An abridged plagiarism of Sir Walter Scott’s 1823 novel Quentin Durward, this chapbook follows the grotesque adventures of Scottish cavalier Quentin Durward and his romance with the beautiful Countess Isabelle.
Durward and Isabelle appears to be a flimsy few scraps of paper being held together by what looks like a piece of twine. The full title is simply Durward and Isabelle. The book is bound together with another chapbook, Mary, the Maid of the Inn, which precedes Durward and Isabelle. It appears as though the back of Mary, the Maid of the Inn, was ripped out, since there are remnants of torn paper at the last page. The paper of Durward and Isabelle is not as yellow compared to Mary, the Maid of the Inn, and the two texts are printed in different fonts. This suggests that Durward and Isabelle was likely bound to Mary, the Maid of the Inn at a later time.
The origins of this chapbook remain a mystery,
as there is no listed author. However, the publisher is listed at the bottom of
the final page as “Dean and Munday, Threadneedle-Street, London.” Mary, the
Maid of the Inn has a title page with a different publisher listed. The
cover of Mary, the Maid of the Inn does have some handwriting on it, but
it is impossible to know if this was written before or after the chapbooks were
The dimensions of the book are about 11cm x 16
cm, so it is fairly small. Durward and Isabelle is thirty-six pages
long, while the previous story is twenty-five pages, making for a total of sixty-one
pages bound together by a single piece of fraying string. The last page of Durward
and Isabelle has fallen off but is still kept with the book in the library.
The pages are very brittle and dry, and are also very frail and yellowed,
likely due to the wear and tear that the book has been subject to over the
years. The margins are decently sized while the font is relatively small but
not difficult to read. There is a surprisingly large amount of spacing between
paragraphs. The margins are uneven: there is little to no space at the top at
the top of the book, while there are much larger side margins.
While Mary, the Maid of the Inn contains
a fold-out illustration, there are no illustrations in Durward &
Isabelle. There are some words handwritten on the cover: in the top right
corner, the word “romance” is written in pencil and “1822” (the year Mary,
the Maid of the Inn was published) in ink. On the bottom of the cover,
there is a series of numbers and letters without clear meaning.
Durward and Isabelle is a chapbook that is a plagiarized and abridged version of Quentin Durward, a novel written by Sir Walter Scott published in 1823. The author of Durward and Isabelle is not known. At only thirty-six pages, the chapbook is much shorter than the original novel and brushes over many of the major plot points. While the original novel is focused on Quentin Durward and his adventures, the chapbook is more focused on Durward’s adventures that involve his relationship with Isabelle, hence the title Durward and Isabelle. The plagiarized chapbook was published by Dean and Munday, as printed on the last page of the book. Dean and Munday was a popular publishing institution established in 1810 that published many other chapbooks. The Dean and Munday families lived together and raised their children together in their home behind the shop on Threadneedle Street. Two cousins, Thomas Dean and Thomas Munday, became apprentices, then later became partners in the firm. This partnership lasted until 1838, when it was permanently dissolved (Potter 86). According to Franz Potter, “During these early years at Dean & Munday, the firm also reissued a number of well-known gothic pamphlets originally published by other booksellers” (87). Durward and Isabelle is listed as one of the one-shilling pamphlets published by Dean and Munday in a book titled The French Revolution of 1830: Being a Succinct Account of the Tyrannical Attempt of Charles X. to Overturn the French Constitution. Interestingly, Mary, the Maid of the Inn is also on this list of Dean and Munday pamphlets printed with The French Revolution of 1830, though the copy of Mary, the Maid of the Innbound with the Sadleir-Black Collection’s copy of Durward and Isabelle was published by Orlando Hodgson not Dean and Munday.
Given Sir Walter Scott’s significance, there is an abundance of
information about his original novel Quentin Durward by contrast with
the dearth of information on the plagiarized and abridged Durward and
Isabelle. In a late nineteenth-century edition of Quentin Durward edited
by Charlotte M. Yonge, Yonge includes a historical introduction in which she
writes that Scott “held that it was lawful for art to throw together historical
characters and facts with more regard to effect than to accuracy or detail, and
thus to leave a stronger impression on the mind. And there can be no doubt that
the tale he has given us has fixed on thousands of minds a strong and definite
impression of the characters of Louis XI” (14). In writing this, Yonge
identifies the significant impact that the characters of Quentin Durward
had on the public point of view.
There are other notable adaptations of Scott’s novel, including Quentin
Durward; a dramatic adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s novel, in three acts and
three scenes, by Charles Andrew Merz and Frank Wright Tuttle.This
adaptation was published in 1914 and is associated with the Yale University
Dramatic Association. There are digital copies of the original Quentin
Durward and its adaptations available on ProQuest One Literature and the
HathiTrust Library. The novel was even adapted into a film called The
Adventures of Quentin Durward, released in 1955.
Narrative Point of View
Durward and Isabelle is narrated in the third
person, and the narrator is never named nor are we given any context on how
they learned of the story. The story is told in a very straightforward fashion,
yet still manages to incorporate feelings of characters. The narration is
filled with expansive sentences, with an emphasis on depicting events and with minimal
The young and beautiful Isabelle had fled from Burgundy, to avoid being married to one of the Duke’s favourites; and whether she was really under King Louis’s protection, was not certainly known. Durward could not help conjecturing, from circumstances, that the young lady he had seen in the morning, and with whose charms he had been smitten, was, in fact, the young countess. While the knowledge of her rank and misfortunes interested him yet more strongly in her fate, it tended to damp any presumptuous hopes which love might have induced him to form. (8)
As seen here, in Durward and Isabelle the
narration is succinct and descriptive, and effectively explains the characters’
thoughts and feelings at certain moments. This can be seen when Durward deduces
that the woman he saw is the countess, and the narration presents not only what
he knows but how he feels with his subsequently lowered “hopes.”
Durward and Isabelle tells the tale of a fifteenth-century Scottish cavalier, Durward,
and Isabelle, a Countess. The story begins when Durward is met by King Louis XI
of France by chance. Durward introduces himself as a cadet of Scotland, who
came to France to seek fortune. It is later revealed that his father and
remaining family members were killed by a rivaling clan, and this caused his
mother to die of grief. Upon Durward’s introduction, the King also discovers
that he knows Durward’s uncle, Lesie, who comes to the castle to meet him and
the king. The king eventually decides to recruit this young cavalier as one of
his men, after consulting with his astronomer, Martius Galeoletti, who says
that Durward has good intentions. Durward has multiple encounters with Isabelle
throughout the beginning of the story, as she is residing at the castle where
the king lives.
One day while Durward is strolling through the garden, he comes
across a man hanging from a tree. Appalled by this circumstance, he immediately
climbs up the tree and cuts the rope, onlooking Bohemians react badly to this
action. The king’s right-hand man, Provost Marshall, takes them all prisoner.
Durward thinks he is going to be hanged along with the Bohemians but then
proceeds to defend himself, claiming he is from Scotland which is an allied
country. His life is spared.
It is revealed that the reason Isabelle is under the king’s
protection is because she fled from Burgundy after discovering that she was to
be married to one of the duke’s men. A count sent by the Duke of Burgundy
appears while searching for the ladies (Isabelle and her Aunt). The king
refuses to give them up and, after the count threatens to wage war on the
kingdom, the king decides to send Isabelle and her aunt away to Liege to be
under the protection of the bishop. The king appoints Durward in charge of
taking Lady Isabelle and her aunt to Liege with three soldiers and a guide.
Throughout their journey they encounter many men who want to claim possession
of Isabelle, including William de la Marck, a feared man from the area, and the
Duke of Orleans, who is to be wed to Isabelle’s sister but would rather marry
William de la Marck, in a fit of rage, decides to take over the city of Liege and murders the bishop in cold blood. Durward and Isabelle must escape together. During the siege, Durward presents himself to Willam de la Marck and says that if they are to be allied with France, they must not present themselves with this sort of conduct, so William de la Marck complies, and they all leave. De la Marck then threatens to return because he hears word that Isabelle is still hiding in the city. Isabelle at this point is willing to sacrifice herself to the Duke of Burgundy and decides she will offer to give up her patrimonial estates and ask permission to retire in a convent. They make it back to the Duke of Burgundy and the same day, the king decides to visit him too. The Duke of Burgundy hears about William de la Marcks violent tactics and believes that this is King Louis’ doing. He imprisons the king and plans for his execution.
After days of trials and Durward’s statement is given, the duke
determines that the king is innocent and decides they are to combine forces to
capture William de la Marck. Who will receive Isabelle’s hand in marriage
remains in question, so as incentive, the duke says that whoever is successful
in killing de la Marck wins Isabelle’s hand in marriage. Upon hearing this,
Durward searches for de la Marck, and finds him decapitated. In defeat, he
returns to the castle only to discover his uncle Lesie standing with William de
la Marck’s head, which he brought on Durward’s behalf. Durward and Isabelle are
both pleased with the arrangement and end up married together happily ever
Durward and Isabelle. London, Dean & Munday, n.d.
The French Revolution of 1830:
Being a Succinct Account of the Tyrannical Attempt of Charles X. to Overturn the French
Constitution, Etc. [With a Plate.]. Dean & Munday, 1830.
Merz, Charles Andrew, and Frank Wright Tuttle. Quentin
Durward: a Dramatic Adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s Novel, in Three Acts
and Three Scenes.New
Haven, Yale University
Dramatic Association, 1914.
Potter, Franz J. Gothic Chapbooks, Bluebooks
and Shilling Shockers, 1797–1830. University of Wales Press, 2021.
Yonge, Charlotte M.
“Introduction.” Quentin Durward, by Sir Walter Scott. Boston, Ginn & Co, 1895.
In this 1803 chapbook, Charlotte Frances Barrett (Frances Burney’s niece) writes a tale of adventure, surprise, and horror in which the righteous queen must be rescued from an evil usurper.
The Round Tower, Or the Mysterious Witness: An Irish Legendary Tale of the Sixth Century, by C. F. Barrett, is a gothic chapbook in the Sadleir-Black Collection of the University of Virginia Special Collections Library. The book is thirty-six pages, has no cover, and measures 17.3cm by 10.7cm. The front of the book is blank, save for the faint traces of ink that have bled through from the illustration next to the inside title page. Once the book is opened, an illustration of two cavaliers gesturing towards a godlike figure is observed along with the words “Vaughan delin” and “Barlow sculp” under the bottom left and right corners respectively. The illustration combines both etching and engraving and was printed from a copper plate. Additionally, the words “Round Tower” are written under the center of the illustration in a three-dimensional font. The inside title page follows the illustration and the author’s name is printed in the middle of the page in all capital letters. Beneath the author’s name is listed Barrett’s other publication: Mary Queen of Scots, Sc., and the quote, “Murder! Most foul, and Treachery most vile.” Farther down the inner title page, after the author’s name and credentials, is the publishing information and the words “Printed for Tegg and Castleman.”
The book is held together by glue binding; however, it is
worn and has lost its effect, leading to the book’s fragility. The binding used
to be accompanied by stitching that adhered the book to its cover as
illustrated by the holes in the sides of the pages closest to the spine, but
the cover has since fallen off, which contributes to the book’s tattered
The pages of the text are yellowed, have the texture of
sandpaper, and are splotchy, due to a chemical reaction that has occurred
between the chemicals in the paper and the environment in which the book is
stored. Moreover, the pages get increasingly brown beginning at page 25, and
appear more weathered than the pages at the beginning and middle of the text.
On each page, the text is centered and situated between margins
that are slightly larger on the top and bottom than the left and right. Each
page has the words “THE ROUND TOWER” printed in the center of the top margin
and the page number in the bottom left corner right under the text. The text is
small, closely set, and sophisticated with a font that appears similar to Times
The Round Tower boasts markings made by potential
previous owners. The first and second occur on page 11. In the bottom margin is
a signature written in cursive, however, it has faded and is therefore
illegible. At the top of page 11 in the right-hand margin, the initials LB are
written in cursive, insinuating that the book was once owned by an individual
before coming into the Sadleir-Black Collection. Finally, there is a blotch of
blue ink two-thirds of the way down page 25.
The Round Tower, Or the Mysterious Witness: An Irish
Legendary Tale of the Sixth Century, by C. F. Barrett, was published by
Tegg and Castleman in London in 1803; this appears to be the only edition and
there are no digital copies. Interestingly, the book is a plagiarism of John
Palmer’s popular gothic novel, The Mystery of the Black Tower (Tymn 41).
This tale is set in the time period of Edward the III and depicts the life of
Leonard, a young boy who earns knighthood and must embark on an adventure to
save his love, Emma, from imprisonment in the Black Tower. Published in 1796, The
Black Tower was influenced by Don Quixote as well as Clara Reeve’s The
Old English Baron and is still billed as “among the finest historical
Gothic novels” (“The Mystery of the Black Tower (1796)”).
Plagiarisms were very common among chapbooks at this time.
Francesca Saggini suggests that The Round
Tower was also inspired by contemporary theatrical performances. Saggini
characterizes Barrett as a “prolific hack … who adapted to the page several
Gothic spectacles performed … at popular London venues” (120). The
frontispiece of The Round Tower depicts the dramaticism of the
appearance of the supernatural apparition and the animated reflections of the
onlookers, thus illustrating how the gothic genre was influenced by performance
yet also available to readers “at a cheap price and in the safety of their own
homes” (Saggini 122). The frontispiece is also displayed in Frederick Frank’s
article “Gothic Gold: The Sadleir-Black Gothic Collection”along with a
description of the work that describes the book as a thrilling “Macbethian
Gothic” that includes dramatized supernatural elements (18).
