The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors

The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors

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

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


Set in Scotland, England, and Italy, Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson’s 1807 chapbook is a complicated tale of vengeance, violence, and long-lost love. And there’s a ghost!


Material History

At first glance, The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors: A Gothic Story is nothing more than a small, nondescript book. It is bound in a spotless cardboard cover, with no title or images on the front or back. The spine has a small red rectangle in which The Castle Spectre or Family Horrors is written in gold writing. The chapbook is about 12 centimeters wide, 20 centimeters long, and 1 centimeter thick.

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

Upon opening the book, it is evident that it has been rebound. The pages inside are soft, yellowed, and worn. The edges are tattered and uneven and the pages are of different sizes. The frontispiece appears to have been glued to a blank page for structural support, as it was ripped and about two inches of the page is missing from the bottom. This page contains a colorful image of two knights in front of a red castle. They are holding blue shields with gold crosses and are wearing red skirts. Behind the knights is a woman in a pink dress; she is surrounded by what appears to be sunbeams and looks as if she is floating with her arm raised. Some of the colors go beyond the edge of the picture, indicating it may have been painted with watercolor. Beneath the image is a caption that says, “GERTRUDE rising from the Rubbish before the CASTLE”. Below the caption is a note about the print company.

The title page contains the title, written as follows: “The // Castle Spectre; // or, // Family Horrors: // A Gothic Story.” The words are all uppercase, except for “A Gothic Story,” which is written in a more elaborate gothic typeface. Beneath the title is a quote by Langhorne, and then a note on the publisher: “London: // Printed for T. and R. Hughes, // 35, Ludgate-Street.” “London” is written in the same gothic font, while the rest is again all capitalized. Beneath this is the publishing date: 1807. The title page has a small, rather illegible phrase written in pencil in the upper left corner, and a large stain on the right. The back of the title page is blank, except for a small stamp in the bottom left corner that says, “Printed by Bewick and Clarke, Aldergates-street.” It should be noted that the name of the author is never mentioned.

On the first page of the text, the title is again printed, but this time as The Castle Spectre. The chapbook contains thirty-eight pages, and the page sizes vary slightly. The upper and lower margins range from about 1.5 centimeters to 2.5 centimeters. “Castle Spectre” is written on the top margin of every page, and there are page numbers in the upper corners. The text is small and tight, and the inner margin is very narrow. On the left pages, the words run almost into the spine. On some pages, the text is fading and in certain instances, can be seen through from the back of the page. The pages are speckled with light stains, but none that obscure much text. The bottom margins of a few pages contain signature marks, such as B3, C, and C3. These marks indicate how the pages should be folded together, as the book was printed on one large sheet and then folded and trimmed. This binding technique also explains why the pages vary in size. There are nine blank pages at the end of the book. These pages seem newer and are larger; they were likely added to make the book slightly thicker, as it is difficult to bind such a thin book.

An index card is loosely placed in the front of the book, containing the title and publishing information. It appears to be written in Michael Sadleir’s handwriting and was likely used for cataloging purposes. The note indicates that the book was originally unbound, but then mounted on modern board and engraved. This explains the discrepancy between the wear of the cover and that of the pages. “Louisiana” is written on the upper left corner; Sadleir presumably got the book from someone who lived there. A line on the bottom of the card indicates his belief that the plot was plagiarized, as he notes the book is “a theft of title and idea.”

Michael Sadleir’s cataloguing card inserted within The Castle Spectre

Textual History

The Castle Spectre by Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson was printed by Bewick and Clarke for T. and R. Hughes in 1807. According to Michael Sadleir’s handwritten note, the copy in the University of Virginia Sadleir-Black Collection was originally unbound and then rebound as a stand-alone chapbook. It appears there is only one edition, the 1807 version, but some other copies are bound in volumes with other chapbooks. According to WorldCat, there are six copies of this edition located at Dartmouth Library, Columbia University Library, and the National Library of Wales, among others. As of 2021, there are no digital copies of the story, though GoogleBooks has information about the title, author, and publishing company.

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

Wilkinson’s The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors: A Gothic Story is often misinterpreted as being inspired by Matthew Gregory Lewis’s play The Castle Spectre. Though part of the title is the same, the actual plot, characters, and setting are entirely unrelated. The confusion has arisen because Wilkinson published two chapbooks with similar titles: The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors: A Gothic Story in 1807 and The Castle Spectre: An Ancient Baronial Romance; Founded on the Original Drama of M. G. Lewis in 1820. This second text, The Castle Spectre: An Ancient Baronial Romance, is in fact based upon Lewis’s play (as accurately suggested by the subtitle), with the same characters, setting, and plot. By contrast, the 1807 chapbook, The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors, remains separate and unrelated except for its similar main title.

Though the two Castle Spectre texts by Wilkinson are entirely separate, they are frequently confused for one another. For instance, Franz J. Potter notes in The History of Gothic Publishing that Wilkinson “also adapted two versions of Matthew Lewis’s melodrama ‘The Castle Spectre’ publishing The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors (2.58) in 1807 with Thomas Hughes, and The Castle Spectre; An Ancient Baronial Romance, Founded on the Original Drama M. G. L. (2.57) in 1820 with John Bailey” (119). In his section on the “Family Horrors” version of Wilkinson’s chapbook, Frederick S. Frank notes that she “transformed Lewis’s Gothic drama, The Castle Spectre [l-219], back into a Gothic novel” (171). Franz J. Potter similarly states that this “Family Horrors” version was “founded on Lewis’s The Castle Spectre. A Drama in Five Acts” (Gothic Chapbooks 39). Even an article in UVA Today makes this common error, stating “Lewis’ work was regularly plagiarized and used in this way, as it is in ‘The Castle Spectre, or, Family Horrors: a Gothic Story,’ by Sarah Scudgell Wilkinson” (McNally).

Many sources that make the claim of a link between The Castle Spectre and Matthew Lewis’s play cite Montague Summers’s Gothic Bibliography, which lists The Castle Spectre by Sarah Wilkinson without specifying the subtitle or a publication date. Summers’s entry reads: “Castle Spectre, The. By Sarah Wilkinson. Founded upon Matthew Gregory Lewis’ famous drama, The Castle Spectre, produced at Drury Lane on Thursday, December 14th, 1797” (268). Of the libraries that own The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors, many list M. G. Lewis as an author, and these library catalogs frequently reference Summers’s Gothic Bibliography, echoing his statement that the story is “Founded upon Matthew Gregory Lewis’ famous drama ‘The castle spectre’.” Some libraries note the link to Lewis’s play based upon The National Union Catalog Pre-1956 Imprints, and this source also cites back to Summers’s Gothic Bibliography. It is possible Summers’s entry for The Castle Spectre was misunderstood to be about the “Family Horrors” version, when it was meant to reference the “Baronial Romance” version, which specifically claims to be founded upon Lewis’s play. Whatever the reason, this misunderstanding has spurred many sources, including library catalogs, to erroneously note a connection between the plot of Lewis’s The Castle Spectre play and Wilkinson’s The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors chapbook.

It should also be noted that some sources discuss a similarity between the two distinct chapbooks Wilkinson wrote under the titles The Castle Spectre. Diane L. Hoeveler, for instance, suggests that Wilkinson was plagiarizing herself in these two chapbooks, indicating she believes the plots to be “virtually identical and indicate how authors as well as publishers had no qualms about ‘borrowing’ literary texts from others as well as themselves” (14). Hoeveler writes, “Wilkinson’s The Castle Spectre: An Ancient Baronial Romance is actually her second attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Lewis’s 1797 drama The Castle Spectre”, naming as the “other version” The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors: a Gothic Story (14). Yet while it is true that Wilkinson used the same main title for two different books, they are not “virtually identical”: the plots, characters’ names, and setting of the story have no similarities. A potential reason for the similar titles was that Wilkinson used the phrase “Castle Spectre” precisely because of its popularity at the time to attract readers, despite the “Family Horrors” version being a unique story.

On a separate note, the title page of The Castle Spectre; or, Family Horrors includes a portion of a poem by John Langhorne. It appears to be an edited stanza from a longer poem entitled “Fable VII. The Wall-flower” from his collection of poems, The Fables of Flora (Johnson 447). It is unclear whether the poem was adapted by Wilkinson or the publishing company, but the poem alludes to the idea of remembrance and telling the stories of the dead. This theme reflects in the story of Gertrude’s death and Richard’s journey of avenging her.


Narrative Point of View

The Castle Spectre is, for the most part, narrated in the third person by an anonymous narrator who is not present in the plot. There are a few occasions throughout the story when the narrator speaks in first-person plural, referencing the history of the story and its translations. The narration follows the knight, Sir Richard, throughout the entire story, and much of the chapbook contains dialogue and interpolated tales spoken by a variety of the characters with whom Richard interacts, such as Douglas. The narrative focuses more on plot and less on characters’ thoughts, and the sentences are often long and descriptive. There is a bit of insight into Richard’s feelings, but the narrator does not discuss other characters’ emotions unless the characters reveal their feelings aloud in dialogue. There is also an instance where Sir Richard and Sir Kenelm exchange letters, which are printed within the text in quotation marks; both Sir Richard and Sir Kenelm refer to themselves in the third person in their letters. At times when Elenora (also known as Gertrude) appears as a ghost, she also refers to herself in the third person during her tales.

Sample of Third-Person Narration:

The moon, emerging from a black cloud just as he entered, enabled him to ascertain he was in a grand spacious hall, in the centre of which stood a large banquetting table He seized an extinguished taper, which he with difficulty lighted by the friction of some wood he found on the hearth. He had now an opportunity to observe the place more accurately. The table was laden with viands, some in a putrid state, some mouldering to powder; and to his eager view appeared vases filled with the juice of the generous grape. In a corner of the apartment he beheld the body of a man extended in death on the floor, the boards of which were stained with congealed blood. A murder had been committed here but a short time before. The sight of this did not alarm him; he knew not fear, but emotions of pity rose in his breast, for the unfortunate object before him, and a desire to develope the mysteries of the place he was in, prevailed over ever other consideration. (6)

Sample of First-Person Plural Narration:

But we must not anticipate in our story too much, and the Scottish manuscript from whence we translate, mentions some transactions that will better appear hereafter. In the mean time we must observe that after much consultation on these transactions, Lord Mackworth advised Sir Richard to appoint a meeting with Sir Kenelm at midnight. (16)

Sample of Sir Richard’s Third-Person Letter to Sir Kenelm Cromar:

Sir Richard, brother to Lady Gertrude, returning from the Holy Wars, finds his venerable father mouldering into dust, brought to the grave by grief for the untimely fate of a beloved daughter, whose fair fame was basely called into question, and her dear life sacrificed to lawless love. —Sir Kenelm must account for this, and inform Sir Richard what is become of a dear sister. For which purpose Sir Richard challenges Sir Kenelm to meet him, in single combat, near that castle-gate where he, Sir Kenelm, banquetting with his new bride, beheld the injured shade of Lady Gertrude, when, for a slight offence, he stabbed his cupbearer. Eight days hence, exactly at the hour of twelve, Sir Richard will be there, with two of his most trusty friends. (16)

Sample of Sir Henry Mackworth’s Interpolated Tale:

At his return to Palestine, finding I was in confinement, his generosity and friendship made him hazard his life to rescue me from my confinement. He succeeded beyond our most sanguine expectations. We continued together some time. We had but one heart, one purse, and were a pattern of friendship throughout camp and country. Clemena was often the subject of our conversation. I ventured to hint the inclination I felt for her, from his description and the picture I had seen. ‘Alas!’ said he, ‘I dare not flatter you with the least hope of success; my sister has been educated in a convent, and ever been intended by our parents for a nun, their fortune being too small to support us both in a manner suitable to our rank…’ I remonstrated with Vertolini on the cruelty of secluding a beloved sister, for life, within the dreary walls of a convent… (33).

The various types of narration in The Castle Spectre allow for a deeper exploration of different characters’ actions and emotions, as well as greater detail on the setting and history of the story. The Castle Spectre utilizes several techniques to augment suspense. On numerous occasions, the names of the characters Richard meets are not revealed until the end of that individual’s story, and the reveals often occur casually amidst the dialogue or narrative with little emphasis. The reveal of the characters’ names has a great impact on the entire plot, and the narration’s nonchalant delivery augments the suspense and adds an element of surprise. As a result, many key details and surprises are revealed suddenly and without foreshadowing. Though the narrator does not touch on characters’ feelings often, the dialogue provides greater insight into the different characters’ personalities and emotions. Because so many different plots are embedded into the chapbook, the story is both engaging and, at times, confusing: the chapbook is extremely fast-paced because so much action is packed into each sentence, and in some cases it is difficult to follow the story and to distinguish who is speaking or who characters are because the plot jumps back and forth in time or between the different story lines. The moments of first-person plural narration detail the story as if it were true by discussing the sources from which the story was translated. These moments where the narrator speaks as “we” directly to the reader, along with the detailed setting and long rambling sentences, all conspire to make the story oral in feel, as if being told to a friend.


Summary

The Castle Spectre follows the knight Sir Richard over a period of several years. The story begins on a stormy night in the Scottish Highlands. Sir Richard is traveling to his father’s castle in the Grampian Mountains after a four-year deployment to the Holy War in Palestine. He seeks shelter to ride out the storm, but no one will take him in. In a flash of lightning, he sees the turret of a castle; he sounds his bugle numerous times with no response, so he dismounts his horse and tries the door. By chance, the door is unlocked, and Richard enters the banquet hall of the castle. With only the moon and occasional flash of lightning to guide him, the knight explores. The hall is filled with food and drink that appears to have been placed there recently. In the corner of the hall lies the dead body of a man; the floor is soaked with congealed blood. Sir Richard vows to unravel the mystery of the catastrophe that occurred.

Sir Richard tours the rest of the castle, which is magnificently decorated in gothic splendor. No one is to be found and all is silent. He comes upon a great bed, and as he is exhausted from his journey, he jumps in and falls into a deep sleep. At one o’clock, a bell rings and Sir Richard wakes to the curtains of the bed being ripped open. Standing at the foot of the bed bathed in blue light is a veiled woman in a white dress. As he approaches her, the woman’s veil falls off and a stream of blood gushes from a wound in her side. Richard looks into the woman’s face, and it is none other than his sister! He calls to the apparition “by her name Elenora” (though later in the story she is referred to predominantly as Gertrude, with no explanation given for the shift in name) (7). Elenora the apparition stands, not speaking, while holding her hand over the seemingly fresh wound in her side. After repeated prodding, Elenora explains the story of her brutal murder in the castle, revealing that two years after Richard left, she married the owner of this castle, and in a fit of frenzy he stabbed her (while she was pregnant) and left her corpse in a rubbish pile. Left to rot without a proper Christian burial, she haunts her murderer and his new wife. The scene that Richard came upon in the banquet hall was the remnants of their wedding, which was ruined when Elenora appeared and terrorized the guests. Finally, with a clap of thunder and a flash of lightning, Elenora vanishes in a swirl of blue flame.

Shocked and overcome with emotion, Sir Richard decides to leave and avenge his beloved sister. He lets his horse take the reins on the way to his father’s estate and does not realize the horse has gone down the wrong road. They come upon a cottage where he is treated with great hospitality. The owner, Douglas, tells the story of his childhood and time as a soldier, where he saved the life of the “worthy nobleman, under whose banners I had enlisted” and was thus assured protection and this cottage (11). Douglas explains that the nobleman has died and his son is at war; he fears thar if he does not return, Sir Kenelm Cromar will take over his estates and leave Douglas and his family to live out their days in poverty. During this story, Douglas reveals the name of his former nobleman to be Duncan, and Sir Richard reveals that Duncan was his father! This means that Sir Richard is the son who has now returned home; the Douglas family rejoices. Douglas’s story also reveals that Sir Kenelm’s first wife was Elenora (now predominately referred to as Gertrude in the story). Upon Gertrude and Kenelm’s marriage, Ally (Douglas’s daughter) moved into the castle where Sir Kenelm “began to take great liberties with her” (12). Douglas says Lady Gertrude is now missing and so is Ally. Because of Gertrude’s ghost’s daily visits, Sir Kenelm and his new wife have moved to his hunting lodge so the castle remains uninhabited. Sir Richard thanks Douglas and promises him a life of friendship and protection.

When he finally arrives home, the servants rejoice at the return of their young lord. They tell the knight all that has happened and grieve for the good young lady Gertrude and their master Duncan. Enraged, Sir Richard vows to avenge her and lay her body to rest in a Christian burial. He seeks out his father’s friend, Lord Mackworth, and tells the man the story. Richard decides to challenge Sir Kenelm to single combat, with Mackworth’s assistance. As part of their agreement, Mackworth wants Sir Richard to marry his daughter and Sir Richard agrees. Sir Kenelm accepts Richard’s request, mentioning that though it is illegal to fight in this manner, he will do it anyways to honor the memory of the venerable Duncan. Meanwhile, Kenelm sends a letter to the king, requesting that he send men and imprison Richard before the fight occurs. Instead, the king decides the two men will have an impartial hearing at his court and he will support whichever cause is more just.

