Spectre of the Turret

Spectre of the Turret

Spectre of the Turret; or Guolto Castle

Author: Isaac Crookenden
Publisher: Printed and Sold by R. Harrild
Publication Year: Unknown
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.9cm x 17.8cm
Pages: 32
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.C76 Sp n.d.


This early nineteenth-century chapbook by Isaac Crookenden presents an intricate story about relationships and family, weaving together romance, violence, betrayal, and the actions of a supernatural force.


Material History

Upon first glance, Spectre of the Turret looks simple and modest. The book was recently rebound in plain dark brown cloth. There is no text indicating the title or author nor are there any illustrations or decorations on the cover or the back of the book. The exact dimensions of the book are 17.8 by 10.9 cm. After opening the book, there is a mark of ownership on the left-hand side of the inside of the cover of the book. It is a medium sized cream sticker that has a blue University of Virginia symbol with the call number of the book. Below the UVA symbol and the call number, it states the words: “The Sadleir-Black Collection” and underneath it says: “Presented by Robert K. Black.” 

The title page for Spectre of the Turret

There is one blank page when opening the book. On the front of the next page, a ghost image of a rectangle can be found. This is from the illustration bleeding through from the back of the page. The illustration is hand-colored and is still quite vivid. Since it is hand-colored, it can remain quite colorful if it is not exposed to light unlike the actual text of the story which looks faded. The picture depicts a man dressed in the outfit similar to a knight’s, and he is holding up a bloodied cloth. There is also a dagger stained with blood lying on the floor next to him. The caption appears right under the illustration and says “The Handkerchief was stained with Life’s Crimson Stream and the Dagger was encrusted with blood! – See pg. 18” On the next page, the title and author are revealed. The full title says “Spectre of the Turret; or Guolto Castle.” The title is fairly large and centered on the page, and the words of the title are done in various fonts. This was a stylistic choice that was popular at the time to make the titles seem more interesting. Written right below the title are the words: “A Romance.” Underneath these words, the name of the author is written: “By Isaac Crookenden.” Following the author’s name and written beneath, there is a quote by Shakespeare as follows: “Tremble thou wretch, who has within Thee crimes, unwhipt of justice! Hide thee thy bloody hand!” Under this, information about the publisher is written as: “London: Printed and Sold by R. Harrild, 20, Great Eastcheap.” On the title page, there is a small faded pencil marking in the upper right-hand corner of the page. The pencil marking seems to be from a bookseller to indicate the price of the book and the stock number.

This page shows the small rips at the top of the page and the only footnote in the entire text

After the back of the title page, which is left blank, the next page contains the text of the actual story. Right above where the story starts, the shortened title of the story is written: “Spectre of the Turret.” The following pages contain the text of the story. The pages are light cream in color, but they are slightly browned in some areas. There are a couple of stains but none that make the text unreadable. To the touch, the pages are not brittle, but they do show a few signs of aging. There are page numbers on the top of every page ranging from 4 to 32. The text is black in color but looks slightly faded. This is because the paper ages and, with it, the text fades as well. The font is small and closely set, but it is still quite easy to read. The margins on the sides of the book are small, but the margins on the top and bottom are much wider. This is a result of the book not being trimmed very much after it was printed. Some pages have tiny rips on the top but none that obstruct the text.

There is no table of contents page in the book. Once the actual story begins, the text is the only thing present. There are no additional illustrations or decorations. There is a footnote present on page 11 for clarification on a specific word. Each page ends with a catchword, where the first word of the next page is printed in the footer in order to ensure that the printer ordered the pages correctly. The last page in the book ends with “FINIS” after the few final lines of the story. Altogether, this copy of Spectre of the Turret is in fairly good condition as it has been recently rebound so it is intact and the pages have not shown signs of significant aging or damage.


Textual History

Spectre of the Turret was written by Isaac Crookenden. He was known as a famous plagiarizer during his career and made a significant amount of money from stealing other people’s ideas and using them in his stories. Crookenden is “probably the most notorious counterfeiter of legitimate Gothic novels” (Frank 59). Isaac Crookenden wrote many chapbooks during the early nineteenth century. Some of his other works include The Skeleton, The Mysterious Murder, and Horrible Revenge, or, The Monster of Italy!!. The date of publication of Spectre of the Turret is not listed on the Sadlier-Black Collection at the University of Virginia, and it is indicated as undated in Frederick S. Frank’s “The Gothic Romance 1762–1820” as well. The publisher listed on the chapbook is R. Harrild in London. However, multiple copies of the book at different libraries, listed on WorldCat, have stated 1815 as the publication date. One copy of the book from the Huntington Library listed O Hodgson as the publisher and the publication date as 1810. Montague Summers’s A Gothic Bibliography supplies the date of publication for the work as around 1810. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biographylists the four publishers that Crookenden worked for as: S. Fisher, A. Neil, J. Lee, and R. Harrild as well as stating that the publication date for Spectre of the Turret was between 1810 and 1820. The speculation between the publishers and publication dates for the book might indicate that other editions were printed as well in different places, but does not conclusively determine the precise printing of this edition. 

The frontispiece for Spectre of the Turret

This work does not have a preface or introduction and does not have a prequel or sequel either. “The Gothic Romance 1762–1820” states that there are “several crude drawings” and says that “a half-dozen tower Gothics are mixed together and condensed into this garrish bluebook” (Frank 59). There have been no reprintings of this work in the later nineteenth century or twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography notes that none of Crookenden’s works were reviewed by scholars, and this text was not adapted in any form.

There are two contemporary digital copies available through Google Books. One of the digital copies says the original edition is from the British Library. These two digital copies also state the publication date as 1815 in the information about the book but not explicitly in the text. They seem slightly different from the chapbook from the Sadlier-Black Collection. The illustration has a different color scheme in the digital copies. The specific version of Spectre of the Turretfrom the Sadlier-Black Collection has an illustration with a light brown background and a man wearing a cream coat and red pants while kneeling next to a yellow chest. In the digital copies on Google Books, the illustration has a very dark background and a man wearing a royal blue coat and red pants while kneeling next to a red chest. This might be further evidence that there were other editions published of this chapbook, or that the same edition was hand-painted after publication. 

Other locations that have this book are: Harvard University, Princeton University, the Huntington Library, Pennsylvania State University, University of Oxford, British Library Reference Collections, and Universiteit Leiden in the Netherlands.


Narrative Point of View

Spectre of the Turret contains two different types of narration. The majority of the story is told from a third-person point of view. However, there are also a few instances when the narrator uses first-person plural pronouns such as “we” when directly addressing the reader. The narration, as a whole, includes lengthy physical descriptions of the characters and offers brief glimpses into their minds, while also focusing on the plot and the action.

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

A huge mass of armour was the contents, which Florielmo instantly proceeded to examine, and discovered a napkin stuffed into the hollow of the helmet, which on being unfolded, a dagger dropt out of it; the handkerchief was stained with life’s crimson stream, and the dagger was encrusted with blood! Here was a demonstration of the truth of the spectre’s awful words. Florielmo carefully concealed these bloody proofs; and making no other discovery of any importance, he closed the chest in such a manner as to elude suspicion, and waited the arrival of the man with his breakfast. The day was past by Florielmo in ruminating on his uncle’s unparalleled baseness, of his mother’s horrible fate, and of the possibility of divulging the guilty secret to the world; absorbed in these thoughts, night again overtook him. (18)

Sample Passage of Narration Using First-Person Plural and Direct Address:

We now beg the reader’s attention while we relate the misfortunes of that young man, and show how unjustly he has been accused. (11)

The two types of narrative styles affect the story in two distinct ways. The third-person point of view creates fast-paced events, placing emphasis on the action and the conversations between characters. The first-person point of view and moments of direct address emerge when there are turning points in the plot. Each instance of direct address temporarily slows down the pace of the plot, while simultaneously signifying that what follows is essential to the story. The few sentences that use direct address also portray a more personal relationship between the narrator and the characters, indicating that the narrator cares for the characters in some way or, as in the example above, that the narrator is biased in the character’s favor. 


Summary

Spectre of the Turret opens with Signor Guolto coming home to his castle on the banks of the Tagus after years of serving his country. His wife died while he was away fighting in the Spanish War, and the narrator notes that even though his wife was lower in status than him, they still had a loving marriage. He sends for his daughter who is staying at his sister’s home. His sister looked down on him for marrying someone below his status and, because of this, she did not treat Signor Guolto’s daughter very well. His daughter, Aspasia, is very happy to come home and see her father. 

A young man named Don Florielmo comes to visit Aspasia and her father. He is the son of Guolto’s dear friend who died in battle and who once wished for Aspasia and Floriellmo to get married. Florielmo’s mother had disappeared after her husband’s death. Aspasia and Florielmo are very much in love, and are ready to get married. Florielmo receives a letter from his uncle, Manuel, that half of the estate has been taken by a fire and that Florielmo is needed back at home. Florielmo tells Aspasia that he will be back shortly, but she is very sad that he is leaving so soon. A month passes by without any word from Florielmo until one day Aspasia receives a letter that says that Florielmo is breaking up with her. She is completely heartbroken. 

A man named Lord Mountguardo comes to the castle to talk to Aspasia’s father. Even though he seems nice, Aspasia feels that there is something else hidden behind his outward character. Mountguardo reveals that he wants to marry Aspasia. He tells her that he knew Florielmo, and he has heard him brag about how much Aspasia has completely fallen for him. She becomes incredibly sad after hearing this about Florielmo. 