Charlotte Frances Barrett, author of The Round Tower,
produced pamphlets between 1800 and 1810 and authored stories including, as
compiled by Franz Potter: The Great Devil’s Tale; or, The Castle of Morbano
included in Canterbury Tales (1802), The Mysterious Vision; or,
Perfidy Punished in the New Collection of Gothic Stories (1801), a
translation of The Shipwreck, or, The Adventures, Love, and Constancy, of
Paul and Virginia (1800), Douglas Castle; or, The Cell of Mystery. A
Scottish Tale (1803) for Arthur Neil, and Laugh when You Can; or, The
Monstrous Droll Jester (1800) for Ann Lemoine (104-5n). Barrett was also
the niece of Frances Burney (1752–1840), well-known author of Evelina (1778)
and Cecilia (1782).
Thomas Tegg (1776–1846), who published The Round Tower, was
a bookseller and publisher in London who specialized in “reprints,
out-of-copyright publications, remainders, and cheap satirical prints” (“Thomas
Tegg”). He also published accounts of shipwrecks that included engraved folding
frontispieces (Weiss 60). Tegg and Castleman were prolific: “between 1802 and
1805, Tegg and Castleman co-published at least nineteen novelettes in
collaboration with Dugdale” (Loeber and Stouthamer-Loeber 26). Potter calls Tegg
“the most prominent, if not notorious, publisher of gothic chapbooks and
pamphlets in the early nineteenth century” (59).
Point of View
The Round Tower is narrated by an omniscient narrator
who has insight into the thoughts and actions of each character. The story is
narrated in a venerable tone using lengthy sentences that are broken up by
punctuation. The narration primarily focuses on the emotions of the characters
and how they influence the characters’ dispositions and behaviors. Additionally,
the narrator relays the tale with great expressivity by contextualizing every
event in the story with dramatic and detailed descriptions.
Enraged at her firmness, Sitric seized the infant, and, drawing his poignard, he raised his arm in order to plunge it in the bosom of the latter, when, driven to desperation, she rushed on the perfidious Dane, and, wrestling the fatal weapon from him, would have plunged it in his heart, but at that moment the door of the dungeon flew open, and Cobthatch, attended by the vindictive Connora, rushed in, followed by several of the usurper’s guards. Appalled at the sudden appearance of her husband’s enemy, the poignard fell from the hand of Moriat, which Connora instantly seized, fearful (in despite of her lord’s neglect) lest in a paroxysm of despair Moriat might yet use it against his life. (19)
The narrator’s omniscience allows for multiple characters’
perspectives to be included in the relation of the book, which illustrates
their motives, ambitions, and values to add nuance and intricacy to the tale.
Likewise, the multitude of punctuation functions to provide the narrator with
inflection and gives the impression that the book is being told as a story. The
narrator’s emphasis on the characters’ feelings centers the driving force of
the plot around emotion and asserts its power as a motivating force behind the
characters’ actions. Furthermore, the descriptive and intensified manner in
which the book is narrated creates a theatrical tone that results in an
Cobthatch, King of Munster, is listening to music in an attempt to
calm his anxiety about the fact that he has unjustly obtained the throne by
killing his uncle, Laughair. He is then notified that Maon and Moriat, the son
of his murdered uncle and his wife, are still alive, and orders his associate,
Sitric, to ensure their execution. However, Maon and Moriat do not know the
other is alive.
Meanwhile, Moriat is in the mountains where she has been able to
secure lodging. One day when she is mourning the loss of Maon, who she thinks
is deceased, she carves his name into a nearby rock. While doing so, she is
startled by a man approaching her, but then realizes it is Kildare, her loyal
attendant. He recalls his experience venturing out to secure provisions and
tells Moriat the story of how he discovered Maon. He recollects that he heard a
groan and was convinced it was a ghost, but then realized it was Maon, who at
the time had drawn his sword with the intention of committing suicide. Kildare
caught the Lord before he impaled himself, and they embraced upon their
reunion. Maon immediately wanted to be shown to Moriat, but Kildare convinced
him the sudden shock would be too much for her to bear and convinced Maon to wait
until he could deliver the news.
Upon hearing that her husband is alive, Moriat waits the entire
night for his return with their child at her side, but Maon never shows.
Instead, Moriat is pursued and cornered by Cobthatch’s guards, who take her to
Sitric’s castle where she and her infant are detained in the dungeon. Sitric is
enamored by Moriat’s beauty and wants to spare her from death at the hand of
Cobthatch. He therefore goes to Cobthatch and makes up a story where he states
that Moriat refused to reveal Maon’s location and therefore, he stabbed her.
This satisfies the king, and he is happy to know he will not have to worry
about her raising suspicion. When Sitric returns to the dungeon where Moriat is
being held, he asks that in return for him sparing her life, she complies with
all his future demands. She responds that she will not break her marriage vows,
but that someday her son will be able to repay him. Sitric, infuriated by her
lack of compliance, chains her infant to the opposite wall. He returns the
following night, and when Moriat again refuses to comply, he gives her an
ultimatum that if she does not obey, both her and her baby’s life will suffer
In the meantime, Sitric’s wife, Connora, suspects that her husband
is devoted to another, and devises a plan to observe him. She disguises herself
and follows him to the dungeon where she overhears his conversation with
Moriat, thus confirming her suspicions. Sitric returns to visit Moriat and is
on the verge of stabbing her infant out of anger at her firmness, when Connora
and Cobthatch enter the room. Cobthatch, enraged at discovering that Moriat is
alive, demands that she and her baby be removed to the Round Tower.
While Moriat was captured, Kildare and Maon encountered troops, causing
a delay in their visit to reunite with her. When they venture out the next
morning, they see Sitric’s party in the distance and Kildare suggests they
retire to the cottage of a loyal friend, O’Brian, until they can gather a party
large enough to overpower Sitric’s army.
Once at the cottage, Kildare relates the adventures of Maon and
Moriat since the death of Laughair to O’Brian. He recalls that Laughair had
stayed at the castle of Cobthatch when he was murdered, and that Maon and
Moriat, being accused of the crime, fled to O’Brian’s cottage. Here they were
discovered, which resulted in Moriat fleeing to the mountains and Maon
embarking on a ship that was said to have capsized, leading Moriat to believe
In an effort to rescue Moriat, Maon resolves to enter Sitric’s
castle disguised as a friar and embarks on his journey. Once he arrives, Maon
encounters Sitric, who relates the story of Moriat’s captivity from the
perspective of her savior and offers to lead Maon to the Round Tower. The next day,
as Sitric leads Maon through the passageways, he decides to kill him.
Immediately before he stabs him, the ghost of Laughair appears and instructs
Sitric to lead Maon safely to the dungeon, or else he would face his vengeance.
Once at the door, Maon and Sitric discover Cobthatch attempting to rape Moriat,
leading Sitric to stab and kill him. Sitric then accuses Maon of the murder and
has him taken prisoner. Because of the death of Cobthatch, Sitric is crowned
Following Cobthatch’s murder, Sitric offers Moriat the freedom of
her husband and child if she agrees to have sex with him. At this moment,
Laughair’s ghost reappears and tells Moriat not to trust the tyrant, and she
complies with his instructions and holds firm.
Later that evening, Sitric discovers that Moriat has escaped,
accuses Maon of aiding her to freedom, and orders the execution of him and his
child. The moment before the axe is to execute Maon, Sitric tells him that if
he resigns his title to Moriat and tells him her location, Maon will be spared.
He refuses and at that moment, Kildare enters the courtyard with a band of
peasants and enters into combat with Sitric’s men. While Sitric is engaged in
fighting, Moriat stabs him, which causes his troops to disperse.
After the death of Sitric, Kildare presents to the nobles that
Maon should be king, and when asked for proof of his innocence, the ghost of
Laughair appears for the final time to declare that Maon is the rightful heir
of Munster, and he is crowned king.
Once Maon and Moriat are restored to the throne, Moriat retells
that she escaped because the ghost of Laughair led her to the cottage where
Kildare was staying. Once she arrived, Kildare had assembled an army of
peasants ready to restore the true king to power.
Maon and Moriat enjoy a life full of joy and peace together, and
his rule becomes known for its justice and serves as an example to other
Barrett, Charlotte Frances. The Round Tower,
Or the Mysterious Witness: An Irish Legendary Tale of the Sixth Century. London,
Tegg and Castleman, 1803.
Frank, Frederick. “Gothic Gold: The
Sadleir-Black Gothic Collection.” Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture,
vol. 26, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 1997, pp. 287–312.
Loeber, Rolf, and Magda Stouthamer-Loeber.
“The Publication of Irish Novels and Novelettes: A Footnote on Irish Gothic
Fiction.” Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text, 10th ed., e Centre
for Editorial and Intertextual Research, Cardiff, Wales, 2003, pp. 17–44. http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/romtextv2/files/2013/02/cc10_n02.pdf
Potter, Franz J. Gothic Chapbooks,
Bluebooks and Shilling Shockers: 1797–1830. University of Wales Press,
Saggini, Francesca. The Gothic Novel and
The Stage: Romantic Appropriations. Routledge, Taylor Et Francis Group,
Set in a secluded castle in 1517 northern England, Sarah Wilkinson’s 1805 chapbook includes romance, jealousy, friendship, and mystery.
Monkcliffe Abbey, A Tale of the Fifteenth Century, To which is added, Lopez and Aranthe; or, The Suicide. By the same author was published in 1803 by Kaygill & Adcock, and written by Sarah Wilkinson. It was printed by W. Glindon in Haymarket, London, and sold for sixpence. The extant copy was originally printed as a chapbook, but later rebound into a collection of similar stories entitled The Entertainer, vol. 4. A handwritten table of contents, including titles, authors, and publishers, is included on the front endpaper. Page numbers are not included; due to the separate origins of each story, the numbers (along with fonts, margin sizes, and layouts) restart with each new chapbook. This volume of The Entertainer contains six chapbooks and sixteen unique stories, including Canterbury Tales.
This copy is bound in a kind of thick cardboard material, covered with paper, and decoratively mottled in black and brown, protected by a clear plastic jacket for use in the library. It measures approximately 18.5 centimeters long by 11 centimeters wide. The spine is embossed in gold with the title, The Entertainer, which appears nowhere else in the book, and with embellishments on the spine’s edges and middle. This copy was bound with twine and glue, which is now quite delicate. The edges of the cover and spine are somewhat broken in, especially on the bottom of the spine, where the cardboard cover is beginning to crack off. Inside, the paper is yellowed and thin, but not brittle. Although the paper is discolored, it is not frequently stained—some small, splattered marks appear at intervals. The paper has an almost fabric-like texture, and is delicate while maintaining flexibility. Some pages are torn and folded, likely accidentally—none are dog-eared or torn completely out. In this copy, Monkcliffe Abbey is printed in a small serif font, with margins of two centimeters at top and bottom and one centimeter on the sides. Page numbers are found on the top outside corner of each page, printed in the same serif as the prose. The story is twenty-two pages long. The title page of the Monkcliffe Abbey chapbook lists the full title, including the addition of The Suicide. Every other instance of the title’s printing abbreviates it to only Monkcliffe Abbey, both on the first page of the story and in the handwritten table of contents. The author’s name is written as “S. Wilkinson” on the title page and in the table of contents, and as “Sarah Wilkinson” on the first page of the story. The title page also includes two illustrations, a larger one representing two women discovering a monk, and a smaller one under the title, with a man, right arm raised, walking up to a woman playing a sort of lute. The larger image has created a shadow of itself on the title page opposite. In the front of the book, an address card is inserted. Formal script on the front reads “Mrs. M.T.H. Sadler,” with an address included on its bottom left corner. The back reads “Oswick the Outlaw,” which has been handwritten in blue ink.
Monkcliffe Abbey is one of Sarah Wilkinson’s lesser-known gothic stories, frequently left unmentioned in lists of her work and life achievements. There are two copies available through the library system at the University of Virginia. One of these copies, primarily discussed here, was published by “Kaygill, etc.” in London, in 1805, and rebound into a collection of gothic novels at a later date. The other was printed across the Atlantic, by James Oram in New York City, two years later. The full novel is also available online through scans of the collection America’s Historical Imprints. This online version is the later, American printing. There does not appear to be much discrepancy between the two copies, other than the specifics of their publication and their titles: the version published in New York by James Oram is entitled Monkcliffe Abbey, or, the History of Albert, Elwina, and Adeline, while the one published in London by Kaygill uses Monkcliffe Abbey: A Tale of the Fifteenth Century instead.
