The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina

The Magician, or the Mystical Adventures of Seraphina

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

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


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


Material History

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

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

The full table of contents in Michael Sadleir’s handwriting

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

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


Textual History

The half-title page for The Magician

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

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

The full-title page for both stories

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Jennifer Li

Falkner

Falkner

Falkner: A Novel

Author: Mary Shelley
Publisher: Saunders and Otley
Publication Year: 1837
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 3 volumes, each 12cm x 19.4cm
Pages: 953
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .S52 F 1837


In this 1837 three-volume novel, set in multiple countries across Europe, Shelley grapples with the issues of one man’s guilt and his attempt to resolve it by adopting a young orphan girl.


Material History

The title page of Falkner, with Rebow’s signature in the upper right corner

Falkner is a lesser-known novel by the famed Mary Shelley. The version held in the Sadleir-Black Collection is the first edition of the text, which was published in 1837 and presents the novel in three volumes, which was a common means of publication at the time. While the spine lists the title as solely the word Falkner, the title page of the novel calls it Falkner: A Novel. We know that this was written by Mary Shelley; however, her full name is not stated in any of the three volumes. The title page in each volume simply says, “By the author of ‘Frankenstein;’ ‘The Last Man,’ &c.”. This is followed by a quote from “Rosalind and Helen” by Percy Shelley (1819). It reads,

“there stood
In record of a sweet sad story,
An altar, and a temple bright,
Circled by steps, and o’er the gate
Was sculptured, ‘To Fidelity!’”

Each volume in this set measures approximately 12 centimeters by 19.4 centimeters and is approximately 2.3 centimeters deep. The volumes are half-bound with leather; this means that the spine and corners are bound in leather, but the rest of the book is not. The leather on the spine is decorated with gold gilding. The cover is covered with blue marbled paper that is noticeably faded around the center on each volume. The edges of the pages within the volumes are also marbled blue.

A bookplate from the personal library of John G. Rebow

The pages within these volumes are of medium thickness; they are not thick, but they are also not extremely thin. Volume I consists of 322 pages, volume II is 312 pages, and volume III is 319 pages, which add up to a total of 953 pages in all. While this sounds like a lengthy read, it feels surprisingly short. There is a lot of white space on the pages, and the margins are wide, which makes each page a quick, short read. The font is not too large or too small, adding to the ease with which the novel can be read. Some pages throughout these volumes have letters or letter/number combinations at the bottom. These are printer notes, used to help the printers print, fold, and order the pages correctly. It should also be noted that in the back of Volume I, there is a front and back page of advertisements from the publisher.

These particular volumes are interesting because they each have a personal bookplate in the front, indicating that they once belonged to John Gurdon Rebow. His signature can be found on the title page of each book as well. The bookplates have call numbers, “D. 2.” written on them that most likely indicate their shelving location in Rebow’s personal library. This can be interpreted as the book being shelved on shelf 2 of bookcase D.

Overall, these particular copies of the volumes of Falkner are unique in their own ways. While clearly a matching set in the color of their marbling, the volumes are worn to varying degrees. The pages are slightly yellowed from time. The volumes clearly show their age, particularly the first volume due to some tearing where the spine was originally bound, but they seem to be in relatively nice condition for books that are centuries old.


Textual History

Falkner is the final novel written by Mary Shelley before her death. Shelley was born in August 1797 and died in February 1851. Her two most well-known works of her career are Frankenstein and The Last Man, both of which are mentioned on the title page of Falkner.

A page of advertisements from Saunders and Otley, printed in the back of Falkner volume 1

Falkner was first published in 1837 by Saunders and Otley in London. This edition was published in three volumes and was printed by Stevens and Pardon, Printers. In the same year, Falkner was published in one volume by Harper & Brothers in New York. (The Sadleir-Black Collection also houses a copy of this one-volume edition.) In addition to these versions, Falkner is also contained in various collections of Mary Shelley’s works, including The Novels and Collected Works of Mary Shelley (1996), edited by Pamela Clemit. In 2017, Falkner was translated into an Italian version, titled Il Segreti di Falkner, or Falkner’s Secret. There are also online editions of this novel. The 1837 edition published by Harper & Brothers has been archived online on the HathiTrust website.

Many advertisements and reviews of Shelley’s Falkner can be found in periodicals published near the time of its first publication. There is a brief advertisement combined with a brief review that can be found in The Standard, in an issue from March 1837. There is a shorter advertisement in an April 1837 issue of John Bull. Overall, the reviews of Falkner seem to be positive. It is ambiguous whether overall positivity is due to the actual success of Falkner or Shelley’s fame from her prior works. The Metropolitan Magazine, in a March 1837 issue, states, “The only fault that we can find with [Falkner] … is, that its tone is too universally sombre” (67). The Literary Gazette in London references “the talent of the writer” in its review of the novel (66). A combination advertisement and review in The Athenæum gives a short, concise summary of the plot of the novel without giving away the ending. At the end of the summary, it explains, “we have thus imperfectly shadowed out the mystery of the novel, but we must leave the unraveling of it to Mrs. Shelley,—satisfied, that if you put yourself under her guidance, you will own that your labour has not been in vain” (75). Many of the reviews show that the novel was often well-received in its time, yet there are some reviews that are not so kind to Shelley’s work. The Examiner contains a much less favorable review of Falkner in February of 1837: “The story of Falkner, faulty as it is, makes a small part of the book, which is swollen out with tedious reflections, and prosing explanations of motives and feelings. It will practice the reader in the art of skipping” (101).

Falkner has been discussed and written about by scholars in regard to varying subjects. Scholars have discussed Falkner both on its own and in the context of Shelley’s works, beginning in the late twentieth century and leading into the twenty-first century.


Narrative Point of View

The story of Falkner is predominantly recounted by an unnamed third-person narrator. The narration is third-person omniscient as the narrator gives insight into the characters’ thoughts and feelings. The narrator also withholds some information. Sentences largely vary in length; some are short and brief, while others are lengthy and feel quite winded. There are moments throughout the novel when the narrator also invokes a first person plural perspective. In these instances, the narrator switches to using a “we” pronoun, rather than the third-person perspective that is used in the majority of the novel.

Sample Passage:

We are all apt to think that when we discard a motive we cure a fault, and foster the same error from a new cause with a safe conscience. Thus, even now, aching and sore from the tortures of remorse for past faults, Falkner indulged in the same propensity, which, apparently innocent in its commencement, had led to fatal results. He meditated doing rather what he wished, than what was strictly just. He did not look forward to the evils his own course involved, while he saw in disproportionate magnitude those to be brought about if he gave up his favourite project. What ills might arise to the orphan from his interweaving her fate with his — he, a criminal, in act, if not in intention — who might be called upon hereafter to answer for his deeds, and who at least must fly and hide himself — of this he thought not; while he determined, that, fostered and guarded by him, Elizabeth must be happy — and, under the tutelage of her relations, she would become the victim of hardhearted neglect. These ideas floated somewhat indistinctly in his mind — and it was half unconsciously that he was building them a fabric for the future, as deceitful as it was alluring. (Volume I, 78–79)

In this passage, the narrator begins using the first person “we.” This allows a generalization—“We are all apt to think”—that relates Falkner to people as a whole. As the narration moves from the first person plural to third person, the opening generalization also paves the way for the narrator’s access into Falkner’s mind. The narrator goes into Falkner’s head and follows his train of thought. This passage is quite long, but it is composed of a mere six sentences. The statement in the middle of the passage, “What ills might arise … the victim of hardhearted neglect,” is one to note because it is the longest sentence given. The third-person point of view allows this sentence to feel akin to stream of consciousness. The dashes between the different parts of the sentence break it up and make it possible to see how each of Falkner’s thoughts connect to one another as he debates what to do with his new charge. The thoughts that do not cross his mind can also be learned through the narrator, in the sentence that notes, “of this he thought not.”


