Fatal Vows

Fatal Vows

Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk, a Romance

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


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


Material History

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

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

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

The frontispiece for Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Example of Third-Person Narration:

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

Example of Interpolated Oral Tale of Susanna’s Confession:

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

Example of Interpolated Tale of Rinaldo’s Letter:

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

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Brynn Jefferson

Lucretia

Lucretia

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

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


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


Material History

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

The title page for Lucretia.

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The frontispiece for Lucretia.

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Dorothea Starr LeBeau

The Convent of Saint Usurla

The Convent of Saint Usurla

The Convent of Saint Usurla, or Incidents at Ottagro. An Italian Romance.

Author: Unknown, but abridged from a Sarah Wilkinson novel
Publisher: John Arliss
Publication Year: 1809
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11cm x 18cm
Pages: 40
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.C664 1809


In this abridged version of Sarah Wilkinson’s 1807 novel “The Fugitive Captive,” Magdalena retells the story of the peculiar circumstances in which she has been forced to escape her mysterious husband, the Count de Ottagro.


Material History

The Convent of Saint Usurla, or Incidents at Ottagro. An Italian Romance was published in London on August 22, 1809 with no named author. The full title appears only on the title page; in the header of every other page, it appears only as The Convent of Saint Usurla. It is important to note the spelling of Usurla, not Ursula, in the title. The reason for this misspelling seems to be intentional, as it appears in that form throughout the book; however, the reasoning is unknown. In addition, printing and publishing credit appears on the bottom of the frontispiece and title page, as well as the final page of the book and indicates both printer and publisher to be John Arliss at Bartholomew-Close.  

The title page for The Convent of Saint Usurla

The book is fairly small in size (18 x 11 cm) and without a cover, aside from the title page. This is consistent with the fact that it is likely from an inexpensive chapbook with several other stories. Additionally, the book is disbound. It is precariously held together by thread, evidenced by three small puncture holes on the interior of the pages which it is wound through. On one page, a small fragment of the thread pokes out. Furthermore, the pages are yellowed in an uneven quality throughout the book and scalloped around the edges. Some pages are shorter in width than others. This low quality in binding and appearance can be attributed to its nature as an economical source of entertainment for the public.   

Upon opening the book, one is met with two illustrations. There is a large (13 x 8 cm) illustration on the frontispiece and a smaller (3.5 x 5.5 cm) one on the title page. Both are black and white depictions of scenes from the book. There is a slight reverse image transfer from the large frontispiece illustration onto the adjacent title page. This is due to the differing properties in ink from the two pages. 

The remaining forty pages relay the story of The Convent of Saint Usurla. The text is closely set and fairly small with margins ranging from 1.5 to 2 cm. There are few paragraph indentations, leading to long blocks of uninterrupted text which give the page a crowded appearance. Some pages present words that are precise and clearly distinguishable, while others have ink globs and letters that appear fuzzy. This particular copy of the book has no post-production markings other than one small dark yellow rectangular stain on pages 20 and 21, most likely from a previous owner leaving a scrap of paper in the book for a long period of time. 

At the bottom of various pages, there are signature marks. In the production process, multiple pages were printed on the same large roll of paper which then needed to be folded in the correct order. These signature marks assisted the printers in the folding and binding of the text. Such signature marks appear on pages 3, 5, 15, 19, 25, 27, and 37 and are labeled B, B2, C, C3, D, D3, and E, respectively. Interestingly, each section under a particular signature mark, has a different paper and ink quality than those surrounding it. For example, the paper in signature mark section D is of a visibly lower quality than section C3. Despite the presence of these signature marks, a mistake in the folding of this copy was discovered which led to duplicate copies of pages 25 and 26.  


Textual History

In addition to the copy in the Sadlier-Black Collection at the University of Virginia, The Convent of Saint Usurla, or, Incidents at Ottagro. An Italian Romance (1809) can be found in various forms. For instance, in 2017, a copy of the chapbook was digitized to Google Books by the British National Library. It appears to be the same chapbook edition published by John Arliss, even exhibiting the same mistakes in page numbering. Additionally, the story was republished in Literary Mushrooms: Tales of Horror and Fiction from the Gothic Chapbooks, 1800–1830 by Franz J. Potter in 2009 with the author listed as Sarah Wilkinson. Likewise, a 2004 reprint by the Zittaw Press publishing company lists Sarah Wilkinson as the author as well. 

The reason for this ambiguity regarding the author comes from the fact that the brief chapbook story is an abridged version of the full-length novel, The Fugitive Countess or, Convent of Saint Ursula (1807) by Sarah Wilkinson. Sections of the chapbook story are pulled directly from the novel, with a few small changes. One alteration is the name change of “Ursula” in the novel, which has been printed as “Usurla” in the chapbook. Similarly, the name “Ottagio” in the novel is slightly altered to “Ottagro” in the chapbook. It is unknown if Sarah Wilkinson herself abridged her novel into the chapbook released in 1809, or if it was plagiarized by a counterfeiter, which was a common practice in the day (Frank 142). 

As aforementioned, The Fugitive Countess (1807), written by Sarah Wilkinson and published by J.P. Hughes, is a four-volume novel that expands upon the short chapbook story The Convent of Saint Usurla (1809). There do not appear to be any critical reviews of the novel or chapbook at the time of original publication; however, The Fugitive Countess is found to be advertised in newspapers. For example, the novel is mentioned under the section “New Novels, just published” in the London based newspaper Morning Post on June 12, 1807. Also, in the Morning Post, it is listed as number six in the “Popular novels/Romances” section on January 1, 1808 which indicates that it was at least marginally popular.

Despite the few mentions of the novel at the time of its release, The Fugitive Countess has received some scholarly critical analysis in recent years. In his work, The History of Gothic Publishing, 1800–1835: Exhuming the Trade, Franz Potter notes a striking similarity between Clementina’s interpolated tale from The Fugitive Countess and one of Wilkinson’s previous chapbooks, The Wife of Two Husbands, which was itself an adaptation of a theater musical. He asserts that in the novel, Wilkinson, “drew from other popular themes found in Gothic novels, most notably from Eliza Parsons’s The Mysterious Warning” (128). Despite these similarities, The Fugitive Countess appears to be a legitimate, original novel that was only heavily influenced by popular Gothic works of the time, not plagiarized (History of Gothic Publishing 120).     

A signature mark is shown at the bottom of this page

Nowadays, The Fugitive Countess can be found digitized in the Corvey Collection, a massive collection of European literature from 1790–1840 (Behrendt). It can also be found in, English Language Women’s Literature of the18th & 19th Centuries published by Belser Wissenschaftlicher Dienst in 2004. This republishing of The Fugitive Countess, along with other recent republishings of its chapbook version, may be attributed to the revival of interest in Gothic chapbooks, and author Sarah Wilkinson herself in recent years, as “a case study of middling to lower-class female authorship during the early nineteenth century” (Hoeveler 184). 

A well-known chapbook author of her day, Sarah Carr Wilkinson (1779–1831) was the author of over one-hundred chapbooks, gothic novels, and abridged versions of plays, operas, and popular gothic novels—making her one of the most prolific writers of her genre (“Writing for the Spectre of Poverty” 23). Early on, Wilkinson’s writing career began with children’s books, but she soon transitioned primarily to writing short Gothic chapbooks, also called bluebooks, and full-length novels (Hughes 253). Wilkinson produced many more chapbooks, which were cheaply constructed and sold, than novels. Ultimately, chapbooks were a more profitable venture for her, and writing was her primary source of income (“Writing for the Spectre of Poverty” 23). Her most active and successful years were between 1803 and 1812, in which she received modest popularity in her genre (History of Gothic Publishing 116). Unfortunately, despite her relative popularity in the chapbook scene, Wilkinson “never had the comfort of literary or economic success” and faced a life-long struggle against poverty (“Writing for the Spectre of Poverty” 18). Her financial concerns intensified around 1820, which is exemplified in the many petitions (and denials) for financial assistance from the Royal Literary Fund (History of Gothic Publishing 113). In 1824, after being diagnosed with breast cancer, her plea for assistance was finally granted. The petition was endorsed by several of her publishers and cites, “a depression in the Book trade” as a reason for her need of assistance. This interesting inclusion indicates the waning popularity of the genre that had once sustained her. Unfortunately, Wilkinson’s health and financial situations both continued to deteriorate, culminating in 1831 when she passed away in a London workhouse (History of Gothic Publishing 113–15). 

Currently, there are varying opinions on the merit of Wilkinson as a serious author. Some of her harshest critics have gone as far as to assert that she engaged in “Gothic counterfeiting” (Frank 142). Others have called her a “‘hack’ writer” who pumped out contrived, formulaic stories for the sole purpose of making money (Hoeveler 184). On the other hand, more generous critics admit that Wilkinson wrote to sustain herself and often employed “recycled scenes and motifs” from the genre, even as some argue that her works also show an “ability to construct clear and simple story lines free from dense subplotting that often encumbered Gothic novels” and are important in that they “uniquely show the amalgamation of the bluebook and the novel” (History of Gothic Publishing 116, 130).


Narrative Point of View

The Convent of Saint Usurla is told in two alternating perspectives. Primarily, the novel is written from a third-person point of view. The narrator is unspecified, but omniscient to all of the characters’ thoughts, feelings, and actions. The chapbook is written in a fairly formal style, frequently employs long sentences, and often delves into the interiority of the protagonists. In contrast to this style of writing, the novel also has several interpolated tales inserted throughout which are written in a first-person perspective. These tales extend for many pages at a time and function to recount relevant past events. Since they are told from an individual’s perspective, they are limited to only this character’s point of view. Despite this, however, they are imbued with a great level of detail and highly specific dialogue.   

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

On this occasion the count visited Tivoli; and having remained there a few days, escorted his daughter to the convent, to the regret of her governess, who did not give her assent to this visit. The journey was delightful to Magdalena: everything was novel, consequently pleasing to her youthful mind; and she chatted with the utmost gaiety. The count could not withhold his love and admiration; but her presence forcibly reminded him of the injury he had done to her, and the necessity of preserving his own reputation unblemished. (7–8)

This passage from near the beginning of the novel demonstrates the omniscient qualities of the third-person point of view. In this case, this narrative perspective functions to give the reader a sense of the motivations of the characters which justify their subsequent actions in the story. 