The scene transfers from Aspasia’s father consoling her after Mountguardo’s visit to what really happened to Florielmo. Florielmo is travelling to his home and lays down to get some sleep when he suddenly wakes up, tied up in a boat. The two men in the boat bring him to his own castle, and he thinks that they are going to murder him. They bring him into the castle and keep him prisoner in a turret in one of the towers. Florielmo is very confused about what is happening and worried about what Aspasia will think. The turret is a small room that contains a bed, a bookcase full of books, and a locked wooden chest. Since there is nothing for him to do, Florielmo takes a book and starts reading. The title is “The Noble Slave” and begins with a woman named Rudolpha and her husband, Orlando, awaiting a boat from their friend Lupo to take them away from their persecutors. However, when Lupo arrives, it is clear to see that he betrayed them as three soldiers come forward and seize Orlando. They are about to hit him when Rudolpha intervenes. Florielmo is interrupted in his reading by the arrival of breakfast and a letter from his uncle, Count Manuel. The letter states that Florielmo will remain a prisoner in the turret if he doesn’t sign half of his estates away to his uncle. His uncle makes it clear that he is very desperate for the money. Florielmo says that he will never do this and would rather remain in the turret forever. Aspasia comes to his mind at this moment, and he wonders what will happen to their relationship. He feels a strange parallel between his current life and the story that he has just been reading.

Florielmo goes to sleep and starts dreaming that he is reading the book. In his dream, while he is reading, a ghost-like woman appears with a stab wound on her chest that is pouring out with blood. Florielmo wakes up in terror and sees that same woman standing in the room. She reveals herself to be his mother and that she was killed by his uncle. She urges him to look at the locked chest to discover more evidence. The woman also says that it was the servants’ fault that he was put in this turret and that the count thinks that he is prisoner in the northern tower. She continues speaking and says that he should not sign his estates away. His mother vanishes when the clock strikes midnight. Florielmo wakes up from his dream and is in shock for awhile but decides to break open the chest. He finds armour and a napkin covering a dagger stained with old blood and a bloodied handkerchief. He hides this evidence away and closes the chest before anyone comes up to his room and discovers it. 

The final page of text in Spectre of the Turret

The story changes from Florielmo’s situation to Aspasia’s. Lord Mountguardo keeps visiting to woo her. Signor Guolto likes him, but Aspasia cannot feel the same way towards him as she had with Florielmo. Her father wants her to get married before he dies, and she finally decides to go through with it to make her father happy. Everyone is preparing for the wedding when a letter from Guolto’s sister arrives saying he and Aspasia have to come see her because she’s sick. Guolto decides that Aspasia should get married before the journey to his sister. Aspasia is dreading the moment of the wedding on her wedding day. However, right before she says the words to be united in marriage to Mountguardo at the altar, a figure in white comes between them and says they cannot get married. The priest states that God has deemed that this marriage cannot go through. After this incident, Aspasia and her father do not hear anything from Mountguardo. They decide to travel to see Guolto’s sister, Lady Loveni. When they arrive at her home, she apologizes to her brother for looking down on him for the past nineteen years. The lady’s son, Don Antonio, is about to get married. He and his fiancé, Georgiana, come to his mother’s home to look after her because of her illness. Georgiana and Aspasia become instantly close friends, but Aspasia does not reveal information about loving Florielmo because she does not want to tarnish his character. Georgiana finds her crying often and is unsure why. Aspasia tells her that she will reveal everything after the wedding between Antonio and Georgiana. However, Georgiana immediately jumps to the conclusion that Aspasia loves Antonio and that she is more worthy than herself to marry Antonio. Aspasia is shocked and says that she does not love Antonio, and he also fools around way more than is to her liking. She says she found a knife of his tied to a letter and says she is going to read it. Antonio reveals that he completely forgot about the knife, and he had found it in an old castle. Aspasia suddenly screams and faints while clutching the letter. When she awakes, she says that Florielmo has been betrayed and actually still loves her. The letter is from Florielmo, and he explains that the letter he received while visiting her was a trap. 

Mountguardo suddenly arrives to talk to Aspasia and happens to take a look at the letter. Aspasia does not trust him after he spoke ill about Florielmo. Just then, a man arrives who looks like a prince. He is very pale and fatigued. To everyone’s surprise, the man is Florielmo and he reveals that Mountguardo is actually his uncle, Count Manuel. Florielmo provides the proof from the chest that Manuel is the one who killed his mother. He goes on to explain that he had to kill another with that same dagger so he could escape through a secret passage he found when leaving the turret. Because of the shame of everything brought to light, Manuel takes the dagger from Florielmo and stabs himself, and dies soon after. 

Everyone is in shock at this turn of events, but things get back to normal after some time. There is a funeral for Manuel, and Florielmo decides not to expose the crimes to everyone else because he does not want to dwell on these past incidents after the man’s death. In the end, both couples decide to get married on the same day. Aspasia and Georgiana also end up both delivering babies on the same day as well. Since it is a boy and a girl, Florielmo and Antonio decide to betroth the babies to each other for a marriage in the future.


Bibliography

Baines, Paul. “Crookenden, Isaac.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 23 Sept. 2004.

Crookenden, Isaac. Spectre of the Turret: Or, Guolto Castle. A Romance. Printed and Sold by R. Harrild, n.d.

Frank, Frederick S. “The Gothic Romance: 1762-1820.” Horror Literature: A Core  Collection and Reference Guide, edited by Marshall B. Tymn, New York, R.R. Bowker Company, 1981, pp. 3–175.

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


Researcher: Rachel Chiramel

The Affecting History of Louisa

The Affecting History of Louisa

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

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


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


Material History

The title page for The Affecting History of Louisa.

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

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

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

The frontispiece for The Affecting History of Louisa.

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample of Third-Person Frame Narration:

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

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

Sample of Bristol Man’s Oral Narrative about Louisa: 

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

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

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

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

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


Summary

The first page of this chapbook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

L’Inconnue Histoire Véritable. 1785.

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


Researcher: Abigail Grace Kiss

The Invisible Ring

The Invisible Ring

The Invisible Ring; or, the Water Monster, and Fire Spectre

Author: Unknown
Publisher: Printed by T. Maiden for Ann Lemoine, J. Roe
Publication Year: 1806
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 8cm x 11.5cm
Pages: 36
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.I548 1806


In this 1806 chapbook set in the Grecian Isles, an evil magician and his accomplice stop at nothing to thwart the marriage of the beautiful Princess Evelina and her true love, Prince Valentia.


Material History

The University of Virginia’s Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction contains an edition of “The Invisible Ring.” The full title of the book—“The Invisible Ring; or, the Water Monster, and Fire Spectre”—appears only once in the whole text. This can be found on the first page of the book following the cover. The title is then referred to as simply “The Invisible Ring” atop each page of text. The name of the author is not included anywhere in the book. The most specific reference given is a brief sentence indicating that The Invisible Ring was published in England in 1806. There is one illustration in the whole book which lies on the inside cover. It depicts a woman standing alone on a small piece of land surrounded by water. She is chained to a large boulder, representing a scene from the book. The monochrome image is captioned simply “Invisible Ring.”

The title page of The Invisible Ring

The book’s dimensions are 11.5 by 8 centimeters; it is 36 pages long. The binding is no longer in place, but a strip of leftover leather remains along the seam. The front and back covers are now simply reduced to paper. The quality of the paper in the book is thin and weathered; the overall appearance is worn, damaged, old, faded, and small. Many pages have small tears beginning at the edges, and several pages towards the end are even entirely detached. Each page is covered from top to bottom with closely-set text in very fine print. There is little white space leftover. At the bottom of each page is a letter followed by a number: for example, “G1.” This style of marking was used to maintain page order during printing. However, the first page begins on the letter “G,” indicating that there once may have been preceding pages of separate stories that have since been lost.

Written on the first page under the full title are the words, “Founded on the popular Aquatic Melo-Drama, as performed with universal applause at Sadler’s Wells.” Sadler’s Wells is a prominent theater and dance company in London that is still in existence today. Additionally, following the story, there is a section devoted to the full lyrics of each song mentioned in the book. 

On the last two blank pages of the book, there are penciled-in notes, including a list of ten book titles such as The Invisible Ring and Blackbeard, the Notorious Pirate. Publication years are also written down next to each book title. These notes may have been taken by Michael Sadlier or another reader in an attempt to discover other books belonging to a collection of short stories with The Invisible Ring. This would also provide an explanation for the missing pages at the beginning of the book. Moreover, the notetaker hypothesized in his notes that The Invisible Ring may be related to another chapbook: “This must be a sequel to The TellTale (1805).”


Textual History

The chapbook The Invisible Ring; or, the Water Monster, and Fire Spectre was published by T. Maiden for Ann Lemoine in London, 1806. This chapbook was a version of a play that was popular the same year in London. The author of the chapbook is unknown, but the playwright of The Invisible Ring was the celebrated dramatist Charles Dibdin Jr., and the music in the play was composed by William Reeve. It premiered on June 25th, 1806 at Sadler’s Wells Aquatic Theatre.

Collection of song lyrics in The Invisible Ring

Due to little digital evidence, there are many unknowns surrounding the chapbook’s history: it is unclear whether there were multiple editions of the chapbook, if it was ever translated, if there are prequels or sequels, how it was advertised and received, or if it was ever adapted. However, although information regarding the chapbook is scarce, the play version from Sadler’s Wells has a significant digital footprint. To that point, there are no digital copies of the chapbook to be found online, but there are multiple references to the Sadler’s Wells production on GoogleBooks (Greene 4517). 

The writer of the play, Charles Isaac Mungo Dibdin (1768–1833), was the first son of Charles Didbin, who was also a playwright and composer. Dibdin the younger launched his career in the theatrical world when he became the manager of Sadler’s Wells in the year 1800 (Kilburn). He took the theatre to new heights in 1804 by installing a water tank below the stage rebranding Sadler’s Wells as an aquatic theatre. The water tank was ninety feet long, twenty-four feet wide, and three feet deep (Press 223). The water was sourced from a nearby river. However, the process of changing out the water took many workers and many hours, so it was only done once every three weeks (Press 224). The aquatic theatre allowed for far more realistic productions than before, consisting of actors swimming across the stage during aquatic scenes. This included naval attack scenes in a war play as well as an oceanic setting for a play about Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. The aquatic feature was utilized in The Invisible Ring during its last scene.

Markings at the end of The Invisible Ring

At the end of The Invisible Ring chapbook, there is a list of lyrics from the songs that originate in the play. These were written by William Reeve. Reeve (1757–1815) was a composer for Sadler’s Wells for many years, owning a full eighth of the company by the year 1802 (Halliwell). He worked closely with Dibdin during this time. However, he was known for his habit of using other composers’ music in his arrangements, leading his work to be criticized by many (Halliwell).