Monkcliffe Abbey is very rarely mentioned, either in collections of gothic works or works by Sarah Wilkinson, who was a prolific author of the genre. One exception can be found in The Gothic Ideology: Religious Hysteria and Anti-Catholicism in British Popular Fiction, 1780–1880, where Diane Hoeveler discusses the text’s use of the abbey as a gothic trope:
“Sarah Wilkinson’s ‘Monkcliffe Abbey’ (1805) is an example of a chapbook that uses the abbey in order to dwell on the usurpation theme. Very specifically dated to 1517, the action begins the year that Sir Archibald Barnett retires to the former Carthusian abbey in the north of England with his wife and two daughters Adeline and Elwina… The abbey is the setting for a traditional romance between the daughters and their suitors, one of whom is fleeing a friend turned foe who disguises himself as a cowled monk in order to inhabit one of the ‘haunted’ wings of the abbey (Wilkinson, 2009: 185). An architectural description of the abbey suggests the antiquarian investment in the theme by a writer as simple and straightforward as Wilkinson. The ruined abbey functions in this chapbook as little more than a picturesque setting, but it possesses considerably more ideological freight in a work by such a writer as Nathan Drake.” (218–19)
The story is also mentioned in Gothic Fictions: Prohibition/Transgression by Kenneth Graham, in a list of Gothic illustrations. The illustration from Monkcliffe Abbey is the same title page engraving found in its London-printed edition, of “Adeline and Elwina in the typical Gothic situation of startled discovery” (Frank 287). This illustration is reprinted in Franz Potter’s collection of gothic chapbooks, many written by Sarah Wilkinson, Literary Mushrooms: Tales of Horror and Fiction from the Gothic Chapbooks, 1800–1830.
Narrative Point of View
Monkcliffe Abbey is narrated in the third person, past tense, and without a framing story. The narrator is never mentioned or alluded to within the novel. The text is fairly straightforward, but sentences are lengthy and full of information. The narration focuses equally on dialogue, action description, and omniscient insight into the characters’ inner thoughts and feelings.
Elwina presently observed that the hand writing was the same—with the paper she had found in the chapel.—she was struck with horror and astonishment, when she reflected, that, perhaps, this victim of sorrow ere now had died through grief; or, perhaps, had committed some rash deed!—But, fearful of indulging her thoughts in this dismal place,—she deposited the paper with the picture on the shelf,—and returned with emotions of sorrow. (18)
One striking aspect of this narration is its use of punctuation. Especially in the above, quite active example, the exaggerated, slicing punctuation marks create a sense of quickness, motion, and finality. Throughout the text, this visual aspect—literally slicing between sentence fragments—is seen in more active scenarios, mirroring the choppy, frightened thoughts of the characters and creating a fast-paced feel.
The time for Albert’s departure being arrived, he claimed a gift from each of the ladies. Adeline presented him with a scarf of her own work, which he instantly bound round his bosom: Elwina presenting him with a ring from her finger; and, in a faultering voice, besought him to remember her father.—There was something so tender and pathetic in her manner, that it touched the strings of Albert’s heart,—at once with pity and respect for the lovely maiden. (15)
In more tender or calm scenes, such as this second example, the use of dashes has been reduced, although not completely halted. The more flowery, emotional, and flowing language of the second example serves to slow down the scene, emphasizing the tender and soft qualities of the characters in that moment. Even though the story is narrated in the third person, the omniscience of the narrator and the careful use of punctuation creates a sense of immersion.
Monkcliffe Abbey tells the story of a family living in seclusion in a sixteenth-century abbey according to the wishes of Sir Archibald Barnett, a retired warrior, and his wife, Lady Barnett. Along with their two young daughters and a small domestic staff, they live completely shut off from the outside world; no one is allowed to enter, and those who inhabit are only allowed to travel a short distance from the grounds of the abbey. Adeline Barnett, the eldest sister, is beautiful, but obscenely vain and arrogant. The younger sister, Elwina, is fair and sweet, and her generous character outshines her physical appearance. The girls enjoy walking in the country surrounding the abbey, and on one of their walks, they discover a knight lying in a puddle of his own blood. They frantically find help at a nearby cottage, and they return to the abbey while the knight is treated. After they explain the situation to their parents, Sir Archibald leaves for the cottage, only to discover the knight to be Albert de Clerville, a family friend. He brings Albert back to the abbey to recover in peace. Once Albert is well, he tells the whole family the story of his injury. His friend, Edward Barry, held a jealous grudge over Albert for his acquaintance with the beautiful Duchess Sophia Clifford. After dueling Barry multiple times and denying the requests of Lord Clifford to marry his daughter, he left the Clifford estate. On his journey, a helmeted knight stabbed him in the heart.
While walking home one night, Elwina is startled by the figure of a hooded monk walking slowly in front of her. After running home, she is too agitated to explain her situation, and faints. The next day, Albert and Elwina decide to explore the chapel within the abbey, when the head servant, Margaret, rushes in to declare Lady Barnett dead of “an apoplectic fit” (14). As Elwina and Adeline are talking that evening, they see guards rushing towards the abbey. Sir Archibald is arrested due to apparent treasonous acts, and is taken to jail. Albert is left to plan the funeral of Lady Barnett and to watch over the house, but once the funeral is over, he leaves.
Elwina is taking a walk some time later when, distracted, she wanders into an abandoned cell block in the abbey. To her surprise, someone appears to be living in one of the cells. She heads back to the chapel, and there finds the same monk she had seen before. He calls out to her, and they run into each other, falling and hitting their heads on the stone floor. Once Elwina wakes, she finds Margaret, and they investigate the cell together. There, the supposed monk reveals himself to be the knight Edward Barry, who believes he killed Albert after stabbing him in the heart. Elwina is unsure whether Albert is dead or alive, but to her relief, Albert returns to the abbey with Sir Archibald, no longer incarcerated, who has been given the title “Earl of Monkcliffe.” Adeline gets married to an unnamed man, and once Albert realizes his feelings for Elwina, they are married as well. The story ends with Elwina and Albert staying at Monkcliffe Abbey, in “a pattern of domestic virtues” (22).
Brown, Susan, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy, editors. “Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson.” Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present. Cambridge University Press Online, 2006. <http://orlando.cambridge.org/>. Accessed 10 November 2021.
Frank, Frederick S. “Illustrations from Early Gothic Novels.” Gothic Fictions: Prohibition/Transgression, edited by Kenneth Graham. AMS Press, 1989, pp. 270–87.
Hoeveler, Diane Long. “Ruined Abbeys: Justifying Stolen Property and the Crusade against Superstition.” The Gothic Ideology: Religious Hysteria and Anti-Catholicism in British Popular Fiction, 1780–1880, University of Wales Press, 2014, pp. 197–246.
Potter, Franz J., editor. Literary Mushrooms: Tales of Horror and Fiction from the Gothic Chapbooks, 1800–1830. Zittaw Press, 2009.
Wilkinson, Sarah Scudgell. Monkcliffe Abbey, a Tale of the Fifteenth Century. Kaygill Etc., 1805.
Wilkinson, Sarah Scudgell. Monkcliffe Abbey, or, the History of Albert, Elwina and Adeline, to which is added, Lopez and Aranthe, or, The Suicide ; also, the beautiful little tale of the Abbey of Clunedale. James Oram, 1807.
This early nineteenth-century chapbook by Emilia Grossett is a Scottish tale featuring various encounters with the mythical White Maid of Avenel. The story is believed to be plagiarized from The Monastery by Walter Scott.
The Monastery of St. Mary by Emilia Grossett is a short text, only twenty-four pages
in length. The size of the pamphlet is only 17.4 by 10.8 centimeters. The pages
are yellowed with age and relatively thin. The font appears to be one that is
standard to today’s texts, similar to Times New Roman. The pamphlet is not
bound by any sort of cover, though pamphlets from this era were frequently
bound with a leather cover or bound with other similar pamphlets together as a
Since this copy of the pamphlet is unbound, the first thing
that the viewer sees is the label that reveals that it is from the
Sadleir-Black Collection at the University of Virginia. On the backside of that
page is the only illustration that can be found in this pamphlet. The
illustration is in color, and it shows a man in a kilt and a woman wrapped in a
white sheet. The man’s brightly colored pink socks have bled through the page,
and the ink can be seen on the previously mentioned cover page. The pink
marking caused by the bleeding of the sock color seems irregular and is likely
not visible in most other copies of this pamphlet. After the illustration comes
the pamphlet’s title page, which states the full title, The Monastery of St.
Mary: Or, the White Maid of Avenel. A Scottish Tale,followed by the
author’s name and the publishing information. On this title page, a faint mark
of the previous illustration can be seen as though it was printed onto the page
like a watermark. This mark is most likely sun damage or staining, and not an intentional
addition to the text.
One noticeable and possibly confusing part of the book to
the untrained eye is the page numbers. The standard page numbers, which number
up to twenty-four on the final page, are in the top corner of the text. There
is a second set of numbers, however, that appears at the bottom of the first
five odd-numbered pages. These numbers have the letter A in front of them (A2,
A3, etc.) and are useless to the reader, but very important to the printer of
the text. When pamphlets like these were printed in large sheets and then
folded and cut into the order that they were meant to be read in, the printer
used these numbers to ensure that the pages were configured correctly.
Some final details that one might notice when looking
through the pamphlet include the publishing information and the price. The
price is listed on the title page as sixpence. The publishing information
appears on the title page below the price, and on the final page below “The
End.” This reveals that the pamphlet was published in London, despite its
advertisement as a Scottish tale.
One of the most important things
to note about Emilia Grossett’s chapbook, The Monastery of St. Mary, is
that it was almost certainly plagiarized from Walter Scott’s 1820 novel, The
Monastery. Both the novel and the chapbook have the same characters as well
as the same plotlines, except for the chapbook being a simplified version of
the plot due to its brevity in length. This makes it difficult to find
information about the chapbook specifically, because any mention of the
character names or locations in the chapbook almost always lead to mentions of
There is a beautiful frontispiece
in The Monastery of St. Mary, but unfortunately the illustrator’s name
is either unlisted or illegible. The illustrations of similar scenes such as
one titled Halbert Glendinning’s First Invocation of The White Maid of
Avenel in an 1821 London edition of Walter Scott’s The Monastery
were done by a man named Richard Westall, but they are clearly not by the same
illustrator as the chapbook version because Westall’s work looks much more
polished and professional than the frontispiece in The Monastery of St. Mary
Under the caption of the
frontispiece, the publisher of the chapbook is listed as “J. Bailey.” This was
a publisher who operated out of London at 116 Chancery Lane. According to E. W.
Pitcher, Bailey was active at that address from the years 1809 to 1815, however
there is also evidence pointing to Bailey publishing before 1809 and after
1815, including this chapbook which, though undated, was presumably published
after the 1820 novel that it plagiarizes (Pitcher 78, Koch 75). According to
the British Museum’s archives J. Bailey was active in publishing from 1799 to
1825 when the press was eventually shared with at least one other man by the
same surname, William Bailey, suspected to be his son (“J Bailey”). J. Bailey
is listed as the publisher for many gothic chapbooks and pamphlets from the
early nineteenth century, among other small literary works and informational
handbills (Bonnets 41).
Emilia Grossett is a fairly
mysterious author with not much credited work in the literary field. There are
a couple texts that have her listed as the author, however, including The
Spirit of The Grotto from 1799, and The Freebooter’s Wife from 1819
(Summers 56). The latter title is listed as a book, not a chapbook, published
as one volume. Montague Summers’s Gothic Bibliography and several
library catalogues, including WorldCat, spell the author’s surname as “Grosett”
as opposed to “Grossett” as it appears on the title page of The Monastery of
St. Mary. Grossett’s other known texts were not published by J.
Point of View
The Monastery of St. Mary is written in the third person by an anonymous narrator who
is not a character in the text. The narrator mostly focuses on the dialogue and
events that transpire throughout the world of the story, but they occasionally
exhibit omniscience by describing the characters’ thoughts or feelings that are
unvoiced in the story. The language used by the narrator is modern enough that
it reads very easily, with the exception being the dialogue, which sounds a
little more antiquated than the general writing style in the text. As would be
expected, the text uses British spelling which is noticeable in instances such
as writing “pedlar” instead of “peddler.”
Father Philip, eager to acquaint the Abbot of the discovery he had made, rode homeward as quick as his mule would carry him ; and in spite of the haste he made, the moon had risen before he reached the banks of the river, which it was necessary for him to cross to reach the Monastery. As the Monk came close to the water’s edge, he saw a female sitting under the remains of a large broken oak tree, looking on the current, and weeping most piteously ; surprised to see a female there at that time of night, yet supposing her grief arose from her wish to cross the river. Father Philip politely addressed her, and offered to carry her across on his mule. (5)
This excerpt demonstrates the
narrator’s use of the third person, the description of scenery and events in
the story, and insight into the characters’ (in this case Father Philip’s)
thoughts and emotions in response to events or other characters in the text.
This description of the internal reaction that the woman causes in the monk
offers a clearer idea of how the character feels about the White Maid of Avenel
than just a description of her appearance would. In the description of the
woman, the narrator also offers an interpretation of her emotional state, that
she is “weeping most piteously,” which seems to be the way that Father Philip
perceives the woman and not necessarily just a description of what she is
The Monastery of St. Mary is set on the border of Scotland, where the magnificent
Monastery of St. Mary sits on the bank of a river. Simon Glendenning and his
family live in the Tower of Glendearg, which is located a few miles from the
monastery in a hidden glen. Despite the tower’s inaccessible nature, Simon is
called to war and dies at the battle of Pinkie. His widow Elspeth surrenders
her tower and is pitied by the Englishmen.
The widow of Sir Walter Avenel,
whose husband was killed in the same manner as Simon Glendenning, has been
forced from her home by the Englishmen and is roaming helplessly around the
country with her children. They find shelter in the home of a shepherd, Martin,
and his wife, Tibb, but their cattle have been killed and they will soon starve
if they stay there. The group decides to take a chance and go to the Tower of
Glendearg, hoping that Elspeth will welcome them due to Lady Avenel’s high
status, which she does.
