The Gothic Flame  

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"The difference between Terror and Horror is the difference between awful apprehension and sickening realization: between the smell of death and stumbling against a corpse." --The Gothic Flame (1957) by Devendra Varma


"Monsieur Maurice Heine attempts to establish a connection between De Sade and the Gothic novel. De Sade’s work was certainly known to M. G. Lewis, Francis Lathom, and other Gothic novelists. The literary influence of De Sade has been treated in detail by Signor Mario Praz. Baculard D’Amaud (1716-1805) whetted the reader’s sombre appetite with a panorama of dungeons and flickering flames, horror-haunted castles, dark-souled Inquisitors, and rotting skeletons in his Euphemie (1768), and together with Schiller influenced Mrs. Radcliffe’s The Italian." --The Gothic Flame (1957) by Devendra Varma

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The Gothic Flame (1957) is a book on gothic fiction by Devendra Varma.

Full text[1]

Full text of "The Gothic Flame" See other formats Being

a History of the GOTHIC NOVEL in England: Its Origifts^ Efflorescence^ Disintegration^ and Residuary Influences

By

DEVENDRA P. VARMA

M.A. Ph.D.



ARTHUR.BARKER LTD: LONDON. 1923



For

JAWAHARLAL NEHRU Visionary and Statesman who in action and language has embodied

the dreams of India past and present


MADE AND PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY MORRISON AND GIBB LIMITED^ LONDON AND EDINBURGH



    • A sad tale’s best for winter ; I have one of sprites and goblins.*’

WiuiAM Shakespeakb {The IVinte/s Tgle),


    • Je votis avouc . . . que de tons mes ouvrages e’est Tunique ou jc

me sols plu/* — ^Horace Walpole (Letter to Mine du Deffand).


FOREWORD


At the beginning of his book Dr. Varma quotes me as suggesting (not

  • asserting ’ !) that it is possible that * Monk ’ Lewis, Maturin, and Mrs.

RadcliflFc should, relatively to Scott. Dickens, and Hardy, occupy a much higher rAik among Eiiglisb novelists. This opinion was expressed about twenty years ago, in the heyday of Surrealism, bur now, after reading Dr. Varma’s revealing account of the origins and development of die Gothic novel, I feel more convinced than ever that our neglect of this phase of English literature is unjust. 1 know exactly what will be said in defence of this neglect : that the plots of the novels are fictitious, that the chai^cters arc unreal, that the sentiments they excite arc morbid, and the style in which they are written artificial. All these judgements merely reflect our present prejudices. It is proper for a work of the imagination to be fictitious, and for characters to be typical rather than realistic. Realism is a bourgeois prcjudico— what is there of realism in the characters of Sopln)clcs or Racine, Dostoevsky or Sartre ? As characters Schedom or Melnioth arc just as typical as lago or Faast. As for morbidity, our modern talcs of violence and horror constitute a Schaner-romannk that exceeds aiiydiing conceived by Mrs. Radcliffe or Maturin. In defence of all such literature it can be said that wc express such sentiments to be puru?d of them.

Wc are left with the obstacle of an outmoded style, but this is a question of degree. Vathek and The Castle of Otranto survive as ‘ classics * because, no doubt, they arc stylisricaily more restrained than the master- pieces of Ann Radcliffe, Lewis, and Maturin : their authors had a more instinctive literary taste. But Lewis and Maturin had intensity of vision (read, for example, the description of Moncada’s dream which Dr. Varma quotes on page 168), and dicir images are frequendy as vivid as one could wish (“ the kiss of childhood that felt like vjrlvet ”). Mrs. Radcliflfe was given to poetic * efFu-’- »iis but she could be powerfully evocative, and there arc many minor virtues in all these writers. It is a pity that most of their works should have become so inaccessible, and if he had done nodiing else, Di. Varma has made out a case for the rc- publication of a selection of these novels. But he has done more. By his industrious research and the clear presentation of his material, he has

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rescued a*dream literature from oblivion, and shown that our aesthetic prejudices deprive us of an experience that is always pleasurable ind may be profound. Burke himself, preoccupied with the sublime at die time these novels were being written, would have held that the Gothic flame is capable of tempering the soul to a purity beyond the range of our dingy realism.

Herbert Read


CONTENTS


PAGB


Acknowuedcbments ...... V

Foreword : Sir Herbert Read . . . . . vii

Introductioii : Dr. J. M. §. Tompkins . . . xi

rnAFTBii

I. Footprints and Shadows : The ‘ Gothic ’ Spirit . . i

II. The Background : Origins and Cross-Currents. . 23

ni. The First Gothic Taie : Its Potentiauties . . 42

IV. Historical-Gothic School : The Heirs of ‘ Otranto ’ . 74

V. Mrs. Ann Radcliffb : The Craft of Terror . . 85

VI. Scuauer-Romantik : or Chambers of Horror . . 129

Vn. ‘ Gothic ’ Distributaries : The Residuary Influencf^ . 173

Vin. Quest of tht Numinous : Thf Gothic Flame . 206

Appendix I ....... 233

Appendix n . 235

Appendix IB ... 237

Bibuography ... 243


Index


261



INTRODUCTION


Tills c liaiigc in the attitude of critics to the Gothic Romance during the last generation is indicated by Professor D. P. Vanna when he writes that it was “ not a ciil-de-sac but an important arterial development of the novel Perhaps a more cxac% image would be “ not a field-path ” ; for before the business acumen of Mr. Elkin Mathews, as Professor Varma informs us, started the Gothic industry of theses and special studies by the purchase and judicious advertisement of these old best- sellers, students knew that the disused tracks had somewhere Joined the liigb-road, though they did ni>t think that the traffic they carried had been very important. The great coach of the English Novel of Manners and Character, supported, as Saintsbury used to say, on the four wheels of Richardson, Fielding, Sinollet, and Sterne, had not travelled on them, or had made only a brief detour. None the less, Scott’s generous appre- ciation of Mrs. Radcliffe and De Qumcey’s preference of her to Dickens were well known and led some of us to The Romance of the Forest, which we found better than we had expected. Northannicr Abbey, carefully read, yielded evidence of a more subtle attitude than lay behind the corrective buTlesquc of E. S. Barrett’s Heroine. Both the Tilneys, admirable young people, have enjoyed Tlu Mysteries of Udolpho, and Heniy’s response, at least, Ir bem perfectly adequate, for his hair stood on end the whole time. But certainly neitlier he noi his sister nor Jane Austen herself could have thought of these romances as a vehicle of truth. They w'crc a pastime, belonging to the permissive, not the obsessive, aspect of the imagiiiatioii, to be enjoyed with a clear perception of their limitations and discarded, perhaps, as the taste matured, since the main business of life, they would hold, is aKvays in the daylight. The absence of sour, contemptuous or angry notes in the g' mlc chiding of Catherine Morland, however, svas always noticeable. This amused mlcrance was very much the attitude of the literary hi%{orians who assessed the Gothic fashion. The qualities they usually distinguished in it were the sentiment of the past (highly anachronistic in detail), the development of the intricate plot of suspci^se, and the conflict of imagination and rationalism in tlic explained supernatural ; and tlicrc was always tlic baffling aesthetic question of ideal terror to Icyd us on, and the perception that something,

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submerged since the Jacobean Drama, had reappeared at a lower literary level.

Wlien, however, we turned to Mrs. RadcUfTc, the most accessible and attractive example of the GotJiic romance-writer, vre found that her charm had not entirely waned. These absurd stories (as they are to the daylight mind) could still exert die essentially romantic power of making the reader into a co-creator. One wandered fartli^T in her landscapes, tried new variations on her materials, rewrote sections of her dialogue more acceptably. Wlicn I was working on the Gothic section of my book, The Popular Novel, 1770-1800, I found that tins could still happen CO me, and I tried to be on my guard against it. I reminded myself, for instance, tliat it was Stephen Cullen’s work that I had to consider, not my own fancies on his themes. Yet I find that I allowed myself to write of The HaunteJ Priory : “ It has passages of incomplete poetry that induce the reader to piece out its imperfections.” I now see this process as more significant than I then supposed. No doubt it took place in the first readers of Gothic writings on a grand scale and at a deeper level. Wliat Dc Qiiinccy calls the “ dreaming organ ”, the inlet of the “ dark sublime ”, ” the magnificent apparatus which forces the infinite into the chambers of the human brain ”, w'as activated (and it docs not need first-class literary achievements to bring that about) and the access to the reader s emotional, imaginative and subconscious life opened. It is along tlicse lines that tlie revaluation of the Gothic Romance is proceed- ing ; and it is when die critical guard is temporarily lowered that the modern reader can best understand the enthusiasm of contemporaries and feel the vivifying force of the irregular stream of powder that runs dirough dicsc books, with all its grotesque flotsam and jetsam. Professor Varma writes his best when he thinks of die ” dark underground river beneath die surface of human life ”, of the “ intrinsically healthy . . . magic Dionysian spring ” and of die ” quest for the numinous ”, and secs the Gothic romance-writers as contributing to the recovery of the vision of a spiritual world behind material appearances.

A far cry from Lewis’s Monk, one thinks, recovering one’s critical stance. It seems to me that Professor Varma also has the experience of coming back to the page itself and of perceiving anew its frequent cpidity, but he is not disturbed by this shifting of planes. He is able to accept the effect of the Gothic mode on his own imagination as an inherent virtue in the mode. He does not suspect himself of contributing too much. If Lewis’s drastic contrasts between amorous and corrupting


INTRODUCTION


xin


flesh, between passionate heat and the chill of the speetril visitaut, kindle 111 hyn dioughts of lovi and death and in imniitcnal reality bL^ond the life of the senses, dien that is what they do , that is a genuine effect of Lewis’s queer, immature, \iolcnt talent which, powerful still, must have been still more powerful when it came bursting through the lestnctivc decorum of respectable literature at the end of the eighteenth century This is a fruitful atntude ind opens the way to deeper explorations

For whit has^altercd our attitude to Gothic wntings is, of course', the application of Inudian psychology to literature md literarv periods, together with the Sum ihst depeiidenee on dieanis and the uneonseious What caiiie. to light in the Gothic Romances, on this die or), wcic the suppressed neurotic md crotu impulses of edueated soiiets Then seenes of horror, Professor \ irma sngirest^, m i\ hwe b* en “ the haimless leleise of thatinnitc spring of eruelts which is present in eieh of us, an impulse inystcrions uid inextiieibh eoiinectefl with the ver\ forces of life and death ” The Gotliie tistk itseH tint fornndibk place, rninons vet an effective prison, plnnt isimgorit ilK shifting its outline as ever new vaults extend then labvijnths scene of >ol]tuv wanderings, cut off from light and liumin eontut, of unfoimulatcd menue and the terror of the living eleid- this hold, v'lth ill its handled name , ik>\v looms to investigitors as the svnibol of a neui wis , thev sei iii it the gigantic symbol of niixurs the die id of opples^u>ll iiid of the abvss, the response to the pe^litieal and teligio is nisei iiitv ot ehstiubcd times No de^uht wc must distinguiJi lure between lueliv idual wiiters to some esf these casde buildeis the pkisure of the dream is uowcdH enhanced by the knowledge that it is a dreim, that at any oincnt thev can run up die flag of latiouai heedoiii over the keep , aiul they aie, in fact, a chirpy about then teuehl leiniiant* as t hrciieh toiinsr spitting into the dungeon at Mont-St Miehel 13 ut diese, wi agie , aie not Gothic spirits of the tine elye

Such stimulating theones have giv-^n i n^w dinvnsiou to the study of Gothic writing lliev hive lelitcd it t »'^e psveheslogual e audition of literate Western Piiropc at the end of die eigliteendi centurv, and to the psychological condition of other pcnoels whem men experienced similar pressures, and dim ultimateh, to die permanent nature of man Ihis, mdeed, is to sec Otianto and Udolplio not as nnngc's on distant hills but as structures suiiidmg beside Professor Varma’s artenal way In bis book IS to be' found a mass e>t mateii d bearing on such interpretations,


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INTRODUCTION


drawn f^om a wide field of reading. At the same time, he has considered his subject chronologically ; he has tracked the ‘ footprints ’ and watched where the * shadows ’ pointed, and sought to establish the facts of origin, efflorescence, disintegration and residuary influence more fully than has ever been done before. The term ‘ Gotliic ’, meanwhile, rather like tlic term ‘ Metaphysical ’ during the last quarter-century, enlarged by a rich complex of meanings and associations, ceases to b^ of much use to the literary historian in die same measure as it becomes valuable to the critic. We can no longer distinguish briefly Ijctwccn the energetic independence of Scott’s imagination in the scene where in Old MorralUy^ Henry Morton expects deatli at tlic hands of the Covenanters, and die relaxed following of models already out of date in the illusory haunting in The Betrothed, by calling the latter ‘ Gothic ’. Both arc ‘ Gothic ’ in modem terminology since both are drawn from the same submerged layer of experience.

The modem approach throws into new perspective the. means by which the more self-aware of these writers tried to control their inspira- tion and keep their balance. They may not have recognized all the fellows in the cellarage that now pressed forward into light — modest ^rs. Radcliffe certainly cannot have done so — but they had some sense of danger as well as the strong joy of release. The Gothic flame, in fact, was often carried in a safety-lamp ; and this coiivenieiice could be constructed in various proportions of humour, nationalism and moral propriety. Walpole carried the flame in such a lamp, and Mrs. Radcliffe ; but not Lewis. Professor Varma rejects the notion that The Castle of Otranto was a joke ; but it is not derogatory to consider it as a serious pastime, like the play of children, all-absorbing for an hour. Or at least, that is the shape lie forced upon it. The image is his own, when he wrote, as an ageing man, of his beloved Straw^berry Hill : “ The old child’s box is quite full of toys.” Certainly die compulsive element in his talc was exceptionally strong, and he let himself be carried on it ; but not too far. Small dry phrases, slight touches of irony arc the tell- tale defensive manoeuvres by which he keeps intact his links with the daylight world. Nor docs Bcckford wholly deliver himself to the dark sublime until he reaches die Hall of Eblis ; it is not till then that his sophistication and grotesque buffoonery fall away. As to dear Ann Radcliffe who, as Talfourd tells us, smilingly handed to her husband p^ges that he shuddered to read, she too clung to her safety-lamp. What else is her explained supernatural, her unremitting propriety, but her effort, conscious or instinctive, to control the influx of the dark sublime ?


INTRODUCTION


XV


The very inadequacy of the explaiutions gives her away. Lil;:e odier English Romantics, she exemplifies the instinct for compromise and the demands of sdf-respect. But the Gothic flame was not quenched ; it burnt brightly in its container. As her biographer wrote, what matters is not the objective truth of the apparition, but the tremblings of the human spirit in its supposed presence, since these are the “ secret witnesses of our alliance with power which is not of this world ”.

Such defences and adjustments luve, naturally enough, small part in Professor VarmaV learned and cndipsiastic book. His object is to explore the nature and asscrt*thc importance of die Gothic impulse, and to trace its gro'wth, decline and dispersal in our literature. He has cast his net widely and dredged up much interesting material. But it is the conviction in his study diat challenges interest. He secs the Gothic writers as restoring the sense of die numinous to a literature cramped by ratioiulism and bleached by exposure to unvarying daylight. He sees them renewing its contact widi the fertile depths of mystery and primidve emodon. And, against this, what arc aU die little gestures with vi'hich they gainsaid their essential self-committal ?


Royal Holloway Coukce


J. M. .S. Tompkins



CHAPTKR I


FOOTPRINTS AND SHADOWS : THE ‘ GOTHIC ’ SPIRIT

A STUDY devoted to the analysis and investigation of a body of fiction that is usually left to moulder in the libraries of the curious, pcrliaps stands ill need of justification. Psofessor Phelps, writing in The Times Literary Supplement *(21 July 1907), observed that the Gothic novels “ except by students of origins and curios . . . have long ceased to be read”, and he doubted if even “ tlie laborious book ” of criticism. The Haunted (Castle, would “ cause tlicir pages to be turned again The Times Literary Supplement, on 24 December 1908, under the title Gothic and iMer Thrillers; echoed the scoffing and formidable voice of Professor Saintsbiiry :

There IS hardly a more uiipiofi table, as well as imdclightful, department of literature than that which harre^wed and fascinated Catherine Morland and Isabella I'horpc.

Yet perhaps both the Goth and the Thriller have their rights. It is significant that aspects of Gothic and Terror literature have long been a favourite topic of thesis wriaTs, and monographs from England, America, France, Germany, Scandiiia\ia and elsewhere arc surprisingly luimeroiis.

On the other hand, some critics arc prepared to agree with Mrs. Barbaiild who, in On the Origin and Progress of Nooel Writing (British Novelists, Vol. I, 1810) says, '* books of this description are condemned by die grave, and despised by the fastidious ; but their leaves are seldom found unopaicd, and they occupy the parlour and the dressing-room while productions of higher name are often gathering dust upon the shelf. It might not perhaps be difficult to show that diis species of composition is entided to a higher rank than has been generally assigned it.”* The Gothic novel is definitely of uitrinsic merit. As Sir Walter Scott says, in his memoir of Mrs. Radcliffie, ” a thousand different kinds of shrubs and flowers, not only have beauties independent of each other, but arc more delightful from that very circumstance ... so the fields of literature admit the same variety He has, too, jusdy observed : “ The infinite variety of human tastes require different styles of composition for their

G.F . — 2 *


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THE GOTHIC FLAME


gratification. . . . There are many men too mercurial to be delighted by Richardson s beautiful, but protracted, display of passions ; and there are some too dull to comprehend the wit of Le Sage, or too saturnine to relish the nature and spirit of Fielding. And yet these very individuals will with difficulty be divorced from The Romance of the Forest, or The Mysteries of Udolpho ; for curiosity and lurking love of mystery, together with a germ of superstition, are more general ingredients in the human mind, and more widely diffused through the mass of humanity, than either taste or feeling.”

Herbert Read, in Surrealism^ makes a strong plea for a thorougli revision of the whole field of EngUsh fiction, and asserts, ” It is possible that * Monk ’ Lewis, Maturin, and Mrs. Radcliffc should relatively to Scott, Dickens, and Hardy, occupy a much higher rank

The critical assessment of htcraturc has been a continual series of corrections of earlier impressions by those who have the opportunity to examine the question in hand more thoroughly and with a more accurate background of knowledge as an aid to their considerations. Tlius the field of Gothic fiction, long viewed as uninteresting and barfbn, has gradually come to be recognised as of distinct artistic and literary importance, and is undergoing a new and more favourable critical survey.

Hitherto the study of the Gothic novel lias been confined almost entirely to certain attitudes and themes regardless of the specific ways in which it developed and disintegrated. The problem of its ultimate origin has never been seriously examined : how from the surface of life it pointed towards the darker latent powers of creation and fertilized hfc from the newness of death, ghastliness and the mysterious unknown. Even the latest monumental work of criticism in this field, The Gothic Quest, stops short at ‘ Monk ' Lewis, and omits completely tlic genius of Charles Robert Maturin, the creator of immortal Mclmoth. 1'hc story of ‘ Gothic * disintegration has never been narrated, nor have scholars traced die residuary iniluences. I'lie talc of its death and rebirth has yet to be told : how at the time of its death it bloomed once more, with such colours as it had never before displayed, with a fragrance that awakened a longing anticipation of a metaphysical world ; how finally the exotic rose was blown, and its withering leaves and discoloured and faded petals scattered by die remorseless wind. The object of this study is to oudine its origins, efflorescence, disintegration and residuary influ- ences : to examine what the Gothic novel actually was, in what direction


FOOTPRINTS AND SHADOWS : THE ‘ GOTHIC ' SPIRIT


3


it began to exercise an influence ; to trace its first manifestations and its gradual rise, when and why it ceased to be an active force ; to estimate its real significance, and evaluate its structure and characteristics ; to investigate whether or not the Gothic novel was a living, vital force, or merely a string of talcs born out of notorious eccentricities ; in short, to discover if it may be justified as something fundamental and authentic in fiction. The study of literature as an organic progress gives added significance to periods of transition and enables us to place the various works in their relative perspectives. An attempt tt) blaze a trail tlirough the rank wilderness English novels from 1762 to 1820 is a difficult task, and this study purports 10 be nothing more than a wide investigation of the major trends of Gothic fiction.

The Gotliic epoch falls in a neglected and dim period : die interval between the four great cightecndi-century novelists, Richardson, Fielding, SmoHctt, and Sterne, and the nineteenth century w^ith its Scott and fane Austen. Although this intenni contains probably no names wbicli the history of the novel has acknowledged great, its large body of fiction enjoyed a prodigious success with its readers, reflected and shaped rlicir imaginations, and often broke out into fanciful and creative adventure. It influenced the main course of English literature in a surprising number of ways, and in order to follow the wayward current of literature through the early years of the nineteenth century, one must be familiar with tlic iioiable exemplars of Gothic romance. Many honest craftsmen, jnknowii to fame, light up »is pages, men and women who took pleasure in their craft and gave pleasure by it. Moreover, a book is valuable in literary liistory not so much intrinsically as for the influence it exercises upon greater and more significant works. Even the smaller names and lesser currents in literaiurc have their value, their direction, their proportionate and marerial worth. ‘‘ No branch of literature W’hich has once, for any considerable time and in any considerable degree, occupied the attention of die reader, ought to be despised by the student,” w rites Saintsbury, in iaks of Mystery. This body of fit non may well have established the popularity of the novel-form. 'J'hc G;»thic novel is also well worth studying, if not for its particular literary form, at least as an expression of the general taste of the period and because of its function as “ die leaf-mould ” in wlucli more exquisite and stronger plants were rooted. And yet the ultimate end of all study of literature is an effort to place ail assaying finger on that mystery which for lack ot a better name we call genius.


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In the Batli Punip Room, a century and a half ago, a Miss Andrews, “one of the sweetest creatures in the world ”, recommended Isabella Thorpe some seven novels which, “ having read every one of them ”, she vouched for as “ horrid ” The excessive rarity of these novels today has encouraged the idea that they never existed except in the imagination of Jane Austen. Professor Saintsbury thought they had been selected for their colourful titles :

1 have not read a single one of die list which was “ all horrid ” — Cctstk of Wolfetihticli , Ckrwoiit, Mysterious IViirnwifs, Necromaiiccr of the Blatk Forest t Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Hot rid Mysteries. 1 should indeed hkc some better authority than Miss Isabella Thorpe's to assure me of their existcnce.

Montaguc Summers was the first person to feel assured of their existence, and to state as much. Michael Sadleir, in The Northanj^cr iWovcls, pronounced that these works will survive “ as tiny stitches in the immense tapestry' of English literature Soon afterwards Montague Summers began editing the “Jane Austen Horrid Novels” for Robert Holdwi, but only two came out, and complete republication aw'aits the boldness of a modern Gothic enthusiast.

One may assert that Jane Austen deliberately selected those particular seven ‘ horrid ’ titles, for, according to Montague Summers, they reveal three or four distinct traits of Gothic fiction. Despite her satire, Miss Austen was not oblivious to the merits of the ‘ Gothic ’ from which her genius had profited. Had it been her intention to mock or startle, she could have chosen from : The Auiwatcd Skeleton, Tfee Mysterious Hand : or Subterranean Horrours (sic). The Sicilian Pirate : or Pool of Blood. Michael Sadleir has stated that the Northangcr Novels fall into three divisions : Clermont, a sample of the rhapsodical romance ; secondly, The Castle of Wolfenbach, Orphan of the Rhine, The Mysterious Warninj^, Midniftht Bell, all aping German fasliions, together with Necromancer, a manipulation of genuine German material : and lastly. Horrid Mysteries, a lurid translation from the Gcijman.

Of course, one cannot find represented here every feature of the Gothic school, but for me this list shows the broad lines of development from one phase to another. Doc.s not the list begin with ‘ Castle’ (cf. The Castk of Otranto) and end in ‘ Horrid ’ (cf. the Schauer-Romantik or School of Horror) ? Between these The Mysterious Warning parallels The Mysteries of Udolpho ; Orphan of the Rhine recalls Children of the


FOOTPRINTS AND SHADOWS : THE ‘ GOTHIC ’ SPIRIT 5

Abbey ; wliilc Necrommicer of the Black Forest strongly savours ofjidelmoth the Wanderer,

^e Castle of Wolfenbach is by Mrs. Eliza Parsons, also the autlior of The Mysterious Warning which has all the sadism of the terror novel. Clermont, from the pen of Regina Maria Roche (whose Children of the Abbey reached an eleventh edition by 1832), contained the distilled essence of Radclifhan fiction, mingling domestic felicity with dramatic horror. Written by an ingenious bookseller or antiquary of Freiburg The Necro^ mancer of the Black Forest initiates the supcrnatiiral-expliquc : the Necromancer is a cbarlatan and a cheat, and the spectres a band of robbers. The talc is a series of violent episodes loosely connected. Midnight Bell, by Francis Lathom, is a Gothic masterpiece whose very tide suggests atmosplicre. Lathom was skilled in dialogue and dramatic incident, in which diis novel abounds. Belonging to the RadclifEan school of sensational landscape fiction. The Orphan of the Rhine also resembles the writings of Mrs. Roche in its lurid sentimentality. Horrid Mysteries, a translation of Dcr Genius, and more horrid in translation, progresses in a series of apocalyptic visions, and tells of a liero who finds himself embroiled in murder and bloodshed beneath die pretext of liberty and education. This is very potent Scliaucr-Romaiitik,

and resembles Lewis’s The Monk in its “enraptured fleshiness”. It is mentioned in Peacock’s Nightmare Abbey that Scythrop “ slept with Horrid Mysteries lUidcr liis pihow and dreamed of . . . gliastly ccmfederatcs holding midnight conventions in siibierrancan caves Scythrop’s interest in Horrid Mysteries was especially awakened by the Illuminati (a German sect, openly professing Satanism, that had existed in the fifteendi century) who play so large a part in diat romance.

Thus the list of seven horrid novels provided by Jane Austen in her Northangcr Abbey, far from being haphazard, is by itself a chronicle of the origin, efflorescence, and disintegration of Gothic Romance, revealing not only the various types of Gothic fiction but also the consequential pliases of its development from one shade to another.

“ The scarcity of the Gothic novel and its successors constitutes a very real difficulty, and is a practical stumbling-block in the way of research,” says Montague SummerN. The Gothic romances are indeed extraordinarily elusive. Michael Sadleir has rightly emphasized that “ there arc probably no items in the lumber rooms of forgotten literature more difficult to trace than the minor novels of the late eighteenth century Only a few of the hoard of romances which issued from the


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cheap presses are now remembered. Their names are widely sprinkled throughout the pages of Bibliotheca Britannica and other bibliophile compilations, where books that become extinct get a Christian burial and a little headstone reserved for them.

A craze for fiction was a fashionable amusement during the last quarter of the eighteenth century, the circulating library catered for the taste of “ the leisured fair ”, although the leading of the novels was despised as a waste of time by serious-minded persons. Actual purchase of these novels was exceptional : confidential maids got them from Lane’s or other circulating libraries, and regular borrowing and library circulation soon reduced die few copies to scraps. And as they were more or less a transient entertainment no one cared about their survival. Even if a solitary copy or two survived by some chance, they were dirown out contemptuously as unworthy of the bookshelf, and the children who played with them for tlieir pretty pictures accomplished their destruction. Many of them lacking the vital protection of good binding perished without trace. Any surviving copies were cast out from lumber-rooms and remote country libraries to suftVr death b^ fire, or the ignominy of cheap auction. Thus tlicse w orks are of an excessive rarity today, and gt^od clean copies sometimes fetcli as many pounds as they were once sold for pence.

The revival of interest in Gothic literature during the present century we owe pcrliaps to the commercial ingenuity of one man. At the end of the First World War, when country halls and v\d mansions set ti> clearing out their lumber, piles of old books were indiscnminatcly sent for auction. Elkin Marlicw's, an enthusiastic I.nudon bookseller, purchased all such books at a cheap rate, and by printing a tempting catalogue of these late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century works, began an aristticratic fashion among book collectors.

John Carter, in Taste and Technique in Book--Collecting , says this catalogue “ was the considered manifesto of a new inovcnient in bibliophilic taste ”, and ” a milestone in the history of bookselling, for in it appeared books . . . which had never appeared in any West End catalogue before ”. The Gothic novels were now discovered to be valuable and fetched several pounds apiece. Many volumes travelled to America, the material upholder of antique values, and England lost many of her cightccntli-century treasures. Mr. F. Wcckw’ith, of Leeds Library, told me that, with the fortune they had earned him, Elkin Mathews accompanied his books across tlic Atlantic. But at least he liad


FOOTPRINTS AND SHADOWS I THE ‘ GOTHIC * SPIRIT 7

aroused a new interest in Gothic fiction, whicli, like so much ckc in the ^thirties, became another literary candidate for revaluation.

During the last few decades these novels have aroused an intense new interest. In particular, the Freudian psychologists and the Surrealists seem to have rediscovered tlic Gothic novel. They reveal interesting attitudes towards die Gothic romance, but do not contribute much towards interpreting it. Montague Summers, in Essays in Petto , has stated that “ die Gothic romances . . . have been studied in at least half a dozen academic thesis ; none of these, however, proving . . . altogcthci satisfactor;^ or authoritative But I must acknowledge my indebtedness to the work of predecessors in the same field. It would be wordi while therefore to record the amount and nature of work already accomplished on Ciothic romance : some are immature investigations, others revealing interesting attitudes.

With die thru tif die century in 1902 Hans Mobius submitted a dissertation at die University of Leipzig. His w’ork covers the field only up to and including Mrs. Radcliffc and omits the later School of Horror. In 1913 Miss Elizabedi Church wrote a thesis at Harvard, which comprises merely a scries of plot summaries and lists of names useful but not conducive to sustained interest or argument. Two years later Miss Alice M. Killcii treated the subject with a patronizing flippancy, doing little Justice to die sociological or psychological significance of the Gothic romance. She deals rather more fully with the fashion in France than in England.

Miss Clara F. McIntyre’s work (1920) is a monograph written in eulogistic tone. Not much light is thrown on the entire genre of fiction. A similar work is Miss Wieten’s monograpu on Radcliffe. Professor Longueil, in his doctoral dissertation, touched upon the influence of Gothic romance. C'omineiicing with a plan for a thesis of two parts : a discussion, first, of the origin, development, and literary success of Gothic fiction ”, he eventually stated in his preface “ like many a more experienced builder ... I have gathered apprcci.ably more timbei dian

the practical design can embody. The former half of thistlcsign must

await a later opportunity for their publication.” The first part never saw print.

Miss Birkhead’s The Talc of Terror was reviewed by Professor Edith J. Morlcy, who deplored tliat it did not examine “ the motive of terror in art and literature with a view to determining die aesthetic effea and value of the thrill ”. The, next work is Eino Railo’s exhaustive study


8


THE GOTHIC FLAME


of Gothic literature from the point of view of emergent romanticism in the later decades of eighteenth-century literature. Railo assembles various definite mental images which he resolves into a synthesis of materials that gave to English Romantic literature its particular tone and individuality. He groups his materials round certain tliemes : ‘ The Haunted Castle *, ‘ die Criminal Monk *, ‘ The 'Wandering Jew \ ‘ The By ionic Hero to instance only four out of his eleven chapter headings. Professor Edith J. Morley pointed out diat “ this method of treatment necessitates a certain amount of repetition . . . doubling back on tracks already traversed. Nor does the author make any attempt in his final chapter to sum up and to clarify the conclusions to which his wanderings have led him. More serious defects in the book are the absence of both index and bibliography.”

Professor W, L. Phelps added that Railo docs not answer what w^as die nature of the need that ‘ horror-roiuanticisjn ’ attcjnptcd to supply, Ernest Beriibaum also remarks dm “ in the search for the origiiLS and causes of die ‘ horror-romantic ’ novel — ^hc (Railo) fails utterly ” : but Railo’s materials have proved definitely useful to later students. “ What is now needed is a philosophical history of the way in which the narrow domestic sentimentalism of Richaidson developed into the broader and more adventurous sentimentalism of Provost, and so onwards, almost by logical steps, to die complex and extravagant sentimentalism of the Gothic novelists.”

On LI August rhe I inns Literary Supplement reviewed Dr. Tompkins' book, The Popular Novel in Jinfflaud, which it described as “ a serious and original work of cnrici'^in Within the large range of her study Dr. Tompkins records the rise and fall of ‘ sensibility of didacticism in fiction. She gathers up many contributary causes of the literary fashion whicli preceded the Prcnch Revolution, and places Gothic romance in relation to the tastes and conditions of its period. The book IS one of pcrnianciiC value.

In the following year appeared The Romantic Agony, by Professor Mario Praz,* which is more in the nature of a study of algolagnia and masochism in literature, and incidentally of such fatal myths as have emanated from the domain of Gothic fiction. His approach is purely psychological, an attempt to fit the Gothic romance into the pattern of a general theme.

icK>4 saw the publication of an enthusiastic monograph, Horace Walpole and the English Novel . . ., by K. K. Mehrotra. This Oxford


FOOTPRINTS AND SHADOWS : THE ' GOTHIC ' SPIRIT


9


dissertation narrates the story of revolt against the realistic ficdqii of the years 1740-60, culminating in the victory of ‘ romance Carried away by devotion to his subject Mehrotra is inclined to under-estimate the importance and proportionate worth of other Gothic novelists. His work docs not pretend to be a history of literary movement and con- centrates attention on “ the influence directly and indirectly exercised over half a century of novel writing by a single book — Horace Walpole’s famous story The Castle of Otranto!' Mr. Mehrotra overstresses the importance of nfaterial to his hand, and belittles books and tendencies which do not fit into his preconceived scheme.

Baker’s monunicntal History of the English Novel contains a chapter on the Gothic romance. Altlunigh methodical and painstaking in exposition he makes it simple and plausible for the reader by the omission of critical controversies and the absence of any new theories on the genesis or influence of the Gothic novel. It remains only a work of reference and a testimony of the author’s learning. “ The later eighteenth century has proved a dirflcnlt period ”, he tells us.

I’he latest work on the subject is The Gothic Quest by Montague Summers, a keen collector and voracious reader of CJothic novels, who spent forty years poring over talcs of Terror and Love, of ruined castles, dungeons, skeletons and ghosts. His book undoubtedly contains data about novels and novelists never before studied in detail, and Montague Summers has been in a position really to know the books about which he wished to write. This publication is as imposing as its bulk, a monument to its author s scholarsliip and indefatigable ^est for his subject. But as “ a work c)f criticism and literary history ... it suffers from a want of selective discipline, from a tendency to extremism in praise and blame, and from a certain turgidity of style. Its main argument is coherent and logical enough, but not always easy to disentangle from the digressions, hostilities and interpolations of irrelevant learning which Montague Summers too often allows himself.” He deals sharply with the Surrealists who in recent years have intruded on his domain, annexing the ruins where love and death and vengeance and retribution dwell, and adjures them to remove tlieir heretical fingers from the sacred relics.

Yet any literary genre is surely entitled to a revised interpretation with each succeeding period of history if it is to renuin a vital force and not merely an adored and useless relic. The Surrealists, as a legitimate branch of modem thought, arc as justified as Montague Summers himself

G.F.— 3


10


THE GOTHIC FLAME


in approaching from their own particular angle the fantastic, inexhaustibly fecund Gothic novel. Gothic fiction may be “ an aristocrat of literature ” as Montague Summers deems it, none the less it is not thereby sanctified by an unassilablc Divine Right.

Whereas his tirade against the surrealistic interpretation of Gothic novels is more personal than intelligible, the interesting papers of three exponents of Surrealism, namely, Sir Herbert Read, Monsieur Andre Breton, and Mr. Hugh Sykes Davies hint at the initial possibilities of a surrealistic line of approach.

In the introduction to The Gothic Quest Montague Summers had stated that :

111 a second volume, then, 1 propose to treat in detail the work of Mrs. Radcliftc, Mrs. Charlotte Smith, Mrs. Parsons, Mrs. Roche, Mrs. Mccke, Mrs. Hclme, Mrs. Bennett, Ciodwin, Charlotte Dacre, Jane and Anne Maria Porter, Mrs. Shelley, Maturin, Robert Huish, Charles Lucas, Mrs. Yorke, Catherine Ward, and very many more, the central place being, of course, held by “ the mighty magician of The Mystmes of Udolpho ”.

Again, on 31 December 1938, in a letter to the editor of The Times Literary Supplement thanking him for the review of The Gothic Quest and stating why he neglected Shelley’s two Gothic experiments, Zastrozzi and St, Irvyne^ he noted tliat :

1 have reserved a consideration of these two fascinating pieces for a second volume, provisionally called The Gothic AchitTcnicfit.

These two promises he did not live to fulfil, and tlicy still remain a daring task for any subsequent Gothic enthusiast.

Walpole described The Castle of Otranto as “ a Gothic story ”, and by doing so unconsciously gave a name to a body of fiction that was destined to please the fancies of an age. Doubtless he characterized it thus only for definite reasons, and so it is necessary to examine the significance

  • Gothic ’ held for the late eighteenth-century mind.

The term * Gothic ' is usually associated with the frost-cramped strength, the shaggy covering, and the dusky plumage of the northern tribes ; and the ‘ Gothic ’ ideal wrought in gloomy castles and sombre cathedrals appeared dark and barbarous to the Renaissance mind. At the close of the so-called Dark Ages, the word ‘ Gothic ’ had degenerated into a term of unmitigated contempt ; it masked a sneer, and was intended to imply reproach. Wm. C. Holbrook, in Modern Language


FOOTPRINTS AND SHADOWS THE ‘ GOTHIC ' SPIRIT 1 1

Notes (November 1941), said “ the word gothique had come to mean ‘ archaic, uncouth, ugly, barbarous ’ ”, expressive of the barbaric char- acter of the nations with their rude and wild architecture. But with the emergence of the democratic-romantic side of the Renaissance, when the ‘ medieval ’ rose to favour again, ‘ Gothic * acquired a flavour of respecta- bility as an adjective. Even during the eighteenth century the term continued to be a synonym for the barbarous, and stood ft^r ignorance, cruelty, and savageness, which were part f)f the inherited Renaissance view of the Middle Ages. “ If in die history of British art ”, says Eastlake, ” there js one period more distinguished tlian another for its neglect of Gothic, it was certainly the middle of die eighteenth century.” But at no time since the Reformation had the Godiic tradition been wholly dormant, and as the eighteenth century sensibiht)' broadened and deepened, there w^as a shift of emphasis in literature from ‘ decorum * to ‘ imagination % and ‘ Gothic ’ ceased to have entirely a derisive implica- tion. ” One of the most obvious traits of the period is its changing attitude toward the Middle Ages, and no one word better reflects that change than does the critical adjective jifothique” And before the century was very old, lesser men had begun to rc-adapt Gt'thic ideas, and from the dormant seeds of Gothic tradition strange and unlovely flowers had begun to spring. There came a change in the overtones of* medieval ' and words associated with it. There w’as one literary connection, however, in w'liich potliiquc was used without a sneer : coupled with the word cragedic it meant merely ‘ medieval \ or as \w might say, ‘ prc-classical ’ ; so that traqcdie gorliiqtic W 3 i*i a mystere.”

Robert B. Heilman lias pointed out, in Modem Language Notes (1942), that Fielding’s description of tlie Palace of Death in A Jountcy frm this World to the Next, WTitten in 1741-42, lays stress on “ the structure of the Gothic order ” which was “ vast beyond imagination By ‘ Gothic order ’ Fielding meant die Gothic architecture producing those impres- sions ot vcnerablcness, vastness, and gloominess, wlii^'li arc often loosely designated by ‘ Gothic While writing Torn Jones (1746-48) Fielding’s disposition towards Gothic is apparent in the description of^ All worthy’s house :


The Gothic style c>f building could produce notiiing nobler. . . . There was an air of grandeur in it tliat struck you widi awe, and rivalled die beauties of the best Grecian architecture.

He continues widi a description of the surroundings, by telling us of


12


THE GOTHIC FLAME


hill, groyc, cascade, lake, river, on the right of which appeared “ one of the towers of an old ruined abbey, grown over with ivy ”

BJehard Hurd, in his Letters on Chivalry and Romance (1762), not only claims recognition for Gothic art, but actually suggests that Gothic mannen were superior. He fairly strew's his pages widi expressions like ‘ Godiic ages ‘ gothic warriors \ * gotliic manners ‘ gothic enchant- ments ’, ‘ gothic talcs ‘ gothic poems *, and ‘ gothic romances The word ‘ Gothic with all that it implies, ceased to be a synonym for

  • barbarous ' and ‘ violent ' and became associated with the poetry and

chivalry of the Middle Ages : thus ‘ Gothic ’ assumed a second meaning, ‘ the medieval “ The same term (Gotliic) was used witli both eulogistic and disparaging coimotations.” In English the real history of ‘ Gothic ’ begins with the eighteenth century, when “ the word seems to have three meanings, all closely allied — barbarous, medieval, supernatural”. A growing taste for Gotliic was but one symptom of a great change of ideas, which evolved into the Romantic movement.

It was left for Walpole to launch * Gothic ’ on its way as a critical term in prose fiction. This literary impulse, if anytliing, can be called the true starting-point of the Gothic Revival.” His archaeological studies fostered his medieval interests. “ It is impossible to peruse either the letters or the romances of this remarkable man without being struck by the unmistakable evidence which they contain of his Mediaeval predilections. His Castle of Otranto was perhaps the first modern work of fiction which depended for its interest on the incidents of a chivalrous age, and it thus became the prototype of that class of novel wliich was afterwards imitated by Mrs. Ratclift’e {sic) and perfected by Sir Walter Scott. The feudal tyrant, the venerable ecclesiastic, the forlorn but virtuous damsel, the castle itself, with its moats and drawbridge, its gloomy dungeons and solemn corridors, are all derived from a mine of interest which has since been worked more efficiently and to better profit. But to Walpole must be awarded the credit of its discovery and first employment,” says Eastlake. The thought of * Gothic ’ brought to liis mind not only the dark ages ” of superstition and church domination, but also the days of chivalry and die Crusades. And he transplanted these ideas in The Castle oj Otranto, ”Thc castle was gothic; tc.ror and .superstition were gothic — chivalry and the Middle Ages were gothic ; . . . and at die head of everything Gothic, with his ghost story, and the house at Straw^berry, stood Horace Walpole.”

To Walpole belongs the credit for liaving reversed die popular


FOOTPRINTS AND SHADOWS : THE * GOTHIC ' SPIRIT I3

conception of the word ‘ Gothic \ He changed it from an adjective of opprobrium into an epithet of praise. “ The epithet ‘ Gothic ’ became not only a . . . trope for the ‘ free but also in religious discussion a trope for all those spiritual, moral, and cultural values contained for the eighteenth century in the single word ‘ enlightenment

Otranto opened the flood-gate of ‘ Gothic ’ talcs. Barbauld’s Sir Bertrand (1775) is a ‘ gothic’ story, and the author spoke of the ‘ old Gothic (medieval) romance * in contrast to oriental talcs. Miss Clara Reeve’s The Old English Baron (1777) is ‘ a gothic story, being a picture of Gotluc times and manners These gotln'c novels aimed at a medieval atmosphere by the use of medieval background — haunted castles, dungeons and lonely towers knights in armour and magic — but to an average reader the outstanding feature of these tales was not the Gothic setting but supernatural incidents. Imitators and followers of Walpole gradually acccAtuated the spectral side of the genre, and the original medieval tone and setting of the romances faded away tn Lewis’s The Monk (1796) and Ciodwin’s Caleb Williams (1794). But the name

  • Gothic ’ remained stamped indelibly upon the type even when the

original occasion for its use had vanished. The term lost all connotation of ‘ medieval *, and became a synonym for the grotesque, ghasdy, and violently supernatural or superhuman in fiction. Gothic romance became the romance of the supernatural, and ‘ Gotliic * identified itself with ghastly. And thus tiie third meaning ‘ supernatural ’ grew out of ‘ gothic ’ as a by-product of ‘ barbarous ’ and ‘ medieval

In 1798 Nathan Drake wrote in a miscellany Literary Hours : “ The most enlightened mind, involuntarily acKnowlcdgcs the power of Gothic agency a plirase in wliich ‘ Gothic ’ unequivocally is ‘ super- natural Six years later Drake again employs the term ‘ Gothic * imagination for “ wild or ghastly imagination ”, In this way, a subject considered not wordiy of attention, and disposed of contemptuously as ‘ barbarous as abounding with false provocation of enchantment and prodigies ”, suited to gratify only a vitia«.i'd and uncultivated taste, gradually regained through die efforts of scholars, editors; antiquaries, some of its lost prestige, and the stigma of inferiority was taken away. “ The term ‘ Gothic ’ emerged not as a ?yiivinyin for barbarism but enshrining the highest moral and spiritual values.” It evolved ” from a race-term to a sneering word, from a sneering word to a cool adjective, from a cool adjective to a cliche in cridcism

Professor Ker pointed qut that the first appeal of the Romantic


THE GOTHIC FLAME


1 +

Revival was primarily architectural. “ The Middle Ages have influenced . . . literature more strongly through their architecture than through their poems. Gothic churches and old castles have exerted a medieval literary influence on many authors. . . . The thrill of mystery and wonder came much more from Gothic buildings than from Morte d* Arthur*' It is not surprising diat the more cultured and prosperous persons diverted themselves by reconstructing Gothic romance in bricks and mortar. Horace Walpole built his casdc and formed his collections at Strawberry Hill long before he wrote Otranto. But, as Ruskin says in The Stones of Venice^ pointed arclies do not constitute Gothic, nor vaulted roofs, nor flying buttresses, nor grotesque sculptures ; but all or some of these things widi them, when diey come together so as to have life And it is interesting to trace out the characteristics of this grey, shadowy, many-pinnaclcd image of the Gothic spirit, whose characteristics mani- fested themselves in one form or other in the novels of the*latc eighteenth century, and justify the tide ‘ Gothic novel \

The Savageness of Gothic stands for wildness of thought and rough- ness of work, and impresses upon us the image of a race full of wolfish life, and an imagination as wild and wayward as the nordicrn seas. The darkened air, the pile of buttresses and rugged walls uiicouthly hewn out of rocks over wild moors, speak of the savagcncss of dieir massy architec- ture, which was rude, ponderous, stiff, sombre and depressing. “ Un- fortunately it is impossible to show a smooth interaction, or even a close parallel between eightccnth-ccntury Gotliic novels and buildings. The Gothicness, so to speak, of the romances consisted in gloom, wildness, and fear.” The Gothic architecture, its pinnacles and fretted surfaces, the intricacy of its broken shadows, appealed to the rebel minds of the mid-eighteenth century, who saw in die Godiic art the grandeur of wildness and die novelty of extravagance which were originally the inspiration of Gothic artists. Even in the century of its origin, the pointed arch, according to John Harvey, “ stood for . . . reawakened, quickened life, ... the eager acceptance of new ideas, and for the establish- ment of a new conception of humanity, a new ideal In die eighteenth century it stimulated imagination ; its bulk and variety made the pious wonder at an age which could propitiate God so lavishly. ” The ruin, the brisding silhouette, the flowing untidy lines of piled masonry or creeper-clad rocks became, in terms of emotion, * sensibility * and an elegant disequilibrium of the spirit,” says Michael Sadlcir.