Summary

The marbled cover of Falkner

Falkner follows the story of a young girl named Elizabeth and begins in the town of Treby. Struck with consumption, her father passes away, and her mother dies a few short months later. Just before her death, Elizabeth’s mother begins writing a letter to a woman named Alithea entreating her to take in her daughter and explaining that she does not want Elizabeth to be taken in by her late husband’s family. She dies before she can finish the letter, so it is never sent. The landlord, Mrs. Baker, reads the letter, and takes in Elizabeth, hoping that the girl’s family will one day come looking for her and will reward Mrs. Baker for her kindness. While staying with Mrs. Baker, Elizabeth often goes to her mother’s grave to play, study, and pray, all while feeling close to her mother.

One day, a stranger by the name of John Falkner shows up in Treby and spends a lot of time out of town by himself. He feels guilty because he killed someone, so he goes to the graveyard to kill himself. He makes the mistake of sitting on Elizabeth’s mother’s grave to kill himself, and the young girl stops him. He worries for a young girl out by herself and opts to walk her home. When he meets Mrs. Baker, she tells him Elizabeth’s story and shows him the letter. He is struck by the realization that the woman he killed is the same woman that Elizabeth’s mother was writing to. Upon realizing this, he feels guilty and decides to take Elizabeth with him on his travels, so they leave together for London. Elizabeth begins calling Falkner “papa.” Falkner feels that Elizabeth will be happier with him than with her distant relations, so he chooses to keep her with him. They meet a friend of Falkner’s who tells them that Mr. Neville’s wife has run off with a mysterious lover, and that Mr. Neville is going after them.

Elizabeth and Falkner balance each other’s personalities well: he makes her feel safe, and she is always able to calm his temper. They have been traveling together for years when Falkner decides to hire Miss Jervis, who serves as a governess for Elizabeth. While in Baden, Germany, Elizabeth meets a sad young man, Mr. Neville; his mother was the same Mrs. Neville that ran away from her husband and eloped. Realizing that this boy is the son of Alithea weakens Falkner. He feels guilty for what has become of the boy’s life. He feels that he does not deserve to live, but he no longer wants to kill himself; he decides to join the war in Greece with the goal of dying in battle and wants Elizabeth to return to her family. Elizabeth refuses to leave him, so she stays nearby, and they part from Miss Jervis. Elizabeth desires to save Falkner, but she misses the Neville boy.

While a soldier in Greece, Falkner does not take care of himself because he is still trying to die. He falls ill and is injured in battle by a musketball. The surgeon recommends that he be taken to a place with less dingy air, so they take him to a coastal town. Elizabeth stays by his side until he begins to get better. Falkner decides that since she has saved his life twice, he no longer wishes to die but wants to live for Elizabeth and her happiness. He tells her that he has written of his crime so that she can learn of it in his words after his death.

The pair travels to Italy and meets a group of English people, including Lady Cecil, for whom Miss Jervis is the governess. Falkner and Elizabeth then travel to a different part of Italy where they happen across the young Mr. Neville, which causes Falkner more stress. When they arrive in London, Elizabeth gets sick from the stress of worrying about Falkner. Hearing of the girl’s illness, Lacy Cecil comes to invite her and Falkner to stay with her for two months. Elizabeth goes, but Falkner declines; he promises to join them later. Lady Cecil tells Elizabeth about her brother, Gerard, because she believes they would get along quite well. Elizabeth returns to health while she is staying with Lady Cecil and soon learns that Gerard is none other than her beloved Mr. Neville. He begins to share the supposedly scandalous story of his mother’s disappearance, but relinquishes that duty to Lady Cecil.

Lady Cecil tells Elizabeth the story of the young and beautiful Alithea Neville. She was young when she married Boyvill—formerly Mr. Neville—, but she did her wifely duties well. The two had a son and daughter together; Alithea doted upon the boy, while her husband loved the little girl. Sir Boyvill left for two months for business, and when he returned, his wife and son were out of the house. A storm came that night, and the pair had not returned. Upon searching, they found young Gerard ill in the road, and he said that mamma had been taken off in a carriage with a man named Rupert. It was determined that Alithea had been kidnapped or may be dead. Sir Boyvill, however, believed his wife to have left willingly with the man; Gerard disagreed. He believed that she was either dead or in prison. Sir Boyvill and Alithea’s daughter died less than a year after her mother’s disappearance. Boyvill felt that his wife’s affair had hurt his honor, so he filed for divorce from the missing woman. This meant that Gerard had to testify against his mother; he did but did not want to. The boy ran away to search for his mother, but his father found out and brought him home. Gerard continued to believe his mother was innocent but dead, so he was determined to find her grave. During this time, Sir Boyvill met and married Lady Cecil’s mother.

Now, Gerard is still searching for the truth behind his mother’s disappearance. He leaves Lady Cecil’s home when a man from America claims to have knowledge of his mother. Lady Cecil believes his goal is futile, but Elizabeth supports him in his search. When he comes back from his meeting with Hoskins, the American, he announces that his mother is dead. Hoskins told him about an Englishman named Osborne, who helped a man bury his lover twelve years ago after she drowned in a river, so he wants to go to American to meet Osborne. Elizabeth writes to Falkner about the situation, and he asks her to come home at once.

This page shows how a chapter is denoted and begins

Falkner learns that Lady Cecil desires Gerard and Elizabeth to marry. He believes this to be a good union, but he wants to distance himself from Elizabeth and seek out her biological family. He finds them, but he learns that her father brought dishonor to the family by leaving the church and marrying a poor woman, so her grandfather does not want her. When Elizabeth returns home to Falkner, he worries about what she will think of him considering her new love for Gerard and wonders how much she has changed, but she approaches him with the same love and admiration as before. Gerard comes to say goodbye before he leaves for America, but Falkner tells him not to go because the man he is looking for is standing in front of him. Falkner admits that his name is Rupert Falkner and that he killed the boy’s mother. He gives his written account of the event to Elizabeth and tells her to read it and share it with Gerard.

Falkner’s story tells of his abusive father and his mother’s death when he was a young boy. His father developed a drinking problem and died, so he was taken in by his uncle. His parents called him Rupert, but his uncle called him John, so he mostly went by the latter. He began to visit a woman named Mrs. Rivers and her daughter, Alithea. Mrs. Rivers was distantly related to his mother, and the two women grew up together, but they lost touch when they got married. He spent a lot of time with Mrs. Rivers and her daughter, and the former was always impressing upon him the need to be a good person. In spite of this, Falkner had a temper at school and ended up getting in a fight. He was sent off to the East Indian military college, where he stayed for two years. Alithea wrote to him to let him know that her mother was dying, so he ran away from school to visit and was present when Mrs. Rivers passed. He desired to marry Alithea but was rejected by her father, so he stayed in India as a soldier for ten years. He received word that his uncle and cousin had both passed away, which meant their inheritance became his. When he returned to England, he learned that Alithea’s father had died, but she married in the time he was away. He met her husband, Mr. Neville—now Sir Boyvill—and hated him.