Lady Avenel intends to return to
her mansion once the country is more peaceful, but Julian Avenel seizes
possession of the mansion. Therefore, Lady Avenel stays at Glendearg where her
health gradually declines due to the death of her husband. Elspeth sends Martin
to fetch the priest at the monastery so that Lady Avenel can confess before she
dies. The priest emerges from her chamber after a long wait and is in a foul
mood. He says that he suspects the house to “be foul with heresy” (5). Elspeth
is alarmed but admits that Lady Avenel often reads out of a black book. Father
Phillip is horrified when he sees that it is a book of holy scriptures, which
is a sin when possessed by anyone but a priest. He takes the book from them.
On his way back, the priest
reaches the river and sees a woman weeping on the bank. He calls out to help
her. She leaps on the back of the mule and leads it into the water, then dunks
the priest in the water thrice and throws him on the bank where he lies
unconscious. Once he is found, the book of scriptures is gone. His jumbled
story is questioned by many people, including Father Eustace, who goes to
Glendearg to enquire about the priest’s visit.
Father Eustace is informed of a
strange figure who returned the book, which he again confiscates. On his way
back, the priest’s mule stops suddenly at a turn in the road and hears an
unbodied female voice whispering to him. He is then thrown from his mule,
unconscious, and wakes up in the dark. Upon returning to the monastery, the
priest learns that a trooper had gone to confession after seeing a white woman
on the path where he intended to murder Father Eustace that night. The trooper,
named Cristie of the Clinthill, accepts a gold cross from the father before
departing. The priest realizes that the book is once again gone.
Days later, Halbert Glendenning
goes out alone and summons the White Maid. She helps him retrieve the book,
then disappears. Halbert returns to the Tower with the book, and finds a miller
and his daughter, Mysie. Soon after their arrival, Cristie of the Clinthill and
Sir Piercie Shafton arrive, hoping to find hospitality there since the knight
is fleeing death in England. Halbert and the knight clash with one another, due
to their mutual superiority complexes.
The next day, Halbert is once
again offended by Sir Piercie, and goes to summon the White Maid. She gives no
advice but hands him a token to use when Sir Piercie boasts again. Upon
returning to the tower Halbert is once again offended by Sir Piercie, so he
presents the token. It works, and the knight is immediately calmed, but
realizes Halbert’s power over him and says that it will cost the boy his life.
They agree to duel in the woods the following morning. When the morning comes,
they go to the site of the enchanted fountain to fight. They find in its place
a neatly dug grave and shovel, which Halbert denies preparing.
They duel, and despite the knight
being a more skilled fighter than Halbert, the latter stabs Sir Piercie,
apparently killing him. Halbert tries to summon the White Maid, but nothing
happens, and he screams curses at her for putting him in this position. Fleeing,
Halbert finds a man in the valley who he drags back to the site of the duel,
hoping to save the knight. They find the grave filled, but the only trace of
the knight is his doublet that was laid down before the duel. The stranger,
named Henry Warden, listens to the story and advises Halbert to find shelter at
the castle of Julian Avenel instead of returning home.
At the castle they find Julian
accompanied by a young woman, Catherine, who is unmarried although pregnant.
This offends Henry because he is a preacher, and he advises Julian to marry the
woman. Julian is enraged by his advice and throws Henry in the dungeon. Halbert
is locked in a bedroom to stop him from interfering. Halbert escapes his room
through a window.
Meanwhile, the inhabitants of
Glendearg are alarmed that Halbert and Sir Piercie have yet to return, and they
send Martin out to look for them. Martin finds the grave, the bloodstains, and
the doublet. Martin returns and is telling the others what he found, when Sir
Piercie walks into the apartment wearing blood-stained clothes. This leads them
to believe that Halbert is dead, and Edward decides to get revenge for his
brother’s death. He confines the knight to a guarded room until the grave can
be searched the following morning. Father Eustace arrives at the castle and
requests a private meeting with Sir Piercie, who admits that Halbert wounded
him and he fell unconscious, before waking up with the realization that his
wound had miraculously healed.
It is forgotten that Mysie’s bedroom
is within the larger room in which the knight is being held, and she overhears
his conversation with Father Eustace. Mysie takes pity on the knight and
decides to save him. She goes to the door and whispers to Edward that she is
trapped. Edward opens the door and Mysie and the knight exit the apartment,
undiscovered by Edward due to the lack of light in the stairwell. The knight
flees with Mysie on a horse but is almost immediately seen and shot at by
Edward. They manage to escape, and they eventually stop in a village to rest.
Mysie disguises herself as a man.
Meanwhile, Halbert has found an
inn in which to stay and there he meets a pedlar who knows where to find the
recipient of Henry Warden’s letter, Lord Moray. The two men agree to travel
together the following morning, and they find themselves before the Earl of
Moray. The Earl is informed that the Monastery of St. Mary is surrounded by
English troops who are searching for Sir Piercie Shafton. Halbert is instructed
to lead the men to the monastery and advise the two sides to wait until the
Earl arrives to fight. The Earl and Sir John Foster arrive simultaneously, and
the former announces that his purpose was fulfilled, since they had captured
Sir Piercie. Upon closer inspection, they discover that the person they
captured is in fact Mysie.
All of the troops arrive in
procession at the monastery, in search of Sir Piercie. The knight advances from
the crowd and says that he is leaving England with his bride, Mysie. Halbert
and Mary Avenel marry and regain possession of the Castle of Avenel. They live
there with Elspeth, Martin, and Tibb happily ever after. Edward joins the
Monastery of St. Mary and beholds the last sight of the White Maid of Avenel,
whose fountain eventually dries up and is never seen again.
Koch, Angela. “‘The Absolute
Horror of Horrors’ Revised: A Bibliographical Checklist of
Early-Nineteenth-Century Gothic Bluebooks.” Cardiff Corvey: Reading the
Romantic Text 9 (Dec 2002), pp. 45–110.
BONNETS. 1819. The British Stage and Literary Cabinet 4, (35) (11): 41–2.
Set in the Italian countryside, this 1807 chapbook sees seemingly supernatural justice dealt after a deceitful and power-hungry prince murders his father, usurps the throne, and abducts his brother’s lover.
Parental Murder is anineteenth-century
chapbook written by an unknown author. When the novel is opened past its first
blank page, one is presented with an illustration on the second page, and the
title page appears on the third. The bulk of the title page is dedicated to the
novel’s full title and a brief description: “PARENTAL MURDER; OR, THE BROTHERS,
AN INTERESTING ROMANCE; IN WHICH VIRTUE AND VILLAINY ARE CONTRASTED, AND
FOLLOWED BY REWARD AND RETRIBUTION.” The title page indicates that the novel
was printed for T. and R. Hughes by printers Lewis & Hamblin. A date at the
bottom of the title page indicates that it was published in 1807.
Interestingly, the title page makes no mention of the novel’s author.
The illustration on the second page is in black-and-white,
depicting a scene from the main text. In the image, a woman clad in flowing
white robes looks down upon a man lying dead on the ground, facing upward. The
illustration is accompanied by a caption reading, “A fire-ball, impelled by the
arm of unerring Omnipotence, laid the libertine dead at my feet. Page 27.” As
suggested, this text appears in a passage on page 27.
The chapbook itself measures 11cm wide by 18cm tall.
Stitching holes in each page’s inner margins suggest that the chapbook was
originally bound, but this particular book has had its binding removed, and its
first blank page serves as a kind of cover. The book’s paper is thin, brittle,
yellowed, and very grainy—one feels pulp as they run their finger across each
page. At its edges, the paper is frayed and rough. The book appears to have
been printed on relatively cheap material, and this particular copy is
especially well-worn; several of its pages are on the brink of coming apart
from one another.
The chapbook is numbered as containing forty pages; however,
counting from the novel’s blank first page, there are actually only thirty-eight
pages. The novel’s first numbered page—page 8—appears only six pages in. Every
page number thereafter is consecutive; if these two pages are missing, they
must have been taken from before page 8. It is ultimately unclear if any pages
actually are missing; no content appears to be omitted from these first
pages. It is probable that either the two absent pages are blank or that page
counting simply begins at an unusual number.
The blank first page—while devoid of print—does contain
several ownership markings. The name “Sophia” is stamped identically three
times near the top. Underneath, a partially-legible script indicates the name
“Barbara Bounby” and the date range June 3rd to June 16th,
1810. (However, the specific days in June are somewhat unclear—the script is
blotted and individual characters become difficult to decipher.) Near the
bottom of the page, “Le” is written in a similar script with identical color.
After the main body of the text begins, the title of the
book appears only in its abbreviated form: “PARENTAL MURDER; OR,” alongside
“THE BROTHERS.” printed in the top margins of the left and right pages,
respectively. Each page in the text’s main body has thin margins. The type is
small, seriffed, and heavyset. The lines are short and tightly packed; the
pages, while small, are dense. The body of the text contains no illustrations
beyond the introductory frontispiece on the second page.
The body text is marked on two separate pages. First, on
page 22, two x-marks made in pencil surround the phrase “of his heart.” Higher
up on the same page, an (ostensibly accidental) pencil marking veers off the
top edge. On page 31, the word “Regicide!” is underlined in pen. These two
pages are the only two with obvious, visible annotations; the rest of the text
Very little information is available concerning the writing,
publication, or reception of Parental Murder. Its author is
anonymous—the only names listed in the chapbook are those of the publisher and
printer. Published in London in 1807, it was apparently released to little
fanfare: there are no records of Parental Murder being advertised or
reviewed in any periodicals of its time. Furthermore, searches for contemporary
literary criticism—or any other kind of secondary scholarship—on the chapbook
yield few references.
There are, however, indications that Parental Murder did
not go entirely unnoticed by the scholarly community. For instance: it is
listed in the expansive Gothic Bibliography by Montague Summers,
described simply as “Parental Murder. Chapbook. 1807” (457).A
slightly more detailed listing appears in Douglass Thomson’s Gothic Writers:
A Critical and Bibliographical Guide; his account includes the chapbook’s
full subtitle, its city of publication, and the names of its editors (137).
More interesting, however, is Parental Murder’s omission from Gothic
Writers’ section on modern reprintings or updated editions. In this section,
Thomson maintains a comprehensive list of reprintings, updated editions, and
other reproductions of the works he tracks. From this, we can infer that Parental
Murder was probably never reprinted or republished as a new edition.
Thomson’s finding is consistent with searches across several online catalogs:
in each case, no later editions of the chapbook appear. The available scholarly
information on the chapbook, while relatively minute, suggests that only one
edition has ever been published.
As previously noted, Parental Murder makes no
indication of its author; it does, however, include the names of its printers
and publishers. Before the body of the text, and once more at its close, the
names and address of the books’ printmakers are listed: “Printed by Lewis &
Hamblin, Paternoster-row” (Parental Murder 40). Similarly, the title
page displays the name and address of the publishers: “Printed for T. and R.
Hughes, 35, Ludgate-Hill, Corner of Stationers-Court” (Parental Murder 5).
Biographical information on these figures is scarce; Lewis, Hamblin, and R.
Hughes are all absent from searches for London printmakers or publishers active
during 1807. A brief biographical entry for T. Hughes, however, does appear.
The British Museum indicates that he was a British publisher and printmaker
located at 35 Ludgate-Hill, consistent with the information in the chapbook.
The page also indicates that this figure is “perhaps identical with T Hughes of
Stationers’ Court” (“T Hughes”). Observing that the listed address in Parental
Murder names both Ludgate-Hill and Stationers’ Court, we can confirm that
these two figures likely both refer to the same printmaker.
The British Museum also notes that T. Hughes published
several prints by George Cruikshank, a prominent illustrator of the time.
Cruikshank was widely known for his political cartoons and illustrations for
the likes of Charles Dickens, and his work remains prolific today. The
uncredited illustration preceding Parental Murder is almost certainly
unconnected to Cruikshank, however, as the chapbook’s publication in 1807predates
Cruikshank’s rise as an illustrator in 1811.
Investigating the site of Parental Murder’s printing and publication places the chapbook at the center of the bustling London publishing and printmaking industries. Paternoster-row, the address attributed to printers Lewis and Hamblin, was a nexus of printmaking and principally occupied by “stationers and text-writers” (Thornbury chapter 23). The chapbook’s publishers, T. and R. Hughes, were situated at the corner of the nearby Stationers’ Court. Stationers’ Court is a small path that departs from Ludgate Hill Street and leads to the entrance of Stationers’ Hall (see this Ordnance Survey map to view the precise streets). Stationers’ Hall housed the Stationers’ Company, a government-chartered literary authority that extensively vetted and registered British publications: “almost every publication … was required to be ‘entered at Stationers’ Hall’” (Thornbury chapter 19). In this sense, the sites of Parental Murder’s printing and publication were both mere footsteps away from the epicenter of London publishing, pinning the chapbook’s production to the literal geographic center of a flourishing literary trade.
Point of View
Parental Murder features an anonymous, third-person
narrator whose relationship to the text is left undefined. The novel’s prose is
grandiose, long-winded, and, at times, almost breathless in nature: short and
succinct sentences are often interposed with very long, grammatically complex
ones. The narration shifts freely between making matter-of-fact observations on
plot points and offering reflections on the inner thoughts, emotions, and
secret motivations of the characters.