In terms of reviews of the play, newspaper clippings from the week of the first performance of The Invisible Ring indicate that Sadler’s Wells was a popular theatre with many supporters (“Aquatic Theatre Sadler’s Wells” 3). The play was likely well-received by the public as a result of its “variety of supernatural appearances performed on real water” (“Aquatic Theatre Sadler’s Wells” 3). However, an incident at the theatre in 1807 marks the decline of Dibdin’s success at Sadler’s Wells. A false fire alarm was set off during a performance and the resulting stampede killed eighteen people (Kilburn). The Napoleonic Wars occuring at the same time put a further stress on the entertainment industry, eventually leading to Dibdin’s bankruptcy. He eventually sold his shares of the theatre to pay off his debt (Kilburn). The Invisible Ring along with all the notable productions of the time were likely soon forgotten.


Narrative Point of View

The Invisible Ring is narrated in the third person omniscient by an anonymous narrator who does not appear in the text. The narrator describes events concerning each character in the story, as well as each character’s internal reactions to major plot points. In addition, the narrator gives the reader insight into events that some characters are not privy to. The narration is composed of lengthy sentences with lots of punctuation.

Sample Passage: 

We will leave them wandering for the present, and return to the intrepid Jeannot, who had voluntarily undertook a hazardous enterprize, in which there was very little chance of succeeding, but a very great one of losing her own life: but this she was willing to risk for the sake of her dear mistress. (15–16)

This style of narration gives the chapbook the feel of a play where the audience is directly involved in the production. Additionally, the passage shows a verbose sentence structure. The use of long sentences allows the narrator to give vivid descriptions of events and characters’ emotions. For example, the narrator uses this passage to delve into Jeannot, who is a minor character in The Invisible Ring. Though her role is small, the narrator still provides an explanation for her actions and builds her character into not just an arbitrary servant, but a loyal confidant of the princess.


Summary

The story takes place on an isle in the ancient Grecian empire. The plot is introduced with the forthcoming wedding of Prince Valentia and his beautiful betrothed, Princess Evelina. Alas, a neighboring governor named Ernulph seeks the princess for his own. He journeys to the cave of the mysterious sorcerer and magician, Alnaschar, to ask for help in his scheme to prevent Valentia and Evelina’s matrimony. There, the two form a sinister partnership.

The frontispiece of The Invisible Ring

Valentia and Evelina’s wedding day arrives. The ceremony is just beginning when an apparition of Evelina’s deceased mother appears. In reality, she is merely a guise of an evil spirit conjured by Alnaschar to create a diversion at the wedding. While she chants prophecies of warning, Ernulph, Alnaschar, and his henchman, Nervoso, kidnap Evelina. Valentia sends his captain of the guard after them, but Alnaschar escapes with Evelina through the use of a magic ring that renders its wearer invisible. 

The captured Ernulph and Nervoso are taken to a prison for interrogation. When Nervoso agrees to comply with Valentia’s demands, Ernulph begins to attack him, so Valentia orders for the two to be imprisoned separately. Shortly after, a violent fight ensues between Ernulph, the captain, and Valentia. Ernulph is defeated, but Valentia mercifully gives him his freedom, hoping the act of kindness will result in friendship. However, Ernulph leaves angrier than before. 

Afterwards, Valentia questions Nervoso, who confesses Ernulph’s entire scheme. He promises to steal Alnaschar’s invisible ring so that Valentia can use it to rescue Evelina, who is being held captive in Ernulph’s castle, which is guarded by impenetrable magical forces. Valentia releases Nervoso, who journeys to Alnashcar’s cave. He waits until the magician is asleep, then puts a magic ointment on his eyelids that will keep him asleep for twenty-four hours. He then steals the ring and begins the journey back to Valentia’s castle. Meanwhile, Valentia pays a visit to Evelina’s fairy godmother, Bonoma. She produces a dragon for him to use in pursuit of Evelina. 

When Nervoso arrives back at the castle, Valentia is not there, so he uses the stolen ring to play tricks on Evelina’s maids, Marianetta and Jeannot. Jeannot quickly realizes that their pesterer is Nervoso with the invisibility ring. She manages to steal it off his finger and takes it for herself. Valentia returns to the castle three days later after an unsuccessful attempt to rescue Evelina with the dragon. Nervoso informs him of how he lost the ring to Jeannot. Then the two journey to the forest surrounding Ernulph’s castle to gather intel and hatch a new escape plan. 

Jeannot, in the meantime, uses the advantages of the invisibility ring to bypass the magician’s enchantments and enter Enrulph’s castle in an attempt to save her beloved princess, Evelina. She finds Evelina being held captive in a room with Alnaschar and Ernulph. Due to her invisibility, the three dismiss her entrance as a gust of wind. Alnaschar begins preparations for a potion that will render Evelina unconscious, leaving her unprotected from Ernulph’s wicked intentions. But when he gives it to Evelina, the invisible Jeannot knocks the glass out of her hands. Ernulph and Alnaschar plot once more and decide on another means of tricking Evelina: an enchanted belt that will allow Alnaschar to control her will. However, Jeannot hears their plan and again destroys the belt just as Evelina is about to wear it. Amidst Ernulph and Alnaschar’s confusion, Jeannot slips the invisibility ring onto Evelina’s finger and hides behind a sofa. Realizing Evelina’s disappearance, Ernulph and Alnaschar leave the room in search of her; Jeannot uses the opportunity to escape back to Valentia’s castle. 

Sample text from page 28 of The Invisible Ring

Back at Ernulph’s castle, Evelina uses the power of the ring to secure her escape. She makes it to the forest where she encounters Valentia and Nervoso. There is a joyous reunion between Evelina and Valentia, and also between Nervoso and the invisibility ring he cannot believe to have found again. Just as they are making their exit from the forest, Ernulph, Alnaschar, and several of their attendants arrive on the scene; a battle ensues. The princess is taken again and Alnaschar draws a magical line before Valentia that he cannot cross. However, Nervoso, invisible by the ring, evades the line and follows Alnaschar in order to rescue Evelina. He finds her trapped in a tower. She must accept a marriage proposal from Ernulph or she will soon be chained to a boulder on an island where a sea monster resides. Nervoso reports back to Valentia with the news, then travels to the fairy Bonoma for more help. 

Meanwhile, Evelina refuses Ernulph’s proposal, so Alnaschar and Ernulph deliver her to the island. Just as the sea monster emerges to devour her, Valentia arrives on his dragon and begins to fight the sea monster. Nervoso arrives too and discovers Ernulph and Alnaschar on the island. While Valentia and Nervoso duel with Ernulph and Alnaschar, Bonoma arrives and frees Evelina from the enchanted rock. Valentia and Nervoso defeat Ernulph and Alnaschar, who then sink into the lake. 

Valentia and Evelina return to Valentia’s castle and are married the next day. Nervoso and Jeannot receive recompense for their bravery and the two get married several days later as well. 


Bibliography

“Aquatic Theatre Sadler’s Wells” The Observer, 20 July 1806, 3.

Greene, John C. “Appendix: New London Plays, 1745-1820” Theatre in Dublin, 1745–1820: A Calendar of Performances, Volume 6. Lehigh University Press, 2011, pp. 4517. 

Halliwell, Victoria. “Reeve, William (1757–1815), actor and composer.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. September 23, 2004. Oxford University Press. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-23304

The Invisible Ring: Or, the Water Monster, and Fire Spectre. A Romantic Tale Founded On the Popular Aquatic Melo-drama, As Performed With Universal Applause At Sadler’s Wells. London, printed by T. Maiden for Ann Lemoine, 1806.

Kilburn, Matthew. “Dibdin, Charles Isaac Mungo [known as Charles Isaac Pitt; performing name Charles Dibdin the younger] (1768–1833), theatre manager and writer.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. September 23, 2004. Oxford University Press. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-7586

Press, Anita L. Sadler’s Wells Theatre Under Charles Dibdin the Younger from 1800 to 1819: When Britannia Ruled the Stage. 1994. ProQuest.


Researcher: Isabella Mehrotra

The Alpine Wanderers

The Alpine Wanderers

The Alpine Wanderers; Or the Vindictive Relative: A Tale, Founded on Facts

Author: A. Brown
Publisher: J. Scales, J. McGowen, J. Bailey
Publication Year: Unknown
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.7cm x 17.8cm
Pages: 38
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.B77 A 1820


In this chapbook, discover dark family secrets and old rivalries in a tale of love, revenge, and deception set in the Italian countryside.


Material History

The title page of The Alpine Wanderers.

The full title of this book is The Alpine Wanderers; or the Vindictive Relative: A Tale, Founded on Facts. This title appears in full only on the interior title page of the book, and the partial title, The Alpine Wanderers, appears on the spine of the book. The exterior of the book is otherwise extremely plain with no other inscriptions on the cover. The author’s name, given as A. Brown, appears only on the title page and not on the cover or anywhere else in the book. It is bound in brown paper, which looks similar to cardboard. This book is about 18 cm tall and 11 cm wide. It consists of thirty-eight pages of text. This particular copy of the book was rebound by the library at some point, and several pages of thick cardstock-like paper were added to the back of the book in order to make it thicker to make the book easier to bind. 

The interior of the book appears well used. The actual pages the story is printed on are very thin and soft. Most of the pages have browned with age and wear. The edges of many of the pages are torn or bent from being turned, and fingerprints have been left on a few of the pages. The text of the book is somewhat small but not tiny. Space is left above the text of the story on each page for the book’s title and the page number to be printed. The text is faded or smudged at some places in the book, and in others, the pages are so thin that the text on one side of the page shows through to the other. 

The final page of The Alpine Wanderers, which shows the book’s second printer.

On the very first page of the book, immediately preceding the title page, there is a black and white illustration depicting a fight between three men inside a house. The illustration is captioned “Alpine Wanderers.” This is an illustration of a scene that occurs on page 28 of the book. At the bottom of page 28, there is a note, “*See Frontispiece,” directing the reader to this illustration at the front of the book. 