A man by the name of Osborne knew of Falkner’s newly acquired wealth and asked him to assist with his passage to America. Falkner agreed and decided to go to America with him. Before they left, he met with Alithea and learned that she did not love her husband, so he asked her to come to America with them. She said no because she was married and had two children. Falkner thought he could convince her to run away with him, and he asked Osborne to drive the carriage and gave him the instruction not to stop driving until they reached their destination. He went to her house, and walked with her and her young son toward his carriage. Upon talking with Alithea, he changed his mind and decided Alithea should stay with her family. Once they reached the carriage, however, he swept her into it, and Osborne drove them away. She started having convulsions and looked unwell, but Osborne followed his instruction and would not stop. They reached the hut Falkner planned to stop at, and Alithea appeared to recover. He laid her on a couch and stepped outside with Osborne to ready the carriage to return her home with her family. He found Alithea’s body shortly after, drowned in the river. He surmised she had woken up and, in a moment of terror, attempted to cross the stream and return home. The men buried her body, Osborne went off to America, and Falkner ended up in Treby, where he met Elizabeth so long ago.

Elizabeth finishes reading this account and sends it and a letter to Gerard so he can finally learn the truth of his mother’s disappearance. She begs him to be kind to her father, for although he did bad things, he did not kill his mother. Falkner, certain that Gerard will kill him for his crimes, sends proof of Elizabeth’s birth to her family and tells her that they will take her in soon.

Gerard reads Elizabeth’s letter, but he gives Falkner’s written account to his father to read first. Believing that Falkner killed his mother, Gerard contemplates killing the man, but worries about the pain it would cause Elizabeth. Upon reading the letter and finding his wife innocent, Sir Boyvill has Gerard promise that he will avenge her death. Boyvill then leaves home, and Gerard follows soon after to find him. When he finds his father in their old home of Dromore, he is with a group of men from town, and they are uncovering Alithea’s remains. Sir Boyvill plans to have his wife’s remains formally interred and wants a trial for Falkner.

This page of text shows an example of printer notes, located at the bottom of the page

Elizabeth is out of the house when men come to escort Falkner to prison, so she does not know what has happened. Lady Cecil arrives at their home with another woman, who turns out to be Elizabeth’s aunt. The ladies entreat Elizabeth to go home with them, but she insists on visiting her father because she has just learned of his imprisonment. Her aunt offers her a place in her home as a member of the family, but Elizabeth rejects the offer, stating that she is not a part of their family. She is and will forever be Elizabeth Falkner. Gerard returns and pleads with Elizabeth to go with her family and not to go see Falkner. He admits his love to her, but even this is not enough.

Falkner misses the girl while he is in prison, but he cannot bring himself to write to her. He is surprised when Elizabeth shows up at the prison, but her arrival makes him feel suddenly free. Elizabeth spends most of her time with him in the prison; when they are not together, neither of them feel happy or well. The grand jury decides that Falkner will go to trial for his crimes, but the trial is postponed until they can get Osborne back to England. Someone goes to get Osborne, but he has not yet arrived, and people are getting impatient. During this time, Elizabeth, who has not heard much from Gerard, catches him following and watching her. Falkner learns that Osborne is refusing to come to his trial.

On learning this, Elizabeth wants to travel to America to convince Osborne to come. Gerard decides to go in her place, creating more tension with his father. Gerard finds Hoskins in an attempt to learn of Osborne’s whereabouts and learns that he is already in England under a false name. The appearance of Gerard scares Osborne away, and Gerard assumes the man has boarded a ship to return to America. He plans to follow the man. Osborne visits Falkner and Elizabeth in the prison under his false name. He does not plan to testify in the trial and help Falkner, but Elizabeth changes his mind, and he agrees to come forward. Elizabeth writes a letter to Gerard about the situation, so he does not leave for America.

Gerard writes another letter to Elizabeth to let her know that his father is dying. This means the trial may be delayed again. Sir Boyvill soon dies. Gerard tells them that before he died, his father declared that Falkner is actually innocent. Elizabeth cannot enter the trial with him, so they are forced to separate for a while. The trial begins, and Gerard declares in his testimony that Falkner is innocent. Elizabeth spends her time at home crying and waiting for the results of the trial until her aunt comes to visit and give her support.

Finally, Falkner is found to be innocent and is released. Elizabeth’s aunt offers her home as a place for Falkner and Elizabeth to stay, and they graciously accept. During this time, Elizabeth and Gerard miss each other dearly, but neither knows how to approach the situation, due to their circumstances and Elizabeth’s loyalty to Falkner. Gerard writes to the pair of them, asking if Elizabeth can be his and stating that he will take her and Falkner as a pair of sorts. Falkner writes back to say that if Gerard will come and take his daughter, he will remove himself from their lives. Gerard does not wish to tear Elizabeth from this man whom she loves, so he marries her and makes the best amends he can with Falkner. They all stay together for the rest of their time. Gerard and Elizabeth have a happy life and children of their own, but Falkner never forgives himself for his faults.


Bibliography

Falkner: A Novel.” The Athenaeum, 484 (1837): 74–75.

“Falkner.” Examiner, 1515 (1837): 101.

“Falkner.” The Literary Gazette: A weekly journal of literature, science, and the fine arts. 1046 (1837): 66–68.

“Falkner.” The Metropolitan magazine, 1833–1840 18.71 (1837): 65–67.

John Bull (London, England), Issue 853 (Monday, April 17, 1837): pg. 191. New Readerships.

Shelley, Mary. Falkner: A Novel. London, Saunders and Otley, 1837.

Shelley, Mary. Falkner: A Novel. New York, Harper & Brothers, 1837. Print.

Shelley, Mary. Falkner: A Novel. New York, Harper & Brothers, 1837. HathiTrust, https://hdl.handle.net/2027/dul1.ark:/13960/t5q822n9w.

The Standard (London, England), Issue 3068 (Thursday, March 09, 1837): pg. 1. British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800–1900.


Researcher: Kenzie M. Hampton

The Spectre Mother

The Spectre Mother

The Spectre Mother: Or the Haunted Tower

Author: John Mitchell
Publisher: Dean & Munday
Publication Year: 1800
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.7cm x 18cm
Pages: 30
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.M537 S 1800


This 1800 chapbook by John Mitchell begins with a mysterious murder within Rovido castle and explores revenge, true love, and crime as the ghost of the slain woman visits characters in the story.


Material History

The Spectre Mother: Or the Haunted Tower is a short novel of 30 pages. It measures 18 centimeters in length and 10.7 centimeters in width. There is no cover attached to the book. The pamphlet was likely torn out of a larger collection of short Gothic chapbooks that were sold individually to maximize profits for the bookseller. On the spine are remnants of its leather binding and the adhesion used to keep the binding attached. The book was sewn together and threads are still visible sticking out between its pages.