Critics have commented upon the intimate and pregnant connection


FOOTPRINTS AND SHADOWS ! THE * GOTHIC ’ SPIRIT ^ I5

between the Gothic architecture and Gothic romance, but haw not yet attempted any analysis of this closer and deeper relationship. Pcrliaps an intuitive perception of Gothic art, and a knowledge of the general aspirations of Gothic man is necessary to explain this relationship.

Professor Worringcr, in Form in Gothic (1927), precisely establishes a connection between Gothic proper and the Gothic spirit at large. The external world liad pressed upon primitive man with obscure breathings of mystery, its very atmosphere had tingled witli apprehension of the unknown. Froni this uncertain, phenomenal universe he was impelled to seek the spiritual assurance which lies in absolute values. He felt that surely some awful power controlled all things to him unpredictable, and in his metaphysical anxiety made clumsy approaches towards religion, which was for him a propitiation for his own safety. Life became secure for the Classical man ; beautiful and joyful, but lacking the energy of fear ; well d<fviscd but shallow, liaving no splendour nor depth of mystery. “ For him the world is no longer something strange, in- accessible, and mystically great, but a living completion of his own ego.” The veil of Maya, before which primeval man trembled, and which Augustan man forgot, was drawn aside by the inquisitive spirit of the Gotliic novelists.

A work of Renaissance or Classical art often excites a feeling of elevated beauty, and an exalted notion of the human self; but the Gothic aichitecturc makes the beholder abashed with awe. By making us aware of our nullity, it exalts us by suggesting that life maintains its greatness thereby. “ The Greek art is beautiful.” says Coleridge in General Character o f the Gothic Literature and -ir/, “ when I enter a Greek church, my eye is charmed, and my mind elated ; I feel exalted and proud that I am a man. But the Gothic art is sublime. On entering a cathedral, I am filled with devotion and w 4 th awe ; T am lost to the actualities that surround me, and my whole being expands into the infinite ; earth and air, nature and art, all swell up into eternity, and the only sensible impression left is ‘ that la.M nothing ! * ” A Gothic cathedral seems filled with the pervading immanence of some great spiritual power. Herbert Read expressed it, in Contemporary British Art^ thus, “ you arc in the presence of a unity which is spiritual and your feelings are roused by a sense of beauty ”.

In an ecstasy of comniunion the Gothic spirit makes humble obeisance before the great Unknown ; fear becomes acceptance, and senseless existence fraught with a <^rk, unfathoiiiablc, sacred purpose. The


i6


THE GOTHIC FLAME


Gothic attitude relates the individual with the infinite Universe, as do great religions and mystic philosophy. Such a mind grasps the infinite and the finite, the abstract and the concrete, the whole and the nothing- ness as one : and from the tension betvreen die human and divine is kindled the votive glow that ever contemplates the world of Gothic mystery.

The great religious painters and sculptors and architects of massive and intricate cathedrals express the subtle interrelations of this attitude. It is much like the concern of the saint who tries to touch the still centre of intersection of the timeless 'widi tinic. And when the Gothic novelist attempts the same he remembers the grand design of the cathedrals, and tries to blend into liis novel the same volatile ingredients of fear and sorrow, wonder and joy, the nothingness and infinitude of man. The reader is terror-stricken and lost ; carried away and redeemed ; found and made whole in the same manner. The Gothic novcHs a conception as vast and complex as a Gotliic cathedral. One finds in diem the same sinister overtones and the same solemn grandeur.

Edmund Burke wrote in his Sublime and Beautiful : “ Hardly anything can strike the mind with its greatness which docs not make some sort of approach towards infinity.’’ Classical architecture stresses static beauty, the Gothic voices energetic strength : a Gothic catliedral arouses die same sublime sensations as horrid rocks and savage prospects, and inspires romantic devotion and reverential awe. “ One must have taste to be sensible of the beauties of Grecian architecture, one only wants passions to feel Gothic,” says Walpole in Anecdotes of Paintiiifi. “ A Gothic cathedral expresses aspiration, and a Greek temple satisfied completeness,” comments H. A. Beers in A History of English Romanticism in the Eighteenth Century, Sir Herbert Read has rightly called the Gothic cathedral ” transcendentalism in stone ”. ” If we cast a glance at the Gothic

cathedral ”, he says, ” we sec only a kind of petrified, vertical movement from which every law of giavity seems to be eliminated ... an enormously strong upward movement of energies in opposition to the natural down- ward weight* of die stone. . . . Weight docs not appear to exist ; we sec only free and uncontrolled energies striving lieavcnward. It is evident that stone is here entirely released from its material weight, chat it is only the vehicle of a non-sensuous, incorporeal expression.”

Moreover, Gothic architecture combined in itself the greatest variety of appeals : it had about it “ a gloomy grandeur ”, and an atmosphere and colour which evoked ” terror and suspense and gloom ” Gothic


FOOTPRINTS AND SHADOWS ! THE * GOTHIC ' SPIRIT


17


gloom was one of the conventional descriptive phrases for characterizing its effect upon the mind.” The gloom and “ a dim religious light ” touched the imagination witli impressiveness and solemnity ; it evoked sensations of awe, and played upon that ingrained primitive element of natural and superstitious fear. The ingredient of fear creeps in only as a by-product of the union of Gothic witli gloom, giving Terror a dose association with Gothic architecture, which in its turn became the characteristic atmosphere of the Gothic novel which contains dements directly associate® with Gothic architecture : castles, convents, subter- ranean \aults, grated dungeons and ruined piles. Inspired by this Gothic w'orld of art, it found sinister properties in the natural world.

Later Gothic machinery developed logically as an intensification of the earlier variety. For the whole paraphernalia of a terror novel is designed to continually quicken the imagination with weird appre- hensions. Soofi the castle and the ccnivent were joined by the cavern ; the Gothic tyrant by banditti ; the vaults and galleries by dark forests at midnight ; and the scene of languorous amours became the haunt of howling spectres. Gothic villains pursued heroines outside the walls of the castle into the surrounding foresr, whose gloom was deepened by the shades of night, and where lurked the banditti. Thunder and lightning hurled their terrors against ilic affrighted heroine’s soul. The banditti frequented gloomy caverns with dank Avails, secret exits and entrances. To all thii were added deA’ih and hlack magic, evil monks, the tribunal of the Inquisition, secret societies, enchanted wands, magic mirrors, and phospliorcsccnt glow. Thus with the Schauer-Roniantiks terrors became more dynamic, animated with the one purpose of giving a succession of nervous shocks. They speciali2ed in the ghastly effects of liorrid crimes and death embraces.

Imaginacioii inspires the Gothic mind *'0 carry itself back to the past and observe the artistic effect of the truly mysterious. The cadiedrals or castles look like spectres of ancient times, and permit indulgence in a melancholic nostalgia. According to Kc-^nc^’h Clark, “ Gothic was exotic ; if not remote in space, like chitwiscm\ it was remote in time.” Besides the ‘ gloom ’ and * delightful horrors ’ of a castle, there are a number of pleasing elements linked vnth a Gothic mansion. Castles are traditionally associated with childhood storiis of magic, and the Gothic romances arc themselves in the nature of adult fairy-tales. Moreover, an antique edifice satisfied the craving for something strange, emotional, and mysterious. Antiquity^ inspires us with veneration, almost with a


I8


THE GOTHIC FLAME


rdigious awe, and the Gothic mind loves to brood over the hallowed glory of the past.

The element of terror is inseparably associated with the Gothic castle, which is an image of power, dark, isolated, and impenetrable. No light penetrating its impermeable walls, high and strengthened by bastions, it stands silent, lonely and sublime, frowning defiance on all who dare to invade its solitary reign. Through its dim corridors now prowl armed bandits ; its halls ring with hideous revelry or anon are silent as the grave. Even when presented in decay, thi castle is majestic and threatening : a spot where we encounter the mysterious and demoniac beings of romance.

The grandeur of these relics recall the scenes of ancient chivalry and whispers a moral of departed greatness, inspiring us with a feeling of melancholy awe and sacred enthusiasm. It awakens musings on those who lived there in former times : if those walls could Sf5cak, they could tell strange things, for they have looked upon sad doings. It is an emblem of life and death, and the ruinous walls seem still to echo tremors of life. One feels that in the lialls but late the banquet revelled, or the spectre of justice threatened, where the hurrying foot passed by and tlic huih of voices rose upon the now silent air. This ruined edifice is the symbol of joy and mourning and human passions, of hopes and fears, triumphs and villainy, of the extremes of princely grandeur and domestic misery, of supernatural power and mortal weakness, the embodiment of all emotions and themes displayed in the Gothic novels.

Thus the castle itself is the focal point of Gothic romance. ‘ Udolpho ’ is situated in the Appenincs ; the incidents of The Romance of the Forest take place in a deserted abbey buried in the depths of the woods ; the mysteries of The Italian are set in the background of the cloister of the Black Penitents. A number of Gothic novels set their scenes in convents among the hills, governed by the Draconian rule of some proud abbess, where the terraces overhang vast precipices slugged with larch and darkened with gigantic pine ; whose silences arc disturbed only by the deep bell that knolls to midnight office and prayer. These authors were drawn by the mystery of moiustic dwellings, by their remoteness and inscrutabihty. The enveloping monastic garb of the swart black cowl or pallid Carmelite habiliments, insinuated perfervid imagining;. Its glamour was mixed with a delicious fear and entrancing dread which remains an essential ingredient of the Gothic novel.

From the castle, the Gothic novel derives its usual accessories :


FOOTPRINTS AND SHADOWS : THE * GOTHIC ’ SPIRIT I9

massive doors swaying ponderously on rusty hinges, invariably closing with a resounding crash ; dark eerie galleries ; crumbling staircases, decaying chambers and mouldering roofs, tolling bells or stalking pliantoms. Curious heroines or rightful heirs explore the deserted wings where they arc able to solve the mystery of a murder perpetrated by the ancestors of the current usurper. The deserted wings may also typify some of the unexplored impulses of the nascent Romantic Movement, where the castle stands as a central image of the lonely personality.

While the passive agent of terror is the castle, the active agent of terror is the Gothic villain. He was born as adjunct to the ruinous castle, and his nature is dictated by liis origin. His function is to frighten the heroines, to pursue them through the vaults and labyrinths of the castle, to harass them at every turn.

The Gothic novels present no restful human shades of grey : the characters arc rnostly either endowed with sombre, diabolical villainy or pure, angelic virtue. Interfering fathers, brutal in threats, oppress the hero or heroine into a loathed marriage ; officials of the Inquisition or the characters of abbots and abbess arc imbued with fiendish cruelty, often gloating in Gothic diabolism over their tortures. The pages of these works arc crimsoned with gore and turn with a ghostly flutter.

Besides the tyrant who inherited it, the primary source of terror was the ruin itself. Round the nucleus of a ruin, die Gothic novelists built up such elaborate macliinery as accorded with their mood and furthered the purposes of mystery, glooii ', and terror. This convenrion of ‘ ruin * was not a new thing, for the preceding Classical entinisiasts had imbibed from Italy and Greece a keen appreciation of antique survivals. By adorning their parks with artificial ruins, says Michael Sadlcir, “ they wanted to perpetuate in English meadows the glories ot a vanished civilization

The year 1764 saw three symbols in an architectural ruin. Hurd interpreted it through the pages of Spenser, as a golden age of chivalry, of splendour, and noble manners ; die antiquaries valued it as the remnant of an historical epoch, providing wide scope for research ; but die large audience of the Gotliic novel saw in it die s /mbol of a dark, barbarous, and superstitious age. Finally die appeal of the ruin like a towering crag contributed to the conception of the ‘ picturesque which was an essential of the Gothic spirit. Ruins w'crc eminently picturesque for the Gothic writer, surpassingly lovely in decay, as die dark ivy clambered over the crumbling architecture, shutting out the light, and adding to the general gloom, weeds and wild flowers waving along the roofless aisles.


20


THE GOTHIC FLAME


Meditations upon such scenes fed the delicious sensibility of the Gothic enthusiast. The Schauer-Romantik was implicit even in these inclina- tions, for ivy is as much an accessory of inorganic decay as worms arc of organic.

To these authors a ruin is not only a thing of loveliness but also an expression of Nature’s power over the creations of man : the minds “ which dwelt gladly on the impermanence of human life and effort, . . . sought on every hand symbols of a pantheist pliilosophy ”. Ruins arc proud effigies of sinking greatness, the visual and static representations of tragic mystery, “ a sacred relic, a memorial, a symbol of infinite sadness, of tendcrest sensibility and regret”. They express the fundamental, simple truth stated by Mrs. Radcliffe in Gaston de Blondcville :

Generations have beheld us and passed away, as you now behold us, and shall pass away. They have diought of the generations before their time, as you now think of them, and as future ones shall think of you. The voices, that revelled beneath us, the pomp of power, the magnificence of wealth, the grace of beauty, die joy of hope, die interests of high passion and of low pursuits have passed from this scene for cvci ; yet we remain, the spectres of departed years, and shall remain, feeble as we are, when you, who now gaze upon us, shall have ceased to be in this world.

Such scenes evoke a sensation of .sublimity rising into terror, a suspension of mingled astonishment and awe. In The Romance of the Torcst, she writes :

These walls where once superstition lurked, and austerity anticipated an earthly purgatory, now tremble over the mortal remains of the beings who reared them.

The love of natural objects combined with a depth of religioas feeling constitutes a part of the Gothic spirit. It stresses scenic effect rather than detail, and establishes a concord in literature between man’s mood and tlie predominant aspect of nature. These novelists present both scenery and wcather^isubjcctively : the Gothic villains plan dark, unlioly murders against a background of black clouds, hellish thunder, and lurid lightning. Such a method is on a par with the melodramatic treatment of character. The agitation of the elements is made to accord with the agitate d life of man ; never did a blast roar or a gleam of lightning Hash that was not connected in the imagination of someone with a calamity to be dreaded, with the fate of the living, or die destination of the dead. The tints of


21


FOOTPRINTS AND SHADOWS : THE * GOTHIC ' SPIRIT

an autumnal sky or the shade of die autumnal woods — every dim and hallowed glory is indefinably combined with recollections.

There are scenes m Gothic novels that stand out benevolent, and great — ^powerful, yet silent in their power — ^progressive and certain in their end, steadfast and fuU of a noble repose. D. C. Tovey expresses it in Gray and his Friends. . . . “ Not a precipice, not a torrent, not a cliff, but is pregnant with religion and poetry.” “ The sounding cataract ” haunts them like a passion, “ the tall rock, the mountain, and the deep and gloomy woods, their colour and their forms ” are to them “ an appetite The view of these objects lifts the soul to their great Audior, and we contemplate widi a feeling almost too vast for humanity — the awfulness of His nature in the grandeur of His works. The horrid rocks and roaring torrents, “ raise the imagination to sublime enthusiasm But one docs not get only a religions exultation, one feels also the deep regenerating perwer of nature.

The Gothic mind is rarely content to perceive merely the features of die landscape ; it sees them afi'ected by atmospheric conditions. Its spirit revels in the fierce howling winds, portentous stormy clouds, and the dark wild imagery ot nature, so that it finds rest in that which presents no end, and derives satisfaction from that which is indistinct. Most of the scenes arc wrapped in profound darkness, occasionally pierced by a glint of moonliglit or by the faint glimmer of some taper. The effect of light and darkness is contrasted in the following way : approacliing night plunges the wide irehes in gloom until the moonbeams darting tlirongh the emblazoned ca.scments tinge the fretted roofs and massy pillars with a thousand various shades of light and colour. Sometimes one part of the hall is plunged in pitch-blai k darkness, while the other is lit up in festive light. Different sounds are heard in the encircling gloom : they may be unearthly yells or half-stilled groans.

A supernatural effect is built up by the accumulation of successive details ; desolate scenery, tempests, screeching owds, hovering bats, exciting events in burial vaults or on dark, windswTpr moors ; melancholy birds circle portentously over dilapidated battlements. The ‘ gothic ’ scenes arc set in sober twilight or under die soft radiance of die moon in some ruined abbey, or half-demolished tomb, or a vaulted arch WTeathed widi ivy ; wc listen to the uncanny murmur of trees in some lonely romantic glen, w'hile a broken streamlet dashes down in the distance.

The effective romantic setting, the continuous spell of horror, the colour of mclanclioly, awe, wd supersdtion : all these impulses of the


22


THE GOTHIC FLAME


Gothic spirit first converged in Walpole, who gave them form, coherence, and the language of the Gothic Novel He had lived entirely in a world of ‘ Gothic ’ fantasy. All over England stood ruined monasteries and castles, neglected and crumbling. Traces of paint were still visible on their carvings, while broken figures of saints and portraits of antique knights and damsels still adorned their broken windows. Their arrogant colours had not yet faded, and they still glowed with something of their original fire. In cathedrals and castles and ancient folios lay unexplored treasures of Gothic ready to be plundered. Walpole’s atitiquarian interest in this “ Gothic world became a passion wliich influenced the taste of a century : the new route he struck out paved a road for men of brighter talents. “ Other and far greater hands than Walpole’s sowed the furrows he had driven ; yet to his credit be it recorded that it was he who broke the first clod,” says Dorothy M. Stuart in her book Horace Walpole ( 1 927).

The spirit of nascent Romanticism first shone faintly in his whims and fancies. His genealogical and antiquarian studies led his fancy into ‘ Gothic ’ paths ; and his deeply implanted ‘ Gothic ’ instincts flowered in The Castle of Otranto (1764), the parent of all goblin talcs. Strawberry Hill, which gave the vital spark to the first Gothic novel, wa^ neither affectation nor triviality, but the ruling passion of his life. ” It was built to please my own taste, and in some degree to realize my own visions.” It fast assumed the splendours of The Castle of Otranto. At times his house would lose for him its air of studied artificiality. In hours of reverie, on long summer afternoons while the sun glittered on the Thames and splashed the colours of his painted glass windows ; or in his solitary musings late at night, when the moonlit dew lay heavy on the daisies on Strawberry meadow — die flimsv materials that surrounded him : the fretted wood, the fine traceries, the painted windows, assumed new dimensions and propensities. TJie narrow staircases and intricate chambers of Strawberry swelled into die echoing vaults and sombre galleries of Otranto. “ These Gothic charms are in truth more striking to the imagination than the classical. The magicians of Ariosto, Tasso, and Spenser -have more powerful spells than those of Apollonius, Seneca, and Lucan. . . . Who that secs the sable plumes waving on the prodigious helmet in the casde of Otranto, and the gigantic arm on the top of the great staircase, is not more affected than with the paintings of Ovid and Apuleius ? ”

These wild and wondrous tales were a distinct manifestation of the Gothic mind and spirit.


C H A P I E R II


THE BACKGROUND: ORIGINS AND CROSS-CURRENTS

The Gothic novel derives its inspiration from a turbulent confluence of many sources. The classical mode was being rejected for the ebullience and more adventurous questing of a new romanticism, and by the mid- eighteenth century ‘ gotliicism * recommended itself to public esteem. Since the second quarter of the eighteen di century, men of talent in England had been revising their attitude towards * nature * and * feeling In literature, however, the change was gradual : first, poetry assumed a deepening colour of melancholy and frequented dark cemeteries liaunted by the shades of the departed. Whereas the Augustans had dared not step outside the sparkling life of their trim and brilliant salons, death, loneliness, and ruinous profusion were a familiar and fascinating abode for the Gothic mind,

Robert Arnold Aubin, in a small article in Hart/ard Studies and Notes in Philology and Literature (1935), has finely summed up the diflFcrent facets of die Gothic Revival. “ The chief influence leading to the revival . . . were the picturesque, chinoiscrii\ antiquarianisni, ruin and graveyard sentiment.” Gothic was found acceptable by a literary analogy, and by the feeling that die barbarous mode was actually more natural than the Palladian. Dr. Rcinhard Haferkorn has analysed die effect of Gothic architecture and ruins upon the poets : Dr. Elizabeth Manw'aring has traced the influence of Claude Lorrain and Salvator Rosa on the general taste of the period ; and Dr. Amy Reed has sought out the earliest mamfestations of romantic melancholy among the elegists who anticipated Gray.

The Gothic Revival was a literary movement besides being a move- ment in plastic arts. It derived inspiration not merely from medieval romantic literature but — fostered by scholarly interest in* archaeology and sentimental delight in decay — also from the more conspicuous image of the architectural ruin. Although Englishmen of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries deprecated Gothic architecture, they unwittingly constructed buildings in that mode, while medieval cathedrals drew an occasional vague appreciation. Funeral elegies continued to admit traditional Gothic structures to the mortuary setting.

»3


24


THE GOTHIC FLAME


There was a renewal of antiquarian interest in the Middle Ages and ancient poetry, and in objects imprinted with the marks of time, such as collections of old coins, suits of armour, illuminated missals, manuscript romances, black letter ballads, old tapestries, and wood carvings. Thus the despised Dark Ages began to assume the sentimental glow of adven- turous, Utopian centuries. It was not until about T760 that writers began to gravitate decidedly towards the Middle Ages. The fifty years following the year 1760 are characterized by a renewed interest in things written between 1100 and 1650.

This revival is closely related to the growing taste for landscape painters like Claude Lorraiii, Salvator Rosa, and Nicolas Poussin. Fantastic melancholy remains of old buildings adorn their landscapes, and “ ruins and the Gothic arc absorbed in the sentimental tendencies of the day. It is in this time that die pseudo-gothic style of Walpole, Beckford, and others commences.” Earlier, Locke had drawn attendon to the importance of sense experience, and Berkeley emphasized the value of perception especially in liis Essay towards a Nl'W Theory of Vision. Addison, in a series of essays On the Pleasures of the Imaffination, popularized the belief that visual images are a powerful force in literature. These theories Jointly stimulated new mtcrest in die ‘ picturesque

A. O. Lovejoy, in The First Gothic Revival and Return to Nature^ says : “ The earliest Gothic Revival . . . had for its herald and precursor the new fashion in the designing of ardficial landscapes and the new liking for wildness, boldness, broken con toms, and boundless prospects in natural landscape.” Rousseau introduced Ins new conception of Nature in the later eighteenth century and it soon became an elaborate cult, a self-conscious worship. His admiration for Nature in her more disordered and cataclysmic forms demanded those wild and dynamic contours that suggest the Titanic frenzy of primal energy. The early eighteenth century had conceived Nature in terms of marble fountains, trim hedges, and gravelled paths. To Rousseau Nature was not a pattern but a presence : a vague and vast identity dimly astir wdth life, and in some dark fashion able to participate in the moods of man. English gardens about this time began to take on the appearance of wildness, whose freedom, variety, and irregularity was a fresh stimulus to explore the Gothic ages.

The Gothic novel drawls its plots, its motifs, its ghostly effects from various sources : the supernatural realm of the ballad, and all that was mysterious and eerie in epic and the drama. The traditional lore of old.


THE BACKGROUND : ORIGINS AND CROSS-CURRENTS 2 $

heathen Europe, the richness and splendour of its mythology and supersti- tions, its usages, rites, and songs, in short everything wild and extravagant, was rediscovered by scholars about the middle of the eighteenth century and was immediately recognized as a source of powerful material by contemporary writers. Consequently the late eighteenth-century generation readily imbibed the atmosphere of Ossian and Rousseau, enjoyed Percy’s Rrliques, shuddered at Mrs. Radcliffe’s romances, and relished The Sorrows of Werther,

The transition in taste was gradual and the following works helped ro bring about die change. The brothers Joseph and Thomas Warton were bodi impassioned supporters of medievalism : Joseph Warton (1722-1800) delighted in portraying solitude, thick woods, ruined castles, and twilight landscapes ; Thomas Warton (1728-90), in his Observations on the Taerie Qticcne (1754), pleaded for die acceptance of the imagination and a new appreciation of Spenser.

All article in The Adventurer of 1752 compares old romances to epic poems with equal appreciation. But Hurd’s Letters on Chivalry and Romance (1762) was the first conscious and sustained defence of the Crothic : “ May there not be something in the Gothic Romance peculiarly suited to the views of a genius and to the ends of poetry ? And may not the philosophic moderns liavc gone too far in their perpetual ridicule and contempt of it ? ”

The primitive mystical past was resurrected primarily by Maepherson’s Ossian (1760-63), replete with all it:, spectres and shades. He assembled genuine legendary material, and believed “ more stories of giants, enchanted castles, dwarfs, and palfreys in die Highlands, than in any country in Europe Ossianic poetry contributed a barbaric richness of coloui, misty melancholy, and an air of dim and sweeping vastiicss :

Autumn is dark on the mountains ; grey mist rests on die liilk. The wliirlwind is heard on the heath. Dark rolls the river through the narrow plain. A tree stands lone on the hill and marks die grave of Comial. The leaves whirl round with the wind, aiul strew the giaves of the dead. At times arc seen here the ghosts of the deceased when the musm§ hunter alone sttdks slowly over the heath.

All this powerful strength of description induces a sublimity of sentiment such is may h.i'X inspired Mrs. RadcliiFc. And indeed the later writers of Godiic romance showed the influence of Ossian in their ornate language and moonlit scenery. Ossian’s note is in harmony witli Rousseau’s dictum of back to Nature in Prance and with the Sturm und G.F.— 4


26


THE GOTHIC FLAME


Drang in Germany. Goethe’s appreciation of its significance is evident in Wcrthcr’s fondness for this 'wdd poetry.

Besides Maepherson, Percy appealed widely to a growing love of the strange and marvellous. His Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765) has prefixed to it an Essay on the Ancient Minstrels which embodied original research into ancient customs, folk lore, and the Middle Ages. Percy recommended his little volume by saying that “ the poetry of the Scalds chiefly displays itself in images of terror His ballad world abounds in supernatural wonders : the spirit of a forsaken beloved visits her false lover at midnight ; there are witches, fairies, omens, dreams, spells, cncliantnicnts. Here tragic passions of pity and fear find expression : love is strong as dcatli, and jealousy cruel as the grave. There are in- cidents of primitive savagery, treachery, violence, cruelty, and revenge, balanced against incidents of honour, courage, fidelit^j, suffering, and devotion. The increasing love of chivalry and Gothic architecture, and the tremendous impetus which Percy gave to ballad literature, were two formidable streams that gathered speed and size to flow into the Gotliic epoch.

The literature of the Middle Ages was deeply imbued with the macabre and its scenes were full of sinister and terrible import. Those were the days of die Sabbat and the witch ; old chronicles narrate deeds more horrible and facts more grim dian any writer of fiction could weave. The supernatural of the legends which passed from one genera- tion to another had not lost its power to thrill and alarm, and slowly worked its W’ay into literature. A widespread belief in witches and spirits lived on into the eighteenth ccntuIy^ and there was also a steadily intensifying interest in questions of life, death, and immortality ; angels, demons, vampires ; the occult, magic, astrology ; dreams, omens, and oracles.

Ghosts were believed in as proofs of immortality, and books such as Glaiivillc’s and More’s were favourite reading, even in the late eighteenth ccntuIy^ Joseph Glanvillc’s SadJucisnius Triitwphatns, or a Full and plain evidence concerning Witches and Apparitions (1681) was a popular w'ork running into five editions before 1726, and was a favourite book of ‘Monk’ Lewis’s mother. An earlier work by John l^ce, A True and Faithful Relation of what passed for many years, etc. (1659), which is based on the author’s supposed communication with the spirits, graced the bookshelf of Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill. Stray remarks by Browne and Burton, and cvai Addison’s Spectator No.* no, credit the supernatural,


TIIL BACKGROUND : ORIGINS AND CROSS-CURRENTS 27

as also did Defoe’s preface to Essay on the History and Reality of Apparitions

(1727)-

Obviously people believed in the supernatural more then than now and were given to telling of ghost stories and folk-tales. Leisure combined with great open fires was conducive to the romances of shudders, which again encouraged the creation of Gothic romance.

Some of the crude scientific speculations which occupied the eighteenth-century mind arc also reflected in the substance of Gothic romances. Novels of Godwin, Shdlcy, and Maturin hinge upon the theme of the elixir of life, i^athvk contains alchemy, sorcery, and other sLipcnuciiral sciences, while Mrs. Dacre’s Zofloya, the Diaholical Moor, performs experiments in hypnotism, telepathy, and satanic chemistry.

It was Milton’s early poem, 1 1 Pcnscroso, tlmt with Its love of “ twilight groves ”, cathedral architecture, and contemplative melancholy, pene- trated deep intA the spirit of ‘ graveyard * and ‘ night ’ poets. Even the opening lines of Pope’s Eloisa to Abelard contain such nuances of Gothic as might be paralleled in Mrs. Radcliffe. This poem tells of the hopeless and guilty love of a nun fast dying of melancholy in her cell among desohitc crags and pines. The impressive setting of the story is purely romantic and gothic in character.

“Within the decade from 1742-51 there flourished tliat particular kind of contemplative and melancholy verse known as ‘ graveyard poetr)' says Calvin Daniel Yost, Ji., in an article entitled The Poetry oj the Gentleman s Mafrazit e (Philadelphia. 1936). The Graveyard School was a blend of the earlier luneial elegy and the eighteen tli-ccntury contemplative verse. It combined the general philosopliic and religious conceptions of the latter w'lth the details of .iie charnel house and physical dissolution common to the former in the seventeenth and early eighteenth century. Thus it was a synthesis of elements already familiar to readers. The terror of the tomb h.id been vnvidly depicted by Donne and Francis Quarles in the early seventeenth century, and in the mid-century by Thomas Jordan and Henry Vaughan. The broadside idcgy witnessed to a popular taste for this type of literature v/liere gruesonlt corruption was made to prcacii that “ All is Vanity

Kenneth Clark, in The Gothic Revival (first published 1950), says :

“ The Gothic novelists were the natural successors to the graveyard poets, and nearly all die paraphernalia of graveyard p<^ctry . . . reappear in die novels.” Common elements of diis poetry are melancholy, subjective tone, vague longyigs, together with ghosts, chains, tombs,


28


THE GOTHIC FLAME


veils, that fill the reader with terror and sound a note of mystery and other-worldliness. The usual settings comprise : “ ivy-manded towers “ long-drawn aisles ”, “ fretted vaults ”, cypress and yew, owl and midnight bell, netde-fi:inged gravestones, and dim sepulchral lamps. The tones of despair, the odour of the charnel house, meditations on the shadow of the grave and the mystery of the future, contained the seeds of die Gothic epoch. ” Mutability and decay compelled the deepest tremor in their

emotions They did feel a metaphysical shudder at decay passing from

the microcosm to the macrocosm.” Such was the fear*of death, wliich found expression in poetry when Young, in the years 1742-45, published his Night Thoughts ; and Blair, The Grovc^ in 1743.

Graveyard poetry begins with Pameirs Night Piece on Death (1722), and was continued in Young’s 7 lie Complaint, or Night Thoughts on Life, Death and Immortality (1742), Blair’s The Grave (1743), and Gray’s Elegy (1751)- Parnell’s melancholic Night Piece on Death has echoes of medievalism and is expressive of gloom and darkness suggesting the ugly horrors of death. The works of Young and Blair arc distinguished by a sensadonal touch of supernatural horror, which sets the iniai^ination vibrating like the murky air of night at the hootings of a moping owl. All these poets exploited the ” luxury of woe ” and the “joy of gloom ”, but the Elegy of Gray ” is the masterpiece of this whole II Pcnscroso school, and has summed up for all English readers for all time, the poetry of die tomb ”. To Gray the landscape was not a mere setting ; it was infused with sentiment and character, it had a meaning and personality. His Elegy with its pensive mood and love of twilight is in line with II Penscroso, but its meditation on death and the grave belongs more properly to die school of Blair and Yoiuig.

Collins, in Ode to Evening, introduces twilight and bat, solitude and shade, mossy hermitage, ruined abbey mouldering in moonht glade, ivied comers and curfew bell. Stevenson’s On Seeing a Saill (1749) strikes a ghoulish note characteristic of the Graveyard school. The Rev. Mr. Moore of Cornwall, in A Soliloquy written in a Country Church- yard (1763) i^ ” struck with religious awe and solemn dread ” when he “ views the gloomy mansions of the dead ”. He meditates on a skull and the hollow' sockets, wliich once “ two bright orbs contained J. Cun- nigham’s Elegy on a Pile of Ruins (1770) retains elements of solitude and melanclioly ; its setting is a ruined abbey displaying gothic grandeur, and some rude remains of a casde, inhabited by ravens and rooks.

Even earher, Mallet’s Excursion (1728) contained horrors of the


THE BACKGROUND : ORIGINS AND CROSS-CURRENTS


29


grave in the shape of sighdess skulls and crumbling bones, the fatal plant ivy, and a general setting of decay. In the seventeenth century Burton had suggested in his Cure of Lovc^Melancholy (III — 240) : “ suppose thou saw’st her sick, pale, in consumption, on her death-bed, skin and bones, or now dead, etc.” And in 1729, James Ralph, in Nij^ht, a poem in four books, had summoned mournful thoughts and dreadful horrors amid the black, melancholy gloom of night. In a hard world “ the silent dead are only kind ; so in the dreary vault, in heaps of mouldering bones, they seek rbposc The living await die “ horrid call of Death

The emergence of Gothic fiction coincides roughly with a revival of interest in Elizabethan drama. Between 1709 and 1765 appeared eight editions of Shakespeare ; Massinger’s work, re-edited 1761 ; Dodslcy published twelve volumes of Old Plays, 1744 ; Beaumont and Fletcher’s work, reprinted 1778 ; Middleton’s The Witch^ first published 1778 ; Tourneur’s Thc^ Atheist' s Tragedy, reprinted 1792. Aslilcy H. Thorndike in Tragedy (1908), p. 322, gives a list of thirteen plays revived during

fifteen of Shakespeare’s plays were acted on the London

stages in 1773 alone. One may also see the evidence of Shakespeare’s popularity in D. Nichol Smith’s Shakespeare in the Eij^hteenth Century^ 1928, pp. 25-26. Miss McIntyre finds many Gothic trappings in the horrors and monstrosities of Elizabethan drama, and concludes that “ the novels of Mrs. Radcliflfe and her followers ... are not an expression

of the life and spirit of the Middle Ages They are, rather, an expression

of the life and spirit of ihc Renaissance, as Elizabethan England had interpreted the Renaissance.” Be that as it may, the Gothic novelists certainly share with tlic later Elizabethans a tendency to dwell upon morbid thoughts of death and its sepulci-.ral accompaniments. The cruder presentation of the macabre, physically horrible and rc'.'olting, was a characteristic of Webster, Ford, Marston, and Tourneur, the melancholy fantasies, the Nocturnals and Obsequies of Donne, and the startling convolutions of the Metaphysical school. Reprints ot the works of later Elizabedians, displaying lurid violence and scenes of crime, may well have provided models in theme and stricture for Gothic romance. Certainly there arc striking resemblances in characters, situations, and even in narration.

Some Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatists had devised almost Gothic motifs to feed a taste for terror. Webster s The White Devil introduces a Monk-villaiii in the character of Cardinal Monticelso. Brachiano’s ghost ” in his Icatjier cassock and breeches, boots, and cowl ”,


30


THE GOTHIC FLAME


and a pot of lily-flowers, with skuU in’t ” throws earth on Flamineo, and shows him the skull. A dead hand, corpse-like images, and a masque of mad men in The Duchess of Malfi have intense dramatic potentialities of terror.

The incest-theme and use of banditti occur in Ford’s *Tis Pity she* s a Whore. Tourneur’s world is vibrant with imaginative horror ”, and the luxurious D’Amvillc in The Atheist* s Tragedy is a typical selfish villain. In The Revengers Tragedy Tourneur presents a gruesome scene where the Duke kisses the poisoned lips of the skull presented to him in the dark to clieat his passion. The plays of Beaumont and Fletcher unfold adventures of heroes and heroines through disasters and trials finally meeting a happy end. Roderigo, the oudaw-captain of The Pilgrim^ is very much a Gothic character, and The Knight of Malta has a tendency to dwell upon thoughts of death. Massinger’s The Duke of Milan is a blend of Revenge Tragedy and Tragedy of Blood. Marlowe’s Dr. FaustuSf with its theme of a pact between man and the devil, may have inspired Lewis’s The Monk or Maturiii’s Melmoth the Wanderer.

Shakespeare’s plays provide good examples of the supernatural and weird atmosphere : Hamlet^ Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Richard III have ghosts ; Macbeth and Julius Caesar use prophecies and supernatural portents ; King Lear has a desolate heath and nature at her wildest in thunder, lightning, and rain ; Romeo and Juliet has a whole gamut of horrois : tombs, vaults, sepulchres, bones, and fumes ; Hamlet has stark battlements in the dead of night ; several other plays set their scenes in old castles ; Macbeth has a variety of apparitions, a signal bell, a forest, thunder and lightning, a cavern, a castle, and a midnight murder done to the accompaniment of supernatural sounds. Banquo’s spectre “ with twenty trench’d gashes on his head ”, is a distant precursor of the Schauer-Romantik method.

Inevitably the Gothic novelists sought to shelter themselves under Shakespeare’s authority. According to their professed dicory, they were copying Shakespeare’s magic. Jess M. Stein lias argued that “ Walpole was not centrally influenced by him [Shakespeare] in his own writing.

. . . The influence was . . . mainly incidental and marginal.” Yet Walpole called Milton and Shakespeare ” the only two mortals 1 am acquainted with who ventured beyond the visible diurnal sphere, and preserved their intellects ”. On many occasions he referred to Shakespeare as ” that first genius of the world ”, ” that most subUme genius ”, ” our first of men Towards Shakespeare there was a ” steady rise of idolatory . . •


THE BACKGROUND : ORIGINS AND CROSS-CURRENTS 3 1

throughout the eighteenth century Walpole, in his preface to the second edition of Otranto^ apologized for the coarse pleasantries of his domestic servants by claiming Shakespeare as his model.

The early eighteenth century brought about a revival of Spenser and Milton, who were perhaps the earliest poets to exploit the Gothic mood. Dr. Johnson, in The Rambler for 14 May 1751, wrote : “ The imitation of Spenser ... by the influence of some men of learning and genius seems likely to gain upon die age.” Hurd, in Letter VIII, while analysing the structure and design of The Faerie Qiieene, stresses its Gothic “ unity of design ”, and calls it “ an epic widi Godiic materials ”. " By its subject-matter . . . The Faerie Quecne is Gothic and Spenser therefore rightly based his design on Gothic customs, the feast and the quest.” Rescued from oblivious contempt by Hurd, the influence of Spenser, wliich had been dormant through the Classical period, after having inspired Miltons once more asserted itself as a powerful quickening force. Colour, music, and fragrance stole back into English poetry, and “ golden- tongued romance with serene lute stood at the door of the new Age, waiting for it to open ”. Yet, as in RadclifFc’s Arcadian landscapes, the shadow of terror lurks in Spenser’s beautiful fairyland : in the winding forests, dark caves, mysterious castles, with creatures like Despair or giant Orgoglio, wicked witches or the ghostly Malcgcr who crowned himself with a skull and rode upon a tiger swifter than the wind. King Arthur’s Excalibur and the correspondingly large helmet, may luve given the hint for the Brobdingnagian swnrd and the monstrous helmet in Otranto.

The Gothic novel had innumerable branching roots nourished by the whole of European literature and traJ-.rion. It ” drew much of its vitality from obscure and even sub-litcrai/ sources, though it did not own to them ”. The spell oi’ Italy, her poets and story-tellers, her dark romantic liistory exerted a singular fascination on individual novelists. Frequent translations of French and German works luidoubtedly stimu- lated the development of the Gotliic novel in England. “ Exaggerated sensibility came from France, horrors and Werther-likc sorrows from Germany ; and thr se stirrings and cliangings of spirit acted on a tradition older than Otranto.” Indeed, the overlapping of these two parallel' influences on English gothicism forms an interesting but intricate study.

From Germany writers of Sturm und Drang, themselves imitators of Horace Walpole, had filtered into England and thus whetted the public appetite for the Middle A^es, bloody scenes, secret tribunals, feudal


32


THE GOTHIC FLAME


tyrants, mystical jargon, and necromantic imagery. Germany has always been a land of superstitions and fairy legends : even in earlier German literature there is a fascination ‘‘ for superstitions, dreadful events, awful spectacles Rhine is the haunted river of the world ; its banks arc studded with castles as romantic as any in a fairy-tale ; in its dark forests one may encounter Demon-Huntsmen, witches, and were- wolves ; its liaunted sacred wells and ancient magic date back to the dim twilight days of medieval times. Mrs. Barbaiild, in On the Origin and Progress of Novel-Writings expressed her opinion that “ the Germans abound in materials for works of the imagination ; for they arc rich in tales and legends of an impressive kind, wliich have perhaps amused generation after generation as nursery stories, and lain hke ore in the mine, ready for the hand of taste to separate the dross and polish the material. ... It is calculated that 20,000 authors of that nation live by die exercise of the pen ; and in the article of novels it h computed that 7,000, cither original or translated, have been printed by them within the last five-and-twcniy years.”

Montague Summers is incorrect when he asserts tliat “ French and German writers . . . directly influenced the development of the Gothic novel in England ”. Witliin the main stream of the Gothic Movement there flowed a dangerously complicated assembly of cross-currents. Coleridge asserts that The Robbers and its progeny were due to the popularity in Germany of the translations of Young’s Night Thoughts, Hervey's Meditations, and Richardson’s Clarissa : “ Add the ruined castles, the dungeons, the trap-do<.)is, the skeleton, the flcsh-and-blood ghosts, and the perpetual moonshine of a modern author (cf. Mrs. RadclifFc), and, as the compound of these ingredients duly mixed, you will recognize the so-called German drama, which is English in its origin, English in its materials, and English by re-adoption.”

Agnes Murphy, m Banditry and Chivalry in German Fiction (1935), says that Walpole’s Quanto “ served as a model for many similar works in England and was ultimately the inspiration of the Ckrman genre ”. His sensational ‘ gothic ’ story was assimilated into three genres in Germany, each with its distinguishing characteristics but with many common elements that had been supplied by the English gothicists.

The progenitors of these genres — the Ritter-, Rauber-, and Schauer- romane — were Goethe and Schiller. Goethe’s Gotz von Berlichingen, or ” Gotz witli the Iron Hand ” (1773), introduced the vogue of cUvalric romance, medievalism, and tyrannical barons, yet the later German


THE BACKGROUND : ORIGINS AND CROSS-CURRENTS 33

writers accumulated elements and motives of terror which were absent in Walpole, Clara Reeve or Ann RadclifTe. The second German type, the robber-novel, was initiated by Die Rauber (1781) which demanded justice for the oppressed, freedom from any established social order, and in which character was destiny. The third German genre, Schauer- romanc, is a later development which absorbed the characteristics of the other tv,o kinds in its violent machinery, motives, characters, and atmosphere. It is interesting to note the two developments of Walpole’s Gothic nucleus in Germany and in England. The Engh'sh Gothic machinery combined with the materials of the movement initiated by Cioctlu’ and Scliillcr to produce a third German genre. When English Gothic fiction reached its efflorescence by 1789, the German Gothic was still liigghig a decade behind England in its maturity. It is a factor worthy of note that the supernatural came to be explained in Germany only after rSoo, whereas Mrs. Radcliffe’s supernatural explique was introduced in England in 1789. Bertrand Evans, in Gothic Drama from Walpole to Shelley (1947), observes : “ Up to 1798 the stream of influence flowed from England to Germany rather than from Germany to England. When the flood then turned, it bn^ught both the substance originally lent and several additions from a foreign heritage. It arrived in England with a rush of dramatic adaptations, translations and borrowings.” The debt was repaid with interest ; bandits, monks, feudal barons, poisonings, dungeons, tortures, and shrieking spectres flooded the country'.

Schiller’s Die Rauber (1781) contains violent sensationalism and a formidable set of dramatic pcr>onae : banditti, monks, inquisitors, tortures and poison, haunted towers and yclhng ghosts, dungeons and confessionals. The Duhliu Chrouiclc noted . “ For many' years past the Germans have been making gigantic st.:idcs towards perfection in literature. . . . The first tragedy of Schiller, entitled The Robbers^ had unexampled success in the theatres. . . . Schiller is a youth bom to astonish the age by the vigour of his genius.”

Schiller’s Ghost-Secr (1795) was widely read in translation about this time. Like Mrs. Radcliffc, he piles up a su lession of mysterious occur- rences and dien e:^ plains them aw'ay as the result of natural probable events. Contemporary^ readers relished the spasms of terror they got from this stupendous story' of the Armenian wdio, possessing superhuman attributes, performs unheard-of miracles. Ferhaps the art of thrilling could go no further. This Armenian disappears and reappears in in- explicable ways (cf Schemoh of Maturin). The entire tale veers round


34


THE GOTHIC FLAME


the adventures of a foreign prince who sojourns in Venice and becomes the object of a secret conspiracy. This work of Schiller perhaps influenced Maturings Montorio,

Until the end of the eighteenth century German literature found hardly any appreciation in England, being eclipsed by the influence of French literature. But, says V. Stockley in the Times Literary Supplement (13 March 1930), “ the tide really began to flow in 1796, the year of the translation of Burger's Lenore^ and three years later readied a high- water mark with translations of Goctlic, Schiller, Kotebue ”. The title pages of books coming from the Minerva Press display sub-titles like : “ translated from the German ”, “ a talc adapted from the German ”. Whereas in many instances the originals may be traced, in not a few the German ascription was labelled solely to enhance the popularity by giving a fashionable air to the work. Popular pamphlets, chapbooks, and translations from the German Volkshuchcr brought about the renaissance of the Wandering Jew in the eighteenth century. This legend had prospered in popular tradition since the Middle Ages and ” was also nourished ... by the picture of the Jew drawn in the early German Volkshuchcr of the seventeenth century ”, As early as 1787 an unknown writer in The Critical Review expressed a feeling of “congenial warmth for cverydiing of German origin ”, Later it speaks of “ the daily extension of the Gcniiaii language amongst us It is significant of the trend of the times that the books w'hich were first translated were works dealing with the supernatural and the terrible, works which supplied a demand for mystery and excitement. The following were of importance : The Necromancer (1794), Herman of Unna (1794), The Ghost-Scer (1795), The Sorcerer (1795), The Victim of Magical Delusion (1795), Horrid Mysteries (1797). These translations as a whole gave impetus to the English Scliauer-Romantiks,

Yet the influence of French or German writers was based on a principle of beneficial exchange. Germany rivalled the output of English native writers and provided Matthew Lewis, Peter Will, Lathom, Edward Montague, and otliers, with a vast quantity of material which they adapted and freely utihzed to enrich and elaborate the sensationalism of English Gothic fiction. Meanwhile, Mrs. Radclifle, Lewis, and Maturin, were inexhaustible springs from which France and Germany continued to draw. Walter Moss writes in English Sttidies, No. XXXIV, that “ Lewis should ... be one of the leading names in the history of German literature. Miss McIntyre has pointed out that although The Rjobbers


THE BACKGROUND : ORIGINS AND CROSS-CURRENTS


35


influenced Mrs. Radcliffe’s villain-heroes, especially Montoni and Schcdoni, Schiller himself was originally strongly influenced by English Ehzabethan literature.