Sample Passage of First-Person Narration in an Interpolated Tale:

A few days after this I was ordered to receive Ottagro as my husband. Such was my desperation, that being left alone with the count, I, on my knees, confessed my prior marriage, and its consequences, beseeching him not to betray me, but to form some pretext for preventing our approaching union. He raised me in his arms. “You have acted,” said he, “with honorable candour, never shall your confidence be betrayed. Lenardo’s widow must be my bride. If I act in conformity to your wishes your father will seek another alliance; the next suitor may not act with the same generosity as myself. Let me, in the character of husband, be your defender from ill.” (26) 

This passage is from Clementina de Lusini’s interpolated tale in which she recounts her backstory to Magdalena. A first-person perspective is important here because the readers are not given all aspects of the story, only the parts known to Clementina, herself. Due to this, the reader does not receive all relevant information until the end when all of the stories connect together. In addition, the interpolated tale format creates a non-chronological sequence of events. These elements propel the story forward and create mystery that can only be resolved by fully completing the novel. 


Summary

The chapbook, The Convent of Saint Usurla, begins in the middle of an action-packed scene in which the protagonist, Magdalena, the Countess de Ottagro, closely escapes imminent death at the hand of her husband, the Count de Ottagro. Upon fleeing, Magdalena and her maid, Laura, take refuge in the Convent of Saint Usurla where her loving aunt Viola is the Abbess. With this, the novel goes back in time in order to tell the story of how Magdalena came to be in this situation. 

As a young girl, Magdalena lost her mother and thus received a sheltered upbringing by her father, the Count de Verona. The Count de Verona was from an esteemed family in Tivoli; however, he was a gambler and managed to gamble away all of his money, as well as Magdalena’s inheritance. Due to this, Magdalena has no dowry, and thus little prospect for a favorable marriage. To avoid this problem, the Count de Verona wants Magdalena to become a nun and sends her to the Convent of Saint Usurla for a visit. Here, Magdalena becomes close to her Aunt Viola and makes friends, coming to appreciate the convent as she considers taking the oath.

While, at the convent, Magdalena meets the Count de Ottagro, who is a wealthy nobleman and friend of her father’s. The Count takes a liking to her, though she feels impartial, and two continue to meet. Suspecting his marital intentions and questioning his character, Aunt Viola expresses her disapproval of these meetings to Magdalena’s father. In response, the Count de Verona removes Magdalena from the convent and transfers her to the Castle de Ottagro. 

At the Castle de Ottagro, Magdalena spends several weeks with her father, the Count de Ottagro, and his cold sister, Lady Jacintha. In this time, Magdalena also grows close to the Lusini family—the amiable daughter Angelina and handsome son Ernestus—who live nearby; however, this is disapproved of as a bad blood exists between the Count de Ottagro and the Lusini’s for some unknown reason. In addition, Magdalena passes her time secretly reading in the castle library, in which she is forbidden. One late night in the library, Magdalena briefly sees a mysterious woman in white, and she flees in terror. The next day, Magdalena returns to the library and finds a mysterious note, addressed to her, which warns her of some unspecified danger. 

Soon after this strange occurrence, the Count de Verona orders Magdalena to marry the Count de Ottagro. He says that by doing this, Ottagro will erase the gambling debts that he has incurred and will even give him a future loan. At first, Magdalena rejects the idea since she is suspicious of Ottagro. However, the Count de Verona threatens suicide, so she ultimately agrees. The next morning, Magdalena unhappily accepts the Count de Ottagro’s marriage proposal, and the wedding ceremony is set for two weeks’ time. 

The frontispiece for The Convent of Saint Usurla

In the interim, one-night Magdalena spots the Count de Ottagro and his sister, Lady Jacintha, carrying a covered basket to the library. There, the two open a hidden trapdoor and descend. Now, Magdalena is highly wary of her groom-to-be and suspects that there is a secret prisoner in the library. Nevertheless, she proceeds with the marriage. 

A few weeks later, on a night in which the Count de Ottagro is out of town and Lady Jacintha is sick, Magdalena returns to the library and opens the trap door. She descends down a staircase and a long passage where she then reaches a locked door. Disappointed, Magdalena starts to return to the surface; however, Lady Jacintha’s maid Thomasine finds her. Magdalena fears that Thomasine will turn her in, but instead she unlocks the door to reveal the secret. Inside, there is a small child and a dying woman who is identified as Clementina de Lusini—the first wife of the Count de Ottagro.  

At this point, the dying Clementina de Lusini retells the story of how she came to be imprisoned in the library dungeon in the Castle de Ottagro. As a teen, Clementina fell in love with Lenardo di Orizzi, the son of her father’s arch nemesis. She was forbidden to marry him, but the two secretly eloped. Soon, their elopement was discovered by Lenardo’s family and because of this, he was sent far away to war where he was killed in action. After this devastating tragedy, Clementina discovered that she was pregnant. Fortunately, her family was scheduled to go on a long trip without her, during which she gave birth to a baby boy. She called him Lenardo and gives him to her doctor and his wife to raise. The doctor and his family, including young Lenardo, then moved to England.  

Ignorant to all of the events that had taken place, Clementina’s family returned from their trip with a friend, the Count de Ottagro. Thinking her lover to be dead, Clementina married the Count de Ottagro, but before long, her guilty conscience prompted her to tell the Count of everything that had occurred. Surprisingly, the Count de Ottagro accepted her admission, but over time grew resentful and unkind. After some time, Clementina became pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl, Adeline, but the Count de Ottagro remained unhappy, as he wanted a male heir. 

After several years, Clementina visited her family’s mansion, where she found Lenardo, her lover, to be alive and well. Apparently, he was not sent away to war, but imprisoned by his father for his indiscretion and declared dead to the world. Upon the recent death of his father, he was freed. However happy, Clementina was also greatly troubled at this news, as she had already remarried.

Almost immediately, the Count de Ottagro discovered that Lenardo was alive, and he and Clementina have met. With this knowledge, he accused Clementina of plotting to murder him and took her to the dungeon under his library. There she found Lenardo and her maid, Drusilla, who was imprisoned as an accomplice to Clementina’s perceived betrayal. In a rage, Ottagro murdered Lenardo and Drusilla, and Clementina was devastated. The Count de Ottagro realized that he cannot free Clementina as she could expose him; however, he also does not want to kill her. As a result, he faked her and their daughter’s deaths and imprisons them in the library dungeon where they have been for the last five years. Soon after relaying this story, Clementina dies. 

Soon after this wild discovery, the Count de Ottagro grows suspicious that Magdalena has uncovered his secret. Under pressure, she admits. The Count threatens Magdalena, but ultimately swears her to secrecy. Two years pass by with this arrangement, when one-night Magdalena sees the Count de Ottagro smuggle a teen boy into the library dungeon. She secretly enters the dungeon and discovers that it is Clementina’s son, Lenardo. Lenardo tells her that he was raised in England by his adopted family, but upon growing older was told of his true past. On hearing this, he vowed to take revenge on Ottagro and started heading for Italy. However, all of this time, the Count de Ottagro kept tabs on the boy, so he was intercepted on his journey and imprisoned. With the help of Magdalena, Lenardo manages to escape and arrives safely at the Lusini home. The Count de Ottagro discovers this and, furious, he nearly kills Magdelena. However, Magdalena escapes and flees to the Convent to take refuge. This is where the various timelines of the novel converge.  

Fearing exposure, the Count de Ottagro rapidly flees the castle when his carriage crashes and he dies. Magdelena is now free from the evil Count de Ottagro and she and the handsome Lusini son, Ernestus, get married. 


Bibliography

Behrendt, Stephen C. “European Literature, 1790–1840: The Corvey Collection.” Gale Primary Sources: Nineteenth Century Collections Online. https://go-gale-com.proxy01.its.virginia.edu/ps/aboutThisCollection?userGroupName=viva_uva&inPS=true&mCode=4UVC&prodId=NCCO

The Convent of Saint Usurla, or, Incidents at Ottagro. An Italian Romance. London, John Arliss, 1809. 

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

Hoeveler, Diane Long. “More Gothic Gold: the Sadleir-Black chapbook collection at the University of Virginia library.” Papers on Language & Literature, vol. 46, no. 2, 2010, pp. 164–193. 

Hughes, William. Historical Dictionary of Gothic Literature, Scarecrow Press, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central. https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.proxy01.its.virginia.edu/lib/uva/detail.action?docID=1144297

“Multiple Classified Ads.” Morning Post [London], Issue 11322, June 12, 1807, p. 2. Gale Primary Sources: British Library Newspapers.

“Multiple Classified Ads.” Morning Post [London], Issue 11503, Jan. 1, 1808, p. 4. Gale Primary Sources: British Library Newspapers.

Potter, Franz. The History of Gothic Publishing, 18001835: Exhuming the Trade. Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Potter, Franz. ‘Writing for the Spectre of Poverty: Exhuming Sarah Wilkinson’s Bluebooks and Novels.” Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text, issue 11, 2003, pp. 17–34.

Wilkinson, Sarah. The Fugitive Countess or, Convent of Saint Ursula. London, J.P. Hughes, 1807.


Researcher: Samantha K. Venables

Mary, the Maid of the Inn

Mary, the Maid of the Inn

Mary, the Maid of the Inn: or the Secrets of the Ruins; A Melancholy and Interesting Narrative; shewing the singular way in which she discovered her lover to be both a Robber and a Murderer; with an account of his Trial, Conviction, and Execution: Together with her madness and forlorn wanderings, until she is found frozen to death: to which is added, the celebrated recitation.

Author: Unknown
Publisher: Orlando Hodgson
Publication Year: 1822
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 6.5cm x 10.8cm
Pages: 24
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .M353 n.d.