The title page with accompanying illustration and a visible marking

The title page is instantly visible due to the lack of cover and is the reader’s first impression of the chapbook. It has a colored ink sketch of a scene within the book that covers about a third of the page. Below the ink drawing is a quote from a scene on page 12. The quote reads, “I cannot step by that child, said Moresco.” The colors yellow, green, red, and blue dominate the watercolor drawing, causing the illustration to stand out distinctly on the weathered, slightly browned title page. Above the ink drawing at the top of the page is the title of the book. It is printed in several different fonts with swooping lines surrounding the title, creating a pleasant and artistic look. Below the title is printed, “By the author of Midnight Horrors, Female Pilgrim.” The bottom of the title page contains the publisher information. The book was published in London and was printed and sold by Dean & Munday at 35 Threadneedle Street. At the top left corner of the title page is a pencil-written note that says “Ghosts.” The note was likely written by a bookseller to categorize the novel and label it for readers interested in ghost stories.

There are no decorations or illustrations within the text of the book. The paper is thin and delicate. The pages are soft like cotton and the fibers of the paper are clearly visible. Each page is a yellow-brown color that gives the novel an aged look.

The page numbers are at the top corner of each page and there are letters at the bottom of several pages throughout the book. These letters, “B, B3, C, C3,” were printed to assist the person responsible for binding the book. The pages were all printed out on large sheets of paper that had to be folded and oriented in a certain way to create the finished product. This was common practice at the time, and the method was used until around 1900.

The book has an overall elegant and classic look. Its average size ensures that the font and type in the novel are not too small. There is not a lot of empty, white space within the text and the margins are of average size so the pages do not feel cluttered. The sentence structure used by the author, John Mitchell, is varied and the paragraph sizes are fairly consistent throughout the book.


Textual History

There is limited information to be found about The Spectre Mother: Or the Haunted Tower and its author, John Mitchell. It left little to no impression on British journals, though another more popular story by Mitchell—The Female Pilgrim—was reviewed several times. The Spectre Mother was originally published by Dean & Munday in London in 1800. Subsequent editions were published in 1820 and 1823. The 1820 edition was also printed by Dean & Munday and the 1823 edition by an American publisher, W. Borradaile, based in New York. In addition to Gothic novels, Dean & Munday also published historical and children’s books, like The History of Germany, and the German Empire, and The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast.

The printers, Dean and Munday, are listed at the bottom of the chapbook’s final page

There seem to be a few versions of the 1800 edition of The Spectre Mother available today. Some contain two watercolor ink illustrations, while others contain only one on the title page. A digital copy of this edition can be found on the Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery. The 1820 edition of the story printed by Dean & Munday is identical to the first edition and changes no aspects of the original story, though it does include an additional watercolor and ink frontispiece opposite the title page. A digital copy of this edition can be found on Google Books. The later edition of The Spectre Mother was published in May of 1823 by W. Borradaile in New York City, which proves that there was enough interest in the story for it to be marketable in the United States. The title page of this edition contains the publisher information as well as the fact that it was sold “wholesale and retail, at his book-store, 130 Fulton-Street.” This version was printed as a pamphlet and threaded together with a red paper cover displaying prices for various chapbooks. The copy was advertised to cost 12.5 cents. It contains the exact story of the first edition, but has a different watercolor illustration, title page, and layout within the pamphlet. Its pages are slightly larger and the paragraphs are formatted differently.

Two works of John Mitchell’s are featured within The Spectre Bridegroom and Other Horrors edited by Robert Reginald and Douglas Menville. This anthology of reprinted horror and ghost stories was originally published in 1976 and includes The Spectre Mother and Midnight Horrors: Or the Bandit’s Daughter. They are both attributed to an anonymous author rather than John Mitchell. Another edition of the book was published in 2006.

There is little information available about John Mitchell, the author of The Spectre Mother. He wrote several other stories, including The Female Pilgrim and Midnight Horrors: Or the Bandit’s Daughter. While no reviews of The Spectre Mother were found, The Female Pilgrim received mixed reviews, one of which stated that the story was “an unequal imitation of the celebrated Pilgrim’s Progress, which is, perhaps, inimitable” (Griffiths 219). This could be similar to the case of The Spectre Mother, as many lesser known chapbooks were imitations of works of previous authors.

The Spectre Mother is listed in Franz Potter’s The History of Gothic Publishing, 1800–1835: Exhuming the Trade. Potter states that the author was “confined by the restrictions of the bluebook” and therefore the reader is immediately immersed in the “contrived, gloomy atmosphere, often by forcing the location, such as a castle, to reflect the antagonist” (72). Following this analysis is a sample of the text from the first paragraph of the story, exemplifying the mysterious and ominous tone of the first several pages of the book. The author, however, is again stated as unknown and there is no mention of John Mitchell within the book.


Narrative Point of View

The narrator of The Spectre Mother is unknown and utilizes third-person narration. The narrator unveils the emotions of each character and shares their thoughts and concerns while also driving the plot forward. The story is narrated with ample descriptions that highlight the actions and eccentricities of each character. The sentences are long and the language evokes strong images and feelings.

Sample Passage:

The dark spirit of Moresco shrank from the presence of innocence thus forcibly delineated, and wanted courage to perpetrate a deed so horrible; but at the moment, the mother moved in her sleep, and with instinctive fondness pressed the babe closer to her bosom, as though to save it from the blow that hovered over it. —The transient beam of benevolence that had broken on the guilty soul of Moresco, vanished before his apprehensions of personal safety, and his thirst of gold; and with a nervous and well-aimed blow, he pierced her virtuous heart, who had never known even a thought injurious to his welfare or his happiness. —One faint and quivering sigh alone told the departure of the pure spirit from its mortal habitation! (8)

The style of narration in The Spectre Mother provides the reader with enough insight into the characters to understand their motivations and thoughts, but not too much to give away key plot points. In the beginning of the text, the narrator explains Moresco’s conflicting feelings about murdering Julia and her child, yet the reason that he was tasked with this mission is not disclosed until later in the story. The narrator uses the emotions of the characters to add to the dark melancholy tone of the story. Angela’s feelings of solitude and gloominess are described in detail by the narrator and they set the mood for her encounter with the ghost of Julia. As Angela tries to sleep, for instance, the narrator exposes that “she mused with terror and curiosity of the incidents of the night” and that “her distressed mind wandered to a no less painful, though a far different subject of meditation” (12).

These descriptions also bring to light the distinctions amongst the characters. While Angela pines for the life she lost when she was taken by banditti, and later worries about the safety of Julia’s baby, Moresco is primarily concerned with pleasing his boss and making money. The narrator also uses long, descriptive sentences to depict how characters react to surprises and supernatural visits. This configuration draws the reader in and builds tension as the narration follows the actions of the characters. Additionally, the narrator’s language—utilizing adjectives and adverbs frequently while describing the settings—evokes a strong sense of visuality.


Summary

The Spectre Mother: Or The Haunted Tower begins with the clock of Rovido castle striking midnight. A man emerges from the shadows of the dark halls and sneaks to the inhabited area of the castle. He carries a lantern and a concealed weapon as he makes his way through the castle, pausing frequently to quiet his guilty mind and ensure no one is awake. He enters a secret door and ascends a flight of steps to a gloomy gallery. The novel now exposes him to be a murderer as he removes a marble statue, presses a hidden panel behind it, and enters the chamber of his intended victims.