Counter to the usual opinion that French influence on the English novel (1750-1800) is negligible, Professor Foster suggests that the Godiic novel was a product of sensibility originating in Richardson and Prevost. The delicious shudder evoked by Gothic mystery began in tears of sensibility : die Gothic heroine docs remind us of Clarissa and Pamela in tragic suffering, and the Gotliic villain recalls Richardson’s Lovelace. “ The novels of Ricliardson were rendered into French by L’Abbc Prevovt, the author of Manon Lescaut. . . . The wave of sensibility which swept over England, France and Germany resulted in an interchange of influence.” The many imitations of Mines De la Fayette, D’Aulnoy, De Tcncin, Riccoboni and Dc Gciilis, Marivaux and Abbe Prevost could not outnumber those of native inspiration, yet perhaps determined the form of the English novel during the last two decades of the eighteenth century.

Victor H. Hamm has pointed out that even Hurd, an early Gothic enthusiast, may have been indebted to Cliapelaiii’s Dv la Lecture des Vieux Romans for his inspiration and appreciation of ‘ Gothic '. Moreover, ” adaptation of French drama on the English stage at the end of the eightcentli century and die bcguuiing of the ninctecnih century has been curiously overlooked by students of English drama Miss Wary appends a list of such pL ys, and further states that “ French plays echoed the current Rousseauistic philosophy, such as wc fmd in Mine Gcnlis’s Zelic, adapted by Mrs. Inchbald as The Child of Nature. Finally, many of the French plays afibrded spectacular, meludraniatic material, popularized by Pixerccourt.”

Traaslations from the Frencli were very popular in the first half of the eighteenth century : Madame dc la Fayette’s Princess de Clcves was translated early in 1688, and read in her youth bv the grandmother of Miss Harriet Byron in Sir Charles Grandisaiu ” Towards the middle of the eighteenth century the romances of Marivaux and of Crcbillon fils began to be fashionable in Englaiid.” Marivaux’s Vie de Marianne had appeared in 1736-42, and Horace Walpole was delighted by the transla- tion of Crcbillon’s Sopha^ an Arabian stor)% which was by i8oi in its eighteenth edition.

Monsieur Maurice Heine attempts to establish a connection between De Sade and the Gothic novel. De Sade’s work was certainly known to M. G. Lewis, Francis Lathom, and other Gothic novelists. The literary influence of De Sade has been treated in detail by Signor Mario Praz. Baculard D’Amaud (1716-1805) whetted the reader’s sombre appetite with a panorama of dungeons and flickering flames, horror-haunted castles, dark-souled Inquisitors, and rotting skeletons in his Euphemie (1768), and together with Schiller influenced Mrs. Radcliffe’s The Italian,

Dr. B. M. Woodbridge’s article upon the Abbe Prevost, published in 1911, and fitienne Servais’s Lc Genre Romanesque cn Frame, published 1922, provide clues to the historical causes and link them widi the Gothic novel. Professor J. R. Foster, in Publications of the Modern Lanjiuage Association (XLII — 1927), throws light upon the origins of the Gothic novel and states that the immediate causes of the movement lie precisely in the French prose fiction of the eighteenth century : “ Prevost had a hand in its development in England just as here in France.” Of his first three novels Cleveland was the most popular in Englaiid. John Colin Dunlop remarks, in History of Prose Fiction (1911), that Prevost’s novels “ indeed had a prodigious currency : tlicy were spuriously imitated on all sides, sometimes, as in the case of Cleveland, continuations were published under his name : the demand of the book-trade was for more of Provost ”. Another reputable critic, Ernest Bernbaum, has maintained, in Modern Lan^ua^i^e Notes (XLIII — 1928), that “ Prevost, or his French imitators, were well known to writers like Sopliia Lee, Clara Reeve, and Mrs. Radcliife ”. But the cliief disseminator of Prevost and French sensibility was Mrs. Charlotte Smith.

When English fiction reacted from adventure towards realism, Prevost supphed just the right material and spirit for the romanesque and sentimental novel. “ He was tlie first who carried the terrors of tragedy into romance. ... He is diicfly anxious to appal the minds of his readers by the most terrifying and dismal representations,” says Dunlop. Prevost’s painting of lugubrious and melancholic settings had an immediate appeal for the audience of Young and Blair. Although his predecessors had employed the “ ghost liauntcd chateau ”, Prevost developed a synthesis of horror-romantic material. His stories abound in moving adventures, the supernatural, portentous dreams, ruins, dungeons, and types of character such as ominous priests or Byronic heroes. An atmosphere of shuddering dread, suspense, and gloom broods over his castles and impenetrable forests. Prevost was also the precursor of anotlicr Gothic motif : the rebellious assertion of the rights of love against the tyranny of social convention.


THE BACKGROUND : ORIGINS AND CROSS-CURRENTS


37


While enumerating influences from abroad one must not minimize die importance and contribution of die East. The Oriental allegory or moral apologue as practised by Addison in The Vision of Mirza (1711) and by Johnson in Rassclas (1759) at lease gave some colour to Gothic romance. An interest in Oriental literature had been stimulated early in the eighteenth century by Galland’s translation of The Arabian Nights (1704-17), die Turkish Talcs (1708), and the Persian Talcs (1714)- The glittering splendour and colour of the East provided the settings for such works as Ridley’s Tales of the Genii (1764) and Mrs. Sheridan’s History ofNourjahaJ (1767). The tendency towards such popular Anglo-Orientd talcs culminated in the wild fantasy of Bcckfi>rd’s Vathek (1786). But according to Wallace Cable Brown, in Publications of the Modem Language Association (IJII — 1938), “ it was not until the last quarter of the century that new’ developments brought the Oiicnt much nearer to England than ever before*”, and inspired works such as Isaac D’lsraeli’s Mejnoun and Leila (i8oo), James Moiicr’s Adventures of llajji Baba of Ispahan (1824), and Thomas Hope’s Anastatius, or Memoirs of a Greek (1819). Morier’s novels mark the culmination of English prose fiction about the Near East bctw'ecii 1775 and 1825.

At least tw'o dozen Oriental talcs appeared in the Spectator and Guardian in their short period of existence. Chinese talcs, Mogul talcs, Tartarean talcs, Peruvian talcs, appeared in rapid succession. Of the Turkish talcs translated in English (1708), the best is the story of Santon Barsisa, told by Addison in The Guardian, No. 148, which was drawn on by Lewis for The Monk (1796). Persian tales, or Thousand and One Days (translated 1714), relates stories narrated by an old nurse to her sceptical and obdurate princess to convert her to marriage, and may have given Vathek a name for a siiiillar character (cf. Surlememe, the nurse of Nouronihar). Dr. Johnson contributed not less than sixteen Oriental tales in The Idler and The Rambler (1750-60). The Tales of Terror and Wonder (1808) by ‘Monk’ lewis includes three Oriental tales.

By their extravagant language, thrilling incidents and poetic justice, the Oriental talc., furnish an interesting parallel to Gothic romance. Although their supernatural is of the fairy kind and never makes one afraid, their exotic use of the marvellous and magic left definite traces on quite a number of Gothic novels.

Ncvertlieless the previous account of outside influences should not lead one to suppose that everyitliought and image in the Gothic novel is


THE GOTHIC FLAME


38

traditional, and that all their invention was but a new combination. As Coleridge observed, in his preface to Christabel^ ** there arc such things as fountains in the world, small as well as great and one must not “ charitably derive every rill [as] flowing from a perforation made in some otlicr man’s tank”. There is no disputing diat the Gothic romance drew its inspiration from a tangle of many external sources, yet its originating impulse sprang from the creative personal dreams and repressed ' unconscious * of its sensitive authors.

The writers who rediscovered the nebulous world of the supernatural described it as grotesque and nightmarish because that is how, uncon- sciously, they reacted to unfamiliar passions. Encouraged by their classical education to put aside barbaric emotion and ultra-diurnal contemplation, now that upsurging currents of new thought revealed unfamiliar spheres, they were compelled to approach the speculations surreptitiously in dreams, for that was die only way they could achieve super-reality.

It has long been realized diat dreams are intimately related to an apprehension of the supernatural world and the emergence of subversive impulses. Dreams were a subject of contemporary investigation and A Philosophical Discourse on the Nature of Dreams was translatetTiii 1764 from the German of the Rev. Mr. Saalfeld. In many instances the Godiic writers were subsequently influenced in their choice of material by dreams. The Castle of Otranto is the outcome of a dream of Walpole’s thinking about medieval structures :

“ It wab so far from being sketched out with any design at all, that it was actually commenced one evening, from tlic very imperfect recollection of a dream with wliich 1 waked in die morning,” he says in a letter, dated 17 April 1763, to the Rev. Mastni.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstehu likewise, is the product of a romantic biological dream.

Charles Robert Maturin, writing in 7 %c British Review (iSiS), said that ” the transition from the vapid sentimentality of the novel of 50 years ago to the goblin horrors of the last 20 is so strong and sudden that it almost puzzles us to fmd a connecting link”. But Smollett’s Ferdinand Count Fathom (1753) and Leland’s Longsword, Earl of Salisbury (1762) provide a literary link between the realistic novel and the future novels of terror. While poetry was heralding the dawn of Romanticism, fiction, which had revealed signs of a tendency to become more rational, began itself to react. Despite the great success of the novels of Richardson


THE BACKGROUND : ORIGINS AND CROSS-CURRENTS


39


and Fielding, the novels of Smollett marked a return towards the older idea of fiction : the novel of adventure.

Smollett had already anticipated the Gothic romance by special devices and moods. Ferdinand Count Fathom foreshadows Otranto and the talc of terror ; the prefatory address by the author of the former vindicates the use of terror :

The impulses of fear, which is die most violent and interesting of all the passions, remain longer than any other upon the memory.

The gloomy scenes in deserted forests, and the tremors of fear to which Ferdinand is subjected, as well as the depiction of skilful and imaginary terrors evoked by darkness and solitude, have quite a Gothic tone :

The darkness of the night, die silence and solitude of the place, the in- distinct images of the trees that appeared on every side, stretching their extravagant arms adiwart the gloom, conspired, with the dejection of spirits occasioned by his loss, to disturb his fancy, and raise strange phantoms m his imaginadon.

Smollett depicts natural terrors with, as Nathan Drake says in Literary HourSy “ such vigour of imagination indeed, and minuteness of detail, that the blood runs cold, and the hair stands erect from the impression When Count Fathom takes refuge in a robber's hut hi the storm- swept forest, the lightning begins to flash, the thunder to roll as the clouds break in a deluge of rain. To his horror he discovers “ the dead body of a man, still warm, who had been lately stabbed, and concealed beneath several bundles of straw

Another scene in this novel, where Kenaldo stumbles over deserted vaults in a night of uncommon darkness and thinks he sees the ghost of Monimia, is enveloped in circumstances of gloom and mystery char- acteristic of die Gothic romance. As he is walking up the “ dreary aisle ”, ” the clock struck twelve, the owl screeched from the ruined battlement His car is suddenly

invaded with die sound of some few solciiin notes issuing from the organ, which seemed to feel the impulse of an mvisiblc hand. . . . Reason shrunk before die thronging ideas of his fancy, which represented this music as the prelude to sonicdiing strange and supernatural. . . . The place was suddenly illuminated. ... In a few minutes appeared the figure of a woman arrayed in white, with a veil that covered her face. ... His hair stood upright, and a cold vapour seemed to dirill thiough every nerve.


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THE GOTHIC FLAME


Other incidents and characters, too, have ‘ gothic ’ qualities : the mother of Renaldo is treated with barbarity by her husband and immured in a west tower ” and his sister also is shut up in a convent.

Although Smollett’s work precedes The Castle of Otranto, his treat- ment of terror and mystery is more suggestive of Mrs. RadclifFc than the clumsy magic of Walpole’s tale. Smollett’s machinery is incidental, and later accounted for, although he occasionally touches a reader’s nerves with forebodings. Since the adventures narrated in Ferdinand Count Fathom arc too picaresque, and entirely lack the idealism and ‘ romance ’ of chivalry, something else was necessary to create the first autlicntic Gothic novel. Count Fathom was an incidental incursion into the realms of terror, while The Castle of Otranto gave the ‘ gothic ’ talc a form and a fashion by combining historical background with supernatural machinery. All the same, Smollett’s attempt remains an interesting precursor of Walpole’s achievement.

Nine years after Ferdinand Count Fathom appeared another work which announces the immediate birth of Gothicism. Longsuford, Earl of Salisbury, an Historical Romance in two volumes (1762) by the Rev. Thomas Lelaiid, D.D., has all the ingredients of Gotluc-Tjistorical Romance except supernatural macliinery. This work is the heir of old Romance, and was described by Clara Reeve in The Progress of Romance (1930), as “ a story like those of the Middle Ages, composed of Chivalry, Love and Religion . . . [whicli] . . . seems to be formed on an intimate acquaintance witli the romances of the i.sth to i6th centuries”. It is a novel dilfercnt from Walpole’s genre, and did in no way undermine Walpole’s influence and position.

In point of structure Longsuwd is weak and lacking in mystery : two people meet each other at the beginning and relate their histories ; the progress of the story is delayed by other interpolated narratives ; the dialogue is a scries of epic harangues. Yet, as The Monthly Review for March 1762 put it : ” the characters of the persons, the maimers of the times, and the style of narration, agreeable to the ages of cliivalry, the valour of knightliood, and the chaste pride of female honour, arc all well supported. The truth of history is artfully interwoven with agreeable fictions and interesting episodes.”

This work may have given Walpole impulse to write The Castle of Otranto, but it certainly influenced Clara Reeve’s The Old English Baron. Miss Reeve substituted private for public history and added the ghost, odierwisc her romance is a close parallel to Longsword ; her plot is too


THE BACKGROUND : ORIGINS AND CROSS-CURRENTS 4 1

much the same to have been accidental. Tlie diction of Longsword is unlike any early Gothic romance, but resembles that which was invented and popularized by Scott :

“ By my halidame ! ” exclaimed die king, “ it rejoiceth m that Lord William liadi found his suspicions false ; not die unexpected deliverance and happy arrival of our noble cousin give us greater joy. — But let us forget all jealousies, and despise all false rumours. — Embrace and forgive Lord Hubert, command our power, and enjoy the reward of thy gallant toils.”

The Gothic heroine, or “ beauty in distress ”, had long been a famili.ir sentimental comedy heroine. She first appears in Longsword as die wife persecuted by^ a detested lover.

Thus the Gothic romance did not spring fully grown and armed, like Minerva, from The Castle of Otranto. Walpole merely outstripped a gradual accumulation of influences which would all have eventually brought about the birth of something resembling Gothic literature. He provided a tradition, a legacy.


G.F,— 5


CHAPTER III


THE HRST GOTHIC TALE : ITS POTENTIALITIES

The SchaueMomantik^ or “ horror-romanticism ”, of the eighteenth century may be said to have originated one midsummer night, when Horace Walpole, sleeping beneath his stucco pinnacles at Strawberry Hill, dreamt he saw a giant hand in armour on the balustrade of the staircase. In this dream was born tlie first Gothic story, The Castle of Otranto : a bold and amazingly successful experiment in an absolutely untried medium. This immensely popular wild talc stands as a land- mark in hterary development and literary fasliion. Although it has been alleged that this work is crude in attempt, incongruous and grotesque in its use of the supernatural, unrefined, distorted, and inartistic as a story form, yet it is not to be denied that this talc had far-reaching potentialities that were consciously developed by authors of succeeding generations. It is the parent of all goblin talcs, the prelude to a long line of novels as unending as the spectral show of Jlanquo's progeny. It anticipates die genteel shudderings of Clara Reeve and Ann Radcliffc, and sets die scene for the crazy phantasmagoria of V^athek and the prurient nightmares of ‘ Monk * Lewis, while its properties were to receive artistic touches of genius at the hands of Scott and Byron, Coleridge and Poe.

Otranto opened the floodgates for a whole torrent of horror-novels. Since Walpole’s time, for a stretch of about fi>rty years, readers ” supped full with horrors ”, but none of those compositions had a livelier play of fancy than The Castle of Otranto. “ It is the sportive effusion of a man of genius, who throw's the reins loose upon the neck of his imagination. The large limbs of the gigantic figure which inhabits the castle, and which arc visible at intervals ; the plumes of the helmet, whieh rise and wave widi ominous meaning ; and the various enchantments of the palace, arc imagined widi the richness and wildness of poetic fancy,” we read in Mrs. Barbauld.

Walpole’s Gotliic story, Hke Bishop Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765), was at once a symptom and a cause of that change in sensibiUty which has been styled by Watts-Dunton ” The Renascence of Wonder ”. Indeed, as W. P. Kcr says in his essay on Horace Walpole,

4 *


THE FIRST GOTHIC TALO : ITS POTENTIALITIES


43


Walpole “ in so many things touches . . . slightly on a region that was to be explored and exploited after him by a great host of followers Walpole records in a letter to Richard West one of the first vivid appreciations in English of romantic and savage landscape ; an experience on his journey to Italy with Gray, of “ precipices, mountains, torrents, wolves, rumblings, Salvator Rosa ” :

Wilt the road. West, the road ! winding round a prodigious mountain, and surrounded with others, all slugged witJi hanging woods, obscured with pines, or lost in clouds ! Welow, a torrent breaking through cliffs, and tumbling through fragments ('if rocks ! Sheets of cascades foremg their silver speed down channelled precipices, and liasting into die roughened river at the bottom ! Now and diai an old foot-bridge, with a broken rail, a leaning cross, a cottage, or the ruin of an hermitage !

Horace Walpole staiuis as one of the most interesting literary figures of die eighteenth century. By trauiing, htcrary tastes, and antiquarian propensities, he was the one man in EngLind most likely to foster Gothic riiniancc. A moiiunu'ntal edition of his letters has been published revealing die various facets of his personality and recording anecdotes of a long life of eighty years. These vivid, detailed, and quotable incinoirs and letters, cliroiiiclc the social and political history of liis age, and beliiiid tlicm lurks an elaborate panorama of his own experiences. Biographers have brought to light incidents of liis school and college days, his relation to his father and to politics, his travels and books, his Whiggism and virtuoso tastes, liis ‘castle’ at Strawberry Hill and its famous printing press, Ins dcu ration of war, whist, and Italian opera, his love of gossip and scandal, his intimate acquaintance with so many famous people. Tiic personality of this wiitcr has now emerged from the clouds of critical disapproval which hung round liiin daring the nineteenth century. Macaulay’s famous essay in the Ldinburglt Review for October 1^433, was a biilliant distortion of Walpole’s mind, but it was accepted by an unsympathetic age. Walpole’s serious achievement was dismissed as insignificant and his character much maligned. The twentieth century looks upon him with n more friendly eye, although traces of old prejudice linger on. But through the ctForts of reasonable critics, the age has now' tried to give full value to the extent and variety of Walpole’s achievement.

liis sensitive and dreaming mind absorbed the growing romantic influences of the early eighteenth century. His delicate and sensitive imagination shaped them into visions of a lost medieval world. His


44


THE GOTHIC TIAME


love of the Gothic, of old castles and abbeys, his romantic dreams of a pseudo-medieval world, inspired the creation of his ‘ castle * at Strawberry Hill, which reflected the curious, nightmarish nature of the romantic imaginings hidden in his unconscious mind : and how extraordinarily powerful was his imagination ! At times, in his retirement, he imagined his castle a monastery and liimself a monk !

The year 1764 reveals to us a Walpole disillusioned and exhausted by political and personal tension. We imagine hint worried and depressed, wandering about his little mock castle of brick and wood and plaster. His secret hopes of political preferment were dying at last, and he began to stay away from the House of Commons. He had seen politics at close quarters as a sport for fools and knaves. Additions to Strawberry had ceased for some time and he w'as bored. The outer world was slow to perceive his finer qualities. He found those on whom he lavished his affections comparatively heedless or openly indiffertnt, and he was hurt and sad. Already Montagu failed to respond with sufticient ardour to his warmth of aflEection. Conway was to disappoint him bitterly and long afterwards Mann also was to wound him by what he deemed neglect. Thus many circumstances in the earlier moiitlis of 176^ drove Walpole into sombre retreat at Strawberry, and tliere he experienced, as never before, liis increasing disgust with reality. This mental and spiritual detachment and physical isolation liberated his romantic imagination. Gradually the repressed dream world of his youth was re-crcatcd about him, enriched by the antiquarianism of his later years. Oswald Doughty describes him thus : “ the tall, thin, unhealthy, pale ciglitccnth-century gentleman with eyes strangely bright, sitting alone in his brick and cement castle, wielding his goosc-quill so persistently, W'as to himself one of that rough, rude world of chivalry and piety, the middle ages

Professor Dobrcc has called Walpole “ an uneasy romantic ” who, like Hamlet, felt that the time was out of joint. Failure in politics, his father’s downfall, the influence of Gray and Cole, his own natural impulses — all made him shrink from the Downing Street world, and as Os-wald Doughty in his (above quoted) admirable essay on Walpole expresses it, he was “ a spiritual exile in his native land ”. He longed to escape from “ the haven of bright, calm, and serene civilization ” — ^its politics, wars and follies, its drabness and dulhicss to the superior and mystic realm of die Middle Ages. He observed the hard, coruscadng brilliance of cightccnth-ccntury society with the detachment of a visionary dreamer, and all the while became mozj: engrossed in his medieval


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interests. Paul Yvon, in Horace Walpole as a Poet (1924), says, “ How often did he tell Madame du DeiTand, that in order to forget the un- pleasant rcahties of hfe, he not seldom took refuge 111 visions, the outcome of which were The Castle of Ohanto and 77 ie HicroglYphii Tales Not completely stifled by his man-of-die-world character, Ins love of sohtude is constantl) hinted at in Ins letters, and it was Ins true artistic nature that elaborated his fantasies. Ciray wrote to him from Cambridge : “ You are in a confusion of wine and loanng, and bawdy, and tobacco. ... I imagine however you rather thoose to converse with the hving dead, that adorn tlie walls of your apartnieiits . . and prefer a picture of still-life to the realities of a noisy one.'* And Walpole remained, to the last, an inveterate drcainci of dreams

7 be Cattle of Ofrauto is an c\pri ssion of Walpoh^'s repressed, romantic, visionary nature. From a thousand ciicuuistanccs of Ins environment, from antiquarian interests and the ahundanr impressions of the past winch they invi^ked, from (^othu castUs and abbeys, from pictures by Claude, Poussin, and Salvator Rosa, fiom landscape gaidens modelled upon their woiks, and ft 0111 die poetis of Sliakespt m and Spenser and Milton, he fashioned di earns of a woild in which die bcautv of antiquity, of wonder and tenor and awe were supieme.

rhesi influeiKes were bodied foith m dre uns, and Otianto rose in gloom and terror upon the slender foundations of Strawberry. The winding wooden staircase, “ the mist particular and chief beauty of the casdc” took a grim, bare, and enormous shape Elegant bedrooms transformed themselves into torbidding thambcis, liimg widi tapestry and caipeted with matting or rushes of more aiiciciit days. The walls of Strawberry decorated with aiitelopo holding shields became the echoing cloister o{ an ancient castle And cvc.i earlier impicssiom, the sub- conscious memones csf Cambndge, helped to form his dtcani castle. The structiue of Innirv Ciicat C'ourt, anotJicr Gothic biuldiiig, was lying dormant m Walpole’s mind. Walpole had visited Cambridge m 1763, and when five years afterwards he went thcic again, on entering one of the colleges, “ he suddenly^ found Ininself in the cc'nirtyard of Otranto”, as he expresses his impression in a letter to Madame du DclFaiid. This College, which was later identified with Trinity, supplied Otranto witli a courtyard, great Hall and other features wdiich were absent in Strawberry Hill.

From dreaming at Strawberry, through a long summer moonhght, of kiughts m armour, clanking swords, and menacing portents, Walpole


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awoke with a head filled with materials for a Gothic talc. His letter to Cole, ill which he narrates the details of his dream, has often been quoted. He dreamt of “ the gigantic hand in armour ” on “ die uppermost banister of a great staircase “ a very natural dream for a head like mine filled with Gothic story” — and he experienced an immediate reaction in his impulse towards romance writing. “ The scene is un- doubtedly laid in some real castle ” he says in his preface to the first edition, and the staircase at Strawberry' Hill which was “ the most particular and chief beauty of the castle ”, as he had mentioned earlier in 1753, was indelibly associated with his romance. The fact is wcU illus- trated by his letter to Countess of Upper Ossory, when he made a triumphant purchase in Paris of the complete armour of Francis the First. ” The armour ”, he writes in December 1771, seven years after die publication of Otranto, ” is actually here, and in its niche, which I have had made for it on the staircase ; and a very little strctch^of imagination will give it all the visionary dignity of the gigantic hand in armour that 1 dreamt of seeing on the balustrade of the staircase of Otranto. If diis is not realising one’s dreams, I don’t know what is.”

Mario Praz, in The Times Literary Supplement of 13 August^ 1925, says of him, ” In Horace Walpole the romantic impulses of die eighteenth century converge to a fine point ”. He embodies in himself the particular antiquarian phases of early English romanticism. He. indeed, largely initiated all three sides of it : the collection of things having old world associations, the revival of Gothic architecture, and the taste for the chivalric talcs of long ago. The one followed naturally out of the other. The enthusiasm for old collected things deepened into an appreciation of Gothic architecture which later gave impetus to the creation of the first Gothic novel.

Walpole did not love Gothic for its virile or aspiring qualidcs, but for its suggesrivencss to a truant fantasy. What appealed to him in Gothic art and in romance generally was its quainmess. As Lytton Strachey states : ” He liked Gothic architecture, not because he thought it beautiful Cut because he found it queer.” For Walpole, at least in the beginning, to Godiicize was a game. The Gothic was, to begin widi, a decoradve motif as is evident from his letter to Mann, 27 April 1753 :

1 thank you a diousand dmes for thinking of procuring me some Godiic

remains from Rome ; but 1 believe dierc is no such thing there ; 1 scarce

remember any morsel in the true taste of it in Italy. Indeed, my dear Sir,


THE HRST GOTHIC TALE : ITS POTENTIAUTIES 47

kind as you arc about it, I perceive you have no idea what Gothic is ; you have lived too long amidst true taste, to understand venerable barbarism. You say you suppose my garden to be Gothic too. That can’t be ; Gotliic is merely architecture ; and as one has a satisfaction an imprinting die gloomth of abbeys and cathedrals on one’s house, so one’s garden, on the contrary, is to be notliing but rianU and the gaiety of nature.

But this should not lead us to suppose that he was at bottom a dilettante, as it has been suggested in certain quarters. A man who took great pains over his prodigious and prolific hterary output like the Anecdotes of Painting in England, Historic Donhts on the reign of Richard III, Desniption of Strawberry, History of Tastes in Gardens, the essays in The Worlds the amazing number of short satirical pieces, and over the monu- mental iMters, was no dilettante. His printing press, wliich worked for some forty years, certainly did something to improve typography and it involved considerable personal labour on his part. For it, Walpole did a fair amount of editing, including the first edition of the delightful Memoirs of Lord Herbert of Cherbury. Then there was his astonishing collection of things of no intrinsic or artistic worth, but of great associative interest.

Walpole took pains to pretend tliat his work was not work but a pastime, for he feared being tlionght erudite. He was abnormally self- conscious but he was not trivial. Professor Ker pointed out diat “ Horace Walpole was a man of taste and sensibility, interested in all trifles if only they had anything of singularity, tolerant of everything except what was commonplace Cole once wrcite that it was a misfortune to have so much sensibility in one’s nature a» Walpole was endued with. It is true that Walpole’s mind was easily pleased by oddities rather diaii by things of more solid w orth ; and accordingly his Gothic casdes which he himself constructed, whether of Otraiito or at Strawberry, were more remarkable for their queemess than for their beauty. Macaiday as well wrote : “ . . . with the Sublime and the Beautiful Walpole had nothing to do, but the third province, the Odd, was his peculiar domain.”

Strawberry’ Hill started as a toy — straight c'ut of Mr. Chevenix’s toy-shop, as he declared ; and then early in 1750 he tells fSlatin : “ I am going to build a little Gothic structure at Strawberry Hill.” A new chapter in the life of Walpole now begins. It all started as a fanciful game : but it soon became serious. From now onwards, for full fourteen years, before he wrote the first Gothic novel, Walpole was deep in architectural activities, full of enthusiasm about his miniature casde : decorating a grotesque house with pie-crust battlements ; procuring


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rare engravings and antique chimney-boards ; matching odd gauntlets ; and laying out a maze of walks within five acres of ground. The villa at Strawberry Hill gradually swelled into a feudal castle, by the addition of turrets, towers, galleries . . . garnished witli appropriate furniture of scutcheons, armorial bearings, shields, tilting-lances, and all the panoply of chivalry The Edinburgh Review writes : “ The motto which he prc-fixed to his ‘ Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors \ might have been inscribed witli perfect propriety over the door of every room in his house, and on the title page of every one of his books. ‘ Dove diavolo, Messer Ludovico , avete pigliate tante coglionerie ? ' In his villa every apartment is a museum, every piece of furniture is a curiosity ; there is something strange in the form of the shovel ; there is a long story belonging to the bell-rope. Wc wander among a profusion of rarities, of trifling intrinsic value, but so quaint in fashion, or connected with such remarkable names and events, tliat tliey may 'well detain our attention for a moment. A moment is enough. Some new relic, some new curio, some new carved work, some new enamel, is forthcoming in an instant. One cabinet of trinkets is no sooner closed than anodicr is opened. It is the same with Walpole’s writings. It is not in their ^utility, it is not ill their beauty, that their attraction lies. . . . Walpole is con- stantly showing us things — not of great value indeed — yet things which we are pleased to sec, and wliich wc can see nowhere else. They arc baubles ; but they are made curiosities cither by his grotesque workman- ship, or by some association belonging to rhein.”

Walpole had a purse long enough to give visible and tangible expression — in prints, in gates, in Gothic temples, in bowers, in old manuscripts, in a thousand gimcracks, to the smouldering and inarticulate passion for the darkness of the Past. William Lyon Phelps judges that, “ As a collector of curiosities he w'as probably influenced more by a love of old world associations than any sound appreciation of artistic design ”. The deckings and trappings of the chivalric age infused into him a boyish delight, while the glitter and colour of the Middle Ages offered unto him an escape from the prosaic dullness of his own times. Oliver Elton thinks that “ his house and Museum, along with his letters, may be regarded as his chief work of art and as the mirror of his mind and taste ”. The romantic ideals of his literary mind were realized in actual life at Strawberry. His letters to Montagu during the period of archi- tectural activities reveal a mind full of buried manuscripts and valuable documents concealed behind Gothic panelling.


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His interest in things medieval may not have been that of an antiquary, but it was surely diat of an artist who loves things old because of dieir age and beauty. Virginia Woolf in an article stated dut “ Walpole had imagination, taste, style, in addition to a passion for the romantic past On the contrary Professor Saintsbury holds : “ Of real poetry, real romance, and real passion of any kind, he had no share, no inkling even We beg leave not to agree with this remark. “ I have got an immense cargo of painted glass from Flanders,” Walpole wrote in 1750, “ indeed several of the pieces arc Flemish arms, but I call them the achievements of the old Count of Strawberry.”

Visiting Stratford, he is disgusted with the “ wretched old town”, which he expected “ for Shakespeare’s sake to find smug and pretty, and antique, not oW”. This extract illustrates the quality of Walpole’s medievalism ; things smug and pretty and antique, not old, were what he loved ; things dpproaching the imaginative reconstruction of the past were never foreign to his thought. As Scott said : “ A Horace Walpole, or a Thomas Warton, is not a mere collector of dry and minute facts, which the general historian passes over with disdain. He brings with him the torch of genius, to illuminate the ruins through which he loves to wajider.” Indeed, the ointment is rare and rich, of a subtle and delicious perfume. The aroma of a w’ondcrful age comes wafting out from tlic lumdred pages of The Castle of Otranto, and enchants our senses : who else could have written the first Gothic novel but this amiable virtuoso, who dreamed of ghosts, went about collecting armour and tombstones in a Gothic castle, and read Dr. Dee on spirits ?

Although The Monthly Review, commenting upon The Castle of Otranto, said, “ To present an analysis of the story would merely introduce die reader to ‘ a company of skeletons but to refer him to die book would be to recommend him an assemblage of beautiful pictures ”, it is worth while to recount the major incidents of the story.

Manfred, the usurping prince of Otranto, haunted by a mysterious prophecy, hastens to secure Isabella, die cinly daughter of the real heir of Otranto, as bridt for his only son Conrad. On the very eve of marriage, Conrad is crushed to death by die mysterious fall of an enormous helmet shaded with black plumes. Theodore, a peasant boy, who discovers that the miraculous helmet is identical with the one now missing from the black marble statue of Alfonso the Good, is imprisoned as a sorcerer under the helmet itself. Frajitic with rage and fear, Manfred declares


50


THE GOTHIC FLAME


his intention of himsdf marrying Isabella, on which some prodigies appear : the sable plumes of the helmet wave backward and forward in a tempestuous manner ; the portrait of his grandfather utters a deep sigh, quits its panel, descends on the floor and vanishes into a chamber.

Isabella meanwhile escapes through a subterraneous passage to the church of St. Nicholas. On her way she encounters Theodore who has been accidentally released, and sympathy very soon ripens into love. As Manfred, in his hot pursuit of IsabcUa, enters the vaults of the castle, the affrighted servants bring news of a ghost or giant whose foot was seen in the upper chamber. Nevertheless, Manfred pursues his designs, and orders Father Jerome to deliver Isabella from the sanctuary. He also orders Theodore to be beheaded, but the execution is set aside as Father Jerome, by means of a birdi-mark, discovers in Theodore his long-lost child.

Frederic, Marquis of Vicenza, fadier of Isabella and die real claimant of Otranto, arrives, and his arrival is followed by further prodigies : a brazen trumpet miraculously salutes him at the gate of the casde ; the plumes of the enchanted helmet nod vigorously. He is accompanied by a hundred knights who bear an enormous sword wliich, burstiifg from their hands, falls on the ground opposite the helmet and remains im- movable. Manfred tries to qncll animosities by a matrimonial alliance by which each is to marry the daughter of the other. Frederic agrees. On the mere proposal three drops of blood fall from the nose of Alfonso’s statue. The apparition of the holy hermit of Joppa discloses to Frederic “ the flcshlcss jaws and empty sockets of a skeleton wrapt in a hermit’s cowl ” and adjures him to forget Matilda. The story ends witli the tragic death, by mistake, of Matilda at the hands of her father.

As she expires, a clap of thunder shakes tlic castle to its foundations, and the form of Alfonso, dilated to an immense magnitude, appears in the centre of the ruins, exclaiming “ Behold in Theodore the true heir of Alfonso ! ”

Besides the atmosphere and background of chivalry and enchantment typical of “ old romances ”, there arc three other literary forms shedding influences on The Castle of Otranto : the heroic romance, the fairy-story, and the talc of Oriental Magic ; and these blend and fuse with three other elements from contemporary prose fiction : excessive S'*nsibility, exemplary piety, and an expheit moral. Walpole’s historical and antiquarian knowledge is well illustrated in his collection of books at Strawberry Hill. Over two hundred of^tlie volumes were works on


THE FIRST GOTHIC TALE : ITS POTENTIAUTIES


51


ancient chivalry and historical themes. These were sufficient to bestow a consistent atmosphere of chivalry on his romance, by means of stories of knights in armour and crusades, through descriptions of feudal tyrants and dungeons, and by recorded incidents of challenge and chivalric procession. Details, such as a lady arming her knight, his vow of eternal fealty to her, and knightly oaths as “ by my halidame ” (cf. Longsword), though this is oddly put into the mouth of a chattering domestic, does create an old-world chivalric atmosphere. We note the influence of heroic romance and drama in the struggle of generosity between the “ sentimental, self-sacrificing heroines ” and in the melting forgiveness of die pious hero for the barbarous treatment of the tyrant— the super- natural magnanimity of the heroic prince type (cf. for example Dryden’s AurengTebe). The temporary emergence of the “ tender-hearted villain ” in die scene where Manfred is ‘ touched’ and weeps, seems to be influenced by Longsword.

The supernatural element in the book is probably its greatest innova- tion, and is a curious blend of fairy-tale and magic, with one genuine spectre episode, the appearance of the skeleton hernut in the oratory, of which Scott said that it “ was long accounted a masterpiece of the horrible”. The appearance of this spectre as an instrument of fate, with its sepulchral warning, influenced the later Romanticism of Horror. But no one apparently ever attempted to imitate the much more elaborate but fantastic creation of the dismembered giant distributing himself piecemeal about the cast!? and at last shaking it to its foundations. This is quite different from the conventional ghosts, spirits, and spectres that stalk rampant through the pages of the later Gothic novels. In The Castle of Otranto, curiously, the word ‘ ghc^t ’ docs not occur, but instead we find occarional references to ‘ sorcerei ’, ‘ talisman *, and ‘ enchant- ment Certain episodes, too, such as the apparition of the giant seen by Bianca, when she was rubbing her ring, definitely *iuggest the fairy- tales of the East that Walpole was so fond of reading. The episode reminds us of the appearance of the genii in AhMn and the Wonderful Lamp, one of the stories in Arabian Nights pMtertainments.

Walpole raised the apparition of Alfonso to gigantic proportions. In this particular device Walpole seems to have imitated Eastern tales, in which enormous size not only suggests embodiment of power, but also strikes and evokes a fccHng of terror. Various forms of Oriental fiction had become popular in England during the first twenty years of the eighteenth century. Most of these works reached England tlirougli


52


THE GOTHIC F1.AME


France. Antoine Galland’s French version of the Arabian Nights Entertain^ ment was translated into English between 1708 and 1715. In the following few years Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Chinese, and Mogul talcs were translated from the French of Francois Petis dc la Croix, Jean Terrason, Jean Paul Bignom, and Simon Gueullctte. It is likely tliat these may have attracted Johnson to seek in Abyssinia the scene of Rasselas, and they give clues to the extravagant incidents and luxuriant descriptions in Bcckford’s Vathek (1786), “ the most famous Oriental talc in the English language

There had also been during the period a growing interest in voyage, travel, and discovery, and a heightening of curiosity conccnuiig the mystic charms of die East. Also, die opening of the first Gothic novel : “ Manfred, Prince of Otranto, had one son and one daughter . . reads almost like a fairy-tale, widi its irrational parent, one lovely and one unlovely child. The tragic ending, however, is typical neither of fairy-stories nor of later Gothic romances, which ring incessant changes on the conventional fairy-tale endings like : “ And they were married and lived happily ever after.”

There is a definite resemblance between the supernatural machinery of The Castle of Otranto and that treated in Dr. Dec’s book on imps and spirits. We get here a profusion of gigantic dismembered limbs, such as die “ mighty arm and hand ”, die arm ” with a broad-axe ” ” a right hand (and no body appearing), the hand being very big ”, ” a great huge man, with a great sw'ord in his hand ”, ” a head cut off from a body ”, and, more than once, a figure ascending heavenward, like Alfonso the Good at the climax of The Castle of Otranto. Taken all together, diese suggestions of resemblances arc too numerous and too striking to be overlooked as even a minor influence diat went to the making of Walpole’s Gothic story. Nor did dicsc stray suggestions exist only in Dr. Dec’s book. Ideas of this kind may be traced in die folk-lore of different nations ever since the fairy-tale of Jack anJ the Bean Stalk.

One of Madame D’Aulnoy’s fairy-tales. The White Cat^ mentioned by Walpole, has examples of dissected beings, and in it the prince is served by bodiless hands, in the palace of the white cat. Also, Bccquer*s legend of The Devirs Cross records an extraordinary story cf dismem- bered armour that at the touch of a ray of light could always gather itself togedier, no matter how hewed and separated, and continue the devilish raids. Also there is a reference to a gigantic hand grasping a gigantic


THE nRST GOTHIC TAUB : ITS POTENTIALITIBS


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key on the keystone of the Alhambra’s portal. W. B. Yeats’s collection of old Irish Fairy and Folk I^alcs includes the story of A Queens Country Witch who takes the form of a man’s legs walking witliout head or body. So, besides Dee’s work, other literary models may have played their part in the formation of the first Gothic tale. Pope’s description of the Paraclete in Eloisa to Abelard^ and Swift’s Brobdingnag in Gulliver s Travels, had appealed to Walpole, and they did leave some impress on The Castle of Otranto. And so the readers who eagerly explored Walpole’s Gothic castle had previously enjoyed the tlirill of chimney-corner legends by a winter fireside.

There is a talc by Count Anthony Hamilton, The Four Facardins (1646), with which Walpole was perhaps quite familiar. The ‘ giant ’ and ‘ his leg * and ‘ armour * occur there. Facardin of Mount Atlas, during the course of his adventures, has a fight with ‘ an enormous giant ’ wdio had a very long nail on the toe of his right foot. Facardin is injured by this nail, and being infuriated lops off the right leg of the giant. The fall of the giant “ was like that of a tower and the earth trembled as he touched it ”, Facardin, to his great surprise, finds that the giant has disappeared and carried his leg awav with him ! While Walpole enlarged the suggestion (^f his dream of “ a big hand in armour ” in The Castle of Otranto, he might have had the subconscious memories of Hamilton’s supernatural as weU. There is a great similarity in the handling of the material by Walpole and Hamilton in their characteristic naive simplicity in the use of the supernatural where atmosphere or suggcstiim does not play any part. The crude machinery of their tales belongs to an ideal world of fancy and fairy-tale, where there is neither probability nor a necessary cor^cspondep^ c between effect and cause.

Walpole looked to ancient ronianct- as well for uispiracion. He knew tlie Arcadia of Sidney, and had a tender regard for die works of Scudery and the Heroic school. These may have partly been the source of the supernatural in The Castle if Otranto. In the Arcadia the oracle predicts strange events ; the plot of Otranto, too, veers round a similar mysterious prophecy. In Arcadia, as the sti^ry slowly unfolds itself, we find the predicti* 'iis of the oracle unrelentingly fulfilled, although King Basilius endeavours to prevent dieir nuteriahzadon. Manfred too, in The Castle of Otranto, fruitlessly attempts to ward off the realization of the prophecy.

These minor points go to establish that Walpole cannot be said to have invented anything absolutely new as far as mere machinery goes.


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THE GOTHIC FLAME


His originality lay in combining such machinery with historical romance, and in assigning to his unearthly beings a definite role in enforcing retributive justice— just such a part as common belief assigned to departed spirits. The old properties of folk-lore and fairy-tales were iU-balanced and ill-conceivcd. Walpole welds these ingredients together with the fire of his innovating genius.

In the Preface to the second edition, the title of which was merely The Castle of Otranto, a Gothic story, die still generally unknown author explained his purpose in writing it by the oft-quoted statement that “ it was an attempt to blend two kinds of romance, the ancient and the modem a remark siilficicntly illuminated in a letter to Dr. Warton. The book reveals these dual characteristics. The ‘ modern ’ element is evident in the method of characterization and dialogue. The characters happen to be mostly stock-figures, while the domestics of the story stand as contrast to the figures of high life. The minor characters, and specially the loquacious maid, Bianca, have their clay from Shakespeare, as Walpole said. Referring in his preface to die second edition of these domestic minor figures, he writes : “ That great master of nature Shakespeare was the model 1 copied."’ Then follows a spirited^defcnce of the Shakespearean trick of relieving tragic scenes with flashes of farce. The actions of the actors are witlnn bounds of reason, and here “ the natural of modem novel ” comes to an end. The union of real life with the wonders of romance was a reconciliation between nature and imagination, giving a new lease of life to Romance in England. The type made strides tow^ards development and consequently entered the borders of fine art.

Walpole’s manifesto in this second preface that his object in diis tale was to make the supernatural appear natural, by the portrayal of characters placed in imusual circumstances, was identical wdth the aim which Coleridge set before himself in the Lyrical Ballads some thirty-five years after. Walter Scott, remarking upon “ the wild interest of the story ”, pointed out that it was “ the first modem attempt to found a tale of amusing fictitni upon tlie basis of the ancient romances of chivalry He goes on to say : “ As, in his model of a Gothic modern mansion, our author had studiously endeavoured to fit to the purposes of modem convenience or luxury, the rich, varied, and compheated tnccry and carving of the ancient cathedral, so, in The Castle of Otranto, it was his object to unite the marvellous turn of incident, and imposing tone of chivalry, exhibited in the ancient romance, ^with that accurate exhibition


THE HRST GOTinC TAIE : ITS POirNTlAllTIlS


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of human character, and contrast of feelings and passions, which is or ought to be, delineated in the modem novel/’

It has been alleged that Walpole could not fully achieve his aim of blending anaent romance and the contemporary novel ; that the char- acters in The Cmtle of Ouanto speak the language of eighieenth-ccntury fiction and exhibit corresponding emotions. Although Walpole could not bestow upon his heroine those delicate shades of character which we get 111 Richardson and bidding, Matilda and Isabella talk and behave, amid a welter of phantoms and supernatural portents, as Clarissa Harlowe or Sophia Western could have done “ Cercamlv the blending of super- natu il e'Vdits and Gothic S'i\agerv with the kaux sLiinments of his own da) was th*' least successful feature of Walpole’s novel,” says R W. Ketton-C'iemer , but Walpole cmp!o\cd the old supernatural agencies of Seudery and I i C'alpienede as tin background to the adventures of personages modelled as closely upon ordinal) hfe as the personages of Fom Joiu^ According to Austin Dobson “the ictions, sentiments, conversation, of the heroes and heroines (;f ancient days were as un- natural as the machines eiiiploscd to put tlnm m motion’ . Walpole did model his chaiacteis on a eemteunporars pattern, but borrowed fiom the old roinaiiees some fanes and miagiiiatioii and art of invention whuh, 111 the literal repiodueti »n of life, he found neglected and forgotte'ii

It has been assumed in some eiiiartcis that Walpole‘\ \tory was a hte'raiv ‘joke ' This .ppears to be a wild surmise, and tins conjecture has no sound foundation Vt Ipole meant it as seriously as he ever meant aii) thing, iiid w is quite sine e le about it He told I lie de Beaumont that when he published hi'’ httle stor' ” it was bceiuse he “was so diffident of its merit” that he gave it > a cianshtuni from an Itahan inanuseript Walpole seiiouslv repeated and amphhed m this letter what he had alft*ady eonveved to Dr Warton • “To tell voii the truth, it was not so much mv intention to recall the exploded marvels of ancient romance as to blend the wonderful of old stoue> with the natural of modern novels ” T he lattet kind of wntM Walpole added, Richardson had made ‘ insupportable ’ to him . “ I thought the nodus was become di^qnus vmdue, and that a god, or at least a ghost, was absolutely necessary to frighten us out of too much se*nsc ” In another letter, written a few days later to the Earl of Hertfoid, he sa^s tlic success of the romance has at least brought him to own it, though the w ildness of it made him tcmbly afiaid.