It is now the night of combat, and the marshal Lord Glencairn asks if any last-minute accommodations can be made. Richard declines, unless Sir Kenelm will admit to murdering Gertrude and surrender to public justice. Kenelm refuses, saying that Gertrude abandoned him for a lover, and Richard is about to stab him in rage when suddenly, they are both commanded prisoners and summoned to the king’s court. Before they leave with the soldiers, the clock strikes one and in a swirl of thunder and lightning, Gertrude appears. She shares her story and explains that three times now she has prevented Kenelm from murdering his new wife. She requests a proper burial, asks Mackworth to protect Richard, and vanishes in a thick blue flame amidst a crack of lightning and tremendous peal of thunder. Richard breaks the silence and tells the soldiers to bring them to the court, so that he can share the full story in front of the king. The hearing occurs, and Kenelm is found guilty and sent to prison; he later has a public trial and is condemned to death. Gertrude’s remains are recovered and she has a proper burial; all the churches in the surrounding area hold masses in her honor and her final wish is granted.

Finally, Richard goes home. He keeps his house open to serve his father’s tenants, and the neighboring nobility congratulate him on his return from the war and for bringing Kenelm to justice. Nevertheless, Sir Richard is unhappy; he mourns the loss of his father and sister and misses his lost love Lady Jane. The story now shifts back many years, before Richard went to the Holy Land. He fell in love with Mackworth’s daughter, Jane, and she waited for him to return from the war. In the four years of his absence, Jane denied many marriage offers from wealthy prospects, one of them being Lord Glendour. Finally, Richard returns and they are set to marry. We learn that two years before Richard left, Mackworth’s son went to war and never returned. They mourned his death, and Mackworth received Richard as a son and the heir to his estates and domains. As they prepare for the wedding at the Mackworth estate, Richard returns to his familial castle, and in his absence, an unfortunate event occurs. One evening, Jane is kidnapped while on a walk through the gardens. Mackworth sends news to Richard, who vows never to return until he finds his love. He searches for weeks with no sign of Jane, until he comes across a hut offering refreshments to travelers. The man inside mentions that a gagged woman and man had come through just before and were on their way to Italy. Richard chases them to the river’s edge and resolves to follow them. For years, he traverses all of Italy, hopelessly searching convents for his lover. He falls ill and almost dies from grief, but dreams of Jane and vows to recover and free her.

A sample of the body text of The Castle Spectre

The story jumps back in time to Jane’s kidnapping, and it is revealed that Lord Glendour, one of Kenelm’s friends, fell madly in love with her and kidnapped Jane to be with her. He requests her hand in marriage, but she refuses. She tricks him into allowing her to pass the time in a convent in Italy, where she is watched over by the Lady Abbess and not allowed to leave. Back in the present, Richard meets an English man in the middle of Venice. They become friends and visit the man’s villa. Richard recognizes someone in one of the family pictures and asks the man to share the story of why he left England. The man says the story is long, but he has written it down for his children and will one day give Richard a copy to read. After months of visits, Richard reads the man’s story and is surprised by the similarities between them. The man, Wentworth, was the eldest son of a noble house in England. He fell in love with a peasant girl Louisa, and though he was promised to marry a noble woman Anna, he runs away with his lover. He fakes illness and tells his father he will go to the Holy War; Louisa goes with him, and they marry and have a son and daughter. He returns from the war and vows to sort out his betrothal to Anna. Leaving his wife and children in the protection of her father, he goes back to his paternal castle. He sets a plan for his brother, William, to marry Anna instead, and it works. Elatedly, Wentworth returns to the cottage and is devastated to find Louisa and his infant son missing. They were tricked by a letter claiming to be from him, and Wentworth suspects his own father to have sent it. For five years, Wentworth and his daughter travel the world, though nothing can make him forget Louisa. Receiving word of his father’s ill health, he returns to England. On his death bed, Wentworth’s father reveals he sent Louisa to a convent in Italy, but she escaped. Wentworth and his daughter go back to Italy to search for her, but he never finds Louisa. He lives like a recluse in his villa, and this is where Richard reenters the story.

Richard again visits Wentworth. The man reveals he is Richard’s uncle but used a fake family name so that he may retire in peace, away from the nobility. Richard explains that during his search for Jane, he saw Louisa and her son in the Pyrenees. Together, Richard and Wentworth begin their journey to the mountains to find the long-lost wife and son. They come across a cottage that Richard had visited before and reunite with Louisa and the son. Wentworth, now revealed to be called Sir George, decides to return to his family home in England. Richard promises to join them, if they can spare a few weeks for him to search for Jane.

One night on his return to the Italian villa, Richard sees two criminals attacking a man. He intervenes, and they admit they were hired by Count Vertolini to kill him. Richard and the man go back to his house, so they may speak safely. The young man then explains his story: he came from England to fight in the Holy War and had a father and sister at home who he had not heard from in years. During the war, he became great friends with an Italian man, Vertolini, who had a sister named Clemena. The man falls in love with her, but is then taken prisoner in Palestine. Four years later, Vertolini bribed the soldiers and freed his friend, and they carry on their travels together. The Italian man reveals his sister is promised to a convent, so she cannot be with his friend despite his love for her. They meet the sister in Italy, where he becomes even more enamored. Clemena admits she does not want to join the convent, but it is necessary for her honor. Vertolini vows to save her before she takes the veil, and the siblings try in vain to convince their father to free her. The father, Count Vertolini, refuses the young man’s wedding proposal, and advises him to leave Italy immediately. It is now revealed that the young man is Sir Henry Mackworth, Lord Mackworth’s long lost son and Jane’s brother.

Back in the present, Richard and Henry plan to rescue Clemena. While at the convent, a girl hands the knight a note telling him to return at midnight to find something of great importance. He listens, and that night, finds Lady Jane at the convent! She explains her story and begs him to free her. Richard and Henry return to the convent to demand her release, but the Lady Abbess refuses. The next day, Henry interrupts the veiling ceremony and saves Clemena from the convent. Richard goes back to England with Henry and Clemena, where he hurries to find Mackworth. Together, they apply to the king and receive his royal mandate to imprison Lord Glendour. The king sends word to the Pope, and Mackworth and Sir Richard go back to Italy to retrieve a freed Jane. With Richard’s lover in tow, they return to England. Wentworth lives in his castle with his family, there are numerous weddings, Glendour dies in a convent, and Sir Richard is blessed with years of happiness with Jane, Henry, Wentworth, and the others. They all live happily ever after.


Bibliography

Frank, Frederick S. “A Gothic Romance.” Horror Literature: A Core Collection and Reference Guide, by Marshall B. Tymn, New York City, R.R. Bowker, 1981.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Abby Minkin

The Round Tower

The Round Tower

The Round Tower, Or the Mysterious Witness: An Irish Legendary Tale of the Sixth Century

Author: Charlotte Frances Barrett
Publisher: Tegg and Castleman
Publication Year: 1803
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.7cm x 17.3cm
Pages: 36
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.B376 R 1803


In this 1803 chapbook, Charlotte Frances Barrett (Frances Burney’s niece) writes a tale of adventure, surprise, and horror in which the righteous queen must be rescued from an evil usurper.


Material History

The Round Tower, Or the Mysterious Witness: An Irish Legendary Tale of the Sixth Century, by C. F. Barrett, is a gothic chapbook in the Sadleir-Black Collection of the University of Virginia Special Collections Library. The book is thirty-six pages, has no cover, and measures 17.3cm by 10.7cm. The front of the book is blank, save for the faint traces of ink that have bled through from the illustration next to the inside title page. Once the book is opened, an illustration of two cavaliers gesturing towards a godlike figure is observed along with the words “Vaughan delin” and “Barlow sculp” under the bottom left and right corners respectively. The illustration combines both etching and engraving and was printed from a copper plate. Additionally, the words “Round Tower” are written under the center of the illustration in a three-dimensional font. The inside title page follows the illustration and the author’s name is printed in the middle of the page in all capital letters. Beneath the author’s name is listed Barrett’s other publication: Mary Queen of Scots, Sc., and the quote, “Murder! Most foul, and Treachery most vile.” Farther down the inner title page, after the author’s name and credentials, is the publishing information and the words “Printed for Tegg and Castleman.”

The title page of The Round Tower.

The book is held together by glue binding; however, it is worn and has lost its effect, leading to the book’s fragility. The binding used to be accompanied by stitching that adhered the book to its cover as illustrated by the holes in the sides of the pages closest to the spine, but the cover has since fallen off, which contributes to the book’s tattered appearance.

The pages of the text are yellowed, have the texture of sandpaper, and are splotchy, due to a chemical reaction that has occurred between the chemicals in the paper and the environment in which the book is stored. Moreover, the pages get increasingly brown beginning at page 25, and appear more weathered than the pages at the beginning and middle of the text.

On each page, the text is centered and situated between margins that are slightly larger on the top and bottom than the left and right. Each page has the words “THE ROUND TOWER” printed in the center of the top margin and the page number in the bottom left corner right under the text. The text is small, closely set, and sophisticated with a font that appears similar to Times New Roman.

The Round Tower boasts markings made by potential previous owners. The first and second occur on page 11. In the bottom margin is a signature written in cursive, however, it has faded and is therefore illegible. At the top of page 11 in the right-hand margin, the initials LB are written in cursive, insinuating that the book was once owned by an individual before coming into the Sadleir-Black Collection. Finally, there is a blotch of blue ink two-thirds of the way down page 25.


Textual History

The Round Tower, Or the Mysterious Witness: An Irish Legendary Tale of the Sixth Century, by C. F. Barrett, was published by Tegg and Castleman in London in 1803; this appears to be the only edition and there are no digital copies. Interestingly, the book is a plagiarism of John Palmer’s popular gothic novel, The Mystery of the Black Tower (Tymn 41). This tale is set in the time period of Edward the III and depicts the life of Leonard, a young boy who earns knighthood and must embark on an adventure to save his love, Emma, from imprisonment in the Black Tower. Published in 1796, The Black Tower was influenced by Don Quixote as well as Clara Reeve’s The Old English Baron and is still billed as “among the finest historical Gothic novels” (“The Mystery of the Black Tower (1796)”). Plagiarisms were very common among chapbooks at this time.

The frontispiece of The Round Tower depicting the theatrical nature of one of the supernatural scenes.

Francesca Saggini suggests that The Round Tower was also inspired by contemporary theatrical performances. Saggini characterizes Barrett as a “prolific hack … who adapted to the page several Gothic spectacles performed … at popular London venues” (120). The frontispiece of The Round Tower depicts the dramaticism of the appearance of the supernatural apparition and the animated reflections of the onlookers, thus illustrating how the gothic genre was influenced by performance yet also available to readers “at a cheap price and in the safety of their own homes” (Saggini 122). The frontispiece is also displayed in Frederick Frank’s article “Gothic Gold: The Sadleir-Black Gothic Collection”along with a description of the work that describes the book as a thrilling “Macbethian Gothic” that includes dramatized supernatural elements (18).

Charlotte Frances Barrett, author of The Round Tower, produced pamphlets between 1800 and 1810 and authored stories including, as compiled by Franz Potter: The Great Devil’s Tale; or, The Castle of Morbano included in Canterbury Tales (1802), The Mysterious Vision; or, Perfidy Punished in the New Collection of Gothic Stories (1801), a translation of The Shipwreck, or, The Adventures, Love, and Constancy, of Paul and Virginia (1800), Douglas Castle; or, The Cell of Mystery. A Scottish Tale (1803) for Arthur Neil, and Laugh when You Can; or, The Monstrous Droll Jester (1800) for Ann Lemoine (104-5n). Barrett was also the niece of Frances Burney (1752–1840), well-known author of Evelina (1778) and Cecilia (1782).

Thomas Tegg (1776–1846), who published The Round Tower, was a bookseller and publisher in London who specialized in “reprints, out-of-copyright publications, remainders, and cheap satirical prints” (“Thomas Tegg”). He also published accounts of shipwrecks that included engraved folding frontispieces (Weiss 60). Tegg and Castleman were prolific: “between 1802 and 1805, Tegg and Castleman co-published at least nineteen novelettes in collaboration with Dugdale” (Loeber and Stouthamer-Loeber 26). Potter calls Tegg “the most prominent, if not notorious, publisher of gothic chapbooks and pamphlets in the early nineteenth century” (59).


Narrative Point of View

The Round Tower is narrated by an omniscient narrator who has insight into the thoughts and actions of each character. The story is narrated in a venerable tone using lengthy sentences that are broken up by punctuation. The narration primarily focuses on the emotions of the characters and how they influence the characters’ dispositions and behaviors. Additionally, the narrator relays the tale with great expressivity by contextualizing every event in the story with dramatic and detailed descriptions.

Sample Passage:

Enraged at her firmness, Sitric seized the infant, and, drawing his poignard, he raised his arm in order to plunge it in the bosom of the latter, when, driven to desperation, she rushed on the perfidious Dane, and, wrestling the fatal weapon from him, would have plunged it in his heart, but at that moment the door of the dungeon flew open, and Cobthatch, attended by the vindictive Connora, rushed in, followed by several of the usurper’s guards. Appalled at the sudden appearance of her husband’s enemy, the poignard fell from the hand of Moriat, which Connora instantly seized, fearful (in despite of her lord’s neglect) lest in a paroxysm of despair Moriat might yet use it against his life. (19)

The narrator’s omniscience allows for multiple characters’ perspectives to be included in the relation of the book, which illustrates their motives, ambitions, and values to add nuance and intricacy to the tale. Likewise, the multitude of punctuation functions to provide the narrator with inflection and gives the impression that the book is being told as a story. The narrator’s emphasis on the characters’ feelings centers the driving force of the plot around emotion and asserts its power as a motivating force behind the characters’ actions. Furthermore, the descriptive and intensified manner in which the book is narrated creates a theatrical tone that results in an immersive quality.


Summary

Cobthatch, King of Munster, is listening to music in an attempt to calm his anxiety about the fact that he has unjustly obtained the throne by killing his uncle, Laughair. He is then notified that Maon and Moriat, the son of his murdered uncle and his wife, are still alive, and orders his associate, Sitric, to ensure their execution. However, Maon and Moriat do not know the other is alive. 

A sample page of The Round Tower illustrating the closely set text and yellowed pages.

Meanwhile, Moriat is in the mountains where she has been able to secure lodging. One day when she is mourning the loss of Maon, who she thinks is deceased, she carves his name into a nearby rock. While doing so, she is startled by a man approaching her, but then realizes it is Kildare, her loyal attendant. He recalls his experience venturing out to secure provisions and tells Moriat the story of how he discovered Maon. He recollects that he heard a groan and was convinced it was a ghost, but then realized it was Maon, who at the time had drawn his sword with the intention of committing suicide. Kildare caught the Lord before he impaled himself, and they embraced upon their reunion. Maon immediately wanted to be shown to Moriat, but Kildare convinced him the sudden shock would be too much for her to bear and convinced Maon to wait until he could deliver the news.

Upon hearing that her husband is alive, Moriat waits the entire night for his return with their child at her side, but Maon never shows. Instead, Moriat is pursued and cornered by Cobthatch’s guards, who take her to Sitric’s castle where she and her infant are detained in the dungeon. Sitric is enamored by Moriat’s beauty and wants to spare her from death at the hand of Cobthatch. He therefore goes to Cobthatch and makes up a story where he states that Moriat refused to reveal Maon’s location and therefore, he stabbed her. This satisfies the king, and he is happy to know he will not have to worry about her raising suspicion. When Sitric returns to the dungeon where Moriat is being held, he asks that in return for him sparing her life, she complies with all his future demands. She responds that she will not break her marriage vows, but that someday her son will be able to repay him. Sitric, infuriated by her lack of compliance, chains her infant to the opposite wall. He returns the following night, and when Moriat again refuses to comply, he gives her an ultimatum that if she does not obey, both her and her baby’s life will suffer the consequences.

In the meantime, Sitric’s wife, Connora, suspects that her husband is devoted to another, and devises a plan to observe him. She disguises herself and follows him to the dungeon where she overhears his conversation with Moriat, thus confirming her suspicions. Sitric returns to visit Moriat and is on the verge of stabbing her infant out of anger at her firmness, when Connora and Cobthatch enter the room. Cobthatch, enraged at discovering that Moriat is alive, demands that she and her baby be removed to the Round Tower.