This copy of the book consists of pages appearing to be printed by two different print shops. Up until page 14 of the story, the pages have catchwords on the bottom of the pages. Catchwords are when the printer puts the first word of the next page on the bottom of the page they are setting in order to help ensure they set the pages in the correct order. Pages 15 through 38 do not have these catchwords at the bottom. The bottom of title page of the book is marked with “J. McGowen, Printer, Church Street, Blackfriars Road,” and the bottom of the last page of the story is marked with “J. Bailey, Printer, 116, Chancery Lane.” Based on this, it is likely that the title pages and the story through page 14 were printed by J. McGowen, and the rest of the book, pages 15 through 38, were printed by J. Bailey.


Textual History

Very little information about The Alpine Wanderers is available from the time that it was published. The title page of this copy of The Alpine Wanderers lists the author as A. Brown. Several sources, notably including Montague Summers’s A Gothic Bibliography, list the book without a known author, which may indicate that other editions of the book were not attributed to any author (230). There do not seem to be any other chapbooks or other similar literature attributed to an A. Brown. The publishing date for book is not certain, with some sources, such as A Gothic Bibliography, listing it as published as early as 1800 and others, such as National Union Catalog, pre-1956 imprints showing dates as late as 1820 (Summers 230, National Union Catalog 536). Most library listings use one of these two dates, and most note the uncertainty of the date. This edition was printed for J. Scales in London, and was printed by J. McGowen of Church Street, Blackfriars Road and J. Bailey of 116, Chancery Lane (Brown 3). Other copies of the book from the nineteenth century all had some variation on this publishing information if any was given. There are no known contemporary advertisements or reviews for the book. 

A page of sample text from The Alpine Wanderers with a reference to the book’s frontispiece. 

Copies of The Alpine Wanderers appear for sale in multiple catalogues from the early twentieth century. One is a 1900–1902 copy of An Illustrated Catalogue of Old and Rare Books for Sale, with prices affixed from rare book dealers Pickering and Chatto (82). Another is from a catalogue of the 1916 estate auction of one Col. Prideaux by auctioneers Southeby, Wilkinson, & Hodge (59). In both catalogues, the book is sold as part of larger lots of chapbooks. The lot of Col. Prideaux’s chapbooks lists an alternate title for the book as The Castle of Montrose (Southeby, Wilkinson, & Hodge 59)In the text, Montrose Castle is named once at the beginning of the story as the dwelling place the main characters are fleeing at the beginning. A Montrose Castle did exist, but it was located in Scotland, while the book is specified as taking place in the Italian countryside, and Montrose Castle was destroyed several centuries before this book was published (“Montrose, Fort Hill”). Other instances could not be found of this book being referred to by this alternate title or any copy of the book with this title listed on it. 

Several other libraries own copies of The Alpine Wanderers. Harvard University’s Houghton Library owns a copy that has also been digitized, and seems to be the same edition the University of Virginia owns. Harvard’s library catalog lists this copy as having a color frontispiece, which differs from the black and white frontispiece of the edition in the Sadleir-Black Collection, but the Harvard edition frontispiece is not included in the digital scan available online. Stanford University’s library also owns a copy, which their library catalog lists as including a hand colored frontispiece. Princeton University owns a copy of the book, also with a color frontispiece; its library catalog listing identifies its previous owner as Michael Sadlier. Princeton’s copy was also part of a two-volume collection of chapbooks bound together under the title Romance. The books from this collection were published mainly in or around 1810, with estimated publishing dates as early as 1800 and as late as 1826, and have a variety of different publishers and printers. It seems likely that these chapbooks were bound together at some point after their separate printing and publishing, though it is not clear when. The University of Oklahoma, the University of Nebraska, and the British Library also all own copies of The Alpine Wanderers.


Narrative Point of View

The Alpine Wanderers is predominantly narrated in third person by an anonymous narrator who is removed from the events of the story. In a few places throughout the story, such as the opening, the narrator will add first-person comments or address the reader directly. The story also includes multiple long stretches when a character spends an extended amount of time recounting their own backstory and takes over the narration in their first-person perspective. The longest of these interpolated tales is presented as a written manuscript. The storytelling focuses on character actions and interactions, with frequent lengthy sections of dialogue and long sentences describing plot, but little time spent on setting and description. 

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration: 

Let us now return to St. Alver’s Cottage. The little family had just finished their evening repast when they were alarmed by a loud knocking at the Door. Alice demanded who knock’d, a voice from without replied, “A friend who has something of importance to communicate”. The door was opened, and a man entered who wore a mask. On casting his eyes round the group before him, he singled out the Count and told him “He wished to speak with him in private”. In evident agitation St. Alvers followed the stranger into another room. When they were alone the Count begged the man would inform him of his business. “You have reasons, Seignior, or am I mistaken, for concealment; Say; is it not so?” The Count paused, at length he answered “No” The stranger again said, “If not it is all well, but I had reason to believe you were in imminent danger. I am a Friend, but shall not discover who I am at present. If you are the person, destruction awaits you unless you accept of my assistance which I freely offer. -Perhaps it was not you that was alluded to, if so, I beg pardon- Seignor, I meant well. (18–19)

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration Speaking in the First Person: 

Poor Mary dared not urge more, and retired in the utmost affliction. Their rural sports were almost neglected, the thoughts of the approaching departure of their beloved brothers damped the usual gaiety. I shall pass over the separation between these beloved relatives, as it can be much better conceived than described; for who has not, at some period of their lives, endured a like separation? (13)

Sample Passage of Interpolated Manuscript: 

“For the satisfaction of my children, I write this, that they may know and avoid the crimes of their father, and likewise that they may claim certain estates, which, while my bitter foe lives, I dare not. At the age of twenty-two, I came into possession of a large unencumbered estate, by the death of my father, with the titles and honors annexed to the name of Lindford (for that is my real name.) My sister, yet an infant, was left under my protection. The gaieties of life with me were just began, every kind of dissipation I launched into with avidity; nor did I awake from this giddy dream, until informed by my steward, I had no longer resources, except from the mortgage of part of my estates; it was then I cast my eyes around for a wife, whose wealth would be likely to rescue me from my unpleasant situation.” (26)

The subtitle of The Alpine Wanderers declares the story “a tale, founded on facts.” The narrator attempts to present the story as events that could have occurred in real life. The narrator’s insertion of their own thoughts in first person usually serve to further the idea that this is a real story that they are recounting and commenting on by suggesting they have limited knowledge of the story at certain points or are intentionally skipping over periods of time in their retelling. There is just enough setting description for the reader to be given a general understanding of where events are taking place and for the mood of the story to be set, but there is overall a lack of physical description that again contributes to the premise that the narrator is recounting a true story secondhand rather than making a story up or speaking of a personal experience. The insertion of a long stretch of backstory via a manuscript written by a character allows for the narrator to recount an important part of a main character’s story with specific details, opinions, and emotions recounted by the character himself that helps add depth to the character and his story while giving an in-text reason that the narrator would be able to have this level of detail and insight on this section of the story.


Summary

The Alpine Wanderers opens on the Count St. Alvers and his family fleeing their castle home on a stormy night. He, his four children, and the family’s two servants had inhabited this castle for ten years, remaining almost entirely isolated from their neighbors during this time. The Count’s wife had lived with the family for some of this time, but had been a withdrawn and despondent presence in the castle and had died after a few years. The family’s flight from the castle had been instigated by a recently received letter. The Count did not reveal the contents of the letter to his children, but had been visibly distraught upon reading it. 

The first page of text for The Alpine Wanderers.

The family travels around Italy in an erratic fashion for several days before coming to rest in a new village. Here, he and his two daughters, Olivia and Mary, will take on the appearance of average peasants while his two sons, Frederic and Robert, will be sent to England for their education. The village is also home to the Chateau of the Marchesa de Cortes, who comes to visit while the family is staying there. The Marchesa brings with her a company which includes her two young nephews, William and Henry. The two boys encounter Olivia and Mary and are quite taken with the beautiful young women. Mary rebuffs Henry’s advances while maintaining her role as a peasant, but Olivia begins to form a relationship with William, who begins to entertain the idea of marriage. He speaks to her father about the subject, but the Count rejects the proposal. The Marchesa overhears her nephew’s discussions about Olivia and also disapproves of him marrying a girl below his station. 

That same night, a masked man comes to the home of the Count and his family and informs the count that he is an ally coming to warn him of imminent danger. The masked man informs the count that his family must flee for their safety and offers his assistance in finding them shelter until more permanent arrangements can be made. The Count is alarmed by this news, but believes him, so the family once again flees in the middle of the night. The masked stranger leads them to an unpleasant underground chamber and locks them inside, and the family soon realizes that they have actually been imprisoned. After being kept in this dungeon for three days, the family is visited by the Marchesa, who had assumed the suspicious behavior of the family as they tried to present as peasants had been covering some criminal activity. 

Upon seeing the Marchesa, who he had yet to encounter in person, the Count recognizes her as his long-lost sister and reveals his true identity to her as the Lord Linford, an English nobleman. The Marchesa, excited to have found her brother, who she had believed to be lost in a shipwreck years ago, releases the family and brings them into her home. She explains to her brother that since they had last seen each other, she had married the Marches de Cortes, who had later died and left her his fortune and his sister’s sons as her charges. She then informs Henry and William that now that she knows the true status of Olivia and Mary, she fully supports their marriages. 

The frontispiece of The Alpine Wanderers.

It is then Lord Linford’s turn to explain where he has been since he and his sister parted. He gives the others a manuscript explaining that when he was young, his father died and left him the family fortune. The Lord quickly squandered the fortune and needed to marry a woman with money. He met his children’s mother, who was not nobility but was promised to inherit a decent amount of money from her father. Her family disapproved of the couple, so the two left the country and married without her family’s consent. This led to tensions between the Lord and his wife’s father and brother. On multiple occasions, this tension boiled over and led to physical fighting. On one occasion, Lord Lindford injured his brother-in-law, and on another, he accidentally dealt his father-in-law a fatal blow while attempting to defend himself from his brother-in-law. His brother-in-law had him arrested for the murder of his father, but Lady Lindford helped him escape. They and their children fled the country, eventually ending up in Italy, where they found the castle they were living in at the beginning of the story. While the Lord’s wife believed that her father’s death had been an accident, she still remained distant from her husband and outwardly unhappy until she eventually died. The Lord stayed in this castle until the day he received a letter warning him that the Lady’s brother had learned he was in Italy and was coming to take vengeance for his father’s death. This prompted the family’s flight from the beginning of the book. 