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Probably this conception of a literary joke arose out of some casual statements made in the past. Scott has called it “ one of the standard works of our lighter literature Miss Dorothy M. Stuart remarked that “ Otranto . . . was a pastime, the sequel to a Gothic dream, die tour de force of a brilliant amateur Walpole himself had ridiculed the ghosts and omens of Clarendon’s stories in his Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors and his dictum was “ there is no medium between believing and laughing at them These need not, however, lead us to assume that this romance was necessarily a literary joke.

Horace Walpole, in his letters to die Rev. William Mason, the Rev. William Cole, and Robert Jephson, frequently discussed the revival of the Gothic romance as initiated by himself and carried on by Clara Reeve. He felt that during the ’eighties the reaction against neo- classicism liad gone too far from reason and common sense. In the ’sixties people needed to be impressed with the charms of the fanciful. While writing to Miss Hannah More, he ventured to tell die truth :

It was fit for nodung but the age in which it was written ; . . . that required only to be amused . . . and rather wanted to be brouglit back to imagination, than to be led astray by it.” Besides, it was^if all his writings, the one Walpole himself most liked. ” I confess, my dear,” he wrote to Madame du Dcffaiid, “ that of all my works this is the only one I enjoyed writing.” And the subsequent rendering may follow thus :

. I have given reins to my imagination till I became on fire with the visions and feelings which it excited. I have composed it in defiance of rules, of critics, and of philosophers ; and it seems to me just so much the better for that very reason. I am even persuaded, that sometime hereafter, when taste shall resume the place which philosophy now occupies, my poor Castle w'lll find admirers ! ”

Walpole was a genius of no ordinarv kind. C. S. Feariisidc, in his introduction to Classic Tales, says : ” The Castle of Otranto deserves the praise of being the outcome of a vision of a world beyond and above that in which the author himself moved and which he described in his letters with a vivacity that w^ould never be expected by those who knew him solely in his ‘ Gotliic Story Even though it has been abused, criticized, praised, and even laughed at, “ The Castle of Otranto^ despite its tinselled gloss, is historically important because of its influence A. T. Hazen of Yale says that In the total number of editions the book has displayed a rather astonishing vitality ”. It is not a great work — Walpole was not a poet, not a creator,^ but it was, indeed, a fruitful


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work. It would be, therefore, worth while to look into the potentialities of this first Gothic tale.

There is hardly a feature of Gothic romance that was not employed by Walpole in The Castle of Otranto. Walpole bequeathed to his successors a remarkable collection of useful ‘ properties \ and his ‘ machinery * and ^ motifs ’ quickly accumulated as conventions of the Gothic school. The Castle of Otranto possessed potentialities in three directions, of which the ingenious innovator was Horace Walpole : the Gothic jnachincry, the atmosphere of gloom and terror, and stock romantic characters. Countless Gotliic novels have in their titles ‘ castle \ * abbey ’, ‘ priory *,

‘ convent ’ or ‘ church A glance at A Gothic Bibliography by Montague Summers would satisfy anyone. The buildings seem to acquire a person- ality and an enipery of their own, over since the Gothic tale of Otranto. The shilling shockers of tlic Gothic school that Hooded the market during the nineteenth century exploited many of the devices employed in the first Gothic tale. Walpole had called his novel The Castle of Otranto : a Gothic Story. The shockers imitated Walpole’s method of using a secondary title. Eventually the crude materials in the novel were transformed to finer qualities in romantic poetry. What in Walpole’s compact book arc merely hints were expanded in die later novels to a greater breadth and variety.

The background of Walpole’s story is a Gothic castle, singularly uncnchanted, but capable of being invested with mysterious grandeur as later in the novels oi' Ann RadclifFe. The Casde has been called the true hero of the book, the hub .round which all action gravitates. The remote castle, with its antique courts and ruined turrets, deserted and haunted chambers where hang age-old ♦ ipestnes ; its grated windows that exclude the light ; its dark, ceric ga'lcries amid whose mouldering gloom is heard the rustle of an uiiseeu robe, a sigh, a hurried footfall where no mortal step should tread ; its dark, machicolated and sullen towers set high upon some precipice of the Apennines frowning upon the valleys below — it is the Castle itself wliich is the focal point of Walpole’s romance. The haunted castle forms the sugc-setting ; while its accessory properties powerfully seize the imagination. If wc eliminate it, the whole fabric of the romance would be bereft of its foundation and its predominant atmosphere would fade away.

The Castle brought in its train other aichitectural associations evoking an atmosphere of Gothic gloom. The bewildering vaults and secret panels, the subterranean passages, tlic broken winding spiral staircases, G.P. — 6


THE GOTHIC FLAME


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the trap-door creaking on rusty hinges, die decayed apartments and mouldering floors — objects trivial and insignificant in Walpole’s hands, were fraught with terrible possibilities. The convent and the cavern, and the deepest dungeon of the darkest tower, all were the accessories of this Gothic castle of romance, and arc hinted in the story of Otranto. “ Horace Walpole’s experiments in Gothic architecture and the machinery of medieval romance are easily ridiculed ”, says W. P. Kcr, “ but the meaning of these diversions can hardly be mistaken : the quickness of his nature required more vivid fancies, more exciting pictures for the mind, than were commonly provided by contemporary taste.”

Walpole successfully creates an atmosphere of mystery, gloom, and terror, through his speciaUzed settings, machinery', character-types, theme, plot, or technique. They arc so selected and combined as to throw out dark suggestions and intensify the mystery. A heavy pall hangs over the Gothic scene, and “ the gloomth of abbeys and cathedrals ” spreads over the atmosphere. The tolling of the midnight bell, and the clank of chains break the silence of the night. Walpole’s “ subterranean passage ” connecting the castle with the church of St. Nicholas, became very popular with the later romance writers of die Gothic school. 1 he palpitating heroine Isabella escapes through these very awfully silent subterranean regions. Her flight is an episode of eerie atmosphere :

The lower part of the castle w'as hollowed into scvctjI intricate cloisters,

. . . All awful silence reigned throughout those subterraneous regions ; except now and then, some blasts of wind, that sliook the d(H»rs .sh«' had passed, and whicli grating on the rusty hinges, were rc-echoed dirough tliat long labynnth of darkness. Every murmur struck her witli new terror. ... In one of those moments she tliought she licartl a sigh. She shuddered and recoiled a few paces, lii a moment she thought she heard the step of some person. Her blood curdled. , . . Every suggestion tliat horror could inspire rushed into her mind.

A sudden gust of wind extinguishes her lamp, leaving her in total darkness, and tlicn a • ‘ clouded ray of moonshine ” comes to her aid. ” Words cannot paint the horror of the princess’s situation.” The succeeding generation of authors attempted to paint the horror of Just such situations after Walpole wrote diat most fruitful and creative description. That paragraph, well adapted to heighten curiosity, bristles with appropriate atmospheric conditions. The blasts of wind, which at the critical moment extinguished Isabella’s lamp, were for more than half a century to be


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heard whistling through the pages of Clara Reeve, Mrs. RaddifFe, ‘ Monk ’ Lewis, Scott, and others. And there is the pale gleam of the moon as

gliding softly between the aisles, and guided by an imperfect gleam of moon-

sliinc that shone family, Manfred steals forward.

In later Gothic novels, at the very niomcnr when the tyrant is engaged in blackest night on some deed of darkness, the same moon emerges from behind a patch of cloud, revealing a ghastly scene tliat alarms him and prevents the crime from being committed. It shines through the Gothic windows of ruined abbeys, dim and mysterious, illuminating to the tyrant’s view the glassy eyes of his dead heir, a witness to the violent and tragic end of his line. The moon is intended to awaken a nocturnal atmosphere fraught with mystery and tinged with fantasy, fear, and sadness. It lends an indistinct and weird shape to each feature. As Eino Railo observes, in The IlaunteJ Castle (1927), the moon “is a theatrical searchlight cast from the wings at suitable moments to reveal to the teri or-strickcri audience visions and scenes of fear

The wind that caused the doors to creak on their rusty hinges, the draught that wandered through the subterranean passages, had a special duty assigned to it by Walpole. It sweeps fast through the vaults in sudden gusts, to extinguish the fluttering candle flame borne by the persecuted heroine just at the time when her flight is at its climax, launch- ing her into aw ful, pitch-black darkness. In later novels, when it whines ui die night outside the dcspairii.g and trembling maiden’s window, the loquacious chamber-maid takes it for a sigliiiig ghost. The lamp of Isabella in the later works, develops the virtue of “ burning blue ” to warn its possessor of an approaching ghost, or reveals the emaciated ‘ unknown ’ locked in the dank dungeon ; its one defect being that it has to go out when most needed by an intrepid explorer or palpitating heroine. Lightning is the mighty ally of wind and storm ; at a critical moment there comes a sudden burst of thunder shaking the foundations of die haunted castle, hinting at the cxistepi e of avenging eternal powers. Thunder and lightning recur again in the later work of the Schauer- Romantiks.

While enumerating Walpole’s innovation of Gothic machinery, one cannot afford to omit “ die Ancestral Portrait ” and “ the time-yellowed scroU”. The inyst^^rious manuscript is usually discovered in some secret drawer or dusty corridor of the deserted wing and contains the


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detailed confession of some foul murder committed in the past, or perhaps uselessly warns the inquisitive heroine or hero to “look no further In later works, these scrolls arc tied with faded ribbon, and around them hovers a breath of past happiness or of sorrows now ended. Walpole endowed “ the ancestral portrait ” with life, and the power of stepping down from its frame. In tlie hands of Mrs. RadcUffc it turns into a miniature invested with tender memories, and in the later Gothic novels there is displayed on every castle wall the feature of some glorious ancestor. Finally it was to prove effectual in transmitting a sombre impression of that mysterious Melnioth the Wanderer, where this property is endowed with a demonic power, awakening an indefinite suspicion of some hidden dreadful crime, as the portrait instils a magnetic terror wdth its mysterious blazing eyes.

Besides these Gothic settings, Walpole had anticipated the character- types, The gloomy tyrant or B}Tonic hero is foreshadowed in Walpole’s Manfred, imitated in Radcliffc's Montoiu. Walpole gave the first sketch of the dark, handsome, melancholy, passionate, and mysterious hero of Byronic poems. Bianca describes to her mistress her ideal love “with large black eyes, a smootli white forehead and manly Airliiig locks like jet Theodore, at the end of the story, carried with him “ a melancholy that had taken possession of his soul Here is the progenitor of melancholy Lara, or the wild Corsair, or die handsome Giaour. The Gothic heroine or damsel in distress had always been a beautiful shadow, ever since Walpole pictured Isabella. Her beauties and virtues attain perfection in later works as the realism in her character tends to melt away.

With Theodore the noble peasant hero with his birth-mark, the theme of the long-lost relative emerges. The chief characters of Walpole’s romance, the usurping tyrant, the persecuted heroine, the “ noble peasant “ hero, the hermit, the monk, and die comic element supplied by garrulous, ghost-scared domestic servants — all became stock properties of later Gothic novels ; as did the general plan of Walpole’s plot : the restoration to hereditary rights of an unknown and defrauded heir by means of supernatural agents acting on behalf of divine justice. Jerome is the prototype of many a count disguised as father confessor, Bianca the model of many a cliattcring servant. The imprisoiK'd wife reappears in countless romances, including Mrs. RadcliiFc’s Sicilian Romance (1790), and Mrs. Roche’s Children of the Abbey (1798). Along with all this, Walpole’s importation of “ old romance ’’ material


THE HRST GOTHIC TALE : ITS POTENTIAUTIES 6 1

bequeathed to the later novels the pirates» prophecies^ dreams, and birth- marks, which recur again and again.

In order that the passions and characters could develop new dimensions, Walpole placed the setting of his talc in Italy, and horror-romanticism long retained tliis love for a southern setting. This longing for the South, for an alien and distant setting, is typical of die romantic attitude, and reflects the effort of the Gothic mind to break away from the fetters of homely experience. The southern setting made possible truly romantic effects ; it was associated with monasteries and mysterious monastic life, and there the reign of the Inquisition was no very distant matter, and could supply a scries of pleasing and torturing visions to Protestant readers. The Castle of Otranto is in Italy, whither also Mrs. Radclilfe places her Udolpho and The Italian and her Sicilian Romance- The action of The Romance of the Forest takes place in France, and that of The Monk in Spain. St. Leon is a Frenchman, Schcmoli an Italian.

Thus the hints vaguely thrown out by Walpole, his stray suggestions and use of crude Gotliic properdcs — castle, picture, vaults, galleries, subterranean passages, monasteries, convents, statues, ruins, music, moon, and wind — everything was developed by later novelists and made to yield maxinuim results.

The defects of the machinery arc glaring to a modern eye, but they matter as little as the fallen tree-trunks, tlic strewn rocky pebbles or the snowdrifts which retard for a while, but do not stem, the Alpine torrent in its tumultuous cours t down the mountain-side. Austin Dobson, in his memoirs of Horace Walpole, says : “ A generation like the present for whom fiction has unravelled so many intricate combinations ... no longer feels its soul harrowed up m the same way as did his hushed and awe-struck readers of the days of tlic tlnrd George. . . . We doubt if that many-plumcd and monstrous hehnet, which crashes through stone walls and cellars, could now give a single shiver.” To Miss Birkhead “ His (Walpole’s) supernatural machinery is as undigaified as the panto- mime properties of Jack the Giant Killer. The huge body scattered piecemeal about the castle, the unwieldy sabic, borne by a htindrcd men, the helmet ‘ tempestuously agitated ’, and even the ‘ skeleton in hermit’s cowl ’ arc not alarming but mildly ridiculous.” It is true tliat the supernatural machinery, its actions and interference, is rather too frequent and palls constantly on die reader’s mind ; wliilc supernafiral occurrences are brought forward sometimes in strong daylight. But Walpole’s task was stupendous ; his object was to wind up die feelings of his reader


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till they became for a moment identified with those of a ruder age, and to harmonize the phantoms and apparitions with the manners of feudal times. This was a task which required no litdc learning, no ordinary degree of fancy, and no common portion of genius to execute. And he very nearly succeeded !

The potentialities of the book can never be questioned. When wc look at the careless profusion of cyclamen petals, we are amazed that such a rich exotic sprinkle of colours should hacc sprung from a mere grain of seed. And so it was with the productive seed The Castle of Otranto that gave rise to an immortal school in fiction.

Considering what Walpole contributed to the novel as an art-form, it would be wortli while examining his technique, and analysing his art of characterization, atmosphere and description, his method of plot construction, and use of dialogue, suspense, and climax.

Fiction in die first three-quarters of the eighteenth century had concentrated on reason, common sense, and satirical wit. The birth of The Castle of Otranto satisfied the requirements of the new age which was groping after new sources of pleasure. There was from now onwards a longing for imagination, mystery, and gloom. From a stress on photograpliic representation of life, there was an increased interest in action and adventure. Walpole funiished writers widi the materials to work on. Under his influence, the attraction towards chivalry paved the way for historical talcs. But Walpole’s goblin talc also gratified the love of mystery by its casde, its technique of suspense, and its element of terror. It diffused a new spirit, and became a finger- post to mark the art of fiction undergoing a romantic revival. The novel was to make great strides towards maturity. The theory of truthful characterization W'as constantly emphasized during the eighteenth century, but Walpole injected variety into the plot and setting of the story by bringing in medieval marvels. From now onwards fiction would gradually tend to favour the romantic ratlicr than the realistic type.

In more than one way The Castle of Otranto was a challenge to the methods and subject-matter of contemporary novelists. It substituted invention for observation, a picture of the past for that of the present, the supernatural and the marvellous for ordinary everyday experiences. The conception was original, and tlie attempt was abundantly rich in results. Otranto was a revolt against the moral lessons, sentiment, domestic familiarities, and boisterous rowdyism of middlo-class fiction.


THE HRST GOTHIC TALE : ITS POTENTIALITIES 63

Walpole’s crude manifesto of the novel of the future hints at the con- fession of poetic faith put forward forty years later in Lyrical Ballads. Transferred to the realm of poetry and generalized into philosophy, these were the respective spheres of Wordsworth and Coleridge. We miss in Otranto the delicate representation of the follies and foibles of eighteenth-century life, as well as that healthy animalism that characterized the school of Fielding ; we arc now bordering on regions of romance, of secluded cottages and Rousscauistic sentiment, of hills and barren moors.

Walpole endows his characters with distinct individuality, in tunc with the age and nature of the story. Manfred is presented as an embodi- ment of J'eudal tyranny, whose courage, art, and duplicity arc true ingredients of the barbarous chieftain of dark ages. He can excite fear and pity when his pride is quelled and his race extinguished. The touches of remorse and natural feeling in Ills character make him human and draw our sympathies. As a contrast to this selfish and tyrannical prince stand the pious monk and the patient Hippolita. Theodore is the juvenile hero, who seems to liave walked out of the pages of old fairy- tales, and Matilda has all the necessary interesting sweetness to match him as the heroine. Walpole deliberately keeps the character of Isabella subdued, in order to relieve that of Manfred’s daughter. But the magic spell of romance is broken when Isabella becomes the bride of Theodore.

The Critical Rcviein, making allowances for the *' monstrosities of this story ”, said that * the characicrs are well marked, and the narrative kept up with surprising spirit and propriety The Monthly Review praised Walpole’s language as “ accurate and elegant ” and the characters as “highly finished". It concluded. “The disquisition into human manners, passions, and pursuits, indicate the keenest penetration and the most perfect knowledge of mankind.” It was “ a work of genius evincing great dramatic powers ”.

Indeed, The Castle of Otranto is a deftly constructed piece of work preserving all the dramatic unities, moving straight towards the climax, and emphasizing tlic structural technique 10 excite the rcatler’s curiosity. The five chapters of the story resemble five acts of a tragedy^, and the complications of the plot arc resolved only in the end. The various portents succeed one another in a most striking manner and gradually prepare ns for the grand catastrophe. They bear each upon the other towards the accomplishment of the ancient prophecy, announcing the ruin of the house of Manfrcid- Despite the extraordinary incidents of a


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dark and barbarous age, the story within the compass of natural events is happily detailed ; its progress is uniform, its events interesting and well combined, and the conclusion grand, tragical, and affecting. Warburton, writing in his notes to Pope’s Imitations of Horaie^ said : “ . . . We have been lately entertained with what I venture to call, a Masterpiece, in the Fable ; . . . The piece I mean, is. The Castle of Otranto . . . where a beautiful imagination, supported by strength of judgment, has enabled the author to go beyond his subject, and effect the full purpose of the Ancient Tragedy ; that is, to purge the passions by pity and terror, in colouring as great and harmonious as in any of the best dramatic writers.”

While this dramatic conception was, in the hands of Walpole, an innovation in technique, the desire to arouse curiosity and suspense was another new feature of this novel. The basic principle of construction in The Castle of Otranto is ‘ suspense *, and Walpole creates suspense even in minor incidents and scenes, and employs various tricks to excite curiosity and heighten the tension of nerves :

“ What noise is tliat ? ”

” It is the wind ”, said Matilda, ” whistling through the battlements in

the tower above. You have heard it a thousami times.”

Matilda and Theodore arc both startled by ” a deep and hollow groan ” They listened ; but perceived no further noise : they both concluded it the eftbet of pent-up vapours.” This very technique was to become a fine art in tlic hands of Mrs. Radcliffe. Half-finished sentences are another device used by Walpole. When Frederic seeks tlie holy hermit in the Holy Land, he finds him dying ; but the actual death docs not take place dll the hermit has excited curiosity by the revelation of half a secret.

Written witli a vigour, violent and abrupt in methods of treatment, the story moves briskly, widi dialogue and action ; and it is for the dialogue that Walpole reserves his strength. He mentions in his preface to the first edition of the novel : “ There is no bombast, no similes, flowers, digressions, or unnccessaiy descriptions. Everything tends directly to the catastrophe.” The dramadc power of the story holds our attention from tlie opening sentences. Even the prejudiced Macaulay said : “ The story . . . never flags for a single moment. . . . There are no digressions, or unseasonable descriptions, or long speeches. Every sentence carries the action forward. . . . The excitement is constantly

renewed No reader probably ever thought the book dull.” He goes

on to add : ” He keeps the mind of thp reader constantly attentive.


TH£ FIRST GOTHIC TALE I ITS POTENTIALITIES 6$

and constantly entertained. He had strange ingenuity peculiarly his own.” The language is simple, nervous, and appropriate to the several characters. George Hardiiigc, writing to John Nichols on 22 June 1813, said ” The Castle of Otranto is a model of its kind ; and there is a wonderful grace in tlie language, which is neither too familiar nor too elevated. It seems inseparable from the charaaers, the scenery, and the incidents.*’

Altlioiigb there arc none of the luxuriant, florid, and highly varnished landscape paintings with which Mrs. RadclifFe often adorned her romances, yet there are in Otranto certain astonishing pictorial effects that were exclusive to Walpole. One brief and sublime description is of the moonlight vision o( Alfonso dilated to immense magnitude, with the astonished group of spectators in the front, and behind them shattered ruins of the castle. Miss Dorothy Scarborough has asserted that “ the genealogical founder of the family of Gothic ghosts is the giant apparition in The Castle of Otranto Walpole’s canvas resembles the manner of El Greco where in a sombre, arid landscape, hung with thunderclouds, emaciated figures flicker with uneartlily eiiiotioii while a streak of pallid lightning adds a mysterious terror to the scene.

Walpole reflects the passions and the sms and miseries of human souls in the magic glass of Otranto, ami sets out to offer a combination of the supernatural agency with human interest. He makes use of the super- natural not merely as an instrument of terror, but also as a means to create a medieval atmosphere, fhe novel is set in Italy, at some vague period between 1095 1-43 during the period of the crusades.

Walpole used the Castle of Otranto as Victor Hugo used Notre Dame. Giving a medieval flavour to the whole, it was more than a setting for his story. Walpole attempted to paint a picture of domestic life and Jiuninrs such as might actually have exisfi'd during feudal times, and by bringing in the supernatural macliinery he hinted at the superstitions of the olden times. Therefore the natural parts of the narrative are blended with marvellous occurrences. Surprise and fear founded on supernatural events arc harmoniously adjusted to tlie mam spring of interest in the central plot. The bold assertion ot the aci'ual existence of phantoms and apparitions seems to harmonize naturally with manners ot the Middle Ages, and casts a powerful spell upon the reader’s mind.

The desire to be true to medieval costume contributes in part to the atmosphere of the period which Walpoli very successfully creates in the description of Lord Frederic, his Knights, and their train entering the castle. This picture evokes a realistic impression of those olden


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times : the bell tolls at the postern gate ; the brazen trumpet sounds when the Cavalcade arrives at the castle ; a herald conveys to Manfred the wishes of his lord, and in failure of compliance delivers his master’s challenge to a single combat by throwing down his warder ; there are references to tlic laws of arms, of hospitality, and chivalry ; Matilda waits on her mother on the ramparts of the castle in the cool of the evening. All these and other details are a true reflection of bygone ages.

One need not be surprised when the Surrealists claim The Castle of Otranto as an example of their school, for it is a claim they can justifiably make. Professor Dobree has pointed out that “ Horace Walpole was a sensitive, and perhaps the first surrealist, writer It is a pity that the bibhophile genius of Montague Summers, a keen admirer and collector of Gothic novels, failed to perceive the surrealistic element in the first Gothic talc. In the beautifully written last chapter of his monumental work, The Gothic Quests he remarks : “ The connexion wliich the Surrealists are anxious to trace between their own patlis and principles and the ideals and inspiration of the Gothic noveUsts . . . to niG appears to have no existence. . . . Such argumaits as arc adduced . . . seem to be based upon misapprehensions ... are far-fetched and fantastical. ” But when we consider the romantic principles of surrealist art, as evident in The Castle of Otranto, the part played by ‘ unconscious ’ and ‘ automatic writing ’ in this goblin talc, and the methods employed by Walpole, the claim of the surrealists is finally established. It is interesting and fruitful therefore to compare the effect of this novel with some of the paintings of the Surrealistic School, and attempt an analysis of the impulses that led Walpole to such a fantastic creation.

Let us first determine what exactly is implied by Surrealism, what arc Its methods and aims, and where lie hidden the qualities, values and inspiration of this “ conscious and deUberate artistic piinciple Herbert Read has defined Surrealism as “ a reaffirmation of the romantic principle — a process like tliat of life, of creation, of liberation ”. To use a grandi- loquent phrase to describe the general aim of Surrealism, we may call it “ The Renascence of Wonder A surreahst painter “ turns all his perceptive faculties inwards, to the realm of liis subjective fancies, liis day dreams, his prc-conscious images. He replaces observation by intuition, analysis by synthesis, rcahty by super-reality.” The dream and tlie reality resolve therefore into a reaUty absolute, a surreahty. Arnold


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Hauser describes it thus : “ The dream becomes the paradigm of the whole-world picture, in which reality and unreality, logic and fantasy, banality and sublimation of existence, form an indissoluble and inexplicable unity.”

The ‘ surrdalistc * finds his best inspiration in “ psychic automatism ” and in “ the mystery of the subconscious The first of tliese is directed towards expressing the true processes of thought, and the latter translates objects into strange, horrible, or sentimental forms. So the main doctrine of this school expresses a belief in the higher reality of certain forms of association : in the omnipotence of dreams, and in the detached play of thought. It believes that these hidden springs of the * unconscious ’ can be tapped if imagination is given free rein, and if thought is allowed to be automatic ; and a new truth, and a new art. will arise from the chaos of the ‘ unconscious ’ and the irrational. And thereby, plunging into the unconscious, what Breton calls ‘‘ a vertiginous descent into ourselves ” into the whole force of the mental personality, the Surrealists take over the psycho-analytical method of free-association, that is, the automatic development of ideas and their reproduction without any rational, moral, or aesthetic censorship. The repressed content of the ‘ unconscious * mingles freely with the more conscious images and a new art form results.

There was a constant conflict bctw’ecn the ‘ personality ’ and ‘ character ’ of Walpole, and if w'c begin to psychoanalyse Walpole’s personality we may suspect that he had suppressed his impulses in the process of building up character. But liis repressed self broke loose that fateful night in 1764 when he had a dream that gave birth to The Castle of Otranto. The part played by ‘ unconscious ’ and the “ automatism of creative activity,” which Andre Breton has always made the criterion of a surrealist attitude in art, is apparent in the formation of the first Gotliic novel. The story sprang from a dream. The writing was guided by impulse into which the subconscious partly intruded. “ The produc- tion of such a work {The Castle of Otranto) . . . approaches, indeed, notliing less than the surreaUst method . . . highly significant in dicir cumulative effect, must be put to the credit of dreams and oPthe employ- ment of automatic writing.’’

We have already noted that the Castle is a picture of Trinity College, Cambridge. Walpole had paid a visit to Cambridge in 1763 (a year before he wrote The Castie of Otranto) and saw Trinity, St. John s, and Queen’s. He had probably forgotten how closely this short visit preceded the writing of his ^romance. Walpole probably found liis


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courtyard at Trinity CoQegc, since Trinity’s main court was the only one to possess towers and gates, as well as chapel and hall. Otranto’s halt corresponds more closely to a Cambridge hall than to any room at Strawberry.”

So during those hours of feverish creation Walpole unconsciously utilized a number of experiences, incidents, and impressions, buried in his unconscious memory. Pacing the silent and deserted chambers at Strawberry, and walking along its loixcly galleries in summer dusks or winter eves with a candle in hand, he probably yielded to strange imaginings ; ghosts, magic shapes and visions airy ”, haunted him, and the eyes in the portrait of Lord Falkland cast a curious spell. The waking thoughts merged into dream visions and became a collection of sensory images and visual scenes. The Castle of Otranto has been called by Doughty “ a vision or dream projected into real life ” — really, it was an exprc.ssion of Walpole’s hidden dreams.

In 1721 was published The Secret History of Pythagoras. Part II. Translated from the original copy lately found at Otranto in Italy. By J. W. M. D. Its second edition came out in 1751. Walpole stated that ” it was not till the story was finished that he looked itp in the map of the kingdom of Naples for a well-sounding name and that Otranto was sonorous But there is a remarkable similarity between the manuscript device and the title of Walpole’s tale, and it may be possible that Walpole had read die w'ork. Miss Alice M. Killcn, in her dissertation on Le Roman Terrijiant oh Roman Noir (1915), page r.s, note ii, has pointed out the similarity between die Manfred of history and the Manfred of die first Gothic novel. The points of resemblance have been adroidy summarized in the admirable edition of the work by Oswald Doughty. It appears therefore diat Walpole’s past studies and scholarly interests had worked their way through the * unconscious ’.

As regards the “ automatism of creative activity ”, a point so much emphasized by the Surrealists, one finds that Walpole had plunged into the writing of his novel without premeditation ; it is a sample of ” un- premeditated? art ” ; and he was always rather proud of the artless manner in which he had gone about liis composition. In his letter to Cole on 9 March 1765 he mentions : ” I began to write without knowing in the least what I intended to say or relate.” One summer mom found him moved by the mcmoiy of a vivid dream ; during the day its influence was strong upon him, and with the deepening hours of twilight he took up his quill and started scribbling. Solit^ in liis castle, he sat night


THE mST GOTHIC TALE : ITS POTENTIALITIES 69

after night, scribbling and sipping coffee, wandering farther and farther into a fantastic and visionary world, escaping from the bitterness of grim realities. The summer nights one after another 'mingled with the dawn and Walpole, utterly fatigued and exhausted, sometimes with the last sentence incomplete, broke away and flung himself upon his bed. On tl^e eighth night he laid down his quill. Now, if ^is was not “ automatic writing *’ what else could it be ?

It has always been the fiiiictioii of art to stretch the mind beyond the limits of understanding. Herbert Read sa)^ in The Meaning of Art that “ distance beyond may be spiritual, or transcendental, or perhaps, merely fantastical The Castle of Otranto belongs to die third category. Art in its wider sense is an extension of the personality ; while a personality widiout coiittadictions is incapable of creating a work of art. “ The contradictions of the personality arc resolved in die work of art,” says Herbert Read, “ diat is one of die first prmciples of Surrealism.” It is needless to point out here the inherent contradictions in the personality of Walpole. Those have been admirably indicated by Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf.

Walpole’s ow'u method employed in his Gothic story is truly sur- realistic. His inanncr of ‘ telescoping ’ different ages, settings, and characters, liis strong manipnlation of “ the sense of contrast ”, his use of dialogue and style, his story as it unfolds swiftly giving a nightmarisli sensation : all these arc methods of surrealism in particular. The scenes change with a dramatic swiftness, the incidents evoke a nightmarish sensation, and the whole story has a very drcain-like iiiscqucncc. The talc had its origin in the fantasy of an cxliausted and repressed brain, and wc do not fail to find the ” unearthly impulse ” of the original dream lingering in the narrative. The itmosphere ot The Castle of Otranto is stamped by unreason and exaggeration of its events, and one docs not fail to observe the nightmare juxraposition of unrelated objects. The story sums up all the fantastic possibilities inherent in ‘ Surrealism ’ : the fatal descent of the vast and gigantic black piunied helmet on the little prince has, besides its sensation of contrast, a sinister significance ; the portrait that walks sighing from the frame and vanishes into an upper chamber ; the statue that bleeds ; a skeleton wrapped in hermit’s cowl ; the gigantic armour-clad foot in the gallery and the gigantic hand on the banister ; the immense Brobdingnagiaii sword carried by one hundred gentlemen with difficulty ; the nodding and waving plumes of the giant helmet ; the iiarrativc unfolding a tale of unexpected


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paternities and dreadful injustices ; and, finally, Alfonso's enormous spectre bursting the Castle of Otranto asunder. It is all absurd and nonsensical and oddly exciting to read ; it evokes the same sensations as might the paintings of a Picasso, a Chirico, or a Chagall. It might also be likened to one of the early Flemish paintings depicting the burial of Christ, wherein the anguished grimaces of the emaciated creatures, tlieir stiff, migainly gestures seem to add a greater horror and poignancy to the scene.

The first ‘ surrealistic ’ method that we observe in Walpole’s technique is the method of ‘ telescoping *. He attempts to ‘ telescope ’ age and characters. He wrote in the preface to the second edition of The Castle of Otranto that his aim was to blend two kinds of romance, the ancient and the modern ". It is a telescoping of the imagination and im- probability ” of the former witli “ the rules of probability ” in die latter. He said that he wanted to make his characters think, speak, and act as they would do in extraordinary circumstances. He introduced the supernatural in contrast to the natural, represented real personages in unusual, unreal circumstances, and tried to picture realistically human nature and its reactions in different settings and environments, ^his is the grotesque mediod of which Cliagall is a master.

The contemporary figures are placed in medieval settings. As the heroine or the hero move about the medieval scene, the castles and moats, vaults, turrets and galleries appear strange and awful to them. Walpole's Isabella is no more born to the medieval scene than arc Pamela or Evelina, Uprooted from her proper society with contemporary emotional and intellectual pattern intact, thrust into a barbarous and primitive age, subjected to the various menaces of die Dark Ages, she serves as a projection of the nervous system of her own time, as a sensitive barometer of emotional reaction to horrors, and clearly, as transmitter of the thrills of their exposure. The effect thus is of a thing taken away from its own particular setting, an impression of “ the grotesque ” tliat justifies compari.son with the paintings of Chirico.

The surrc&st painters base their colours on the principle of contrast. The same sinister tones and overtones, a display of light and shade, effects of sound and silence, we find in The Castle of Otranto. There are contrast- ing situations and incidents displaying pitch-black darkness on the one hand, intermitted by thunder and lightning ; gloomy recesses and dark dungeons contrastingly presented to a gleam of moonshine or the ray of a dickering lamp. There arc, besides die ^sublimity of description and


THE HRST GOTHIC TALE : ITS POTENTIAUTIES 71

moonlit effects, contrast presented in the dieme itself : the emotion of ‘ fear ’ balanced against that of ‘ love *.

The third method in ‘ Surrealism ’ is a queer Combination of the ‘ trivial * and the ‘ mighty *, a mixture of the * big * and ‘ small The ‘ gigantic ’ helmet descending on a ‘ hide ’ prince, the gigantic hand in armour and the giant’s foot, the spectre of the dilated Alfonso cracking the walls of the castle, a large portrait inspiring observers with fear, are some of the tricks used by Wdpolc. The statue bleeds, and the figure in the portrait walks away, and Walpole masters both the active and inactive agents of terror : the villain and the castle.

The Castle oj Otranto is particularly surrealist in its dialogue, and the juxtaposition of the language and sentiments, of the heau monde with Gothic violence. Commenting on Walpole’s strange combination of words and far-fetched allusions iMacaulay said * “ He coins new words, distorts the sense of old words, and twists sentences into forms which make grammarians stare. ... His wit was, in its essential properties, of the same kind with that of Cowley and Donne. Like this, it consisted in an exquisite perception of points of analogv, and points of contrast too subtile for common observation. Like them, Walpole perpetually startles us by the ease with which he yokes together ideas between which there would seem at first sight to be no comiection.”

Few writers can have fluctuated more in critical extreme than the autlior of the first Gothic novel. Wilmarth Lewis finds that “ time and patience are required to understand Horace Walpole , To his own times, which knew notliing hi> letter -writing, he was a brilliant historian and essayist. Byron, during the nineteenth century, stated that Walpole was a greater writer than any living “ be he who he may ”. To Crokcr and Lord Liverp^nd, he was t'»c most evil m.'in that liad ever lived, for Walpole had poisoned liistory at its source. Carlyle saw him as a light shining in darkness ; to Macaulay he was pate de foie gras produced by an effete society. The latter pictured Walpole as a gossipy little dilettante, cold-blooded and sneering, whose mind was “ a bundle of whims and affectations ”, and whose features ” w'erc covered by mask within mask He went so far as to rematk that the works of Walpole were ” literary luxuries ”, a product of “ an unhealthy and disorganised mind To Macaulay, Walpole’s works are ” destitute of every charm ”, which only can amuse without exciting He never convinces the reason, nor fills the imagination, nor touches the heart. Isaac D Israeli in 1812 saw in W^alpole ** fancy and ingenuity , and a recourse to the


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marvellous in imagination He continues to say that “ The Castle of Otranto and The Mysterious Mother are the productions of ingenuity rather than genius ; and display the miracles of Art rather than the spontaneous creations of Nature To Hazlitt, as far hack as 1819, The Castle of Otranto appeared '* dry, meagre, and without effect . . . done upon the false principles of taste shocking the senses and ** having no purchase upon the imagination

The twin currents of ridicule and eulogy continue to flow down to the twentieth century. To C. S. Fcamsidc “ Walpole lacks imagination ; his characters arc wooden in motive and in action To Oswald Doughty “ aesthetically The Castle of Otranto is a failure. . . . His (Walpole’s) imagination was not sufficiently clear and intense for artistic creation. . . . Walpole tried but failed to re-create the enchanted castle of his subconscious dream world.” To Alice M. Killcn ” he (Walpole) has carried his wonders too far, until they are almost ridiculous ”. Walpole liad, according to Miss Killcn, no mastery over the half-shades that heighten the mysterious and the unknown ; rather he leads his readers rapidly from horror to horror, wonder to wonder, and does not prepare diem, by tlirills cunningly regulated, to receive the finishing stroke of super- stitious terror. But ” it is a strange sort of niggardliness ”, says the Centletnans AJaga:rm\ ” which denies the praise of genius to The Castle of Otranto. It exhibits picturesque fancy, invention and even . . . pathos.” Mrs. Elizabeth Carter thought it ” a great pity that Horace Walpole ever wrote any tiling but The Castle of Otranto ”. And it is enough tliat in our own century we liavc had the praises of George Saintsbury, Lytton Strachey, and Bonamy Dobrcc.

Although “ Horace Walpole has been the object of hatred, adulation, condescension, and respect,” there is no doubting the statement made in the Dedicatory Epistle to Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott that ” Horace Walpole wrote a goblin talc which has thrilled through many a bosom As Stephen Gwynii remarked : “ The book is a literary curiosity ” ; and as MelviUc observed ; ” With The Castle of Otranto^ Walpole struck an unexplored vein of romance.” It is ” literally an epoch-making book ”, said Montague Summers, ” in fine, a notable landmark in the history of English taste and English literature

Yet, docs he require the patronage of these eulogies ? He needs ” no more such laurels ” but ” shall be quite content with a sprig of rosemary thrown after him ”. In 1773 he wrote to Madame du Dcflfand : ” My dreams will never again give me a castle of Otranto. It is a sad thing to


THE FIRST GOTHIC TALE : ITS POTENTIALITIES 73

exchange dreams for accounts.” And will it not be too harsh to bring his ‘ dreams ’ to ‘ accounts and weigh his “ midsummer fantasy ” on “ the balance of criticism ” ? But there is no doubting one fact : that the tale had vast potentialities ; the seed sown by Walpole did flower and bear fruit, and then ran to seed again. The Castle of Otranto continues till today a towering achievement of art and beauty exciting curiosity and admiration.


G.F. — 7


CHAPTER IV


HISTORICAL-GOTHIC SCHOOL : THE HEIRS OF ‘ OTRANTO *

The first offshoot from The Castle of Otrofito is the Historical-Gothic school where, in an atmosphere of supematufal terror, is portrayed a distinct panorama of history or chivalry. Such works depict events and personages of a particular historical period presenting its manners and customs through fictitious characters, or they introduce local colour of the Middle Ages, diffusing over all an air of mystery and superstitious dread. Montague Summers states, in The Gothic Quest : “ The Historical Novel — of a kind — flourished from the reign of Charles II until the beginning of the eighteenth century,” and was most vigorously manifest during its Gothic phase when it was decked out in magnified splendour borrowed from tlic historical legends of the times. The glamour, the picturesqueness of past ages pervade die sensibility of diis first bjanch of Gothic root.

Mrs. Barbauld objected to this mode of fiction w'liich, according to her, obscured the steady and strong light of history with artificial colours and paraded w’ith false pageantry the men and events of remote periods. She mentioned “ a romance of w'hich Edward the Black Prince is the hero, by Clara Reeve,” where, ” the manners of his court are drawn with such splendid colouring of heroic virtue, as certainly neither that court, nor any other deserved Commenting upon Sophia Lee’s The Recess^ she said that Historical-Gothic treatment has created “ a prejudice against the character of our Elizabeth, arising from her cruelty to two imaginary daughters of Mary, Queen of Scots, who never existed but in the pages of a novel ”. But such a method of weaving fictitious circumstances into the texture of history is not altogedicr deplorable for it makes the !iistorical figures linger in the memory with all the vividness of dramatic characters.

The Castle of Otranto has a typically medieval scene where Frederic, Duke of Vicenza, arrives with his train of a hundred knights. Miss Reeve, in The Old Enj^lish Baron, presents a more definite picture of feudalism : besides the historical colouring of Henry Vi’s times, tliere is a spectacular scene of medieval challenge of which the details are carefully

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'mSTORlCAL-GOTHIC SCHOOL : THE HEIRS OF ‘ O IRANTC) ’ 75

adjusted to historical usage. Even as late as 1826, in Gaston Je Blondeville, Mrs. RadclifFc displays a rich profusion of historical chivalric pageantry with all its medieval costume and tournament and paintings on the tapestry of the castle hall. The arrival of King Henry’s noble train at Kenilworth is accompanied with much pomp and splendour. But the work which can fairly claim to be the first specimen of Historical- Gothic romance distinct from The Castle of Otranto is Longstoord, Earl of Salisbury^ “ An Historical Romance” in two volumes (1763), published anonymously, but written by Thomas Leland (1722-85), a Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, who was a classical scholar and an erudite histonan.

The scene of this novel is laid in the reign of Henry III. William, Earl of Salisbury, the famous ‘ Longsword ’ of history, son of Henry II and the fair Rosamond, returns from adventures in France. He brings with him die daughter of an old friend whom he has rescued from robbers. Disguised as a Canterbury pilgrim, he lands on the Cornish coast just where his dearest friend Randolph is strolling, to wliom he forthwith recounts his adventures during his long absence from England : shipwreck, imprisonment, attacks by robbers, treachery, attempted murder by an enemy, refuge with a friendly abbot, and eventually his escape. In an equally tedious fashion Sir Randolph tells the carl how Longsword has lost his wife, liis son, and his lands and castle to his enemy Hubert de Burgh. The latter is aji actual historical personage who in history defeated the FreLch tlcct under Eustace the Monk and had ruled England with an iron hand during Henry’s minorit)'. Longsword seeks shelter with his friend while the narrative unfolds the trials and sorrows ot Ella, Countess Salisbury, who is the typical Gothic heroine — a personification of sensibility, grief, and tears. Subsequent events introduce Henry III, and the story moves with all complexities of plot until poetic justice is established and Longsword is reunited with his faithful wife and son.

Although crude in many respects, sometimes awkward and ill- jointed, this romance for the first time ci nbines a real atmosphere of antiquity and authentic detail. It contains practically every ingredient of Historical-Gothic romance except supernatural machinery.

Fifteen years after Lorgsword, Clara Reeve attempted a synthesis of Leland’s medievalism and AX'^alpolc’s supernatural macliiiicry in The Champion of Virtue : a Gothic Story (i777)> which was republished in the following year as The Old English Baron. ” This story is of a species


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which» though not new, is out of the common track/' The setting is Lovel Castle in the reigns of Henry V and VI ; and the manners are supposed to indicate chivalrous times. The plot is simple and well connected : it turns upon the discovery of a murder and the consequent restoration of an heir to his tide and estate. Sir Philip Harday, returning to England after diirty years' absence abroad in French and Mohammedan wars, finds his own family extinct and himself a stranger in the casde of his dearest friend, now long dead. He is wariicd by the gliost of tliis fnend in a dream that it rests with him to restore the hopes of die latter’s house. In this dream he accompanies the apparition to his castle, hears dismal groans, and seems to sink down into a dark and friglitful cave where he beholds the bloody armour of his friend. The scene then changes to a wild heath where preparations arc being made for a combat. Next he is transported to his own house where he meets his friend “ living, and in all the bloom of youth, as when he first knew him

This dream is fully verified by the sequel. Sir Philip’s friend had been basely murdered by his next of kin, and buried in a chest under die floor of a closet in the Eastern apartment. His wife, tcrrificcTby the murderer into quitting the castle, was given out for dead, and a false funeral held. She died unrecognized in the fields near the casde, leaving a new’-bom child who was brought up as Edmund Twyford, the son of the peasants who found him and buried his mother’s body. “ It was reported that the castle was haunted, and that the ghosts of Lord and Lady Lovel had been seen b) several of the servants. Whoever went into this apartment were terrified by uncommon noises, and strange appearances ; at length this apartment was wholly shut up, and tlie servants were forbid to enter it.” Being haunted every night, the murderer at last sold the casde to his brother-in-law, the Lord Fitz-Owen, and left the country. The latter, the good lord of tl)c story, attracted by the virtues and graces of yoimg Edmund, brought him up with his own sons. Circumjtances so shape that this youth is obliged to sleep for tw'o nights in the Eastern wing, to testify to all whether it be haunted or not.

In the ghost-ridden suite is still preserved an old suit of armour, its breastplate stained with blood. As Edmund explores the chamber he finds furniture decayed and falling to pieces, the fabrics moth-eaten ; the portraits of the rightful owners turned towards the wall, and the whole atmosphere a mournful reminder of the past. Suddenly Edmiuid’s lamp is blown out, leaving him in utter darkness, and he listens to a


-mSTORICALr-GOTHIC SCHOOL ! THE HEIRS OF " OTRANTO 77

hollow rustling noise as die door claps with a great violence, which is ascribed to the advent of Joseph, his old faithful friend.