Featuring themes of superstition, mental illness and moral dilemmas, this 1822 chapbook—adapted from a popular Robert Southey poem—follows Mary as she uncovers the terrible crimes of her betrothed and goes mad.


Material History

Found in the Sadleir-Black Collection at the University of Virginia is a copy of Mary, the Maid of the Inn: or the Secrets of the Ruins; A Melancholy and Interesting Narrative; shewing the singular way in which she discovered her lover to be both a Robber and a Murderer; with an account of his Trial, Conviction, and Execution: Together with her madness and forlorn wanderings, until she is found frozen to death: to which is added, the celebrated recitation. On the following page the title appears simply as Mary, the Maid of the Inn: or the Secrets of the Ruins. Throughout the book at the header of every page the title is shortened again and printed only as Mary, the Maid of the Inn.

The fold-out illustration and title page for Mary, the Maid of the Inn

This 24-page chapbook measures 6.5 cm by 10.8 cm and is coverless, with the thread-bound spine exposed. The title page lists the publishing location as London and the publisher as Orlando Hodgson, Maiden Lane. No author is listed throughout the text.

Of particular note is the fold-out color illustration at the front, preceding the title page, which when extended, measures 21.2 cm by 16.4 cm. In this image, a female figure, presumably Mary, stands in the foreground of an exterior setting, expressing horror upon observing in the background two gentlemen carrying a limp body. The illustration is captioned with the shortened title, Mary the Maid of the Inn and some illegible writing underneath that seems to have been cut off in the printing process. The image appears to have been printed lopsided on the page. The folding lines on the illustration page are made so that the image folds in on itself and fits the size of the chapbook, thus it is protected from view when the book is closed.

The interior pages of the text feature a small font, with margins ranging from 1 to 1.4 cm in size. The text is justified and appears in noticeably long paragraphs, leaving very little white space in between.

Existing front cover of Mary, the Maid of the Inn with markings

The chapbook features minimal handwriting. Most notable is the date “1822”written in calligraphy on the blank front (on the opposing side of the illustration)—this is likely the date of publication. Other handwritings include the word “Romance”written in pencil (presumably by someone else) on the front page as well as some number-letter combinations – perhaps old library call numbers which appear to be in the same handwriting as the date.

At the bottom of page 23, the words “Plummer and Brewis, Printers, Love Lane, Eastcheap” appear. The following page, which is not numbered, recites Robert Southey’s popular poem Mary, the Maid of the Inn otherwise known simply as Mary. The recitation appears in a smaller font than the rest of the book and is set in two columns with a bordering line between.

This chapbook features an additional story after the recitation of Mary, the Maid of the Inn called Durward and Isabelle. This story has no title page (though there is evidence it may have been ripped out) and lists no author. The paper seems to be a lighter color and the format of this additional text differs from Mary, the Maid of the Inn, suggesting it was bound to the original at a later date, baring no evidence that it is in any way related to the first. It is bound by thread, is half detached from Mary the Maid of the Inn, and along the spine is attached what appears to be matted hair—possibly part of the original binding. Remnants of the original book cover also appear on the spine.

Overall, this copy of Mary the Maid of the Inn appears frail, though remarkably intact. It is only its binding to Durward and Isabelle which appears to be failing and remains attached only by a single thread.


Textual History

Mary, the Maid of the Inn first appeared as a ballad published in a newspaper by the celebrated poet laureate and author Robert Southey at the turn of the nineteenth century. Following the initial printing, the poem was republished in many other periodicals and newspapers. It was so popular that it was adapted and mass-produced into chapbooks from multiple printers and publishers and even dramatized into plays. There is no evidence that Southey himself ever wrote any version of these adaptations. More likely, one chapbook publisher produced it and many others copied the storyline to their liking. Southey posits that perhaps the poem’s popularity is due to the meter used throughout, which he adapted from “Mr Lewis’s Alonzo and Imogene” (“Poetical Works” 404). He is, of course, here referring to the celebrated gothic author, Matthew Lewis. According to Southey, the idea for the poem transpired after a schoolboy told him a story that was said to be true and was also recorded in ‘Dr Plot’s “History of Staffordshire”’ (“Poetical Works” 404).

Robert Southey’s original poem, appended to Mary, the Maid of the Inn

During his active years as a poet, Southey made clear his support for the French Revolution and socialism through works such as Joan of Arc (Carnall). At one stage, he even considered emigrating to the United States of America to start a pantisocracy—a society where everyone is equal in social status and responsibility (Carnall).

While the Sadleir-Black Collection holds at least three other mid-nineteenth­-century chapbook copies of this narrative, none are exactly the same and all have different publishers. The long titles have slight variations and none of the narratives are entirely consistent, with many altered details such as character names and places. This, along with the variety of publishers and editions, suggests that unlike the poem, the longer narrative of Mary, the Maid of the Inn was not written by Southey.

This particular edition published by Orlando Hodgson in 1822 is also unique in its inclusion of original poetry throughout the text. Although all three copies have different publishers, one of the other copies includes an almost identical fold-out color illustration both done by the same illustrator, John Lewis Marks, recognizable by the matching signature on each image. There is little information available on this illustrator, although some of his works appear in the National Portrait Gallery. All three copies include appendices of Southey’s original poem, which in this edition appears on the final page headed “Recitation.”

The play held in the Sadlier-Black collection titled The Innkeeper’s Daughter: A Melo-Drama, in Two Acts presents an even looser adaptation of the poem, whereby the characters have different names, the setting is completely different with a German theme with German character names and German phrases throughout (Soane).

Other adaptations of Robert Southey’s poem, Mary, the Maid of the Inn, held in the Sadleir-Black Collection:

The History of Mary, the Maid of the Inn: A Melancholy and Affecting Narrative: Detailing her Unfortunate Attachment, her Singular Courage, and Showing the Miraculous Manner in which she Discovers her Lover to be both a Robber and a Murderer: with an Account of his Trial and Execution; and also Describing the Forlorn Wanderings of the Unfortunate Mary, who Became a Wretched Maniac, and was found Frozen to Death on her Mother’s Grave. From the Celebrated Poem by Robert Southey which is here also added.
Publisher: Thomas Richardson
Year: Unknown
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: DA539 .L56 1837 no.6

The Innkeeper’s Daughter: A Melo-Drama, in Two Acts.
Publisher: Neal & Mackenzie, 201 Chestnut Street
Year: 1828
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PS630 .C52 R4 1828 no.5

Mary, the Maid of the Inn, or the Murder at the Abbey.
Publisher: J. Johnson, 15a, Kirkgate.
Year: 1850
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PR5464 .M37 1850x


Narrative Point of View

Although Mary, the Maid of the Inn is primarily written in the third person, there are some instances when the narrator uses personal pronouns that indicate a first-person perspective. The identity of the narrator, however, remains a mystery. The narrative seems rushed; while the narrator spends a lot of time describing the characters, a lot less time is spent describing the action. There is an excessive use of semicolons, creating very long sentences, many of which make up entire paragraphs. The structure of dialogue is inconsistent; in some sections, the dialogue is contained in quotation marks which are repeated at the beginning of each line on which the dialogue continues, where in other parts the dialogue is written more like a script, with the character stated before the dialogue and no quotation marks. Throughout the narrative, the narrator refers to the characters with different names. For example, John Simpson is also referred to as “Mr Simpson,” “Goodman Simpson,” “Master Simpson,” and simply “Simpson” in different sections of the text.

Two-page spread from Mary, the Maid of the Inn

Sample Passage:

KATHLEEN, the cherished rib of mine host of the Wheatsheaf, was a masculine, sour looking female, robust and corpulent, with a ruddy complexion, borrowed from the brandy bottle, and carotty hair; a woman, with whom good humour had long since shaken hands, and parted; indeed, it is strongly suspected that she left her whole stock of it, which never was much, with the parson the day she became a wife; yet to be frequenters of her house, she was all complaisance and subserviency; and acted towards them with an overstrained civility, bordering on meanness. (5)

This excerpt exemplifies the lengthy, colorful, descriptive language used throughout the text, prioritizing description of character over narrative action. The narrator here uses many commas and semicolons rather than any periods, which increases the pace of the narrative. Kathleen’s name, much like the other characters introduced in the text, is printed in all caps. Moreover, the narrator uses the pronoun “mine” in a passage that otherwise reads as third-person narration, suggesting some narrative intimacy with the characters. At once, the narrator’s assessment of Kathleen is rather savage.


Summary

Subsequent title page of Mary, the Maid of the Inn

Mary, the Maid of the Inn opens with a description of an Inn in northern England named Wheatsheaf. The innkeeper is John Simpson, who, though he appears to run the inn, comes second in command to his wife, Kathleen Simpson, who is masculine and sour looking. Their only daughter, Mary, is alluring in her beauty and she is betrothed to Richard Jarvis, who although handsome and seemingly respectable, is known to many others as having an “idle turn” and being “dissolute in his morals” (8).

One stormy night, two horsemen come to Wheatsheaf seeking shelter. They are welcomed in and treated with special care due to their gentlemanly appearance. Once settled, Mrs. Simpson entertains the gentlemen with the history of the deserted monk abbey not far from the inn. She tells them stories she has heard of ghosts frequenting the abbey. One of the gentlemen knows the stories but both gentlemen remain sceptical on the truth behind them. Mrs. Simpson tells them that though nobody ventures there after dark for fear of spotting a ghost, her daughter Mary frequents the abbey at all hours of the day and night, seemingly fearless and courageous. After supper, Mary enters the room to serve punch to the gentlemen and they comment on her beauty. The gentlemen ask Mary to prove her courage, challenging her to venture to the deserted abbey, collect a branch from the alder tree that grows there, and return it to them. They wager her courage for another bowl of punch and a new bonnet for Mary. Mrs. Simpson insists that she obliges and Mary, with no choice, readies herself.