While Moriat was captured, Kildare and Maon encountered troops, causing a delay in their visit to reunite with her. When they venture out the next morning, they see Sitric’s party in the distance and Kildare suggests they retire to the cottage of a loyal friend, O’Brian, until they can gather a party large enough to overpower Sitric’s army.

Once at the cottage, Kildare relates the adventures of Maon and Moriat since the death of Laughair to O’Brian. He recalls that Laughair had stayed at the castle of Cobthatch when he was murdered, and that Maon and Moriat, being accused of the crime, fled to O’Brian’s cottage. Here they were discovered, which resulted in Moriat fleeing to the mountains and Maon embarking on a ship that was said to have capsized, leading Moriat to believe him dead.

Page 11 of The Round Tower, which has a signature on the bottom of the page and initials in the upper right corner.

In an effort to rescue Moriat, Maon resolves to enter Sitric’s castle disguised as a friar and embarks on his journey. Once he arrives, Maon encounters Sitric, who relates the story of Moriat’s captivity from the perspective of her savior and offers to lead Maon to the Round Tower. The next day, as Sitric leads Maon through the passageways, he decides to kill him. Immediately before he stabs him, the ghost of Laughair appears and instructs Sitric to lead Maon safely to the dungeon, or else he would face his vengeance. Once at the door, Maon and Sitric discover Cobthatch attempting to rape Moriat, leading Sitric to stab and kill him. Sitric then accuses Maon of the murder and has him taken prisoner. Because of the death of Cobthatch, Sitric is crowned king.

Following Cobthatch’s murder, Sitric offers Moriat the freedom of her husband and child if she agrees to have sex with him. At this moment, Laughair’s ghost reappears and tells Moriat not to trust the tyrant, and she complies with his instructions and holds firm.

Later that evening, Sitric discovers that Moriat has escaped, accuses Maon of aiding her to freedom, and orders the execution of him and his child. The moment before the axe is to execute Maon, Sitric tells him that if he resigns his title to Moriat and tells him her location, Maon will be spared. He refuses and at that moment, Kildare enters the courtyard with a band of peasants and enters into combat with Sitric’s men. While Sitric is engaged in fighting, Moriat stabs him, which causes his troops to disperse.

After the death of Sitric, Kildare presents to the nobles that Maon should be king, and when asked for proof of his innocence, the ghost of Laughair appears for the final time to declare that Maon is the rightful heir of Munster, and he is crowned king.

Once Maon and Moriat are restored to the throne, Moriat retells that she escaped because the ghost of Laughair led her to the cottage where Kildare was staying. Once she arrived, Kildare had assembled an army of peasants ready to restore the true king to power.

Maon and Moriat enjoy a life full of joy and peace together, and his rule becomes known for its justice and serves as an example to other nations.


Bibliography

Barrett, Charlotte Frances. The Round Tower, Or the Mysterious Witness: An Irish Legendary Tale of the Sixth Century. London, Tegg and Castleman, 1803.

Frank, Frederick. “Gothic Gold: The Sadleir-Black Gothic Collection.” Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, vol. 26, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, 1997, pp. 287–312.

Loeber, Rolf, and Magda Stouthamer-Loeber. “The Publication of Irish Novels and Novelettes: A Footnote on Irish Gothic Fiction.” Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text, 10th ed., e Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research, Cardiff, Wales, 2003, pp. 17–44. http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/romtextv2/files/2013/02/cc10_n02.pdf

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

Saggini, Francesca. The Gothic Novel and The Stage: Romantic Appropriations. Routledge, Taylor Et Francis Group, 2019.

“The Mystery of the Black Tower (1796).” Valancourt Books, https://www.valancourtbooks.com/the-mystery-of-the-black-tower-1796.html.

“Thomas Tegg.” Collections Online | British Museum, https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG48140.

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

Weiss, Harry B. Book about Chapbooks: The People’s Literature of Bygone Times. Folklore Associates, 1969.


Researcher: Delaney K. Walts

The Twin Sisters

The Twin Sisters

The Twin Sisters; or, Two Girls of Nineteen: Being the Interesting Adventures of Sophia and Charlotte Melford. An Affecting Narrative

Author: Unknown
Publisher: Freeman Scott
Publication Year: 1827
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 9.1cm x 14.15cm
Pages: 72
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.T82 1827


Set in England and published in 1827, The Twin Sisters warns of the sexual improprieties of men, cautioning that men lead to the destruction of women, unless women are resilient in their actions.


Material History

The book containing The Twin Sisters; or, Two Girls of Nineteen: Being the Interesting Adventures of Sophia and Charlotte Melford. An Affecting Narrative by “Charlotte, one of the sisters” is a small 9.1cm by 14.15cm worn book. The book contains seventy-two pages total: pages three through forty-two detail the story of the twin sisters and the remaining thirty pages recount Orphan of the Castle: a Gothic Tale, or the Surprising History and Vicissitudes of Allan Fitz-Roberts, the Orphan Heir of the Castle of Lindisfarne by an unknown author.

The title page for The Twin Sisters. Note the white tape holding the page to the book, the tearing along the bottom edge, and the rectangular staining in the middle of the page.

This desaturated teal-colored hardcover book is discolored by light warm-brown staining. The discoloration is most exaggerated on the bottom edge of the book. The front cover has a thin crack halfway up the page, starting from the right side, tapering off until it reaches a cool dark-brown freckle near the middle of the book. This dark splotch is the most distinctive out of many, most likely unintentional, freckles splattering the cover, giving the book an aged appearance. There is also a 0.5cm in diameter distinctive stain in the upper left-hand corner, rimmed thinly with a warm dark-brown and filled with a cool-blue grey. The stain resembles a hippopotamus’s head with a small protrusion where the neck should be, giving the appearance of a small gourd.

The binding is exceedingly damaged. The book, bound similarly to modern hardcovers, has a cardboard-like substance acting as the base, wrapped in a colored paper to attach the front hardcover with the back. The desaturated orange-brown colored cardboard-like substance peaks from the corners of the book where the teal paper covering has worn through. The paper cover folds over the edges of the hardback and a rectangle of white paper, now discolored with age, pastes over it to secure it. Only severely degraded paper covers the spine. The spine is intact from the bottom until 8.2cm up from the bottom, where it is torn off completely until 11.5cm up from the bottom. A few centimeters of the paper remain attached, but only attached to the left edge of the spine. In the binding of the pages, some type of adhesive glue adhered each edge of the paper together with a thin bit of string threaded through all of the pages in three places near the center of the inner margin or gutter of the book. Each puncture falls one centimeter apart.

A sample page of The Twin Sisters.

The paper, brittle and browned from age, has the most browning along its edges. On the first page, an 8 by 3cm rectangle-shaped discoloration appears in the middle of the page. A few of the pages are ripped, but only along the bottom edge, including the first page, resulting in a brown staining its negative on the third page. A few of the odd-numbered pages are marked below the text with signature marks used by a printer; the marks appear as a combination of letters and the number 2, ranging from A2 to D2 in The Twin Sisters. The Orphan of the Castle has more damage to the paper detailing its story than The Twin Sisters. The damage evokes the interaction between watercolor paint and salt, giving the pages a speckled appearance.

When looking at a standard spread of The Twin Sisters, the thirty-four lines of text are fully justified causing the spacing between words to be on average narrower than standard. The margins are consistent at 1cm on the bottom and outside edge with the top margin 1.5cm to leave adequate room for “The Two Girls” above the text on the left page, and “Of Nineteen” above the text on the right page. All of the pages are numbered, except for the first page of The Orphan of the Castle and the first three pages of the book: the title page, the blank back of the title page, and the first page of The Twin Sisters.

Beyond a mostly illegible scrawl of what appears to be the name “Mr. Wyllis” in the top left corner of the inside of the cover, and the University of Virginia Library bookplate, there are no illustrations, marginalia, or personal marks in the book. Neither is the title of either story listed anywhere apart from the title page and the first page of each respective story. On the opening page of each story, each of the titles is shortened from their full form inscribed in the title page to just the primary title, without its subtitle.


Textual History

The title page attributes Charlotte Melford, the narrator of the story, as the author of The Twin Sisters; or, Two Girls of Nineteen: Being the Interesting Adventures of Sophia and Charlotte Melford. An Affecting Narrative; however, this is spurious, as the far-fetched story is a work of fiction. There are no other authors listed in any available copies of the book, except one WorldCat entry erroneously listing the publisher, Freeman Scott, as the author.

The copy held at the University of Virginia Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library was published in 1827 by Freeman Scott, with premises on the N.W. Corner of Tenth and Race Streets, Philadelphia. There was another publication of this story produced in London and “printed and sold by Dean & Munday, 35, Threadneedle Street” (as noted on its title page); this copy has been digitized and made available on Google Books, which lists the date at 1830, though this date is not shown anywhere on the scan of the book. The two copies are very similar in most regards but differ substantially in some ways. The Freeman Scott version is one of two stories in the chapbook, with the other being Orphan of the Castle, and The Twin Sisters accounts for pages 3 through 42; by contrast, the Dean and Munday edition was published alone and accounts for pages 8 through 36 of its book. The difference in page count is primarily due to what appears to be differences in margin size as well as page size; the body of the text is largely the same. There are, however, some discrepancies in the text, especially with punctuation. The two editions have very little consistency between their punctuations with over six changes between the two editions on the corresponding text of the first page of the Scott edition alone. Occasionally, there are also some changes in word choice: for instance, page six of the Scott edition uses “written” while the corresponding section of the Dean and Munday edition uses “wrote” on page nine. Or, later, in the same sentence, the Scott edition uses “house” while the Dean and Munday edition uses “home.” There are also some cases where there is an entire half of a sentence or full sentence present in the Dean and Munday edition that is missing in the Scott edition, such as the inclusion of “to go with her; my father she said, was visited by dissolute men in whose company it would be imprudent for us to mix” at the end of a sentence on page ten in the Dean and Munday edition but not the Scott edition. Perhaps most notably, the Dean and Munday edition includes an illustration of the scene where Charlotte is taken from her lodgings by the police as the frontispiece before the title page; this illustration is absent in the Scott edition.

The final page of The Twin Sisters. Note the warm brown staining, shaped like a rattle in the top right corner.

WorldCat also lists several other editions with various publication years, all attributed to Charlotte Melford. For instance, WorldCat lists an 1821 edition that is twelve pages long and was published for wholesale and retail in New York at 386, Broadway, W. Grattan Printer by S. King, and sold at his bookstore. There is only one library with this 1821 edition: the University of Iowa Library.

WorldCat lists an 1823 edition that was published for wholesale and retail in New York by W. Borradaile. This copy is one of the earliest editions and does not have the attached Orphan of the Castle story. This version is thirty-six pages long and includes an illustration.

WorldCat also identifies an edition with an unspecified publication date in the 1800s, and Jstor lists the date for this version as somewhere between 1814 and 1837. This edition was printed in London “for the booksellers, and for J. Kendrew, Colliergate, York.” In the WorldCat entry, James Kendrew is listed as one of the named persons in the book twice alongside Sophia and Charlotte, even though he never appears in the book. This copy appears to be similar to the Dean and Munday edition as the story spans pages 8 through 36 and has a front plate illustration like the Dean and Munday edition; however, this version is listed as being one centimeter smaller (19cm compared to 20cm). The University of York Library, in the United Kingdom, is the only library with a copy of this edition. There is a scan of this book on Jstor, in the form of a photograph of each page spread, showing that it is very similar to the Dean and Munday version of the book as the punctuation and general length and spacing of the book appear to be consistent. There is however a difference in the fonts on the title page and the image on the page before. The image in this University of York version is not colored and depicts the sisters together before they depart on their trip to London. The covers of both books also appear to be a warm brown color, however, the image of the University of York version is more degraded than the image of the Dean and Munday edition available on Google Books. The Kendrew edition of the book most likely contains another story after it within the same physical book, since in the Jstor scan the last page of text is on the left, leaving the right page blank, allowing for the ink from the image on the back of the page to show through. Furthermore, visually, there appear to be numerous pages left in the book.

Fourteen libraries in the world, including the University of Virginia Library, have a copy of the 1827 Scott edition of this book according to WorldCat, with thirteen of the fourteen being in the United States and the last copy being in Canada. The copy of the Scott edition that is owned by the New York Public Library was digitized on January 19th, 2007 onto Google Books where it can be read for free. This copy is the exact same, textually, as the Scott edition owned by the University of Virginia; however, the cover and physical quality are distinct, since the New York Public Library version appears to be in better physical condition and has a harder warm-brown cover as opposed to the worn discolored teal of the University of Virginia version. There is an odd speckling on the first few pages of the New York digitized version that is absent in the physical University of Virginia version.

There is also another book about the sisters called The Sisters, or, Virtue Triumphant : Being the Eventful History of Sophia & Charlotte Melford, which is depicted as authored by Charlotte and Sophia Melford and available on Google Books; other library catalogues, including McGill Library’s Chapbook Collection, New York Public Library Catalogue, and WorldCat just list Charlotte Melford as the author. According to WorldCat, The Sisters, or, Virtue Triumphant was printed by Hodgson & Co. in London at No. 10, Newgate-Street, sometime between 1822 and 1824, indicating that this story predates most but not all editions of The Twin Sisters. From the frontispiece of The Sisters depicted on a scan from the McGill Library, the story appears similar to that of The Twin Sisters in that they share the same general plot points: the smugglers in the sisters’ room dressed as women, Charlotte being taken by the constables, Charlotte and the Colonel, and Sophia being turned to the street (The Sisters 1). The McGill Library catalog entry notes the book is written by Robert Cruikshank, but he is most likely the illustrator of the images.

There are newer publications of The Twin Sisters—with Kessinger Publishing, LLC republishing The Twin Sisters in 2010 and Forgotten Books republishing it in 2018—that can be purchased on several online websites such as Amazon, eBay, and Better World Books.


Narrative Point of View

Charlotte, one of the sisters, narrates The Twin Sisters in the first-person point of view. The narration of the plot is fast paced, with many brief summaries of long periods of time, oftentimes spanning several years, but, at the same time, Charlotte imbues the story with haughty, verbose language in some instances, giving it a formal feel. The chapbook is told in the past tense, making it seem like a story Charlotte is reflecting on and sharing with the readers rather than being more present in the action. This gives the narration a detached sense, which is compounded by the formal titles that she calls every character. She refers to everyone in the book, except her aunt Emma, Sophia, and Susan by their formal names, her close friends, her husband (she calls him Colonel Woodly or colonel), and even people whom she despises. Charlotte focuses primarily on her actions and interactions with people rather than going in-depth about her thought processes or feelings. There is minimal dialogue throughout the novel, with paraphrasing of dialogue more common.

Sample Passage:

The coach went on with rapidity, and I found in a short time that we had left town, and were proceeding along a road that appeared very dreary. I became seriously alarmed, though, to speak with justice of his lordship, he did not offer to take the least unbecoming liberty. He felt my hand tremble, and bade we dismiss my fears, that we were only going a little way beyond Bayswater, and were near our journey’s end. We stopped at a neat white house, the coachman was ordered to knock, but the summons was several times repeated with violence before the door was opened; nor was that done till a female demanded in a harsh discordant voice, who was there at such an hour? And discovered Lord Morden to be the intruder. (21)

It seems as though Charlotte is trying to prop herself up with the narration, since, by using her extensive vocabulary to create a more complex twist on a simple narrative, she is showing off her intelligence and education. She was born into a lower-class family but was given a genteel education by her aunt, so she is trying to use this education to distinguish herself from these lower classes and establish her place in the upper class of her husband. Relatedly, she refers to people in higher social classes than herself in more formal ways, regardless of her personal feelings about them, and calls people at or below her social class by their informal first names, indicating that they are beneath her. Charlotte distances herself from this story throughout her narration; the writing is closed off and impersonal in most instances, not demonstrating the emotions of terror, disgust, loneliness, and joy. She seems to breeze past her emotions, mentioning a slight hand tremble and feeling “seriously alarmed” but then immediately changing the subject or focusing on the actions of the scene rather than her perceptions of it, as though they are nothing. This generates the distance between the events of the story and the narration, and also functions as a form of protective emotional detachment.


Summary

Charlotte, one of the sisters, begins The Twin Sisters with the purpose of the story: a warning to the “fairer sex” about the “delusive arts” of men (2). The Twin Sisters then briefly describes the background of the sisters’ family, detailing the tragedy of their lives and history of issues with financial support. Their mother dies in a horseback riding accident, pushing their father into a grief-fueled sickness from which he eventually dies. His death leaves the girls penniless under the guardianship of their aunt until she too dies a few years later.

The first page of The Twin Sisters. Note the warm brown staining on the bottom edge of the page from the tearing in the title page the page before.

The girls receive a letter from Mrs. Mowbray, a friendly neighbor one summer, offering one of them a job as a nanny in London to a rich family, the Aspleys. Having no real opportunities, they accept and venture on their journey to London.