The same night he dreams that steps ascend the staircase, the door opens, and a warrior in full armour enters, leading a beautiful but pale and wan lady. They approach the bed, declare him their son, and, clasp- ing liands solemnly, bless him. The next night, as old Joseph and father Oswald arc relating to Edmund all dicy know of the late Lord and Lady, not forgetting to mention Edmund’s resemblance to the former, all three arc startled by a violent noise in the rooms and underneath them like a clashing of arms and something falling with violence. Together they descend, and find a closet the dooi of which miraculously yields to Edmund alone. Joseph identifies the bloodstained suit of armour which belonged to the late Lord Lovcl. Edmund, having interviewed the peasants and obtained certain proof of his lineage from the crested ornaments found with him, speedily departs and takes refuge with Sir l^hilip. The latter challenges the wicked U>rd, defeats him, extorts a confession, and then takes the necessary steps to reinstate Edmund. As Edmund arrives at his ancestral castle, the gates open by themselves accompanied by a sudden rising gust of wind, to receive the lawful master. The story ends in the triumph of virtue and in the righting of injured iimocencc and punishment of wrong : the defeated murderer is given a choice between banislmiciit and the monastery ; the bones of Edmund’s parents arc interred with pomp, and he receives Emma as his bride.

The Old hngUsli Baron was \.ritccn in prudish objection to the free use of die supernatural in The Castle of Otranto. Miss Reeve accepted Walpole’s idea of the new type of prose iction, but set out to correct his excesses. Her criticism of The Castle Otranto was that with all its brilhant advantages it palls upon the mind . . . and the reason is obvious, the machinery is so violent, that it destroys the cttcct it is intended to excite In the use of the marvellous she attempted to improve upon Walpole by reducing it to a minimum and keeping her gliost “ within the utmost verge of probability Confl u*'l to a cupboard, his groans lead to the disco^ :ry of his skeleton and his murder. The Gentleman $ Magazine (1778) noted with approval that “ the author has endeavoured to preserve the effect ... to avoid ... the only fault in Otranto, viz.,

‘ such a degree of the marvellous as excites laughter ’ ’\

Admitting that The Old English Baron “ is the literary offspring of The Castle of Otranto,'" Miss Jlccve gave her conception of the qualities


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required in a novel which should unite the merits of the ancient Romance and the modern Novel : “ To attain this end, there is required a sufficient degree of the marvellous to excite the attention ; enough of the manners of real life, to give an air of probability to the work ; and enough of the pathetic, to engage the heart in its behalf.” Whereas Walpole sought to combine fanciful events and natural characters, Miss Reeve requisitions a touch of the marvellous merely to interest the reader. According to Miss Reeve “ the business of Romance is, first,' to excite the attention ; and secondly, to direct it to some useful, or at least innocent, end She felt that the usual novel of manners was much too commonplace to hold the attention, but she would not mind borrowing from it an air of probability. She does not, like Coleridge, try to make the supernatural natural, rather she aims in tlic spirit of her age to make it credible, with added sentiment for an immediate appeal to the emotions ; thus seeking to blend into one composite whole three different types of prose fiction : the medieval romance, the novel of manners, and the sentimental novel.

Walpole, as might be expected, was particularly severe in criticizing The Old English Baron. In his letter to jephson he declared : “ f cannot compliment . . . The Old English Baron. ... It was totally void of imagina- tion and interest ; had scarce any incidents . and though it condemned the marvellous, admitted a ghost. I suppose the author thought a tame ghost might come within the laws of probability.” Elsewhere he deplored the ” professed imitation of mine, only stripped of the mar- vellous, and so entirely stripped, except in one awkward attempt at a ghost or two, that it is the most insipid dull-nothing you ever saw And in another letter he indignantly exclaimed : “ Have you seen The Old Baron : a Gothic story^ professedly written in imitation of Otranto, but reduced to reason and probability ! It is so probable, that any trial for murder at the Old Bailey would make a more interesting story.” Mrs. Barbauld’s objections, if less vehement, were deprecatory ; she found The Old English Baron ” a novel of but a moderate degree of merit ”, in which ” the chief fault ... is, that we foresee die conclusion before we have read twenty pages ”. Montague Summers, who condones the crudities and violent machinery in The Castle of Otranto because of its glamour of medieval remoteness, condemns The Old English Baron as a ” dull and didactic narrative told in a style of chilhng mediocrity ”. He unhesitatingly designates virtuous Edmund the hero ” an unconscion- able bore. The fair lady Emma ' widi tears on her cheek, sweedy blushing,


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HISTORICAL-GOTHIC SCHOOL : THE HEIRS OF * OTRANTO ’

Kke the damask rose, wet with the dew of the morning , a wordiy parmer to this prig/’

Yet, as so often happens, the public confounded the critics, and this romance was so well received that thirteen editions appeared between 1778 and 1786. Readers still enjoyed fare that was diluted with reason and sweetened widi morality. To an audience which had not yet relinquished eighteenth-centur)" rationalism and was gradually becoming attracted by Gothic charms, the furtive supernatural machinery of The Old English Baron was less shocking than the bold encliantmcnts of The Castle of Otranto.

Clara Reeve was a disciple of Richardson, and a friend of his daughter, to whom she dedicated this novel. She transplants Sir Charles Grandison into the Middle Ages, and introduces the sentimental morality of middle- class fiction against which Walpole had reacted. Despite adverse criticisms, it may be said that Miss Reeve narrates a good story in which the mystcr}^ is skilfully sustained. Her plot is neither rapid nor exhilarat- ing, but it never actually stagnates. Apart from its thrill of terror, on the whole its original title. The Champion of Virtue, sums up its true elements. Miss Reeve’s name is now more than partially forgotten, perhaps wholly obscured by her far greater successor Ann RadclilFe. The timid com- promise of the credible and marvellous may have robbed the story of its wonders, yet Miss Reeve’s use of the supernatural and romantic terror paved tlic way for Mrs. Radcliffe.

Miss Reeve adopted Walpole’s basic idea of a story conducted to its climax by means of an agent of erri't, but she invested the Gothic ghost with superstitious legends familiar to every village rustic and confined him to an Eastern apartment. Her gho*-^ comes from the same family as that in Otranto ; it is still a messenger of ♦"ate, and also a deeply interested spectator of the progress of events, waiting for destiny to be accomplished and sustaining an undiminished atmosphere of terror. Since Clara Reeve’s time no Gothic castle is complete without its “ deserted wing She also introduces presaging dreams, groans, clanking chains, and such other Gothic machinery as she thinks conies witliin the ringe of proba- bility. The nistv h'cks and the suddenly extinguished lamp may be a heritage from Walpole, but the use of a “ hollow rustling noise ” and the glimmering light, naturally explained later by the approach of a servant, anticipates the methods of Mrs. Radcliffe.

Mrs. Radcliffe was especially indebted to the formative techniques of Miss Reeve m producing genteel shudderings. The method and details


8o


THE GOTHIC FLAME


of a particular description in The Old English Baron may have given hints for Ludovico’s vigil in The Mysteries of Udolpho. When Edmund in the haunted wing takes a survey of his cliambcr,

the furniture, by long neglect, was decayed and dropping to pieces ; the bed was devoured by the modis, and occupied by the rats who had biult their nests dicre with impunity for many generations. The bedding was very damp, for the rain had forced its way tlirough the ceiling ... he heard a hollow rustling noise. . . .

But the person coming through the narrow passage is Joseph with a bundle of faggots. Mrs. Radcliffc’s methods are definitely forecast by certain passages ;

A second groan increased ... all doors flew open, a pale glimmering light appeared at the door, from the staircase, and a man in complete armour entered the room.

Miss Reeve introduces another Gothic motif of identifying the hero ; a fine necklace with a golden locket and a pair of car-rmgs,” by wliich Edmund is discovered to be die heir of Lovel Castle. The mentkin of an old pilgrim who taught Edmund to read, recalls the later ‘ Gothic ’ character of the Wandering Jew. In the hands of Miss Reeve, die noble peasant type of hero acquires definite traits :

Edmimd was modest, yet intrepid ; gentle and courteous to all, frank and unreserved to those that loved bun ; discreet and cc)mplal^nnt to those who hated him ; gciierous and compassion ale to the distresses of his fellow- creatures in general ; humble, but not servile, to his patrons and superiors.

Moreover, her commonplace simple details, easy and natural dialogue add a flavour of reality which w'^as another gift to Gothic romance.

It is a matter w'orthy of note diat the author of The Old English Baron is the first Gothic novelist to make use of dreams, that realm of mysterious subconsciousness which flows eternally like some dark underground river beneath the surface of human life. In Miss Reeve’s work Sir Philip Harclay’s dream about his friend die late Lord Lovel, or the dream of Edmund in which he sees his deceased parents, arc definitely geared to the movcmc'iit of the plot. With Ann Radcliflfe, and almost all the succeeding Gothic novelists, dreams occupy an important place. Im- pending misfortunes, hidden indefinite crimes, arc often revealed by drcadflil nightmares and gloomy dreams. Small wonder therefore that


, HISTOiaCAL-GOTHIC SCHOOL : THE HEIRS OF ‘ OTRANTO * 8l

modem Surrealists have found much congenial material in the Gothic novels.

Miss Reeve wrote two other historical novels : The Exiles ; or Memories of Count de Cronstadt (1788) which has a German setting ; and her last work, Memoirs of Sir Roger de Clarendon, natural son of Edward the Black Prince ; with Anecdotes of the times (1793), which shows her sound scholarship in scenes and ceremonies and usa^^cs of the splendid reisn of Edward III.

Another important work of this school is Miss Sophia Lce*s The Recess, or A Tale of Other Times {1783-86). The title of this romance derive*; from a subterranean retreat within an abbey of Gothic magnifi- cence in which the heroines arc reared. Their secret chambers are reached tlirough sliding panels and trap-doors leading to a subterranean passage. The author employs the old device of writing from an antique manu- script. She docs not admit that she is writing an historical romance, but merely declares in the preface that she is modernizing history. The Recess is a collection of adventures astonishing and terrible and hence popular It is not well written as regards either language or construction, being one monumental communication addressed to a certain Adelaide Mary de Montmorenci whom wc never meet. Justly this work was criticized as ‘‘ too uniformly gloomy ” and as rendered tedious by the “ long interpolated narratives ”.

In The Recess Miss Lee was much indebted to Walpole, Reeve, and Baculard D’Amaud. “ Her work . . . constitutes a link between Prevost and Mrs. Radcliffe,” says Ernc.^ Bcinbaum in Modern Language Notes, XLIII. Harriet Lee, in her Preface to the Canterbury Tales, observed that “ Cleveland, virittcn as I believe, by 'He Abbe Prevost, [is] the first novel of the type Sophia Lee chose to \ Titc Indeed, the substance and manner of Cleveland has been reproduced unchanged in The Recess. Cleveland narrates the misfortunes of Bridge and Cleveland persecuted by their father CroinwclJ. Having been reared in a cave, they sail to America and St. Helena, where they sufter strange vicissitudes of fortune. The chief incidents of the story include Cleveland's love for Fanny Axminstcr, and hci abduction by Geliii. The plot of The Recess is parallel to Cleveland in recounting the misfortunes of Eleonora and Matilda, daughters of Mary, Queen of Scots. They are persecuted by Queen Elizabeth and courted by Essex and Leicester. Thus Elizabeth here takes the role of Cromwell in Cleveland. WiUiams, who attempts to abduct Eleonora, is Gelin, and the cave where the sisters arc reared is


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Rumney-hole. Queen Elizabeth, Lord Burleigh, the Bark of Essex, Leicester, and Southampton, Sir Philip Sidney, and other historical personages figure- in the story. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that in The Recess the personages for the most part act according to history.” Harriet Lee noted that The Recess was “ the first English romance that blended interesting fiction with historical events and characters, em- bellishing both by picturesque description”. Its use of supernatural machinery is confined to the presentation of .ui actual ghost in a dream, though on another occasion one of the persecuted heroines appears at the bedside of Queen Elizabeth who takes her to be an avenging spectre. Miss Lee’s heightening of terror and anguish for artistic purposes had a marked influence on Historical-Gothic Romance. The Recess perhaps gave Walter Scott hints for Kenilworth.

Her translations of some of tlic stories of Arnaud appeared in the Ladies* Magazine. Warhecky which she published in 1 786, is a talc wliich resembles Cleveland, and is similar in tone and treatment to Lcland’s Longsword, Earl of Salisbury. In collaboration with her sister, Miss Harriet Lee, she wrote The Canterbury Tales (1797-1805), which contains twelve stories, out of which seven arc related by travellers who find themselves snowbound in an inn at Canterbury, and beguile their stay by relating a story each. Five more stories were added later. There arc definite ‘ gotliic ’ touches in these talcs of which Kruitzuer is a powerful piece.

Besides Clara Reeve and Sophia Lee, there vrere also a good number of minor writers who experimented in Historical-Gothic fiction. Between Longsuwrd and The Old English Baron appeared an interesting work by William Hutchinson ; The Hermitage, A British Story (1772), which shows an advance in medieval colouring in the description of Lord Albion’s Castle with an unusual wealth of realistic detail. The author is guided by love of the past and the Middle Ages and makes a profuse introduction of the marvellous in the manner of Otranto ; he uses super- natural machinery in accompaniment with fierce lightnings and tremend- ous bursts orthuiidcr, to punish the evil and succour the deserving.

Later, in 1787, Anne Fuller wrote Alan Fitz-Osborne , an Historical Tale in 2 vols., a story greatly influenced by Otranto. It is dimly historical in its setting of the reign of Henry III with Alan the hero participating in the Barons’ Wars. Meanwhile, his wife is imirdercd by an amorous villain, Walter Fitz-Osborne, who is then haunted by her pale and ghastly spectre. Her phantom stands by his bedside as the thunder


mSTOBICAL-GOTHlC SCHOOL : THE HEIRS OF * OTRANTO 83

crashes and she snatches from her wounded bosom a dagger gored in crimson from which gouts of blood fall upon the sheets. Miss Fuller also wrote The Son ofEthelwolf, an Historical Tale (1789).

Tlic following works in the tradition of Historical-Gothic also deserve mention : James White’s Earl Stronghow ; or the History of Richard de Clare and the Beautiful Gcralda (1789) ; Agnes Musgrave’s Cicely ; or The Rose of Raby ; An Historical Novel (1795), Edmund of the Forest ; An Historical Novel (1797)1 William dc Montfort, or The Sicilian Heiresses (1808) ; and T. J. Horslcy-Curties’ Ethelwina, or the House of Fitz Auhurne (i799)i and The Scottish Legend, or the Isle of St. Clothair (1802).

The line of Historical-Gothic School finally culminated in Sir Walter Scott. He was a keen analyst of terror ; he perceived much in Gothicism that was highly useful, and constantly dressed up Jiis historical novels with the romantic licence of Gothic sensationalism. Edith Birkhead points out that ** the notes, introduction and appendices to Scott’s works arc stored with material for novels of terror In the general preface to The Waverley Novels he confessed he “ had nourished the ambitious desire of composing a talc of chivalry which wa« to be in the style of The Castle of Otranto, with plenty of Border characters and supernatural incident ”. In Walter Scott all that he admired in his Gothic predecessors IS made more beautiful by truth. He projects the colouring of Gothic romance upon scenes of history, and although tlic terrors of the invisible world fill his canvas he creates romance out of the stuff of real hfe. The misty and unreal historical background of Gothic novels becomes arresting and substantial. Occasionally he alters specific historical fact to achieve narrative elTccts.

Walter Frcye has attempted to show Jiat Scott raised the Gothic novel from its decadence ami made dry history live again in Ids talcs. He traces Gothic elements in Guy Mamuring, Old Mortality, Montrose, The Monastery , The Abbot, The Betrothed, and Woodstock. By quoting comparative passages he proves the influence of T/f" Monk on Mannion and The Vision of Don Roderick ; and The Mysteries of Udolpho 011 Rokeby and The Bride of Trictmaiu.

In Guy Mannenng (1815) the prophecy and curse of Meg Merrilecs, the ruin where she hides, and the strange fulfilment of Mannering’s horoscope for young Elian gowan are peculiarly Gothic in effects. In The Antiquary (18 16^ when lovel falls into an uneasy slumber in the Green Room at Monkbans, at midnight he is startled to find a green huntsman leaving the tapestry «nd turning into an old gentleman before


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his very eyes. In Old Mortality (1816), Edith Bellenden mistakes her lover for a ghost in purely Gothic manner. An atmosphere of horror and the sense of overhanging calamity prepare our minds for the super- natural in the opening of The Bride of Lammermoor (1819). In Pcpcril of the Peak (1823), Fenella communicates with the hero in prison, who mistakes her voice for that of an apparition. The incident has an air of Gothic mystery. Scott was an admirer of Mrs. Radcliffe's novels, and his Woodstock (r826) and Anne of Gcicrstcin (^829) remind us of Mrs. Radcliife in subject-matter and treatment.

Pure Historical Romances continued to be written during the Gothic epoch until the work of Scott eclipsed all previous attempts to such a degree that one is apt to forget his indebtedness to his predecessors. In a quick survey of the main landmarks of Historical-Gothic from Lon^t^sword to Waverley, a period of half a century, one may call attention only to important names and note an occasional milestone. There w’crc other works which have historical settings but they arc so dim and immaterial that they cannot be considered offspring of Gotliic ancestry.


CHAPTER V


MRS. ANN RADCLIFFE : THE CRAFT OF TERROR

It is a curious coincidence of literary history that tlic stars that reigned in the year of the nativity of The Castle of Otranto ([764) saw the birtli of Mrs. Ann RadclifFe [uee Ward), in whose works we perceive the Gothic fiction approaching its meridian. Not much is known about Iicr life, except that she was the wife of an Oxford graduate, and that she wrote her weird and mysterious talcs beside a blazing fire in a quiet room to enliven her long, solitary winter evenings. Extraoidmarily fascinating stories flowed from her pen w'hicli, with all rhcir faults, unmistakably bear the stamp of genius. The name of this potent encliantress, who touched the secret springs of fear and extended the domain of romance, w»as felt as a spell by her admirers, and to this day her blood-curdling terrors freeze many a midnight reader.

Yet she was know'ii only by her wn^rks. The Edinburgh Review (May 1823) declares : “ She never appeared Li public, nor mingled in private society, but kept herself apart, like the sweet bird that sings its solitary notes, shrouded and unseen *’ She spent a life in the quiet shade of domestic seclusion, unheeded amidst the bustle of the world, confining her activities to domestic ilutics and homely pleasures. “ She was more tlian repaid by the enjoyments w’Uich were fostered in the sliadc ; and perhaps few distinguished authors have passed a life so blameless and so liappy.” It is curious that no biography of .his celebrated lady has been written, nor atiy attempt made to draw asiae the veil from the personal course of her peaceful existence. She probably attended Sophia Lee’s school at Bath, and perhaps the only reference we get about her person is given by Charles Buckc in an iutcresting footin^tc to a curious wrork. On the Beauties, Harmonies, and Suhliwitics of Nature, stanng that “her countenance indicated melancholy. She l.'^’ been, doubtless, in her youth, beautiful.” We arc not yet made aware of any of those amusing foibles which usually chequer the lives of successful authors : ” here arc no brilliant conversational triumphs ; no elaborate correspondence with the celebrated, or the great ; no elegant malice ; no anecdotes of patrons or rivals ; none of fashion’s idle pastime, nor of controversies, nor idle business ”. The report^ long current, that she was driven insane

«5


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by her own ghostly creations is unfounded, but she certainly possessed to a high degree sensibility and sensitiveness of temperament, qualities she bequeathed to her exquisite heroines. “ At the time The Italian appeared, probably no author was so generally admired and so eagerly read as this young woman,” says Clara Frances McIntyre in Ann RadcUffe in Relation to her Time, but in the high period of her fame she chose to lay by her pen. Probably she was disgusted to sec her mode of composi- tion profaned by a host of servile imitators, vOho, unable to achieve her merits, rendered her defects more obvious.

It is perhaps not altogether wise to judge the greatness of an author by the pleasure he or she affords the readers, ” but the invention of a story, the choice of proper incidents, the ordonnance of the plan, occasional beauties of description, and, above all, the power exercised over the reader’s heart by filling it with the successive emotions of love, pity, joy, anguish, transport, or indignation, together with the grave, impressive moral resulting from the whole, imply talents of the liighest order, and ought to be appreciated accordingly ”, Mrs. Barbauld remarks, and the works of Mrs. Radcliffe reveal all these, together with a conscicjjis crafts- manship and a structure of high quality', although, asDr.J. M. S. Tompkins puts it in The Popular Novel in England, ” they arc the day-dreams of a mind at once fastidious and audacious, capable of energy and languor, responsive to beauty and to awe. and tremblingly sensitive to imaginative fear ”. She awed and enraptured the public mind by hints of tilings unseen, by employing pure and innocent enchantments. She describes the various passions W'ith a glowing pen, leads us through enchanting pastoral scenery, and by the charm of all her pages holds her readers spell- bound until the end of the talc. It is therefore interesting to trace the development of her genius and assurgeiit powers from the pallid Castles of Athlin and Dnnbayne (1789) to the rich and sombre colouring of The Italian (1797).

The Castles of Athlin and Dnnbayne (1789) was inspired by Sopliia Lee’s Recess (1785), and is the Gotliic-historical successor to The Castle of Otranto (1764). The story show's die unmistakable stamp of Clara Reeve’s The Old English Baron (1777), having a “ noble peasant ”, a usurping villain and his victims, for chief characters ; but Mrs. Radcliffe introduces two heroes and two heroines both at the mercy of the villain. She retains the garrulous domestic servants of Walpole and Reeve, while the stock sensibility of the characters is just the same. The heroines are, once more, all blushes — 2. shade deeper than the Matilda, Isabella or


MRS. ANN RADCUFFE : THE CRAFT OF TERROR 87

Emma of Radcliffe’s predecessors — and more full of tender tremors, more sofdy timid.

This immature and interesting work is of no great Icfigth and may be regarded as an essay, a first step ; but, with the exception of the super- natural, it contains in embryo all notable elements of Mrs. Radcliffe’s romances. The slight sketch of Baron Malcolm “ mighty in injustice, cruel in power ”, was to be the ancestor of fierce, picturesque characters like Montoni and Schedoiii. Wc can also trace in this work some germs of that taste and talent for the wild, mysterious, and romantic which she was to employ with such powerful effect. Although it is a wild tale with iTjiprobable, strained, disconnected, and confused incidents, where incredible events follow each other in quick succession, yet there is in its atmosphere a feeling for nature, a power of imagery which anticipates finer things to come.

The Monthly Revie lo (LXXXI — 1789) failed to perceive the merit of the work and wrote :

To those who are delighted with the ntartfcllous, whom wonders and wonders only, can charm, die present production will accord a considerable degree of amusement. This kind of entertainment, however, can be little relished but by the young and unformed mind.

But descriptions like the following foreshadow her future achievements :

. . . whose bniken arches and lonely towers arose in gloomy grandeur through the obscurity of evening. It stood the sohtary inhabitant of the wastes — monument of mortality and ancient superstition, and the frowning majest)' of Its Inspect seemed to comniai: ' siloMce and veneration. The dully dews fell thick. . . . Ihc .iwftil solitude of the place, and the solemn aspect of the fabric, whose effect was heightened b) the falling gloom of evening, chilled her heart with horror.

There are also hints of her future technique of hcighicning curiosity :

They perceived a faint light . . . paused awhile in silence . . . expectation to listen if anything was surring. ... All was involved in die gloom of night, and the silence of death prevailed.

The setting of this talc is ” in the mos*^ romantic part of the High- lands of Scotland ” during the dark ages, but ilierc is no effort to describe cither the manners or scenery of the country. However, the picture of the castle itself is striking. It is described as :

built widi Gothic magnificence, upon a high and dangerous rock. Its lofty towers still frowned in proud sublimity, and the immensity of the pile stood a record of the ancient consequence of its possessors.


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The novelist does not name a specific period as the setting, but endeavours to maintain an atmosphere of feudalism and the Middle Ages, by constant references to fortified castle sieges, armed vassals, dank dungeons, and threats of arbitrary executions. In spite of the goodly number of old towers, dungeons, keeps, subterranean passages, and hairbreadth escapes, the story has litdc veracity ; and it appears as if the author had caught a glimpse of the regions of romance from afar, and formed a dreamy acquaintance with its recesses and glooms. The story lacks historical accuracy, but then most of the descriptions evolve not from original sources in ancient documents, but from the author’s own imagination.

Her characters arc made sensitive to the influence of scenery, as when the imprisoned Earl finds the view of distant hills a “ source of ideal pleasure They dwell among picturesque landscapes bathed in faint moonlight and swept by tumultuous gusts of wind. A shipwreck occurs on the coast in the atmosphere of stormy blasts, broken clouds, white foam, and “ deep resounding murmurs of distant surges ** of which Mrs. Radcliffe was particularly fond. Nor do >vc miss the parting sun trembling on the tops of the mountain and the softer shades falling upon the distant countryside, or tlic sweet tranquillity of (Veiling that throws an air of tender melancholy over the mind, hushing sorrows for a while. She strikes here a new note in romantic fiction, and appears to be undoubtedly influcncccl by the fashionable ciithiisiasin for Ossian.

Although Mrs. Radcliftl* does not introduce either the snpcniatural agency or superstitious terror in this romance, yet she raises terror and anguish to romantic heights by “ dreadful silence and horrors of darkness and loneliness, by the prolonged fear of death and by harrowing descriptions of hairbreadth escapes, by alternate suffusions of hope and the chilly touch of fear. She maintains this atmosphere of sublimated fear by obvious devices : obstacles arc multiplied in order to depict a further interval of despair, an additional thrill of hope ; and the total impression is forceful. Bleak winds howl mournfully with the falling shades of night ; a ray of light darts through the gloom of the damp vapours of a dungeon ; the hushed silence of death prevails in subterranean labyrinths.

Her next work, A Sicilian Romanci' (1790), marks a notable advance in exuberance and fertility of imagination, and as the Monthly Review (September 1790) stated, it contains ** romantic scenes and surprising events exhibited in elegant and animated language The descriptions


MRS. ANN RADCUFFE I THE CRAFT OF TERROR 89

are fanciful and the narrative impressive, and Mrs. Raddiffe obtains a bird’s-eye view of all the surface of that delightful region of romance, picturing its winding vales, deHcious bowers, and summer seas, but is unable to introduce the reader individually into the midst of the scene, to surround him with its luxurious air, and compel him to shudder at its terrors. The softer blandishments of her style, which were scarcely perceptible in her first work, arc now spread fortli to captivate the fancy. Her genius, which felt cramped in the bleak atmosphere of the Highlands, in her first novel, now blossomed forth in tlic luxurious cUmate of the sweet south. Indeed, tlie title of this work evokes an atmosphere of idyllic “ Sicilian fruitfulness

The talc unfolds the life-story of the stern Marquis of Mazzini, who has newly married a second wife, and would force his daughter Julia, who loves the Count dc Vereza, to wed the Duke of Luovo. Many of the incidents relate to Julia’s flight from her father, only to be captured and broiiglit back merely to escape once more. The flight of Julia, the heroine of this romance, is like a strain of “ linked sweetness long drawn out ”, as one after another a scries of delicious valleys open out before us, and “ the purple light of love is shed over all

The opening is a fine piece of word-painting, impressive and pregnant with mystery. It describes a traveller halting before the sombre and decaying ruins of the Castle of Mazzini. He obtains hospitality at a neighbouring monastery, where he is allowed access to the Ubrary, and from an ancient manus'Tipt extracts the story of those deserted walls. The story transports us to the L.ter part of the sixteenth century and is said to be founded on facts recorded in a manuscript preserved in a convent library in Sicily.

Mystery pervades the castle ; in die deserted chambers doors are heard to close at night, and an occasional sullen groan disturbs the heavy, ominous silence. These noises proceed from none other than Mazzini’s first wife, who is not dead, as given out, but sccredy imprisoned. Eventually Mazzini’s second lady, who has been faithless, poisons him and stabs herself. Julia and her lover are vnited, and all retire to Naples, leaving die castle ro solitude and ruin.

Suggestions and stray liints tlirown out here and there show the novchst’s first grasp of the masterly power of presenting terrific incidents and scenes in later works. A light flickers behind the closed windows of the deserted rooms, the confession of Vincent is checked by death, groans are heard from beneath Ferdinand’s prison, or a figure is perceived

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Stealing among the vaults. The author is gradually learning to awaken the throbs of suspense by mysterious suggestions, and makes powerful use of subterranean passages, trap-doors with flights of steps descending into darkness, Gotliic windows that exclude the light, the sobbing wind, and the wild haunts of Sicilian banditti.

Adventures are heaped upon adventures in a quick and brilliant succession, and the reader is hurried from scene to scene, through stirring incidents, in a state of bewildered excitement and curiosity. The escapes, recaptures, encounters with banditti, appear to have no credible sequence. The work has distinct traces of defects natural to an unpractised author. It led Scott to remark that the scenes are inardficially connected, and the characters hastily sketched without attempts at individual distinctions ; being cast in the usual mould of ardent lovers, tyrannical parents, with domestic ruffians, guards, and the others

Hippolitus enters a ruin by moonlight, for shelter ; hears an anguished voice, and perceives through the shattered casement a man being plundered by a group of banditti. The man, curiously enough, turns out to be Ferdinand, his intended brother-iii-law. Later Hippoljtus discovers himself in a vault, and hearing a groan from some imicr apart- ment, opens the door to find a fainting lady, w^hom he recognizes as his mistress. Once again, in his flight with Julia, lie is led into a “ dark abyss ” which happens to be the burial-place of the victims of the banditti, interspersed witli graves and strewn with rotten carcases. He climbs to a grating and witnesses a combat between the robbers and officers of justice ; escapes with liis lady through a trap-door into die adjacent forest, only to be pursued by her father’s party, and as he fights at the moudi of a cavern, she loses her way in the recesses, till by accident they arc conducted into a dimgeon where her mother, given out as dead for fifteen years, lies imprisoned. And all these incidents, exciting and improbable, arc narrated in a few pages. There arc in this story incidents enough for two such works as The Mysteries of UJolpho.

The Monthly and the Critical reviews discovered in A Sicilian Romance much merit, ‘despite its “ numerous improbabilities and hairbreadth escapes The imagery and the scenery relieve the tension created by fast-moving action, and the total effect is like that of a splendid Oriental talc. This book is not only " a link in the line uniting the ancient and rngdem class of romance, but also is the parent of a new and fresh style ”. This work led Scott to remark : “ Fielding, Richardson, Smollett, even Walpole, though writing upon an imaginative subject, are decidedly


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prose authors. Mrs. lUdclifFe has a tide to be considered as the first poetess of romantic fiction.”

There is a gradual improvement in the novelist’s' technique : the sufFcrings endured are more prolonged ; the escapes attended with more difficulty and consequent suspense. Poetic justice and moral virtue triumph as usual. Here she also employs superstitious terror, and intro- duces phenomena ostensibly supernatural, but later explained away, a device which becomes a distinguishing mark of her work. The mysteri- ous lights and noises that disturbed the castle of Mazzini she traces to natural causes, tlic secret of which is skilfully kept unrevcaled until almost the end of the tale. There is, also, in this romance, emotional background as in the first novel, with moonlit romantic scenes, of fear- some forests and caverns, of stones and long reverberating peals of thunder, as circumstances demand.

The Romance of the Torest (1792), is a far better planned and regulated work, m which we arc aware of the first dawn of her mature powers. She begins her conquest of the fanciful and enchanted land of romance, although her range is yet small, and her persons limited. She harnesses her fancy to the pattern of a regular tale, and all the time keeps a masterly grip upon the reins of the story. She concentrates on a smaller field of incident, and exhibits a skill in handling materials and introducing to tlie imagmation her tissue of mystery and terror. She displays the faculty of controlling the wild images which float aromid her, and investing them with consistency and truth.

Our interest is awakened by the very first hurried midnight flight of La Mottc and his family to an unknown destination ; then sustained by incidents following in quick succession— tlie heroine introduced in extraordinary circumstances ; the cliarming forest scenes surrounding the deserted abbey of St. Clair offering a delicious asylum to the persecuted outlaw ; his fears of discover^’, his clandestine visits to the tomb ; the vast solitudes of Fontanvillc ; its wood-walks and valley glades glistening with morning dew. Mrs. RadcUffc shows especially a greater skill in her presentation of the desolate abbey. She touches the imagination with descriptions of the decaying ruins of ancient grandeur whidi evoke the eerie aspects, the weird abode of ” powers luiscen, and mightier far than we”. She seizes upon the popular taste for scemc description which Gray and Rousseau encouraged. The impressions of the sylvan scene arc delineated in poetic language. Extremely beautiful are her descriptions of the luxuriant woods, tlie hugc-girthed oaks, the romantic


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glades and avenues, the tangled mazes and far-stretching vistas, the rippling stream winding past the grassy lawns, the delightful flowers, and “ the sweet melody of feathered songsters mingling with the music of the waters in one harmonious cadence ”

The time of the story is the seventeenth century, the author’s prelimin- ary statement being that ** the striking story of Pierre de la Motto and the Marquis Phillipe de Montalt ” is from the “ proceedings in the Parliamentary Courts of Paris during the 17th century The trial of the former is one of the exciting parts of the romance, and possibly tlic first instance of the court-room scene found in so many novels since.

“ The story turns upon the machinations of a profligate villain and his agent against an amiable and unprotected girl, whose birth and fortimcs have been involved in obscurity by crime and perfidy.” She wears the usual costume of iimocence, purity and simplicity, and her troubled mind receives solace in contemplating the grandeur of nature. Most of the interest in the story is afforded by the vacillations of La Motte’s character, and he is the centre round w^hich the plot gravitates. His heart disapproves each time he is on the point of becoming an agent in atrocities. He is “ a needy man who has seen better days ”, expelled witli contempt from the world, and coiidenmed by circumstances to seek asylum in a desolate abbey full of mysteries. He avenges himself by playing the gloomy despot w'ithin his owm family. But a more powerful agent appears on the scene to dominate this dark and irresolute spirit.

There arc no hints of tlic supernatural as yet. The book is certainly romantic rather than macabre, yet mysterious shadowings are by no means wanting. An incidental allusion to a skeleton in the chest of the vaulted chamber ; die dagger spotted with rust ; the faded manuscript of the prisoner, which Adeline reads by the fitful light of the lamp, and which later proves to be written by her own father, excite in us the apprehension of some secret crime, and adds to the mystery and terror. These carefully prepare us for the sad life-story of the Marquis, in as mucli as these grim relies in the end establish the real identity of Adeline, whose parentage is cleverly shrouded in mystery up to the very end.

The Critical Review, commenting on tliis book in 1792, said : “ We have die ruined abbey, a supposed ghost, the skeleton of a man secredy murdered, with all the horrid train of images which such scenes and such circumstances may be supposed to produce. They are managed, how- ever, with skill, and do not disgust by their improbability ; everything


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is consistent and within the verge of rational belief : the attention is uninterruptedly fixed, till the veil is drawn.” The Monthly Reviews comments were equally favourable. Skilful handling of the apparently nurvellous had won over the critics.

Yet, in spite of all explanation, the effect of the illusion is retained, and certain scenes stand out even when tlie talc is ended. Such is the description of sin-laden La Motte with terrors of guilt weighing upon his conscience, who shrinks from entering tlic uncanny abbey where the beautiful tapestry hangs in shreds, giving rise to a vague feeling of rapidly accumulating dread ; or when Adeline in her solitary chamber in the abbey dares not raise her eyes to tlie glass lest she find a face other than her own reflected in it ; or her escape with a man whom she supposes to be the servant she had trusted and who startles her witli a strange voice, to find herself on horseback in a dark night, carried away by an unknown ruffian ; or the luxurious paviUon of the Marquis, to which we arc introduced after a frightful journey through a storm ; or the scene where the Marquis, after a scries of dark solicitations, understood by La Motte as pointing to Adeline’s dishonour, proposes her death. The latter is a fine piece of dramatic effect :

La Moftc now stepped hastily towards die bed, when, breathing a deep sigh, she [Adeline] was again sdciit. Me undrew the curtain, and saw her lying in a profound sleep, her check, yet wet with tears, resting upon her arm. He stood a iiionient looking at her ; and as he viewed her innocent and lovely countcnanc-, pale in grief, the light of the lamp, which slione strong upon her eyes, awoke her, and perceiving a man, she uttered a scream.

Tliis very situation was later developed ui The Iralian when Schedoni entered the niidniglit chamber of Ellena.

Although the narrative of Tiu* Romance oj the Forest is well con- structed, and the intricacies of the plot excite a deep interest in the story, this work is more admired for its idyllic charms than for its thrills. It docs excite and gratify a pleasant curiosity, bur fails to dilate the imagina- tion or curdle tlic blood. Darker threads arc, however, Woven into the fabric. In plot and atmospheric suggestion tliis novel marks a great advance on the former two, but altliough perliaps faultless in execution, it remains an attempt of an inferior order to The Mysteries of Udolpho or The Italian.

The Mysteries ofUJolpho (1794), the most popular of Mrs. Radclifle’s works, exhibits all the potent charms of this “ mighty cncliautrcss


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The tide alone arouses curiosity. “ The very name was fasdnadng, and the public, who rushed upon it with all the eagerness of curiosity, rose

from it with unsated appetite The volumes flew, and were sometimes

tom from hand to hand,” says Scott. Edition after edition was called for and rapidly exhausted. Joseph Warton, then Headmaster of Win- chester, took it up one evening and sat up the greater part of the night for he found it impossible to sleep until he bad finished the book. Sheridan and Fox both speak of it in terms of the highest praise. Judged as pure romance, it must be accorded a prominent place in fiction. ” Of all the romances in the world, this is perhaps the most romantic.” It is a book whicli it is impossible to read and forget. Its noble outline, its majestic and beautiful images liarmonizing with the scenes exert an irresistible fascination. It gradually rises from the gentlest beauty towards the terrific and the sublime.

In Udolpho Mrs. Radclifle works on a broader canvas, on a larger and more sublime scale, enriches the characteristic traits of her genius, and perfects all her peculiar machinery. She has now conquered the enchanted land of romance and appears quite familiar with its massive towers and solemn glooms. Scott refers to her as ” waving her wand over the world of wonder and imagination She presents the objects of beauty and of horror dirough a haze, wliich sometimes magnifies and sometimes veils tlicir true proportions. The story abounds with more frequent instances of mysterious and terrific appearances. The intrigue is elaborated in a vaster framework, die villains are darker and fiercer, the castles more gloomy, the mysteries more impenetrable, the terrors more dreadful, while the beautiful young heroine, virtuous and innocent, endures a persecution crueller than before. The events arc more agitating, the scenery wilder and more ternfic. The scale of the landscape is equally different ; the quiet, limited, woodland scenery of The Romance of the Forest forms a contrast with die splendid, highly wrought descriptions of Italian mountain grandeur in Udolpho. Some readers may prefer the simplicity of The Romance of the Forest to the more highly coloured extravagance of The Mysteries of Udolpho^ but the majority have appreciated the latter’s superior magnificence of land- scape and dignity of character presentation. It is impossible to convey to one who has not read Mrs. Radcliffe an idea of die sustained atmo- sphere of romantic terror that pervades this book, her masterpiece. Even The Italian, her next romance, although it is a stronger piece of work in plot and characterization and displays more purely intellectual powers,


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is less enchanting and has not the same moonlit glamour of love and romance.

The story opens with a picture of domestic repose in the home of St. Aubert, who is leading a life of retirement in a beautiful spot, away from the fevered bustle of die world, soodiing liis mind with elegant and tranquil pleasures. Mrs. Radcliffe portrays a life of poetry, a dream- like existence, in lovely surroundings of flowery turf and balmy air, the limpid murmuring stream meandering along the wood-walks of a romantic glen. Then there unfolds before ns the mountain grandeur of the Pyrenees and the exquisite journey of St. Aubert and liis daughter through the richly coloured vintage scenes ; and then his death near the woods of a chateau, where strains of unearthly music float along the air

Emily is consigned to the care of her aunt, who marries the desperate Montom, and then the clouds start gathering thick and w'c get the first forebodings of approaching terror. “ Montoni, a desperado, and Captain of coiidoticrri, stands beside La Motte and his Marquis like one of Milton’s fiends besides a witch’s familiar.” Under the gloomy influence of this unfaithful and oppressive tyrant, both become inhabitants of time- stricken towers, and witnesses of scenes bordering upon the supernatural and the horrible.

Before the w ork of terror begins, the author describes the luxuries of Venice with delicacy and lightness. We fluctuate bctw'ccu examples of pathos and gaiety ; Mrs. Radchtfe presents entrancing glimpses of Venice, the city <^f islets, palace*' and towers, sketching its voluptuous society, and with a deft hand treats of its tremulous tw'ilight — midnight revels, and moonlight scenes under romantic skies of the sunny south. Nothing is more picturesque than the ascent of the Apeiiuiiic', where ranges of moiiiitaiiis unfold one after another in gloomy stateliness, till we reach a lost horizon skirting the inmost valley and shut off from the world, and Montoni breaking a long pause of silence utters the words : “ This is Udolpho ! ”

There is a mystic vagueness about the lovely landscape setting of Udolpho seen for the first tunc. Its gloom at nightfall, the ominous picture of its sombre exterior and shadow-haunted halls prepare us for the worst when we enter its portals. Our anticipation is a queer mixture of pleasure and fear, as wt shudder at the impending events within its walls. Mrs. Radclifie prepares each tragic denouement by sketches and panoramic views, which provide a backcloth for the enactment of the awe-inspiring horrors that follow in quick succession at Udolpho.


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Drawn with consummate power and skill, the picture of the castle prepares the mind for the crimes and horrors of which it has been die mute witness. Massive in its austere grandeur, a castle of awe and gloom, beneath its dark batdements awful scenes are enacted. ** Udolpho is a veritable hall of terrors ; its veiled portrait, the ghosdy utterances which alarmed Montoni’s companions . . . and the visitant of the battle- ments, make up a medley of horrors which might well daunt the bravest heart.*’ Certain startling and appalling scenes of bfawls and wild revelry stand out prominently. Through its halls and shadowxd corridors prowl armed bandits, at whose evil banquets the Venetian glass cracks as the poisoned wine hisses into it poured our by the host ; and in whose inmost chambers arc hidden horrors not to be guessed at nor named. At every turn something eerie and uncanny heightens our nervous tension ; mysterious appearances, lurking shadows, gliding forms, inexplicable groans and mysterious music appal us and convey wonderfully the tricks of feverish imagination. The moaning wind, a rustling robe, a half- heard sigh, the echo of distant footsteps, and a voiced watchword on the platform below, startle us and keep our curiosity at full stretch. Thylling arc the experiences of Emily in her lonely chamber near the haunted room. And even when she escapes from this terrible castle after her aunt’s death, she is still pursued by the dcinon.^ of Mrs. RadclifFc’s imagination.

After Madame Montoni is worried into the grave by her monstrous husband, the scene shifts to Chateau Ic r5lanc, where the njystcrics arc more touching and dreadful. The haunted chamber of the Marchioness who died twenty years before is visited by Emily. Her experiences arc most affecting and fearful when she moves into the faded magnificence of the vast apartment ; the black pall lying on the bed, as when it decked the corpse ; the robe and other ornaments of dress carelessly strewn round about ; her veil, wdiich no hand had since touched, dropping to pieces ; all is solemn and spectral in its effect till the pall moves and a face rises froni beneath it. The same chamber was the scene of Ludovico’s vigil, described in a passage which may be regarded as a masterpiece of supernatural suggestion :

Ludovico ... in his remote chamber, heard now and then the faint echo of a closing door as the family retired to rest, and dien the hall clock at a great distance strike twelve ... he looked suspiciously round die spacious chamber. The fire on the hearth was now nearly expiring ; . . . but lie soon added fre.sh wood, not because he was cold, though the night was stormy, but because


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he was cheerless ; and having again trimmed his lamp, he poured out a glass of wine, drew his chair nearer to the crackling blaze . . . and again took up liis book.

The mind of the reader is keyed up for some strange, impending catastrophe by the admirable ghost story which Ludovico is represented as perusing to amuse his solitude, as the scene closes upon him.

The romance is rich in striking effects, but its shortcomings arc many and obvious. Although the thread of mystery becomes more and more intricate, and the author admirably manipulates her effects, so that the solution is held back until the last moment, the superstitious horrors are assigned to apparently very simple causes, and explained away by circum- stances provokingly trivial. Appearances of the most impressive kind continually present the idea of siipeniatural agency, but they are at length accounted for by natural means. Mrs. Barbauld remarks : “ They are not always, however, well accounted for ; and the mind experiences a sort of disappointment and shame at having felt so much from appear- ances which had nothing in them beyond ‘ this visible diurnal sphere The black veil concealed a waxen image ; that wild, floating strain of unearthly music proceeded from an insane nun who wandered about the woods ; the \v(^rds which startled Montoni and his comrades at their guilty carousals, were uttered by a captive wandering through a secret passage ! The power, effect, and the sweetness of the spell is thus rudely broken.

None the less the paJl that love^ in the funeral chamber, or the curtain which no one dares draw, strongly evoke our interest, and we feel the quickest tlirobs of curiosity. We ha '^e been affected so repeatedly, the suspense has been so long protracted, ind the expectation raised so high, that no explanation can satisfy, and no imagery of horrors can equal the vague shapings of our imagination.

The Alonthly Ranew remarked on “ an inteiesting air of mystery over the story ” and “ the pleasing agitation of uncertainty concerning several circumstances”, and added that: “Without introducing into her narrative anything really supernatural, Mrs. Radcliffe has contrived to produce as powerful an effect as if the invisible world had been obedient to her magic spell ; and tlic reader experiences in perfection the strange luxury of artificial terror, without being obliged for a moment to hood- wink liis reason, or to yield to the weakness of superstitious credulity.” Other reviews : Critical^ Ser. 2, XI (1794)* 402 ; the British Critic^ IV (1794), 110 ; and the European Magazine, XXV (1794). 443. were


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equally &vourable. The peak of interest in Gothic fiction had been reached.

The Italian (1797), is probably her finest work, the high-water mark of her achievement. The story is n)ore skilfully constructed, has a greater unity of plan and concentration than The Mysteries of Udolpho, while her pictures are more individual and distinct, her figures more terrible, and her situations more thrilling and vivid. Although the Inquisition scenes during the later chapters arc unduly prolonged, the story is coherent and free from digressions. Mrs. RadclifTc did not copy nor repeat herself. She selected the new and powerful machinery afforded her by the Popish religion, when established in its permanent superiority, and dicrcby had at her disposal monks, spies, dungeons, the mute obedience of the bigot, the dark and dominating spirit of the crafty priest — ^all the thunders of the Vatican, and all the terrors of the Inquisition,’* says Scott. These materials became, in the hands of Mrs. Radcliffe, a powerful set of agents, which supplied means and motive for evoking scenes of terror. And what better actors could be found for such a tale of terror than these mysterious figures, muffled in their cowls and scapularies, bound by awful vows, dark and threatening, with all the terror and all the power of die church behind them ? ’* Little, or rather nothing, was known of their orders, their rules, their devotions, their aims ; and it provided scope for the most frantic fantasies.

