnum [nee King], Sophia.” Oxford University Press, 2015, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/63521.

Brown, Susan, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy, eds. “Sophia King: Life & Writing.” Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present. Cambridge University Press Online, 2006. <http://orlando.cambridge.org>. 09 November 2021.

Endelman, Todd. “King, John [formerly Jacob Rey].” Oxford University Press, 2015, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/67336.

King Fortnum, Sophia. Cordelia, or a Romance of Real Life. London, Minerva Press, 1799.

Smollett, Tobias George. The Critical Review, or, the Annals of Literature. R. Baldwin, London, 1800. 

Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. Russell & Russell, 1964. 


Researcher: Aliana Bobé Cummings

The Skeleton

The Skeleton

The Skeleton; or, Mysterious Discovery. A Gothic Romance.

Author: Isaac Crookenden
Publisher: A. Neil
Publication Year: 1805
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 9.5cm x 17.75cm
Pages: 38
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.C76 Sk 1805


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.


Material History

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.

The title page of The Skeleton, including the various titles, author, description of author, publication information, and price.

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.

The frontispiece of The Skeleton, showing Adolphus discovering the skeleton.

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 “f”. 


Textual History

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 British Library.

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).

The first page of The Skeleton.

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.

Sample Passage:

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.


Summary

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.

Page 21 of The Skeleton, including Rotaldo’s letter to Almira.

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 may need.

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 before expiring.

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.

Page 33 of The Skeleton with asterisks representing the illegible text of Adolphus’s father’s account.

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)


Bibliography

Baines, Paul. “Crookenden, Isaac (b. 1777), Writer.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 23 Sept. 2004, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/63518. Accessed 10 November 2021.

Crookenden, Isaac. The Skeleton: Or, Mysterious Discovery, a Gothic Romance. A Neil, 1805.

Frank, Frederick S. “Gothic Chapbooks, Bluebooks, and Short Stories in the Magazines (1790–1820).” Gothic Writers: A Critical and Bibliographical Guide, 2001, pp. 133–146.

——. “Gothic Gold: The Sadleir-Black Gothic Collection,” Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, vol. 26, 1997, pp. 287–312.

——. “The Gothic Romance.” Horror Literature: A Core Collection and Reference Guide, edited by Marshall B. Tymn. R.R. Bowker, New York, 1981, p. 59.

Potter, Franz J. Gothic Chapbooks, Bluebooks and Shilling Shockers: 1797–1830, University of Wales Press, 2021.


Researcher: Jacob Tisdale

The Affecting History of Caroline

The Affecting History of Caroline

The Affecting History of Caroline, or, The Distressed Widow: A True Tale 

Author: Unknown (plagiarized from Charlotte Smith)
Publisher: S. Carvalho
Publication Year: 1805
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 18cm x 10.5cm
Pages: 22
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .R66 1800


A story of love and tragedy, this 1805 chapbook features plagiarized excerpts from Charlotte Smith’s 1789 novel Ethelinde


Material History

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 image shows the misaligned test at the footer of the title page of The Affecting History of Caroline.

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 condition. 

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.”

The frontispiece of The Affecting History of Caroline.

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.


Textual History

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 the chapbook.

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.

Page 15 of The Affecting History of Caroline showing the shortened title in the header: “Caroline.”

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 The European 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 The European 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 this attribution. 

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.

Sample Passage: 

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.


Summary

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 life. 

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 mother.

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. 

This image shows the final page of The Affecting History of Caroline, with an illustration near the bottom margins.

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.


Bibliography

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. Cadell, 1789.

“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.


Researcher: Seblework Alemu

The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors

The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors

The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors: A Gothic Story

Author: Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson
Publisher: Printed for T. and R. Hughes
Publication Year: 1807
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 12cm x 20cm
Pages: 38
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.W55 Ca 1807


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!


Material History

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.

The frontispiece of The Castle Spectre, which was glued onto a blank page for support

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 and idea.”

Michael Sadleir’s cataloguing card inserted within The Castle Spectre

Textual History

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.

The title page of The Castle Spectre, which features slight pencil markings and stains

Wilkinson’s The 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).

Many sources 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 avenging her.


Narrative Point of View

The Castle 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.

Sample of Third-Person Narration:

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)

Sample of 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.


Summary

The Castle 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 and protection.

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.

Finally, Richard 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.

A sample of the body text of The Castle Spectre

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 Jane.

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.


Bibliography

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.

Hoeveler, Diane L., “Sarah Wilkinson: Female Gothic Entrepreneur” (2015). Gothic Archive: Related Scholarship. 7. https://epublications.marquette.edu/gothic_scholar/7.

Johnson, Samuel. The Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper: Including the Series Edited with Prefaces, Biographical and Critical. United Kingdom, J. Johnson, 1810.

McNally, Katie. “Fearsome Ink.” UVA Today, 29 Apr. 2016, http://news.virginia.edu/content/fearsome-ink-uva-library-boasts-worlds-finest-collection-english-gothic-literature. Accessed 4 Nov. 2021.

The National Union Catalog Pre-1956 Imprints. Vol. 664, London, Mansell, 1968. 754 vols.

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

Potter, Franz J. Gothic Chapbooks, Bluebooks and Shilling Shockers, 1797–1830. University of Wales Press, 2021.