They stop for the night at a crowded inn and are forced to share a room with two other female travelers, who they later discover to be male smugglers in disguise. These men come into the rooms after their late dinner while Sophia is sleeping and while Charlotte is pretending to sleep. Charlotte overhears them consider raping her and her sister before they drunkenly fall asleep. Much to Charlotte’s relief, the smugglers’ coach arrives before they have the chance to hurt either of the sisters.

The rest of their trip to London is uneventful. Upon their arrival, they are summoned by Mrs. Mowbray to meet the wealthy Lady Aspley. On the advice of Mrs. Mowbray, she chooses Sophia for the nannying position, but Charlotte remains living with Mrs. Mowbray.

Charlotte becomes apprehensive as the company Mrs. Mowbray keeps acts more rudely and obscenely than how she expected people of their supposed standings to behave. When she questions Mrs. Mowbray about it, she just calls her a “pretty innocent rustic,” stating that this behavior is normal for townsfolk (16). In an attempt to confirm her apprehensions, Charlotte tries to visit Sophia to compare their experiences. Mrs. Mowbray informs her that is impossible as Lady Aspley’s household, along with Sophia, had moved to Margate so their sick child could sea-bathe. When Charlotte tries to leave anyway, she is stopped by Mrs. Mowbray and some of her servants. They lock Charlotte in her bedroom, causing her to realize she and Sophia were betrayed by Mrs. Mowbray.

From a servant, Susan, who brings her food, Charlotte finds out that Mrs. Mowbray is a sex trafficker, or rather a “procuress who was employed by (to use [the servants] own words) very great gentlemen to ensnare young girls” (17). The servant also informs Charlotte that a man named Lord Morden paid Mrs. Mowbray to set this trap specifically for her as he had taken a fancy towards her. After this revelation, Charlotte bribes Susan to help her escape; Charlotte sneaks out of the room, but faints from fear and wakes up in the arms of Lord Morden. He asks her to give him her affection and to live with him. Charlotte declines his offer, stating she is imprisoned because of him, so why would she want to be with him. When he offers to free her from Mrs. Mowbray, she agrees to go with him as, in her mind, it was better to be content with him than to live enslaved to the “vile” Mrs. Mowbray (21).

Lord Morden then takes her to the house of his former mistress, Matilda, whose life he ruined after taking her innocence, and asks her to watch over Charlotte for a few days. Charlotte is furious as she feels imprisoned again, so she asks to leave. Matilda, partly because of her jealousy towards Charlotte and Lord Morden’s relationship and partly because of her anger towards Lord Morden, agrees to let her go.

Charlotte flees Matilda’s house and finds shelter at a boarding house where she is subsequently falsely arrested for forgery the next day. The victim of the forgery, Mr. Newton, comes to identify her, but brusquely proclaims Charlotte’s innocence. He then offers to take Charlotte back to her room at the boarding house to collect her things. In the carriage ride, he solicits her for sex as he believes her to be a prostitute. Charlotte is horrified by the offer and demands to be let out of the coach. On his refusal, she starts screaming, causing the coach to stop to make sure everything is alright. Charlotte uses this chance to escape.

Charlotte stops at a toy store to rest from her vigorous dash away from the carriage. The owner, a nice old woman named Mrs. Brent, agrees to provide her room and board. Charlotte then gets a job as an English teacher with connections from her bank. Things seem to be looking her way, until one day Charlotte runs into Sophia on a walk. Sophia tells her that she should have yielded to Lord Morden as she would be safe from the danger of the world. Sophia then goes on to share her experiences in the time they were apart and how happy she is with her place in life. Mrs. Mowbray introduced Sophia to a wealthy man named Mr. Greville. He raped her, took her on as his mistress, and is now supporting her lavish lifestyle financially.

Some time passes before her next interaction with Sophia in the form of a letter asking for a meeting. Sophia looks like a wreck; Mr. Greville found a new mistress and abandoned her, forcing her into prostitution, but she still refused to accept Charlotte’s help. She says she is content and happy with her life, that she has time to repent after she retires.

Time passes and Charlotte falls in love with Mrs. Brent’s nephew, Colonel Woodly. Despite the fact that he likes her as well, she feels the marriage is one of unequals. She will sully his reputation with marriage and his mother would never agree to it. His mother, however, overhears this conversation and agrees immediately to the union. They marry and have a successful marriage with two children.

Three years after the marriage, Mrs. Brent arrives, announcing that she found Sophia passed out in the streets and took her in. Sophia had experienced all of the degradations that came with prostitution: she was abandoned by her pimp; sick, penniless, with nothing more than the clothes on her back. Charlotte then helps care for her physically and spiritually. She now lives a very pious, peaceful life in South Wales.


Bibliography

The Twin Sisters: Or, Two Girls of Nineteen: Being the Interesting Adventures of Sophia and Charlotte Melford. An Affecting Narrative. Dean & Munday, 1830. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Twin_Sisters_Or_Two_Girls_of_Ninetee/TpjXIRLwbHMC?hl=en&gbpv=0.

The Twin Sisters: Or, Two Girls of Nineteen: Being the Interesting Adventures of Sophia and Charlotte Melford. An Affecting Narrative. F. Scott, 1827. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Twin_Sisters/PwknAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0.

The Twin Sisters, or, Two Girls of Nineteen : Being the Interesting Adventures of Sophia & Charlotte Melford. An Affecting Narrative. London : Printed for the booksellers and for J Kendrew Colliergate York, pp. 1–17, https://jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.29959877.

The Sisters, or, Virtue Triumphant : Being the Eventful History of Sophia & Charlotte Melford. London : Printed by and for Hodgson & Co., No. 10, Newgate-Street, [1822–1824]. https://archive.org/details/McGillLibrary-PN970_R63_no_58_elf-1820/mode/2up?view=theater.


Researcher: Rylan L. Karjane

Tales of the Passions: Jealousy

Tales of the Passions: Jealousy

Tales of the Passions; The Married Man; An English Tale: In Which is Attempted an Illustration of the Passion of Jealousy in Its Effects on the Human Mind

Author: George Moore
Publisher: G. Wilkie and J. Robinson
Publication Year: 1811
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 14cm x 22.8cm
Pages: 455
University of Virginia Library Call Number, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .M663 T 1811 v.2


In this 1811 book by English author George Moore, an envious husband wreaks havoc until finally learning to trust his family and control his passions.


Material History

The gothic novel, Tales of the Passions; The Married Man; An English Tale: In Which is Attempted an Illustration of the Passion of Jealousy in Its Effects on the Human Mind, was written by English author George Moore. Its full title stands as such, but either Moore or his publisher shortened the full title to Tales of the Passions in certain places within the novel. For example, the first title page, located after a single blank page at the beginning of the book, simply uses Tales of the Passions as its title. The title page also includes the author’s name, written as George Moore, and publishing information, including the name of the publishers, G. Wilkie and J. Robinson, and where it was printed in London, which was Paternoster Row. It also lists the publication date of 1811. This title page is followed by an uncut page, meaning that for this particular novel the top of the page remains folded and unbroken. Because large pages were folded to create a bound book, it was common practice for manufacturers to sell books uncut. This means that the pages remained folded over at either the top or side of the novel, which made printing cheaper and thus made novels more affordable to the common consumer. When readers bought the books, they could either have had the books taken to a binder who would cleanly cut the novel, or they could cut it themselves, which is apparently what the reader of this particular copy of the novel did, since this person never ended up slicing open the page in question.

The title page for Tales of the Passions: Jealousy

This uncut page reads “Tale II: Jealousy” with the word “Jealousy” printed far beneath Tale II and further separated by a small, floral symbol. This page is also printed in a slightly more intricate font than the title page. Such a font seems to be suggestive of handwritten cursive due to the ways the letters curve and flow. Following this page is the second title page with the novel’s full title. Interestingly, the font size of different sections of the title change; for example, the “Married Man” portion of the title is quite large relative to the size of the other text, but the “In which it is attempted” is quite small. Furthermore, Tales of the Passions is also engraved in cursive on the spine of the novel below the surname Moore. Two lines also bracket this combination, separating it from a numerical 2, indicating the volume number, written several inches further down the spine.

Aside from the pages the reader cut to consume the novel, it otherwise largely remains unchanged; thus, it is paper-bound with a plain hard cover and unevenly cut pages such that they stick out irregularly on the novel’s side. Aside from the ragged nature of the pages, it appears strikingly similar to the way hardback books look today with their book jackets removed. The cover is a plain navy blue color with a tan binding, and both the binding and the cover of the novel are made out of paper. It should be noted that at the time, books were originally sold simply like this; not only were the pages sealed at the top or side like aforementioned, but they were also unevenly cut, as they were thus cheaper to print, causing them to also be more inexpensive. However, if an individual had enough wealth, he or she might go to a binder and have the novel rebound in leather and the pages cut evenly. Neither happened with this copy.

This page remains uncut

The state of the book is in relatively good condition. It is largely unmarked save for a couple of light stains on some of the pages, most of which are inexplicable save for one page that appears to be stained with what looks like ink splotches. There is also what appears to be perhaps indirect ink stains or charcoal visible on the bottom edges of the pages of the novel when the book is closed. Other notable physical alterations of the book include the presence of a small insect on page 243. It is unknown what species of insect it is without the aid of an entomologist, but more tantalizing is the consideration of how long it has been inside the book: whether it was preserved accidentally by the original owners or trapped in its afterlife in the archive.

The pages themselves are lightly tanned by age, but do not seem to be exceptionally delicate due to the fact that the paper the manufacturer used is sturdy and thick. There are no illustrations throughout the text, and no written comments either; indeed, the only visible signs of it being read before are the aforementioned stains. The set of the page includes large amounts of white space and copious margins with large text set far apart. Thus, while the novel itself is long at around 400 pages, the structure of the print accounts for much of the relative length of the novel.


Textual History

Tales of the Passions was written by George Moore, published by  G. Wilkie and J. Robinson, and printed by S. Hamilton. The publishers, G. Wilkie and J Robinson, were involved with a variety of novels, including renditions of Shakespeare’s plays (Murphy 347­–48). There is little information available about the author, George Moore, which contrasts with the informal, welcoming tone of his preface, where he directly discusses his reasoning for why he wrote the novel as well as explaining the different plot choices he decided to keep in the final version. Moore also included a dedication where he discloses that he is independent from patrons as well as noting how important independence is to him on a personal level. Furthermore, he also dedicates the novel to his mother. It should be noted that in regards to Moore’s own obscurity, there is a significant confounding variable: a far more famous Irish writer from later in the nineteenth century shares his name exactly. Thus while many results do appear when searching for the name George Moore, they all appear to be about this other writer.

This second full title page includes a different title

There is some evidence that Tales of the Passions, while never truly popular at any point of history, received some recognition when it was initially published. For example, the novel is listed in a British periodical where new British novel releases were listed for the year, although it is only listed by name and without summary in a list with hundreds of name-only releases (“List of New Works” 514). More notably, there are also records of two articles written in the early nineteenth century that focus on Moore’s work. A literary journal called Monthly Review reviewed Tales of the Passion: Jealousy in 1812.The review provides insight into how Moore’s writing style and plot may have been similarly received by the general public. The article’s author sums up the way Moore writes perfectly: “without climbing to the eminences of his profession, he walks much above the plain of ordinary novelists” (Tay 388). Furthermore, the article goes on to mention that the story was made too complex by “unintelligible relationships between subordinate personages,” and that the West Indies plotline was “improbable, difficult to remember, and not essential to the catastrophe” (Tay 388). His next section of the review focuses on the lack of realism in Moore’s flowery prose of the novel, giving the specific example of Osmond’s speech when he is ill and near death. The reviewer notes how the fact that Osmond’s speech patterns do not change even then weakens the effect of Osmond’s illness because sick minds are more “concise” and “abrupt” (Tay 390). The article then argues that the focus of Felix’s jealousy should have been concentrated on one person, and that the reader should have been led to believe the wife was cheating as well to give Felix’s character more moral standing and depth.

There is also another review in Monthly Review about Moore’s Tales of the Passions, but this one focuses on the first volume of the series, originally published in 1808  and focusing on the passion of revenge. This reviewer structures his article in a similar way to the review of the second volume, as both begin by recommending various changes they feel would make the novel more powerful. Both of the reviews make note of the fact that Joanna Baillie’s Plays on the Passions inspired Mooreto write his novel, but this second review goes into far more depth about the subject. It even goes so far as to include an entire statement that Moore released regarding the topic, where he discusses how the idea of focusing a work on various passions was an engaging one, and how he enjoyed Baillie’s work so much he decided to write his own “moral tale” about domestic life focused on a single passion (Meri 262). The reviewer then goes on to discuss the plotline of the first volume, and concludes by noting that while Moore “evidently possesses powers which are calculated to raise him to distinction in this walk of literature,” his work is “not polished nor accurate” and he has “palpable violations of grammar and of propriety” (Meri 266).

Another possible influence for Moore’s writing of the novel comes from a quote he includes in the title page of Tales of the Passions: Jealousy, where he added a section from what he titles as Collins’s “Ode on the Passions,” but in actuality is part of William Collins’s “The Passions: An Ode for Music.”

Exulting, trembling, raging, fainting,
Possest beyond the Muse’s painting,
By turns they felt the glowing mind,
Disturb’d, delighted, raised, refined:
‘Till once, ’tis said, when all were fired,
Fill’d with fury, rapt, inspired
[…]
Each, for Madness ruled the hour,
Would prove his own expressive power.

Unlike Baillie’s plays, it is impossible to know precisely how this poem might have inspired the text or whether Moore decided to include some verses that fit well with his novel’s thematic purpose and plotline.

Other than the two nineteenth-century reviews and one mention in a periodical, Moore and his work are not well-documented on either the Internet or in print form. There are digital editions of both volumes of Tales of the Passions available, on Google books. Yet they appear to have had only one run of publishing in the nineteenth century. The novel also lacks adaptations to various other forms of media. Combined with the two reviews that concentrated on the mediocrity of his novels, such a lukewarm response to Moore’s works have likely contributed to the fact there has been a near-complete absence of scholarly attention on Tales of the Passions.


Narrative Point of View

Tales of the Passions: Jealousy is narrated in the third person. This third-person narration focuses on the thoughts and feelings of the main character, Felix Earlvin, hinting at a third-person limited point of view, although this framework is complicated by the fact the narrator occasionally also discusses thoughts and events Earvin is not aware of. Because Earlvin’s mindset is the one that directs the novel the vast majority of the time, the narration thus hovers between limited and omniscient third-person narration. Due to the fact that the novel explicitly explores the idea of jealousy as an emotion, there are many and repetitive examples of Earlvin thinking about the way he feels and how he is acting, and the plot and action are often interrupted by these episodes of reverie and meditation on his actions. The writing style itself often uses simple and uncomplicated language, but the sentences can be long and complicated by many phrases, creating runon sentences that can be difficult to follow.

Sample Passage:

But Onslow heard him not, while Earlvin kneeling, by the side of his wife, pressed his lips to her cold and pallid cheek in silent agony. In a short time two or three persons arrived at the spot, and the driver informed them of the circumstances which had happened. From the appearance of Mrs. Earlvin, they supposed surgical assistance could be of little service, and therefore prepared to secure him who had wounded her, as the first and principal duty incumbent upon them. The instant, however, they attempted to move him, he was roused from a torpid state of suffering to the most violent emotions of anguish and despair. He repelled their efforts with a power and resolution they had much difficulty to overcome. He called on the names of his children and declared himself the murderer of their mother. He entreated, he implored, that he might not be removed from her side and struggled to release himself with convulsive energy. At length he sunk on the ground incapable of farther resistance, and was conveyed to a small house near the road-side, insensible to the vulgar and cruel upbraidings of those by whom he was surrounded. (394)

The narrative style of Tales of the Passions: Jealousy is interesting in that the writing articulates some complex thematic ideas. However, the power of Moore’s writing is often undermined through the presence of seemingly unintentional runon or awkward sentences. Furthermore, the narrator often repeats his key ideas in the text in the same language every time, making his central theme seem triter each time he repeats it. As for Moore’s choice to focus his writing on telling the story from Felix’s perspective while also occasionally including the thoughts of other characters, such a framework is convenient because the shifts occur when the narrator needs to explain a plot point that would otherwise be difficult to explain from simply Felix’s point of view. Such a method of storytelling is also important when considering the fact that Tales of the Passions: Jealousy functions in large part as a mystery, so the shifts in point of view not only allow the narrator to reveal new information but also add a flair of dramatic irony.