The story commences in an impressive maimer ; unlike the tender and beautiful bcgituiing of The Mysteries of Udolpho^ it at once excites anxious curiosity and inspires us with awT. An Englishman on his travels, walking through a church, sees a dark figure stealing along the aisles. He is informed that it is an assassin, and tliat such deeds arc common in Italy. His companion then points to a confessional in an obscure aisle of the church. “ There,” says he, “ in that cell, such a tale of horror was once poured into die ear of a priest as overwhelmed him with astonishment, nor was the secret ever disclosed.” Mrs. Barbauld, commenting on this fine opening of the story, said ; ” This prelude, like the tuning of an instrument by a skilful hand, has the effect of produc- ing at once in the mind a tone of feeling correspondent to the future story.” The introductory passage may be likened to the dark and vaulted gateway of an ancient castle, leading to a tale of its mysterious walls ; and as the narrative proceeds we are given intimations of veiled and secret terrors.

The story develops ui a series of dramatic, haunting scenes, which


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Stand out in bold relief : the strangely effective overture, which describes die Confessional of the Black Penitents ; the midnight adventures of Vivaldi and his lively impulsive servant, Paulo, amid the .ruined vaults of Paluzzi ; the machinations of Schedoni and the Marchioness for Ellena’s murder, and particularly the scene where the Confessor makes palpable to the Marchioness the secret wishes of her heart for Ellena’s death ; Ellena’s imprisonment in the convent of San Stephano on the hills and her escape with Vivaldi ; the melodramatic interruption of the wedding ceremony, and the meeting of Ellcna and Schedoni on the lonely sea- shore ; and her terrible sojourn in Spalatro’s cottage by the sea when her lover lias been seized by die Holy Office. The dreary horrors of the fisherman’s cottage arc admirably described : the awful conversation with the ruffian when the deed is planned ; the long and liidcous prepara- tions as Schedoni equips himself to strike the blow ; his strange relentings and his bitter remorse. Edith Birkhead says, “ the climax of the story when Schedoni, about to slay Ellena, is arrested in the very act by her beauty and innocence, and dicn by the glimpse of the portrait which leads him to believe she is his daughter, is finely conceived and finely executed

Walter Scott observes that “ The fine scene, where the monk, in the act of raising Ins arm to murder his sleeping victim, discovers her to be his own child, is, of a new, grand, and powerful character, and the horrors of the wretch, who. on the brink of murder, has but just escaped from committing a crime of yet 'iiorc exaggerated horror, constitute the strongest painting which lias been under Mrs. Radcliffe's pencil, and arc well fitted to be actually embodied on car /as by some great painter ” Eventually we meet the terrific Schedoni in prisoncd by the Inquisition counterplotted and betrayed by an associate who had once enjoyed his confidence. The presentation of the trials in the halls t>f the Inquisition IS said to have been written undert he influence of ‘ Monk' Lewis. Remark- ing on die Inquisition scenes that “ contain the solid substance of a formidable reality ”, and go to make tliis novel a powerful work, Montague Summers said : ” The masterly way in which Mrs. Radcliflfe has made use of the Inquisition, and the restraint wliich she has exercised in depicting the scenes in the cells and sombre halls of that tribimal, are most noticeable. The Inquisition itself has, of course, been employed in many subsequent novels, but never with such decorum and effect.”

The episodes in the vast prisons and dmigeons of the Inquisition are fraught widi fear of bodily torture almost cchpsed by an apprehension of


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the supeniatural, and Mrs. RadclifTe deepens the horror of this gloom by a 'whisper of things yet more terrible and evokes fear of the unseen. The Monk, who haunts the ruins of Paluzzi, and who reappears in the prison of the Inquisition, speaks and acts like a being from the world of spectres. The circumstances arc contrived with admirable eiFcct to heighten, vary, and prolong the feeling of curiosity and terror. Apparently endless agony of physical torture in the dungeons of the Inquisition is awfully suggested by the author’s solemn and weighty style. Mrs. Barbauld, one of her contemporaries, suggested that “ if she wishes to rise in the horrors of her next, she must place her scene in the infernal regions. She would not have many steps to descend thitlier from the courts of the Inquisi- tion.” In these violent, romantic scenes the genius of Mrs. RadcliiFe shows greater power and eloquence, hitherto unrealized. Coleridge reveals in the Critical Review, Jime 1798, that although he did not prefer The Italian to The Mysteries of Udolpho, he realized “ there arc, however, some scenes that po'werfully seize die imagination, and interest the passion

This novel added a unique portrait to the gallery of Gothic /ictioii : Schedoni, the masterly plotter and murderer. According to Scott he is “ a strongly drawn character as ever stalked through the regions of romance, equally detestable for the crimes he has formerly perpetrated, and diose which he is willuig to commit ; formidable from his talents and energy ; at once a hypocrite and a profligate, unfeeling, unrelenting, and implacable ”. He is a character agitated by passion and will, whose actions are the mainsprmg of the plot. The wooing of Ellcna by Vivaldi, is overshadowed by tliis dark and mysterious character, an interesting study in psychology, whose dominating figure is invested with an air of mystery. His spirit and personahty envelop the entire atmosphere of the talc.

Gaston de Blondeville (1826), Mrs. RadclifFc’s last and posthumous work, written in the 'W’intcr of 1802, and inspired by her visit to the ruins of Kenilworth Castle, was not intended for publication. She found her subject fascinating ; it struck her imagination and quick sensibility, and she became interested in exploring the history of that old castle. After this novel, she undertook no work of magnitude ; her pecuniary resources had become very ample, and there was neither enthusiasm nor excitement left in her to divert her energies to an extended romance.

Although all her works are set in a distant age, she never achieved


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historical accuracy. It is only in her last novel that she made use of old chronicles or attempted a reconstruction of history.

The story purports to have been taken from an old manuscript dated 1256, dug up in the churchyard of what had once been a Priory of Black Canons. The book shadows forth an age of cirivalry, has far more colour than Lcland’s Longsword (1762), Miss Reeve’s The Old English Baron (1777), or Miss Sophia Lee’s Recess (1785). Its scene is Kenilworth Casdc, at the time of the “ Court of Henry III keeping festival in Arden It narrates a love story, and includes the description of a splendid tourna- ment which recalls the lists of Ashby-de-la-Zouche in Ivanlioe. The spectre in a “ pale sad light ” glides up the stairs before Gaston, the King’s favourite, who has murdered him three years before ; and when justice is not immediately done “ three diops of blood ” fall on his robe ; and, when the chain of die murdered man is put into his hands, they spread until the whole of one side of his garment is crimson. The volume is curiously divided into eight days (eight parts or chapters) and the iiitlucnce of Scott is very evident. The story is rather tedious, and unworthy of her powers, and Mrs. RadclifFe is far from her best here. There is a certain langour in the narrative, as though it had been written with effort. The story is neither characteristic of Mrs. Radchffe nor of her followers, on whom it had no influence, as it was not printed until 1826.

The only merit of this work is that here Mrs. IVadcliffe makes the first use of supernatural machinei;. In this very romance she gratified herself by introducing a true spectre. And the manner in w'hich the supernatural agency is conducted, deepen the general regret that she had not employed it in her longer and niorc elaborate productions. “ Only ill Gaston dc Blondevilh does she introduce a spectre which is not explained away, but stalks unabashed through Kenilwortli Castle. The story is in fact a reversion to the methods of Walpole’s Otranto^'* says McKillop in the Jounitil oj English and Germanic Philology (1932).

Her uigcnuity fostered a new style of n injiitic fiction ^distinct from the poetical marvel * of convention^ talcs of magic and chivalry or the realistic manner of Richardson and Fielding. Yet the wondrous and the credible arc both woven into her fabric : the gossamer dreams of bygone times across the grim realities of her own days. She had not the art of stimulating thr fancy by deft, light sketches of life and manners. Her most powerful effects are gained by the passion of fear, and this base emotion is raised to the dignity of romance. In the silence of


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nature we listen to echoes from beyond the grave, and with a tremulous eagerness we follow the sequence of events. She fascinates and appals us at the same time, and stirs up those secret springs of mortal apprehension which join our earthly existence and our spiritual self. This art is not melodramatic, but is very similar to the essence of tragic power, “ which is felt not merely in the greatness of the actions, or sorrows, which it exhibits, but in its nice application to the inmost sources of terror and pity

She approached the terrible with all the tremors of a highly strung nervous system, by working upon tiie sensations of natural and super- stitious fear and making artistic use of obscurity and suspense, which remain die most fertile sources of sublime emotion. She skilfully selected and described scenes and figures precisely tuned to the feelings she sought to awaken. Thus her talent consisted in “ defining the indefinable and giving a body to a phantom

She excited the imagination by supernatural apprehensions, by phantom effects and half-heard sounds. In her hands the gusts of wind, the creaking door, even the sound of a common footstep became Sources of terror and mystery. The crude machinery of Walpole’s story — secret trap-doors, sliding panels, spiral staircases, and subterranean vaults — ^in her hands became artistic instruments to evoke an atmosphere of suspense and beauty.

She was skilful in producing terror by awakening a sense of mystery. The sequence of her narrative is so managed that it moves our minds to a fechng of impending danger, and wc hold our breath in suspense. Her vast, antique chambers have about them a sense of unearthly presences ; where an ominous silence prevails ; w’hcre echoing footsteps die away in prolonged gloom, and where phantoms lurk m dark corridors, and whispers come from behind the tapestry, as it flutters in the gusts of •wind. “ She alarms witli terror ; agitates with suspense, pro- longed and wrought up to the most intense feeling ; by mysterious hints and obsjpure intimations of unseen danger ", according to Mrs. Barbauld.

Strange occurrences that seem not of this world’s ordering surprise our prudence : she kuow's die chord of feeling she must touch. Instead of exhibiting a succession of magnificent glooms, wliich only darken the imagination, she wliispcrs some mysterious suggestion to the soul ; and in nothing is her supremacy so clearly sliown as in die wise and daring economy with which she has employed xhc instruments of fear ; “ A


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low groan issuing from distant vaults ; a voice heard among an assembly from an unknown speaker ; a little track of blood seen by the uncertain light of a lamp on a castle staircase ; a wild strain of music floating over moonlight woods ; as introduced by her, affect the mind more deeply than terrible incantations, or accumulated butcheries.” The delicacy of means by which effects are evoked is remarkable : a sigh, a vanishing light, an unfamiliar tone of voice, the shadow of a cloaked and striding figure. ” The skill of the writer, applying itself justly to the pulses of terror in our intellectual being, gives tragic interest to the ciKjiiiry, makes the rusted dagger terrible, and the spot of blood sublime.”

Mrs. RadclilFe, a mistress of hints, associations, silence, and emptiness, only half-revealing her picture leaves the rest to the imagination. She knows, as Burke has asserted, that obscurity is a strong ingredient in the sublime ; but she knew the .sharp distinction between Terror and Horror, which was unknown to Burke. “ Terror and horror ”, says McKillop, ” arc so fur opposite, that the fir'»t expands the soul, and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life ; the other contracts, freezes and nearly annihilates them . . . ; and where lies the great difference between terror and horror, but in the uncertainty and obscurity, that accompany the first, respecting the dreaded evil ? ” Sounds unexplained, sights in- distinctly caught, dim shadows endov'cd with motion by the flicker of the firelight or the slimmer of the moonbeam invoke superstitious fear.

“ To the warm imagination,* she writes in The Mysteries of UJoIpko^ ” the forms which float half-veiled in dark .ess afford a higher delight than the most distinct scenery the Sun can show.” To describe is to limit and circumscribe the operations of the reader’s imagination, but to suggest is to stimulate it by the intimation of a grandeur or a terror beyond the compass of w'ords. Isaac ^’Israeli said, ” It is by concealing that we exhibit objects to the imagination,” and ir is this process of elevating by obscurity which forms an impoi'anr part of Mrs. Radclifle’s aesthetic. McKillop observes : ”... The strong light which shows the mountains of a landscape in all their greatness, and with all their rugged sharpnesses, gives them nothing of the interest with which a more gloomy tint would invest their grandeur ; dignifying, though it softens, and magnifying, wliilc it obscures.” Thus, tilings and incidents, set in the shadow of Gothic masonry, halt-lit by perpetually failing lamps, acquire a monstrous hue.


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She developed this principle of suggestive obscurity to a fine art. Throughout her romances half-revealed objects, hints, and traces lead the mind into realms of vague subHmity. The beauty of her heroines is half-obscured in veils, and black cowls hide the face of her villains. Her landscapes and scenery arc bathed in mist or pale moonshine ; her castles and abbess arc first impressed upon us in an atmosphere of twilight ; her settings arc mostly half-explored buildings never fully known even to their inhabitants who wander as in a dream along unfamiliar cloisters and crumbling staircases.

She excites impatient curiosity by the impressive commencement of her works and the ingenuity of her narrative. Her plots deserve much admiration. Characterization was not the department of art on which her popularity rested,” says Scott, “ the public were chiefly aroused, or rather fascinated, by the wonderful conduct of a story, in which the author . . . called out the fechngs of mystery and awe. while chapter after chapter, and incident after incident, maintained the thrilling attraction of awakened curiosity and suspended interest”. Coleridge, reviewing The Mysteries of UdoIphi\ remarked that “ curiosity^is a kind of appetite, and hurries headlong on, impatient for its complete gratifica- tion ”. As Walter Scott put it : “. . . it is not until the last page is read, and the last volume closed, that w'c feel ourselves disposed to censure that which has so keenly interested us. Wc become then at length aware that there is no uncommon merit in the general contrivance of the story ; that many of the incidents arc improbable, and some of the mysteries left unexplained ; yet the impression of general delight which wc have received from the perusal, remains unabated, for it is founded on recollec- tion of the powerful emotions of wonder, curiosity, even fear, to which wc have been subjected during the currency of the narrative.” Nothing interrupts the swift progress of the talc w'hich grips us entirely.

, Edith Birkhcad draws a telling analogy ; her “ tantalising delays quicken our curiosity as effectively as the deliberate calm of a raconteur, who, witli a view to heightening his artistic cflTect, pauses to light a pipe at die very climax of his story ”. The account of Ellcna’s experience in a lonely house by die seashore, and Spalatro’s refusal to murder her because he is haunted by a supernatural warning and has seen die hallucina- tion of bloody hands, or of Schedoni’s entrance into Ellena’s room at midnight, dagger in hand, ready to kill her — are all moments of extreme tension, heightening the reader s curiosity and keeping it upon the stretch of mystery and wonder. Scott notes that “ to break off the


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narrative, when it seemed at the point of becoming most interesting — ^to extinguish a lamp just when a parchment containing some hideous secret ought to liave been read — to exhibit shadowy foriiis and half-heard sounds of woe, were resources which Mrs. Radcliffe has employed with more effect than any other wTiter of romance **.

Her artistic use of suspense was different and distinct from the method of Ricliardson and Fielding who shaped tlic incidents in their novels to fit into a general plan or design. Also, in the picaresque fiction, the novelist had introduced action for its own sake, but Mrs. Radclific used

  • action ’ for cc^mplicating the tissues of plot and then resolving them.

For the first time, reading was an exercise to be undertaken with bated breath, and it was to this tension that Coleridge referred in the Critical Retfiew when he called The Mysteries of Udolpho “ the most interesting novel ill the English language

She sedulously explains by natural agency each marvel of her story. And although she holds a masterly sway over the terrors that she employs, the mysteries accounted for by mere physical causes have been supposed “ to make the cause totally inadequate to the effect Her mask of reasonableness imposed on romanticism led Coleridge to remark :

. . mysterious terrors arc continually exciting in the mind the idea of a supcmatiiral appearance, keeping us, as it were, upon the very edge and confines of the worlil of spirits, and yet are ingeniously explained by familiar causes ; curiosity is kept mon the stretch from page to page, and from volume to volume, and the secret, which the reader thinks himself every instant on the point of penetrating flies like a phantom before him, and eludes liis eagerness till the verv last moment of protracted expectation

The Quarterly Review (May 1810) commented ; “ We disapprove of the mode, introduced by Mrs. Radcliffe, and followed by Mr. Murphy and her other imitators, of winding up their sroiy with solution7 by which all the incidents appearing to partake of the mystic and marvellous arc resolved by very dniplc and natural caii'cs ... we oaii believe, for example, in Macbeth's witches, and tremble at their spells ; but had we been informed, at die conclusion of the piece, that they were only three of liis wife’s chambermaid 1 disguised for the purpose of imposing on the Thane’s credulity, it would have added little to the credibility of the story, and entirely deprived it of its interest.”

It is perhaps the vice of her method that scenes of raised excitement, where suspense is continually heightened by mystery and unexpected

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incidents, arc followed by patches of flat explanation. A variety of startling phenomena resolved into petty deceptions and gross improba- bilities, disappoints the fancy and shocks the understanding of the reader.

    • To arouse feelings of pleasurable awe and fear in the mind of a reader

by a tale of terror, and then at die end to turn on liiin and cry ‘ April Fool \ as it were, is literary false pretence . . . her [Mrs. Radcliffe’s] erroneous method of treating the supernatural is an indelible blot upon her artistry,” said the Contemporary Revieto in February 1920.

What Walpole left inexplicable, and Reeve laboured to make credible, Mrs. RadchfFc reduces to a fascinating illusion. She would have gained artistically had she left its existence a possibility : the simplicity of her explanations destroys the mystery. The supernatural continually fascinates, but in the end is proved to be a cheat. The smugglers arc made responsible for the disappearance of Ludovico and the shaking of the black pall, and Laurentini di Udolpho is remarkably still alive. As Coleridge summed up : ” Curiosity is raised oftener than it is gratified ; or rather, it is raised so high that no adequate gratification can Ijp given it ; the interest is completely dissolved when once the adventure is finished, and the reader, when he is got to the end of the work, looks about in vain for the spell which had bound him so strongly to it.”

Thus it has been argued that when explanation falls short of the expectation of the reader, the interest terminates on the first reading of die volumes, and cannot recall a second excited perusal. But ” Mrs. Radcliffc’s plan of narrative, happily complicated and ingeniously resolved, continues to please after many readings ” Even when she has dissolved mystery after mystery, and abjured spell after spell, the impression survives, and the reader is still eager to attend again, and be again deluded. After the voices heard in die chambers of Udolpho have been shown to be the wanton trick of a prisoner, we still revert to the remaining prodigies with anxious curiosity, and arc prepared to give implicit credence to new wonders at Chateau le Blanc.” So unnerved are wt by the mysterious shadows, the vanishing lights, the unaccountable groans or even by the rusdc of an unseen robe, and our vitality gets so low', that every little sound appals us, and being completely absorbed in the atmosphere of her romance, we do not question what site would have us believe. ” The * explained supernatural ’ still leaves unexplained the tendency of the human mind to reach out beyond the tangible and the visible ; and it is in depicting diis mood of vague and lialf-defined emotion that Mrs. Radcliffe excels,” says McIntyre. Her suggested


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mysterious terrors, and the feelings they arouse until the moment of explanation, make one feel die full impression of the world of shadows although she stops short of anything really supernaturaL She may dismiss her alarming circumstances in a matter-of-fact way ; iicvertlicless she sends a chill down our spine.

Why then must she thus give the lie to the imagination of her readers ? McKillop has summed up an important point in Mrs. RadclifFe’s theory “ that the poet of the supernatural should avoid shocking the under- standing. . . . Mrs- RadclifFe’s practice in her own romances is of course much more rationalistic. . .

Secondly, the supernatural explained was not a technique entirely new ; Smollett had already made use of it in his rerdinand Count Fathom (1753) ; and the vague presentiments of terror in the novels of Mrs. Charlotte Smith foreshadowed this method. Mrs. RadclifFc probably reah7ed that Walpole’s enchanted sword and gigantic helmet, or the portrait walking out of its frame, strained human credulity. She therefore sought, like Clara Reeve in The Old English Baron (1777), to compose works in which the seemingly supernatural could be reasonably explained.

lliirdly, the credulous readers of the eighteenth century, Scott remarked, . . compel an explanation from the story-teller ; and he must cither at once consider the knor as worthy of being severed by supernatural aid, and biing on the stage his actual fiend or ghost, or like Mrs. RadclifFc, refer to natural agenc) the whole materials of his story ”.

Lastly, Dr. Tompkins justifies the autlior’s method : “ The reader is not invited to unpick a knot but to enjoy the emotion of mystery ; the knot, indeed, is not unpicked at all ; at the appointed hour an incantatiou is breathed over n, and it dissolves, foi the methods of an enchantress arc not those of Sherlock Holmes.”

One cannot doubt the importance of her novels as a contribution to fiction. The discus'-ion of the social ana *:.rellectual ])|roblcnis, in the manner of the eighteenth-century novelists, was not the centre of her interest. Firstly, by her insight into the workings of fear she contributed to the development of the psychological novel. She was perhaps the first English novelist to disscc*^ the human motives in a character. Edith Birkhead points out, “ Mrs. RadclifFe’s psychology is neither subtle nor profound, but the fact tliat psychology is there in die most rudimentary form is a sign of her progress in the art of fiction We watch as if


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under an irresistible spell every movement of Spalatro’s haggard counten- ance until the low sound of his stealthy footsteps dies away. There are some wonderful studies of character physiognomy in Schedoni :

His physiognomy . . . bore the trace of many passions, which seemed to have fixed the features they no longer animated. . . . His eyes were so piercing that they seemed to penetrate with a single glance into the hearts of men, and to read their most secret thoughts.

Or again :

His visage was wan and wasted ; his eyes were sunk, and become nearly motionless, and his whole air and attitude exhibited the wild energy of some- thing — ^not of this earth.

When Schedoni meets Ellena on the seashore :

He was silent, and still gazed upon her ; but his eyes, when slic had ceased to struggle, assumed the fixed and vacant stare of a man, whose thoughts have retired within themselves, and who is no longer conscious of surrounding objects.

Certain emotions as well arc reflected in the physiognomy :

The Confessor was silent, and his countenance assumed a very peculiar character ; it was more terrible than usual, .ind overspread with a dark cadaverous hue of mingled anger and guilt.

Schedoni, advanced in years, exhibits a more severe physiognomy, “ furrowed by thought, no less than by time, and darkened by the habitual indulgence of morose passions. . . . Cheerfulness had once played upon his features.'* When he lies in the dungeons of the Inquisition :

. . . his countenance, upon which the little light admitted dirough the triple grate of the dungeon gleamed, seemed more than usually ghastly ; his eyes were hollow, and his shrunk features appeared as if death had already touched them.

Even while presenting her minor characters, Mrs. Radcliffc docs not forget to throw light on pliysiognoniy. When die old porter opens the door of the porch in the lonely house by the seashore in The Italian^ she describes him as one

. . . whose visage was so misery struck ... the lamp he held threw a gleam athwart it, and showed the gaunt ferocity of famine, to which the shadow of his hollow eyes added a terrific wildness.^


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Her second gift to fiction was her “ power of masterly dialogue used as a means of revealing character and of advancing the action **. Her dialogues arc characterized sometimes by shrewdness as in the dialogue between the Marchesa and Schedoni in the choir of the convent of San Nicolo, or by emotional tension, as in the dialogue between Sclicdoni and Spalatro, when the latter refuses to murder Ellena :

“ Give me the dagger then,” said the Confessor. ... At the foot of the

staircase, he again stopped to listen.

“ Do you hear anything ? ” he asked, in a whisper.

“ I only hear die sea,” replied the man.

” Hush ! it is something more ! ” said Schedoni, rliat is the murmur of

I

voices !

They were silent.

Thirdly, as Miss McIntyre pointed out, Mrs. RadclifFc's “ most important contribution is a matter not of theme, but of structure ”, Miss A. A. S, Wicten also comments on “ a change in the structure of the novel in the direction of the dramatic ”. Although it was Walpole who made the first formative attempt to give a new turn to the plot by adding a dramatic technique. Mrs. Radcliffe carried that method to a higher artistic development, making a much finer use of the principle of suspense, which was rather of a nightmarish nature in Walpole’s goblin talc. The novels of the Victorian times arc a blend of the picaresque and dramatic methods, and the latter element predominates.

Fourthly, allied to Lcr dramatic technique is her art of spotlighting individual scenes. Dibeliiis lus pointed out Mrs. Radcliffe’s use of individual scenes that stand out prominently in the reader's mind even after the talc is ended. This method is a feature of lier genius wliich distinguishes her from Fielding and Smollett. In The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian certain pictiucs effectively impress themselves upon the mind : the scene where Emily's aunt is interred ; the duel betwSen Montoni and the count following that scene of dramatic tension at Udolpho where Enidy sits at dinner among the nereis guests, and the poison rises hissing in Montoni’s glass ; T mily and Dorotlice's visit to the apartment of the dead Marchioness ; or Ellena in her gloomy chamber startled from her sleep to find Schedoni ready to plunge a dagger into her heart.

This technique was adopted by the future generation of novelists. Scott owed to Mrs. Kadcliffc his strong feeling for stressing the individual scene.


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Fifthly, the technique of suspense was refined by her pen. In the works of Richardson and Fielding the interest of the novel was geared to the chief character, while Mrs. Radcliffc developed suspense until it predominated over character and became the main motif of die story. Suspense is the chief ingredient in the short story today, from the master- pieces of Poe to the cheap stuff that floods the modern magazines. Poe, in his aim of producing certain emotional effect, and in his method of exciting suspense, seems to have been influenced by Mrs. Radcliffe. Also the detective thrillers with prolonged mystifications, and uncon- vincing solutions, have much in common widi Rndcliflian technique. As Dr. Tompkins put it : “ She satisfied the detective interest in her readers.”

Her other two gifts to literature were ‘ romantic scenery ’ and the ‘ villain-hero Since these W'ere her most important contributions, they seem to merit a detailed treatment.

Dr. Tompkins saw in Mrs. RadcliflTc “ the focus of all the romantic tendencies of her time “ She collected, combined and intensified them, harmonizing her work by picturesque beauty and quickaiing it with fear and aw'c.” Her passion for the mysterious, the weird and eerie, was intensified by her love of romantic scenery, and a romantic passion for night and solitude pervades her pages. Her vivid glimpses of such landscape arc as impressive as her terrible agencies of dread.

Her quick and accurate eye with a masterly power of observation captured all the naked grandeur of the external world, and fixed ever in beautiful images and scenes the varying tints or fleeting shadows of nature, spreading before our vision lovely fairy prospects. She looked at scenes wnth tlic eye not of a philosopher, but a landscape painter. There is nothing in her like the chaotic beautiful images which we get later in Lewis and Maturin, nor anything like the remembered fragments of a gdrgcous dream as in VtUhek. Rather, she had an eye for sad colour, and her ‘ musing eye ’ loved to rest upon scenes of gloomy grandeur. She produced her spectral effects among settings like the large romantic ruins of abbeys and Gothic buildings witli their broken casements dimly shadowed under starhght, as the nocturnal winds moan and howl through their ruined turrets. Her wider canvas includes bleak and solitary heaths, gloomy forests, and craggy precipices, over which is diffused a shimmer of haze and colour.

Artists are of two kinds : some distinguish their pictures by precision and correctness of outline, while others ccvel in the force and vividness


MRS. ANN RADCUFFE : THE CRAFT OF TERROR


III


of their colours. Mrs. RadclifTe belongs to the latter group. Her im- mediate inspiration was undoubtedly Ossian ; she appears to have been affected by the showers and sunbeams and flying mists that clothe the Ossianic hero and foreshadow his destiny. She was deeply read in poets, Tasso being her favourite audior ; and in the lyrical interpretation of nature she appears to be in line widi Charlotte Smith. The writings of Gray, Thomson, and Rousseau touched a responsive chord in her nature, and she certainly owes a great deal to the inspiration of Thomson in her poetical treatment of landscape. It was probably from Gray that she inherited her sensitiveness to die quieting influence of nightfall. D. Murray Rose has compared her to sentimentalists like Mackenzie and Sterne.

Her fine local colour is imaginary ; descriptions of foreign scenery in the journals of travcllci i furnished raw material for her transmuting genius. Perhaps she also called to her aid her own personal recollections of English mountains and lakes. Her contemporaries thought that her fancy-portraits were exact descriptions of scenes which she had been privileged to visit, which was not a fact. The Edinburgh Revieu/ wrongly stated that Mrs. Radcliffe accompanied her husband to Italy, when he was attached to one of the British Embassies, and that “ it was on that occasion she imbibed the taste for picturesque scenery, and the obscure and wild superstitions of iiiouldenng castles, of which she has made so beautiful a use in her romances

She lays the setting of her romances in one of the Mediterranean countries where passions grow luxuiiandy hkc suiiimer weeds ; where ruined and desolate monuments of antiquity and massive remnants of the Middle Ages stand as mute witnesses of time ; and where the despotic power of feudal tyranny and Catholic superstition convenientiv exercise their sway Mrs. fiarbauld tells us, “ Switzerland, the South of France, Venice, the valleys of Piedmont, the bridge, the cataract, and cspcci^ly the charming bay of Naples, the dances of the peasants, with the vine dressers and the fishermen have employed her pencil To places where she had never been she sent her heromes, basing the settings on works of landscape painters. The flight oi Julia takes place in the wild beauties of Sicily , Adeline visits Switzerland and Languedoc, and Emily tours in the l^yrcnces and crosses the Alps. Udolpho is set among the Apainines, and for a wiiilc there are glimpses of enchanting Venice. When she attempts to describe places she never visited, like a true lover she invests nature with imaginary' loveliness. Thomas Green, in his


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Diary of a Lover of Literature^ wrote to paint from the imagina-

tion, and to copy nature, are such different achievements, that I was surprised, I confess, to find that she had succeeded so well, and failed so little.”

Travelling was the romance of her life, and she wrote copious diaries of her several tours, which are strewn with rich descriptions. One is impressed with the clarity of her images and the boldness and simplicity of her strokes ; wc arc not overwhelmed by any incrustation of sentiment or perplexing dazzle of fancy such as ordinarily colour the diary of descriptive tourists. “ She seems the very clironiclcr and secretary of nature ; makes us feel the freshness of the air ; and listen to the gentlest sounds.” She discriminates the shifting aspect of nature with a delicacy and exactness. ” No aerial tint of a fleecy cloud is too evanescent to be tinged in her transparent style. Perhaps no writer in prose, or verse, has been so happy in describing the varied effects of light in winged words.” Coleridge failed to appreciate this when he said that ” in the descriptions there is too much of sameness ; the pine and the larch trees w’avc, and the full moon pours its lustre through almost every chapter ”.

She adored all that was picturesque : majestic mountains, verdant landscapes, beautiful moonlit nights, tranquil lakes, music heard at evening beside the w’ater's edge. Following Rousseau’s example, she loved to describe the simple joys of rustic life, and many a passage from her romances recalls the Nouvellc Hdoisc. Famous arc die descriptions of the golden clouds of sunset and die break of early daw'iis ; impressive are the pictures of Gothic castles with ramparts gilded by the rays of the sinking sun ; romantic arc the moonlit w’oods, w’ith their mysterious and weird atmosphere ; colourful are die fertile plains laden wadi fruits and blossoms ; and frightful are those deserted mountain passes infested wi^ banditti. . . never had mountains and spectral music, defence- less beauty and the Inquisition, ruined manor vaults, pilgrims and banditti been adorned wath so much unfiimiliar gorgeousness ; never had there been such ample provision for the romantic mood, so pure in quality and so respectable in form,” says Dr. Tompkins.

Ill contrast to Mrs, Charlotte Smith’s landscapes, which remain definite and local, Mrs. Radchffe’s scenes arc far from true and accurate but painted with a broad careless sweep. Mrs. Smith’s sketches are so graphic that even the smallest detail can be painted on canvas by any artist. Mrs. Radcliffe, on the other hand, supplies the most vigorous


MRS. ANN RADCUFFE ! THE CRAFT OF TERROR II3

and noble ideas while she leaves the distinct and accurate outline to die imagination of the painter. Scott observes, “ as her story is usually enveloped in mystery, so there is, as it were, a haze oyer her landscapes, softening indeed the whole, and adding interest and dignity to particular parts, and thereby producing every effect which the author desired, but without communicating any absolutely precise or individual image to the reader One such description is of the Castle of Udolpho. The towers of Udolpho, wreathed in mist and obscurity, afford a noble subject for the painter, “ but were six artists to attempt to embody it upon canvas, they would probably produce six drawings entirely dissimilar to each other. . . The description of Udolpho is a fine specimen of Mrs. Radcliffe’s particular talents :

Tow<irds die end of day die road wound into a deep valley. Mountains, wliosc shaggy steeps appeared to be inaccessible, almost surrounded it. . . . The sun had Just sunk below the top of the mountains . . . whose long shadow stretched atliwart die valley ; but his sloping rays, shooting through the opening of die cliffs , . . streamed 111 full splendour upon die towers and batdements of a castle that spread its extensive ramparts along the brow of a precipice above. The splendour of these illuminated objects was heightened by the contrasted shade which involved the valley below ... the whole edifice was invested with the solemn duskiness of evening. Silent, lonely, and sublime, it seemed to stand the sovereign of the scene, and to frown defiance on all who dared to mvadc its solitary rrigii. As the twilight deepened, its features became more awful in obscurity .

This lovely first glimpse of the castle of fldolpho cliarmed Sir Walter Scott, Leigh Hunt, and others ; the description possesses a sort of mystic vagueness which leaves only an impresMon of the castle as a pile of enornioiis proportions.

Such a lack of distinctness m her pictures may have been caused by her attempt to blend a landscape actually seen by her with a lands^pe borrowed from elsewhere. She looked at the grandeurs and beauties of creation through a soft and tender medium. And, as she painted nature with the hues of romance, ^omc of its urtkccs were heightened while some of its delicate varieties were lost.

Atmosphere and scenery provide the whole focus of interest in the novels of Radcliffe, w'hile Ac characters, like the figures in a landscape, arc subordinated to effective scenes. The tiuiction of characters is to focus and enhance the sentiment of the scene ; they are distinguished only by such features as are appropriate to their setting of dark battlements


THE GOTHIC FLAME


II4

or rocks and trees. The scenes reflect the emotions of her char- acters ; the gloom darkens when the incidents move towards a tragic catastrophe, and a warm sunshine spreads with the moods of happiness and security. “ A flexible harmony of colour accompanies the action ; it is beneath a lowering sky and beside a wind-ruffled lake that Ellcna walks on her fateful marriage morning, while the changing aspects of the Fontanvillc forest keep pace with Adeline’s changing fortunes, as its lawn darkens with the coming storm and its trees arc stripped by the wind,” says Dr. Tompkins. The chief interest perhaps docs not lie in the characters of Emily and Montoni, or in die conflicts of Vivaldi or Adeline ; it is the southern landscape that enchants us, whose cumulative effect is heightened in the happy musings of lovers or in dicir terror- stricken flight. I'he castles and the convents remain complete expressions of die victim as well as the tyrant. “ The raison d'etre of her books is not a story, nor a character, nor a moral trudi, but a mood, the mood of a sensitive dreamer before Gothic buildings and picturesque scenery/’

The plot and characters centre round this mood, and die spirit of the grim places like Udolpho or Fontanvillc Abbey speak through Emily or Adeline. They receive and transmit the faintest tremors that possess tlicsc grim and deserted abodes. Those that fill up the canvas are characters lacking individual features, representative of certain class or types, coming to life with the strokes of Mrs. Radcliffe’s brush. They are the gloomy and tyrannical baron, an aged and garrulous maid who has locked up in her heart many a secret of the family legend, a gay and easy valet, or a heroine endowed widi all perfection exposed to an interminable succession of misfortunes, struggling against the tide of adversity, and hurried down- ward by its torrent.

Wietcii has pointed out that Mrs. Radcliffe uses “ the terrible forces of nature to reflect the dark passions of man ”. She establishes thus a concord in literature between man’s mood and the changing aspect of nature, and gives an appropriate setting not only to the evil emotions, but also to the^ feelings of joy or content or love. The love of landscape is reflected in all her heroines, who purify their souls in the beauty of frequent dawns and sunsets, and draw fortitude and patience from the divine order of nature. The dominating force of atmosphere over passion is the cumulative effect of the landscape. At times, terror is obscurely reflected in the victim’s mind. Changes in the moods of nature harmonize with the terrors of the heroine. The savage wildness of the mountain scenery or the dim shades of unexplored forest vistas exclude human aid


MRS. ANN KADCLIFFE : THE CRAFT OF T£RRf)R


iI5


and darken solitude. Lord Ernie, in his study The Light Reading of our Ancestors (i 927 )» says: “The wind howls, whistles or moans; the clouds lower ; the roll of the thunder is ominous ; the flash of the lightning intensifies the blackness of the night by its momentary glare. Again and again hope seems dead, or is snatched back to life from the very verge of despair.” Descriptions infected with picturesque terminology, yet beautiful in their artifice, flood the romances with colour, besides enliaiicing the emotions of the principal characters.

The use she made of nature, and more specifically nature in its most terrifying aspects, is a heritage of the great English drama. Consciously or unconsciously, Mrs. Radclifte, like Shakespeare, put into practice the doctrine of “ beauty in horror and the horrible in the beautiful ”. The most thrilling incidents in her novels do not occur without the elements being unleashed in all their fury : the stormy midnight when La Motte is obliged to flee from Paris in The Romance of the Forest^ or the atmosphere when Adeline found the time-yellowed manuscript, or in The Italian when Schedoni goes to murder Ellcna. . . at times iimnodcratc in using scenery to suggest or accompany emotional moods, the excess may be pardoned in the discoverer of a novelty which was of a great potential value.”

Tlic horrid graces of wildness have been ascribed by B. Sprague Allen to the “ influence of Salvator Rosa on the ctiltivation of a taste for wild scenery in England ”. He adds that “ It was the philosopher's influence combined wiu that of the Italian painters which made beauty visible where it had not been perceived before ”, Towards the middle of the eighteenth century the arts and die general aesthetic sensibiHty of England were subjugated to a new passion ; the yearning for the ‘ picturesque quickened by a fresh perception of natural grandeur. The “ acute sensibihty ” reflected in the htcrature and the very psychology of the age was i!nmeasiirably reinforced by a ^tudy ot the picruras of Claude Lorraiii, Caspar (Dtighet) Poussin, or Salvator Rosa, while the impulse tow'ards melancholy and horror w'as inspired by a deliberate endeavour to construct by means of ruins, press trees, weeping willows, and temples, situations of varied emotional appeal. In The Times Literary Supplement, i December 1927, we read : “ The quahties exhibited in their work . . arc the predilection for ‘ landscape ’ — that is, for wide

prospects, richly filled with the works of nature and of ir an, and revealed by dramatic contrasts of light and shade ; the use of " roughness and sudden variation joined to irregularity ’ to gain striking effects of form


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and colour ; the taste for vast architectural masses, and for the associations of grandeur and terror evoked by such objects as palaces, castles, crags, gnarled tree trunks or lonely hovels.” Such was, indeed, the kingdom of the picturesque which exercised its influence on the romances of Mrs. RadcliiFc, whose art was die product of emotion deeply stirred by contact with nature.

On the whole the grand and imposing in nature appealed more strongly to her than the mildly sweet. Mrs. Radcliffe goes in for vastness of natural scenes ; the wide horizon of the sky and the vastness of the sea affect her more. She is particularly enchanted by the music of the wave or the sound of a distant surge. The soul dilates in the contempla- tion of such vast scenes over which there is an aura of holiness. Such scenes are uncommonly beautiful, for they (lecpeii the awfukiess of sound and silence. Speakmg of Adeline in The Romance of the Forest, Mrs. Radcliffe says :

Of all the grand objects which nature had exhibited, the ocean inspired her with the most sublime admiration. She loved to wander along on its shores, and, when she could escape so long from die duties or die ^rms of society, she would sit for hours on the beacli, watching the rolling waves, and listening to their dying murmur, till her softened fancy recalled long lost scenes.

Indeed, the grandeur and immensity of the view astonished and over- powered Mrs. Radcliffe. Once more there is a reference to the pauses of the surge breaking loud and hollow on the shore as a profound stillness reigns in the fisherman’s cottage in The Italian whenever the murmur of die waves sink :

The moon, rising over the ocean, showed its restless surface spreading to the wide horizon, and the waves, which broke in foam upon the rocky beach below, rearing in long white lines far upon the waters.

Certain passages in her diary constantly refer to her love of the sea, and to scenes of extreme wildness, grandeur, and solitude :

How sweet is the cadence of the distant surge ! It seemed, as wc sat 111 our inn, as if a faint peal of far-off bells mingled with the sounds on shore, sometimes heard, sometimes lost : die first note of the beginning, and last of the falling peal, seeming always the most distinct. . . . This chiming of the surge is when the tide is among the rocks, and the wind, blowing from the sea, bears and softens all the different notes of the waves to a distance, in one harmonious cadence ; as in a concert, your distance from the orchestra blends the diflferent instruments into a richer and softer harmony.


MRS. ANN RADCLIFFE ! THE CRAFT OF TERROR 1 17

Again, while sailing from Cowes after sunset, she exclaims :

how impressive the silence ! . . . like a song of peace to die departing day !

. . . Everyone who gazed upon this scene, proud or humble,* was a step nearer the grave — ^yct none seemed conscious of it. The scene itself, great, benevolent, sublime, powerful, yet silent in its power — ^progressive and certain in its end, steadfast and full of a sublime repose : the scene itself spoke of its Creator.

For Mrs. RadclifFc nature is a manifestation of Divine grandeur and her attitude contains all the germ of that philosophy of nature which was later so well expounded by the Romantic poets. The sense of religious exiiltaDiiii that we get in her painting of wild landscapes easily points the way to Wordswordi, for both feci the regenerating power of nature.

Her passion for romantic scenery, and her poetic treatment of land- scapes, opened up new resources to the art of the novelist. She enlarged the scope and domain of prose fiction by liberating fancy and quickening colour. She filled it with goodly imagery and captivated the senses, which made Scott consider her “ die first poet-novelist, if rhythm is not always an essential characteristic of poetry’*. At another place, while referring to her pictures “ now pleasing and serene, now gloomy and terrible ”, he said that these were ” scenes which could only have been drawn by one to whom nature had given the eye of a painter, with the spirit of a poet ”. She was indeed a “ prose poet “ the first to intioducc the poetic element into the Englisli novel ”, thus making an appreciable contribution to die realm of fiction. The inclinations of her poetic sensibility foreshadow die period of die coming Romantic P^cvival.

Her scenery is as gloomy as her tale, and her personages arc those at whose frown that gloom grows darker. Her villain-heroes correspond to the scenery ; their wicked projects arc dark, singular, and atrocious ; and their guilt is tinged with a darker hue, so tliat they seem almost <o belong to an uneardily sphere of powerful misthief.

Mrs. Radclifi'e has drawn her villains from the Italy of die Elizabethan dramatists and not from the Italy of lustorv. Malcolm, the Marquis of Mazzini, La Mottc and the Marquis de Montalt, Montoni or Schedoni —all have the spark from Elizabethan villains like D’Amville in The Atheists* Tragedy or Fraiicis'-o iu The Duke of Milan, or the Cardinal in The Duchess of Malfi, The vi!!ain-hcro or ” the dominating figure in die story of a man of great power, stained with criminal designs ” was a type developed by Marlowe and later Elizabethans. The villain-heroes


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of Mrs. RadclifFe arc characterized by the same domineering, relentless personality, and selfish aims. Two of them arc usurping brothers, a common character in Shakespeare and other Elizabethans.

Miss C. F. McIntyre has pointed out that “ Mrs. RadclifFe . . . was the person really responsible for the revival of Elizabethan villain She gives credit to Walpole for having created a tyrant “ cruel and calcu- lating, but having litdc individuality but she holds Mrs. RadclifFe responsible for transmitting this character to later romanticists. “ The Elizabethan villain-hero did not cease to exist when the Elizabethan

playwrights had finished their work The so-called ‘ Gothic ’ novelists,

and especially Mrs. RadclifFe as their strongest representative, brought him forward again, and handed him on to later Romanticists like Eyron and Shelley.”

These sinister personages, with their passion-lined faces and gleaming eyes, arc tlie pivot of all her romances, and her presentation of the type gains in power and vigour as they slowly evolve from Malcolm in The Castles oj Athlin and Dunhaync to Schedoni in The Italian.

Malcolm, master of Dunbayne, is ” proud, oppressive, revengeful ”, ” mighty in injustice and cruel in power ”. He seizes his brother's estate, murders him and expels his son ; having murdered the Lord of Athlin he tries to murder the latter’s son Osbert, and even attempts to compel the daughter Mary to become his mistress.

The tyrannical Marquis of Mazzini in A Sicilian Romance wishes to force his daughter to marry someone she docs not love, and also imprisons liis wife in the dungeons of his castle. In 7'//^* Romance of the Forest we meet the di.spiritcd La Motte. Although the vacillations in liis criminal purposes makes him only too human, he is overshadowed by a darker figure.

In The Mysteries of Udolpho wc meet Montoni, with his forbidding and inystcrious air, whose dark personality harmonizes with the gloom of Udolpho. He possesses that vigour and vitality, and those essentials of character which were later developed in Schedoni. According to Eino Railo, Montoni is ** the lonely, stalwart, .saturnine and black-browed man of beautiful countenance, whose spiritual life is in the grip of some secret influence and who, by reason of his intclhgencc and strength of will and the volcanic nature of his passions, stands out from his surroundings as an independent individual. In this respect Mrs. Radclifife ... has ... a vision of something superhuman, of a superman with uncommon qualities, whose soul and actions are dominated by passions unknown


MRS. ANN I^DCLIFFE : THE CRAFT OF TERROR 1 19

to the ordinary mortal, passions verging on the demoniac.” His selfish treatment of Emily and her aunt at (Jdolpho, his speedy assumption of authority immediately after his marriage, his cruel treatment of his antagonist in the duel, his personal bravery and suffering — all arc the traits of Elizabethan villain. “ As he wanders through the passages of his dilapidated castle, silent and darkly defiant, brooding over some secret thought, yet noble and beautiful in appearance, or sits cold and mocking amongst his accomplices, gambling or drinking, he achieves in some way an effect of romantically majestic proportions which attracts our interest owing to its novelty.”