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

Wilkinson, Sarah Scudgell. The Castle Spectre; Or, Family Horrors: A Gothic Story. Printed for T. and R. Hughes, 1807.

Wilkinson, Sarah Scudgell, and Lewis, M. G. (Matthew Gregory). The Castle Spectre: An Ancient Baronial Romance; Founded On the Original Drama of M. G. Lewis. Published by J. Bailey, Printer, 1820.


Researcher: Abby Minkin

The Affecting History of Louisa

The Affecting History of Louisa

The Affecting History of Louisa, the Wandering Maniac, or, ‘Lady of the Hay-Stack;’ So called, from having taken up her Residence under that Shelter, in the Village of Bourton, Near Bristol, in a State of Melancholy Derangement; and supposed to be a Natural Daughter of Francis I. Emperor of Germany. A Real Tale of Woe.

Author: Unknown
Publisher: A. Neil
Publication Year: 1804
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10cm x 17cm
Pages: 36
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.A388 1804


This 1804 chapbook, a shorter version of George Henry Glasse’s English translation of L’Inconnue Histoire Véritable, connects the life of Louisa, a deranged wanderer of Bourton, England, to her greatest loss—the social denial of her identity as the natural daughter of Francis I, Emperor of Germany.


Material History

The title page for The Affecting History of Louisa.

The Affecting History of Louisa, the Wandering Maniac, or, ‘Lady of the Hay-Stack;’ So called, from having taken up her Residence under that Shelter, in the Village of Bourton, Near Bristol, in a State of Melancholy Derangement; and supposed to be a Natural Daughter of Francis I. Emperor of Germany. A Real Tale of Woe. If you are still here after reading this vehement title, congratulations—you have what it takes to dive into this 1804 gothic chapbook.

This “shilling shocker” is more popularly known as The Affecting History of Louisa. Though an unsung art by many, this novel does possess a special role at the University of Virginia by existing as an individualized, treasured lens of history in the Sadleir-Black Collection presented by Robert K. Black. The Sadleir-Black Collection’s version of the novel is a fragile, well-worn 10cm by 17cm. A beautiful yet dreary illustration adorns the primary page of the coverless and boundless novel. There is evidence of past stitching and binding of the pages, which possibly suggest that the novel was removed from a larger accumulation of gothic novels. 

The pages of Robert Black’s The Affecting History of Louisa are brittle, yellow, and stained, yet they hold many secrets to the publishing and history of the unique novel. Throughout a series of 36 pages (the pages are numbered; however, the numbering begins six pages in with 8, and ends with 38), there are details including catchwords (a repeated/prewritten word located on the following page of a subsequent paragraph) and signature marks (numerical/alphabetical markings) which were used to assist the bookbinders and printers and to ensure correct book assembly on their part.

The frontispiece for The Affecting History of Louisa.

The precision and care that went into the assembling of the book is also reflected in the structured form of the printed words. With 1.5 cm side margins and a 2.5 cm bottom margin, the dainty 2 mm letters with their didonesque font are able to flow across the page and make an impact through their meaning more so than through their appearance. Several of the letters do attempt to make their own statements by being unconventional compared to current norms. Throughout the novel, the character “s” is depicted in multiple forms; sometimes taking on the conventional “s” form, but also sometimes being printed as a long S that looks more like an “f.” This printing trend began to dwindle following the eighteenth century. Between the cultural switch, there were some words where the flow of calligraphy followed the shape of a modern day “s,” and several words still followed that of an “f.” The printing of this novel simply adhered to those social norms of orthography. 

Not only does the interior of this chapbook portray the textual effects of social change, but the exterior does as well. On the cover page of the novel, there is a small, handwritten “5” on the top-left corner. This handwritten “5” could represent several things: perhaps a monetary value, or perhaps a set volume in a more mass pamphlet. Either way, it is evident that this novel has had its experiences with society. The Affecting History of Louisa appears to have been worn and appreciated by previous readers. 


Textual History

The Affecting History of Louisa is a petite chapbook with an extensive title within its first pages: The Affecting History of Louisa, the Wandering Maniac, or, “Lady of the Hay-Stack;” So called, from having taken up her Residence under that Shelter, in the Village of Bourton, near Bristol, in a State of Melancholy Derangement; and supposed to be a Natural Daughter of Francis I. Emperor of Germany. A Real Tale of Woe. There is no author listed for this chapbook.

This image presents an advertisement for a drama by James Boaden titled The Maid of Bristol, which inspired the reiteration of its story via this chapbook. 

The initial ambiguity of the chapbook’s authorship stems from the fact that the original work was a French text titled L’Inconnue Histoire Véritable; moreover, English translations included many different titles and forms. George Henry Glasse, a scholar and clergyman, first translated this text into English as A Narrative of Facts. A second edition of Glasse’s translation appeared in 1801 as Louisa: A Narrative of Facts, Supposed to Throw Light on the Mysterious History of “The Lady of the Haystack.” This book was popular enough that it “quickly reached a third edition” (Vian and Ellis). There exists another edition of Glasse’s translation with yet another title, A Narrative of Facts: Supposed to Throw Light on the History of the Bristol-Stranger; Known by the Name of the Maid of the Hay-stack. Translated From the French, which includes an introduction signed by Philalethes. 