Summary

Tales of the Passions: Jealousy focuses on an Englishman named Felix Earlvin. Earlvin is a moderately wealthy nobleman whose kind heart permits him to marry a woman far below his rank. Nevertheless, his wife, Julia, is extremely well tempered and kind, and for several years they have lived happily in the countryside with their children. Felix and Julia’s marriage is generally peaceful, but Felix has one fatal flaw: he becomes jealous very easily, which, combined with his fear of discussing his thoughts and secrets with other people, can lead to conflict and chaos. Julia is aware of this personality trait, but has, up to the point when the novel starts, been easily able to dispel his jealous fears.

Nonetheless, at the beginning of the novel an event occurs that becomes a catalyst for problems in their marriage. Felix is on his daily evening walk when he hears his wife’s name. He follows the sound and finds a dilapidated hovel with an old woman and a well-dressed young man inside. He sees the old woman clearly but the young man is hidden in shadow. Felix is instantly suspicious, but vows to return to the hut the next day to talk to the woman alone because he is unarmed and could not take the man on if it turned into a fight. That night, he shares dinner with his wife and his neighbor, Mr. Osmond, and Felix is able to largely act normal until he happens to read an article in the newspaper after dinner about a couple that was going to get divorced because the wife was unfaithful, a problem compounded by the fact that the couple has children. Julia, when she hears of the case, initially says she thinks the wife still deserves pity, but because of the scene Felix had witnessed in the forest, he has an outburst at her, which causes his wife to nearly cry and remain quiet and dejected for the rest of the night. Felix is stressed and starts to feel ill; they are forced to call Dr. Sulfit. This doctor is greedy and selfish, and throughout the novel he overcharges characters for his medicine or makes up illnesses in order to receive more benefits. However, he also often moves the plot along, as he does in this scene, where he discusses how he saw a finely dressed stranger wandering around their property on a nice horse, and that this stranger passed the house several times and then disappeared without speaking to anyone. Felix then asks the doctor whether he has also seen any old women, a fact that Julia seems very alarmed by, but the doctor says he has not seen anyone. Nevertheless, Felix continues to be agitated by what he has seen, and he ends up traveling back to the hovel after he has fully recovered only to learn from a neighboring farmer that the hovel had not been lived in for years and it has thus been demolished a couple days ago.

At this point, the novel transitions to the backstory of Felix’s grandfather, Abel. Abel had been a poor orphan who a farmer adopted in order to use him for menial labor, though he was also very intelligent. Abel grew to admire and desire wealth because the farmer would regularly favor his children over Abel by giving them all the material goods they desired while leaving Abel with nothing. When he left the farmer’s abusive household for London, Abel worked hard to accumulate wealth, and eventually became an accountant with a sizable income, which, due to the fact Abel loved money and would never spend it on anything other than necessities, he was able to amass a sizeable fortune. He also married his employer’s daughter out of desire to further increase his status. His wife dies within two years, but she gives him a son that Abel adores because he dreams of passing on his wealth to his progeny and becoming more officially part of the elite circle. His father-in-law dies and leaves him substantial sums of money, and he also becomes increasingly richer from things like trade, speculations, and contracts with companies. Thus, he raises his son like an aristocrat, sending him to Eton and Oxford and giving him the best private tutors and education possible. However, this education does little because his son is naturally unintelligent. He is also noted to be a nice person, but one easily taken advantage of. This becomes a problem when Abel’s son goes abroad because he quickly becomes corrupted and increasingly greedy and prideful. One of Abel’s friends suggests marriage, a solution also convenient for the friend because he has only moderate wealth and a daughter of marriageable age. This daughter proves to be a greedy and controlling person, and she quickly becomes the unofficial leader of the household, controlling the finances and allowing her husband to be the laughingstock of their friends. When they give birth to Felix, he becomes his grandfather’s last hope for passing on his vision of preserving his household’s name. He teaches Felix to resent his father’s weakness and his mother’s transgressions, and leads him to fear being in a marriage like his parents’. Thus, Felix values morality more than wealth, and although Julia’s father, Mr. Roseville, is an unprincipled, immoral gambler, Julia herself is intelligent and honorable. They end up courting for two years because Felix wavers over whether he wants to marry her due to her father’s sinful nature, but when her father dies, he decides to marry her and they retire to his largest estate, which is located in the countryside in a little English town called Monmouthshire.

Back in the present, Felix continues to be disturbed about the scene he saw in the woods, but he also realizes he is being cruel to his family. He ends up seeking advice from his neighbor, Osmond, again. Osmond is raising a teenage girl named Caroline Almond, even though they are ostensibly not related. She is intelligent and accomplished but he does not allow her to go very far from him. During their conversation, Osmond hints at the possibility of Julia duping Felix, and he also discusses how he became celibate to avoid what he calls “female manners” (60). Several days later, Felix returns from his walk to find Julia at her desk reading a letter that appears to reduce her to tears, which reinforces his fears.

A sample page of text from within Tales of the Passions: Jealousy

The next time the doctor visits, he tells a story about how Caroline accidentally ended up falling into a lake on Osmond’s property and was saved by the son of another noble, Sir William. The son, Herbert William, took her back to the house, but Caroline remained distressed. Julia asked the doctor if she could see Julia since Osmond is away. When Julia arrives at the Osmond residence, Osmond has already returned, but he acts cold to Herbert as well as Caroline, whom he chides for being careless. Indeed, rather than appearing to be worried, he is irate about the obligation he now has to pay back to the William family. When Julia queries Caroline about his behavior, she confesses she wants them to be closer, but she had previously attempted to close the gap between them and he continued to be apathetic to her. Herbert is clearly fond of Caroline, but Osmond’s antipathy forces him to leave quickly. Julia also likes Caroline, and she invites her to the Earlvin household, but Caroline tells her it is likely impossible for her to visit because of Osmond’s restrictions upon her.

The next large incident in Felix and Julia’s life occurs when Herbert visits the household when Felix is there. After he leaves, Julia innocently praises his virtues to Felix, which causes Felix to feel lonely and jealous. During a visit with Osmond, Felix learns that Caroline will be unable to visit because the two are going to London indefinitely. Osmond also insinuates that Herbert is dangerous and that his popularity in the village is limited to only women, and that Julia’s virtue could fall to him. The doctor, who is present to see Caroline, mentions how he had just seen Herbert going to the Earlvin residence for what Herbert called “urgent business” (111). Felix becomes furious because it seems to him as though Julia attempted to get him out of the house to see the young man, who he views as superior in youth and novelty to him. After Felix leaves, Osmond’s purpose is also revealed: he lusts after Felix’s wife, but he always believed it was hopeless because their marriage appeared very resilient. However, one day he happened upon Felix’s penchant for petty jealousy and now uses it to attempt to drive them apart so he can have Julia.

Meanwhile, Felix attempts to think of ways to avoid Herbert and Julia coming in contact with each other. He finally comes to the conclusion that if he, like Osmond, went to London with Julia and his children, he could get Julia away from Herbert in the countryside. Julia is initially wary of this proposal but ultimately agrees to go. However, when Felix returns from his evening walk, he finds his wife conversing once again with Herbert. Of course, he is thrown back into complete disarray. Luckily, Julia realizes Felix’s problem stems from jealousy and she explains to him that Herbert is loves Caroline and wanted advice from Julia. This statement nearly causes Felix to confess his jealous fears to her, but he ends up deciding it would cause her added injury and does not do so.

They begin their travels to London and end up stopping in a small inn along the way. The inn is small enough it is difficult to fit Felix’s entire party of servants, and the innkeeper ends up attempting to kick out a paying customer from the inn. Felix stops him and ends up talking to the older man, a failed poet named Selville who has endured great hardship but has become a more moral person because of it. When they arrive in London, they find Osmond is having a party that evening. The party is difficult for Felix; he overhears men talking about his wife and becomes increasingly infuriated. He goes to sit with Julia and implies he wants to leave, but she appears to be greatly enjoying interacting with everyone. One person in particular, Mr. Onslow, a wealthy man from West India who Osmond ostensibly wants Caroline to marry, disturbs Felix with his conduct towards Julia, as the two act far too friendly for his comfort. Felix becomes ruder and ruder, and ends up spoiling the atmosphere.

Julia and Felix argue once again when they return to their London lodgings, but end up forgiving each other until Julia gets a letter about a masquerade ball from Onslow. Felix tells her she should not go, and she agrees but stipulates he should go instead, telling him he should have some fun. Felix is initially compliant but begins to worry why she might want him gone. During the party, Caroline asks him to set up a meeting between her and Julia, and he agrees to do so. He is then dragged away by a person he describes as an “obi woman,” who acts like a seer or magical being (244). She asks him if he wants his future worries told, and believing she is in jest, he agrees, and she mysteriously answers with “look to your wife” (246). Afterwards, he overhears Onslow and this woman arguing. The woman removes her mask, and Felix recognizes her as the woman he saw in the woods.

When Felix returns to their accommodations, he is surprised and incensed that Herbert came from the countryside to meet with Julia. Julia explains he came to see Caroline away from Osmond. The next day, someone Felix met at Osmond’s party, Mr. Parrot, also comes to meet with Felix. He had promised to find information about Onslow for Felix, and he reveals the person Felix saw was Onslow’s mother. She was briefly romantically involved with Mr. Wellsford, and although he decides not to marry her he later adopts her son. He moves to Jamaica after inheriting a plantation. He gets married twice, once to a frivolous woman who leaves him and takes his first-born daughter away from him, and again to a woman who gives him another daughter but quickly dies from disease. His second daughter goes to England to avoid greater illness, but before Wellsford can settle his plantations and go to England to be with his daughter, he hears word she has died. His loneliness over his lost children prompts him to adopt Onslow as his own son. Mr. Parrot also reveals Onslow and Julia had previously met each other, but yet they had acted like strangers at the party. Indeed, the man the doctor saw in front of the house and Felix saw inside the hovel was in fact Onslow, and the two had apparently met while Felix was out. Felix is terrified and extremely jealous, and while Parrot attempts to reassure him, he is too far gone.

Julia goes to Osmond’s house to see Caroline, leaving Felix jealous. When Julia arrives, she first meets with Osmond. During their conversation, Osmond confesses he is wants to enter a relationship with her. She becomes terrified, and attempts to leave but Osmond stops her. Osmond accosts her verbally, telling her it is her fault Felix is becoming abusive because of the fact she had a visitor she did not tell her husband about even though she knew he would be jealous, implying he knew Onslow visited her several months prior. Onslow coincidentally arrives and saves Julia. In his carriage, Julia initially wants to return to Caroline, but Onslow insists they continue on their way. She also asks to go straight home, but he insists on riding through a park to aid her recovery of her spirits. Felix, on his way to Osmond’s place, sees Onslow and Julia in the coach together, which causes his jealousy to reach new heights. When he talks to Osmond, Osmond convinces him to go to a tavern instead of returning home, where he would hear the truth about his intentions from Julia, and also further convinces Felix to hold on to his suspicions by saying Julia wants to stop the marriage between Caroline and Osmond but not explaining her reasoning behind it.

This page of texts shows ink splotches from a previous reader

The next chapter delves into more backstory, explaining that Osmond is Wellsford’s second wife’s brother and thus, in order to execute the will, Onslow had to meet with Osmond, which is why he went to Monmouthshire in the first place. Onslow also explains that Wellsford’s first wife eloped with Roseville, who was a ship captain, in order to leave for England, and that Julia is in actuality Wellsford’s first daughter. When Onslow explains these circumstances to Osmond upon his visit, Osmond pretends it is his first time hearing it, even though in actuality he heard Roseville confess the story on his sickbed. He advises Onslow to meet with Julia secretly to tell her the truth about her life. He explains this to Onslow by saying that even though Felix is a good person, he is easily jealous so it would be better to not let him know about the visit, and that perhaps hearing about Roseville, who Felix detested, would also inflame his anger. He also asks that Onslow not let anyone know he is involved because it might cause more problems. Onslow agrees on both accounts, and lets Julia know by letter he is coming to visit. Julia sets up the time for when Felix is gone for similar reasons to the ones Osmond gave. Onslow’s mother was there because she wanted to receive better clothes from him in order to travel to Bristol, and they moved into the hovel because the weather turned for the worse, and thus everything had a logical reason behind it.

On his way to the tavern, Felix happens upon Selville, the poet he met in the inn on the way to London, and he is in such great despair he rambles loosely about jealousy and then asks Selville to accompany him to the tavern. Selville is so worried about Felix he agrees, but his presence does little to prevent Osmond from convincing a drunken Felix to vow to leave his wife and challenge Onslow to a duel to the death. Osmond then returns to the main area of the inn to ask Selville to deliver Felix’s dueling letter to Onslow, which Selville debates doing. He ultimately decides to carry it out but to discuss it with Felix in the morning when he is not intoxicated.

Osmond returns to his London home questioning whether it was morally correct of him to carry out his plan. When he arrives at his home, he finds Dr. Sulfit there, who tells him Herbert is in London in order to see Caroline. Osmond asks his servants to bring Caroline to him, but he learns she has left for the Earlvin’s household, causing him to worry that the two will find each other and elope. He thus sends the doctor in order to find Caroline and bring her back.

Felix continues to obsess over his impending duel with Onslow, and fetches a pistol and horse to attempt to find him. He sees a carriage and wonders whether it holds Onslow and Julia, and when finds that it does, he is furious. Julia is so terrified that there is a man with a gun she falls against Onslow, which makes Felix even more enraged to the point he prepares to shoot himself in the temple and commit suicide. However, Julia looks back upon him, recognizes him, and then appears to recoil, something that makes him so angry he aims the pistol towards the carriage. His wife starts to run to him in order to embrace him, but he ends up shooting her instead and appears to kill her. He instantly is in the agony of remorse and refuses to leave her body. However, she is not dead and she quickly gets medical attention. The surgeons call for all people who have medical experience, and they come across Dr. Sulfit, who explains he is looking for someone in order to help his friend. During the doctor’s explanation, Onslow realizes Osmond must have been tricking all of them and he goes with the doctor in order to find him and challenge him to a duel himself to compensate for the betrayal. Osmond accepts the duel, but Onslow easily shoots him, although he is not killed and only badly wounded.

Julia and Osmond slowly recover from their wounds, while Selville attempts to comfort Felix in his misery over his violent actions. Osmond, in an attempt to repent his sins, calls Caroline and Selville to his bedside the next morning to explain his life. He too had a frivolous, extravagant mother who caused their father to lose his riches and fortune, and because he was the favorite of his mother, he became a greedy, weak man. Osmond lived for a time in the Indies close to his wife and her husband, Wellsford. However, he moved back to England in order to attempt to gain a larger fortune, which he did by investing Wellsford’s properties. Thus, when the woman taking care of Wellsford’s second child said a fever had taken ahold of the girl and would likely kill her, he told Wellsford the girl was dead both because he did not want his shady dealings discovered, as Wellsford was unlikely to return to England if his daughter died, and because he thought she would anyway. However, she did not, and he instead took her in as a weak form of retribution. Thus, Julia and Caroline are revealed to be in fact sisters.

Julia recovers in about a month, and she forgives Felix for nearly killing her and instead embraces him together with their children. Felix now feels unworthy of their love, but he slowly attempts to right his wrongs by treating them correctly for the rest of his life. Osmond moves to Lisbon to attempt to recover, but he grows continually weaker, and without anyone who loves him, he dies in only a few months. Herbert and Caroline get married, which cools Herbert’s passions slightly and makes him more mature. Felix and Julia stay together and grow old watching their children grow up. From his transgressions, Felix realizes the importance of his duties he has to his family, as well as how important it is to control passion in order to maintain happiness.


Bibliography

Collins, William. “The Passions: An Ode for Music.” English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald. Bartleby. www.bartleby.com/41/296.html.

“List of New Works.” The British Review, and London Critical Journal, No. 1 (Jan. 1811): 514.

Meri. “ART. VII. Tales of the Passions; in which is Attempted an Illustration of their Effects on the Human Mind.” Monthly Review, Vol. 57 (Nov. 1808): 262–66.

Moore, George. Tales of the Passions; The Married Man; An English Tale: In Which is Attempted an Illustration of the Passion of Jealousy in Its Effects on the Human Mind. London,\ G. Wilkie and J. Robinson, 1811.

Murphy, Andrew. Shakespeare in Print: A History and Chronology of Shakespeare Publishing. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Tay, Jr. “ART. VI. Tales of the Passion; in which is attempted an Illustration of their Effects on the Human Mind: each Tale comprized in one Volume, and forming the Subject of a single Passion.” Monthly Review, Vol.67 (Apr. 1812): 388–90.


Researcher: Elise Cooper

Paul and Virginia

Paul and Virginia

The History of Paul and Virginia; or the Shipwreck

Author: Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre
Publisher: T. Maiden, Ann Lemoine
Publication Year: 1802
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.8 x 17.8
Pages: 48
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.S36 H 1802


This chapbook, set on the island of Mauritius, tells the forbidden love story of two best friends. The author, Bernardin, lived on this island for a short period and part of this story was inspired by an actual shipwreck he witnessed there.