Once the Lord has recounted his tale, his sister informs him that his brother-in-law has since died and with his final words, admitted that his father’s death had been an accident and not an intentional murder. With the Lord’s name cleared, the family is free to return to their homeland of England. Upon their arrival, they reunite with Frederic and Robert, who had already been in the country for their education. During his stay, Frederic has fallen in love with a General’s daughter. He and his love have both been fearful that the General would not approve of Frederic, but upon learning he is a Lord, the General grants Frederic his blessing to marry his daughter. The story ends with the three weddings: Frederic and the General’s daughter, Olivia and William, and Mary and Henry. The book then gives the reader a final warning that wrongdoing will receive punishment, good deeds will receive reward, and that nothing good ever comes from disobeying one’s parents. 


Bibliography

Brown, A. The Alpine Wanderers: Or the Vindictive Relative: A Tale, Founded On Facts. London, Printed for J. Scales.

American Library Association. Committee on Resources of American Libraries. National Union Catalog Subcommittee, and Library of Congress. “The National Union Catalog, Pre-1956 Imprints: a Cumulative Author List Representing Library of Congress Printed Cards And Titles Reported by Other American Libraries.” London: Mansell, 1968–1981. 

“Montrose, Fort Hill.” Canmore, canmore.org.uk/site/36242/montrose-fort-hill

Pickering & Chatto. An Illustrated Catalogue of Old And Rare Books for Sale, With Prices Affixed … London, Pickering & Chatto, 1900–1902. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/hvd.32044080263072

Sotheby, Wilkson, & Hodge. (London, England). “Catalogue of the Very Interesting and Extensive of the Late Col. W. F. Prideaux, C.S.I of Hopeville, St. Peter’s-in-Thanet (Sold by Order of the Executor).” [Catalogues of sales]. 1914-1917. London, Sotheby, Wilkson, & Hodge, 1916. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015059847577.

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


Researcher: Hannah Lothrop

Parental Murder

Parental Murder

Parental Murder; or, the Brothers, an Interesting Romance; in which Virtue and Villainy are Contrasted, and Followed by Reward and Retribution.

Author: Unknown
Publisher: T. and R. Hughes
Publication Year: 1807
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11cm x 18cm
Pages: 40
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.P345 1807


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.


Material History

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 frontispiece for Parental Murder.

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 cover page for Parental Murder, complete with ownership markings.

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 is unmarked.


Textual History

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.

The title page for Parental Murder.

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.


Narrative 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.

Sample Passage:

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.


Summary

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 leadership.

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.

Sample page from the body of Parental Murder, with an underline marked beneath the word “Regicide!”

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).


Bibliography

“George Cruikshank.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 23 Sept. 2020, www.britannica.com/biography/George-Cruikshank.

Ordnance Survey. Director General of the Ordnance Survey, Chessington, Surrey, 1953. Map. https://maps.nls.uk/view/102904585.

Parental Murder. London, T. and R. Hughes, 1807.

Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. London, Fortune Press, 1964.

Thomson, Douglass H., et al. Gothic Writers: A Critical and Bibliographical Guide. Greenwood Press, 2002.

Thornbury, Walter. Old and New London: Volume 1. London, Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878. British History Online. 27 October 2020. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol1.

“T Hughes.” British Museum, www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG163433.


Researcher: Joe Kerrigan

Arthur and Mary

Arthur and Mary

Arthur and Mary, or the Fortunate Fugitives 

Author: John Corry
Publisher: B. Crosby and Co. 
Publication Year: 1803
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.80cm x 17.15cm
Pages: 32
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.C674 A 1803


A tale of adventure, romance, and friendship, John Corry’s 1803 chapbook follows a protagonist’s escape from political persecution, and later follows the story of distant lovers. 


Material History

Arthur and Mary, a gothic novel written by John Corry, was published in 1803. Arthur and Mary is currently located in the Sadler-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction in the University of Virginia’s Special Collections Library. It is interesting to note that the edition of Arthur and Mary in the University of Virginia’s Special Collections Library bears the full title Arthur and Mary, or the Fortunate Fugitives. The title page of this book looks especially modern, with a clear description of the title, author, and publisher of this book. The author’s name, John Corry, is qualified by a sentence reading “author of a satirical view of London, The Detector of quackery, & c.” While the general organization of the book looks modern, such as the title page and the way that book is split into chapters with page numbers at the top of each page, the age of this book is clearly seen in the novel’s appearance. This novel is fairly small, about 6.75 inches long by 4.25 inches wide, with delicate, thin pages. These pages are yellowed, somewhat textured, brittle, and have faint fingerprints on a few pages. The color of these pages resembles a paper that is covered with marks from tea bags. It appears as though only a thin layer of glue is holding the pages of this book together, as there is no clear material binding. This novel most likely had a leather binding with string running through each page holding the pages together, as this was a common binding method during the time period in which Arthur and Mary, or the Fortunate Fugitives was printed. Similarly, there are multiple holes on the side of the pages, suggesting that there was in fact a string that used to hold this book together. This book is clearly aged, and representative of what a book printed over two-hundred years ago would look like.

The frontispiece for Arthur and Mary depicting Mary holding on to a rock after a shipwreck

The overall appearance of this book is worn, used, and stained. The structured format of the title pages and chapters as well as the detailed illustration on inside of the front cover, gives an elegant feel to the book, and suggests thoughtful writing. However, the fact that the original binding of this book is not preserved and that the gothic genre was considered an unsophisticated genre during the time that this book was printed lends a cheap feel to this book. When looking at a randomly selected page in the book, it is clear that there is consistency within the novel. For instance, like the various pages in the novel, the randomly selected page was yellowed, somewhat textured, brittle, and had faint fingerprint marks. The text on all of the pages appears smaller than a standard font in more modern novels, which might be due to the small size of the book in general. 

The illustration on the inside cover of the first page is captioned “Mary half dead, held by the rock with the instinctive eagerness of self-preservation,” and depicts a scene from the novel. In the foreground, this illustration depicts a woman holding on to rocks in the middle of a sea, in somewhat of a helpless way. In the background, this illustration depicts a shipwreck, as well as another person located on the other side of the rocks. There are no illustrations throughout the rest of the book, but there does appear to be decorative elements on the title page and on the pages that start a new chapter. The last page of the book is the last page of the story. There is no additional page after the final page of text. 

There are no indications of ownership in this book: no names written in the book, notes in the margin, stamps from libraries, bookplates, inserts, or other post-production marks. This could suggest that the book was in the hands of only a few people. 


Textual History

The title page for Arthur and Mary

John Corry—author of Arthur and Mary, or the Fortunate Fugitives—was born in north Ireland, and began his writing career in Dublin as a journalist (Mulvihill). His upbringing and education are unknown, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that he is presumed to have been self-taught (Goodwinn). In the early 1790s, he moved to London where he became a bookseller and publisher at Princess Street, Leicester Square, and also became a member of the Philological Society of Manchester (Mulvihill, Pitcher 83). The journals The Miscellaneous Works of John Corry, and Romantic London: John Corry and the Georgic City both cite the difficulty in articulating John Corry’s cannon (Mulvihill, Pitcher 83). The Miscellaneous Works of John Corry cites that the reason for this lack of a cannon is because “many of [John Corry’s] publications have been difficult to date accurately, because new editions and reissues of titles were frequent, and because works first published as part of a series were often reprinted separately” (Pitcher 83). However, it is certain that Corry’s work included poetry, novels, biographies, histories, satires, and juvenile literature (Mulvihill, Pitcher 83). Corry’s main writings in London are A Satirical View of LondonThe English MetropolisMemoirs of Edward Thornton, and A Sketch of Modern Dissipation in London (Mulvihill). Corry’ biographical writings include biographies on George Washington (1800), William Cowper (1803), and Joseph Priestley (1804) (Goodwinn). In addition to Arthur and Mary, John Corry published seventeen other books from 1800 to 1815. Limited information about John Corry’s life after 1825 is known, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that his “works have now fallen into complete obscurity” (Goodwinn).

The advertisement for Arthur and Mary

In 1803, Crosby and Co, a London-based publishing company, published Arthur and Mary (Mulvihill). Crosby and Co. published Arthur and Mary in English, and English is assumed to be the only language that Arthur and Mary has been published in as there are no indications of this book being translated. The journal article “Making Austen Mad: Benjamin Crosby and the Non-Publication of ‘Susan,’” examines all of Crosby and Co.’s publications, and notes that Crosby and Co. published mainly “musical pieces and songs,” as well as “numerous children’s works” (Mandal 513). These musical pieces and songs mainly consisted of religious discourses and sermons, and the children’s works mainly consisted of conduct-books and educational textbooks (Mandal 513). Thus, Arthur and Mary was a less popular type of publication for Crosby and Co. The journal article argues that Crosby and Co. “was certainty not as low-key as” some critics have professed, as proven by prominent titles that Crosby and Co. published (Mandal 513). This journal article, however, does not categorize Arthur and Mary as one of these prominent titles, and states that “Crosby and Co.’s less eminent credentials are underlined by the fair number of chapbooks it published” (Mandal 513). In its footnote, this journal article cites Arthur and Mary as one of these chapbooks.

One edition of Arthur and Mary is located in the Sadleir-Black Collection in the Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia. Arthur and Mary is cited in Montague Summers’s Gothic Bibliography (236). The WorldCat database indicates that other than the University of Virginia library, there are only four other libraries that have Arthur and Mary in their collections. These libraries include the Northwestern University Library in Illinois, US, the University of Notre Dame Library in Indiana, US, and the University of Oxford Library in the UK. This suggests that there are not many publications of Arthur and Mary in circulation, and possibly not many printings or subsequent editions of this book. There is no indication that this book has any prequels or sequels, or that there are any contemporary digital copies of this book on the Internet. 