Meanwhile, Jarvis waits at his home for his friend Nicholls, intending to commit a highway robbery that same evening. While he is waiting, Jarvis feels some guilt and hesitation in his intentions and expresses this to Nicholls but eventually Jarvis succumbs to Nicholls’s influence. They go to an alleyway where they know their victim will pass with a plentiful bounty. When Squire Hearty passes on his horse, they accost him, demanding money. He resists their efforts drunkenly. One of the men pulls out a pistol and the other cuts Squire Hearty’s horse’s reins.  He is overpowered.  As they drag his body from the horse, the pistol fires, killing Squire Hearty instantly. The men soon decide to carry the body to the deserted abbey.

Meanwhile, Mary arrives at the abbey to collect the branch when she is overcome with a “deadly weight” and ponders what the meaning of it could be (21). Nevertheless, she plucks the branch from the alder, but hears a voice that frightens her. She listens carefully and realises there are two voices, and wonders whether these might really be the voices of ghosts. She is determined not to believe it and, continuing to listen. she discerns that they are two men’s voices. She then spies a head and hears footsteps. Hiding behind a pillar, she sees two men carrying a body between them and she shrieks and collapses to the ground. The men flee at the sound of her scream, having no idea where it has come from. Upon recovering, Mary sees that one of the men has dropped his top hat. She collects it, thinking it may be a useful clue and returns to the inn in shock of what she has seen. As she tells Mrs. Simpson and the two gentlemen what happened, Jarvis shows up at the Inn, enquiring after her. She tells him she has witnessed two murderers disposing of a body but that she has a top hat, which might help identify them. She realises there might be a name in the lining of the top hat. She rushes to check the lining and reads aloud the name “Richard Jarvis.” With no way to escape, Jarvis is detained by the two gentlemen and sent to trial.

At the trial, Mary grapples with her affection for Jarvis and her moral obligation. Eventually, in tears, she testifies against Jarvis and Nicholls, which results in their guilty charge and sentencing to death by hanging. Mary is horrified by the outcome, shrieks in court, and collapses. Once recovered, she looks at Jarvis and starts laughing hysterically. She yells to the judge, “Wretch, hang me up too for I am his murderer.” She then starts attacking people nearest to her with her fists and is eventually restrained in a straightjacket. Her father, Mr Simpson, is greatly affected by her performance and retires to his bed where he eventually dies. Wheatsheaf falls into disrepair, debt accumulates, and Mrs. Simpson eventually kills herself. Mary’s “disorder” stabilises into a “fixed and gloomy melancholy” (23). She lives in the wild off wild fruits and the charity of others. Her body withers away; her beauty disappears. She is eventually found frozen to death in the snow.


Bibliography

Carnall, Geoffrey. “Southey, Robert (1774–1843), poet and reviewer.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. January 06, 2011. Oxford University Press. Date of access 28 Oct. 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/26056

The History of Mary, the Maid of the Inn: A Melancholy and Affecting Narrative: Detailing her Unfortunate Attachment, her Singular Courage, and Showing the Miraculous Manner in which she Discovers her Lover to be both a Robber and a Murderer: with an Account of his Trial and Execution; and also Describing the Forlorn Wanderings of the Unfortunate Mary, who Became a Wretched Maniac, and was found Frozen to Death on her Mother’s Grave. From the Celebrated Poem by Robert Southey which is here also added. Thomas Richardson. Derby.

“John Lewis Marks (circa 1796-1855), Publisher and printmaker.” National Portrait Gallery, https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp16780/john-lewis-marks. Accessed 21 November 2019.

Mary, the Maid of the Inn, or the Murder at the Abbey. J. Johnson, 15a, Kirkgate. 1850.

Southey, Robert. Poems by Robert Southey. 2nd ed., Bristol. 1797. Eighteenth Century Collections Online.

Mary, the Maid of the Inn: or the Secrets of the Ruins; A Melancholy and Interesting Narrative; shewing the singular way in which she discovered her lover to be both a Robber and a Murderer; with an account of his Trial, Conviction, and Execution: Together with her madness and forlorn wanderings, until she is found frozen to death: to which is added, the celebrated recitation. London, Orlando Hodgson, 1822.

The Poetical Works of Robert Southey with a Memoir. New York. 1837. HathiTrust Digital Library.

Soane, George. The Innkeeper’s Daughter: A Melo-Drama, in Two Acts. Neal & Mackenzie, 201 Chestnut Street. Philadelphia. 1828.


Researcher: Jo Terry

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

The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina

The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina

The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance.

Author: Unknown (possibly Delwyn)
Publisher: Minerva Press
Publication Year: 1804
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11 cm x 17.7 cm
Pages: approximately 31
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .E575


Sometimes published with Arabian Lovers, this chapbook takes place in Germany and centers around Seraphina, a pious girl who must resist the temptation and power of a mysterious man who claims to be her promised husband.


Material History

The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which is Added the Arabian Lovers, a Tale is a collection of two Gothic stories grouped together, referred to as The Magician and Arabian Lovers at the tops of the pages of the respective stories. From the outside, the book has a marbled, brown leather binding. This marble effect was a common trend for binding books, in which a weak acid would be used to create the marbled appearance. There are no prominent illustrations on the front or back, but the spine of the book is decorated in gold-leaf illustrations of wreaths and flowers as well as some gold-leaf horizontal stripes, separating the illustrations and symbols. On the spine, the book is referred to as The Entertainer and the number three, potentially indicating the volume or edition number. Also, the edges of the pages are speckled with blue ink. This is the result of a book decoration method in which the speckles would be hand-painted onto the edges of the paper. The book is roughly 11 centimeters wide, 17.7 centimeters long, and 2.2 centimeters thick.

Inside the book, there are five other stories, printed with different fonts and margins than The Magician and Arabian Lovers. The book starts with The Magician and Arabian Lovers, followed by the five additional stories. Each of the stories also restarts the page numbering instead of a continuous numbering throughout all of the stories. Some of the stories have frontispieces with illustrations, although The Magician and Arabian Lovers does not. There is even a frontispiece in hand-painted color for one of the stories, although the rest of the frontispieces are black-and-white. This suggests that the book was a collection of different chapbooks, a common practice at the time. The pages of the book are speckled with small grey bits of paper and yellowed with age. Overall, the pages feel worn and delicate, with the paper being thin enough to see through to the back of the page. The Magician takes up approximately 31 pages of the overall book, which is roughly 290 pages. There are also some marks of ownership inside the book, including a handwritten table of contents in the front in what appears to be Michael Sadleir’s handwriting. The table lists the stories inside the book, along with publication years and potential author names, but those are unclear. Additionally, there is a “J Phillips” written on the half-title page for The Magician.

The full table of contents in Michael Sadleir’s handwriting

Focusing specifically on The Magician, the font and margins are consistent across the text. The bottom margin is wider than the top, with a fair amount of white space around the main text on each page. In terms of spacing, the words are on the tighter side and the font is also a moderate size. There is a half-title page for only The Magician before the full-title page which contains the complete title for both The Magician and Arabian Lovers. The half-title page and full-title page are formatted differently, with different line breaks in the title and fonts. There is no author printed on the full-title page, however, the title page does list the publication location and year, 1804. While there is no frontispiece for these two stories, there is a small illustration of flowers at the end of The Magician.

Overall, the book itself externally appears to have a relatively nice, higher quality binding and attention to detail on the outside, as seen by the marbled leather and speckled pages. Inside the book, the quality of the paper feels cheaper and worn with time. The book is also inconsistent with its formatting throughout the different stories, so at one point the stories may have been separated. 


Textual History

The half-title page for The Magician

In 1803, The Magician was published by itself as part of a collection of stories in an earlier version of The Entertainer (Frank 136). Even earlier than that, The Magician was published under the title The Story of Seraphina in Literary Leisure with a date in 1800 printed above it (Clarke ii, 78). At the top of this version of The Story of Seraphina there is a headnote from the author explaining that he found the story in “the hand-writing of poor Delwyn” and that he did not know if the story was a German translation or something Delwyn wrote himself. Additionally, the author anticipates that it will be well-received since the author notes that “perhaps it may not be unacceptable to my readers” (Clarke 78). It seems that this could be the basis of why The Magician is referred to as a German story. However, no author is mentioned in both of the University of Virginia’s copies and there are no known precise German origins beyond this headnote.

As the title The Magician: Or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which Is Added the Arabian Lovers, a Tale suggests, the two stories were originally published separately in the early eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There are two versions of the publication at the University of Virginia library, one of which is simply the two stories in a small chapbook. The other version (described above) is in a collection of other stories in a book named The Entertainer. Both versions at University of Virginia are from 1804. Around the world, the two stories are published together in chapbooks owned by multiple libraries, with versions appearing from 1803 and 1804.

The full-title page for both stories

While it is unclear exactly at which point the two stories were first published together, the Minerva Press certainly did so in 1804, which is the year printed on the copy in the University of Virgina’s edition of The Entertainer. The Minerva Press was an extremely popular Gothic publishing company created by William Lane (Potter 15). Not only did Lane’s company publish Gothic literature, but they also had circulating commercial libraries, which helped boost the popularity of Gothic texts (Potter 15; Engar). However, these libraries were still not affordable to the poorest demographics, although they certainly made the Gothic more accessible to the general population (Potter 15). The Minerva Press was often criticized for the cheap quality of its publications and “lack of literary excellence” (Engar). Books printed at the Minerva Press were made using cheap, flimsy materials and sometimes contained errors. Furthermore, publications from the Minerva Press were often re-bound by others (Engar).

There does not seem to be a significant presence in modern academic scholarship of The Magician. Considering that the stories were published by the Minerva Press, this could be due to their lower quality production and the company’s reputation (Engar). There are, however, copies of both The Magician and Arabian Lovers available for sale online. One paperback version lists the two stories together with the same title as The Entertainer does, with no authors listed. This version is sold on Amazon and was printed in 2010, although the description of the book does note that it “is a reproduction of a book published before 1923.” There are digital versions of archival copies of The Magician and Arabian Lovers as a paired story from 1803available online, found on Google Books.