Material History

The volume is 17.8 cm long, 10.8 cm wide. The book lacks a cover and the pages are held together by a half-worn binding spine. The first page is blank and does not include any information like the author’s name or title of the book. This shows that the book had a cover once but was torn off over time. There is a big sticker on the upper left of the first page indicating that the book is the property of the Sadleir-Black Collection. The last page of the book also acts as the last page of the story. There is a relatively larger “FINIS.” printed at the bottom center of the final page. Also printed at the very bottom of this page is “Printed by T. Maiden Sherbourne Lane,” indicating the exact location where the book was produced.

The title page for Paul and Virginia

The book does not include any chapters. From beginning to end, the text is continuous and not interrupted by any titles or subtitles which explains why there is not a table of contents page at the beginning of the book.

Turning the pages requires full attention because they are very light and delicate. The first two pages have noticeable discoloration from age. Other pages have some brown and yellow spots resembling fingerprints, but they are mostly in a good condition. Also, on a few pages, there are some deformations in letters that make the reading challenging but not impossible.

At the top of the first page, there is a shortened title of the book, “Paul and Virginia.” This frontispiece page contains an illustration from one of the most thrilling incidents of the book. We see the devastated face of Paul and his companion mourning near Virginia’s dead body. Also, in the background, there is a sinking ship that gives some clue regarding how this incident might have occurred. Below the illustration, there is a caption: “The corpse of Virginia discovered upon the beach” and a page number (41) indicating where in the story this event occurs.

The title page follows, containing the full title of the book, “The History of Paul and Virginia or the Shipwreck.” The title is written with bold and varying font sizes. Some letters have extra inks on them which gives a spillover feeling. The title is followed by the author’s name which is the first and only time it appears. After the author’s name, there is a shipwreck illustration which is a similar version of the frontispiece. At the bottom of the page, the publication details are included which gives information about the publication location, the printer’s name, address of the publication facility, and the publication date. At the very bottom of the page, the price of the book included as “[Price Six-Pence.]”


Textual History

This chapbook is an abridgement of a much longer novel originally published in French by Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. Paul and Virginia was first published in 1788 as the fourth volume of Studies of Nature in the French language with the original title of Paul et Virginie. The book was translated to English in 1789, for the first time by Daniel Malthus as Paul and Mary: An Indian Story, published in London. The novel is considered the first extensive exotic novel in France, and nineteenth-century authors quoted the book many times. Even though Bernardin’s most famous work is Paul and Virginia, he published many other books as a volume of Studies of Nature. As a result, he became a very popular literary figure during the French Revolution. The king granted him the administration of “Garden of the King” in July 1972 as a result of his literary accomplishments. After the revolution, Bernardin served as a professor of republican morality in the Ecole Normale Supérievre (Cook).

This page includes a letter attributed to the novel’s main character Virginia

It is believed that, in 1777, Bernardin read selections from Paul and Virginia before its publication in the salon of Suzanne Necker (Cook). Hence, there is a good possibility that Bernardin started to work on his novel over ten years before its publication date. He finished the luxury quarto editing of the novel in 1806. This edition had gorgeous illustrations and designs but did not sell as much as expected. Cook notes that Paul and Virginia “has never been out of print.”

The story of Paul and Virginia is based on an island. A New York Times article, “The First Idea of Paul and Virginia,” explains that Bernardin was designated as an engineer on Madagascar in charge of the road construction team. After over five months of an exhausting voyage, he learned that he had been called in to manage the slave trade. He refused to go to Madagascar and remained instead on the Isle of France. He could not make any friends there because of his political opinions and lived in a solitary state with his only friend, a dog. He spent most of his time studying botany and natural history, and witnessed the wreck of a St. Gérant ship while he was living there. Everyone in the ship died except seven sailors. The Times article explains that the captain of the ship refused to take off his clothes and swim to the shore even though he had the opportunity. It is suggested that Bernardin watched all the incidents from the shore and that this story inspired the author greatly. When Bernardin wrote Paul et Virginie, he changed very few details of this incident.

Paul and Virginia was performed as an opera many times in Europe and North America, including the 1806 production Paul and Virginia: A Musical Entertainment, in Two Acts written by James Cobb. Even though the main scenario of the book was not changed, Cobb added some new characters to the script that do not appear in the book. Another notable opera adaptation was written by well-known French composer Victor Masse. Another New York Times article, “Affairs in France,” gives important details about how Bernardin’s character of Virginia was shaped. According to this article, in regards to the captain who went down with the shipwreck, “It would not be appropriate for a man of his position and dignity to arrive on shore entirely naked; besides he also has valuable state papers.” By contrast, Bernardin’s fictional Virginia was on the same ship and she actually swam to shore almost entirely naked. Virginia was not actually drowned because of her modesty, but the captain was.


Narrative Point of View

The History of Paul and Virginia is narrated in third person by an anonymous narrator with an omniscient point of view. The novel is written in the past tense without using flourished language. The narrator does not dive into the characters’ psychology; instead, the narrator uses simple expressive sentences to describe characters’ internal features and emotions. The story is told by using many flashbacks via Virginia’s letters to her mother which helps the novel to be more dramatic.

Sample Passage:

In this manner lived those children of nature. No care had troubled their peace, no intemperance had corrupted their blood, no misplaced passion had depraved their hearts. Love, innocence, and piety, possessed their souls: and those intellectual graces unfolded themselves in their features, their attitudes, and their motions. Still in the morning of life, they had all its blooming freshness: and surely such in the garden of Eden appeared our first parents, when coming from the hands of God, they first saw, and approached each other, and conversed together, like brother and sister. Virginia was gentle, modest, and confiding as Eve; and Paul, like Adam, united the stature of manhood with the simplicity of a child. (19)

In the novel, characters generally express themselves with dialogue, however, from time to time the narrator intervenes to portray their relationship in a wider context. The narration in this passage accounts for the intensity of Virginia and Paul’s affection for each other. The narrator justifies why it is morally and even Biblically right for Paul and Virginia to be together by emphasizing the innocence and purity of their relationship and aligning their romantic relationship with the bond of siblings, both of which are encompassed here by the comparison with Adam and Eve.


Summary

The novel starts with a long description of the island of Mauritius. The island is described as having a pleasant unbounded landscape that gives the feeling of having uninterrupted solitude to those who live there. The story of Paul and Virginia starts with the narration of an old man. He begins the story by telling important parts of Monsieur de la Tour’s life.

The opening page for Paul and Virginia

Monsieur de la Tour is a soldier in the French army. He decides to seek his fortune on the island of Mauritius and arrives there in 1726. He brings Madame la Tour with him to settle down and live a peaceful life. Monsieur and Madame de la Tour come from two different social classes. She belongs to a rich and noble family, while he belongs to an ordinary family without high social status. Even though her parents do not approve of this marriage, they marry without obtaining her parents’ permission. Soon, Monsieur de la Tour travels to Madagascar to purchase a few slaves to help him establish a plantation on the island. After landing in Madagascar, he becomes very ill and, after a while, he dies.

Madame de la Tour lives on the island on her own and learns that she is pregnant. She becomes friends with a young woman named Margaret who was abandoned by her husband when he learned she was pregnant. Margaret gives birth to a boy and Madame de la Tour gives him the name of Paul. After a short while, Madame de la Tour gives birth to a girl. This time, at the request of Madame, Margaret gives her the name of Virginia. The similar destiny of Madame and Margaret provides them with a strong friendship and they start to raise their children together. Paul and Virginia spend all their time together as if they are brother and sister.

After Paul and Virginia enter their teenage years, they begin to see each other as more than a friend. They start to express their emotions to each other with poetic descriptions. Even though both of them know there are sexual and romantic feelings between them, neither of them dares to advance their friendship to a romantic relationship at first. Virginia has a difficult time keeping her affection for Paul to herself. Madame de la Tour understands her daughter’s uneasiness and tells her that God placed them on earth to test their virtue and she will be rewarded after if she can be virtuous in this life. Virginia misinterprets her mother’s advice to be that it is not right to have a romantic relationship with Paul. Hence, she refuses to respond to Paul’s affection for her.

In the meantime, Margaret asks Madame about why do not they let their children marry since they have a strong attachment for each other. Madame de la Tour says that they are too young and poor to start a family together. She believes that they would not live a happy life until Paul comes of age to provide for his family by his labor. Virginia’s aunt wants her niece to return to France in order to give Virginia a proper education and help her to marry a nobleman. She also promises to leave all her fortune to Virginia. Madame de la Tour thinks this would be a good opportunity to separate Paul and Virginia until they come to an age where they can build a happy marriage. Virginia sees her mother’s request as a duty and decides to go to France.

The final page for Paul and Virginia

One and a half years passes and, finally, a letter arrives for Madame de la Tour. Virginia says that even though she received a very good education on various subjects, she is still not happy to be so far away. Her aunt forces her to renounce the name of “la Tour” which she refuses to do out of respect to her father. In the meantime, Paul dreams about going to France, to be near Virginia and make a great fortune by serving the king. He believes that then Virginia’s aunt will allow them to get married.

After a while, Virginia sends her mother a letter about her aunt’s ill-treatment of her because of her request to marry Paul. The aunt disinherits Virginia and sends back her to Mauritius during hurricane season. Upon Virginia’s arrival on the island, a terrific hurricane appears. As a result, the ship is torn apart. Even though sailors tell Virginia to take her clothes off to be able to swim, she refuses to do so. She stays in the ship and drowns as Paul watches. After Virginia’s death, Paul’s health starts to decline rapidly. He becomes severely ill and dies two months later.


Bibliography

“Affairs in France.” The New York Times, 26 Nov. 1876, https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1876/11/26/84623906.pdf

Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Jacques-Henri. The History of Paul and Virginia; or the Shipwreck. T. Maiden and Ann Lemoine, 1802.

Cobb, J. Paul and Virginia: A musical entertainment in two acts. 1806.

Cook, Malcolm. “Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre.” Writers of the French Enlightenment I, edited by Samia I. Spencer, Gale, 2005. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 313. Gale, Literature Resource Center, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/H1200012581/LitRC?u=viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=8404413d

“The First Idea of Paul and Virginia.” The New York Times, 8 No. 1874.
https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1874/11/08/105199480.pdf


Researcher: Ali Atabay

The Mystic Tower

The Mystic Tower

The Mystic Tower, or, Villainy Punished. A Romance.

Author: Unknown
Publisher: Printed for Kaygill by W. Glindon
Publication Year: 1800
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 10.75cm x 17.5cm
Pages: 42
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.M894 1800


Published in 1800 without identifying an author, this shilling-shocker set during the Holy Wars tells a tale of romance, murder, terror, and mystery.


Material History

One’s first impressions upon introduction to the Sadlier-Black Collection’s edition of The Mystic Tower, or, Villainy Punished. A Romance. most likely will include the frail binding holding together the forty-two time-worn pages, as well as the curious lack of a cover. Upon closer inspection, one can find a few remnants of what seems to be tan leather stuck to bits of dried glue along the spine of the chapbook. This suggests that the book was once a part of a collection of works, bound together for sale by the publisher. Once the first blank page, acting as the cover, is turned, an intricate frontispiece is found to inhabit the reverse. The image of a man and a woman moving away from an oncoming knight is central to the illustration, and is surrounded by detailing of weaponry and armor. Beneath the image the shortened title, The Mystic Tower, is revealed, instead of a caption, creating a sense of mystery around what might be occurring in the preceding scene.

The title page for The Mystic Tower.

The peculiar intrigue of these yellowed pages continues onto the title page where “The Mystic Tower, or, Villainy Punished. A Romance” is emblazoned in a combination of different fonts across the top half of the page, yet there is no author to be found. Instead, there are a few curious clues that follow, some indicating themes present in the story and others towards the origins of the work itself. Just below the title is another illustration, this time depicting a woman standing in the doorway of a low-ceilinged room with a look of astonishment on her face as she looks down upon a knight emerging from the floorboards. Following this is an excerpt from Shakespeare’s Macbeth that reads, “’Tis done! The scene of life will quickly close; Ambition’s vain, delusive dreams are fled, And now I wake to darkness, guilt, and horror…..I cannot bear it!…………….” Both the foreshadowing illustration and the ominous quote allude to the drama that is to come throughout the novel.

Tracking down the page, again, there is a note that mentions this book was printed in London for “KAYGILL, at his Circulating Library, Upper Rathbone Place; MACE, New Round-court, Strand; and ADCOCK Charles-street, Fitzroy-square; and may be had of all other Book-sellers in Town or Country.” This indicates where other copies of this work could be found throughout London, specifically mentioning a few circulating libraries at which interested subscribers could obtain the book for sixpence, as denoted in fine print below the message. At the very bottom of the page, the printer, W. Glindon, and the location of his shop, 48, Rupert-Street, Covenrry-Street, are listed. Though the publisher and the location of other copies of the book are helpful hints, the author of the work remains a mystery. The aged, brittle pages that follow hold narrowly spaced text, signature marks that allowed the bookbinder to order the sheets correctly, and a handful of stains from past careless readers, but no mention of the elusive author. There are no handwritten notes, pencil marks, stains, or tears among the pages, leaving no physical clues about this particular copy’s journey through the ages.


Textual History

The Mystic Tower has no known author, which makes it difficult for scholars to trace the work’s publication history.

The frontispiece for the The Mystic Tower, depicting Father Austin and Matilda standing terrified by the knight.

The Sadlier-Black collection’s copy of this chapbook is one of three currently recorded copies, and was printed specifically for T. Kaygill “at his circulating library” by W. Glindon (“T Kaygill,” “W Glindon”). Both of these men were British printers and publishers whose careers flourished in the early 1800’s. Though no specific publication date is available for this text, it was most likely published between 1803 and 1807. These dates encompass when T. Kaygill was at the address listed on the title page of the book (39 Upper Rathbone Place, London) (“T Kaygill”).

Many of the primary catalogues of nineteenth-century gothic works are devoid of any information on The Mystic Tower, so there is no record of advertisements for the book or public reception of the work. Aside from being briefly mentioned in Montague Summers’s A Gothic Bibliography,Frederick S. Frank’s The Gothic Romance 1762–1820 holds the most robust assessment of the book. He claims that its hurried “penny-a-line” writing style and plot mimic John Palmer’s Mystery of the Black Tower and ensconce the chapbook as a typical low-brow shilling shocker (Frank 123). This criticism leads scholars to believe that the book was not wildly popular, and was most likely not reprinted or adapted after its original publication.


Narrative Point of View

The Mystic Tower, or, Villainy Punished. A Romance. is written with a third-person anonymous narrator whose identity is never revealed in the text. The narrator adopts an omniscient perspective and offers insights about most of the main characters, while mainly telling the story as if following Matilda along her journey. Holistically, the narration is succinct, colloquial, and typically devoid of characters’ inner thoughts. The sentences the narrator uses are very long and littered with commas, but the language is clear and reads very comfortably. Only occasionally does the narrator hint at how Matilda would feel about a certain situation through well placed adjectives and emotionally connotated verbs. The only time that the voice of the narrator changes is when Matilda reads the letter titled “The Life of Lady Malvina Fitzwalter.” In this interpolated tale presented as a letter, Lady Malvina is writing in the first person and describing how she came to be in the curious position in which the young women found her.

Sample passage of third-person narration:

“The baron and baroness having been appraised of her illness entered at this moment, when the former approaching the bed, Matilda started back, exclaiming ‘did you murder him?’ ‘murder whom?’ exclaimed de Malvern. ‘The dark spirit in the tower,’ returned Matilda; ‘what is all this?’ said the baroness, turning to Clara, who without delay told them all she knew. They made no comments on her information, but commending Matilda to her care, both retired. The simple narrative of Clara, sunk deep in the mind of the baron, his reflections in supportable; the many reports he had heard in spirits that wandered in the ruined tower, and about the walls of the castle, rushed on his mind and in a convulsive agony he threw himself on a couch, groaning most piteously.” (15)

In this passage, Romaldi and Oswena are coming to check on Matilda after her encounter with the ominous knight. She is terrified and is convinced that her parents must have had something to do with the death of the de Malvern men for them to be haunted by such a terrifying being. The beginning of the passage sticks solely to the plot, describing the new baron and baroness approaching their daughter, but quickly switches to the dialogue in which Matilda makes her accusations about their involvement in the tragic deaths of the de Malverns. The narrator then resurges to describe how Matilda is put to bed by Clara, and then follows Sir Romaldi to detail the unrest he faces because of his deep-seated guilt for facilitating the death of the former Baron and his son. The focus of the passage is Matilda’s fear and her conversation with her parents, but when she is not in the scene the narrator is able to shed light on the experiences of some of the secondary characters.