The opening scene in Chapter One of The Spectre Mother

Moresco finds the woman he plans to kill, sleeping with her baby in her arms. He watches her sleep and experiences a moment of hesitation before stabbing her. She lets out a final sigh and dies. He points the knife at the baby and it smiles at him. Moresco snatches the child and is about to kill it when a blue light flashes and he sees the pale figure of the mother standing in front of him. She points to the corpse and bloody letters form over the body’s head. They read, “Let the life of the innocent be spared, to plead for the guilty soul of the murderer” (9).

Moresco drops the dagger and sinks to the floor in terror. He holds the child and vows to protect the infant. The spirit vanishes and he flees from the castle. He decides that he will not inform his employer that he failed to kill the child, and instead throws its bloody clothes into the river. He returns home and tells his wife, Angela, to take the child and raise it as her own. He angrily refuses to tell her who the mother is and she relents to abate his temper. Moresco makes her swear to keep it a secret. She recounts to him that earlier that night, the flames of the candles were extinguished and she heard a soft and dismal sigh in her ear. Moresco lashes out over this news and declines to address it. They go off to bed.

It is revealed that Angela Modeni was orphaned and destitute at an early age. The Marchioness di Montmorenci took her in and provided her with an education. When she was twenty years old, the Marquis di Montmorenci returned home from traveling abroad. They both had feelings for one another and he expressed his openly to Angela. She felt guilty about depriving the marchioness of a daughter in law of equal birth for her son, so she resisted his affections. When the marchioness found out about her son’s interest in her, she had Angela removed and induced her to secretly move to a distant convent. En route to the convent, Angela and her attendants were surrounded by banditti. Two of them, Ludovico and Moresco, were drawn to Angela immediately.

Moresco was the youngest son of a Neapolitan nobleman and was to inherit an estate, but his extravagant lifestyle caused him to lose everything. He desperately tried to win back his inheritance, but did so dishonorably. This resulted in him being forced to leave Naples. He met Ludovico’s men and joined their group and rose in their ranks to second-in-command.

Upon meeting Angela, Moresco wanted her for himself. He convinced her to rely on him to help her escape the banditti, and she reluctantly agreed. In order to appear more deserving of her favor, he proposed to her. Angela accepted and they got married and moved to a dilapidated tower in a deserted area in Italy. Soon after, Moresco started working for a man named Count Ruvello. The Count was third in line to inherit a family member’s fortune, after the man’s wife and child. Once the man tragically died in battle, the Count discovered his proximity to the man’s fortune. Greedily, he could not resist the temptation of wealth, and consequently hired Moresco to murder Julia and her child.

The day after the murder, Moresco wakes up, dresses as a friar, and leaves to meet with Count Ruvello. The Count begins to question him about the absence of the child’s body. Moresco becomes frantic as he believes he hears Julia’s sigh in the room, but the Count hears nothing. Moresco makes an excuse for the child’s missing body and explains that he dropped it in the river. The Count offers him a reward and asks Moresco to stay for a few days.

Angela wakes up soon after Moresco’s departure. Though she hates when he is around, she is lonely in the gloomy ruin when he is not there. She takes comfort in the baby and stays close to it. Late that night, a flash of lightning wakes her up. She goes to where the baby is sleeping and is greeted by a bleeding form surrounded by pale blue vapor. Angela is terrified and watches as it glides towards the bed and bends over the sleeping baby. It turns to Angela, raises one hand towards heaven and points the other toward the wound. It motions for Angela to follow, which she does not comply with. Then, a surprising enthusiasm takes over Angela and she grows courageous. She believes that she is being selected for something important. Angela picks up the sleeping baby and follows the spirit.

This page describes the first visit from the ghost of Julia

The ghost glides in silence to the end of the apartment, a concealed door flies open, and they make their way through a dark passage. The spirit pauses, turns to Angela, sighs, and sinks into the ground. Where it disappears, there is now a chasm. Angela experiences an irresistible force compelling her to descend the ruined steps down into the abyss. After doing so, a loud rumbling sound above her head causes her to look up and she sees the chasm close above her. Shadowy hands beckon her forward and she musters the courage to continue through the underground chambers. The ghost that brought her down is now standing by an altar of black marble stained with blood and adorned with human bones. It beckons her forward and motions to a crack in the marble containing a bloody dagger. The ghost points one hand to her bosom and the other she points to the weapon and traces the name of Moresco carved on the hilt. The spirit tells her to save the innocent from the guilty, explains that the Count hired Moresco to commit the murder, and says that she must restore to the child the inheritance that he has taken away from her. The ghost tells Angela not to fear acting with firmness as her virtue will produce her happiness.

Angela wakes up on a small bank near her house, ready to obey the spirit’s request. On Angela’s return home, it begins to rain and she decides to approach a building to ask for shelter for the night. No one answers her call. Angela, tired and desperate, ascends a staircase nearby and takes cover in a gallery and soon falls asleep. The baby crawls away from her and cries until a man finds it.

Angela wakes up and panics when she realizes the child is missing. She searches the area until she finds the baby resting on a couch in a nearby room. The man reenters, and she is shocked to discover that it is Di Montmorenci. They have a joyful reunion until he sees her wedding ring and is reminded of her unavailability. He throws himself on the floor and she begins to calm him, explaining the situation she is in. She decides to leave out Moresco’s involvement in the story but feels conflicted. She does not know how to carry out the mission that the spirit set for her without exposing the Count and endangering the life of Moresco. Angela requests to speak with a holy monk about the important matter, and move with the child to a convent temporarily. She confesses everything to Father Bernada, who urges the necessity of bringing the Count Ruvello to justice, while only revealing Moresco’s guilt if necessary.

The next morning, Angela and the baby leave for the convent, much to Di Montmorenci’s sadness. During their stay, Angela’s attachment to the baby grows stronger and stronger. She then receives a letter from Father Bernado. He and a party of officials went to Count Ruvello’s home to confront him. The Count and Moresco were seated together upon their arrival. After inquiring about Moresco’s religious dress, the Count instantly implicated Moresco in order to divert suspicion away from himself. Both men were confined to guarded rooms, where Moresco committed suicide. Count Ruvello was brought to trial, found guilty, and banished. Father Bernado tells Angela that the child must be returned to her family home for her existence to be universally acknowledged. Since there is no guardian for the child, Angela can take on that role. He tells her that he recounted her actions to the Pope, and the Pope decided to bestow two thousand crowns on her for her misfortunes.

Di Montmorenci visits Angela at her new home with the child and they get married after her twelve months of widowhood are complete. Father Bernado officiates the wedding and the couple soon sets off for Venice, where Angela is received with respect and esteem due to her new rank.


Bibliography

Griffiths, Ralph. Monthly Review, or, Literary Journal, 1752-1825, Vol. 27, Hurst, Robinson, and Co., 1762.

Mitchell, John. “The Spectre Mother, or, The Haunted Tower.” Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery, https://cdm16014.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p4014coll9/id/18519.

Mitchell, John. The Spectre Mother: Or the Haunted Tower. London. Dean & Munday, 1800.

Mitchell, John. The Spectre Mother: Or the Haunted Tower. New York City. W. Borradaile, 1823.