Glasse’s translations also inspired a three-act play called The Maid of Bristol, dramatized by James Boaden. Boaden was a dramatist whose works revolved around the gothic genre. While The Maid of Bristol is not well-known for its popularity today, the play is still accessible and available for purchase online. The Affecting History of Louisa, the Wandering Maniac is a shorter chapbook version of Glasse’s translation and was, in particular, “induced” by the popularity of Boaden’s play; the advertisement in this chapbook states, “Mr. Boaden having, with so much success, dramatized the following interesting Tale, under the title of ‘The Maid of Bristol,’ induced us to present the Public with the original Narrative; which we are enabled to do, from the most authentic documents” (Affecting History 6). The Affecting History of Louisa, then, arrived on the publication scene after many translations and iterations of the original French text that aims for a genuine, historically accurate account of the mystery at the center of the story: the true natural daughter of Francis I. 


Narrative Point of View

The Affecting History of Louisa is narrated from a third-person perspective. The frame narration opens and closes with an anonymous third-person narrator who presents part of Louisa’s history with an objective and occasionally empathetic tone. 

Sample of Third-Person Frame Narration:

Some few years ago, a young woman stopped at the village of Bourton, near Bristol, and begged the refreshment of a little milk, There [sic] was something so attractive in her whole appearance, as to engage the attention of all around her. (7)

This third-person frame narration also introduces two other embedded narratives. The first embedded narrative is an oral account by a man from Bristol who spoke with Louisa directly. The chapbook’s narrator explains that the “respectful gentleman in Bristol … has favoured us with some authentic memoirs” and then includes this oral account for several pages (15). The narrative demarcates the Bristol man’s oral narrative with quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph. 

Sample of Bristol Man’s Oral Narrative about Louisa: 

“I should have conceived her,” says the writer, “to be about five-and-twenty; and notwithstanding the injuries which her situation and mode of life must inevitably have occasioned in her looks, she had still a very pleasing countenance. Interesting it certainly was in a high degree; but it is not easy to say how much this impression was to be attributed to the previous knowledge of her story. She had fine, expressive, black eyes and eye-brows; her complexion was wan, but not fickly; her under jaw projected a little, and I fancied I could distinguish something of the Austrian lip; but it was not decidedly marked. Her nose had nothing particular; her hair was very dark, if not black, and in length about a year and a half’s growth, not being thick, but coming down on her forehead; her arm and hand were delicate, with small long fingers.” (9)

The Bristol man’s oral narrative ends without additional commentary from the chapbook’s frame narration. Then there is a line indicating a break in the narrative, and then an italicized description of how a French narrative was found that suggests Louisa is La Fruëlen, and that the chapbook will now include the translation of this narrative. This translated narrative is presented in the third person and focuses on La Fruëlen’s tale for the next twenty-two pages. 

Sample of Translated French Narrative of La Fruëlen’s Tale: 

When the priest came to take her from her house in Bohemia, he told her, that he was going to conduct her to a convent in France. Ignorant as she was, the little which Catharine and her mama had told her of a religious life, taught her to consider a convent as an horrible prison, from which there was no escape: and this idea had so disturbed her mind, that from the moment of her quitting her habitation in Bohemia, she had formed the project of flying, as soon as possible, from such captivity. (28)

By addressing the story with a frame narrative that includes two separately sourced tales (one an oral memoir, and one a translation from a French text), the story of Louisa becomes a type of reality or history that the reader is discovering. The frame narrative works well to connect the woman who claims to be La Fruëlen to the story of the late Emperor, as well as connecting that woman to Louisa, which ultimately connects their stories in a complete manner, defining the tragic, affecting history of Louisa. 


Summary

The first page of this chapbook.

The Affecting History of Louisa is introduced as a recent tale of woe, as the narrative begins, “Some few years ago” (7). The reader is introduced to a woman of the past, in the village of Bourton, England, who is begging for milk. She is described as being young, attractive, and elegant despite her begging state. While she is beautiful, it is evident that over the years, she has experienced hardship, sickness, exposure to the natural elements, and misery. Due to the fact that no one is aware of the nature of her origin, they call her Louisa. She is infamous for her obsessive connection to sleeping in an old haystack rather than a home. As a woman who has experienced multiple episodes of insanity, there have been multiple times when Louisa has been relocated to different hospitals and villages. Despite being relocated, she always manages to find her way back to the haystack. Louisa did not put her worth in items, but spent her days interacting with the village children and going about on her own. 

After a while in the village, she is finally relocated to the village of Bitton in Gloucestershire, England, to be supported by Miss Hannah Moore and her sisters. It seemed evident that Louisa is a foreigner, so Miss Moore attempts to find out which country she is from. Miss Hannah Moore arranges for a Bristol man to visit and speak with Louisa in different languages. First, when the man speaks French, Louisa seems confused—but when he speaks German, she becomes over-emotional. When she can finally gain her composure, she denies knowing the language. The chapbook’s third-person narrator explains that this Bristol man “favoured us with some authentic memoirs” and goes on to include several pages of the Bristol man’s account of Louisa (9). The Bristol man describes Louisa as having fine, expressive black eyes, a pale complexion, a slight jut of the jaw, dark hair, delicate features, and lips that were perhaps Austrian. The Bristol man speaks to Louisa in the way a man speaks to a child. She is not dumb, but slow. He wants to know more of Louisa’s origin. While she is very guarded, he discovers that she responds well to kindness, and he learns that she is fixated on two people called mama and papa, that she understands French, that she is amused at his German, and that she has a large mark or wound on the lower part of her head behind the ear.