There is not much information about how Arthur and Mary was received when it was originally published, demonstrated by the absence of reviews about this book, or of any information about how many copies of this book were sold. Arthur and Mary, however, is mentioned in Franz J. Potter’s The History of Gothic Publishing, 1800–1835 in Appendix 2 “Gothic Bluebooks, 1799–1835” (166). 


Narrative Point of View

Arthur and Mary is narrated in third person by an omniscient narrator who is never introduced in the text. The narrator’s style consists of detailed descriptions of scenery, events, and characters’ internal emotions. The narration begins following only Arthur, the protagonist of the novel, and his journey away from his home due to political persecution. The narrator later follows Mary, Arthur’s love interest, in addition to Arthur, and tells both storylines of the characters falling in love and each character’s journey traveling from Ireland to London. The narration is chronological, told in the past tense, and does not contain any flashbacks. The narrator writes in concise, yet descriptive, sentences with a hopeful and passionate tone. 

Example of Third-Person Narration:

When Mary retired to her room she found this letter, and read it with a tumultuous emotion of mingling passions. Surprise, love, and joy, electrified every nerve. She resolved to answer the letter, which she read repeatedly, and her vanity was not a little gratified with the contents. It was the first love-letter she had ever received; but how to answer it was the point. She placed paper upon the table before her, dipped her pen into the ink, and after casting a scrutinizing glance round her chamber, she began with a palpitating heart. Her hand trembled so much that she could not write one word — she desisted — went to a window and opened it to admit fresh air — her spirits revived, and summoning all her fortitude, she wrote as follows… (14)

The narrator’s concise yet heavily detailed sentences are present throughout this passage. This passage occurs directly after Mary finds Arthur’s letter, in which he professes his love for her, and directly before the narrator tells of what is said in Mary’s letter back to Arthur. The explicit description of Mary’s emotions after Mary reads Arthur’s letter, using words like “tumultuous,” “mingling,” “electrified,” “palpitating,” and “trembled,” adds to the suspense of the novel, as these words signify such great levels of feeling and passion. Consequently, this passage, as representative of the narration throughout the novel, demands attention from the reader. The thorough description of Mary’s actions after reading the letter are also consistent with many gothic tropes, including romance, mystery and fear, and confinement. Verbs like “began” and “revived” in this passage reveal the hopeful and passionate tone found throughout the novel, as this language suggests possibility. 


Summary

This novel begins by introducing Arthur, a sixteen-year-old boy living just outside of Newry, Ireland. Arthur is the son of a farmer, and is taken out of school in order to be homeschooled in agriculture. The novel quickly transitions to Arthur at the age of twenty-two, and describes Arthur as a “tall and well-made” man, whose “mind was ardent,” “passions [were] strong,” and who “view[ed] the world through the medium of enthusiasm” with an “erroneous opinion” (6). With Ireland’s politics in turmoil, Arthur joins the popular party. His outspoken opinions prompt a neighbor to inform the town of Newry, Ireland, that Arthur is a “disseminator of sedition” (6). As a result, soldiers arrive at Arthur’s home and search for him, but Arthur escapes and sets out for England.

On his journey across Ireland, Arthur travels over mountains, passing small villages, and appreciates the mountains, sea, and nature surrounding him. Hunger prompts him to find a large farmhouse, where Owen Conolly, the owner of the farm, receives him with hospitality. Owen is the proprietor of the valley in which this farm is located, and his ancestors had taken possession of this valley when they sought asylum from English King Oliver Cromwell. Arthur sleeps over at this farmhouse, and when he wakes up, he is introduced to Owen’s eighteen-year-old daughter, Mary.

Mary is reserved and bashful, and her “feminine charms” catch Arthur’s admiration (2). As a result, Arthur decides that he should stay at the farm until the political persecution in Newry is over, and during this time he will tutor Mary each day to “further [the] improvement of her mind” (11). Each day, Mary’s beauty captivates Arthur, and he begins falling in love with her. Arthur writes a note to Mary detailing that he has liked her since the moment he saw her, and now he is in love with her and requests that she accept his heart. In finding this letter, Mary is filled with emotions, and writes back saying that she worries Arthur is not genuine in his expression of love, as he is a “gentleman” and she is a “poor woman” (14). Nevertheless, Arthur professes his love for Mary a second time while on a walk together, and she reciprocates these feelings. They kiss, and vow to temporarily keep their love a secret.

This page shows the large margins, justified text, and worn pages, as well as the confrontation when the soldiers find Arthur.

Owen’s oblivion to Arthur and Mary’s love prompts him to give his blessing to Terence Finn, a rich young farmer who became enamored with Mary after seeing her at mass. Terence arrives at the farmhouse, and professes his affection for Mary, but Mary rejects this affection and turns down Terence. Earlier that evening, Owen informed Terence of Arthur’s predicament, and how he is seeking protection from Newry soldiers. When Terence realizes that Mary is in love with Arthur, Terence rides to Newry and informs Arthur’s rivals of Arthur’s whereabouts.

The following day, soldiers arrived at the farmhouse. The soldiers take Arthur into custody, and shove Mary to the ground as she runs to Arthur’s defense and demands that the soldiers take her too. Enraged by the soldier’s aggression towards Mary, Arthur attacks the soldier, and consequently is shot and taken to the county jail in Newry. In distress, Mary travels to the county jail with her loyal friend, Anna. Anna creates an escape plan where she and Arthur switch clothes in order to create a disguise for Arthur. This plan works and Arthur escapes with Mary. Mary returns to her village and Arthur travels to Liverpool. 

Jobless with no friends in Liverpool, Arthur travels to Birmingham. One night during the journey, he wakes up with a fever due to his extensive travels. He slowly recovers after a week of illness, and continues his journey to Birmingham with no money and no home. During this journey, he meets Mr. Heron, a native of Ireland who had just sold his small estate in Ireland. Mr. Heron is traveling across Europe by foot, and Arthur joins him on his way to Birmingham. Throughout their journey, Arthur is charmed by Mr. Heron’s charisma and has a strong belief that philanthropy is a “duty we owe to society” (23). When they reach Birmingham, Mr. Heron urges Arthur to accompany him further on his journey across Europe. Mary’s “voice of love secretly remind[s] Arthur of his solemn promise,” and prompts Arthur to refuse Mr. Heron’s request. Arthur and Mr. Heron part ways (23).

Arthur sets out to London and starts an academy for instructing the youth of London. He constantly writes to Mary, and urges her to come to London. Upon getting Owen’s approval, Mary prepares to travel to London with Anna. Mary and Anna begin their voyage at sea, and Mary is devastated to leave her father and possibly never again return to Ireland, but determined to reconnect with Arthur. Mary and Anna come in contact with a major storm towards the end of their voyage, as they are just off of the Welsh Coast. This storm creates massive waves, thrusting the ship towards the rocky Welsh Coast. The ship crashes into the coast and breaks into pieces, forcing the passengers to swim to shore for survival. Mary and Anna grab wood from the destroyed ship, and venture towards the coast. As they arrive on the coast, Anna helps Mary get on to a rock, but as she attempts to also get on the rock, her traction is lost. The strong waves forcefully throw Anna into the rock, and she is killed.

Other survivors of the shipwreck carry Mary to a farmhouse on the coast, where Mary is distraught about Anna’s death. She writes to Arthur, telling him about the shipwreck, and about her arrival in Conway, Wales. Arthur arrives in Conway and he and Mary are reunited. When they reunite, Mary forgets all of her misfortunes. 

Arthur and Mary get married in Conway, and set out for Arthur’s home in Birmingham the next day. Arthur is said to love England, and to frequently write both his parents and Owen. The novel ends with Arthur happily in love with Mary, engaged in teaching the youth as his occupation, and enjoying “all those social gratifications which are essential to rational felicity” (36).


Bibliography

A. A. Mandal. “Making Austen Mad: Benjamin Crosby and the Non-Publication of ‘Susan.’” The Review of English Studies, vol. 57, no. 231, 2006, pp. 507–25

Corry, John. Arthur and Mary: Or the Fortunate Fugitives. Printed for B. Crosby and Co. [etc.], 1803.

Goodwinn, G. “Corry, John” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 2004, September 23. doi:https://www-oxforddnb-com.proxy01.its.virginia.edu/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-6357 

Mulvihill, James D. “Romantic London: John Corry and the Georgic City.” Studies in the Literary Imagination, vol. 40, no. 1, 2007. Gale Literature Resource Centerhttps://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A180642018/LitRC?u=viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=0215b794. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

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

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


Researcher: Carolyn R. Santangelo

Fatal Vows

Fatal Vows

Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk, a Romance

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


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


Material History

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

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

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

The frontispiece for Fatal Vows, or, The False Monk

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Example of Third-Person Narration:

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

Example of Interpolated Oral Tale of Susanna’s Confession:

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

Example of Interpolated Tale of Rinaldo’s Letter:

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

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Brynn Jefferson

Lucretia

Lucretia

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

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


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


Material History

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

The title page for Lucretia.

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The frontispiece for Lucretia.

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Dorothea Starr LeBeau

Feudal Days

Feudal Days

Feudal Days; or, the Noble Outlaw. An Historical Romance of the Fourteenth Century

Author: Unknown
Publisher: J. Bailey
Publication Year: 1820s
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.5cm x 16.5cm
Pages: 28
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.F462 n.d.


Published in the 1820s by an unknown author, this chapbook set in England features a disgraced outlaw obsessed with his rival’s daughter and a religious Prior determined to right the characters on the path of piety.


Material History

Feudal Days, a simple and small book, measures 16.5cm long by 10.5cm wide and contains twenty-eight pages. The book currently has no cover; the reader first encounters a blank yellowed page. All pages in the chapbook are brittle and thin; some are slightly ripped at the edges, and the pages’ top ends are all discolored brown. A small amount of black thread loosely links these pages together, although one can observe holes on the left size of pages where thread was likely once used to tightly bind the book.