With malicious looks, Rabano saw that all the favours he had been suing for at the side of this lovely peerless maiden were unhesitatingly granted to his brother, and with such an arch plausibility of excuse, that it was impossible to refuse without exposing his disappointment and vexation. Romano afterwards danced with her, and the whisper every where ran, “What a figure! what grace! what sweetness!” “It must be so!” exclaimed Rabano inwardly; “I must—I will have her; and Zalarra shall decide upon the measures to be pursued!” (20)
Parental Murder’s willingness to freely transition
between objective, plot-driven narration and inward, emotionally focused
musings serves primarily to align its high-octane, action-packed storyline with
a core thematic message about the supreme importance of virtue. Looking at plot
events alone, the novel’s storyline traces out a familiar dramatic arc: the
power-hungry, parricidal son whose sins catch up to him in the end. At the same
time, the insights into characters’ private thoughts and motivations help to
drive the thematic content: from these insights, it becomes clear that Romano
is to be seen as virtuous, and his brother Rabano is not. In the passage above,
Rabano’s inward exclamations of jealousy and lust serve to cement him as the
iniquitous foil to his virtuous brother. Having established this
characterization, when Romano ultimately triumphs, the narrator is able to
assert that “virtue is the only true path to greatness, love, and glory!” (40).
In this way, the intermingling narrative delivery of plot content and emotional
content is key to presenting a compelling plot while also making a clear
statement of theme.
Baretti is a powerful king who rules over an expansive dominion in
Italy. He has two sons, Rabano and Romano. Romano, the younger brother, is the
clear favorite of the two; he is revered by his parents for his virtuous
character. In contrast, Rabano is power-hungry and ruthless. He
resolves to conquer land for himself and sets his sights on the land of Ardini,
a nearby ally. Baretti sees a learning opportunity: he supplies Rabano with men
and armaments, hoping that brutal defeat will show Rabano to be incapable of
One day, Ardini’s men trespass on Baretti’s land, and Rabano
seizes the opportunity to mount a retaliatory attack. But when it becomes clear
that Rabano is interested in senseless brutality, Baretti and his men come to
Ardini’s aid; their forces combined, Rabano will certainly suffer crushing
defeat. Rabano, realizing this, develops a burning hatred for his father and
resolves to get revenge. He enlists his trusted assistant Zalarra to disguise
himself as a priest and sneak to Ardini’s camp, where Baretti is currently
staying. Zalarra finds Baretti in the camp and tells him that Rabano is
prepared to make a peace offering.
Baretti follows him to meet Rabano in an isolated dell. But when
he arrives, Rabano gives his father an ultimatum: betray Ardini and aid in the
conquest of his land, or be killed where he stands. Baretti realizes that the
peace offering was a setup and begins to fight his assailants, but he is
eventually overcome and stabbed. Baretti is buried in a prepared grave, and the
assassins return home.
The next morning, Ardini’s camp is in a state of confusion.
Without orders from Baretti, the supplementary forces will not go into
battle—condemning Ardini to certain defeat at the hands of Rabano. They enact a
short truce with Rabano while they search for Baretti—but find nothing.
Rabano takes the throne. He is shocked, however, when Zalarra
finds Baretti’s grave unearthed and the body missing. Rabano is shaken by this
discovery, but he rules as if nothing is wrong. He sends Romano on a mission to
a neighboring chief, and he plans to throw a party to celebrate his ascension
to power. Despite their strained relationship, Ardini is invited.
At the party, Ardini is accompanied by his beautiful daughter
Miranda. When Rabano sees her, he is immediately enamored and resolves to make
her his own. He asks her to dance, but she refuses. Suddenly, Romano bursts
into the party. Romano explains that the hostile neighboring chief detained
him, but he managed to escape and make his way home. Rabano promises to look
into the matter later.
Romano catches glimpse of Miranda. He asks her to dance, and she
gladly accepts. Rabano is incensed at seeing this, and he plans how he will win
Miranda’s hand. Rabano pulls Miranda and Ardini into a private apartment.
Ardini steps into a neighboring room to give them some privacy, but the door is
shut on him and he finds himself trapped. Now alone with Miranda, Rabano urges
her to marry him, but she confesses that she already loves Romano.
Unprompted, Miranda remarks that Rabano and Zalarra look
suspiciously similar to two hooded figures she saw on the night of Baretti’s
murder. That same night, she had planned a secret meeting with Romano—in the
same isolated dell where Baretti was murdered. She arrived at the dell before
the murderers, but when she heard them approaching, she hid behind a tree. She
has not mentioned anything out of fear for herself and Romano.
Rabano cautions her to keep quiet. If her story got out, Romano
could be in serious danger; he too was missing on the night of
the murder. Miranda agrees and swears to stay silent. Rabano renews his attempts at
courting her. When she refuses again, he forces her towards a hidden chamber.
Meanwhile, Ardini suspects foul play when he is not let out of the
locked room. He escapes through a window, finds Romano, and explains that he
fears for Miranda; the group heads for the castle’s private apartments. When a
guard stops them, they slay him and rush upstairs just in time to catch Rabano
forcing Miranda into the hidden chamber.
Miranda steals Rabano’s weapon and tries to stab him, but the
blade breaks in two and fails to injure him. Soldiers alerted by Zalarra
descend on the group and arrest Romano and Ardini for high treason. Until their
trial, Miranda is to be detained in the hidden apartment, where Rabano persists
in his attempts for her hand almost daily.
One night, Rabano sneaks into Miranda’s chamber while she is
asleep and plants a kiss on her lips. He prepares to rape her, but a suit of
armor steps off its pedestal and stands between them. It shouts: “Thy reign is
short! At the trial, parricide, thou shalt behold me again” (30). The
apparition scares Rabano off from his attempts to violate Miranda.
The night before the trial, Rabano and Zalarra get drunk together.
Zalarra continues to give Rabano alcohol until he passes out on the floor.
Zalarra also has an eye for Miranda; he steals the keys to her secret chamber,
sneaks in, and kisses her while she sleeps. Before he can continue, however, a
figure in black robes shouts “Regicide!” (31). The figure warns Zalarra to
repent. Zalarra flees, wakes Rabano, but decides not to tell him about what he
saw. Instead, Zalarra suggests they search the castle for any other
apparitions. While searching, they discover that Miranda has escaped from her
chamber. Their efforts to locate her are fruitless.
Secretly, Miranda was conveyed by a mysterious monk to a cottage
outside of the castle through a hidden tunnel. In the cottage, she meets a
former servant of Baretti, who promises to lead her to the chamber where the
trial will be held, so she can expose Rabano and Zalarra. On the day of the trial, Ardini is tried first; he confesses to killing guards in
pursuit of Rabano, but he expects that the detention of his daughter will
justify his conduct. Romano is tried next. A priest steps up and testifies the
dying confession of a deserting soldier named Afran, who had allegedly stumbled
upon Romano burying Baretti’s body. He had pursued Romano, but Romano escaped,
and Afran was mortally wounded in the struggle. He did, however, manage to grab
a gorget bearing Romano’s name during the fight.
Romano explains that he was present at the dell on the night of
the murder—but only to see Miranda. As he arrived, he saw a figure stab the
victim. He was unable to reach the assassins in time, so he unearthed the body
and resolved to carry it to a nearby house. The body was too heavy, however, so
he instead brought it to a nearby cave. Afran, seeing Romano carry the body,
mistook him for the assassin and attacked.
The judge is prepared to issue a death sentence for Romano when
Miranda bursts in. She presents the cloak and banner Baretti wore on the night
of his murder, which were found in Rabano’s strongbox. The courtroom descends
into chaos until the aforementioned priest announces that he has one more piece
of evidence—a piece of paper naming the murderer, given by Afran in his final
moments. Zalarra snatches the paper from him and rips it to pieces. Chaos
returns, and the priest suddenly blows a whistle. The room is instantly flooded
with soldiers, and a figure appears at the head of the courtroom.
To everyone’s surprise, the figure is Baretti himself. He explains
that he survived the assassination attempt. After being carried to the cave, he
told Afran that Rabano was guilty. Since then, Baretti has been living in the
cottage, disguised as one of his own servants.
The courtroom instantly condemns Zalarra and Rabano. The judge
assigns both fiends formidable sentences. Rabano is confined to a cell at the
top of a large tower, which eventually collapses and crushes him to death.
Romano is declared the worthy successor to Baretti, and he reigns “with
unabated splendor” (40).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Patrick. The German Gothic Novel in Anglo-German Perspective. Rodopi,
Chapbooks.” Popular Romanticism.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. The Fortune press, 1941.
Ann B. The Gothic Novel 1790–1830: Plot Summaries and Index to Motifs.
Lexington, The University Press of Kentucky, 1981.
A tale of magic, secrets, and betrayal, Leitch Ritchie’s 1846 novel set in France features several romances that must overcome the divides created by religion and class, while trust is tested by unknown foes with sinister motives
a novel by Leitch Ritchie, published in 1846 by Simms and M’Intyre (also
written as Simms and McIntyre) of Belfast and later also London. The book
itself is 390 pages, and its font is small and closely set together. Its
margins are likewise small with the right and left margins being 1.35 cm and
the top and bottom margins being 1 cm. The book is 16.5 cm long, 10.5 cm wide,
and 3.0 cm in thickness, making it physically quite compact. This edition is
bound together as one novel, but as implied by the dedication on page five, it
has also been published in multiple volumes. There are two other editions, one
with two volumes and one with three, both of which were published in 1836. The
cover of the book is intricate, with calf leather covering the spine and
corners of the book which indicates it was half bound, and the rest of the
cover is marbled in blue and red. The leather on the front and back covers is
decorated with a floral design that was impressed using a bind-rolled floral
tool. On the spine, the design resembles a thistle, which could be a reference
to Ritchie’s homeland, Scotland, whose national flower has been the thistle
since 1249. The author is also referenced many times inside the book. His name
is embossed on the spine, is labeled on pages 3 and 4, and referenced again in
the notes at the end of the book. On page 3, his name is also accompanied by
some of the titles of his other novels and is followed by “etc. etc.”
indicating that he has written many works. There are two title pages, the first
with only with The Magician printed on it, and the second
(on page 3) with The Magician printed along with Ritchie’s
name and other works. This page is outlined in a black lined box. The other
stories referenced that were written by Ritchie include The Game of
Life, Romance of French History, and Journey to St.
Petersburgh and Moscow. Also included on this page is the publisher along
with their location along with the publication date of the novel. A note
from the author precedes the main text, and here Ritchie explains the lack of
magic in the novel, despite its title. He also explains his inspiration for
many of his characters, many of which were based on historical figures. One
last inclusion is Ritchie’s mention of the character Gilles de Retz, whom he
had previously written about three years earlier in Wanderings by the Loire,
an account of the character’s history and background.
The book is in relatively good condition,
with its spine being the only thing in slightly poor physical condition. The
spine is cracked severely but still holds the novel together, while the inside
pages look untouched. Also of consideration, the spine is tightly bound, which
might contribute to the anomaly that while from the outside it looks worn, the
inside is in good condition, as it takes effort to open the novel and in doing
so the spine is worn out at an accelerated rate.
Inside the book, one of the first things of interest is an armorial bookplate belonging to John Waldie of Hendersyde Park which is located in Ednam, Scotland, a small town near Kelso in the Scottish Borders. The bookplate also has a capital E written in the top left corner. Under the bookplate, is a blue book label that states “Novels and Romance; No. 893” indicating that this novel belonged to a large private collection of Waldie. This was most likely placed at the same time as the armorial bookplate but added second as it abuts the armorial plate so closely. Only the armorial bookplate has left an impression on the page adjacent to the back of the front cover. This is most likely because the bookplate’s paper, as opposed to the book label’s, is thicker and the ink used when printing it has transferred onto the facing page.
The interior of the book is void of any
illustrations except for an intricate drawing of the first letter in the first
chapter on page seven. The letter I (belonging to the first word of the novel,
“in”) is shaded and drawn to have flowers adorning it. The first and last two
pages of the novel (which are not in the official page count) are blank and are
thinner and more yellowed in comparison to the rest of the pages, which are
slightly brittle but in overall better condition. The pages all together are
stiff and inflexible, but this could be due to the novel’s tight binding and
resulting infrequent use.
A unique feature of this novel is that in the back it contains a receipt of purchase by Robert K. Black. It is in linen paper which was determined by holding up the receipt up to the light where the watermark “698 Linen Faced” is revealed, which describes the type and brand of paper. Some of the aspects (name, address, telephone, telegram, etc.) appear to be previously printed onto the paper, while other details look to have been added by a typewriter (including the date of purchase, the book purchased, and the buyer). The receipt comes from George Bates Rare and Interesting Books in London, and it shows that the novel was purchased by Robert Black on August 8, 1939, almost one hundred years after The Magician’s publication. This would have also been one year after Black’s purchase of Michael Sadleir’s collection in 1938 which was immediately placed at the University of Virginia. From 1938 to 1942, Black continued to add more novels into the gothic collection, one of which was The Magician. On the receipt, it can even be seen that the seller incorrectly typed many parts of the receipt. On it, the book purchased is The Nagician (which was not amended) and Ritchie’s last name was originally incorrectly spelled with a “w” at the end, which was later typed over with an e. The date of the book’s publication was also originally incorrectly typed, stating originally 1848, and the 8 was later typed over with a 6.