This page shows the introduction to the narrative translated from French.

In the next section, the chapbook begins with italicized narration explaining that a “Narrative made its appearance on the Continent” showing “so many striking coincidences” that suggest that Louisa is actually La Fruëlen, the natural daughter of Francis I, the late Emperor of Germany (15). The narrative goes on to include the entirety of the supposed translation of this originally French narrative, which begins in 1768. The narrative first introduces the Count M. de Cobenzel, the imperial minister at Brussels. He receives a letter stating that he should not be surprised if his advice and friendship are sought after. The letter is written in French, and signed La Fruëlen from Bourdeaux. He receives other letters encouraging him to support La Fruëlen, from people such as Le Comte J. de Weissendorff from Prague and Le Comte Dietrichstein from Vienna. Cobenzel begins to write with La Fruëlen, offering his support. At the beginning of 1769, the Court of Vienna informs Versailles that La Fruëlen should be arrested and taken to Brussels to be examined by Cobenzel and the First President, M. de Neny, for being an imposter. The Court of Vienna had discovered Fruëlen’s existence because the King of Spain had received a letter encouraging him to defend her, which he then shared with the Emperor, who shared it with the Empress, who called for her arrest. 

As La Fruëlen arrives in Brussels, she is met with an unsigned letter encouraging her that there is an attempt to save her so she should not despair. Cobenzel and M. de Neny question her and her origin. They describe the woman who goes by La Fruëlen as being tall, elegantly formed, with simple and majestic brown hair, fair skin, and fine dark eyes. She also speaks French with a German accent. The two men dive into the story of her childhood. She explains how she is uncertain of her birthplace, but knows she was educated in Bohemia, and grew up in a sequestered house in the country under the care of mama, Catherine, and the priest – who opposed her learning to read and write for unstated religious reasons. She describes how a stranger in huntsmen clothes would visit periodically, and while he was a stranger to her, he seemed to know her. On one visit, she noticed a red mark on his neck, and when she questioned him about it, he explained that it was the distinction of an officer, and implied that she is the daughter of one. After their conversation, the man had to depart again, but promised to return soon. This promise was broken thereafter because he had fallen ill and could not travel. The novel goes on to explain how this is historically accurate to the life of the late Emperor. On his final visit, he leaves her with a photo of himself, the Empress, and her mother. On his departure, he makes her promise to never marry and that she will be and taken care of and happy. 

After this story, the woman called Louisa describes her departure from Bohemia. First, because she is scared to share her story in front of everyone, she conjures a grand lie that seems too good to be true. Cobenzel catches her in her lie, and she is forced to tell the truth in hopes of regaining his trust. The truth behind her departure from Bohemia is that her priest had planned for her to move to a convent, but she decided to run away instead out of fear of the stories she had heard about convents. She hid in the barn of a generous farmer who provided her with the necessities she required. She still needed to gain distance from Hamburgh, though, so she journeyed to Sweden. On this journey, she injured her head with a nasty cut and required a surgeon to heal it. She then joined a compassionate Dutch family who was journeying to Sweden as well. Once she reached Stockholm, she left the travelers and stayed in the house of a German woman. She became great friends with this woman, but one day, she overheard from her hairdresser that the imperial minister of Stockholm was wondering about an escaped girl. Her fear of poverty overcame her fear of the Convent, so she turned herself in to M. de Belgioioso. He took good care of her. He first gave her housing and money, and then he invited her into his own house for safety. Within those walls, she saw a portrait of the late Emperor Francis, and fainted. They struggled to wake her and she had a bad fever, which was almost fatal. 

The final page to this “real tale of woe.”

La Fruëlen’s story becomes tragic as she explains how her supply of financial aid was cut off suddenly, and she accumulated a great amount of debt. In order to gain support, she herself wrote the letters to the people addressed at the beginning of this explanation, including Cobenzel and the King of Spain. She claimed, however, that not all the letters were forged by her, and that several had truly been sent.

Ultimately, M. de Neny is in denial that she is in fact the daughter of the Emperor. He believes that she is truly just a merchant’s runaway daughter. M. de Neny declares that she should return to her city and face her debtors as a punishment for her lies and sins. Cobenzel disagrees, however, he is near death. The day before Cobenzel dies, he receives an anonymous letter saying not to dismiss La Fruëlen, however, the note is burned and dies with him. Four days after Cobenzel’s death, La Fruëlen is released from prison, given a little bit of money for travel, and abandoned to her wretched destiny. 

At this point, the translation of the French narrative ends and the original chapbook narration resumes. This narration explains that “poor Louisa is no more” with her death on December 19, 1801 (37). The final resolution to this tale is announced in the simple fact that Louisa was discovered under the haystack in the year 1776.


Bibliography

The Affecting History of Louisa, the Wandering Maniac. London, A. Neil, 1804.

Boeden, James. The Maid of Bristol: A Play in Three Acts. New York, Printed and Published by D. Longworth, 1803.