The title page for Feudal Days

Opening the book, the reader will observe a pull-out frontispiece illustration on the left side of the first page and the title page on the right side. The title page contains the full title of the chapbook: Feudal Days; or, the Noble Outlaw. An Historical Romance of the Fourteenth Century. The title appears in different variations throughout other places in the text. At the top of the first page of text, it appears as Feudal Days; or, the Noble Outlaw without the second line, and at the top of all pages of text, it reads The Noble Outlaw; (on the left page) and Or, Feudal Days (on the right side), thus reversing the order seen on the title page. An author’s name does not appear throughout the chapbook; however, the name J. Bailey appears on the title page, the last page of text, and on the final two pages. These mentions reveal that J. Bailey of 116 Chancery Lane “printed and sold” the book and also published numerous other chapbooks listed on the last two pages of this chapbook. The title page finally lists the price of the chapbook—6 pence.

Venturing past the front pages of the book, the reader will notice that the body text is closely-set and single-spaced and that many pages do not have paragraph breaks. On most pages, the margins are roughly 1cm all around; between pages 22 and 24, the bottom margin increases slightly to 2cm. Pagination on the top of pages begins on the second page of body text at page 4 and continues to the last page of body text (26). In addition to pagination, publishers have included a few extra printed markings on the bottom of pages: “A2” is printed on what would be denoted page 3; “A3” is on page 5; “A4” on page 7; “A5” on page 9; and “B” is printed on page 25. These markings, called signature marks, were printed in order to aid the accuracy in the binding of the chapbook.

Although almost all of the book contains text without any illustration, the frontispiece on the opposite page from the title page provides the singular illustration, depicting a woman stabbing a man inside a cave that is decorated with a chandelier. This frontispiece is unique in the chapbook, both because it is the only use of color and because is the only exception to the dimensions of the chapbook: it folds outward to comprise an overall width of 21cm and height of 16.5cm. This page bears the captions of “FRONTISPIECE” above and a reference to the body text below: “Nay then Ermina, cried Rudolph, ‘I will not brook delay’—when, by one bold effort she released her hand, and seizing my shining sword”. The content of this caption, while not a direct quotation, is a condensed version of dialogue recounted on page 14 of the text; additionally, this caption is printed slightly off-the-page; for this reason, exact punctuation is uncertain.

While most attributes described in this chapbook are particular to the entire batch that this book was printed in, it is finally worthwhile to point out a few characteristics that are likely unique to this particular copy in the Sadlier-Black collection. Overall, this book is devoid of most markings. The three particular marks include potential pen markings in a straight line at the top of the final page, a circular mark which may be glue or wax, and a bit of blue color that has spotted the front and back pieces of the book, which may be the remnants of a cover or binding.


Textual History

In addition to the copy of Feudal Days held by the University of Virginia, WorldCat indicates that multiple other copies exist in print form in fifteen other libraries. These copies are not concentrated in one geographic region: a copy of Feudal Days can be found at four Canadian libraries, one United Kingdom library, two Spanish libraries, and nine United States libraries (including the University of Virginia). In addition to the print forms of Feudal Days, there is also another digitized copy of the book held by New York Public Library (NYPL), which is accessible through HathiTrust and Google Books.

The frontispiece for Feudal Days, featuring misprinted margins

Multiple factors support an inference that there were multiple printings of Feudal Days when it was originally published: first, the digitized NYPL copy available on HathiTrust includes an additional cover page that the University of Virginia copy does not have. This page includes a notation that the book was “Printed and Published by S. Carvalho, 18, West Place, Nelson Street, City of London”. A few pages later, the cover page indicating that the book was printed by J. Bailey is still included, and the rest of the book looks exactly identical to the version held by the University of Virginia. S. Carvalho may have reprinted the entire book or simply added an additional cover onto the original printing by J. Bailey. Second, the date that Google Books lists for the publication of the NYPL version of Feudal Days is 1829, but the University of Virginia library catalog indicates a date range of 1820 to 1829. While this may not alone be enough to pin down potentially different printings, the WorldCat catalog record for Feudal Days notes that, according to I. Maxted’s London Book Trades, J. Bailey operated at the printed address (116 Chancery Lane) only between 1808 and 1827, not 1829 (Maxted, cited in WorldCat Catalog Record). Regardless, the wide circulation of Feudal Days in international libraries indicates that even if the book only went through one printing, it may have been printed in large volumes.

WorldCat lists three contributors to Feudal Days: J. Bailey, George Cruikshank, and Friedrich Schiller. The British Museum states that J. Bailey was a British “publisher active between 1799 and 1825,” and that he traded with William Bailey, who may have been a family member, during the latter period of his flourishing years, 1823–1824 (“J Bailey”). In addition to the list of chapbooks printed by J. Bailey in the back of Feudal Days, the British Museum also lists a few prints and pamphlets printed by him, including “The life and military career of Napoleon Bonaparte,” which was illustrated by George Cruikshank, evidence that J. Bailey collaborated with Cruikshank on multiple occasions (“Pamphlet”). George Cruikshank is thought to be the illustrator or the author of Feudal Days according to different sources. Cruikshank (1792–1878) was a fairly prominent British graphic artist; he started his career as a caricaturist and then moved to book illustration. Some of his most notable works include working with Charles Dickens on illustrations for Oliver Twist from 1837–1843 and the famous temperance comic The Bottle in 1847 (Patten). Most sources, including HathiTrust and University of Virginia library catalog, credit Cruikshank with illustrations; however, Diane Hoeveler credits Cruikshank himself with adapting Friedrich Schiller’s play Die Räuber into Feudal Days (Hoeveler 197). Finally, Friedrich Schiller (1759­–1805) was a famous German playwright, poet, and philosopher (Witte). Schiller wrote his own unfinished gothic novel, The Ghost-Seer, but the most concrete link between Schiller and Feudal Days is the assertion that Feudal Days is based off an English translation of Schiller’s German drama Die Räuber (Andriopoloulos 1–2, Hoeveler 197).

The second-to-last page of Feudal Days, featuring advertisements for other books printed and sold by J. Bailey

Die Räuber is a drama about two brothers, one of whom is cast out by the father under the influence of the evil brother and who joins a band of outlaws. Although threads of outlawdom and banditti are common to Feudal Days, it seems that the plot of Feudal Days is not an exact adaptation of Die Räuber, primarily because it is missing the element of familial rivalry (“The Robbers”). However, an opera called The Noble Outlaw may also be a source of influence for Feudal Days. The Noble Outlaw, produced in 1815 in England, is “founded upon” Beaumont and Fletcher’s opera The Pilgrim (“Noble Outlaw” Theatrical 310). The Noble Outlaw is about an outlawed robber who returns to his beloved’s residence, disguised as a pilgrim, in order to leave with her (“Noble Outlaw” Monthly 302). As a resolution of the plot, the Outlaw of the opera saves his rival’s life, and “all ends happily” (“Noble Outlaw” Theatrical 311). Similar to Die Räuber, the common thread of outlawdom is present; in addition, plot points such as breaking into a woman’s home in a disguise and saving a rival’s life as a plot resolution are common to both the opera and Feudal Days. No source exists indicating that The Noble Outlaw specifically influenced Feudal Days, but given the time proximity and the name and plot similarities, this may be the case. As evidenced by a search on HathiTrust, there are many other chapbooks with “Feudal Days” or “The Noble Outlaw” constituting part of the title. Online copies of these other chapbooks are limited, so the degree to which these related works are similar is unknown. Therefore, Feudal Days could have other influences and could have influenced other works; at the same time, these numerous titles may indicate that “Feudal Days” and “Noble Outlaw” were simply popular book titles.

Notably inaccessible is information about Feudal Days’s marketing and reception during the time period, reprintings, prequels, and sequels, and any scholarly analysis of the book after its publication. One hypothesis for the absence of such information is that Feudal Days is one in a list of many gothic chapbooks published by J. Bailey during this time period, as evidenced by the final two pages of the chapbook listing other titles (Feudal Days 26–7). Therefore, Feudal Days might not have stood out amongst its counterparts enough to warrant independent reviews or scholarship. In sum, however, the information that can be gleaned about Feudal Days does lead to several inferences regarding its relative importance. First, given the numerous copies available of the book currently, it may have been fairly popular. Second, its plot may have been influenced by multiple, mixed-media sources, including well-known theatrical works like Die Räuber or The Pilgrim. Finally, one of Feudal Days’s potential contributors, George Cruikshank, would later achieve fairly notable status later in his career.


Narrative Point of View

The present-tense section of Feudal Days is narrated by a third-person anonymous narrator who never appears in the text. This narrator relies on recounting dialogue rather than independently describing or analyzing plot. While a minority of the story is recounted by this narrator in the present tense, the text also contains flashbacks and interpolated tales, narrated by the character who experienced the flashback. The majority of the text is spent on Rodolph’s interpolated tale, in which he recounts his descent into lawlessness. This tale is narrated in the first person by Rodolph, and every paragraph opens and closes with quotation marks, to indicate that Rodolph is telling his story during continuous conversation with Father Francis. Both the anonymous narrator and Rodolph often employ long sentences, containing multiple clauses joined by semicolons and oftentimes-unclear referential pronouns. Unlike the anonymous narrator, however, Rodolph utilizes elements of description and recounts his own feelings and state of mind, rather than simply narrating the dialogue of others.

Sample Passage from Rodolph’s Interpolated Tale:

“O, Ernulf! my friend, wealth, honour, fame, are now lost to me; malignant stars have crossed my fondest hopes; Rodolph no longer bears the name of brave, but skulks an outlaw, the meanest slave of passion, who, like the prowling monster of the forest, avoids pursuit, and sheds unguarded blood.” (7)

Sample Passage of Impersonal and Anonymous Third-Person Narrator:

“Hold! (cried the Prior) God commands that ye shall not proceed, re-sheath your swords, and release your captive.” Rodolph started, and gazed with amazement on the Prior. “What man art thou, (said he) that dare oppose my will; disclose to me thy name and purpose?” – “To preach repentance, (replied the prior) and to prevent evil.” Much more the Prior said, for he found that he had gained attention.