Sample passage of first-person narration:

“Having the misfortune to lose my mother at an early age, I, the only child of lord Fitzwalter, was educated by an amiable woman with the utmost tenderness, and instructed in every branch of literature proper for a female mind.” (22)

This passage comes at the beginning of Lady Malvina’s letter to Matilda, explaining her rather tragic past. She speaks in the first person, using “I” frequently and colloquially, which indicates the intimacy of the contents of the letter and the authenticity of the story being told.  Readers are invited to sit in the shoes of Matilda during this break from the established narrative style, since the letter reads as a direct address, which highlights the flashback being recounted in the letter.


Summary

The story begins with Sir Romaldi, a poor knight returning home from his tour in the Holy Wars, trudging towards his castle and stewing over his jealousy of his relative, the rich Baron de Malvern. The Baron and his son are still fighting in the wars, and his inner monologue reveals that if they should die before they return from fighting, he himself would be next in line to inherit their estate and riches. While he is secretly wishing that a perilous fate befalls the father and son, a ghostly figure appears in his path, murmuring a prophecy about how his grim wishes will come true. Frightened by the eerie apparition, Sir Romaldi hurries home to meet his wife, Oswena, and his daughter, Matilda.

The story then delves into a flashback, featuring Matilda. One morning she was walking in the woods near the family castle, when a hunter appears from the woods claiming that he has lost his companions and asking if he can rest with her for a while. She agrees and the two exchange pleasantries. It becomes apparent that the young hunter, named Percy, has taken a liking to Matilda, and suddenly realizes that she is the daughter of Sir Romaldi. He exclaims that he cannot be seen with her, due to some deeply ingrained fissure between their families, but that he would like to meet Matilda again in the secret of the night. She, again, agrees, but is deeply troubled by the fact that he cannot meet her father, so after their first rendezvous she tells him she will no longer come to their meeting spot. She adheres to this promise for the next two years by not returning to their clandestine spot, but one evening she passes by and sees Percy walking below the battlement. She realizes how much she misses him, but it is too late because he is leaving to fight in the Holy Wars. To remind him that her prayers are with him she gives him a crucifix necklace and bids him goodbye.

A sample of the text, from page 13 of The Mystic Tower.

A return to the present hones in on a conversation between Sir Romaldi and Oswena, in which he explains the eerie apparition on his journey home and she replies that he should have the Baron de Malvern and his son slain to secure the prophecy that the ethereal figure foretold.  After falling into a terrified stupor, he gathers his resolve and agrees that the foul deed must be done.

Months later, a message arrives at Sir Romaldi’s castle that the Baron and his son have died, and that he is to inherit the de Malvern estate. The small family gathers their things and immediately moves into the new castle. An ominous tension falls over the household as Romaldi walks in, with the minstrels unable to play their instruments and other household servants running in terror. As Matilda is walking around her new home with her attendant, Clara, the servant girl explains to her that there is a suit of armor rumored to wander the halls of the unrenovated part of the castle at night, as well as a particular portrait whose inhabitant occasionally leaps from it to walk to the same mysterious tower, said to house the spirits of the castle. Matilda tries to mitigate the fears of Clara, but one night they are able to see a light moving in the windows of the tower which reinvigorates terror in both of the girls. They send for the family priest, who tells them they are being superstitious and foolish, but all three are then confronted with the large black suit of armor that the rumors foretold. Matilda rushes to her parents to tell them of her terrifying encounters, and asks them if they had some hand in killing the Baron or his son. They assure her that she has nothing to worry about, but they share a moment of concern knowing that these hauntings are very likely due to their nefariously plotted murder.

Tensions and fears settle, and Romaldi begins to bring suitors to the castle to eventually find a match for Matilda. She, however, is approached by a boy that gives her the crucifix she gave to Percy, with the promise that he would return it to her shortly before he came home to ask for her hand in marriage. When her father tells her that he intends to give her hand to a particularly distasteful Lord she refuses and, in his anger, he has Matilda and Clara locked in her room until the next day when she is to be wed. Clara helps Matilda escape her arranged fate through a series of trap doors and tunnels that lead from her room to the outside of the castle, and in the middle of their flight they are met again by the darkly armored knight, and are terrified but are still able to escape the walls of the castle. Matilda and Clara hide in the nearby convent, but are quickly discovered by Romaldi, and are sent a letter demanding their return home. The abbess helps the girls escape to travel to another convent, but after becoming fatigued during their journey, they come upon the benevolent and ethereal Lady Malvina. The girls are showered with Malvina’s compassion and kindness in her hidden underground dwelling in the forest.

One evening, Matilda is presented with a letter detailing Lady Malvina’s mysterious history. Reading it, she discovers that as a girl Malvina was the sole heir to a large estate, promised to be married to her lover, Sir Egbert, and had met a distressed young woman, named Josephine, in the woods and secretly took her into her own care. She lived in pure happiness until her father died, after which Sir Egbert began to act coldly towards her and Josephine left her to grieve the loss of her lover alone, which she later discovered to be the result of an affair between her two closest companions. She tried to go through with the marriage as planned, but at the altar exclaimed that her friends were and love and should be married instead, despite the great pain and sorrow it caused her. Later, when she was invited by Sir Egbert to visit them, it was revealed that he was unhappy with the ill-intentioned Josephine and asked for Malvina’s forgiveness. Having heard the conversation between the former lovers and feeling enraged, Josephine storms in and murders Sir Egbert. Suffering from such deep pain, Malvina moved into her current subterranean apartments to protect herself from accusations that she had killed Egbert and the cruel world that injured her so greatly. Matilda weeps for her friend’s losses, and feels a deep connection with her as she is the only mother figure Matilda has ever possessed.

The final page of The Mystic Tower.

Soon Matilda and Clara receive a letter stating that the son of Baron de Malvern has survived his time in the war, and a foray outside with Malvina results in the three women being discovered by Josephine’s men. They are taken to Josephine’s court, but Matilda is cast aside, and is taken back to the de Malvern castle. She is left by Josephine’s guard to get into the castle herself and after sleeping outside for a couple days, she manages to sneak into the castle, where she finds her father lying on the floor covered in blood. He is only able to explain that he has slain himself, her mother has been poisoned, and to apologize for his cruelty to her before he dies, and Matilda, horror stricken, is only able to find her way to a chair before she faints. 

She awakes to Percy holding her and he reveals that he is the son of the Baron de Malvern and rightful heir of the title and estate. He also tells her that her father sent an assassin to kill him and his father, though he only managed to murder the Baron, and that he sent a loyal friend to watch over the castle, giving an explanation to the eerie suit of dark armor Matilda had seen wandering the castle. Matilda then tells her story leading up to the present, and concludes with her sorrow over the fate of Malvina. Percy takes Matilda to Josephine’s castle to rescue her friend but Josephine, surprised and overwhelmed by the invasion, stabs herself in the heart to avoid capture. They find Malvina in the dungeon and bring her back to safety with them, securing her innocence for Sir Egbert’s death with the king. Matilda marries Percy to become Lady de Malvern and the two live long happy lives together with their children. Malvina remains heavily involved in Matilda’s life, and is able to spend her dying breath in Matilda’s arms.


Bibliography

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

The Mystic Tower; or Villainy Punished. London, W. Glindon, N.D.

Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. The Fortune Press, 1940.

“T Kaygill,” British Museum, https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG154036. Accessed 28 Oct. 2020.

“W Glindon,” British Museum, https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG159720. Accessed 19 Nov. 2020.


Researcher: Olivia M. Walker

Spectre of the Turret

Spectre of the Turret

Spectre of the Turret; or Guolto Castle

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


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


Material History

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

The title page for Spectre of the Turret

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

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

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

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


Textual History

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

The frontispiece for Spectre of the Turret

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

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration:

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

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

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

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


Summary

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

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

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

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

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

The final page of text in Spectre of the Turret

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Rachel Chiramel

The Recluse of the Woods

The Recluse of the Woods

The Recluse of the Woods; Or, The Generous Warrior

Author: Unknown
Publisher: J. Roe
Publication Year: 1809
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 9.8cm x 15.5cm
Pages: 36
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2 .R425 1809


In this circa 1809 chapbook set in the county of Sussex and featuring royalty and forbidden love, one intriguing romance revolves around an Earl’s daughter and a mysterious man’s son who lives alone in the woods. 


Material History

This particular copy of The Recluse of The Woods is especially rich in both history and mystery. At first glance, several properties of the physical appearance of the book raise questions regarding the book’s history. The binding of the book is made of plain blue paper with nothing printed on it, while also being held together by just enough stitching to keep it stable. The physical book itself is extremely thin, with its height measuring 15.5 cm and it’s width measuring 9.8 cm. Additionally, the cover of the book is completely empty and simple, signaling the inexpensive qualities of the object. Inside the book, the interior pages follow the precedent set by the exterior as the pages are very thin and worn out. The color of the pages are yellowed, representing a light cream color, however are still relatively intact without major stains. 

The title page for The Recluse of the Woods

A detailed illustration is present in the beginning of the text, showing a well-dressed man and two women greeting each other, while another man watches from the bushes afar. The illustration seems to be either hand coloring or watercoloring while still being in good condition. There’s also a castle in the background, near the upper left corner. Once again, this illustration further points to the ambiguity of The Recluse of The Woods, as there is no caption or description beneath the drawing that provides information on the meaning of the illustration. The one possible inference that can be made is that the man and two women greeting each other are colleagues, while the man watching from afar seems more suspicious and unwelcome. 

The title page prints “The Recluse of The Woods” first, followed by “Or, The Generous Warrior.” Underneath the two titles reads, “A Gothic Romance.” The mysterious qualities of the book are further exemplified by the absence of the author’s name, which is nowhere present in the chapbook. 

In terms of text within the book, all pages have closely-set text with wide margins due to the edges not being trimmed. The font is relatively small. For each page of text, the number of the page is written in the top left corner of the page, while the top of the even-page numbers read “The Recluse of” and the top of the odd-page numbers read “The Woods.” There are thirty-six pages of text total in the book. 


Textual History

While The Recluse of the Woods proves to be an interesting novel offering a unique perspective from gothic literature, the actual history of the text is quite ambiguous. A few key details about the circumstances in which The Recluse of the Woods was made are known, namely regarding the publication of the text. The novel was published in 1809 in London, printed by a man named Thomas Maiden, and the publishers were John Roe and Ann Lemoine. These three also worked together for the production of many other novels during the early nineteenth century, publishing books such as The Castle of Alvidaro and The Round Tower. Additionally, there are several copies of The Recluse of the Woods held in both the United States and England, with schools such as The University of Virginia, Yale University, and The University of Oxford each holding copies of the novel. 

While this information provides some insight into The Recluse of the Woods, the biggest mystery surrounding the novel is the identity of the author. While their identity seems to be hidden, Frederick S. Frank provides substantial information on the novel in a chapter called “The Gothic Romance,” explaining how The Recluse of the Woods was “written with Charlotte Smith’s Ethelinde; or, The Recluse of the Lake in view” (139). While the author of The Recluse of the Woods seems to be absent from most databases, Charlotte Smith was well known for her novels and poems during the late eighteenth century.

The frontispiece for The Recluse of the Woods

Charlotte Smith was an English novelist and poet, born in 1749 and living until 1806. In her career spanning twenty-two years, she produced ten novels, two translations, three books of poetry, and six educational works for children (Napier). Most of her novels earned high praise throughout the duration of her career, while also drawing some debate and criticism for her writing style and views. Among her critics, some voiced their disagreement with democratic sympathies, as well as her radical attitudes toward conventional morality and her political ideas of class equality. Some of the key qualities associated with Smith’s writing were her tendency to work self-consciously and experimentally within the fiction genre. Moreover, she often focused on the celebration of nature within her books, while also frequently adopting the prototypical figure of the wanderer as a vehicle for social commentary. Smith was also a “wanderer,” of sorts, for much of her career, making sense of her attraction towards this characterization (Zimmerman).

While Charlotte Smith saw herself as a poet first and foremost, many of Smith’s novels developed the frame of the story according to Gothic and sentimental traditions. Some of her novels even contained poetic scenes, such as the novel related to The Recluse of the Woods, namely Ethelinde; or the Recluse of the Lake. Published in 1790 in Dublin, Ireland, The Recluse of the Lake was received with mixed reviews by critics, as many saw the novel being equal in excellence to one Smith’s best-known works Emmeline, while some disregarded this notion. One particular critic directly challenges this notion, explaining, “If we compare Ethelinde with Emmeline, it will be found less full of adventure, of sudden changes of fortune, and less interesting by its humble denouement. The characters are not too prominent, nor their outlines so broad” (“Ethelinde” 57). Because the poetic scenes revolved around natural landscapes in the The Recluse of the Lake, the novel adopts a static, lingering quality exactly suited to the tone of its heroine’s introspective melancholy (Napier). While poetic scenes play an important role in The Recluse of the Lake, the novel ultimately is characterized by containing sentimental narratives with Gothic elements, similar to her three other works that she produced during the same time period, like Emmeline and Celestina (Ravin). The Recluse of the Woods harnesses the same sentimental narratives, but ultimately did not have the same critical impact or the same staying power as Charlotte Smith’s novel.


Narrative Point of View

The Recluse of The Woods is narrated in the third person by an external narrator who does not appear in the text. The narration is quite descriptive and observational, as the narrator tends to paint a picture of the scene and describe characters’ physical characteristics prior to introducing the dialogue. Also, the narrator repeatedly tells the reader about characters internal conflict and feelings throughout the novel. 

Sample Passage: 

Many other lessons were given to Eliza, by her father and the Lady Gertrude, and she was then left by them to weep for Edgar, and sigh over the hardness of her fate. About the hour of noon the shrill voice of the trumpet announced to her the approach of Lord Harold; she trembled at the sound, and as the untamed fawn flies from the approach of the passenger, she ran to her chamber, anxious to avoid all intercourse with her fellow beings. (24) 

With the presence of third-person narration in The Recluse of The Woods, characters’ feelings and thoughts are highlighted clearly, as shown through this sample passage. Key phrases like “she trembled at the sound” and “anxious to avoid” ultimately underline the fear of the character, Eliza, regarding her impending arranged marriage. Additionally, the narrator also highlights the uncomfortable elements present in this scene to heighten the anxiety-filled environment. Consequently, Eliza’s characterization becomes stronger, as her desire for a life with Edgar is contrasted with her fear of marrying Lord Harold, and both emotions are very strong. 


Summary

The novel begins in the middle of the thirteenth century at Montville Castle, a noble edifice, which lies in the county of Sussex. The Earl of Blancy, the proprietor of Montville Castle, is away in battle for the Christian Army in Palestine while his eighteen-year-old daughter Eliza lives at the castle with Lady Gertrude, a middle-aged woman who envies Eliza’s youth, beauty, and innocence. Lady Gertrude has lived with Eliza since she was eleven years old, as her mother passed away when she was young. While the castle is rich in land, there are some neighbors living nearby, one being a solitary man named Ambrose Phillips. He lives in a poor, wooded cottage area with his teenage son Edgar; both men have a young ambiance and strong appearance. No one knows anything about either of them, but they frequently encounter Eliza and Lady Gertrude on walks through the woods. 

One day, as the two groups pass each other, Eliza and Edgar share a moment of intimacy, while Lady Gertrude notices and appears unhappy with Eliza. Lady Gertrude fears a relationship forming between Eliza and Edgar, since she knows Eliza’s father would not be happy with her marrying a peasant. A few days later, the Earl returns after his long war experience, and is shocked by Eliza’s sprouting growth and beauty. Lady Gertrude tells the Earl about the neighbors the next morning, and he says they must be the poorest of his neighbors, and is suspicious of the relationship between Eliza and Edgar. 

The Earl visits Phillips with his servant Robert, who knows Phillips from past meetings. He tells the Earl that Phillips is a man in love with solitude, while also saying that Phillips has seen enough of the world to dislike it now. However, he also tells the Earl that he is a worthy man, with an entertaining personality and a good heart. Once they arrive at the cottage, they see the two men outside cutting trees, and stop immediately to listen in on their conversation. They overhear Edgar telling Phillips that he wants to be a soldier because of all the stories and books that Phillips has shared with him, but Phillips ultimately shuts this conversation down by telling Edgar he can still be a good man without becoming a soldier. Edgar even offers becoming a soldier for the Earl, but Phillips maintains his position. Once the conversation ceases, the Earl makes his presence known and invites the two to the castle for dinner. 

Once they arrive, the Earl has a great time with Phillips and Edgar, so they return repeatedly throughout the week. The Earl also particularly enjoys his time with Edgar, despite his suspicions of his interactions with his daughter. 

This is the first page of text in The Recluse of the Woods, displaying sample text as well as the two titles at the top.