Glasse, G. H. A Narrative of Facts: Supposed to Throw Light on the History of the Bristol-Stranger; Known by the Name of the Maid of the Hay-stack. Translated From the French. Printed for Mr. H. Gardner, Mr. Bull, Mr. Lloyd, Messrs. Evans and Hazell, and Mr. Harward. 

Glasse, G. H. Louisa: A Narrative of Facts, Supposed to Throw Light on the Mysterious History of “The Lady of the Haystack.” P. Norbury, 1801, wellcomecollection.org/works/a4226rdm/items?canvas=5&langCode=eng&sierraId=b22021437.

L’Inconnue Histoire Véritable. 1785.

Vian, Alsager and Mari G. Ellis. “George Henry (1761–1809).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. July 9, 2020. Oxford University Press. https://doi-org.proxy01.its.virginia.edu/10.1093/ref:odnb/10803.


Researcher: Abigail Grace Kiss

Fatal Vows

Fatal Vows

Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk, a Romance

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


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


Material History

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

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

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

The frontispiece for Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Example of Third-Person Narration:

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

Example of Interpolated Oral Tale of Susanna’s Confession:

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

Example of Interpolated Tale of Rinaldo’s Letter:

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

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Brynn Jefferson

The Unfortunate Daughter

The Unfortunate Daughter

The Unfortunate Daughter: Or, the Danger of the Modern System of Female Education

Author: John Corry
Publisher: J. Corry
Publication Year: 1803
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.5cm x 17.8cm
Pages: 72
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .C674 Ed 1803 no.2


In this novella written by John Corry and published in 1803, a nobleman uses an all-female boarding school in England to seduce and subsequently elope a young woman, only to abandon her in France.


Material History

The Unfortunate Daughter: Or, the Danger of the Modern System of Female Education was written by John Corry and published on March 1, 1803. This particular printing of the story is found as the second tale in a book labeled Corry’s Tales, sandwiched between two of Corry’s other stories also published by J. Corry in September 1802 and May 1803: Edwy and Bertha; Or, the Force of the Connubial Love and Memoirs of Edward Thornton; Or, a Sketch of the Modern Dissipation in London. In this time, it was common to bind multiple books by the same author to save shelf space in libraries. This single book measures 10.5 cm wide by 17.8 cm tall and totals 192 pages, using 55 pages for Edwy and Bertha, and 72 pages each for The Unfortunate Daughter and Memoirs of Edward Thornton, respectively. The book is half-bound with a leather spine and corners framing a unique marble paper cover that features red ripples running through a black-speckled background. The spine features Corry’s Tales written horizontally in gold print on a red background with five sets of gold lines as embellishment above and below the writing. The front cover shows more signs of wear than the back cover, and the blunted corners suggest that this book was well-read in its shelf life. The inside pages are speckled, yellowed, and softened while some more intact pages retain the look of slight vertical lines like that of watercolor paper. The printing ink appears faded in some sections of the book, namely in the middle, yet it still remains readable. Also, there is one quite substantial rip on a page in The Unfortunate Daughter, although it is unclear when this rip was obtained. Overall, despite obvious signs of use, this version of Corry’s Tales is preserved in decent condition.

This page shows the graphite markings present on the inside front cover of this edition

On the inside, each story receives its own title page and detailed black and white illustration depicting a scene from within the story. In the case of Edwy and Bertha and Memoirs of Edward Thornton, the illustrations are accompanied by a quote written in cursive directing readers to a specific passage in the respective book with a page number, while the illustration before The Unfortunate Daughter lists “page 70” at the top but lacks a caption. Each story’s title page is structured in a similar way; first, it states the title and sub-title of the story, then the author’s name, followed by a quote from a famous person, and the printing information. All stories except Edwy and Bertha advertise a price of one shilling at the time they were published, equating to around $5 each in modern times. The title pages are followed by a page labeled “Advertisement.” in each story, except that of Edwy and Bertha, which feature a short summary of the story. 

Despite these three stories being originally published separately and at different times, the font, line spacing, margins, pagination, and presentation of the title pages remain consistent and unchanged in this printing of Corry’s Tales. The book features a serif font that is well-sized. The text is given plenty of space for readability in this edition of the book—the lines contain small gaps between them, there are large spaces after periods, and the margins are considerable on each side of the page. In terms of textual layout, all three stories feature clear paragraphs and the author uses double quotation marks to indicate dialogue instead of single quotation marks. All three stories include catch words, or the repetition of the last word on the preceding page at the beginning of the following page, and signature marks, or letters systematically arranged A, A1, A2, etc., on the bottom of paragraphs, so that publishers could be assured they were aligning the pages properly. The page numbers are printed inside closed parentheses at the top of each page, and the pagination starts anew at the beginning of each book after the title page or advertisement, respectively.

The newspaper clipping pressed in this edition of Corry’s Tales

This book has a fair number of markings in the front likely unique to this printing. On the back of the front cover, there are two separate annotations in graphite pencil. On the page opposite to the front cover, “Thomas Chiviley to his Sister Sarah 21 July 1808” is written in ink suggesting that this book was once owned by Thomas and given as a gift. Immediately below this, there is a graphite smudge showing the remnants of a cursive annotation currently illegible below it. Below this are more pencil markings that resemble a handmade table of contents listing the titles of the stories in the book as well as “Crosby 1803” indicating who the stories were printed for. On the right hand side of the following page, there is one more handwritten memo about Edwy and Bertha. Additionally, there is a small newspaper clipping pressed after the page with the note about Edwy and Bertha advertising the sale of another “fine copy” of one of Corry’s works titled The Gardener’s Daughter of Worcester: or, the Miseries of Seduction. A Moral Tale.