Narrative Point of View

The Magician is narrated by a third-person narrator who is not present in the plot. Early on in the story, the narrator supplies additional details about the backgrounds and personalities of some of the minor characters such as Bianca. The narrator often focuses on thorough descriptions of the surroundings, especially scenes of luxury and opulence. When describing the environment, the narration is flowery and elegant with longer sentences. The narrator supplies Seraphina’s feelings and thoughts quite frequently, although the mysterious man’s thoughts are kept hidden. Unlike the long-winded descriptions, however, the narration style alternates between a choppier or longer style depending on Seraphina’s mood and the tone of her thoughts. Additionally, the narration provides dialogue from Seraphina’s various conversations.

Sample Passage:

This mixture of menace and submission terrified Seraphina, who found herself completely in his power, in a room most luxuriantly fur-nished, where not a single being but themselves appeared, and where every thing bespoke the uncontrouled voluptuousness of the master. In a few minutes a small table, covered with the most exquisite dainties, appeared in the recess, and Seraphina gazed in wonder. Her lover besought her to take some refreshment. She had not eaten since she quitted the hotel with her aunt in the morning, and she really wanted food. She suffered him, therefore, to persuade her, but she took merely some sweetmeats, and resolved to forbear touching salt while she staid; for, dazzling as was the magnificence with which she was surrounded, she had no wish but to escape. She felt restrained in eating too, as her strange companion still retained her fingers in his energetic grasp. At length, he prevailed on her to drink a glass of wine; wine; it was exquisite, but Seraphina was alarmed, and insisted on diluting it with water. (23–24)

By using third-person narration, the chilling power and demeanor of the mysterious man is amplified. Even “surrounded” by the “magnificence” and material comforts of the castle, Seraphina is unable to truly enjoy anything since “she had no wish but to escape.” The third-person narration aids the story from this viewpoint, since spending more time on the setting is the narrator’s choice, while Seraphina is more focused on her escape and emotions for the majority of the story. The narrator continues to describe the environment and explore Seraphina’s thoughts as the man attempts to convince her to consent to him, both by threatening her with his wrath and by offering her all the luxuries at his disposal. However, Seraphina continuously feels “restrained” from enjoying any of the material comforts surrounding her by her fear of the mysterious man, which is evident in her paranoia in eating or drinking too much of the food he provides her. By continuously describing the environment, the narration serves as a reminder of how Seraphina is not only emotionally surrounded by the man’s presence, but how she is also physically enclosed in this extravagant space, itself a reminder of his authority. Not only does Seraphina feel restrained, but the man physically restrains her by constantly holding her hand every time they are together, which the narrator emphasizes by how he “still retained her fingers in his energetic grasp” in this passage and throughout the rest of the text. What the man truly plans for Seraphina is hidden from her and the narration, so the fear and uncertainty she experiences becomes more palpable. Seraphina is constantly surrounded by “the mixture of menace and submission” the man exudes, through his threats and his physical presence in the form of the perpetual handholding. The narration bolsters this fear by providing insight into her feelings and continuously contrasting the luxurious environment with the man’s unsettling, constant presence that haunts Seraphina even when she is alone.


Summary

The story of The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina begins with the yearly fair in Francfort in 1464. The Italian Lady Bianca d’Alberto attends the fair with her sixteen-year-old niece, Seraphina, who is also Bianca’s adoptive daughter. Bianca’s husband, the Colonel, and his brother, Seraphina’s father, were both serving in the army when Seraphina’s father died. The Colonel promised his dying brother that he would adopt Seraphina and kept true to his promise before also passing away, leaving Bianca to raise the “pious and innocent” Seraphina (2). While in Francfort, Bianca and Seraphina go to see a conjurer with a nefarious reputation who performs supernatural acts such as transformations and fortune telling.

As they watch the show, the magician, Gortz, amazes the crowd. At one point, a sudden, unidentified voice shouts Gortz’s name, but the show continues. Gortz focuses on Seraphina and offers to reveal her future husband. Seraphina refuses, but Bianca pushes her to listen to Gortz. However, Seraphina believes that this type of magic is evil and does not want to participate. At one point, Seraphina sees a regally dressed man across the room, staring intently at her. When Gortz makes a magic circle around a fire and tells Seraphina to enter the circle, she hesitates, only to see an illusory version of herself get up. The fake Seraphina enters the circle and chaos erupts, smoke and shrieks coming out of the circle. Everybody, including Bianca, runs away, leaving Seraphina alone with Gortz’s body when the smoke clears. She attempts to leave, at first trying the door and then piling benches up to reach the windows, but fails.

The last page of The Magician with a small illustration of flowers

Seraphina again sees the noble, “majestic” man from earlier and they stare intently at each other (13). He holds her hand, refusing to let go, and tells her that he will take care of her. The man reveals that he’s sent the fake Seraphina with her Aunt and that he is extremely powerful. He then gives Seraphina an ultimatum: either become his friend and wife or face his power if she refuses. However, Seraphina already has a childhood friend, Ferdinand, at home interested in marrying her. The man even claims that Seraphina’s father promised her to him when he died in the army. At this point, Seraphina faints and wakes up in his castle and the man again appears before her. Seraphina asks the mysterious man for some time and he gives her a week to decide, telling her that he knows what she thinks, so she cannot deceive him. Once he leaves, a servant attends Seraphina, but she is too scared to even cry. Eventually, she speaks aloud, asking where she can go in the castle. The man appears before her, dressed magnificently, and takes her around the castle. Seraphina is stunned by the many servants, jewels, and luscious flowers they pass by. The man leads her to an empty room, still holding her hand even as she eats. He orders for people to start dancing as entertainment. As they watch the dancing, the man tells her that she must consent to him if she wants to see his true self. At this point, Seraphina decides that his power must come from an evil source and to refuse him at the end of the week.

For the rest of the week, the man holds many exquisite events for her like plays and tournaments. He continuously holds her hand and confesses his love throughout the week, but Seraphina remains disgusted and fearful. Once the week finally ends, he meets Seraphina and asks if she’ll stay with him. Seraphina refuses, saying that she will never give in to magic and then “those sacred names” (29). Immediately, Seraphina wakes up in a bed in Francfort with her aunt. Bianca reveals that she has just received word from Italy that Ferdinand has finally gotten permission to marry her and Seraphina has been sleeping the whole time after the magic show. The story ends with a statement on how upholding virtue will ultimately result in happiness.


Bibliography

Clarke, Hewson. Literary Leisure: or, The Recreations of Solomon Saunter, Esq. [Pseud.]. vol. 2, W. Miller, 1802.

Engar, Ann W. “The Minerva Press; William Lane.” The British Literary Book Trade, 1700–1820, edited by James K. Bracken and Joel Silver, Gale, 1995. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 154. Literature Resource Center.

Frank, Frederick S. “Gothic Chapbooks, Bluebooks, and Short Stories in the Magazines (1790–1820)” Gothic Writers: A Critical and Bibliographical Guide, edited by Douglass H. Thomson, and Jack G. Voller, Greenwood Publishing Group Inc., 2001: 133–146.

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

 “The Magician; or The Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which Is Added The Arabian Lovers, a Tale.” Amazon, Minerva Press, for Lane and Newman, 2010.

The Magician: Or, The Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which Is Added The Arabian Lovers, a Tale. Minerva Press, 1803. Google Books.

 The Magician: Or, the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. a German Romance. to Which Is Added the Arabian Lovers, a Tale. London: Printed at the Minerva-Press, for Lane and Newman, 1803. Print.

The Magician: Or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which Is Added the Arabian Lovers, a Tale. Printed at the Minerva Press, for Lane and Newman, 1804.


Researcher: Jennifer Li

Arabian Lovers

Arabian Lovers

The Arabian Lovers, A Tale.

Author: [Claude Savary]
Publisher: Minerva Press
Publication Year: 1804
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11 cm x 17.7 cm
Pages: approximately 45 pages
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .E575


This chapbook, sometimes published with The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina, was originally in Arabic, translated into English and French by Claude Savary, and describes the story of heartbreak and reunion between Ouardi and Anas-Eloujoud.


Material History

The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which is Added the Arabian Lovers, a Tale is a collection of two Gothic stories grouped together, referred to as The Magician and Arabian Lovers at the tops of the pages of the respective stories. From the outside, the book has a marbled, brown leather binding. This marble effect was a common trend for binding books, in which a weak acid would be used to create the marbled appearance. There are no prominent illustrations on the front or back, but the spine of the book is decorated in gold-leaf illustrations of wreaths and flowers as well as some gold-leaf horizontal, separating the illustrations and symbols. On the spine, the book is referred to as The Entertainer and the number three, potentially indicating the volume or edition number. Also, the edges of the pages are speckled with blue ink. This is the result of a book decoration method in which the speckles would be hand-painted onto the edges of the paper. The book is roughly 11 centimeters wide, 17.7 centimeters long, and 2.2 centimeters thick.

Inside the book, there are five other stories, printed with different fonts and margins than The Magician and Arabian Lovers. The book starts with The Magician and Arabian Lovers, followed by the five additional stories. Each of the stories also restarts the page numbering instead of a continuous numbering throughout all of the stories. Some of the stories have frontispieces with illustrations, although The Magician and Arabian Lovers does not. There is even a frontispiece in hand-painted color for one of the stories, although the rest of the frontispieces are black-and-white. This suggests that the book was a collection of different chapbooks, a common practice at the time. The pages of the book are speckled with small grey bits of paper and yellowed with age. Overall, the pages feel worn and delicate, with the paper being thin enough to see through to the back of the page. Arabian Lovers take up around 45 pages of the overall book, which is roughly 290 pages. There are also some marks of ownership inside the book, including a handwritten table of contents in the front in what appears to be Michael Sadleir’s handwriting. The table lists the stories inside the book, along with publication years and potential author names, but those are unclear.

The handwritten table of contents in Michael Sadleir’s handwriting

Focusing specifically on Arabian Lovers, the font and margins are consistent across text. The bottom margin is wider than the top, with a fair amount of white space around the main text on each page. In terms of spacing, the words are on the tighter side and the font is also a moderate size. There is a half-title page for The Magician before the full-title page which contains the complete title for both The Magician and Arabian Lovers. The half-title page and full-title page are formatted differently, with different line breaks in the title and fonts.There is no author printed on the full-title page, however, the title page does list the publication location and year, 1804.