Rodolph raised his head, and gazing on the sky, an unwonted smile played o’er his features. “Thou holy man, (he kindly said) thy exhortations wind like infant tendrils round a sinner’s heart, and have taught my soul to know what constitutes true happiness on earth; thy words have chased error from my mind.” (18)

The anonymous narrator guides the reader along through the thoughts and lives of different characters without offering any independent commentary. The only character that the narrator independently comments on is the Prior, whom the narrator repeatedly describes as virtuous. This technique of guiding the narrative with a heavy focus on transcribing dialogue makes the characters of Feudal Days appear more developed than there may otherwise be space for in a twenty-eight-page chapbook. Additionally, the oftentimes-unclear sentences may require a second or third reading of a passage. These tactics combine to make the story appear longer and more action-heavy than what may be expected for a book of its size.

Rodolph’s narration, on the other hand, provides personal and descriptive insights, showcasing broader character development and highlighting Rodolph as the protagonist of the story. Rodolph is frequently over-dramatic, utilizing exaggerated similes such as, in the passage above, “like the prowling monster of the forest” to evoke his strong feelings and emphasize the weightiness of his tumult. The Prior’s eventual ability to calm even Rodolph’s tormented mind, as shown in the sample passage, lends extra weight to the anonymous narrator’s assertion that the Prior is inarguably virtuous. Although Rodolph’s style of narration may appear disjointed from the impersonal and brief narration of the rest of the chapbook, the fact that every paragraph of his tale is offset by quotation marks renders his interpolated tale as a long-form version of the dialogue relayed by the anonymous narrator. Therefore, Rodolph’s narrative style showcases an extended version of the character development tactic utilized by the anonymous narrator and is in fact consistent with the rest of the chapbook.


Summary

Feudal Days opens with a description of the Priory of Birkenhead, which sits close to the Mersey inlet, a place where ships frequently wreck. Beyond the inlet, there lies a “bleak and dreary” waste of vegetation; the pious father of the priory (the Prior) cautions travelers to avoid the “track on the right” when navigating through the waste and take the “track on the left” (3). 

On a dark night, the Prior summons one of his men, Father Francis, to accompany him down to the water so that they can encounter any struggling travelers and give them aid. As they walk down to the water, the Prior recalls when Francis was rescued in a similar condition—on a night like this, the Prior slipped and fell walking back up to the priory, and locked eyes with Francis, also suffering on the ground and exhausted due to the weather. The Prior called the other brothers of the priory, and the two men were brought up to the priory and nursed back to health.

Back in the present, the men complete their journey down to the water; as the night gets even darker, they decide to head back to the priory. Before they can leave, they catch a glimpse of a man “in warlike form” wielding a sword, but the figure disappears (5). When they return to the priory and go to sleep, the Prior is haunted by dreams related to that figure.

The next morning, Father Francis steals away from morning prayers to sit in solitude in a sea cave on Mersey’s shore. Father Francis recalls his life before becoming a priest, when he was called Ernulf. Father Francis, in mental turmoil, recounts his parting with his lover, Angela. Father Francis killed Angela’s husband, Arden; Angela also died that night in shock, despite her love for Francis. Francis pleads with God to “forgive their murders,” when, suddenly, he sees the warlike figure from last night (6). The figure turns out to be Francis’s old friend, Rodolph. Rodolph first provides clarity to Francis’s backstory, then launches into his own story, declaring himself an “outlaw” and the “meanest slave of passion” (7).

Rodolph was fighting on behalf of the current king, King Henry, against Henry’s rival Edward and commanding other lords to join the fight. Lord Silbert had not yet joined the fight for Henry, so Rodolph resolved to convince him. Rodolph traveled to Silbert’s estate, where he was received by the Lady of Lord Silbert and their daughter, Ermina. At dinner, Rodolph was not able to convince Silbert to join the fight for Henry; in fact, Silbert believed Henry’s rival Edward had a legitimate claim to the throne. The two men began trading threats of violence against each other and Rodolph left the estate quickly.

However, once Rodolph left the estate, he started thinking about Silbert’s daughter Ermina and her charms, quickly forgetting “his king, friends, and country” (9). Unable to gain access to the estate in a conventional fashion, he sought advice from his friend Lord Redwald, and decided to enter the mansion in the disguise of a peasant. When he revealed himself to Ermina inside the mansion, she told him that he had to leave; Rodolph then kidnapped Ermina with the help of Redwald’s men and brought her to Redwald’s mansion. Silbert, about to greet Edward’s troops, realized that Ermina had been taken. He later received word that a peasant had taken Ermina and offered a reward for intelligence about her whereabouts. Rodolph’s identity and location were betrayed for the reward, and Silbert arrived with his men at Redwald’s estate to fight for Ermina’s freedom. Redwald received a fatal wound during the fight with Silbert’s army, but before he died, he conveyed knowledge of a secret passageway within his mansion that could be used as an escape, and Rodolph, his men, and Ermina left via that route.

Page 14 of the main text, depicting Rodolph and Ermina’s confrontation in the cave

Once they left the castle and found themselves in nature, Rodolph turned his attention back to Ermina, whose affections towards him had not warmed. She told Rodolph that she would not marry him until her father consented, but he resolved to marry her quickly and have her “share [his] couch tonight” despite her wishes (13). He had Ermina brought “shrieking” to his cavern, and told Ermina to swear to be his (13). Before Rodolph could rape Ermina, Ermina seized Rodolph’s own sword and plunged it into his bosom. She thanked God for preserving her honor, then fled from the area.

The next day, Rodolph came to and heard that Ermina had vanished without a trace. Walking around the area with one of his men, Edric, he saw a stranger, who asked him where to find the “lawless” Rodolph (15). Rodolph dueled with this man, killed him, and read his dispatches. According to these papers, a reward of 500 marks was placed on Rodolph’s head, his lands had been bestowed to Silbert, and his mansion had been used by the rival Edward’s troops. With that development, Rodolph ends his backstory, lamenting his new position as an outlaw. Francis states that the turn of events is beneficial, for Rodolph would have violated Ermina’s honor for a few seconds of pleasure, and invites Rodolph to join the priory for the day and give his penitence.

Meanwhile, another stranger—Lord Silbert—knocks on the door of the priory and asks to stay a night before he continues on his journey. The next morning, Silbert is guided along his journey by one of the priory’s domestics, Gaspar. The Prior watches them leave and realizes that Gaspar is leading Silbert along the wrong path to the right, contrary to the Prior’s constant warnings. On this wrong path, an armed band attacks Silbert, and he is about to die when Rodolph shows up and saves Silbert’s life. Rodolph now has Silbert at his mercy, and demands that Silbert give away Ermina to him. Silbert refuses, and then the Prior shows up to intercede. He urges Rodolph to not keep Silbert captive, and Rodolph quickly acquiesces to his exhortations. Rodolph asks Silbert for forgiveness and pledges to find Ermina for him, and Silbert quickly forgives Rodolph and thanks him for saving his life. As they are about to return to the convent, they come across the wounded Gaspar, who betrayed Silbert. The Prior tells Gaspar that he must repent, and Gaspar reveals that beneath this hill lies a secret cavern where a band of murderers, his companions, live.

Rodolph and Silbert resolve to raid this secret cavern. Once they enter the cavern, they find it fully decorated and quickly kill all of the banditti. They also free a woman who had been kneeling before the chief of the band pleading for mercy. This woman is revealed as Ermina, who was taken by this band when she fled from Rodolph. The chief of the banditti took a liking to her, and threatened to kill her unless she consented to marry him.

After the battle is over, the Prior enters the cavern with a messenger of Silbert, who tells Rodolph that if he swears allegiance to Edward and lays down his arms, he will not only be pardoned, but given a royal favor. Rodolph agrees because King Henry is dead and King Edward has the mandate of the people, and Silbert and Rodolph pledge allegiance to each other.

As the party walks back to the priory, they spot a priest, falling into the water. The priest dies soon after and is revealed as Father Francis. Despite this development, the characters of the book wrap up their story happily—Silbert gives Ermina as a gift to Rodolph and consents to their marriage, Silbert and Rodolph give Lord Redwald a proper burial, and King Edward declares that the men can destroy the robber’s cave and give the proceeds to be split amongst his followers. When the Prior dies a few years later, they all mourn “the good man’s death” together (26). 


Bibliography

Andriopoloulos, Stefan. “Occult Conspiracies: Spirits and Secrets in Schiller’s Ghost Seer.” New German Critique, vol. 35, no. 1, 2008, pp. 65­–81.

Feudal Days; or, the Noble Outlaw: An Historical Romance of the Fourteenth Century. London, J. Bailey, n.d.

Feudal Days; or, the Noble Outlaw: An Historical Romance of the Fourteenth Century. London, J. Bailey, 182-. HathiTrust Digital Library. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433112071521&view=1up&seq=11.

“J Bailey.” The British Museum, n.d., https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/AUTH227817.

Hoeveler, Diane L. “Prose Fiction: Zastrossi, St. Irvyne, The Assassins, The Coliseum.” The Oxford Handbook of Percy Bysshe Shelley, edited by Michael O’Neill et al. Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 193–208.

Maxted, Ian. The London Book Trades 1775–1800: A Preliminary Checklist of Members. Dawson, 1977.

“The Noble Outlaw.” The Monthly Theatrical Reporter, vol. 1, no. 8, 1815, pp. 301–303. ProQuest.

The Noble Outlaw.” Theatrical Inquisitor, and Monthly Mirror, Feb.1813–June 1819, vol. 6, 1815, pp. 310–312. ProQuest.

“Pamphlet, Frontispiece, Print.” The British Museum, n.d. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1867-1214-1577

Patten, Robert L. “Cruikshank, George.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 25 May 2006.

“The Robbers: drama by Schiller.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 29 September 2011, https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Robbers.

Witte, William. “Friedrich Schiller: German writer.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 31 May 2007, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Friedrich-Schiller/additional-info#history.


Researcher: Lydia McVeigh

The Convent of Saint Usurla

The Convent of Saint Usurla

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

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


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


Material History

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

The title page for The Convent of Saint Usurla

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

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

A signature mark is shown at the bottom of this page

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

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

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

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

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

The frontispiece for The Convent of Saint Usurla

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Samantha K. Venables