Textual History

John Corry (fl. 1792–1836), the author of The Unfortunate Daughter, was an Irish-born writer. Corry was a journalist in Dublin and later moved to London (Goodwin). In London, Corry was the editor of a periodical, a member of the Philological Society in Manchester, and a bookseller and publisher at Princess Street, Leicester Square. In his lifetime, Corry produced a broad literary canon including histories, biographies, socio-political satires, and children books. In his early career, Corry mainly focused on poetry shown through his publication of Poems (1780)and later shifted his attention towards histories, biographies, and satirical stories. Corry wrote around eight biographies of famous men including The Life of George Washington (1800) which went on to be reprinted in multiple countries. Corry’s most notable historical work is The History of Liverpool (1810), and he later went on to write at least three other histories of cities in England. As for his fiction writing, Corry wrote a variety of short tales that were typically published in series. The first-published series was Corry’s Original Tales (1798–1800) which included seven short stories. Following that, Corry produced a multitude of other series including: Friend of Youth (1797–1798), Domestic Distresses, exemplified in five pathetic original tales (1806), An Illustration of Passions; or, Man in Miniature (1798), and Tales for the Amusement of Young Persons (1802). Outside of these series, Corry wrote two stand-alone novels—A Satirical View of London (1801) and The Mysterious Gentleman Farmer (1808) (Pitcher 83–90).

The handwritten table of contents

The Unfortunate Daughter was published as a novella by Crosby and Co. in 1803, yet sources speculate that this story may have been reprinted from a previous series. It is noted in The Edinburgh Magazine, or Literary Miscellany that The Unfortunate Daughter was published in January 1803 as tale no. 5 in Corry’s Original Tales (“Books and Pamphlets Published in London in January 1803”). However, there appears to be evidence that the story later belonged to a series titled An Illustration of the Passions. This series is known to include Edwy and BerthaThe Miseries of Seduction, The Pleasures of Sympathy, and The Elopement. The second story in this series is also known as The Gardener’s Daughter of Worcester which is the story found on the newspaper clip found in the Sadleir-Black Collection’s edition of The Unfortunate Daughter. Furthermore, Pitcher speculates that this series also includes Memoirs of Edward Thornton, which appeared in a pamphlet with Edwy and Bertha published by Crosby and Co. in 1803 (Pitcher 88). Since An Illustration of the Passions is known to include the two stories that sandwich The Unfortunate Daughter in the Sadleir-Black Collection’s edition of the novella and since it is speculated that other stories belonged to this series, it is possible that The Unfortunate Daughter also belonged to this series. 

The Sadleir-Black edition of The Unfortunate Daughter lists J. Corry as the publisher of the novella on March 1, 1803. On the title page, there is a long list of people and companies who the story was printed for: B. Crosby and Co., T. Hughes and M. Jones, Tegg and Castleman, R. Ogle, J. Stuart, and C. Chapple. Most notably, the publisher B. Crosby and Co. was the publisher to whom Jane Austen sent her original manuscript of “Susan,” which was later revised to become the well-known novel Northanger Abbey (Harman). Further, this edition of The Unfortunate Daughter was printed by W. S. Betham. The frontispiece lists the name M. Betham below it, suggesting that he or she was the illustrator. 

It is unclear how many different editions of The Unfortunate Daughter there are. WorldCat lists a second edition of the novella that was published in the Baptist pamphlets. This edition has a longer title, The Unfortunate Daughter, or, the danger of the modern system of female education: containing an account of the elopement of a young English lady, with a nobleman, and a shorter length totaling 59 pages, versus the 72 pages found in the Sadleir-Black edition. It is unclear whether the discrepancy in length is due to smaller font and margins or actual textual changes. Additionally, The Unfortunate Daughter can be located on Google Books. This version parallels the appearance of the edition found in the Sadleir-Black Collection.

This page contains a note about the first tale in this book, Edwy and Bertha

This edition of The Unfortunate Daughter contains a short advertisement before the story. This functions as an introduction describing the tale’s contents briefly. Furthermore, this edition includes two quotes before the story—one on the title page and one below the advertisement. The quote on the title page is from Alexander Pope’s Epistles to Several Persons and reads: “‘Tis Education forms the common mind, Just as the twig is bent, the tree’s inclin’d.” The quote under the advertisement is from Nicholas Rowe’s The Fair Penitent and reads: “Were you, ye Fair, but cautious whom ye trust; Did you but know how seldom Fools are just; So many of your sex would not, in vain, Of broken vows and faithless men complain.” Similarly to the advertisement, both of these quotes serve as summaries of the lessons that will be taught in The Unfortunate Daughter. Furthermore, the presence of these quotes mirrors the structure found within the novella, as Corry quotes Pope again on page 2 of the story and later quotes a Robert Anderson poem on page 45.