One day while Lady Gertrude and Eliza are walking through the woods, Eliza demands to visit Edgar, but Lady Gertrude denies permission as a precautionary measure so as to not anger the Earl. After arguing for some time, Lady Gertrude walks away, while Eliza notices Edgar above her in a tree after a twig falls on her. After consistent pressure from Edgar, Eliza eventually agrees to kiss him, kissing until they are caught by Lady Gertrude. The two women argue for a short while before a man appears with the appearance of an aged pilgrim, clearly being elderly and fatigued. He asks to see Phillips, and Edgar takes him to see his father after Lady Gertrude and Eliza leave to return to the castle. 

Later that day, the Earl questions Lady Gertrude about past meetings between Edgar and Eliza. Lady Gertrude tells the Earl about their kiss, leaving the Earl enraged. In response, he says that he has arranged a marriage between Eliza and his old friend from battle named Lord Harold de Vanes, who is sixty-four years old. Although Lady Gertrude disagrees with this action, the Earl explains how he made this promise to Lord Harold after Lord Harold saved the Earl’s life in combat. The Earl then dispatches Lady Gertrude to go notify Eliza of this impending marriage. 

Once Eliza hears this news, she begins to weep, saying how she cannot bear to marry Lord Harold because of her love for Edgar. Although Lady Gertrude tells Eliza that she should be excited because Lord Harold is extremely wealthy, Eliza still cannot stop crying. A few moments later, Edgar and Phillips appear and tell the Earl and Eliza that they are leaving their cottage in the woods, but do not disclose why or to where they are heading. After Edgar begs the Earl to let him die at his feet, Phillips picks up Edgar and they both leave the Castle. 

The next morning, Lord Harold arrives at the castle, and immediately voices his concern to the Earl about the marriage with Eliza, lamenting that his war wounds and bald head are not attractive to a girl Eliza’s age. The Earl disagrees, but Lord Harold is still evidently distraught. When Eliza comes down to greet the Lord, she explains how she was told a past prophecy where she would be happy and fall in love with a man, but not with a man his age. Lord Harold asks her what he can do, and Eliza asks him to persuade his father to let her marry Edgar. Lord Harold agrees to this, and tells the Earl of their discussion. He specifically tells him that it is every man’s duty to guide happiness for others, and how he should let Eliza marry Edgar. 

After this exchange, the novel goes into a side note about the history of Ambrosio Phillips and his son, explaining how they are actually descendants of Sir Hildebrand De Raymond, a nobleman known for his bravery in the battle for the Christian army in Palestine. Edgar’s real name is Eudgene, and he is now the heir of the De Raymond castle. 

Back in the present moment, Edgar arrives at Montville Castle under the name of Sir Eugene de Raymond, asking for a meeting with the Earl. The Earl is shocked when he sees it to actually be Phillips and Edgar, and Eliza is overcome with happiness when the two embrace in joy. Lord Harold is similarly happy for Edgar and Eliza, as the two are finally married with Lady Gerturde performing the ceremony.


Bibliography

“Ethelinde; or the Recluse of the Lake.” The Critical Review, or, Annals of Literature, vol. 3, 1791, pp. 57–61.

Napier, Elizabeth R. “Charlotte (Turner) Smith.” British Novelists, 1660-1800, edited by Martin C. Battestin, Gale, 1985. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 39. Gale Literature Resource Center, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/H1200003646/LitRC?u=viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=cc8ebd20. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

Ravin, Kate. “Charlotte (Turner) Smith.” Eighteenth-Century British Poets: Second Series, edited by John E. Sitter, Gale, 1991. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 109. Gale Literature Resource Center, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/H1200003647/LitRC?u=viva_uva&sid=LitRC&xid=7e5dd560. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

The Recluse of the Woods, London, J. Roe and Ann Lemoine, 1809.

Tymn, Marshall B., editor. “The Gothic Romance.” Horror Literature: a Core Collection and Reference Guide, by Frederick S. Frank3, R.R. Bowker Company, 1981, pp. 3–178.

Zimmerman, Sarah M. “Smith [née Turner], Charlotte (1749–1806), poet and novelist.” Oxford     Dictionary of National Biography.  October 04, 2007. Oxford University Press. Date of access 27 Oct. 2020,<https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-25790>


Researcher: Kent B. Williams

The Invisible Ring

The Invisible Ring

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

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


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


Material History

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

The title page of The Invisible Ring

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

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

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


Textual History

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

Collection of song lyrics in The Invisible Ring

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

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

Markings at the end of The Invisible Ring

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

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


Narrative Point of View

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

Sample Passage: 

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

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


Summary

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

The frontispiece of The Invisible Ring

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

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

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

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

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

Sample text from page 28 of The Invisible Ring

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

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

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


Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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


Researcher: Isabella Mehrotra

Edward and Eleonora

Edward and Eleonora

Edward and Eleonora; or, The Adventures of A Stroller

Author: Frederic Chamberlain
Publisher: J. Lee
Publication Year: Unknown, likely between 1804 and 1824
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 11.2cm x 18.6cm
Pages: 38
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.C43 E n.d.


This circa early nineteenth-century chapbook by Frederic Chamberlain demonstrates how a farmer’s generosity leads to the reunion of two long lost family members, as well as the spark of a fated romance. 


Material History

The cover of Edward and Eleonora has no title and is just a blank paper binding that features only the mark of the Sadleir-Black Collection presented by Robert K. Black. When the book is opened, the backside of the cover features an illustration of two men and a woman, standing by a tree with what appears to be a small castle or church protruding not far behind them in the background. One man is holding a shovel in his left hand and the other stands behind the woman holding her. They all appear to be looking downwards at a grave that rests at the foot of the tree and gesturing to it with their hands. Beneath the illustration on the same page, in formal cursive text, is the caption, “With downeast Looks she surveyed the Grave of the dear departed.”

The title page for Edward and Eleonora

The title of the chapbook first appears at the top of the following page in bold capital letters. It states “EDWARD AND ELEONORA;” and then beneath it in a different font, “or, THE ADVENTURES of A STROLLER.” Beneath this title there is a bolded horizontal line that separates the title from “A ROMANCE” followed by another horizontal line beneath that separating the authors name, “BY FREDERICK CHAMBERLAIN,” with another line beneath his name. Underneath the author’s name reads “London: printed and published by J. LEE, No.24, Half Moon Street, Bishopsgate: and sold by all the booksellers.” At the bottom of the title page are the words: “Price Sixpence.” This title page is the only one in the book that features the title or the author’s name.

The dimensions of the book in centimeters are 18.6 by 11.2. The title page is on page 3, and the book starts on page 4 and finishes on page 38. One’s first impressions of the book are that it is small, both in dimensions and length. Furthermore, it appears quite old, worn, and cheap, especially around the edges of the pages where they are slightly frayed and torn in places. Despite this, the paper is in relatively good shape as there are no significant tears and the paper is fairly sturdy. The paper has a yellowed color to it and is flexible. The binding is paper and the book is disbound, with no decorations featured on the binding. There are no other decorations found anywhere on the cover or within the pages of the book. Additionally, the frontispiece illustration is the only one throughout the book. The pages within the book have fairly large top and bottom margins, with smaller side margins. The text on the page is small, close together, and there is little space between each line. It is dark and easy to read and only slightly faded on a few pages. On the last page of the book at the end of the text the word “FINIS” appears at the bottom. Apart from the pages appearing worn, there are no post-production markings anywhere on the pages from previous readers.


Textual History

The author of Edward and Eleonora; or the adventures of a stroller is known only from his chapbooks as Frederic Chamberlain. He is described as a “novelist, of whom hardly anything is known” (“Mulvey-Roberts”). It is unknown where he is from but Edward and Eleonora was a fictional chapbook, printed and published in London by a man known only as J. Lee. The chapbook was originally written in English and is thought to have been printed and published sometime between 1804 and 1824 (WorldCat). Frederic Chamberlain wrote another chapbook called Lucretia; or, The Robbers of the Hyrcanean Forest. Both Lucretia and Edward and Eleonora were short gothic romances, showing a general trend in the type of genre towards which Frederic Chamberlain tended to gravitate.

The frontispiece for Edward and Eleonora

There exists another story, titled Edward and Eleonora: A Tragedy, by British writer James Thomson. This play was published shortly before Frederic Chamberlain’s, in 1751. Furthermore, it was adapted to the stage in 1795 by Thomas Hull. The plots of Thomson’s Edward and Eleonora and Chamberlain’s Edward and Eleonora appear to be unrelated and generically distinct, since one is a tragedy and the other a romance. However, there are a few uncanny similarities between the actual history of James Thomson’s play and the fictional plot of Frederic Chamberlain’s chapbook. It is very likely that Frederic Chamberlain derived the title for his chapbook from the popularity of James Thomson’s tragedy. In both stories, the characters Edward and Eleonora are husband and wife. Furthermore, much of Frederic Chamberlain’s plot in his story revolves around Edward trying to obtain a license from Frederick, Eleonora’s brother, that would permit him to perform a play for Frederick and Eleonora. Interestingly, in the eighteenth century, James Thomson’s play was originally banned from performance at Covent Garden by the Lord Chamberlain, due to the licensing act of 1737, which restrained what was allowed to be said about the British Government in theatrical performances (“Wilson” 175). The play was banned because the portrayal of James Thomson’s characters, Edward, Prince of Wales, and his relationship with his father, Henry III, was viewed as a political attack that reflected the real life relationship of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his father, George II, at the time (“Wilson” 177). Frederic Chamberlain’s plot in Edward and Eleonora, involves Edward attempting to obtain a license from Frederick so he can perform a play. Similarly, James Thomson could not perform his play Edward and Eleonora because he could not obtain the license from Lord Chamberlain, since his characters were representations of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his father. It appears clear that Frederic Chamberlain’s plot and characters in Edward and Eleonora loosely model much of the actual conflict James Thomson experienced with his play Edward and Eleonora. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that Frederick Chamberlain was also a member of the Inns of Court, and thus a barrister himself (see the history for Chamberlain’s other chapbook, Lucretia).

There is no evidence of any prequels or sequels to Edward and Eleonora and no introduction or preface. Additionally, there is no information regarding the popularity of the chapbook when it was published and nothing to suggest it was ever advertised in any way, neither at the time of publication nor at a later date. It appears there are no later publications of the book, as well as no alternate versions or existing digitized copies. The book is held in the University of Virginia Special Collections Library among the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction. The only other known locations of the book are in the University of California, Los Angeles Special Collections, and New York University’s Fales Library and Special Collections in the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library. There is no scholarly study to be found on this book, however, the title and author are briefly cited in A Gothic Bibliography by Montague Summers (304).


Narrative Point of View

The narration of Edward and Eleonora is in the third person by a narrator whose identity is never revealed to the reader. The narrator goes into detail about the characters’ thought processes and emotions. The narration describes each individual situation with long sentences containing mini tangents that describe a character’s action. The style feels old-fashioned, with a lot of antiquated syntax and diction. The narrator is most frequently used as a means to transition between character dialogue.

Sample Passage:

Justice Manly was petrified — every nerve trembled — he had scarce power to call his domestics, — for his tongue denied the power of utterance ; however, he hobbled to the apartment wherein Eleonora and her brother were, by which time he was enabled to make known the situation of our hero. They precipitately entered the room, and found him stretched on the floor, with eyes strongly fixed on the portraits of his departed parents. — A flood of tears relieved him — he looked wildly at the objects around him, and enquired by what means those portraits came in the possession of Justice Manly, who replied, they were the portraits of his beloved sister and brother. — Our hero looked him steadfastly in the face, and exclaimed aloud; ‘Behold then, your unworthy nephew ; whose irregularities were the cause of a loss, which is now irreparable — your affectionate sister. — Ah what a sting has death left behind — an arrow has pierced this heart which can never be withdrawn. (35)

The narrator incorporates descriptive phrases like “every nerve trembled,” and a “flood of tears relieved him” to display the detailed imagery of the way each character experiences the scene. While the narrator describes the present situation in the book, they also employ the use of many brief tangents within the sentences to extrapolate on the emotions of the characters within the situation. This passage demonstrates the use of antiquated syntax which emulates the old-fashioned style the narrator uses to depict each scene with grace and fluidity. At the end of the passage, the narrator transitions to the next dialogue, reflecting the way the narration is used to explain the feelings of the characters in the text and then proceed into the next conversation between the characters that further continues the story.


Summary

Frederick and Eleonora are brother and sister who come into possession of their well-respected father’s farm, Friendly Hall, when he leaves it and all its livestock for them and retires elsewhere. In the following year, during a period of great harvest, a group of poor “strollers” (or vagabonds) come to town seeking hospitality (4). Their presence is met with hostility from the townspeople out of fear that their food supply will not be enough to support these newcomers.

A sample page from Edward and Eleonora

Everyone rejects their request for asylum except for Edward and Eleonora who empathize for these people who possess so much less than they do. The head of the strollers arrives at Friendly hall requesting to speak with Frederick. When Frederick arrives and speaks with the stroller he feels bad for him, hands the man a generous amount of money, and tells him to return in an hour while he considers his request. Eleonora recognizes something familiar about the stroller but cannot figure out why.

Frederick runs into the Squire Saveall who warns Frederick that it is risky to take this group of strollers in. Frederick welcomes the Squire into his home where they discuss with Eleonora. The stroller heads back to his anxiously awaiting group where he shows them the cash Frederick gave him and explains his conversation. The group of strollers use their newfound money to buy food and ale from Redcap (their current host) to celebrate. After their feast, the head of the strollers leaves for Friendly Hall to inquire about his request with Frederick.

Despite the Squire’s recommendation to Frederick, Frederick meets with the stroller. They discuss terms of the stay and Frederick decides to allow the group to stay for free. The Stroller is immensely grateful and assures Frederick that he will make sure his group will strictly adhere to any rules. The two go on to discuss ways in which the group could attain a license that would allow them to open a theater for the town’s amusement. Frederick concludes that he will speak with Justice Manly about getting them a license.

When Justice Manly arrives at Friendly Hall, Frederick asks where he has been for so long. The justice goes on to tell them a story about his quest to find his sister and nephew who had gone missing. On his quest he learns that his sister died out of grief for loss for her son (his nephew). The justice tells Frederick and Eleonora how he was left with nothing but portraits of his family members following the funeral and returned to the town. The justice says he will get the license for the strollers and leaves Friendly Hall. Back at the Crooked Billet, the group of Strollers celebrate at the news embracing in laughter and conversation. They all get drunk and proceed to sing as the night comes to a close. Meanwhile, the squire tells a story to Eleonora about a man he knew named Hawthorne who possessed admirable qualities. He was wrongly sentenced to serve in the war due to the false accusations of a woman, and there he met his fate. When the story ends the squire leaves Friendly Hall but Frederick convinces the justice to stay.

The final page of Edward and Eleonora

The next morning the stroller visits Frederick, who tells him his group can stay in the barn and set up their theater there. Meanwhile the justice has breakfast with Frederick and Eleonora where he officially writes them the license. Frederick gives the license to the Stroller who tells them they can visit the set. When Frederick and Eleonora visit the set, they are met with disappointment of only two sets of scenes. The performance goes on that night and despite their initial apprehensions, the conclusion is met with approval and applause from the entire audience. That night, both the justice and Eleonora feel confusion and uneasiness about the familiarity of the leader and go to bed with great sadness.

The next morning, the stroller wakes up to look for Frederick but finds out he already left to visit the justice. The stroller then decides to go to the justice’s home where he sees the portraits of the justice’s sister and brother-in-law. He then falls to the floor in agony at the sight of his lost parents. Justice Manly realizes it is his nephew who was the leader of the group of strollers and confirms it by asking him questions about his parents. The justice tells Frederick and Eleonora the truth and she is delighted in the discovery of his nephew she once admired. The justice convinces his nephew to leave the group and stay with him where his possessions will be his. The nephew goes to Eleonora and introduces himself to her as Edward. Eleonora and Edward later marry each other with an unforgettable ceremony that fills the village with joy.


Bibliography

Chamberlain, Frederic. Edward and Eleonora: Or, the Adventures of a Stroller. A Romance. J. Lee. n.d.

Hull, Thomas. Edward and Eleonora: A Tragedy. London, Printed for George Cawthorn, 1795.

Mulvey-Roberts, Marie. “Biographies of Gothic Novelists.” Gothic Fiction – Biographies, www.ampltd.co.uk/digital_guides/gothic_fiction/Biographies.aspx.

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

Thomson, James. Edward and Eleonora: A Tragedy. Dublin, Printed for G. Risk, G. and A. Ewing, and W. Smith (booksellers), 1751.

Wilson, Brett D. A Race of Female Patriots: Women and Public Spirit on the British Stage, 1688–1745. Lexington Books, 2012.


Researcher: Magnus Gould