“ In 1 797 Mrs. Radcliffe’s The Italian added another figure to the Gothic gallcr)’- -the masterly plotter and murderer, Schedoni.” Mrs. Radclilfe tlirows on him just enough of tliat dubious light which mystery requires :

... as he stalked along, wrapped in the black garments of his order, there was something terrible in his air, something almost superhuman. His cowl, too, as it threw a shade over the hviJ paleness of his face, increased its severe char.ictci, Jiiid gave an cfTcct to his large rnclancholv eyes winch approached to horror.

His imposing, austere figure stained with darkest crimes becomes the medium for Mrs. Radcliffc explore the mysteries c>f the human soul and its darker motives. His charaeicr has strong traces of Milton’s Satan and affiiiiries with Shakespeare’s Cassius. He approximates fully to the type of Elizabethan villain-hero, and at times rises to a pitch of real tragic conflict, as during his inward struggle when about to murder Elicna. “ I'hc conflict between his design and his conscience was strong, or perhaps, it was only between his passions.”

Mr. ('Clarence Boyer, in his The Villain as Hero in Elizabethan Trajfcdy^ has pointed out six Machiavellian qualities in Marlowe’s Baraba^ : egotistical, cruel, faithless, remorseless, murderous, and lastly a poisoner, all of which qualiiies arc profusely evident in Schedoni. I-Jis egotism is evident in his assured bearing before the MaJ- hrsa and his contemptuous treatment of Vivakii whcmi he plans to employ as minister to his own ambitious ends. Schedoni is as outrageously selfish as any of Marlowe’s heroes. His cruelty emerges when he advocates Ellcna’s death, and as Mr. Boyer observes : ” has no regard whatever for hum?ii beings, but sweeps them away as though they were so many flies He is faithless in his dealings with the Marchesa. And he dies witliout any real remorse,


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for his behaviour toward his supposed daughter is inspired by natural affection rather than by repentance for evil intentions. He is murderous, as well as a poisoner, a fact which appears three times in the story. Firstly, at his suggestion Ellena is supplied with poisoned food ; then, he hands over his poisoned dagger to the peasant who has been his guide, and finally he poisons both himself and the revengeful monk Nicola who betrayed him. Schedoni’s skilful handling of the Marcliesa has the stamp of Shakespeare’s lago.

Schedoni works out his purposes witli almost superhuman powers ; and even when unseen, we feel his will directing his awful energies. The spell is broken only when he is brought within the range of human emotion moved by an anxiety for the safety and marriage of his supposed daughter. We feel the incongruity ; as if a spectre were moved to tears and human pity. “ At one touch of human pathos the encliantment would have been dissolved, as spells are broken by a holy word, or as the ghost of Protesilaus vanished before the earthly passion of his enamoured widow,”

Maturin’s JMclnioth, and the heroes of Scott and Byron, arejd(;sccndcd from Mrs. Radcliffe’s villains. The same world-weanncss pervades them ; with gleaming eyes and passion-wrought faces they resemble Walpole’s Manfred and Mrs. RadcUfFe’s villaui-hcroes. Lord Ernie says, ” Byron modelled his scowl on that of Schedoni, and Lara and the Giaour owed much to tlic really powerful description of that monastic villain in The Italian Selfish and unscrupulous, brave and rash, they arc possessed of great personal strength ; their siiustcr personality and fierce manner strikes dread all round, while a veil of dark mystery hangs over their early life. . . the Byronic hero was a glorified man of feehng, with a dash of devilry in his composition. His ‘ fierce dilating eye ’, inherited from Mrs. RadclifFe’s villains, was more magnetic and compelling than the ‘ suffused orb ’ of sensibility. His deeply lined countenance was undisputed evidence of a stupendous capacity for emotion.” The ” Byronic hero ” of the early nineteenth century was a gift from the Elizabctlian plays passed on by Mrs. Radcliffc. Byron's heroes are egotistic in lust for power, and in arms against the world as were Marlowe’s heroes. Moreover, their lust for wandering and adventure suggests the spirit of the Renaissance.

This agent of terror, oppressed w'ith agony, was bequeathed to die nineteenth century. Scott, commenting on Mrs. Radcliffe’s villain- heroes, says : ” To draw such portraits requires no mean powers. And


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MRS. ANN^RADCLIFFB : THE CRAFT OF TERROR

although they belong rather to romance than to real life, the impression which they make upon the imagination is scarce lessened by the sense.”

Mrs. Radcliffe drew on diverse materials, assembled the scattered hints, and shaped them with her characteristic method. It is, however, difficult to distinguish how far these transpositions into the romantic key were deliberate, and how far an unconscious alchemy of memory. Two dissertations by Wieten and by McIntyre have unsuccessfully attempted to explore the sources of her masterly creations, while Dr. Tompkins has appended a small list to The Popular Novel in England (Constable, 1932).

Every page of Mrs. RadclifFc’s work is bedewed with the tear of sensibility, every volume is damp with it. And she herself provides the key to this sentimentahty, melancholy, and excessive emotion ; her chapters are prefaced by quotations from Shakespeare, Milton, Thomson, Warton, Gray, Collins, Mason, and otliers. “ English literature had discovered the sentimental possibilities of nature extremely early, develop- ing it in The Seasons, * graveyard * and * night ' poetry, odes, Pamela and Clarissa Harloivc, Ossian and other similar products.” Sentimentalism infused Itself into general literature about the middle of the century, as a protest and reaction against die emotional coldness of the classical age. it announced itself in Richardson, Rousseau, and the youthful Goethe. Mrs. RadclilFc has been compared to sentimentalists like Mackenzie and Sterne, while in her attitude towards nature and in her imaginative force she seems to luve been influenced by Rousseau. Her heroines arc descended from Richarason’s Pniiicla or Clarissa, but placed in more romantic situations. Mr. Poster thinks that the Radcliffian novel was a product of sensibility having its origin in Prevost, despite die usual opinion that the French influence on die Eii-^lish novel between 1 750-1 800 is almost negligible.

Mrs. Radclitfe’s debt to Smollett, Lcland, Walpole, Clara Reeve, and Sopliia Lee, is fairly obvious : Smollett had given inklings* of ‘ Gothicisni ’ m Ferdinand Count Fathom ; Lcland liad attempted Longsuwd^

  • a historical romance ’ ; The Castle of Otranto had hintqd Rt dramatic

teclmiquc ; Reeve’s The Old English Barou influenced The Mysteries of Udolpho ; and Miss Lee in The Recess gave studies of female sensibility heightened by fear. The cult of suspense was developed by other writers of the ’eighties who prc. eded Mrs. Radcliffe. Elizabeth Blower in Maria (1785) and A Lady of Distinction in Helena had described Gothic passages through which the heroine wanders at midnight alarmed by supenutural apprehensions.


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THE GOTHIC FLAME


But probably the greatest debt Mrs. RaddifFc owed was to her contemporary, Mrs. Charlotte Smith, who “ wrote sentimental adventure stories furnished- with landscapes, castles and ghosts Professor Foster quotes certain similar passages from die works of both these novelists.

The Analytical Revietv, July 1788, p. 327, noted how the methods and plans in Mrs. Smith’s Emmeline (1788) iiiducnced the novels of Mrs. Radcliffc. The same journal in December 1789, p. 484, while reviewing Mrs. Smith’s Ethvliude (1789) commented upon its atmospheric prepara- tion for the appearance of the ghost, illustrating the combination of states of high sentimental tension with melodramatic terror, a technique which became fine art in the hands of Mrs. Radcliffe. The innocent beauty of Emmeline, set in its Gotliic frame, foreshadows Adeline and Emily, and the situation in Ethclindc (1789) where the heroine invokes her father’s spirit and seems to feel it near, has an affinity with Mrs, Radcliffe’s future technique.

Professor Foster feels that The Romance of the Forest owed much to Mrs. Smith’s Celestina, which w^as perhaps published early in 1791, for it was reviewed in the Analytical Review the same year in Augnj>t. The Romatite of the h'oresL must have seen print later, being first mentioned in the Critical Review, April 1792. Montague Thorold, the servile lover in Celestina, forc.shadows the unrequited lover Louis La Motte in The Romance of the Forest. “ Montoni’s marriage with Emily’s aimt is not unlike Rokcr’s marriage of Leonard (Rokcr is the vile lawyer in The Old Manor House). The ghosts of Bangy Castle (Bangy is the Villcroi chateau in Udolpho) prove to be the smugglers of The Old Manor House, while the recovery of Ludovico reminds one of die banditti scene in Desmond.^^

Mrs. Piozzi’s Observations and Reflections made in the course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany (1789) seems to be a direct source for her*' descriptions in The Mysteries of Udolpho. She may have used two other books : one by Ramond de Carbonnicrcs, Observations faites dans les Pyrenees (1789), and the other P. J. Groslcy’s New Observations on Italy and its Inhabitants (1769). “ She drew on them both in The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), on Ramond for the Pyrenean scenes of the first and fourtli volumes, and on Groslcy for Emily’s journey into Italy, while memories of Grosley recurred in her next and last book, The Italian (1797).” It was in Grosley’s book that “ she found ... the hint for the veiled figure at Udolpho

“The scenes that Salvator Rosa dashed” were also her model.


MRS. ANN RADCLIFFE I THE CRAFT OF TERROR 123

Dr. Manwaring, in her Italian Landscape in Eighteenth Century England (Milford), lias illustrated in detail the deepening glow of “ ltdian light on English walls” during the period. The pictures of Claude and Salvator, or paintings even by tlicir imitators and forgers, were very popular, along with a passion for building or enlarging great mansions, each witli its ambitious picture gaUcry ; the word ‘ picturesque * from tlic Italian Pittoresco, meaning first * pictorial was naturalized in the English language to denote an agreeable wildness or horror. The picturesque prospect, like the ruin, was but tlic means of being “ agreeably terrified ”. M. Praz, writing in The Tinier Literary Supplement, 13 August 1925, says, “ the tortuied precipices and storm-riven trees of the ‘ bandit ’ Salvator Rosa were the most powerful force in tliis development of taste, but Claude’s * unreal Art adian scenes’, as Dr. Manwaring terms them, with their insubstantial vistas and ruins smilingly returned to Nature, were scarcely less potent as a romantic stimulus.”

Tlie idea of explaining away the supernatural might liavc occurred to Mrs. Radclifle from Schiller’s popular romance Der Geisterseher (1789), ill which the elaborately contrived marvels of the Armenian, w’ho was modelled on Cagliostro, were but the feats of a juggler and bad a physical cause. Professor Foster, however, traces this method to Prevost who “ tells some genuinely supernatural tales, but his usual method is to explain a phenomenon which seemed mysterious as soinetliing very natural. Tliis is Mrs. Radcliffe’s surnatnrel expliqiie. The ghost which appeared before Fanny Cleveland in the chateau of Corogne is really Don Hiadeo bound up in white surgical bandages, we arc told, after sharing >ym pathetically the emotional torment of the poor Fanny who thought it her dead brother.” J^rofessor Foster holds that Mrs. Radclih'e did not know Prevost at first hand, but slie knew him through Charlotte Snjith, Sophia Lee, Clara Reeve, M idame De Gcnlis, and Arnaiid.

G. Buyers, in an article in Euglische Stndien, XLVIIl, pp. 350 ff., has suggested that Schiller’s Geisterseher influenced the portimt of Montoni in The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794). According to Miss McIntyre, the peculiar physiognomy of tlic Ariiienian was transmitted to Schcdoiii in 77 ie Italian (1797). But as die first English translation of Der Geisterseher appeared only in 1795, it cannot be said to have influenced The Mysteries of Udolpho, unless Mrs. RadcliftV was able to read it in the original. L. F. Thompson, in his article on Ann Radclijfe^s knoufledge of German, states that “ . . . a perusal of her Journey through Holland and Germany,


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THE GOTHIC FTAME


undertaken in 1794 in the company of her husband, points to her being able to obtain an adequate knowledge of a German book before the publication of Udolpho Miss Killcn has suggested that “ after the

publication of The Forest . . . Mrs. Radcliifc seems to have spent some of her time studying the German literature of outlaws and brigands”. Mrs. Elwood, in her “ Memoirs of Literary Ladies ”, declares, on tlie authority of a contemporary of Mrs. RadcIi](Fc, tliat Ann Radcliffc professed great admiration for the ^ Brigands ’ of Schiller. Another German source of Mrs. Radcliffe was perhaps Benedictc Nauberts’ Herman of Unna (ascribed in the translation to Cramer) which appears to have suggested the kidnapping of the heroine to a mountain convent and her meeting there with her unknown mother.

Besides the influence of German literature whidi was then becoming popular in England, the other great influence on Mrs. Radcliffc was Shakespeare and other Elizabethans. She quotes Shakespeare more frequently than any other author, and many of her scenes arc reminiscent of Shakespearean tragedy. Yet her method of inspiring awe and exciting curiosity has more the impress of later Elizabethans than of Shal^speare, especially in “ their inclination toward tlie sensational and the gruesome

Miss C. F. McIntyre, in her article Were the ‘ Gothic Novels * Gothic ?, has shown Radcliffc’s iiidebtcdncNS to Elizabethan drama, in her picturing of the violent and bloody scenes, and in the use of revenge motive. In The Italian^ Vivaldi finds a heap of bloody garments in the ruins of Paluzzi, wdiile tlie two abductions of Ellena, first, when she has to leave her servant tied to a pillar, and second, when Vivaldi is seized by the powers of Inquisition, arc examples of violence. Miss McIntyre states tliat poisoning was a characteristic crime during the Renaissance ; Massinger's play, The Duke of Milan (r623), reveals a characteristic treatment of the theme, where the Duke draws poison from the painted lips bf his dead duchess. The part that poisoning plays in Mrs. Radcliffc’s novels shows another Renaissance influence upon her works. In A Sicilian Romanac the Marquis mixes poison in tlie food for his imprisoned first wife, who, however, escapes, and the Marquis is poisoned by his faithless second wife. In The Romance of the Forest the Marquis himself resorts to poison wdien his crimes arc about to be exposed. In The Mysteries of Udolpho, sister Agnes, formerly Laurentini di Udolpho, had goaded the Marquis di Villeroi to poison his wife. And tlien there is that colourful scene when poison rises hissing in Montoni’s glass at the Udolpho banquet.


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125


The revenge motive is displayed in Mrs. Radcliffe’s first romance The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne. The Earl of Athlin was foully murdered by Malcolm, a neighbouring chief, and “ when Osbert learned the story of his fatlier’s death, his young heart glowed to avenge the deed In The Italian^ Nicola, goaded by the spirit of revenge, works to expose the crimes of Schedoni, his former friend. The plot of Mrs. RaddiSe’s posthumous tale, Gaston de BlondeifillCf is typically Elizabethan: the kinsman of a murdered man accusing his murderer, and the spectre of the murdered man appearing to support the charge and execute vengeance.

Some of her passages and situations arc strikingly reminiscent of Macbeth and Hamlet : the former being a Tragedy of Blood and the latter a Tragedy of Revenge.

The ravings of the dying nun Agnes recall Macbeth :

“ What ! there again,” said she ...” come from the grave ... do not smile so piteously.”

Also tlic hallucination of Spalatro in The Italian :

1 have never been at peace since. The bloody hand is always before me ! and often of a night, when tlic sea roars, and storms shake the house, they have come, all ga^icd as I left them, and stood before my bed ! 1 have got up and run out upon the shore for safety.

And again :

“ Frenzy ! would it were, signor ; I saw that dreadful hand — ^1 sec it now — ^it is there again ! — there ! ”

The dispute between Schedoni and liis associate Spalatro ni the cottage by die seashore as to who shall muidcr Ellena, concludes with Confessor’s words :

“ Give me the dagger then ...”

Again, when die guests from the table at Udolpho rise in confusion, when Montoni’ a story of Laurentini’s disappearance is interrupted by a mysterious voice, the picture suggests the breaking up of the banquet scene in Macbeth. Or when Emily enters Udolpho, the sounding of the portal bell reminds us of Shakespeare’s ** knell that summons thee to heaven or hell ”, or of the raven that ” croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan ” under the batdements of Inverness.


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The influence of Hamlet is traceable in the scene where the mysterious figure is seen on the terrace outside Emily’s window. The conversation reminds us of the opening of Hamlet

Therefore “ one is justified in recognizing the Elizabethan influence upon Mrs. Radcliife in her decidedly dramatic structure ; in her general choice of theme, especially her attitude toward death and toward the supernatural. . .

What Vernon Lee said of the works of later Elizabethans — Webster, Ford, Tourneur, and Marstoii, may well be applied to the atmosphere of Mrs. Radcliffc’s works :

The world of these great poets ... is die darkened Italian palace, with its wrought-iron bars preventing escape, its embroidered carpets muifling the footsteps ; Its hidden, suddenly yawning trap-doors ; its arras-hangings concealing masked ruffians ; its garlands of poisoned flowers ; its long suites of un tenanted darkened rooms. . . .

Mrs. Radcliffc had studied certain old chronicles, and she may also have depended on oral legends clustering round ancient abbeys^for the background of her stories. Ghostly legends fascinated her, and she probably amassed a hoard of traditions when she visited English castles during her tours with her husband. Her settings and characters may well have come from folk-lore. “ The Gothic castle, suddenly en- countered in a dark forest is boldly transported from fairyland and set down in Italy, Sicily, or Spain.”

Mrs. Raddiffe’s individual style of composition has never been equalled, but her success drew fordi a host of imitators. A long list of such imitations has been appended to Miss McIntyre’s thesis. “ Every pen essayed to catch something of her style, to write of some peerless heroine persecuted by wicked marquis or villainous monk, imprisoned in a tecrific castle or mouldering abbey, scared by apparitions and illusions caused by cracking doors, unaccountable noises, sudden gleams of light where no person could be walking, until at last Matilda, or Rosalia, or Imogenc is rescued by her lover, and as the story closes with this happy bridal it is discovered that the very castle or abbey where she had been secretly detained is part of her own domain now restored to her by the death of a cruel and treacherous relative.” Her imitators produced only cumbrous caricatures, in which tlic terrors have no decorum, and the explanations are almost farcical. All have some variation of plot and dwacters, and a ghost of whatever sort is always explained away. A


MRS. ANN^RADCUFFE : THE CRAFT OF TERROR 127

glance at the tides of their works reveals nothing but “ Mysteries ”, “ Dark and Fatal Secrets ”, “ Abbeys ” and “ Old Casdes ”,

Most of the shilling shockers of the Victorian age fell into two general groups : “ The first ... in the footsteps of such novels as The Monk, and The Italian. . . . The second group . . . followed the lead of The Castle of Otranto and The Mysteries of Udolpho.’* Even here Mrs. Radcliffe dominated the twin currents of disintegration.

All successful followers had to call to aid other means to make their works interesting. ‘ Monk ’ Lewis added sickly voluptuousness to his terrors while Maturin, full of “ rich ciinccits ”, approached the borders of forbidden speculations and paradoxical morals. But greater names owed allegiance to Mrs. Radcliffe. As Montague Summers puts it : “ Hoiiore dc Balzac tliouglit her roimmces admirable, and many of his first efforts were directly inspired by her pages. In some of his maturcr work their influence still prevails, as it often docs in Dumas, Victor Hugo, Lugene Sue, Joseph Petrus Borel, Baudelaire— and when I liavc said Balzac and J 3 audclairc what more can I add ? ”

Martha Hale Shackford, in her article The Fa’c of St. Aftnes and The Mysteries of Udolpho, has pointed out Keats’s indebtedness to Mrs. Radcliffe. Quoting comparative passages of indefinable likenesses in spirit and atmosphere ” from the tw'o works, she writes :

I’lie setting of Mrs. Radcliffc’s story possessed many elements tliat seem revived by Keats. There was tlie solid granvlcur of an .inciciit CJothic castle, with shadowy galleries, in)sr:erioii' staircases, moimlit casements, and gorgeous apartiiieiits hiuig with arras glowing witli medieval pageantry. The feudal hfe with old retainers serving an arrogant master and his carousing friends is pictured in both works.

To Miss Wicten her influence w^as potent on Tennyson, “ iii subject, form, and partly in treatment ”. ” She shadows forth Wordsworth and Tcimysoii’s intense Joy in nature, as well as Shelley’s and Swiiibuiaie’s love of liberty and abhorrence of restraint.”

“ Gothic romance gamed its firm hold on the readei interest about 1791, the year in wliich Mrs. Radcliffe a. ained her first outstanding success.” Romance, as exhibited by her, “ tricked antique ruff and bonnet ”, has yet eyes of youth ; and the beauty is not diminished by the folds of the brocade, 1 r the stiffness of the damask stomacher. Her powers of originality, her liigli degree of excellence and capacity for rich invciitioii, has won universal applause. Scott said that slie has never been excelled or even equalled 111 “appealing ti^ those powerful and


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general sources of interest, a latent sense of supernatural awe, and curiosity concerning whatever is hidden and mysterious”. Hazlitt remarked that “ in harrowing up the soul with imaginary horrors, and making the flesh creep and the nerves thrill with fond hopes and fears, she is unrivalled among her countrymen Coleridge, while reviewing The Mysteries of Udolphoy wrote :

Thine too these golden keys, immortal boy !

This can unlock the gates of joy.

Of horror diat, and thrilling fears.

Or ope the sacred source of sympadictic tears.

Such are the presents of die Muse to the infant Shakespeare, and though perhaps to no other mortal has she been so lavish of her gifts, the keys referring to the third hue Mrs. Radcliffc must be allowed to be completely in possession of.

Charles Buckc spoke of her as one “ bred in die schools of Dante and Ariosto, and whom tlic Muses recognize as die sister of Salvator Rosa ”. Buckc may have had in mind Mathias* well-known compliment to Mrs. Radcliffc : ” She was the Mighty Magician of ‘ The Myjftcrics of Udolpho ’ bred and nourished by die Florentine Muses in their sacred sohtary caverns, amid the paler shrines of Gothick superstition, and all the dreariness of enchantment.” Andre Chenier in his ‘ Observations * upon the English romance writers, ranks her next to Shakespeare, while Dr. Nathan Drake has called her “ the Shakespeare of Romance writers ’*.

She has also been called The Great Enchantress ” and Montague Summers refers to “ the sombre and sublime genius of Ann Radcliffc **. “ Her w'orks, in order to produce their greatest impression, should be read ... at that delightful period of youth, when the soft twilight of imagination harmonizes with the luxurious and uncertain light cast on thei/: wonders. By those, who come at such an age to dieir perusal, they will never be forgotten.’*

Ill Mrs. R^dclilFe’s work there is the finest flowering of the novels of Terror. She eclipsed for a while the geniuses of Richardson, Fielding, and Smollett, but her own star dimmed at the ascendancy of Walter Scott, the Ariosto of die Nordi.


Cf[ AFTER VI


THE SCHAUER-ROMANTIK : OR CHAMBERS OF HORROR

In the sunset glory of its Schauer-Romaiitik phase die Gothic novel blazes forth in all its lurid violence and sensationalism. During its transition from Mrs. RadclilFe towards the intense school of * Monk ’ Lewis, Maturin, and others, it undergoes a gradual development of spirit and temper, wherein we observe a “ crashing crescendo of emotion

    • As we proceed from decade to decade, we find that the earlier novels

depict, cultivate, and satisfy the gentle emotions ; that the cravuig for stronger and deeper ones gradually arises, until in the end the most violent and tragic passions arc demanded,” says Ernest Bembaum. Completely abandoning all restraints, it “ outrageously oversteps the modesty of nature and indulges in a farrago of frightfulness

The chords of terror which had tremulously shuddered beneath Mrs. Radcliffe’s gentle fingers were now smitten with a new vehemence. The intense school of the Scliauer-Romantiks improvised furious and violent themes in the orchestra of horror. Edith Birkhead says, “ the villain’s sardonic smile is replaced by wild outbursts of diabolical laughter, his scowl grows darker ^nd darker, and his designs become more bloody and more dangerous, his victims no longer sigh plaintively, but give utterance to piercing shrieks and despairing yells ; tearful Amandas arc unceremoniously thrust into tlie backgiouiid by vindictive Matildas, whose passions rage in all their primiti\c savagery ; the fearful ghost ‘ fresh courage takes ’, and stands forth audaciously in die light of day ; the very devil stalks shamelessly abroad in manifold disguises. are caught up from first to last in the very tempest, torrent, and whirlwind of passion.” The contrast between the work and persoi^alidcs of Mrs. Radcliffe and ‘ Monk ’ Lewis serves to ill’is»rate the two distinct streams of the Gothic nc'vcl : the former represcncing die Craft of Terror, the latter and liis followers comprising the Chambers of Horror. As Michael Sadlcirj aptly observes : . . the Radchffians are like persons who sit

about a blazing fire on a stormy night. . . . Into the fireHt refuge of the Radcliffian novelist the follower of Lewis would fain intrude, liaggard, and with water streaming from his lank hair, shrieking, perhaps, as would

«9


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befit a demon of the storm ; then, when he had struck the company to silent fear, he would wish to vanish again into the howling darkness.”

The difference between Terror and Horror is the difference between awful apprehension and sickening realization : between the smell of death and stumbling against a corpse. Professor McKillop, quoting from Mrs. Radcliffe, said tliat ” obscurity [in Terror] . . . leaves the imagination to act on a few hints that truth reveals to it, . . . obscurity leaves something for the imagination to exaggerate Burke held that “To make any- thing very terrible, obscurity seems in general to be necessary ”, and added that, “. . . darkness, being originally an idea of terror, was chosen as a fit scene for such terrible representations ”. Burke did not distinguish between the subtle gradations of Terror and Horror ; he related only Terror to Beaut)', and probably did not conceive of the beauty of the Horrid, the grotesque power of something ghastly, too vividly imprinted on die mind and sense.

Terror thus creates an intangible atmosphere of spiritual psychic dread, a certain superstitious shudder at the other world. Horror resorts to a cruder presentation of the macabre : by an exact portrayal of the physically horrible and revolting, against a far more terrible background of spiritual gloom ajid despair. Horror appeals to sJieer dread and repulsion, by broodmg upon the gloomy and the sinister, and lacerates the nerves by establishing actual cutaneous contact with the super- natural. “ Seeing a supernatural visitant is terrible, hearing him is direful, smelling him is loathsome, but having him touch you is die climax of horror,” says Dorothy Scarborough. The same feeling is expressed by Mrs. Barbauld : “ Solitude, darkness, low-whispcrcd sounds, obscure ghmpscs of objects, flitting forms, tend to raise in the mind that thrilling, mysterious terror, winch has for its object the ‘ powers unseen and mightier far than wc The very vagueness and luicertain origin of diis.tcrror suggests an indefinable presence which might manifesr itself suddenly ; tlierc is an utter inability to judge or cope with the extent of the power tliij presence can exercise, probably for evil and malignant ends. But when the grand cause of terror manifests itself, it excites horror. No longer wrapt up in the shades of its own incomprehensible obscurity, its revealed loathsomeness is awful, striking, and horrible, so that strength, violence, pain, and terror arc ideas ” heterogeneously yoked ” together thus making a combined attack upon the mind. ‘ Horror ’ approaches violence in its intensity ; ‘ Terror ' when sufficicndy violent embodies horror.


SCHAUfiR-RqMANTIK : OR CHAMBERS OF HORROR 13 1

Horror itself has been finely described in two holy scriptures. The following passage from the Book of Job illustrates the nature of Horror :

In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep fallcth upon men, fear came upon me and trembling, wliich made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face. The hair of my flesh stood up. It stood still ... an image was before inmc eyes ; there was silence ; and 1 heard a voice. . . .

And the effect of horror is w'hat Arjuna felt in the Bhagvadgita ;

My limbs quail, my mouth goes dry, my body shakes and my hair stands on end.

The Craft of Terror was finer in its working, and keener in its effect. Dr. Tompkins say^s, “ B*'auty refines terror, connects it with dignified associations and prevents it from verging on disgust ; terror in turn heightens beauty, like the thundercloud impendent over so many scenes in cightccnth-ccntiiry engravings.” The Schaiier-Romaiitiks inverted the rules of fear, and used romance “ as a mere maquillage for horror Coleridge remarks : Situations of torment, and images of naked

horror, arc easily conceived ; and a writer in wlio^ic works they abound, deserves our gratitude almost equally with him who should drag us by way of sport through a military^ hospital, or force us to sit at the dissection table of a natural philosopher. . . . Figures that shock the imagination, and narratives tliat mangle the feelings, rarely discover and always

betray a low' and vulgar tasted But Coleridge went too far while making this comment. His delicate sensibility could not probably bare itself to the petrifying gaze of Medusa, or comprehend her cold, destructive beauty.

Each writer of the intense school contributed a grotesque and grue^ some theme of horror to the Schauer-Romantik phase of the Gothic novel. They wrote stories of black-magic and lust, of persons in pursuit of the elixir vitae, of insatiable curiosity and unpardoiiabfe sins, of con- tracts wath the Devil, of those who manufacture monsters in their laboratories, talcs of skull-hcadeil ladies, of the dead arising from their graves to feed upon the blood of the innocent and beautiful, or who walk about in the Hall of Eblis, carrying their burning hearts in their hands. Such morbid and fantastic creations like Bcckford’s Vathek, Godwin*s St, Leon and Caleb WillianL% Lewis’s The Monk, Mrs. Shelley’s Frankenstein, Polidori’s Vanipyrc, or Maturin’s Mcltnotli the Wanderer,


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132

show that the Schaucr-Romantiks really had their own private catalogue of subjects to inspire their work, and furnish their Chambers of Horror. The Chambers of Horror are of infinite variety ; each cavern has some- thing new to reveal ; the)' have new themes and new techniques, and novel methods to shock the nerves.

It is a commonplace of criticism to presume that the horror-romantic phase of Godiic fiction was initiated by Lewis’s story. The Monk (1795), but there are one or two interesting precursors bf this work. The most important is Vathek (1786), the wild fantasy of William Bcckford, an eccentric and colourful personality. The author states in liis preface that Vathek is a ‘‘ story so horrid that I tremble while relating it, and have not a nerve in my frame but vibrates like an aspen This work is included under the category of “ Gothic novel ” since its air of mystery arises from supposedly unnatural causes, while a sense of horror is heightened for artistic effect. Some portions of the narrative read like a nightmare, or at least the quivermg strctclics of a bad dream, while a sombre sense of fatality and mortal tragedy brood over it like ominous doom. Its gorgeous style and stately descriptions, its exaltatioivof both poetic and moral justice, relate it to the Gothic romance. The machinery of magic, and the horror of the final scene, place it in the Schaucr- Romantik with ' Monk ’ Lewis and his followeis.

The opening of tlic story immediately evokes fantasy and awe. Vathek, grandson of Haroun Al Rachid, lias a Faustian spirit thirsting after infinite knowledge, seeking to compass ** even sciences that did not exist He builds the palace of five senses and a lofty tower of fifteen hundred stairs connected with it by a subterranean passage. The settings are resplendent with gorgeous arras, and wc arc dazzled by a myriad wonders. Here his mother, Carathis, a frisky old lady, indefatigable in wickedness and obsessed with the darker side of magic, pursues her ocAilt studies. She instigates her son to abjure Maliomct and, under her influence, he sets out in quest of the palace of subterranean fire. A devilish Giaour prophesies that Vathek shall sit on the throne and revel in the treasures of the pre-Adamite Sultans. But Vathek disobeys die injunction not to enter any house, visits an Emir, and falls in love with his bewitching daughter Nouronihar. Her father, wisliing to separate them, gives a sleeping potion to Nouronihar, and announces that she is dead. But Vadiek stumbles on her hiding-place, and together they elope to the palace of subterranean fire.

The episodes hurry us at a breathless pace into abodes of horror : a


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133


temple adorned with a pyramid of skulls festooned with human hair, a cave inhabited by reptiles with human faces, and a chamber where carpets of a tliousand kinds and colours hang from the walls, fluttering as if stirred by human creatures writhing beneath their weight. Tlicrc Vathek and Nouronihar find inexhaustible wealth and power for a few days followed by an eternity of torture in the Hall of Eblis.

The last few pages of Vathek^ with its Oriental, exotic, and resplendent horror, must have inspired the genius of future writers such as Rider Haggard, who penned novels like She and Ayesha, The atmospheric effects and colouring of the scene where Vathek and Nouronihar approach tlie Hall of Eblis, leave a dark and solemn impress on the mind :

. . . diey advanced by moonlight till they came within view of the two towering rocks that form a kind of portal to the valley, at the extremity of which rose the vast ruins of Istakar . . . the horror of which was deepened by the shadows of night. . . .

A dcadi-likc stillness reigned over tlic moimtain and through the air ; the moon dilated on a vast platform die shades of the lofty columns which reached from the terrace almost to the clouds ... of an architecture unknown in the rcctirds of the earth, served as an asylum for the birds of night, which, alarmed at die approach of such visitants, fled away croaking.

Then follows the description of the

rums of an immense palace, whose walls were embossed with various figures. In front stood fordi die colossal forms of four creatures, composed of the leopard and the griffin, and though hut of stone, inspired emotions of terror.

And as die human steps approached

the moiintaiii . . . trembled . . . the rock yawned, and disclosed within it a staircase of pohshed marble, that seemed to approacli the abyss. . . . Their steps accelerated to such a degree diat diey seemed not walking but falling from a precipice.

The baleful hall of Eblis, “ the abode of vengeance and despair ”, is pictured in the fidl effulgence of infernal majesty. It conveys to us the horror of the mosi gliasdy convulsions aiid screams that may not be smothered. Here everyone carries within him a heart tormented in flames, to wander in an eternity of unabating anguish :

In the midst of this immense hall, a vast multitude was incessantly passing, who severally kept their right hands on dicir hearts, without once regardii^ anything around them : diey had all the livid paleness of death. Their eyse, deep su^ in dicir sockets, resembled those phosphoric meteors that glimmer


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by night in places ofintermcnt. Some stalked slowly on, absorbed in profound reverie ; some, shrieking with agony, ran furiously about like dgers wounded with poisoned arrows ; whilst others, grinding their teeth in rage, foamed along more franuc than the wildest maniac. They all avoided eacli other ; and, though surrounded by a multitude that no one could number, each wandered at random unhecdful of the rest, as if alone on a desert where no foot had trodden.

A list of die demonic relies gatliercd by Cara^his to equip her infernal ceremonial sends a chill down the spine :

By secret st.iirs . . . slie first repaired to die mysterious recesses in which were deposited the mummies that had been wrested from the catacombs of the ancient Pharaolis. . . . Under die guard of fifty female negroes, mute, and blind of the right eye, were preserved the oil of the most venomous serpents, rhcnoceros’ horns, and woods of a subtile and penetrating odour procured from the interior of the Indies, together witli a thousand odicr horrible rarities.

The description of oblations by Carathis, in this setting of infernal exhalations, presents a nightmarish scene of horror :

Pliials of serpent’s oil, inuininies, and bones, were soon set iff tirder on

the balustrade of the tower The sparks had already kindled the dry wood ;

the venomous oil burst into a thousand blue flames ; the mummies dissolving, emitted a thick dun vapour ; and the rhciK'tccros’ horns, beginning to consume, all together diffused such a stench. . . . The’ oil gushed forth m a plenitude of streams. ... At last the fire became .so violent, and die flames reflected from die polished marble so dazzluig . . .

To balance such nightmarish horrors, Bcckford pictures certain gorgeous scenes of Oriental splendour :

The pavement, strewed over with gold dust and saffron, exhaled so subtle an odour as almost overpowered them. . . . Infinity of censers . . . were continually burning. Between the .several columns were placed tables, each 'Spread witli a profusion of viands, and wines of every species spaikliiig in vases of crystal. A throng of gaui and other fantastic spints of either sex danced lasciviously at the sound of music which issued from bcneadi.

Bcckford’s pictures have a definite precision of outline. He docs not throw vague hints and suggestions, nor does any shadow veil liis descrip- tion of peculiar horrors. Edith Birkhcad says, ** the quaint dwarfs perched on Vathek’s shoulders, tlic children cliasing blue butterflies, Nouronihar and her maidens on tiptoe, with dieir hair floating in the breeze, stand out in clear relief, as if painted on a frieze Against the background of glittering splendour and colour flit a host of iincarclily


SCHAUER-RO^ANTIK : OR CHAMBERS OF HORROR I35

figures — wrinkled astrologers, hideous Giaours, gibbering negrcsscs, and restless forms pacing with tlicir hands on burning hearts. Oliver Elton finds that “ Bcckford, hke Blake, was a dreamer, as defiant, as full of stubborn vitality . . . revelling in things that arc strange, costly and transitory He was deeply saturated in the history and romance of the East, a fact well corroborated by the scholarly and voluminous amiotations of his editor Henley. Authorities cited arc D’Hcrbclot, The Arabian Nijihts, The Koran, Talcs of Inatiilla (Persian), Anacdotes Artibcs, Habeser’s State oj the Ottoman Empire^ Ockley’s History of the Saracens, Richardson’s Dissertations on the Lanirua^es, etc., of the Eastern Nations, Dr. Cooke’s Voyages and Travels, Di. Pocock’s Travels.

During the two years preceding the publication of Vathek, interest in the Orient had been awakened by Sir William Jones’s researches into Oriental languages (1784), and Sir Charles Wilkins’s translations from The Mahahharata (1785). “ Vathek (1786), generally recognized as the best Englisli imitation of a genuine eastern tale . . . |was] . . . stimulated by an early and continuous reading of eastern stories, particularly of The Arabian Nights."' Beckford also borrowed si)me materials from the Moghul Talcs and The Adventures of Abdulla ^ son of 1 Ian if which were translated into English in 1739. Probably die Eastern Tales of Voltaire and Count Hamilton also left some impress on Bcckford.

The Orient has always fascinated die western mind by its glamorous rcahty — “ a reality that the popular travel books continued to emphasize throughout the period 1775-1825". Bcckford’s Vathek is not only a psciido-Oriental talc ; in it “ die Near East was portrayed in a manner unlike aiiythmg before in English literature The East tame back once more to fertilize the fancy of the West, a.nd contribute its mite towards the development of Gothic Romance.

William Godwin (1756-1836), 111 his Caleb Williams (1794) and St. Leon (1799), creates an atmosplicre of an altogether different typf of horror. I 4 c is not a master of hints or suggestions, gloom, or weird lights. He displays his honors in a manner that is credible but intense, like die human body seen 111 the monotoi. »iis brightness of an operation theatre.

Flickering, subterranean torchlight illumines Vathek, but Godwin’s settings arc flooded wids clear sunshine. There arc no unearthly groans, or phosphorescent flares to enhance the scene of mystery and horror. There arc images of excruciating pain, convulsive throbs, and intervals of dcath-hke, insupportable sickness. These horrors comprise a realistic,


THE GOTHIC FLAME


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feverish dream of human existence, and narrate the bruises and ill-treat- ments inflicted by the world upon a single human being.

Godwin’s interest in the supernatural was too mild, only extending so far as it afforded him insight into the credulity of the human mind ” His characters are not supernatural but human, although they display fiend-like qualities of mind. With an almost morbid skill Godwin applies his “metaphysical dissecting knife” to his characters. His sufferers are creatures of the real world, aromid whom there plays no weird light of fantasy. While analysing remorse or self-torture, he rises to a cold vehemence in his descriptions.

The Adventures oj Caleb Williams unfolds a story of die tortures, oppressions, and horrors a poor man may endure at the hands of the powerful and rich. It depicts things as they arc : horrors that arise from “ domestic and unrecorded despotism, by which maji becomes the destroyer of man In the hands of Godwin relentless Fate becomes the symbol of a psychological nightmare.

The narrative has a sombre, dreary power and relates Falkland’s diabolical pursuit of Caleb Williams. Incidents arc conceived not in a series of disconnected episodes, but as part of an involved psycliblogical situation. Falkland, who is impelled by a perverted sense of honour, murders Tyrcll, and allows two innocent individuals to be hanged for the crime. He guards his secret, being tortured by his consciousness of guilt. Caleb Williams, urged by a fatal curiosity, discovers the hidden murder committed by his patron, who is a being of the superman type. Falkland employs all resources which law can lavish on men of wealth and position to inflict horrors upon his inquisitive secretary, and deprives him of credit and chaiacter, so that he may retain him in his power. Caleb is subjected to years of hunted misery, is plunged into dungeons, and haunted everywhere he goes. This provides an opportunity for Godwin to display pictures of ghastly physical horrors.

Caleb Williams narrates his experience, when he attempted to escape from the cell •

I had got to the top of die wall. . . . He . . . threw a large stone, wliicli grazed me in its flight. Alarmed at my situadon, 1 was obliged to descend on the other side without takmg the nccessar)' precaudons, and in my fall nearly dislocated my ankle. ... I endeavoured to rise after my fall, but the pain was so intense that I was scarcely able to stand, and, after having limped a few paces, 1 twisted my foot under me, and fell down agam.

But that is not all. Godwin shows especial fascination for ghastly details,


SCHAUER-P^OMANTIK : OR CHAMBERS OF HORROR 137

and can undoubtedly produce an atmosphere heavily charged with relentless physical horror :

In the morning they . . . fixed a pair of fetters upon both my legs, regard- less of the ankle, which was now swelled to a considerable size, and then fastened me with a padlock to a staple in the floor of my dungeon. . . . The pain of the fetter was intolerable. I endeavoured in various ways to relieve it, and even privily to free my leg ; but tlic more it was swelled, the more was this rendered impossible. . . . Tlic whole mass of my blood was already fevered by the anguish I had undergone.

This gives the author an opportunity of commenting on English social atrocities :

Is that a country of liberty where tliousands languish in dungeons and fetters ? . . . visit die scenes of c»ur prisons ! Witness rlicir unwholesomeness, their filth, the tyranny ot' their governors, the misery of their inmates !

He further enumerates the horrors of the prison :

Wc talk of instruments of torture ; Englishmen take credit to themselves for liaving biuiishcd the use of them from their happy shores ! Alas, he that has observed the secrets of a prison, well knows that there is more torture in the lingering cxisiciire of a criminal, in the silent, intolerable minutes that he spends, than in the tangible misery of whips and racks !

Picturing the solitary cheerless darkness of the English prison house, Caleb Williams says :

Our dungeons were cells, 7^ feet by below the surface of the ground, d.imp, without windos/, light, or air, except from a few holes worked for that purpose in tlic door. In some of tlicsc miserable receptacles three persons were put to sleep together.

The chain permitted the prisoner to move only about eighteen inches to tlic right or left, and in extreme mental agony Caleb Williams says :

A diousaiid times I could have dashed my brains against the walls gf my dungeon ; a dioiisand times I longed for death.

The suggestion of horror rises to a pitch of intensity w'kcn Caleb seeks refuge in a hamlet :

Leave you ! No : I will thrust through your ribs, and drink your blood ! — You conquer me ? — Ha, ha I — ^Yes, yes ! you shall ! — 1 will sit upon you* and press you to hell ! I will roast you with brimstone, and dash your entrails into your eyes ! . . .

Godwin s St. Leon, A Tale of the J6th Century (i799)t “ is of the miraculous class ”, to quote die author, its aim being to “ mix human feelings and

C.F.— II


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passions with incredihle situations, and thus render them impressive and interesting This book may very well be called what St. Leon once named it, ** a history of his sensations Although the audior is fascinated by the occult and dabbles in the supernatural, he does not attempt to create an atmosphere of mystery. Like the former work, this novel provides psychological interest by its portrayal of the gradual ruin wrought in the happiness and affections of the possessor of the philo- sopher’s stone and the elixir of life. St, Leon is the study of a mind torn by painful remembrances, and agitated by terrible forebodings.

Descended from an old and distinguished French family, St. Leon is a conspicuous figure at the court of Francis I, and has made his mark at the siege of Pavia. He has gambled away his fortunes, and seeks refuge in a Swiss Canton with his wife and four children. Ensuing poverty having brought in its trail every variety of misfortune, a mysterious stranger appears and reveals to him the secret of the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life. Through possession of this fatal secret follows the loss of honour, family, friends, and almost life, when in the end he becomes a victim of the Inquisition. He is taken in a procession to the pious Auto de Fe, held to celebrate die return of Phillip II tc' his devoted subjects. St. Leon narrowly escapes being a victim ; he concocts and drinks the elixir of life and becomes young again. Cursed with im- mortality, he wanders all over Europe an outcast, abhorred and shunned of iiicn, for he is the ruin of all with whom he comes in contact.

St. Leon’s imprisonment in the dungeons at Constance, his escape from die Auto de K'at Valladolid are ‘ gothic ’ in character. The seme of the Auto de Fc aboimds in physical horror :

1 saw die galleries and accommodations that liad been erected for die spectators : I saw the windows and roofs of die lioiiscs crowded with beholders. The shrieks of tlic sufferers I could not hear ; they were drowned in the infernal exultations of the multitude. ... 1 discerned some of the condemned, fixed as they were upon small boards, near die top of stakes about four yards high, and diereforc greatly above die heads of the assembly, while die ffames, abundantly fed with faggots and dry fuel, climbed aloft, and seemed eager to embrace their victims. . . . There were thirty of these dcadi-dcvotcd frames.

The brutal murder of Hector die negro, St. Leon’s servant, at the hands of an infuriated mob, provides a gruesome scene :

The mob had burst into the house ; they seized him alive. They dragged him out in the midst of them ; they insulted over him, as the special favourite


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I

of die infernal king. They inflicted on him every species of mockery and of torture ; they killed him joint by joint, and limb by limb.

The aged stranger, who bestows on St. Leon the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life, has the piercing eye familiar to readers of the Gothic novel :


Idis eye-beam sat upon your countenance, and seemed to look through you. You wished to escape from its penetrating power, but you had not the strength to move. I began to feel as if it were some mysterious and superior being in human form, and not a mortal widi whom I was concerned.

Tho character of liedilein Gabor, rugged, ferocious, and brutal like the typical * gothic ’ figure, has

a mystery in his carriage, a soniediiiig not to be cxplaiiicd, a shell that no human forces could penetrate, that was mortal to confidence, and might quail the stoutest.

His personality is akin to Mrs. RadclifTc’s Schedoni. in his l<wc of solitude, and superhuman aspects, which inspire dread all round :

He w'as more than six feet m stature . . .uul he was built as if it liad been a colossus, destined to siistaui the weight of the starry heavens. His voice was like thunder. . . .

This book inspired Matiirin’s Mclmoth the IVatidcrcr (1820), Shelley’s Ro.sicrucian talc of Sr. In^yiic (i8ii), and suggested to Bulwer Lytton his Strange Story. “ The lir^t m .i*Usi of the United States , . . Charles Brockden Brown, acknowledged Godwin as his master, and toiind in his work ‘ transcendent merit

Godwin had neither gift nor iiiclinai’on to conjure with Gothic properties. But he did extend the range of the Gotinc novel by intro-* ducing ‘ criminal ’ and ‘ dlchciiiical ’ elements. Caleb H'illianis i^ the first spirited story of crime and detection, which ITa/htt considered as “ one of the be.st novels in the language The stury is, planned back- wards, and die incdiod of narrative influenced Conan Doyle and other writers of detective tiction. Moreover, in these two novels Godwin broke new ground in creating an atmosphere of ghastly physical horror.