The Magician is
a novel written by the Scottish author Leitch Ritchie. Before its publication,
Ritchie had already written multiple novels, sketches, and short stories, some
of which include The Romance of History, France (1831)
and The Game of Life (1830). Ritchie was well known in the
literary sphere due to his numerous works and had gained merit from his short
stories (The Athenaeum 396). A year after The Magician was
published in 1836, Ritchie had even embarked on a tour for his series, Ireland,
Picturesque and Romantic; or, Heath’s Picturesque Annual for 1838,
which was well-received (Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine 684). The Magician was
published in four main editions in Ritchie’s lifetime. The original publication
was in 1836, and during that year it was distributed by two publishers: John
Macrone as well as Carey, Lea, & Blanchard. John Macrone was based in
London but passed away in 1837, a year after The Magician’s publication
(Simkin). His version was distributed in three volumes. Carey, Lea, &
Blanchard published the novel in two volumes, and this was published in the
United States, giving The Magician a larger audience. Later,
in 1846, his novel was published in one volume by Simms & M’Intyre, a
London and Belfast based publisher. Their first version was in 1846, where the
volume consisted of 390 pages and was reprinted in the “Parlour Novelist” (a
collection of fiction reprints); this is the edition held by the University of
Virginia Sadleir-Black Collection. Simms & M’Intyre’s second printing
of The Magician was in 1853 and consisted of 320 pages and was
reprinted in the “Parlour Library,” another series of fiction reprints.
In periodicals at the time, The
Magician was advertised frequently by Macrone and Simms &
M’Intyre. Its advertisements were smaller on the page than larger names at the
time, such as Charles Dickens in The Athenaeum. Ritchie’s
advertisements, in contrast, were often found among groups of novels that were
either listed in “Lately Published” or “In the Press” sections (The
Athenaeum 1021; The Literary Gazette 12). In a select
few of the advertisements, Ritchie’s work would be given more space in print in
order to describe a brief summary. Despite the different periodicals it could
be found in, such as Gentleman’s Magazine and The
Court Magazine and Belle Assemblee, the blurb was consistently “The
Magician, the scene in France, and the epoch the end of the English dominion in
the fifteenth century, connected with the favourite studies of the period,
alchemy and magic, by Mr. Leitch Ritchie” (The Court Magazine and Belle
Alongside this promotion, there were few reviews for The Magician, all of which had varying opinions on the quality of the novel. Two of the more notably detailed ones, written in The Literary Gazette and The Athenaeum delivered negative feedback. The Literary Gazette labeled The Magician as “a complete failure” and commented specifically on the striking similarities to the Bible’s tale of Isaac and Rebecca (The Literary Gazette 360). Due to this, the reviewer questioned the originality of the plot and likened parts of it to another previously published novel, Kenilworth, stating that two of The Magician’s main characters created a dynamic that was “an exaggerated copy of Leicester and Alasco” (The Literary Gazette 360). The Athenaeum’s review was less harsh, but still nowhere near positive. Though the author praised Ritchie for his earlier works, he emphasized that he has “been less successful when his canvas was more ambitiously enlarged” (396). This review harped more on the concept of the title and its relation to the book, as any magic that is described in the book is later refuted by Ritchie and revealed to be mere tricks of the eye, stating “we cannot, however, understand why Mr. Ritchie should neutralize the effect of his story, by a careful and systematic destruction of the wonders it contains” (The Athenaeum 396). This review mainly consisted of criticism regarding introducing the idea of sorcery and gramarye only to in the end dissuade his readers from believing in its existence entirely. The Magician’s more positive reviews are less prevalent and take the form of short blurbs. The Examiner referenced a small review by The Globe in which they wrote, “We congratulate Mr. Ritchie on the sensation he has produced,” and the Athenaeum quickly referenced it as a “clever and forcible romance” (The Examiner 688; The Athenaeum 625). This seems to be the extent of the positive reviews, with only a couple more sources eliciting some optimistic words in his direction. Despite this, Ritchie is often referenced in reviews or advertisements for his other works, such as in the Examiner when Wearfoot Common is noted as being by “Leitch Ritchie, Author of ‘The Magician,’” which could indicate its approval by the general public as opposed to the critics, who seemed to have taken a negative stance on its content (The Examiner 181).
Presently, The Magician has
been adapted into digital copies, most notably the Simms & M’Intyre 1846
version has been electronically reproduced by HathiTrust Digital Library in
2011. HathiTrust has also reproduced volumes one through three of the 1836
Macrone publication and volumes one and two of the Carey, Lea & Blanchard
1836 publication. The 1853 version seems to be the only one missing in their
digital library. Google Books has electronically reproduced these specific
volumes as well.
Point of View
narrated in the third person, conveying the thoughts of all of the characters
as opposed to just one. The anonymous narrator provides information about
background and history that the characters, individually or collectively, might
not know. Within this third-person narration, the narrator also occasionally
uses the first-person, particularly utilizing “we” when relaying background
knowledge. This is done sparingly, only at the beginning of chapters or in the
midst of a description. The narrator also directly addresses “the reader”
within the narration.
Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:
The attention of the scholar [David] was now directed exclusively to the space within the circle; and after an interval which appeared painfully long, he saw a light-coloured vapor rising from the altar, which was followed by a sudden flame, illuminating for an instance the whole apartment. But the smoke and flame vanished as suddenly as they had arisen, and, at the same moment, the appearance of a man clothed in black armor stood by the table. (258)
Sample Passage of Pauline Narrating a Dream:
“I followed him, for I could not help it. He called my name, and I mounted after him into the air, higher, higher than the lark soars or the cloud rolls. The stars swept in circles above our heads, hissing through the golden air and the earth was like a star beneath our feet, only stationary and alone. Then Prelati turned round, and I saw that he was a demon of the abyss, and I flew shrieking down the fields of space, till the whole universe rang with my cries. But he seized me; he caught me by my long hair, that streamed in the wind, when suddenly his arm was struck from his body by the blow of a sword. We are now safe. Hide me, love, in thy coat, and lay the Bloody Heart next to mine. But take away the dead arm that still clings to my hair. –Faugh! it makes me shudder. Cut off the tress-there– ‘O Douglas, Douglas, Tender and true!’” (261)
Sample Passage including an Interjection and Reference to the Reader:
Soon however, his mind seemed to revert to its usual occupations. He was evidently preparing to retire for the night; and, after having opened the door of a closet, where his bed appeared to be placed, he sank down upon his knees to pray. In his prayer, which was delivered with energy and deep devotion, the student joined mentally; and as the form of supplication was not particular to the personages of our history, but common to many of those who were in that day engaged in similar pursuits, we think it well to present the reader with the following copy. (52)
The third-person narration reveals the
actions that occur in the novel as well as the motivations or reasonings behind
these actions. They also contribute to the many interpretations of the
situations that multiple characters simultaneously encounter. By presenting
each character’s experiences, the narration builds a bigger picture of the
overarching plot. The example above shows how David is conceptualizing the
resurrection of Prelati, but this is only one point of view. Later, the
narrator also presents Pauline’s thoughts in the form of the dream she had when
she fainted from the sight of Prelati. From her perspective, an impending
danger regarding Prelati, and her safety is secured by Douglas (Archibald) is
foreshadowed. While the introduction to her position and story is in the third
person, her dialogue is told in the first person. Alongside developing these
relationships among the novel’s characters, by consistently using “we” the
narrator also develops a relationship between himself and the reader. With this
relationship, he can also include new knowledge that is essential to understand
the context of the novel’s settings and characters.
The novel begins in 1497 in Paris, during the welcome parade
for the new prince, where 3000 people are waiting. A young unnamed Scottish
knight is introduced and, he enters the crowd, disappearing past the gates of
Paris. Stopping on a bridge, the knight talks to the echevin, Jacquin
Houpelande who is a member of the legislative body, introducing Scotland’s part
as an ally of Paris in the war. The French needed their help in defeating
England during the Hundred Years War. The knight stops to think about how
well-designed Paris is for the occasion, with everyone dressed up, and he
concludes that everyone is represented but the Jews, who were banished by the
edict of the past prince. He continues into the city, stopping by the
university to watch the parade, full of royals and dignitaries. In it is the
dauphin, who is betrothed to Margaret, the young princess of Scotland. While
walking further, the unnamed knight is attacked by three English students who
draw their swords, but a man, Douglas, shouts at them, and descends into the
streets followed by three other men. Douglas, and his three companions, Nigel,
Bauldy, and Andrew, defend the Scottish knight, and once the fight is over, the
knight goes to talk to his rescuers. He realizes that he knows their leader who
was his childhood friend, Archibald, as they are both from the Douglas clan
All leave to go to Archibald’s room, and upon entering,
David and Archibald begin to argue over an unlit candle about David’s choice to
become a student, which leaves him unpaid. The flame suddenly flashes up,
though David takes no notice. David leaves for the night, entering a doorway
that leads him to a tunnel under the university. Here, David’s master is
introduced, the alchemist Messire Jean, along with his master’s daughter whom
David has developed feelings towards over the years. The two men hear a noise
and a knock on the final door, which turns out to be Messire Jean’s friend
Prelati. Prelati introduces the concept of the philosopher’s stone and then
brings up Jean’s enemy Gilles de Retz, who betrayed him long ago. While they
begin to talk, David talks to the daughter who tells him her secret: she’s
Jewish. She makes him promise not to reveal what he knows as his knowledge
could kill them.
The next morning, David has a hard time dealing with the
news, so he seeks out Archibald to confess to him his secret life. They walk
through Paris and Archibald, a staunch believer in Christianity, over David’s
choice to indulge in Hermeticism. While passing people, David mentions that he
recognizes a man named Orosmandel, a famed philosopher. Archibald’s past is
explained; he came to Paris to assist Margaret, Princess of Scotland, on her
journey to meeting the Dauphin of France. On the way he saved a woman known as
Mademoiselle de Laval, who warned him that her attacker is the Black Knight and
tells him to make friends with a man named Orosmandel. The flashback ends, and
now Archie stands in the theatre recognizing her in the crowd with Orosmandel.
The next day, David explains to his roommates Nigel, Andrew,
and Bauldy, that he must leave, and they accuse him of valuing his life above
their own. Hearing this, David is stunned and leaves the apartment, along with
his education at the university. He meets with Messire Jean, who tells him to
accompany his daughter, Hagar, to Nantes. David agrees and tells Jean in his
absence to find his three friends to uptake the position of his assistant.
Around the same time, Andrew, Bauldy, and Nigel receive a visit from Archibald
who is trying to find David. They don’t know where he went, but Archibald later
receives an anonymous note telling him to meet at the inn and tavern,
Pomme-du-Pin. David and Hagar meet him, and David tells Archibald that he is
going to work for Orosmandel as his assistant. Archibald insists that he will
pursue alchemy if David can prove it is real. Hagar tells them she must leave
but tells them to wait for her. While waiting, David inquires about Archibald’s
relationship with Mademoiselle de Laval, who Archibald confesses he loves. Upon
Hagar’s absence, they resolve to travel together to Brittany. While stopped for
the night, Archibald encounters a young woman who tells him that the Damsel de
Laval is in danger and he must go to the ruinous castle nearby. There, he
overhears a plot to capture the Damsel, and he escapes as the Black Knight
Hagar is now talking to two other women, Pauline and Marie,
who want her to join their journey. Hagar insists that she must go straight to
Nantes, but Pauline will not let her leave. Marie helps Hagar escape, switching
cloaks with her, and Hagar passes the guards without suspicion. In the morning,
Marie and Hagar leave for Nantes and end up traveling alongside a parade, where
Gilles de Retz is seen. Hagar, now startled, says she is going to seek out
Rabbi Solomon, who resides in Nantes, as he will grant her safety and she will be
able to live there with her people. Marie’s betrothed, Jean, hears this and
tells her that he will oversee her travels there. He instead betrays her,
leading her to Gilles de Retz’s city apartment, locking her in to be kept
prisoner. Elsewhere, the Damsel de Laval thinks about Archibald, questioning if
he loves her for her money or if he has true intentions. She reveals that she
is Pauline, who spoke to Hagar earlier. Pauline goes to talk to Orosmandel, who
is employed by her father, and his assistant, the dwarf.
On the road to Brittany, David tells Archibald that he is worried about Hagar, and Archibald insinuates that David is falling in love with someone who is “unfit” causing David to draw his sword in her defense. The peasant girl interrupts the fight, telling them that her name is Marie, and that she is getting married. Her cousin, Lissette sings an ominous bridal song, which and Marie leaves crying. David also leaves, and he runs into the dwarf who tells him that it’s his job to escort David to La Verrieré. There, Orosmandel and Gilles, talk about their plans to sacrifice a willing virgin to the devil. They plan on sacrificing one of three girls, Gilles’ daughter Pauline, Hagar, or Marie. They contemplate sacrificing Hagar because she would be willing to save either her father or David’s life, and Marie because she left before she could consummate her marriage. Later Lissette taps on Andrew’s window, telling him that Marie is lost. Archibald runs into the woods, and there he finds the Black Knight and his men. At the same time, Nigel, Bauldy, and Andrew enter the same part of the woods, and after escaping the Black Knight, they all agree to save David, who they fear has been put into grave danger. When they arrive at Nantes, Messire Jean, whose name is Caleb, is with them, as he left Paris with the trio. All try to figure out how to infiltrate La Verrieré to find David.
David is working for Orosmandel, using his position to
figure out how to rescue Hagar. Later that night, Orosmandel sends for both David
and Pauline so they can watch him summon the ghost of Prelati. Pauline faints,
causing David to have to carry her to another room, Hagar’s prison. There,
David warns Hagar to not take anything given to her, and he leaves saying that
their religion no longer separates them as they are all equal at the gates of
Andrew finds the house of Rabbi Solomon, where he meets
Caleb. While talking, two men, Claude Montrichard and Beauchamp, enter asking
Caleb for gold so they can capture one of Gilles’ territories. They explain
that Gilles is being investigated for his perversion of nature and religion and
the government plans on arresting him. Caleb agrees to help them so long as
they promise to rescue Hagar.