Overall, the book itself externally appears to have a relatively nice, higher quality binding and attention to detail on the outside, as seen by the marbled leather and speckled pages. Inside the book, the quality of the paper feels cheaper and worn with time. The book is also inconsistent with its formatting throughout the different stories, so at one point the stories may have been separated. 


Textual History

Arabian Lovers had its origins sometime during or before 1789, when it was first mentioned and summarized in The Literary Magazine (“Les Amours” 449). The tale was originally in Arabic, although it was translated into French by Claude Savary, sometimes referred to as Mr. Savary, from an Arabic manuscript (“Les Amours” 449; Kennedy 62). As a result, the story has been published under multiple names such as The Loves of Anas-Eloujoud and Ouardi and The Loves of Anas-Eloujoud and Ouardi, an Arabian Tale along with the original French name prior to the 1804 title in The Entertainer (Brown 4; Elegant Tales 7; “Les Amours” 449). Savary is not credited in the version of the story found in The Entertainer. It is also unclear at which point the story was translated into English, but Savary is credited for doing so in The Looking-glass, another collection of stories from 1794(Brown 4, 46).Savary died either young or unexpectedly, as his death is denoted as “premature” before he could finish translating the stories he had acquired in his travels, but he was able to finish Arabian Lovers (“Les Amours” 453). Given the timing and his travels, Savary is likely Claude-Etienne Savary, “a French Orientalist who traveled to Egypt in 1776” who lived from 1750–1788 (Kudsieh 46). In The Literary Magazine, Savary’s translation of Arabian Lovers is applauded for his authentic translation “of oriental manners” (“Les Amours” 449). Savary’s death also seemed to sadden the publishers, suggesting that his work was well-respected and credited in some literary communities (“Les Amours” 453). Another note lamenting his death and inability to finish translating stories can be found in Elegant Tales (264).

The full-title page for The Magician and Arabian Lovers

As the title The Magician: Or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which Is Added the Arabian Lovers, a Tale suggests, the two stories were originally published separately in the early eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There are two versions of the publication at the University of Virginia library, one of which is simply the two stories in a small chapbook. The other version (described above) is in a collection of other stories in a book named The Entertainer. Both versions at University of Virginia are from 1804. Around the world, the two stories are published together in chapbooks owned by multiple libraries, with versions appearing from 1803 and 1804.

While it is unclear exactly at which point the two stories were first published together, the Minerva Press certainly did so in 1804, which is the year printed on the copy in the University of Virginia’s edition of The Entertainer. The Minerva Press was an extremely popular Gothic publishing company created by William Lane (Potter 15). Not only did Lane’s company publish Gothic literature, but they also had circulating commercial libraries, which helped boost the popularity of Gothic texts (Potter 15; Engar). However, these libraries were still not affordable to the poorest demographics, although they certainly made the Gothic more accessible to the general population (Potter 15). The Minerva Press was often criticized for the cheap quality of its publications and “lack of literary excellence” (Engar). Books printed at the Minerva Press were made using cheap, flimsy materials and sometimes contained errors. Furthermore, publications from the Minerva Press were often re-bound by others (Engar).

There does not seem to be a significant presence in modern academic scholarship of Arabian Lovers. Considering that the stories were published by the Minerva Press, this could be due to the lower quality production and the company’s reputation (Engar). There are, however, copies of Arabian Lovers available for sale online. One paperback version lists the story together with The Magician using the same title as The Entertainer does, with no authors listed. This version is sold on Amazon and was printed in 2010, although the description of the book does note that it “is a reproduction of a book published before 1923.” Another paperback version sold online is of Arabian Lovers in French, printed in 2012, and also available on Amazon. In the French version, the description credits Claude Savary as the author and lists the original publication year as 1799. There are digital versions of archival copies of The Magician and Arabian Lovers as a paired story from 1803available online, found on Google Books.


Narrative Point of View

Arabian Lovers begins with a first-person narrator, although it is unclear who the narrator is as they never appear in the plot. For the rest of the story, the narrator occasionally references themselves in the first-person, although this happens very rarely. In the self-references, the narrator also calls the story a song. The rest of the story functions more in a third-person narration style, with the narration often focusing on the various characters’ feelings and thoughts. During these moments, the narration becomes more extravagant or abrupt according to what the characters are thinking and experiencing. The narration also features plenty of dialogue, which uses more archaic and grandiose language. Additionally, the narrator tends to provide many descriptions of the surroundings, especially scenes of nature or luxury like the castles. In these descriptions, the narrative style is more embellished and uses longer sentences, similar to the feeling of the dialogue.

Sample Passage:

The daughter of the Visier, the beautiful Ouardi, is about to appear in my song. With secret emotion she had beheld this illustrious youth as he passed along; already had swift-winged Fame proclaimed his success; she ran to her window to witness his glorious return. Innumerable torches lighted his triumphal march. The conqueror was accompanied by two thousand Mamalukes, skilled in the use of the bow. Mounted on the courser of the Sultan, he rode in the midst of the troops, and his towering head appeared above them all. His turban was decorated with a green bough, the signal of victory. Ouardi saw him in the flower of youth, and crowned with glory. She felt the first symptoms of a rising passion, which robbed her of her rest: for the first time she ex-perienced desires, and her heart, by an irresistible impulse, flew towards Anas-Eloujoud. In the contemplation of his grace, his beauty, and his noble deportment, she inhaled the insidious poison of love. Confused and agitated, she wishes to turn her eyes from this fascinating object, but in vain: they immediately return, to fix on her conqueror with redoubled eagerness. The bright colour of his cheeks, the clearness of his complexion, the equal curves of his black eyebrows, the fire of his eyes, alternately attract her admiration, and tempt her to exclaim – “Happy the woman whom fate has destined to thee, who shall pass the days by thy side, or in thine arms. Alas! I love thee: may thy heart burn with an equal flame!” (35)

The third-person narration allows for exploration of both the characters’ emotions and additional details about the setting and the society. The narrator clearly acknowledges that they are, in fact, narrating by calling the story “my song.” At the very beginning, the narrator also acknowledges this song when introducing Anas-Eloujoud. These rare self-identifications create a sense of distance in the story by establishing that the narrator is not directly present in the plot and that the story and the characters are a part of a song. However, the rest of the story functions in more of a third-person narrative style like the rest of the passage, which helps to build the emotions through combinations of description and providing insight to the characters’ thoughts. The flowery descriptions emphasize how intense Ouardi’s feelings are for Anas-Eloujoud and vice versa. Her eyes “immediately return” to look at Anas-Eloujoud’s “cheeks,” “complexion,” “eyebrows,” and “eyes,” indicating how she is drawn to him, to the point where she is unable to control her gaze. Also, the focus on the luxury and power present in the surroundings shows how powerful Ouardi’s and Anas-Eloujoud’s connection is. Even in a crowd of “two thousand Mamalukes,” Ouardi immediately spots her future lover. Throughout the text, the narration often contrasts the two lovers’ feelings with their environment. Despite being continuously surrounded by opulent and stunning settings, Ouardi’s heart and thoughts belong only with Anas-Eloujoud. The added distance from the characters created by the narrator’s self-acknowledgement, combined with this contrast, creates a sense of the star-crossed nature of their love through their inexplicable attraction to each other.


Summary

Anas-eloujoud is introduced as a beautiful, graceful, and intelligent hero, loved by everyone. Even the Sultan of the Persian kingdom Ispahan, later revealed to be named Chamier, strongly favors him as a cup-bearer and commander. On the anniversary of the Sultan’s crowning, Anas-eloujoud participates in combat and horse-racing, outperforming everyone. The daughter of the Sultan’s Visier, a prominent official, sees Anas-eloujoud and falls in love for the first time. The girl, Ouardi, goes home and asks her governess to bring Anas-eloujoud a love letter. Once he reads the letter, he falls in love with Ouardi and sends the governess back with his own love letter, which excites Ouardi. The governess acts as a messenger and is eventually caught by the Visier, Ibrahim, on her way to deliver another letter. Ibrahim is furious at Ouardi, ready to kill her to avoid dishonor. His wife, however, suggests that they exile her to Solitary Island, to which he agrees. Ibrahim accompanies Ouardi on a ship to the island and shows her around the palace’s many luxuries. To avoid suspicion, the Visier hurries back to Persia.

The first page of Arabian Lovers

Back in Persia, Anas-eloujoud is heartsick over not hearing back from Ouardi. He eventually finds a message she left and realizes she has been exiled so he decides to try to find her, but fails for three years. As he stumbles around, he finds a cave and desperately asks if anyone has seen his beautiful love. An old man invites him into the cave and they speak about the old man’s life, who lost everything by falling in love with a slave. Once Anas-eloujoud tells his own story, the old man gives him directions to Solitary Island. He then travels to a river and finds someone to take him to the island, although they are thrown overboard by a storm. After struggling in the rough waters, Anas-eloujoud reaches shore and falls asleep.

Meanwhile on the island, Ouardi has spent the past three years in heartsickness, with no amount of material comfort alleviating her grief. Eventually, she decides to escape when she realizes that Anas-eloujoud cannot find her. When she’s alone in the forest, she finds a fisherman and escapes on his boat. She lands in Bagdad and is received by Diwan, Bagdad’s Sultan. Ouardi tells him about her father, Ibrahim, and Ispahan’s Sultan, Chamier. Once Ouardi tells Diwan that the only thing that can make her happy is seeing Anas-eloujoud, Diwan sends his own Visier to Chamier to ask for Anas-eloujoud to be sent to Bagdad on Ouardi’s behalf. On Solitary Island, Anas-eloujoud wakes up and enters the castle, only to find out Ouardi just escaped.