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

Reginald, Robert, and Douglas Menville, editors. The Spectre Bridegroom and Other Horrors. Wildside Press, 2006.


Researcher: Ruby G. Peters

Koenigsmark the Robber

Koenigsmark the Robber

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

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


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


 Material History

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

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

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

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

Frontispiece and title page for Koenigsmark the Robber

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Lucy E. Gilbert

The Black Forest

The Black Forest

The Black Forest; Or, the Cavern of Horrors

Author: Unknown
Publisher: Ann Lemoine, and J. Roe
Publication Year: 1802
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11.5cm x 18.5 cm
Pages: 38
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .B4561 1802


In this deceivingly short story with a complicated publication history, love, secrets, mystery, and murder abound. Borrowed almost entirely from the Cavern of Death, this book touches on strong gothic themes familiar amongst decades of other novels within its genre.


Material History

The marbled cover of The Black Forest

The Black Forest; Or, the Cavern of Horrors. A Gothic Romance is a German mystery, translated from German into this English version. The author of this book is unknown and the only material origins exist on a single title page which appears 10 physical pages in, following a group of blank pages and a frontispiece. The text was originally printed in London in 1802 by T. Maiden at Sherbourne-Lane for publishers: Ann Lemoine, White-Rose Court. Coleman-Street, And J. Roe, No. 90, and Hounddtich. The title page indicates The Black Forest was “Sold by all Booksellers in the United Kingdom.” This happily adorned book sold for a universal price of six-pence indicated on the title page under the publisher and printer information. On this same page, the unknown author or illustrator included an intricate watercolor and pencil drawing of a foregrounded tree with large, protruding roots accompanied by what appears to be a brick castle in the background. The drawing lacks a caption, explanation, or citation.

The book is a beautiful one, seemingly unharmed by the trials and tribulations of time. From the outside, it looks fairly untouched. The bright red binding would catch any onlooker’s eye among the stacks. The attractive binding is made of red leather and is adorned with two gold embellishments on either side of the book’s matching gilded title which reads in bold letters a shortened name: THE BLACK FOREST. Moving from the red binding to the cover, the book becomes even more impressive with its colorfully marbled display of green, blue, yellow and red swirls. The cover is smooth and in the corners lie two more triangles of matching red leather material. The Black Forest lies within two 11.5 by 18.5 cm unique covers and fills 1 cm of space widthwise. But this measurement deceives readers looking for a read of considerable length.

The frontispiece for The Black Forest depicting Sir Henry’s dream.

The book contains just 38 pages of text and one page of illustration, but despite the few pages the actual story occupies, the book holds many more physical pages following the text. The rest of them are completely blank (despite a single “g” written in pencil on one of the last). These pages, unlike the rest, appear not only blank, but completely untouched. The side of the binding which holds the blank pages is very stiff and the pages are pristine. The only thing that conveys these pages are old is their yellow staining due to aging. As for the 38 occupied pages, they are more worn and soft; some pages have yellow staining due to age and some oddly remain pristinely white. Interestingly, the text is noticeably small. The words are tightly packed onto each page and the margins are quite thin. 

Despite the single “g” written faintly in pencil on one of the final blank pages, the book has no marks of personal ownership. Prior to the main text, there is hand-drawn, hand-painted watercolor illustration in the first few pages of the book. It exhibits a skeleton holding a reddened sword near a man in formal wear and it suggests the skeleton is moving towards the man while the man backs away in fear. The image’s setting is a dark room lit by a lantern. The caption below reads: “The terror of Henry at the appearance of a Skeleton waving a Bloody Sword.” There is a very faint marking just below the right side of the illustration that reads “S. Sharpese” which is most likely the illustrator’s signature.  However, another, even fainter, marking exists on the right side under the image which may read “W. Gidell” but it is nearly indistinguishable. A third signature lies underneath the caption but the name is illegible, all that is clear is “Fig” at the start of the name. The frontispiece is protected by a single sheet of lighter tissue paper that lies over top of it. 

It appears much care was taken in the making of this book, with its hand-made watercolor frontispiece, its marbled cover, and its pleasant and pristine binding. Essentially no marks were made by reader intervention and the book remains very close to its original condition, so it seems that much care was also taken in the usage of this book. Whether the story excites or not, this now 200-year-old book is one with much to say beyond what the actual text communicates.


Textual History

The Black Forest: Or, the Cavern of Horrors. A Gothic Romance. From the German is listed in the Sadleir-Black Special Collections Library catalogue as having been published by Ann Lemoine in 1802, though no publication date appears on the title page. The book first entered the publishing world as a chapbook. The same story can be found in the Sadleir-Black Collection bound to Bruce’s voyage to Naples, also published in London 1802. Both versions indicate no author but are said to have been translated “From the German” on their title pages. Which German book it was translated from is still unknown. According to A History of Guilty Pleasure: Chapbooks and the Lemoines, Ann Lemoine was “the first chapbook publisher to use colored illustrations and, for many years, the only one offering colored editions” (Bearden-White 313). The Black Forest was sold for 4 pence and 6 pence. The version held in the University of Virginia’s collection sold for 6 pence and contains two beautifully colored illustrations. 

The title page for The Black Forest

Unsurprisingly, The Black Forest: Or, the Cavern of Horrors is in fact a plagiarized version of an older text, The Cavern of Death: A Moral Tale. While the general framework narrative of these two versions remains the same, the characters’ names and plot points shift. In The Cavern of Death, Sir Albert (as opposed to Sir Henry de Mountford) is summoned by a skeleton to discover the truth of the cavern whereas in The Black Forest Sir Henry stumbles upon the cavern and discovers the skeleton which leads to the exposure of the truth. This is just one example of the slight changes made to the extracted plot. 

The Cavern of Death first appeared in 1795 in a London newspaper called The True Briton. Multiple forms of this original text can be found in the Sadleir-Black Collection, each claiming to have been published at the same time in two different cities. The most common publication city amongst all of them is Baltimore where it was printed and sold by “Bonsal & Niles, 173, Market-street” as a chapbook. The other is Philadelphia where it was printed by and for “William W. Woodward, Green Sign of Franklin’s Head, no. 16, Chesnut Street.” Most publications accredit the original version to The True Briton, where the story first appeared. Professor Allen W. Grove, in the introduction of his 2005 edited version of The Cavern of Death, claims the original chapbook borrowed themes from older texts such as The Castle of Otranto (1765) and The Old English Baron (1778) (3). Grove hypothesizes that The Cavern of Death provided elements, such as the white plume deceiving character identities and Sir Constance declaring her love to an eavesdropping Sir Albert, found similarly in successful gothic novels such as Ann Radcliffe’s A Sicilian Romance and Matthew Lewis’s The Monk (3). He also labels The True Briton as a “certainly…uncommon place to find a novel,” thus adding to the intrigue of this text’s origins (7).