Back at La Verrieré, Hagar, contemplates her feelings for David
and questions Gilles’s motives. She tries to leave, but the guard tells her
that she needs permission from the baron. Hagar goes to request it, but the
baron tells her that he cannot give freedom nor can she receive it. She
bargains that if David is set free, she won’t try to leave. David enters to
talk to Gilles, and Andrew comes in as the ambassador of Houpelande. Gilles
tells David to leave, but David refuses, saying he is there to protect Hagar.
Hagar reveals Prelati is alive, and before they all part, David tells Andrew to
meet him later that night. Andrew heads for the tower, where David tells him to
relay to Archibald that he must ally with Beauchamp and Montrichard, Prelati is
alive, and Pauline is in danger. David later discovers a trapdoor in the floor,
where Orosmandel and Prelati must have staged the summoning. He hides behind
the curtain as Orosmandel and Gilles talk about their sacrifice, determining
that Pauline must die. Later that night, David hears his name and discovers Marie
in Gilles’ arms. Gilles runs, and David helps Marie escape through the newfound
Andrew travels back to Nantes to meet with the rest of the
men, and from there they split up. Andrew and Archibald take the road with
Montrichard, while Nigel and Bauldy set forth on Houpelande’s wagon. While this
is happening, Orosmandel and Gilles set up the ritual, and since Pauline won’t
be a willing participant (which is required for the ceremony’s success), they
convince Hagar, telling her David has died, and she is sent back to her cell.
In another location, David has successfully convinced Caleb of his love for
Hagar is taken from her cell by the Orosmandel, who has told her he will take her away as he wants her for his mistress. She refuses him, claiming love for David and that Orosmandel is too old for her to love. It’s at this moment that, Orosmandel tears away his beard and cloak, revealing that he was Prelati all along. While Prelati is distracted, Caleb stabs him and is subsequently thrown into the nearby wall by Prelati. Both die, and Hagar leaves with David. In another part of the castle, Archibald rescues Pauline. The novel concludes with the anonymous narrator giving an account of what has happened since then. Archibald and Pauline marry, as do Andrew and Marie, along with Bauldy and Felicité. David and Hagar leave together to travel to far and foreign lands. Three years later, a procession is held for Gilles where he is charged for sorcery and burned for being a wizard.
“Advertisement.” The Athenaeum, no.
1348, 1853, pp. 1021.
“Advertisement. “ Examiner, no.
1499, 1836, pp. 688.
“Book Review.” Examiner, no. 2460, 1855, pp. 181-182.
‘THE BOOKS OF THE SEASON.” Tait’s Edinburgh
Magazine, vol. 4, no. 47, 1837, pp. 678–688.
“LITERARY INTELLIGENCE.” The Court Magazine
and Belle Assemblee, July 1832-Jan.1837, vol. 8, no. 2, 1836, pp. 7.
“LITERARY NOVELITIES.” The Literary Gazette
: A Weekly Journal of Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts, no. 989,
1836, pp. 12.
“The Magician.” The Athenaeum, no. 449,
1836, pp. 396.
“The Magician.” The Literary Gazette : A
Weekly Journal of Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts, no. 1011, 1836,
Ritchie, Leitch. The Magician. Belfast,
Simms & M’Intyre, 1846.
In this 1845 Eugène Sue novel, the Female Bluebeard is believed to have killed her past three husbands and now has three lovers: a pirate captain, a hide dealer, and a cannibal.
The Female Bluebeard:
or the Adventurer is originally a French text by Eugène Sue; this edition presents
the English translation. This edition does not give the original French title,
but the French edition is entitled L’Aventurier
ou la Barbe-bleue, with the name Barbe-bleue, or Bluebeard, coming
from a French folk tale. In this edition, the full English title, The Female Bluebeard: or the Adventurer,
appears on the fifth page and across every set of adjacent pages. Additionally,
the author’s name appears on the fourth page under an illustration of the
author, and again on the fifth page, under the title. It is on the fifth page
that the book also gives the name of the illustrator, Walmsley, and the
publisher, W. Strange.
The translator of this particular English edition is not specified, but we do know it was done in London in November of 1844, and the copy was published by William Strange in his office at 21, Paternoster Row, London, England in 1845. The text features thirty-four illustrations by Walmsley, and a separate epilogue to the story entitled “The Abbey of Saint Quentin.” The translator provides the reasoning behind the epilogue, noting that Eugène Sue was notorious for tying up the rest of his stories very quickly and in an “unsatisfactory manner” (286). Thus, this additional story gives a finished outcome and resolves any unanswered questions.
The translator prefaces both the full story and the epilogue. The epilogue was published separately by T.C. Savill, Printer, 107, St. Martin’s Lane in London.
The book is entirely unique, the cover of the
book being a hard paper board which has been hand painted with a marbling
technique. This particular cover has a muted, gray-green color with small
swirls of reds, yellows, and blacks mixed in. The spine and the corners of the
book are bound with dark brown leather, and the spine has both seven sets of
parallel gilded lines going across it and a shortened version of the title, Female Bluebeard, also in gilt on the
top of the spine. The book is 12.5cm by 18.5cm,
and the edges of the cover and around the leather are worn. The binding of the
book is still well intact; however, it is fragile upon opening it.
Inside of the book, the first couple pages are
end sheets of a thicker, more brittle paper, and the rest are of a softer,
thinner sheet. There is a table of contents after the title page with both the
chapter names and corresponding pages indicated. There are thirty-eight
chapters plus an additional two for the epilogue. The pages of the book are
identified with numbers indicated on the top left and top right of the pages,
consecutively. There is a total of two-hundred and seventy-six pages for The Female Bluebeard: or the Adventurer,
and the full story including the epilogue concludes on page three-hundred and
six. Roman numerals, appearing at the bottom of some select pages, going up to
the numeral XX, or twenty, were indicators to the people who bound the books
which sections went in order.
The font of the text is rather small and closely
set, and the margins are not very large. The illustrations appear both at the
beginning of some chapters with the first letter of the first word in that
sentence incorporated into the drawing, as well as throughout the chapters.
They are all done in black ink by wood cuts. The illustrations don’t feature a
caption, but they reflect scenes from that particular page or section. In some
of the illustrations, the name of the illustrator, Walmsley, can be found
cleverly hidden. For instance, in the opening of the chapter there is an
illustration in which Walmsley’s name appears under the shadow of a fallen
This particular book has some marks from previous
ownership and from natural weathering. There is a name on the first page of the
first chapter, written in pencil and signed in cursive, as well as a number
scrawled in the corner of one of the first pages of endpapers. The significance
of both is unknown. The pages show some browning and staining from air
pollution interacting with the books over time, but little to no stains are
from human error.
The author of The
Female Bluebeard: or the Adventurer, Eugène Sue, was well known across Europe, his French texts
being adapted into every European language. He was lauded as the nautical
romance author of Europe. His early works, generally maritime and romance
focused, were immensely popular and enjoyed, but ultimately viewed as immoral
and depraved. Many authors and publications were quick to defend Eugène
Sue’s own moral character though, and his popularity in France led him to be
elected as a representative of the people. After publishing several books then
going into debt, Sue decided to leave Paris and abandon his upper-class roots
to be among the people. This prompted his most popular novels, Mathilde and Les Mystères de Paris, which gave rise to many imitations
and put him in the spotlight as a great socialist philosopher and novelist. Sue
wrote some of the dramatic adaptations of these novels as well as for some of
his other works, including the
Morne-Au-Diable, an adaptation of The
Female Bluebeard: or the Adventurer (“Eugene Sue: His Life and Works” 54–66).
The Female Bluebeard
was published in several manners. The book could be purchased whole as a single
volume, but there was also the option to buy it in sections. It was sold in
twenty parts in a magazine, for a price of one penny each. The sections
contained two of the illustrations each. This twenty-number option could be
bought by the publisher in London at 21 Paternoster-row, or “at all booksellers
in England, Ireland, and Scotland” (The
Standard 1). The W. Strange edition from 21 Paternoster Row, in 1846, just
published, could also be purchased whole for three sickles (“Popular Books” 32).
The English version of the text was published by several companies in London
and by one in New York. The first English edition was the London edition by W.
Strange. The New York version of L’Aventurier
ou la Barbe Bleue, published in 1844 by J. Winchester, is titled
differently as The Female Bluebeard; or
Le Morne au Diable, taking from the name of the Female Bluebeard’s
habitation. It is only one hundred and fifteen pages. The London publisher,
Stokesley pr. owned by J.S. Pratt, likewise, used this title in their
publication of the novel in 1845. This edition contained two volumes, measuring
445 pages, and a two-page insert about the other novels published by Pratt at
Stokesley. The French text was translated to English for this edition by
Charles Wright. Later, in 1898, The
Female Bluebeard had several of its chapters published weekly in a London
newspaper on “tales of mystery,” and it was advertised as a story of “love,
intrigue, and adventure” (“Tales of Mystery” 241). There are several advertisements regarding the editions and
where they could be bought. Stock of The
Female Bluebeard was even auctioned off by a book collector at his house,
boasting a thousand perfect copies of the eight-volume edition, illustrated
with woodcuts with about one hundred and ten reams (“Sales by Auction” 546).
The Female Bluebeard:
Or the Adventurer was adapted for the stage several times. It appeared in
England for one of the first times at the Drury Lane Theater in an adaptation
entitled Adventurer in the Fiend’s
Mountain (Amusements, &C
246). It was also adapted into a play by C. A Somerset Esquire at an
amphitheater in Manchester (“Provincial Theatricals”). Both performances seemed
to attract favorable attention and were deemed by the press a success. The
novel likely had many more shows, as Eugène Sue himself, wrote an adaptation of it.
There were mixed reviews for The Female Bluebeard, as it did not quite capture the hearts of the
people as much as many of his other works did. This novel, again, brought
scrutiny on Sue’s character. One critic published that The Female Bluebeard was “licentious,” leading the translator of
the W. Strange edition to write to the paper and defend the novel’s values. The
translator argued that while not many French novels possessed a moral to their
story, The Female Bluebeard did, and
a valuable one at that (“Literature:
The Female Bluebeard”). Moreover, there were some reviews that raved of
its success, calling it “the most curious and exciting work” produced by Eugène
Sue (“Popular Books” 32).
This particular text is not well attended to by scholars, as
Eugene Sue produced a plethora of novels which garnered more attention and
acclaim. His novel, Les Mystères de Paris, or The Mysteries of Paris, inspired several other
locations-based mysteries such as the
Mysteries of London and the Mysteries
of Munich, and has been published since by the company Penguin Classics.
His novel, the Wandering Jew, has
also been published by modern companies, and has gained more attention,
particularly for its strong anti-Catholic sentiments. In many of his popular
novels, his socialist ideology attracted scholars and inspired a great deal of
the emerging writers at the time. Sue’s work is thought to have influenced Charles
Dickens, Victor Hugo, and Alexandre Dumas. Alexandre Dumas wrote the biography
of his friend and fellow writer, Eugène Sue (“Eugene Sue: His Life and Works” 54).
Point of View
The Female Bluebeard:
or The Adventurer is narrated in the third person, not through a specific
character, but by an anonymous narrator. The narrator continuously interjects
throughout the novel to guide the audience’s reading along, directly addressing
the reader as a willing participant in learning the history of the characters.
The narration has a sense of self-awareness, being cognizant of and
acknowledging the ridiculousness of some of its characters as well as several
aspects of the story. There is a controlled omniscience throughout, as the
characters’ emotions and motives are blatantly revealed. However, regarding
some secrets, the author chooses to withhold their answers until it is needed
for the plot. The narration is rich, striking a balance between complex and
uniquely singular characters, vibrant and multi-sensory descriptions, and a
wild and dynamic plot. Finally, some parts of the narration are left in French,
as there was not quite as fitting a translation in English, either because of
word play or connotations not being expressed in the same manner once
We beg, therefore, to inform the reader, who has, doubtless, long since seen through the disguise, and penetrated the mystery of the Boucanier, the Flibustier, and the Carib, that these disguises had been successively worn by the same man, who was none other than THE NATURAL SON OF CHARLES THE SECOND, JAMES DUKE OF MONMOUTH, EXECUTED IN LONDON, THE 15TH OF JULY, 1685, AS GUILTY OF HIGH TREASON.
We hope such of our readers as have had any ill opinion of the Female Bluebeard within their hearts will now do her ample justice. (141)
The narration, particularly in this paragraph, capitalizes
on the involvement of the reader in the analysis and reading of the text,
creating a greater sense of investment on the reader’s part and making each
reveal that much more impactful. While, the narrator gives the reader the
benefit of the doubt of likely predicting the mystery element, this
simultaneously invites the unaware reader to look retrospectively at the story
and recall any clues or foreshadowing, keeping the reader participating.
Through the inclusion of the reader throughout the novel, the narrator grabs
the readers’ attention, continuously checking in on the progress of their
interpretation and ideas about the text. By actually calling forth to the
reader, each reader is figured as a singular person whose participation matters
to the story, rather than having the story appeal to the emotions of many. This
feigned exchange creates an even greater sense of a tale being told by word of
mouth, and holds the possibility of investing the reader more into the story.