Once Diwan’s Visier reaches Ispahan, they find out Anas-eloujoud disappeared three years ago. Since Ouardi is Ibrahim’s daughter, Chamier threatens Ibrahim to find him. When this news reaches Ouardi, she feels intense worry for both her father and her lover. Ibrahim sets sail for Solitary Island, trying to figure out how his daughter escaped, only to bump into Anas-eloujoud. While Ibrahim is initially angry, he calms down once Anas-eloujoud professes his love for Ouardi. They return to Ispahan, where they expect Chamier to bless the marriage, even going as far as sending word to Ouardi that they will be united soon. However, the jealous court officials spread rumors that Anas-eloujoud and Ibrahim are actually working against Chamier to usurp him, so Chamier orders for the both of them to be arrested. 

When a month has passed with no word from her father or Anas-eloujoud, Ouardi sends someone to Ispahan to investigate. When they hear about the arrest, Diwan takes his armies toward Ispahan, conquering lands on the way. Although Diwan offers to relinquish his conquered lands back to Chamier if Anas-eloujoud and Ibrahim are released, his messenger is killed, sparking a fierce battle between the two Sultans and their armies. As the battle wears on, it seems like Diwan is doomed to lose when suddenly Anas-eloujoud, accompanied by the soldiers he used to command, rides into battle, defeating many of Ispahan’s soldiers. The tide changes as Bagdad’s forces beat Ispahan’s, with Chamier barely escaping.

After this victory, Anas-eloujoud, Diwan, and Ibrahim return to Bagdad, where Ouardi has a tearful reunion with her family. Diwan reveals that he is appointing Ibrahim to be his second Visier, Anas-eloujoud to be commander of his armies, and blesses Ouardi and Anas-eloujoud’s marriage before leaving. Ouardi and Anas-eoujoud plan to get married the next day, so Ouardi undergoes a ceremony to prepare her for marriage, briefly feeling nervous and insecure about her worth to Anas-eloujoud. Once the ceremony is over, Diwan presents Ouardi to Anas-eloujoud as a bride. Overwhelmed by their happiness, Ouardi faints and is revived by a kiss. Diwan leaves, secretly jealous of Anas-eloujoud, but happy to see them together. The lovers spend the rest of their lives together happily and the story ends by revealing that their heirs eventually become the rulers of Ispahan.


Bibliography

Brown, John. The looking-glass or, The compendium of entertaining knowledge containing the most curious and useful subjects in every branch of polite literature. 2nd ed., 1794. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.

Elegant Tales, Histories and Epistles of a Moral Tendency: love, friendship, matrimony, conjugal felicity, jealousy, constancy, magnanimity, cheerfulness and other important subjects, by the author of woman or historical sketches of the fair sex. Printed for G. Kearsley, 1791. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.

Engar, Ann W. “The Minerva Press; William Lane.” The British Literary Book Trade, 1700–1820, edited by James K. Bracken and Joel Silver, Gale, 1995. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 154. Literature Resource Center.

Kennedy, Philip F. Scheherazade’s Children: Global Encounters with the “Arabian Nights.” New York University Press, 2013.

Kudsieh, Suha, and قدسية سهى. “Beyond Colonial Binaries: Amicable Ties among Egyptian and European Scholars, 1820–1850 / ﺗﺨﻄﻴﺎً للثنائيات الكولونيالية: روابط المودة بين العلماء المصريين والأوروبيين ١٨٢٠ – ١٨٥٠.” Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, no. 36, 2016, pp. 44–68.

“LES AMOURS D’ANAS-ELOU OUD ET DE OUARDI, &C.” The Literary Magazine and British Review, vol. 3, Dec. 1789, pp. 449–453.

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

Savary, Claude. “Les Amours D’Anas-Eloujoud Et De Ouardi: Conte Traduit De L’arabe: Ouvrage Posthume.” Amazon, Bleuet, 2012.

“The Magician; or The Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which Is Added The Arabian Lovers, a Tale.” Amazon, Minerva Press, for Lane and Newman, 2010.

The Magician: Or, The Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which Is Added The Arabian Lovers, a Tale. Minerva Press, 1803. Google Books.

 The Magician: Or, the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. a German Romance. to Which Is Added the Arabian Lovers, a Tale. London: Printed at the Minerva-Press, for Lane and Newman, 1803. Print.

The Magician: Or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina. A German Romance. To Which Is Added the Arabian Lovers, a Tale. Printed at the Minerva Press, for Lane and Newman, 1804.


Researcher: Jennifer Li

Koenigsmark the Robber

Koenigsmark the Robber

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

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


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


 Material History

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

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

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

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

Frontispiece and title page for Koenigsmark the Robber

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Lucy E. Gilbert

Rose Sommerville

Rose Sommerville

Rose Sommerville: Or, a Husbands Mystery and a Wifes Devotion. A Romance

Author: Ellen T.
Publisher: Edward Lloyd
Publication Year: 1846
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 21.5 cm x 14 cm
Pages: 175 
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.T24 Ro 1847


A tale of love, murder, and regret, this 1846 novel by Ellen T. revolves around an innocent, beautiful girl marrying a man who has a very dark past.


Material History

The exterior of Rose Sommerville is very simple yet classic, with a dark brown leather binding and a light brown cloth cover. There are no decorations or words on the cover—the title and author can be found on the binding, indented into the leather and painted over with gold. On the edges of the pages of the book, there are speckled red flecks of paint as an added decorative element. This novel is 21.5 cm by 14 cm and 172 pages long. The pages themselves are fairly thin and frail, showing a large amount of yellowing and wear. The book reveals its true age through the pages themselves, as the binding and cover does not show much wear. 

This page shows pencil markings left by a previous owner

Upon opening the novel, there are two blank pages and then a title page, which features the full title of the book, Rose Sommerville; or A Husbands Mystery and A Wifes Devotion, the author, and some additional information about the novel. The author’s name is not fully spelled out, but instead has an abbreviated last name, written as “Ellen T.” Underneath her name in smaller font it says, “Authoress of …” with a list of her other prominent works. On the bottom of the title page is the publishing information: this novel was printed and published in London by E. Lloyd: 12, Salisbury Square, Fleet-street in 1847. The novel begins with a brief preface written by someone other than the author, which reveals that this text was released weekly in separate parts and is now being bound together. This is evident because at the bottom of the first page there is a “No. 1” written, revealing that this begins the first part. At the bottom of the 9th page there is a No. 2, showing that this begins the second part. The novel has 22 parts in total. In pencil on the first page of the preface, “1847” is written, and these pencil notes are also found on the last page of the novel. 

The first chapter begins with an illustration in all black ink that looks like a line drawing. This illustration shows a very beautiful woman kissing a man, and another man behind the couple looking upset and holding a dagger. After this illustration, the novel begins. These black ink illustrations are dispersed throughout the novel, either in the middle of text or on their own page. No captions accompany the illustrations, however the illustrations typically depict the event that is occurring on the page. The artist of these illustrations is not named anywhere in the novel. The text in this novel is written in a very small font and closely set together; there is very little white space per page. The wear of the novel can be seen in the text, as many sections are difficult to read due to fading of the ink or stains on the page. 

On the last page of the novel, there is writing in pencil that looks like a signature. Upon close examination, the signature seems to say “Mr. Morlen.” Also on this page there is a “10” written in pencil after the last line and at the top of this page the numbers “9876” and “1/2 64” are written. These markings were most likely left by a former owner of this novel.


Textual History

Rose Sommerville was published in sections in the newspaper The People’s Periodical and Family Library from October 10, 1846 to October 2, 1847. It was published by Edward Lloyd in London, England. Edward Lloyd had a myriad of periodicals that he published during this time such as The Daily Chronicle and Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper—he was one of the nineteenth century’s leading newspaper proprietors of cheap fiction available to the masses (“Léger-St-Jean). The cheap works of fiction that he published were often called “penny bloods.” Lloyd brought literature to the masses, catering to the new market of people who were now literate but not wealthy. 

The title page of Rose Sommerville, which includes a pencil marking at the bottom with the publication date

Rose Sommerville begins with a “Preface” written by an unknown author who speaks on behalf of Ellen T., thanking the readers for reading her publications week after week and formally saying goodbye to them, for now. The preface also gives a small summary of what the book is going to entail, describing briefly the main character, Rose, and the fact that she will go through many struggles. The first chapter begins with a statement in the first person which functions as a narratorial interjection, using “I,” but the storytelling voice is primarily in the third-person omniscient throughout the novel. After the end of the plot, there is a horizontal black line and then a paragraph in which the speaker, using the first-person plural pronoun “we,” thanks the readers again for reading, and announces that this is the end of the novel. 

There is a notice for Rose Somerville found in the July 23, 1853, issue of Reynold’s Miscellany of Romance, General Literature, Science, and Art written by George W. M. Reynolds that states that the New York booksellers Stringer and Townsend have printed and published Rose Sommerville; Or, A Husband’s Mystery and credited Reynolds to be the author. Reynolds claims that he never wrote this text and would like to take all legal action against these publishers to punish them for this claim (416). He does not, however, attribute the work to its rightful author, Ellen T., for it seems as though he does not know the true author. 

There are many different titles of Rose Sommerville: some copies are simply titled Rose Sommerville, while others are titled Rose Sommerville; Or, A Husband’s Mystery, Rose Sommerville: or, A Husband’s Mystery and A Wife’s Devotion: A Romance, and Rose Sommerville: or, the Double Crime (Summers 488). Ellen T. also authored Ravensdale: A Romance, which was published in 1847 by G. Purkess, but printed by Edward Lloyd. Her other known works of fiction are Eardley Hall: A Tale, which was published in 1850 by Edward Lloyd, and Emily Percy: or, The Heiress of Sackville: A Romance, which was published by G. Purkess in 1845. She also published two poems in The People’s Periodical and Family Library: “Lines on a Birthday” and “To Christmas.” The abbreviation of her last name most likely made it difficult to keep a good documentation of her works. 

One can purchase a paperback copy of Rose Sommerville online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble—these copies were published by Gale and The British Library. There are also numerous digital copies found on the internet of this novel, which are all images of paperbacks digitized into a PDF form. There are also dozens of libraries worldwide that own this novel with varying years of publication. 