One more iteration of The Cavern of Death popped up after The Black Forest: Or, the Cavern of Horrors. In his introduction, Grove cites this additional titleas The Black Forest; or, The Cavern of Death, A Bohemian Romance which he claims was published in 1830 and consisted of the same story “stripped of [its] sentimental trappings” (8). Essentially, the later versions of The Cavern of Death were cut down to fewer and fewer words, the bones of the dramatic storyline forming the remains. This title, with the inclusion of “A Bohemian Romance” is briefly mentioned in Franz Potter’s book The Monster Made by Man: A Compendium of Gothic Adaptations—which is the source Groves cites from (128). Interestingly, in the same paragraph Potter mentions The Black Forest; or, The Cavern of Death, A Bohemian Romance, he also mentions a compilation of stories entitled Legends of Terror! and Tales of the Wonderful and Wild! The first 1826 collection of this book does not include any version of The Cavern of Death. However, around 1840 another publication of Legends of Terror! was published by G. Creed (71, Chancery Lane) and Holborn and it is in this second edition that the final reincarnation of The Cavern of Death: A Moral Tale resides as The Black Forest; or, The Cavern of Death, a Bohemian Romance on page 65, where the main character Sir Albert enters (as opposed to Sir Henry), emulating the original version over the second version.

Today, The Black Forest is not available in print but its source text, The Cavern of Death, is available as a paperback published by Valancourt Books and edited by Allen Groves. Additionally, archival digital copies are available for The Cavern of Death, The Black Forest, and Legends of Terror! through Google Books.


Narrative Point of View

The Black Forest: Or, The Cavern of Horrors is a written in the third-person point of view of an anonymous, omniscient narrator who never appears in the text. Most often the narrator follows the main character, Sir Henry, throughout the text, seeing the world through his eyes. However, we get a few glances at the intentions and actions of others, such as Elinor, while Sir Henry remains ignorant. More than once, the text uses dramatic irony to create some degree of suspense. Furthermore, the narration is not overly complex, despite the archaic writing style, and most often centers around the story’s plot. The narrator takes time to portray settings and scenery in great detail and takes up small amounts of the novel’s pages to reflect on character emotions. However, the largest share of the text consists of dialogue between characters and Sir Henry. In fact, nearly all that is unbeknownst to Sir Henry throughout the text is revealed via characters’ storytelling and conversation. The omniscient narrator withholds secrets that are revealed by characters themselves in the final moments of the book. However, the narrator displays his all-knowingness even while withholding information by dropping hints of the truths uncovered at the novel’s end.

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

The deafening noise of the torrent filled the soul of Sir Henry with an unknown horror: he descended precipitately from the bank, and retreated to a rock, which seemed on one side the boundary of the Cavern; against which he leaned, while his imagination, unrelieved by an visible object, and wholly occupied in the recollection of his dream, was left at liberty to represent to him now, the hideous phantom hovering in the dusky air, and now, the fleshless warrior, shunning his embrace, and waving high the fatal sword. (32)

Sample Passage of The Baron telling his own story:

“Rudolph, Baron of Gotha, was thy father. He was my brother, my elder brother; and from the Holy Land was he returning, to claim the inheritance which, at the death of our common parents, devolved of right to him; when I, covetous to possess it, met him in this Forrest … Often, at the still and solemn hour of midnight, has the spirit of my murdered brother visited me; sometimes in silence, pointing to his wounds, and waving his bloody sword.” (35–36)

The third-person narrative style of The Black Forest invites readers to sympathize with Sir Henry, as the novel most closely follows his personal life, while also allowing readers to see from a wider bird’s-eye view. In using third-person narration over first-person narration, the unknown author allows readers to be plucked up out of one scene and deposited into the next, effectively enabling readers to know more than the characters. This narrative style, as well as the past tense writing style, presents the characters as defenseless to predetermined events. For example, Sir Henry and Theresa, with the devious help of Elinor, form a plan to escape the castle of Gotha together. While they believe their plan to be an effective one, what the two do not know (but what we the readers do) is that they have been deceived by Elinor, their plan will fail, Theresa will be captured, and Sir Henry will be threatened with death. Thus, the omniscience of the narrator—both as a surveyor of all the characters and as retrospective point of view—often belittles the characters, displaying them as both naïve and foolish. 

Interestingly, the narrator is also able to deceive us as readers, perhaps belittling us in the process of using the Baron’s character to reveal the novel’s full truth—that the true heir to the castle of Gotha is Sir Henry—after withholding it for the entirety of the book. Additionally, the narrator teases us by dropping clues to this truth: The Baron’s interest in Sir Henry’s ring and his home life, Sir Henry’s dream of what is revealed to be his father’s skeleton, and the dark cloud that forms above the Cavern. In doing so, the novel flips its original use of dramatic irony. While we once had the power of knowledge, in the end it is the Baron who reveals the story’s hidden truths. It is the character who holds the power of knowledge. Thus, the novel sanctions and subsequently eschews our power as readers. It does so through the use of the Baron’s sub-narrative presented through dialogue, which holds a lot of power in this novel. In most cases, dialogue between characters or to an audience is what reveals secrets and truths throughout the novel. In the novel secrets are coded as power-wielding as they determine who lives, who dies, and who becomes the Baron of Gotha. Thus, while the narrator appears to hold the power in telling the novel’s story, it is the characters confessions to each other that hold it all.


Summary

The story begins with two men, Sir Henry de Mountford and his servant Peter, who traverse the Black Forest as nighttime approaches. Henry thinks of his former love and Peter indulges him, questioning why he ever chose to leave Leipzig, the town where this woman, Theresa, still resides. Sir Henry explains it is because he could not offer her a “rank worthy of her merit” (A2). As they continue to discuss a big, dark cloud-like figure descends upon them through the trees. The meteor-like object lands at the entrance of a deep, dark cavern. Sir Henry deliberates whether to enter or not and settles upon the decision to return the next day with lights but to continue on to the Castle of Gotha, where he originally intended to go, for the rest of the night.

This page shows the first, and only, chapter of The Black Forest

Soon they arrive at the castle to find a celebration, a kind of engagement party for the Baron and an unnamed woman. Sir Henry is welcomed with warm embraces by Lord Edgar, son of the Baron of Gotha. He leads him to the Great Hall of the Castle and presents him to his father who is hesitant to welcome Sir Henry with excitement and instead remains eerily silent. Later at the dinner table, Sir Henry notices The Baron eyeing him suspiciously. He also takes great interest in a valuable ruby ring Sir Henry wears that is the one relic he has to remember his late father.

Following dinner, Sir Henry retires to his room and, after some time, falls asleep. He has a vivid nightmare in which a ghost overwhelms the very dining hall where he has just eaten dinner. Then a cloud, like the one seen in the forest, emits a mist that removes all the people who surround him, and Sir Henry is left alone to face it. It moves to embrace him but at the very moment they touch, the phantom disappears, and a skeleton emerges in its place. The skeleton waves a bloody sword in the air saying, “Thou sword must receive from this cold hand, ere I can rest at peace, or thou restored to thy just inheritance” and then it too vanishes (11). Sir Henry awakens from fear of the dream in a cold sweat.  

In the morning, the Baron invites Sir Henry to breakfast in his room. They begin their conversation by discussing Sir Henry’s origins. He explains that his father died before he was born, and his mother died from despair of her husband’s death before Sir Henry came to the age when he could remember her. When the conversation finds a natural end, Sir Henry goes to find Lord Edgar as he has promised to discuss some unspecified troubles he has been experiencing. They both walk to the Forest as they discussed the night before. When they arrive, Lord Edgar proceeds to tell him that he is in love with his father’s fiancé. He explains that immediately upon encountering the woman his father is set to marry, he discovered the enchantment of her beauty and the truth of her youth (she looked to not exceed the age of Lord Edgar!). He declares the only way he can have this woman for himself and maintain his fortunes would be to become the Baron of Gotha himself, implying he must murder his father. He asks Sir Henry to be the one to do it. Sir Henry, offended and appalled by the plan, refuses to act in accordance. It is then revealed that the woman Lord Edgar speaks of is Lady Theresa, Sir Henry’s former lover! 