As this connection is made, and mutual involvement and shared knowledge is
established, the narrator is more effective in dispelling any of the reader’s
disbeliefs or disparagements against the story. In the above sample passage,
the narration dispels any aspersions on the Female Bluebeard’s character. The
narrator, by voicing what the reader has “doubtless” thought, creates this idea
that the reader’s and narrator’s opinion and view of the story will logically
match up throughout the story, not just in this one singular instance.
Therefore, the narration figures the reader as likely to go along with the rest
of what the narrator presents and take it as truthful to the history. Thus,
through the inclusion of the reader in the progress of the story, the author is
able to give the feel of a spoken tale and interestingly sway the reader to
accept what the author says as fact.
The novel opens up on the ship, the Unicorn, which has
presently left la Rochelle for the island, Martinique, and is occupied most
usually by Captain Daniel, a small crew, Reverend Father Griffon, and most
unusually, by the Gascon, the Chevalier Polyphemus Amador de Croustillac. It is
May of 1690, and France is at war with England. The Chevalier de Croustillac
has chosen to wait until a less conspicuous time to reveal himself from where
he has hidden on board the ship in order to get safe passage to Martinique and
eventually, to America. Being a man of great immodesty and foolhardiness, he
assumes a spot at supper with no word on how he arrived on board the moving
vessel. The Chevalier manages to evade all questioning of his mysterious
appearance on board the ship through extreme flattery, party tricks, and by the
promise to only confess his intentions to Father Griffon. Nearing the end of
the journey to Martinique, Captain Daniel offers the Chevalier de Croustillac a
place on board his ship as a permanent source of entertainment, and Reverend
Father Griffon, wanting to help the poor adventurer, offers for him to reside
with the Reverend at his house in Macouba, where he can attempt to earn some
capital. However, this all changes when word of the Female Bluebeard is passed
around the ship and meets the ears of the Chevalier.
The Female Bluebeard, like her folktale namesake, Bluebeard,
is believed to have killed her past three husbands, and currently holds the
abominable company of three ugly lovers: Hurricane, the pirate captain; a hide
dealer boucanier coined, “Tear-out-the-soul”; and a Carib cannibal from
Crocodile Creek, Youmaale. Despite these alarming and less than spectacular
qualities possessed by the elusive Female Bluebeard, the Chevalier de
Croustillac decides that he will show her a true gentleman and win her heart,
and with it her fortune, regardless of the potential of her being old and ugly.
And so, the Chevalier decides to go with Father Griffon, if only to leave after
a night’s repose. This plan is met with strong disagreement from the Father,
for he knows some truth to the story of the Female Bluebeard having received
confession from a man who encountered her at her home on the Devil’s Mount, or
the Morne au Diable. While staying with Father Griffon and resting for supper,
a threat to forget his pursuit of the Female Bluebeard comes to the Chevalier
in the form of a note tied to an arrow which narrowly misses his flesh. The
Chevalier goes against both warnings, sneaks out of Father Griffon’s care, and
embarks on a harrowing trek to the habitation of the Female Bluebeard at the
Morne au Diable.
It is during this time that we catch a glimpse of the
equally daunting and troubling journey to the Morne au Diable, full of danger
and risk of death, of the Colonel Rutler, a partisan of the new king of
England, William of Orange, who is tasked with a mission which will later be
Back at the Morne au Diable, the Female Bluebeard, revealed
to be exceptionally fine and beautiful, is seen flirting with a man named
Jacques, who she also lovingly calls Monsieur Hurricane. It is here that she
also learns that the Chevalier de Croustillac is after her hand in marriage,
and she, consequently, sends word to the Boucanier, Tear-out-the-soul, to bring
him to her.
The Chevalier de Croustillac, led by his gut and the
magnetism of his heart to the Female Bluebeard’s, stumbles into the Carib’s
camp, exhausted, bloodied, and starving. He is met with a feast of the most
unusual variety, and is led to the Morne au Diable, albeit with some feigned
protestation from the Boucanier. Upon arriving at the magnificent dwelling of
the Female Bluebeard, the Chevalier, wishing to impress the lady, requests a
change of clothes for his own sullied and ripped ones, and is put into the
garments of the Female Bluebeard’s late first husband.
The Chevalier meets the Female Bluebeard, who we learn is
called Angelina, with great awe and wonderment, and attempts to inspire
Angelina with much of the same amazement and admiration that he holds for her.
Angelina bemuses the Chevalier, speaking falsities and making fun of the
Chevalier’s brash actions. She sticks close to her lovers, further aggravating
the mind and heart of the Chevalier. She does offer him a limited position as
her new husband, which shall end before a year is up through rather gruesome
means, an offer the Chevalier is reluctant to accept, aside from his previous
promises of marriage. However, Angelina recognizing that the Chevalier is not
falling for her murderous and sinful façade, relates to the Chevalier that her three
lovers are actually her guards, and her proposition to the Chevalier was made
to poke fun at him and amuse herself. She then proposes to make him a new offer
the next evening.
Meanwhile, we catch a glimpse of the interactions between
the nervous and sweaty governor, Monsieur le Baron de Rupinelle, and Monsieur
de Chemeraut, the envoy of France, aboard a French frigate, regarding a state
secret vested in the Morne au Diable and backed up by Father Griffon. Monsieur
de Chemeraut requests of the governor, ships with thirty of his best armed
guards and a ladder, and advances towards the Morne au Diable. Father Griffon
learns of their swift advance to the Devil’s Mount, and alarmed that they have
learned the secret that only he possesses and fearing the safety of la
Barbe-Bleue, he hurries to beat the French frigate to the Morne au Diable.
Colonel Rutler, who we learned of earlier, has at this moment, escaped great
perils and landed in the interior garden of the Morne au Diable, and is lying,
hidden, in wait.
Back at the Morne au Diable, the Chevalier’s rambling poetry
and protestations of love, are met with amusement and some fondness by la
Barbe-bleue or the Female Bluebeard. However, she relates to the Chevalier that
she was expecting his arrival from word by her good friend, the Father Griffon,
and had used the Chevalier’s foolishness for means of entertainment. They
wander into the garden, the Chevalier becoming increasingly humiliated and
affected, his love for the Female Bluebeard being genuine, and each of her
words stinging and hurting his heart and hubris. To add to this, she offers him
diamonds to reconcile his hurt feelings which only worsens the injury to his
pride. La Barbe Bleue claims that humiliation was not her intent, and that she
was under the incorrect notion that the Chevalier was only after her money and
posed a threat to her and the inhabitants of the Morne au Diable. She demands
his forgiveness, calling him her friend, and offering him a place to stay at
her home, which completely reverses the anger and sorrow raging inside the
Chevalier. The Female Bluebeard leaves to look for Youmaale and grab a more
deserving present for the Chevalier, and in her absence the Colonel Rutler,
still hiding in the garden, rushes toward the Chevalier. Pulling a hood over
the Chevalier’s face and binding his hands, Colonel Rutler arrests him for high
Colonel Rutler mistakes the Chevalier for the believed late
husband of the Female Bluebeard, calling him “my Lord Duke,” and the Chevalier
plays the part of the royal Englishman to gain information, learning that la
Barbe Bleue’s husband is wanted by the King of England, William of Orange, for
treason. The Lord Duke had posed a threat to the King, possessing great
fortunes and having previously led a group of devoted partisans against the
King, fighting for his royal father of a falcon of Lancaster. The Duke had,
after his attempt at revolt, been executed, or at least thought to be until of
late. All this being said, the Chevalier promptly decides to assume the
personage which has already been given to him, without raising alarm to
Angelina, in a means to gain the affection and permanent gratitude of la Barbe
Bleue for saving her husband, who she loves dearly.
Arousing great surprise, the bound Chevalier and the Colonel
are met by Angelina herself, disguised as one of her domestics, and she gives
the Chevalier the Lord Duke’s sword and cloak to further cement his false
identity. She leaves to relate the news to her husband, who we find out was
masquerading as all three of her lovers, and is in reality, James Duke of
Monmouth, the son of Charles the Second. Angelina believes them saved, but her
dreams are disrupted when the Duke will not let the Chevalier risk his life for
him. To add to her dismay, Father Griffon arrives with the news that the French
Frigate knows of the Duke’s existence and location, and had questioned the
Father of his whereabouts outside. Upon the arrival of the French frigate,
Colonel Rutler had attempted to strike the Chevalier disguised as the Duke, and
his blade had broken. This action did not go unnoticed by the French envoy,
Monsieur de Chemeraut, and furthered confirmed his suspicions that the fallen
and gagged man, was indeed the James Duke. Monsieur de Chemeraut propositions
the Chevalier, believing him to be the Duke, to rejoin his partisans and place
him back at the head alongside his royal uncle, James Stuart, by driving the
“usurper,” William of Orange from his throne of England. Later, he informs the
Chevalier that refusing the offer would mean imprisonment. Thus, the Chevalier
The Chevalier de Croustillac, guarded closely by the
Monsieur de Chemeraut, happens upon Angelina and Captain Hurricane conducting
in improper displays of affection, and is horrified by her actions, the
Captain’s real identity still unknown to the Chevalier. After much arguing,
frustration, and consideration of the Chevalier’s trustworthiness, Angelina and
the Duke reveal their secret, leading the Chevalier to readopt his plan and
secure the lovers their safety and security. We also learn how the Duke had
evaded death despite there being a witnessed execution.
The Gascon Chevalier, in his natural element, puts on a show
for the French envoy and condemns the Female Bluebeard to a seemingly horrible
fate, sending her and her lover away on the ship, the Cameleon, to a deserted
island where they shall live out the rest of their limited days together. He
rejects the Female Bluebeard brutally, while secretly arranging them both safe
passage out of the Morne au Diable. Angelina bestows upon the Chevalier a
medallion with her initials, and it is all the Chevalier needs to face the
unpredictable hardships which lie ahead of him.
The Chevalier puts off his departure several times, afraid
of the charade being discovered, but ultimately boards the ship to England,
with little suspicion from the Monsieur de Chemeraut. It is at this time that
Captain Daniel, commander of the ship, the Unicorn, approaches Monsieur de
Chemeraut, requesting to sail alongside him for protection against pirates.
Monsieur de Chemeraut refuses, but Captain Daniel sails alongside them anyways,
carefully maneuvering his ship to avoid any attacks by the Fulminate, Monsieur
de Chemeraut’s ship. The convenience of these ships’ locations works well for
the Chevalier, as his treachery is discovered aboard the Fulminate by the
Duke’s most adoring partisans, Lord Mortimer, Lord Rothsay, and Lord Dudley,
and to avoid death or imprisonment, he jumps into the surrounding sea. The
ship, the Cameleon, holding both Angelina and John, having appeared alongside
the Fulminate as well, gives the Chevalier the distraction he needs to escape
and board the Unicorn. The Chevalier, and Angelina and John tearfully part
ways, the revered Lord Duke being pursued by the befuddled and furious French
frigate. On board the Unicorn, Father Griffon and the Captain Daniel fill the
Chevalier in on the orders they had received to accept him onto the ship, and
surprise him with the last gift of the Lord Duke and Angelina; the ship, the
Unicorn, and all its cargo. Again, receiving it as a hit to his ego, the
Chevalier prescribes to Father Griffon in a note that he refuses the gift and
has left the ownership to the Reverend to use charitably, as he sees fit. The
Chevalier departs, beginning a new journey to Muscovy where he will enlist as a
soldier under the Czar Peter.
The Abbey of Saint Quentin: An Epilogue to the Female
The epilogue opens up on a convent, roughly eighteen years after the events of the Female Bluebeard, where the monks are corpulent and greedy. Two young farmer’s children by the names of Jacques and Angelina are approached by one of Reverends, who demands of them the produce and grains indebted to him by their father. Diseased since the last couple of months, the father is bedridden and incapable of work, their mother taking care of him, leaving them all penniless. Regardless, the Reverend threatens to displace them and lease their farm to a more able farmer. These words are heard by an old man with sad eyes and furs, and he approaches them feeling sympathy for their situation. Upon hearing their names and witnessing the startling similarities between them and the woman he once loved, the man, the Chevalier is overcome with emotion as always. He requests of the children to stay in their barn and to be given a simple dinner which he will pay for. They depart together to see their father, and upon entering and seeing their mother, who is now middle-aged and dressed very plainly, the Chevalier faints. Angelina, the Female Bluebeard, does not recognize the Chevalier until she and her children come across the medallion she had once gifted him, tied around his neck just beside his heart.
The three old friends reunite, and the Chevalier asks of them to stay in their company for the rest of his life, paying rent to cover the needs of the struggling family. They accept after some groveling, neither party quick to accept gifts, and the Chevalier decides to search for the Father Griffon to reclaim his money from the sale of the Unicorn. The Father, still alive and having spent much of the money to become the proprietor of an estate, happily gives it to the three friends who reside there with their children for the rest of their days, their lives blissful and peaceful at last.
&C.” The Lady’s Newspaper, no 512
(October 18, 1856): 246.
Sue: His Life and Works.” Bentley’s Miscellany
(July 1858): 54-66.
The Female Bluebeard,” Lloyd’s Weekly
Newspaper, no 96 (September 22, 1844).
Books to be had by Order of All Booksellers.” Reynolds Miscellany (November 14,1846): 32.
Theatricals.” The Era, no 335
(February 23, 1845).
The Standard [London], Issue 6273 (August 26,
by Auction.” The Athenaeum, Issue
1178 (May 25, 1850): 546.
Sue, Eugène. The
Female Bluebeard: or The Adventurer. London: W. Strange, 1845.
of Mystery: A Noble Scamp.” The London
Journal (September 10, 1898): 241.