There is no evidence of book reviews or criticisms surrounding The Unfortunate Daughter following its publication. However, some of Corry’s other works were the subject of book reviews in periodicals including Edwy and Bertha, Memoirs of Alfred Berkley, The Detector of Quackery, and The Life of Joseph Priestley. Further, despite its presence on Google Books, The Unfortunate Daughter is rarely cited by modern scholars. The novella is briefly used as an example of traditional female education believes in P. J. Miller’s journal article about women’s education in the eighteenth century (Miller 303–4). However, scholars have not entirely ignored Corry’s canon. For example, Memoirs of Edward Thornton, A Satirical View of London, and The Detector of Quackery have been analyzed as criticisms of urban London culture (Mulvihill).


Narrative Point of View

The Unfortunate Daughter is narrated in third-person by an unnamed narrator adhering to an omniscient point of view. The narration is unadorned and uses rudimentary language to convey major plot points efficiently without the need for additional linguistic flourishing. As such, the sentences are typically simple, making for a quick read. The narrator rarely dwells on characters’ feelings; rather, he focuses on moving the plot along through a series of quickly described events. Further, many sentences deftly employ modifiers to aid in presenting coherent images of different characters and settings. This passage below illustrates the unembellished language and readability of this novella:

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

Being a voluptuary who gloried in the seduction of young women, he offered Nannette five hundred a year, on condition that she should engage as governess in a boarding school for young ladies, and assist him in the seduction of the most beautiful girl entrusted to her care. The unprincipled Nannette agreed, and Mrs. V’s school was the place where the most diabolical scheme was to be carried into execution. (13)

The Unfortunate Daughter is set up as a story to illustrate the downfall of women brought about by improper education, as the narrator asserts in the first page of the novella: “Doubtless, many of the unfortunate females who are now ‘prostitute for bread’ in this metropolis, were educated with uncommon care” (5). To address this critique, the narrator briefly pauses to assert his opinion of the female education system at various points in the story. Additionally, the story intertwines various quotations from other prominent literary works. This passage provides an example of the narrator’s interjecting commentary:

Sample Passage of Narrator’s Interjections:

This is one, among many instances, of the pernicious effects of improper female education. Is there then a father or mother solicitous for the future honour and happiness of their daughter, who would entrust her into one of those modern temples of affectation, called Boarding-schools? No; rather let the loveliest part of our species be educated at home, beneath a mother’s guardian eye; or, if the mother be incompetent to the task, let a modest preceptress instruct the blooming girl, beneath that paternal roof, where seduction will not presume to appear, under the assumed name of refinement. This mode of education will preserve the morals of the virgin, and be particularly useful and practicable among those in the middle classes of society; as girls can not only make a regular process in useful and ornamental knowledge, which renders beauty even more amiable; but they may also be initiated in those early-acquired arts of domestic economy, peculiar to their sex. (34–35)

The editorial omniscient point of view gives the narrator substantial power to shape the story as he pleases. Since the novella begins as a warning about female education that will be displayed through a story, The Unfortunate Daughter reads as a cautionary tale with a concrete lesson to be learned, rather than a story picked up for the mere pleasure of reading. The quick, simple sentences also reflect this admonitory tone highlighting that the narrator’s primary goal is to relay his warning without any chance for errors in misinterpretation that could be caused by any ornate diction. Moreover, the supplementary quotations from outside literary works aid readers’ understanding of the narrator’s overarching message. Furthermore, the lack of insight about characters’ inner thoughts emphasizes the story’s focus of demonstrating the dangers that actions, not emotions, can cause in a young woman’s life. The narrator’s commentary, as presented above, also serves to add a satirical edge to The Unfortunate Daughter


The frontispiece and title page for The Unfortunate Daughter

Summary

The Unfortunate Daughter recounts the story of Eliza Meanwell, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Meanwell. The family lives in the countryside of England. Eliza has three sisters, Nancy, Maria, and Emma, and she is said to be the most beautiful and talented of them all. Mrs. Meanwell believes that boarding school will provide a worthwhile education for Eliza and persuades Mr. Meanwell to let her attend a boarding school. Mr. Meanwell abides, and Eliza is sent off to an unnamed boarding school owned by Mrs. V. 

A sample page from the novella depicting the generous amount of space given to the text

At school, Eliza begins learning French from her teacher named Nannette Racemier. It is revealed that Nannette used to be married to a man named Lord Wiseacre who later divorced her because she was too spritely. Despite their divorce, Lord Wiseacre offered Nannette a sum to teach at the boarding school to find and seduce an appropriate young woman to be his suitor. Upon Eliza’s arrival, Nannette finds her suitable for Lord Wiseacre and takes Eliza under her wing as her pupil. In addition to teaching Eliza French, she encourages Eliza to take up music, dancing, and jumping rope, as Nannette believes that success in these domains makes women more prone to seduction. 

After two years at school, Eliza has grown into a fine, young woman. Nannette gains the headmaster’s permission to leave campus with Eliza on special field trips and decides to take Eliza to the theatre. Here, they run into Lord Wiseacre who later offers the pair a ride back to school; instead, he takes them to his palace where he confesses his love for Eliza and asks for her hand in marriage. Eliza is bashful and intrigued by the offer, but worries about what her dad would think of the proposal. After reflection, Eliza agrees to see Lord Wiseacre again, but the pair does not wed immediately. Back at the boarding school, Nannette continues prepping Eliza to be vulnerable to seduction. In her pursuit, Nannette brings Eliza to an Imperial Female Society meeting, which calls for equality between the sexes, and she later instructs Eliza to read romance novels and to look at scandalous drawings in hopes of brewing her sexuality. 