Sir Henry, infuriated by what he has just heard and unable to bear it further, declares his friendship with Lord Edgar over and makes his way deeper into the Forest. He dreadfully considers the two possible fates of Theresa and resolves to find her at once. He must wait until evening to see her so to pass the time he walks along the perimeter of the castle. Soon after he begins he hears the voice of Theresa and her maid, Elinor. Theresa laments her aversion to the marriage in long sobs. Elinor asks where her affections truly lie, and Theresa reveals that the day she met Lord Edgar he wore a “casque” which she believes once belonged to the man who she once loved (21).

Knowing that this casque belongs to himself, Sir Henry reveals himself and his love for her. Astonished by the sight of him at this very moment, Theresa inquires how he could possibly end up at the castle of Kruitzner. He declares it is the love he feels for her and impatience to revisit her that led him there. After a few euphoric moments together, Theresa returns to her tears, remembering the reality of her situation. Sir Henry consoles her fears by suggesting that they run away together and escape the tormenting marriage which her father imposed. Though Sir Henry cannot offer her a life of luxury, he promises her one of love. 

A sample page (17) from The Black Forest

Elinor who remained silent since the entry of Sir Henry until this moment interjects to support his proposal. In response, Theresa consents to his protection and the three of them formulate a plan to free her. Elinor decides she will bring Sir Henry the key to the castle garden in the forest by distinguishing him in the night via a silver plume which he will stick in his hat.

What Theresa and Sir Henry don’t know is that Elinor acts as an accomplice to Lord Edgar. She viewed the confession of love between the two as a dual betrayal to the friendship of Lord Edgar and rather than heading to the cottage in the forest where she had agreed to meet Sir Henry with the key, she goes to the Castle of Gotha. She reveals everything to Lord Edgar, including the escape plan. She then hands him the key to the garden and a silver plume to wear on his head, so Theresa will mistakenly run to him in the night and he can take her where he pleases. Elinor then runs to meet Sir Henry and tells him that Theresa will be unable to meet him tonight, but the plan remains set to follow tomorrow, a lie that will force him to fall prey to the Baron and his forces when they find out, via Elinor, that he intends to steal Theresa away.

That night Theresa and the deceptive Elinor execute the original plan. Just as she was told, Theresa locates a man with a silver plume on his hat and descends from her window into his abrasive arms. Unable to see his face or hear his voice, she follows his arms and ascends his horse. Then they speed away. 

Meanwhile Sir Henry decides to go for a walk. He stumbles upon the cavern of horrors (from the title) once again and resolves to enter it. He enters the cavern and looks around. Immersed in darkness Sir Henry is unable to see anything except a small chasm in the rock which, as he approaches, reveals a narrow passageway. He follows it and, at the end, discovers a sword attached to a hand which runs into the body of a skeleton like the one in his dream! At this discovery he exclaims, “Yes! Injured spirit! Thou, whom I know not by what name to address, but who hast, questionless, led me hither, and art now invisibly present to my invocation! I receive thy gift! And I swear to allow myself no rest, till the vengeance shall be completed, in which, though by what mysterious connection as yet I comprehend not, thou hast taught me to believe my own destiny involved!” (33). As he says this the flame which led him down the pathway extinguishes, and Sir Henry sinks to the ground, senseless of his surroundings for a few moments. After regaining his senses, he hears more sounds and a cry of horror which exclaims, “Blood! A cataract of Blood” (33). He approaches the sounds to find two men, mangled and dead under the weight of a large fragment of rock. He finds another man groaning in agony on the floor. He looks to help the man and discovers it to be the Baron of Gotha! The Baron, incredibly disoriented by a spiritual force, does not recognize Sir Henry. Sir Henry lifts the Baron and leads him from the cave but before they can leave a man jumps from a crack and admits to being sent by the Baron to assassinate Sir Henry. In a moment of guilt, the Baron explains that the skeleton in the cavern belonged to Sir Henry’s father who was murdered by the Baron himself. He continues to say Sir Henry’s father was Rudolph, Baron of Gotha, his older brother. Many years prior, Rudolph was returning from a trip to claim his inheritance when the present-day Baron, ripe with jealousy and greed, gathered a group of ruffians and murdered him so that he could covet the inheritance for himself. Once Rudolph was dead, the ruffians tried to pry his sword from his hand, but it would not budge. The younger brother commanded that the sword be left with the body in the cavern, for its discovery would reveal that the murder was committed by the new owner of the sword. Ever since, the Baron experienced apparitions of his brother pointing to his wounds and waving his sword and insisting that his demise would be by the hand of his brother’s heir, yielding the sword of their father. The Baron has since made attempts to retrieve it, but failed. So too has he sought an heir of his brother, but without success. It wasn’t until the morning Sir Henry arrived at the Castle of Gotha that The Baron discovered an heir of Rudolph existed! That day the Baron resolved to assassinate Sir Henry which explains his position in the Cavern awaiting Sir Henry with two accomplices, one of whom was Peter (who is revealed to be one of the ruffians who murdered Rudolph and the betrayer of Sir Henry).

As the Baron completes his story, a group of men on horses approach. They hold a corpse which they reveal to be Lord Edgar. At this discovery, the Baron plunges his late brother’s sword into his chest and dies, fulfilling the prophecy. The horseman explain that they accidentally attacked and killed Lord Edgar, mistaking him for Sir Henry. Sir Henry demands he be brought back to the castle where he is reunited with Theresa and Elinor, who confesses to her own crimes. 

In the end, being the proper heir to the Castle of Gotha, Sir Henry is made the new Baron. He requests the hand of Theresa in marriage, knowing it will be accepted by her father now that he is in a place of security and wealth. His request is met with enthusiasm and the young lovers marry after the proper, honorable burial of Henry’s father, Rudolph, the wronged Baron of Gotha.


Bibliography

Bearden-White, Roy. “A History of Guilty Pleasure: Chapbooks and the Lemoines.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 103, no. 3, 2009, pp. 284–318.

The Black Forest; or, The Cavern of Horrors.  A Gothic Romance. From the German. London, Ann Lemoine and J. Roe, 1802.

The Cavern of Death. A Moral Tale. H. Colbert, 1795.

Grove, Allen W. The Cavern of Death. Valancourt Books, 2005.

Legends of Terror: And Tales of the Wonderful and the Wild. Being a Complete Collection of Legendary Tales, National Romances, and Traditional Relics, of Every Country … G. Creed, 1840.

Legends of Terror!: And Tales of the Wonderful and Wild ; Original and Select, in Prose and Verse. Sherwood, Gilbert, and Piper, 1826.


Researcher: Eva Louise Ridder Ebbesen

Oswick, The Bold Outlaw

Oswick, The Bold Outlaw

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

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


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


Material History

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

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

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

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

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

The frontispiece and title page for Oswick, The Bold Outlaw

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

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage:

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Archisha Singh