Narrative Point of View

Rose Sommerville is narrated by a third-person, omniscient narrator who never appears in the text. The narrator gives insight into the thoughts and feelings of the characters in the story, and often jumps back and forth between settings to show what multiple characters are doing at once. The narrator also occasionally interrupts the text and uses the pronouns “I” and “we,” either to make a comment or act as though the narrator personally knows these characters. So even though the narrator is not a character in the story, they are able to use the “I” pronoun to insert their own opinions. The narrator focuses on both plot and feelings of the characters, often taking breaks from long sections of dialogue to discuss the characters’ inner thoughts and feelings about the subject. 

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

Albert meant to be, and judged he was, acting kindly towards Rose; but, with all his knowledge, he knew little of a woman’s heart, and her fond devotion to one she loves. His lot deemed a dull and gloomy one; his thoughts and feelings were all tinged by a sombre hue, and unfit, he thought, to be shared by such a young and light-hearted girl as Rose. (26)

Sample Passage of a Narratorial Interjection:

Rose Sommerville, sweet, fairy, bright-eyed Rose Sommerville—I think I see her still tripping across the lawn with the light buoyant step of early youth—earth surely never held a fairer creature than Rose; the sweet smile that played around her dimpled mouth possessed all the soft beauty of infancy, her light auburn tresses waved luxuriantly around her fait and sunny brow, and for figure never did I see a more sweet and graceful form. (1)

Through the use of the third-person omniscient narration, the narrator is able to bring more depth and personality into each character—the reader is able not only to see their actions, but also to witness their thoughts behind those actions. Through this, the reader is able to fully understand many characters in the novel, because so many aspects of their interiority and motivations are revealed through their thoughts. The fact that this narration gives the narrator the ability to switch quickly from setting to setting gives the reader a breadth of knowledge about what each character is doing at once, instead of being confined to one character and their surroundings. The added use of the first-person interjections dispersed throughout the novel also brings more insight into what the narrator thinks about specific characters, especially Rose, as shown through the passage above. The insertion of the narrator’s opinions tells the reader how to feel about some characters and situations, and the reader can either agree or disagree. For example, the narrator thinks very highly of Rose, whether or not the reader feels accordingly.


Summary

Rose Sommerville is breathtakingly beautiful. She is of humble birth, and she possesses such gentleness and innocence that it is as if she has never known sorrow in her life. In the summer, her family would take people into their house to live with them temporarily. This year, their visitor is Albert Moreland: a very solemn, tall, and melancholy man. Rose, contrary to the fact that he is her exact opposite in demeanor, immediately fell in love with him. At the end of the summer, Albert asks her father for her hand in marriage and he obliges. Even though they are both deeply in love with each other, Albert looks extremely nervous at the wedding. 

The beginning of the first chapter of the novel, as well as an illustration of what seems to be Florence and Charles kissing and Albert holding a knife behind them

Rose soon meets Albert’s sister, Marian, and they form a deep friendship. In the weeks after their marriage, Rose notices that Albert is acting increasingly strange—even repeatedly shouting the name “Florence” in his sleep. Rose decides to ask Marian who Florence is, for she worries that Albert is cheating on her. Marian begrudgingly relays the story to soothe Rose’s worries. Albert and Marian had a stepbrother who they both had a very close relationship with and loved deeply. Albert and Charles decided one summer that they wanted to travel through Europe together. While they were in Italy, they both fell in love with the same woman, who was in a relationship with both of them, unbeknownst to the other. According to Marian, Charles walked in on Albert and Florence together and, in a fit of rage, stabbed Florence. Marian received the details of this story through a letter. However, upon asking Edward, Marian’s husband, about the event, Edward claims that he read the same letter and it was actually Albert who stabbed Florence, not Charles. Rose is extremely distressed and does not know what to believe. 

Edward and Rose start forming a stronger and stronger friendship as the next few days go by—it seems as though Edward has feelings for Rose. Rose accompanies Marian, Edward, and Edward’s best friend, Henry Melville, to the opera. Henry immediately tells Edward how beautiful he finds Rose, and that angers Edward because he claims it is disrespectful to his brother-in-law to say such things about his wife. Rose likes Henry very much, and they form a friendship, amicably conversing for most of the ball the following night. Edward decides that Rose must know Henry’s true intentions, from Edward’s point of view, so he tells Rose that Henry told Edward he was in love with Rose and wanted to be with her. This surprises Rose but causes her to cooly distance herself from Henry. Henry immediately notices this and confronts Edward about it—Edward defends his actions and tells him to stay away from Rose. This interaction causes Henry and Edward to have a rivalry. 

Albert has been keeping to himself as Rose goes on all of these social events, even though Rose would much rather him with her. He has been acting more melancholy and paranoid than usual, and it is affecting Rose negatively. Albert notices this and suggests that Rose visit her family in the country for a few weeks. Around this time, Rose realizes she is pregnant with Albert’s child. Rose obliges to Albert’s wishes and returns to her home in the country. When she arrives, she learns that her brother, Henry, is to marry her childhood friend, Agnes. 

 Meanwhile, Marian has been conspiring to figure out where Charles is, and she has found out: he is still in Italy. She also notices Albert sending a mystery letter to Italy but says nothing of it. While Rose is gone, Marian speaks to Lucy, Henry Melville’s sweet sister, about how she suspects that Rose is in love with Edward. Lucy denies the idea, but Marian is very mad and wants to expose her. Rose writes to Edward, sending him back the document detailing Florence and her death because she did not want to read it. Her letter arrives when Marian and Lucy are in the house, and it solidifies Marian’s beliefs.

An illustration of Henry and Marian seeing Rose and Edward kissing

While everyone is at a ball, Albert is alone in his office and very distraught, speaking out loud about regret and death. He feels horrible about something he has done in his past, and regrets marrying Rose because he cannot make her as happy as she deserves. At the ball, Lucy confronts Edward about the contents of the letter and he tells her he cannot reveal any information concerning the letter, which makes her mad. The next day, Henry overhears Fairford, Mortimer, and Edward talking about Rose—specifically the conversation entails Edward boasting about how he is going to win her over and seduce her. Henry is furious and bursts through the door, scolding and threatening Edward. 

Miles away in the country, Rose receives two letters: one from Albert and one from Lucy. The letter from Lucy asks her the contents of the letter she sent Edward which she knows she cannot reveal and the letter from Albert is distanced and slightly cold which makes her very upset. Henry and Agnes get married in a beautiful ceremony, but Mrs. Sommerville is increasingly worried for Rose. Rose returns home and receives a warm welcome from Albert which makes her very happy. Very shortly after she returns, Edward comes over to visit. As they are having a conversation, Edward is overcome with passion and kisses Rose, who is shocked and pulls away, but not before Henry and Marian come through the door and see them. Marian immediately runs and tells Albert, who is extremely sad and angered. Rose comes in to talk to Albert and explain her innocence but no one believes her. Albert says that Rose must leave at once and if she refuses to leave then he will leave and never come back—she has one day to come to her decision. Albert and Marian retreat to a different room and weep together. Rose becomes hysterical, screaming that she is innocent and weeping. She soon becomes extremely ill, and they fear that she is in danger of dying. Lucy stays by her bed the whole night and Rose gives birth to a stillborn son. 

An illustration showing Rose sick in bed after falling ill of grief when Albert told her to leave in anger.

Henry is very angry at Edward’s actions and proposes a duel which he accepts. The duel takes place in a secluded valley, where the two men who were once best friends fires guns at each other. Edward receives a fatal wound and Henry receives only a gunshot to the arm. Marian receives news that Edward has been shot and immediately rushes to him. On his death bed, Edward tells Marian the true story of what happened between him and Rose, proving her innocence. Marian then tells everyone of Rose’s innocence. Soon Rose awakens in a much better state, and Albert comes in to express his apologies—he stays by her side for the next few days, vowing never to separate from her again. 

Three years have now passed, and Marian has married Fairford, Agnes and Henry have two children, and Lucy has married Mortimer. Rose is a changed woman, having taken on many of Albert’s somber traits—her cheerful demeanor and endearing innocence are gone. Rose and Albert decide to travel to Naples, where they stay in the house of Donna Rosalina, an old friend of Albert’s. Her young nephew, Charles, is very sweet and forms a strong friendship with Rose throughout their time in Naples. Very quickly, Albert’s health begins declining. As he is about to die, Albert tells Charles that he is his father and Florence is his mother; they both weep and embrace. Soon after, Albert says his tearful goodbye to Rose and dies. Donna Rosalina then tells the true story of Albert and Florence to Rose and Charles: Albert was the one who walked in on Florence and Charles together and tried to kill Florence, but Charles dove to protect her and Albert accidentally killed Charles. This event changed Albert forever, as he has just killed his kin and his best friend. After Albert’s death, Rose’s health begins to decline more and more, and she soon peacefully dies with her one wish: to be reunited with Albert. Everyone at home is deeply upset at the news of Rose and Albert’s death, but they soon move on and all lived very happy lives. 


Bibliography

Ellen T. “Lines on a Birthday.” The People’s Periodical and Family Library, vol. I, no. 13, 1847, p. 205. Nineteenth Century Collections Online

Ellen T.. Rose Sommerville: or, A husband’s Mystery and a Wife’s Devotion: A Romance. London, Edward Lloyd, 1847.

Ellen T. “To Christmas.” The People’s Periodical and Family Library, vol. I, no. 13, 1847, p. 205. Nineteenth Century Collections Online.

Léger-St-Jean, Marie. Price One Penny: A Database of Cheap Literature, 1837–1860. [29 June 2019]. Faculty of English, Cambridge.

Reynold’s Miscellany of Romance, General Literature, Science, and Art [London], Vol. 10, Iss. 263, (Jul 23, 1853): 416.

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


Researcher: Madeleine Berrigan

Oswick, The Bold Outlaw

Oswick, The Bold Outlaw

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

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


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


Material History

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

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

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

The frontispiece and title page for Oswick, The Bold Outlaw

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Archisha Singh