Just as Eliza is deemed ready to elope, Mrs. Meanwell surprisingly comes to the boarding school to take Eliza home. Eliza is upset, and once at home, she acts pretentious, speaks to her family in French, and asks for a special room to conduct her music and dance. Presumably after some time has elapsed, Nannette goes to the Meanwell’s home. Here, she declares that she quit her job at the boarding school and bears news that Lord Wiseacre has a plan for them to escape to Margate via ship and get married there. The next morning, Eliza runs off with Nannette, and they meet Lord Wiseacre at the predetermined meeting space and set sail. However, Lord Wiseacre does not steer the ship to Margate; instead, they land in Dunkirk, France. 

Once in Dunkirk, Lord Wiseacre bribes a poor man to pretend to officiate their wedding. Now, Eliza and Lord Wiseacre are “married,” though Eliza does not realize this trick yet. At this point in the book, the narrator intervenes to warn the readers about the dangers of female education in a boarding school, rather than traditional domestic education in their paternal home. The narrator claims that boarding schools offer the promise of refinement of character, which really means that boarding schools make woman more prone to seduction. 

An advertisement printed before the story giving a brief overview of its plot

After this interlude, Eliza finds a note from Lord Wiseacre that admits his intentions with Eliza revealing that they were never legally married. Further, he advises her to leave him and gives her money to spend on her return home. Eliza runs off and takes shelter at a widow’s house in the French countryside. The widow, whose name is Christine, agrees to shelter Eliza temporarily, as Eliza does not want to return home and face the shame of her parents. Christine attempts to make her feel better by relaying the tragic story of her dead husband, Andre, and her two believed-to-be-dead sons, Henry and James. According to Christine, Andre died before the revolution, leaving only her sons to support her with their farm work. Unfortunately, Henry and James got heavily involved in politics and enlisted in the French army during the revolution. After some time away, Christine received word that both her sons had passed in war. As a result, she is left to live out her days alone. 

After some time has passed, it is revealed that Eliza is pregnant which provides further incentive to avoid her childhood home. Meanwhile, Mr. Meanwell searches for Eliza all over England and even submits missing person information to local newspapers without any avail, as Eliza is in France not England. Back at Christine’s, someone knocks on the door, and it happens to be Henry with his wife, Fatima, which is revealed later. Henry tells Christine that he was sent to Egypt and recounts stories of multiple battles and horrific scenes that he encountered in his time abroad at war. During a battle in Egypt, Henry prevents his troops from killing an enemy soldier. At this point, the enemy introduces himself as Amurath and expresses his gratitude to Henry by surrendering himself as Henry’s prisoner. Soon after, Amurath introduced Henry to his wife and his daughter, Fatima, at a feast. Having grown fond of Henry, Amurath told him that if he were to die in combat, he would entrust Henry with his estate and the lives of his wife and Fatima. Soon after this, Amurath died in an intense battle, leading Henry to sell his estate, move back to France with Amurath’s wife and daughter, and marry Fatima. The couple presumably leaves Christine’s house after telling this story.

In the winter, Eliza gives birth to a baby boy who dies just a few days later. Eliza falls into a depressive episode, and her health eventually resolves by the spring. Christine convinces Eliza to return home, and Eliza abides; however, Eliza reneges upon her return to England and seeks out shelter with a farmer not far from her childhood home. She passes some months here, and one day coincidentally runs into her father on a walk. Her father forgives her, and she lives at home for a while. Ultimately though, her parents send her to live out her life with a distant relative elsewhere in England.


Bibliography

“Books and Pamphlets Published in London in January 1803.” The Edinburgh Magazine, Or Literary Miscellany, 1785-1803, 1803, pp. 141–44.

Corry, John. The Unfortunate Daughter: Or, the Danger of the Modern System of Female Education. London, J. Corry, 1803. 

Goodwin, Gordon. “Corry, John (fl. 1792-1836), writer.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept. 23, 2004, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/6357. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019. 

Harman, Claire. “Jane Austen (1775–1817).” British Writers, Retrospective Supplement 2, edited by Jay Parini, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002, pp. 1–16. Literature Resource Center, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX1383100011/LitRC?u_viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=342fce08. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019. 

Miller, P.J. “Women’s Education, ‘Self-Improvement’ and Social Mobility—A Late Eighteenth Century Debate.” British Journal of Educational Studies, vol. 20, no. 3, Taylor & Francis, Ltd., Oct. 1972, pp. 302-314, DOI: 10.2307/3120775. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019. 

Mulvihill, James D. “Romantic London: John Corry and the Georgic City.” Studies in the Literary Imagination, vol. 40, no. 1, 2007, Literature Resource Center, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A180642018/LitRC?u=viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=0215b794. Accessed 27 Oct. 2019. 

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


Researcher: Maddie Steele

Koenigsmark the Robber

Koenigsmark the Robber

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

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


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


 Material History

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

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

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

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

Frontispiece and title page for Koenigsmark the Robber

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Lucy E. Gilbert