Now let us shift our focus towards the fantastic and sombre genius of Matthew Gregory Lewis, who painted liis grim and ghastly themes in dark and lurid colours. His inflamed imagination and violent exaggera- tion of emotion suggest adolescence, yet he thrills his readers and makes


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their flesh creep. This author of remarkable talent makes horron come cro'wding thick upon us, and often crudely resorts to the physically horrible, through images and descriptions of loathsome corruption, mouldering cerements, and festering relics of death and the grave. Yet, so great is the interest of his unadorned narrative, with its quick succession of events, that such bold exaggeration seems only fitting.

Of all tlic talcs of horror. The Monk (1796) is probably the most extravagant. “ Lewis had enlivened his scnsadoual story of rape, incest, murder, magic, and diablerie, with an obvious sensuality.” “ These puerile effusions dashed down within the space of ten weeks ”, arc not altogether contemptible : The Monk remains a romance of extraordinary fascination and power.

No summary can possibly reproduce the colouring given to the story of The Monk. Ambrosio is an abbot of the Capucliiii monastery at Madrid. A son of mystery, his parentage unknown, as a child he had been found on the monaster)' steps, and accepted by the monks as a gift of Heaven. When the story opens he is a young man of about tliirty, famed for devoutness and rigid austerity, whose spiritual pride makes him an easy prey to temptation.

Rosario, the youngest novice of the house, becomes a particular favourite with Ambrosio ; and one evening, when they arc together in the gardens, Ambrosio discovers to his horror and amazement that his companion belongs to the fair sex. The lady is Matilda dc Villanegas, daughter of a noble house, who had dared to penetrate the cloistral walls out of her passionate love of Ambrosio. Her radiant beauty reminds him of the Madonna’s picture, which had been the object of his increasing adoration ever since its purchase by the monastery some two years ago. After a brief but fierce struggle Ambrosio yields to overwhelming temptation and seeks satisfaction in Matilda’s wanton embraces.

Qnce he has been seduced from the paths of virtue, he appears the most rampant of fornicators. Soon tired of his first mistress he resolves to enjoy tlie yjoiing and imiocent Antonia, a lovely maiden of fifteen, and to accomplish this he consents to resort to black magic inspired by Matilda. The monk takes part in impii)us rites at midnight in the dark vaults of the monastery. He is soon involved in a labyrinth of crime ; sorcery, matricide, rape, incest, murder, all follow in swift succession. “ The Monk . . . degenerates into an uglier fiend than the gloomy imagination of Dante would have ventured to picture.”

His iniquities arc accidentally immasked, and witli his accomplice he is


SCHAXJBR-ROMANllK Z OR CHAMBERS OF HORROR T4I

plunged into the vaults of the Inquisition. In terror of a fiery death at the stake, just as the door of the dungeon is grating on its hinges to lead him to his doom, he sells liis soul to the devil to secure his escape, signing a parchment Deed with the usual iron pen dipped in his own blood.

The fiend enters with thunder and lightning, snatches up his victim, and wafts him up to the wild and dizzy heights of the Sierra Morena, where in a moonlit Salvator Rosa landscape of torrents, cliffs, caverns, and pine forests, to the sound of the weird nocturnal wind, he hurls him down the steep mountain-side to fall bruised and mangled beside a brook. A fearful hurricane arises ; the river swells and carries away the dead body of the despairing monk.

The sub-plot comprises more than one-third of the whole novel, and relates the story of the unhappy nun Agnes and her lover Raymond. The narrative opens with a ‘ robber ’ episode in a fi>rcst between Luncville and Strasbourg ; Raymond is sheltering in a cottage belonging to a group of bandits, but frustrates their murderous plans, having received timely warning whispered into his cars by the wretclicd wife of a member of the gang. He finds the bcd-shccts stained wdth the blood of previous unfortunate travellers ; he skilfully evades the draught of poisoned wine, feigns stupefied slumber, and escapes. During this adventure he also rescues the Baroness Lmdenbcrg from the robbers’ den, and while visiting her castle falls in love with her niece Agnes, who is destined for the cloister in accordance witli the vow of her parents.

For more tliaii a ccnfiry the eastern tower of the castle had been haunted by the spectre of “ thv bleeding nun ”, who married and murdered an ancestor of the Lindenbergs. Every fifth year, on the night of the fifth of May, she could be seen dcsc ’iidiiig the tower staiis. her nun’s habit spattered with blood, with lamp and dagger in her hand, on her way to the gloomy cavern, where she liad murdered her husband and was herself later murdered. Fot many years past it had been the cus^pm to leave the gates open between one and two o’clock on this night for her exit and return.

Agnes sees her only chance to escape bv personating the bleeding nun. Raymond is ready with a carriage and keeps the appointment. As tlic clock strike^ one, from the portals of tliat moonlit castle with its ruined towers and ivied battlements, issues the spectre of the bleeding nun, with dagger and lamp in hand. He flics to meet her, and conducts her to the carriage, which sets off with astonishing swiftness. After a mad career tlirough woods and over diasms, in tlic midst of a furious


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tempest, the carriage suddenly overturns, and Raymond tails stunned on the ground. When his consciousness returns he finds himself in the neighbourhood of Ratisbon, an inconceivable distance to have traversed, and with no trace of “ the bleeding nun

The following night, scarcely has the stroke of ‘ one ’ died away when heavy footsteps sound on the stair, and die spectre presents itself to his horrified gaze, this time with neither lamp nor dagger but with lifted veil disclosing “ an empty skull, and a hollow grin ”, and vanishes after printing an icy kiss upon liis lips. Every night at precisely the same hour, invisible to all but Raymond, the horrid visitant repeats her cold embrace and utters words in sepulcliral tones, while the afflicted lover fades away into a shadow of himself.

A curious stranger offers to release him ; diis is the Wandering Jew, who bears the burden of eternal life, and cannot stay at one place for more than a fortnight. With magic books and spells, in Raymond’s bed- chamber he awaits the dreaded visitor, who, struck by the blazing cross on die magician’s forehead, reveals that her unquiet visits will cease if Raymond will bury her bones still mouldering in die fatal cavern. Raymond fulfils this condition, recovers his health, and ranges dirough heaven and cardi seeking his lost love Agnes. Agnes enacted the persona- tion of “ the bleeding nun ” a minute too late, and was captured and immured in St. Claire’s convent. Finding her out, he plans for her escape, when their correspondence is detected, and the cold and virtuous Ambrosio condemns die guilty Agnes to captivity in a frightful dungeon.

This romance is well constructed except for the management of the sub-plot, which touches the main plot at only two vital points : the detccdon of Agnes’s guilt by Ambrosio, and die detection of his guilt on the occasion of her rescue. None die less, the story of Raymond and Agnes is by itself a complete scries of episodes.

y.cwis invents and combines incidents and situations with a dramatic skill, and depends upon clear, forceful expression for his effects. Although Antonia is as helpless as ” a plaster statue demolished by an earthquake ”, die figure of Matilda has more vitality. Ambrosio’s character, too, has been drawn widi a certain psychological skill, and there is real insight in the account of the Monk’s struggle between religion and passion. The first review of The Monk appeared in the Monthly Mirror (June 1796) and it was entirely laudatory : “ The stronger passions arc finely delineated and exemplified in the progress of artful temptation working on self- sufficient pride, superstition, and lasciviousness. . . . The wliole is very


SCHAUfiR-R9MANTIK : OR CHAMBERS OF HORROR 143

skilfully managed, and reflects the highest credit on the judgement and imagination of the writer.*’ Even Coleridge, the most bitter critic of The Monk, realized that “ the whole work is distinguished by the variety and impressiveness of its incidents ; and the author everywhere discovers an imagination rich, powerful, and fervid

The motto from Horace on the title page of The Monk sums up Lewis’s peculiar machinery of horror :

Somnia, terrores magkos, tniracula, sagas,

Nocturnos tcimres portentaque.

(“ Dreams, magic terrors, spells of mighty power, witches, and ghosts who rove ar midnight hour.”)

Earlier Gothic machinery included flickering candles, glimmering and disappearing lights, liauntcd chambers, mysterious manuscripts, obscure heroes, and other similar properties. But the “ intense school ” of* Monk * Lew'is introduced stalking spectres, devils, evil spirits, sorcerers and demons, magic mirrors, enchanted wands, phosphorescent glow, and otlicr pciraphernalia associated with black magic. Here Spanish grandees, heroines of dazzling beauty, bravoes and forest banditti, foolish duennas and gabbUng domestic servants, monks, nuns, inquisitors, move in a world of midnight incantations, poisonings, stabbings, and ministrations of sleeping potions ; in an atmosphere of thunder, lightning, storm, sulphurous fumes, and miracles. “ The inventory of liis arsenal of natural effects is compL’tc ”, and yet he wantonly gloats over scenes of matricide and unconscious incest.

The conjuration of spirits and pacts w’lth die devil may have been inspired by a current interest in cabbalism, and Lewis became an un- deterred exponent of horror-romanric-realism by his own conjuring of sepulcliral horrors, sometimes achieving his frightful effects through the medium of dreams. We read in the Crincal Review for February F797, ” die sufferings wliich he describes are so frightful and intolerable, that we break with abruptness from the delusion, and indigiiaiidy suspect the man of a species t)f brutality, wlio could find a pleasure in wantonly imagining them

In the following extract, which reveals Matilda conjunng up a demon, we may observe the author’s portrayal of the seductions of magic :

The monk beheld her with anxious curiosity. Suddenly she uttered a loud and piercing shriek. She appeared to be seized with an excess of delirium ; she tore her hair, beat her bosom, used the most frandc gestures,


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and drawing the poniard from her girdle, plunged it into her left arm. The blood gushed out plentifully ; and, as she stood on the brink of the circle, she took care that it should fall on the outside. The flames retired from the spot on which die blood was pouring. A volume of dark clouds rose slowly from the ensanguined earth, and ascended gradually till it reached the vault of the cavern. At the same time a clap of diundcr was heard, die echo pealed fearfully along the subterraneous passages, and die ground .shook beneath the feet of the enchantress. . . .

Ambrosio started, and expected die demon with terror. . . .

A passage from the episode of Agnes dc Medina, the incarcerated nun, adequately illustrates Lewis’s method of chariicl-hoiisc horrors. The physical tortures of the fallen nun arc described in revolting detail :

My blood ran cold as 1 gazed upon this melancholy abode. The cold vapours hovering in the air, die w'alls green with damp, the bed of straw so forlorn and comfortless, die chain destined to bind me for ever to my prison, and the reptiles of every description, which ... I descried hurrying to their retreats, struck my heart widi terrors. . . .

Fettered in such a hidden dungeon of the monastery, cut off from light and human society, Agnes lingers through the final chapteft of her existence. No one hears her voice, no friendly word replies to her speech ; a deep unbroken silence immures her :

Thus did I drag on a miserable existence. . . . The cold seemed more piercing and bitter, the air more thick and pestilential. My frame became weak, fcvcnJi, and emaciated. I was unable to rise from the bed of straw, and exercise my limbs in ilic narrow hinits to which the length of my chain permitted me to move. Though exhausted, faint, and wear}', 1 trembled to profit by approach of sleep. My slumbers were constantly interrupted by some obnoxious insect crawling over me. Sometimes 1 felt the bloated toad, hideous and pampered with die poisonous vapours of the dungeon, dragging his loathsome length along my bosom. Sometimes die quick cold lizard 'roused me, leaving his slimy track upon my face, and entangling itself in die tresses of my wild and matted hair. Often have I at waking found my fingers ringed with the long worms which bred in the corrupted flesh of my infant. . . .

And in the vicinity lies a human head which worms are devouring :

1 was oppressed by a noisome suffocating smell ; . . . my hand rested upon somcdiing soft ; I grasped it and advanced it towards light. Almighty God ! what was my disgust ! my consternation ! In spite of its putridity, and the worms which preyed upon it, 1 perceived a corrupted human head, and recognised the features of a nun who had died some months before. . . .


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At times Lewis reveals a morbidity akin to that of Webster and Tourneur, especially in the passage where the enraged mob kills the haughty prioress :

. . . the rioters still exercised their impotent rage upon her lifeless body. They beat it, trod upon it, and ill-used it till it became no more than a mass of flesh, unsightly, shapeless, and disgusting.

Finally, die description of the dead body of the monk ends the book :

Myriads of insects were called forth by the warmth ; they drank the blood which trickled from Anibrosio’s wounds ; he had no power to drive them from liim, and they fastened upon his sores, darting tlieir stings into his body, covered him with their multitudes, and inflicted on him tortures the most exquisite and insuppot table. The eagles of die rock tore his flesh piecemeal, and dug out his eyebalb with dicir crooked beaks.

This pitiless accumulation of gross, incidental detail is different from previous apprehension of horror in bygone murders and hoarded skeletons.

By his brutal emphasis on gross detail, Lewis stands apart from Mrs. Radcliffc and her followers. He docs not possess that fine instinct for reticence, rather his gift is “ the negation of reticence Mrs. RadcliflFe was a mistress of suggestions, hints and terrors that stalk unseen. She had produced only a mild titillation of the spine. Lewis's ghosts arc real, and his loathsome horror reaches to the raw' nerves. “ In Mrs. Radcliffc’s stories, the shadow' fade* and disappears just when we arc close upon the substance . . . Lewis's wonder-w'orld . . . hurls us without preparation or initiation into a daylight orj;y of horrors.” Mrs. Radcliflfe represents the rational and sciitiniciual s'dc of Clotliic romance. Her delicate method of presentation is be\ond the pow'cr of Lewis, who nevertheless admired and strove to emulate such situations in her novels w'hcrc the reader with quickened pulse breathlessly anticipates a startling development. Lewis carries this technique to its extrem^ form, inducing more rapid palpitations. His incidents come in quick kaleidoscopic succession, like the disjointed phases of a delirium or nightmare. The description of the midnight visitant, ” the bleeding iiun ”, to the chamber of Raymond, adequately illustrates his method :

She lifted up her veil slov%'ly. What a sight presented itself to my starded eyes ! 1 beheld before me an animated corpse. Her countenance was long and haggard ; her cheeks and lips were bloodless ; the paleness of dca£


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was spread over her features ; and her eyeballs, fixed steadfastly upon me, were lustreless and hollow.

I gazed upon the spectre widi horror too great to be described. My blood was frozen in my veins. . . .

... the apparition seated herself opposite to me at the foot of the bed.

. . . Her eyes were fixed earnestly upon mine. . . . My eyes were fascinated, and 1 had not the power of withdrawing them from the spectre’s.

... At length the clock struck two. The apparition rose from her scat, and approached die side of the bed. She gras].tcd with her icy fingers my hand, which hung lifeless upon the coverture, and pressing her cold lips to mine. . . .

Walpole’s Otranto contained a crude accumulation of terror-striking incidents. The Gothic novel, in his hands, was remarkable only for its ‘ gothic ’ and ‘ mysterious ’ character, for Walpole sought in the Middle Ages what w'as most frightening and most savage. Clara Reeve attempted to moderate the extravagances of her predecessor, while in the hands of Mrs. Radclidc the Gotliic novel gave genteel shivers and suggested the uncanny. And now “ with one blow Lewis had swept away all die previous effusions of the ‘ Gothic ’ school, for in a scries of horrors, each more ghastly than die one which preceded it,^hc had

  • out-Walpoled ’ Walpole. . . . With this novel [The Monk] he became

. . . ‘ the high-priest ’ of the ‘ intense ’ school.”

Lewis also wrote a number of melodramas extending the domain of horror to the stage, but that falb beyond die orbit of this book. However, in passing, one may refer to characteristic examples — The Castle Spectre (1798) and The Captive (1803). “Never did Covent Garden present such a picture of agitation and dismay. Ladies bathed in tears — others fainting — and some sliricking with terror — while such of the audience as were able to avoid demonstrations like these, sat aghast with pale horror painted on their countenances.”

The structure of Gothic romance is based on a principle of contrast. Walpole had produced his effects by surrealistic contrast of light and shade ; Mrs. Radcliffc evoked sensations through her artistic use of sound and silence ; Lewis’s world is a macabre juxtaposition of charnel- house horror and lust. His desire to hcigliten the tone also accounts for the voluptuousness of some descriptions. Commented on by Montague Summers : “ his pictures of voluptuous passion arc necessary to the narrative ; the violence of the orgasm but serves to balance and throw in high relief the charnel horrors. The comcliest forms of man and maid entwined in quivering embrace that Aretine might have imaged in his


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shameless sonnets, the long rapture of warmed honeyed kisses such as Secundus sung, the full swift pulse of life, beauty, love, desire, all these arc suddenly shadowed by the dark pall of mortality ; . those eyes that sparkled with lust’s flame must fade and close in night, those hands whose touch was as a draught of heady wine must palsy, grow cold, and decay, the worm must pasture on those corrupting limbs where lover’s teeth once bit the white flesh in frenzy of sadistic appetite.”

The Monk has been called a “ most notorious exemplar of the ‘ Gothic ’ school of romance But the author certainly owes no few fronds of his deathless wreath, be it of laurel or of yew, to the gross charges of blasphemy and indecency which were vehemently hurled against this book. It is not worth wliile to repeat the resounding scandal which was caused by the first edition of The Monk. To us it seems ineffably puerile that anyone could be disturbed by these mild erotics. But, immediately, the prigs and prudes rose up, ” Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell ”, and bawled “ Blasphemy ! Obscenity ! ” from the house-tops. “ Never was such a clamour, such an outcry, heard since Troy Town fell, or the geese hissed upon the Capitol, for at the noise one might have believed that the very pillars of religion and decency w'cre shaken to the dust and crumbled away, that the reign of Coty tto had returned, that the altars of Priapus were set up in St. Paul’s,” Montague Summers says. Scenes between Ambrosio and Matilda, not unusual in a modern novel, were pronounced horribly smutty ; and various references to the Bible, which if delivered some fine Sunday morning from the Metropolitan pulpit by a Midland bishop would be greeted as the flower of cultured scliolarship, were considered impious in the highest degree.

The Monthly Review severely reprehended the vein of obscenity which corrupted the entire narrative ” Tht Scots Magazine was indignant and regretted that youth should be exposed to the evil influence of such romances. The Analytical Review found fault with the autlior's parallel plots and the two catastrophes. The liuropean Magazine said that it ” had neither originality, morality, nor cvai probability tocommend it ”. Moore thought it “ libidinous and iiiip'nu'j ” ; Mathias stated that ” novels of this seductive and libidinous tendency excite disgust, fear, and horror ”. Coleridge, with full conviction, pronounced his judgement that ” The Monk is a romance, w'hich if a parent saw in the hands of a son or daughter, he might reasonably turn pale He called it ” a poison for youth, ami a provocative for the debauchee ” ; wherein ” the shameless harlotry of Matilda” and “ the temptations of Ambrosio ”


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are described with “ libidinous minuteness One wonders what he would have said of Lady Chatterley s Lover and Ulysses !

Coleridge rayes and rants and flings abuses on the author : ‘‘ If it be possible that the autlior of these blasphemies is a Christian . . . if he be an infidel ... to pour contempt on the only book . . . the Bible in conjuring up the spirit of undeanliness. ... He extracts pollution from the word of purity . . . and turns the grace of God into wantonness.” The Attorney- General was moved by a society for the suppression of vice to obtain an injunction against the sale of the book. The perseaition failed to materialize, but Lewis had in the meantime removed what he supposed objectionable, expunging, so he wrote to his father, “ every syllable on which could be grounded the slightest construction of immorality

Thus The Monk received little credit for its merits, and curiously the notion that tiiis work is ” a deliberate and unabashed portrayal of lust ” continues to dominate critical minds down to this day. Even as late as 1890 the Imperial Dictionary of National Biography condemned this work as “ shamelessly voluptuous ”. E. A. Baker, while writing the History of the English Novel in 1934, notes that Lewis “ betrays the perverted lusts of a sadist ”, and refers to his “ morbid appetite ”. hit finds Ambrosio’s crimes described with “ gluttonous fullness ”, and the episode of Agnes and Raymond pictured with a ” revolting frankness ”.

It must not be supposed, however, that I’hc Monk was a solitary instance of its kind. ” The author was encouraged to write it from example and the public was led to read it fri>in habit.” “ Other fictions of a hardly less objectionable tendency had prepared the way for The Monkf* says his biographer, who proceeds to point out the pernicious effect of the ” sentimental novel ” on this later type of fiction : ” this very school — one, the avowed intention of which was to hold by virtue for imitation, and vice for scorn and hatred — sowed the first seeds, of that distorted taste which received the novel of The Monk witli avidity ”. Lewis did not offend the taste of the majority of his readers ; he wrote for the generation whose grandparents had discussed Clarissa Harlotvc in clubs, assemblies, and over coffee-cups. His work is after all only the logical outcome of analysis of feeling pushed to its ultimate conclusion. He portrayed passion as the sentimentalists did emotion. That his book was read with eagerness and discussed witliout reserve is shown by several anecdotes told at length by his biographer in his Life and Correspondence.

The Monk is the outcome of diverse sources, whose cosmopolitan


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>

character make it an interesting study. It vras nourished by all that Lewis could find most extravagant and most fantastic in English, German, and French literature, though all his various ingredients were flavoured with a certain individuality. Better than any other, he represents the juncture of the native and foreign streams. “ He contributed to the English tradition, lent materials to German and French writers for development in their respective countries, and finally capitalized on the results of the international circulation when native and foreign elements were reunited in England.”

Certain influences from his childhood shaped and coloured the lurid imaginarion of Lewis. A considerable portion of his early life w^as spent at a very" ancient manor, Stanstead Hall, in Essex. One wing of tliis great mansion liad long been closed, and it was common belief that those uninhabited rooms were frequented by supernatural visitants. His head was stuffed with necromantic legends by the housekeeper. As he passed the massive and carved folding-doors, he would glance, all trembling, in their direction and hasten his steps lest they should fly open and some unearthly apparition with clanking chain issue forth. Also the favourite reading i>f his mother consisted of tales of goblins .ind of the supernatural, and undoubtedly she related such stuff to her eldest cliild. With a liistrionic and highly impressionable boy such as Matthew Lewis, these early memories of gloom and ghastliness are of considerable importance, and liis experiences of early childhood must have coloured them to an appreciable extent.

His favourite reading was Glaiiville's Scdducistmis Triumphatus , or a Full and plain evidence concerning Witches and Apparitions (i68i). “ Throughout his life he seems to have made a hobby of the litcratmc that arouses violent emotion and mental (.xcitement, or lacerates the nerves, or shocks and startles.” Between beginning and completing The Monk Lewis had steeped liis mind in Werther and the regent marvels of German imaginative literature. “ His depredations on German litcraturt are . . . serious and extensive.” Ht'^w vitally German Romanticism energized English literature need not be emphasized.

The Critical, reviewing the Bravo of Venice in 1805, said : “ Novels have commonly been divided into the patlictic, the sentimental, and the humorous ; but the writers <^f the German School have introduced a new class, which may be called tlic electric. Every cliapter contains a shock ; and die reader not only stares, but starts, at the close of every paragraph. . . .” The best embodiment of the German influence and its


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fusion is The Monk of Lewis, with its distinguishing teatures of luridness, extravagance, and crude sensationalism ; the spectre nun and charmed moonshine arc not wanting.

Lewis stayed in Germany for eight months in 1791, and was particu* larly attracted towards the School of “ Sturm uiid Drang Lewis’s command of the German language is evident for “ to him . . . Byron owed his knowledge of Goethe’s Faust, having heard Lewis translate parts of it viva voce Lewis had read the worliu of Goethe and Scliiller : “ he translated Gocdic's Das Veilchett and read it to the author personally ” ; and it is almost certain tliat Part I of Faust had contributed to the concep- tion of The Monk.

Ill the WTiting of tlie ballads with which he has strewn bis novel, Lewis is more indebted to German poetry than he admits. In liis advertise- ment he states, “ The Bleeding Nun is a tradition still credited in many parts of Germany ”. In the introductory remarks to the 1822 edition of Lewis’s Castle Spectre, the editor, while referring to Lewis’s intimate acquaintance with German literature, says that the whole story of the Bleeding Nun is borrowed, and much of the language too, from a talc in the Volksmarchcn, called Die Entfiihrtwg ; and that tlic catastrophe of the Monk Ambrosio is almost word for word from a tale in Veit Weber’s Sagen der Vorzeit, called Die Teiifcrs Beschworong.

Lewis’s Bravo of Venice (1804) is a short romance from a German source, an “ outlaw story ” patterned after Schiller’s Die Rauber. The hero is one Abcllino, the “ noble bandit ”, who hovers in the background of the web of love and intrigue surrounding Rosabella, the beautiful daughter of die Doge of Venice, and in the disguise of a bandit saves her life, delivers up the real bandits dreaded by all Venice, ensnares con- spirators and performs many notable services. In his real character of Flodoardo he has already won Rosabella’s love.

Pointing out French influence on ‘Monk’ Lewis, Maurice Heine notes : “ We sec this young man [M. G. Lewis] during the journey which he made to Paris in 1792, acquiring a copy of ‘Justine De Sade considered “ The Monk superior in all respects to the exotic out- bursts of Radcliflfc’s brilliant imagination ”. He added : “ tliis genre ... is certainly not without merit ; it was the inevitable outcome of the revolutionary upheavals experienced tliroughout the whole of Europe. . . Dc Sade further thought tliat “ the appearance of this novel was truly a Hterary event. It answered the need for strong emotions following great social upheavals, Battered sensualism with its voluptuous


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pictures and irreligion by the boldness with which it treated sacred tilings.”

But one must not neglect the strong English influences, on Lewis. In his foreword to The Monk, the author mentions that his main idea came from Addison’s ” San ton Barsisa ” in The Guardians (1714). Lewis was especially attracted by Mrs. Radcliffe^ The Mysteries of Udolpho, and his imagination was enkindled by the lone castle amid the far Apennines, those awful halls of dread, and fascinated by Montonfs flashing eyes, dark countenance, and sombre natuic. Ambrosio inherits some of his qualities from Montoiii, and later influences the creation of Radcliffr’s Sclicdoni.

In English literature Lewis must have known the dark dramas and the old ballads rediscovered by Percy, Watson, and Allan Ramsay. ” He had certainly studied secrets of magic and sorcery.” The theme of incest may have been suggested by similar morbid themes in the plays of IJeaimujiit and Fletcher, Middleton, Massinger, Ford, and the Restoration theatre.

There lias already been much discussion about his various German sources, but the influence of Elizabethan melodrama, and especially of Shakespeare’s plays, is probably more deep on Lewis. Romeo and Juliet contains the whole gamut of the romanticism of graveyards and death. “ The palace of dim night ”, and “ the nest of death, contagion, and unnatural sleep ” described in die last scene of Romeo and Juliet, may have suggested to Lewis th ? picture of the subterranean chaniel vaults of lonvcnts. Chapter X of The Monk, where Lorenzo adventures to discover Agnes, is pictured in the same deep gloom, where in the faint rays of a dim lamp we discern the shadow of mighty pillars bearing up the roof, and where the eye sees nothing but the most repulsive objects : skulls, bones, graves, and cftigics of saints seeming to stare in horror and amaze. It is Romeo and Juliet again, when to effect his lustful purpose, Ambro'io administers a soporific draught to the beautiful Antonia, who, being taken as dead, has been conveyed to the vaults of die sepulchre. ” The distilled liquor ” which makes “ a cMJ and drowsy humour ” run through the i eiiis, produces a “ borrow^ed likeness of shrunk deadi ”, the vial which Friar Lawrence handed over to Juliet, may have suggested the “juice extracted from certain herbs known but to few, which brings on the person w’ho drinks it the exact image of death ”, which was administered to Antonia. The power of silver myrtle which makes gates and doors fly open at its touch and charms every eye into


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sleep, has something of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night^s Dream. Again, in some of the situations and in tlie voluptuous nature of descrip- tions, The Monk is reminiscent of Shakespeare. One is reminded of The Rape of Lucrece^ when Ambrosio, “ with Tarquin-like strides ”, goes to ravish Antonia :

He now ventured to cast a glance upon the sleeping beauty. A single lamp, burning before the statue of Saint Rosolia, shed a faint light through the room, and permitted him to examine all the charms of the lovely object before him. The heat of the weather had obliged her to throw off a part of the bedclothes : those which still covered her Ambrosio’s insolent hand hastened to remove. She lay with her cheek reclining upon an ivory arm ; the other rested on the side of the bed with graceful indolence. A few tresses of her hair had escaped from beneath the muslin which confined the rest, and fell carelessly over her bosom, as it heaved widi slow and regular respiration. The warm air had spread her check with higher colour than usual. A smile inexpressibly sweet played round her ripe and coral lips, from which, every now and then, escaped a gentle sigh or an half-pronounced sentence. An air of enchanting innocence and candour pervaded her whole form, and there was a sort of modesty in her very nakedness, which added fresh stings to the desires of the lustful monk.

The same voluptuous sensuousness of Shakespeare’s description is evident in :


Ambrosio no longer possessed himself ; wild witli desire, he clasped the blushing trembler in his arms. He fastened his lips greedily upon her*s. sucked in her pure dchcjoiis breath, violated witli his bold hand the treasures of her bosom, and wound around him her soft and yielding limbs.

The picture of still midnight is reminiscent of Macbeth :

Guided by the moonbeams, he proceeded up the staircase with slow and cautious steps. He looked round him every moment with apprehension and anxiety. He saw a spy in every shadow, and heard a voice in every imirmiir of the night-breeze. . . . Yet still he proceeded. He reached tlic door of Antonia’sVhambcr. He stopped, and listened. All was huslied within. . . .

When Ambrosio gazes at the lovely form of Antonia in the magic mirror, one is reminded of Shakespeare’s depiction of Lucrcce :

Antonia . . . was undressing to bathe herself. The long tresses of her hair were already bound up. The amorous monk had full opportunity to observe the voluptuous contours and admirable symmetry of her person. She threw off her last garment, and advancing to the bath prepared for her, put her foot


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into the water. It struck cold, and she drew it back again. Though un- conscioas of being observed, an inbred sense of modesty induced her to veil her charms ; and she stood hesitating upon the brink, in the attitude of the Venus dc Medids. ...

The powerful and moving description towards the end of The Monk recalls Marlowe’s Dr, Faustus :

Will you be mine, body and soul ? Arc you prepared to renounce Him who made you, and Him who died for you ? Answer but “ yes ” ! and Lucifer is your slave.

The description of Lucifer as he appears to Ambrosio in his cell is almost Miltonic. Announced by thunders and earthquakes, the Devil appears enveloped in blue fires that increase the cold of the dungeon. The suggestion of Milton in “ fallen angel ” is very much heightened, for the fiend appears not in his seraphic radiance but as a much-blackened rebel from the infernal regions, with a voice “ tliat sulphurous fogs had damped to hoarseness ” :

He appeared in all that ughness which, since his fall from heaven, had been his portion. His blasted limbs still bore marks of the Almighty thunder. A swarthy darkness spread itself over his gigantic fi>rm : his hands and feet were armed with long talons. Fury glared in his eyes, which might have struck die bravest heart with terror. Over his huge shoulders waved two enormous sable wmgs ; and hts hair was supplied by livuig snakes, wliich twined themselves rou id his brows with frightful hissings. In one hand he held a roll of parclimciii, and in the other an iron pen. Still die lightning flashed aroiuid lum, and the thunder with repeated bursts seemed to announce the dissolution of Nature.

Maturin, coi amen ting on this particular picture, declared that “ few scenes of supernatural agency have more power tlian that in wluch the apostate spirit appears in all the beauty and despair of a fallen angel to Ambrosio in the vault

The Monk not only contains, most concisely, the idiosyncradcs of its kind, which gave a forcible stimulus the manufacture of horror novels, but it also marks a new phase in romanticism inherent in tragedies of the soul, revealing deep, human conflicts, the struggle between good and evil for ultiiiiatc mastery m human life. It revived tlic old Marlovian theme of temptation and league with the Devil. The character of the monk inaugurated a series of sombre, tragic phantoms of his type. It set the fashion for writers such as Charlotte Dacrc, who assumed the

G.F. — 12


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name of Rosa Matilda, and penned novel after novel with would-be piquant titles, The Libertine, The Passions, The Confessions of the Nun of St Omar, which latter is dedicated to Lewis himself in admiring terms. Charlotte Dacre remains a professed disciple of the Monk. Montague Summers observes, “ the induence of The Monk upon Zofloya is extremely marked. Not only incidents, but even occasionally dialogue and description arc reproduced with an almost startling fidelity.”

By his verses Lewis participated in the revival of interest in the ballad form, and Scott ascribes to his friendship with Lewis a great influence on his own poetry. The enthusiasm of Lewis also inspired Shelley, Byron, and Coleridge, although the last was ungenerous enough to gird at the very poetry to which he owed not a little of his own stimulation.

Probably Dickens was much indebted to Lewis for his technique of representing a quick dramatic succession of incidents towards the close of his novels. Andre Breton thinks “ the first novels of Victor Hugo {Pug^Jargal, Han iVlslaude), as well as those of Balzac (/’HcnV/erc dc Birague, le Centenaire ou les deux Beringheld, etc.), are directly inspired by The Monk

His mystery and horror and German sensationalism for niafty years permeated English romance. E. T. \V. Hoffmann (1776-1822), in Germany ” the arch-priest of ultra-German romanticism ”, shows the influence of Lewis in his Die Elixicre dcs Teufcls (r8j6), transLitcd in English as The DeviFs Elixir (1824).

The publication of The Monk firmly established the “ School of Horror The violent machinery for sensational effects came to be unstintedly used by the future writers of Gothic romance. Many employ ventriloquism or magic ; but almost all make use of tlic actual presence of real ' ghosts, not explained away, which remains the distinguishing feature of the Schauer-Romantik.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (t8i8) is another Gothic novel wliich falls within the orbit of the Schauer-Romantik, not so much for her treatment of horror, as for the individuality of her theme. While not the inventor of the scientific romance, she was the first to adapt its methods to the peculiar purposes of the novel of horror. Frankenstein carried horror into the pseudo-sdentific : a proof tliat the Schaucr- Romantiks carefully sought their inspiration in a succession of unfamiliar themes capable of being given a ‘ Gothic ’ tone.

Mary Shelley’s handling of her theme is different from the prurient


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nightmares of the halls of Eblis, or the midnight diablerie of * Monk ’ Lewis, or the physical realistic horrors of Godwin. “ Tlic event on whicli die interest of die story depends is exempt from the disadvantages of a mere tale of spectres or enchantment. It was recommended by the novelty of the situations whicli it develops.” Frightful is the effect thus produced by a human endeavour to mock die stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the World. Eino Railo says, “ Frankenstein enriched the stage-setting of terror-romanticism by making its mysterious centre, hitherto the haunted room, the laboratory of a cabbalistic seeker after knowledge ... a laboratory in which the deepest of all secrets, the skill to awaken life in inorganic matter, is ultimately discovered

The circumstances leading to die birth of this talc of pseudo-scientific horror date back to the summer of 1816, when Lewis, Bynm, Shelley, and Polidori were staying at the Villa Diodati, in the environs of Geneva. It was a wet, ungenial summer, and the incessant rain often confined their evenings around a blazing wood fire, where they amused themselves with some German stories of ghosts, which happened to fall into their hands. Night waned upon these talcs, and even the witching hour had gone by before they retired to rest, their heads filled with necromancy and the supernatural. Each of them planned to emulate German romanticism by writing unearthly tales. “ I busied myself to think of a story — a story to rival those which had excited us to this task. One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and aw’akeii thrilling horror — one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and cjuickcn the beatings of die heart,” says Mary Shelley in her introduction, and she adds in her preface to Frankenstein : “ Oh ! if I could only contrive one |story] which would frighten my readers as I myself had been frightened that night.”

Then Mary Shelley had a dream, and the dream w.is born of a passage she had read in Erasmus J')arwin, who was experimenting in the artificial production of life. “ When 1 placed my head on my pillow', I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie.” In her dream she beheld the artificial monster coming to consciousness under the operations of Frankenstein, the modern Prometheus ”, “ the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together ”, which began to “ stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion

As the story unfolds, we find Frankenstein gathering mouldering


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cerements, skulls and bones, from churdiyards, and putting them together, breathing into its nostrils the breath of life by means of scientific experiments :

. . . the moon gazed on my midnight labours . . . who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil, as I dabbled among the mihallowed damps of die grave, or tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay ? My limbs now tremble, and my eyes swim widi die remembrance. . . .

In a solitary chamber ... 1 kept my workshop of filthy creadon : my eyeballs were starting from their sockets in attending to the details of my employment.

And the result was the creadon of

a form which 1 cannot find words to describe ; gigantic in stature, yet uncouth and distorted in its proportions . . . Ins face concealed by long locks of ragged hair . . . m colour and apparent texture like that of a mummy ... of such loathsome, yet appalling hideousness.

Frankenstein, after liis unhallowed labours, falls asleep, but ihc horror of the scene when he wakens is vividly depicted. He opens his eyes and beholds tlie horrid thing stand at his bedside, opening his curtams, and looking on him with yellow, watery, but speculative eyes ;

I started from iiiy sleep with horror ; a cold dew covered my forehead, my tcctli chattered, .uid every limb became convulsed : when, by the dim and yellow light the moon, as it forced its way through the window sliutrers, 1 beheld . . . the miserable monster. ... He held up die curtam of the bed ; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled liis dieeks. . . . Oh ! no mortal could support tlic horror of diat countenance. A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch. . . .

Like the fabled fisherman who broke open a scaled jar and released a goriic, Frankenstein is appalled at the result of his creation. “ All the forces of Gothic terror arc let loose when tlic monster, endued with superhuman s^ength and stature, not merely breathes and moves, but shows himself in possession of individual consciousness and a will of his own, wliich presently is roused to indignation, fierce sentiment, and thirst for revenge,” says E. A. Baker. The narrative proceeds with the crimes of the giant, who strangle's women and cliildrcn. And mi a mood of breathless excitement the reader is driven forward with feverish apprehension.

The plot of Frankenstein is fantastic, crude, and disjointed, having


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an insequence very dream-likc, yet in spite of this bewildering confusion of incidents Mary Shelley vivifies the grotesque skeleton of the plot with scenes of tension and patlios. Sylva Norman, in a study of Mary Shelley, says : “ Her passions are as incredible as her situations. . . . There is strength in her intellect, but it bows to her truly feminine invention which prefers to dive into a glade of detached fancy rather than face the responsibility of truth and living portraiture.”

Her impetuous imagination pictures some strenuous scenes : the demon relates his own sensations at his birth, his delight in nature, his agony when tlie world hounds him away in liorror, and his rage to punish mankind when Frankenstein refuses to conjure a female mate, a monstrous Eve, for his consolation. There is pathos in the monster’s words :

... no £vc soodied my sorrows, nor shared my thouglits ; I was alone, I remembered Adam’s supplication to his Creator.

He implores further :

1 am alone, and miserable ; man will not assoaate with me : but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My com- panion must be of the same species, and liavc die same defects. This being you must create.

This novel has a number of paisages which make a profound impres- sion on sensitive minds, llicsc contain not only terrifying incidents, but also depict in fullness the mental and emotional states of the' principal characters.

In the fateful inn, the monster revenges upon Frankenstein’s beloved, his own lack of a female companion :

. . . Suddenly I heard a shrill and dreadful scTcani. . . . She ’.vas there, bfeless and inanimate, dirown across die bed, licr head hanging down, and her pale distorted features half-covered by her hair. . . .

And then is pictured the horror of the subsequent scene :

... I felt a kind of panic on seeing die pale yellow light of die moon illuminate the chamber. The shutters had hceii dirown back ; and with a sensation of horror not to be described, 1 saw at the open window a figure the most hideous and abhorred. A grin was on the face of the monster ; he seemed to jeer, as widi Ins fiendish finger he pointed towards the corpse of my wife. 1 rushed towards die window, and drawing a pistol from my bosom, fired ; but he eluded me, leaped from his sution, and, rumung with the swiftness of lightning, plunged into the lake.


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Certain fearful atmospheric effects are conveyed in the scene when Frankenstein goes to the cemetery to vow the death of the monster :

As night approached, 1 found niysdf at the entrance of the cemetery.

Everything was silent, except tlie leaves of the trees, which were gently agitated by the wind ; the night was nearly dark. . . .

... 1 was answered through the stillness of the night by a loud and fiendish laugh. It rung on my cars long and heavily ; the mountains re-echoed it, and 1 felt as if all hell surrounded me with mockery and laughter. . . .

The laughter died away ; when a well-known and abhorred voice, apparently dose to my car, addressed me in an audible whisper. . . .

Suddenly the broad disc of the moon arose, and shone upon liis gliastly and distorted shape. . . .

As the story closes, a fuie scene of emotion and patlios is depicted when the monster feels remorse over die corpse of Frankciisteii), and seeks liis own death, under a grim arctic light, on a solitary ‘ ice-craft * — ^bome away by the waves, and lost in the mists of darkness and distance.

Mary Shelley s other works, h'ke Transformation and The Mortal Immorialy are weaker treatments in evoking horror, but the dreadful experiments by which Frankenstein s numstcr was created rcscfiiblc die revolting vivisections of Wells’s Dr. Moreau, or the operation described by Arthur Maclien whereby human beings lose their souls and become diabolized, given over utterly to luispeakable evil. Wells’s fantasia. The Shape of Things to Come, is reminiscent of Mary Shelley’s The Last Man (1825}, a romance of the distant future.

Yet anodier species of the Schaucr-Romantik is The Vampyre : A Tale (1819), from the pen of Dr. John Polidori, who travelled with Lord Byron, as physician ”. Stories of the dead arising from their graves and feeding upon the blood of the young and beautiful were current in Illyria, and Pohdori’s talc draws upon much legendary lore. “ T^e superstition upon which this talc is founded is very general in the East. Among die Arabians it appears to be common : it did not, however, extend itself tq the Greeks until after the cstabhshment of Christianity.” In an exhaustive study of die subject, Montague Summers has declared that ” cases of vampirism may be said to be in our time a rare occult phenomenon . . . not that diey do not occur but that they are carefully hushed up and stifled

A vampire is a person whose spirit does not depart from his body when organic Hfe has ceased, but remains there, preventing it from decaying and making the body return at night to the living to suck their


SCHAUER-ROMANTIK : OR CHAMBERS OF HORROR J59

blood. The belief still exists that “ vampyrcs nightly imbibed a certain portion of the blood of their victmis, who became emaciated, lost their strengtli, and speedily died of consumptions ; whilst these human blood- suckers fattened —and their veins became distended to such a state of repletion, as to cause the blood to flow from all the passages of dieir bodies, and even from the pores of dicir skin> A person sucked by a vampin becomes a vampire liimself, and sucks in his turn.

When a vainpuc’s grave is opened the body is found fresh “ and entirely free from corruption, and emitting at the mouth, nose, and cars, puic and floiid blood The face is tinted with warmth of life, eves open, ind no cadiveious smell exhales fnmi the eoflin , even a faint, appre'ciablc icspiration, and \ tt)i"responding aetion of the hcirt may be seen rile limbs arc piifcetlv fle\iblc and the flesh elastic The coffin fleiats with blood, in v^hich c\cn up to a de'pth of se'sen inches, the body mav he immeised

When a sharp stake i» cliiven tlnougli the hemt of tin vimpire, in accoi dance with die ancient piactice, it utters a picicing shriek, as might e'seape fioin a Ining peison in the h^t agonv And when the head is stiiick olT, a fountain of blood gushes fiom the **evacd ne*ck The body IS burned, and then the ashes thrown m Ins gi uv.

Polidorfs mspiiation comes fioin such a ghastlj ubjeet-uiattcr

    • 1 he idea of a material and astral body led iiaciiralh to tint of a double

existence iii a new .ense . themci iclating to soinnanibuhsni and livppotism and deeds eoiinutted wvd^r such influcnees now emicrgc on the lomaiitic horizon

Ilie hero of Pohdon’s macabie tale is a sinisur >oniig Loid Rutliveii, who IS killed in Ouvee and leippears as a \ impirc fevding on the blood of women. He seduces the spier of Ins friend Auhies and suffocates her during the night which follows dieii weddmg

The story is nai rated in a re sti allied miimei, and the author Icavcfcus to fotm our own conclusions I Lid Le*wis handhd such a pregnant theme, he would base revelled m goiy detnls, cxpamtiiig kXi the agonies of the victims But Polidoii had not tli.it g mis for lioiror. lie kcc'ps the story in a quiet key for he “ was so discieet in eschewing the sensa- tional Montague Sumincis has confessed himself puzzled as to “ how It was that such writers as Monl Lewis and Cliailes Robert Maturiii . . . die two loids of macabre romance, sliould ncithei of them liavc sent some hideous vanipiic gho*t ravemiig through their sepulchral pages”. He adds that “ until we come to Pohdon’s novel . . . nowhere ... do


THE GOTHIC FLAME


i6o

we meet with the Vampire in the realm of Gothic fancy However, one should not assert too emphatically that this theme was entirely unexploited. -Perhaps in an obscure, dusty library the Vampire even now stalks unseen through the dark pages of some neglected volumes. The lesser novelists who, in tlicir passion for horrid phantasmagoria, deftly plundered the German charnels might have found a place for the Vampire in some funereal episode.

Polidori’s talc, none the less, set a fashion for vampire stories. The prince of vampires is Bram Stoker’s Dracula^ round whom centres probably the greatest horror talc of modem times.

The greatest as well as the last of the goths ” of the Schaucr- Romantik phase of the Gothic novel was Charles Robert Maturin (1782-1824), an eccentric Irish clergyman, who beguiled his time by weaving romances, and produced “the most remarkably constructed shockers ” of his time. Blackwood^s Magazine comments : “ He walks almost without a rival, whether dead or living, in many of the darkest, but at the same time the most majestic, circles of romance.” When the high summer of the Schauer-Roniantik w^as on its wane, Maturin produced some fine and vigorous works stamped wuth a clistiiict in- dividuality, powxT, and subtlety of thought. He wrote “ the epitaph on die extinction of a school of writers which had become decadent and diseased”. Gifted widi a psychological insight he can sound every note of fear arising from objects of invisible tciror and gruesome horror.

Two different and distiuedy separate currents of Godiic novel : the poetic exuberance of Mrs. Radcliffe, “ the first poetess of romantic fiction ”, and the lurid horrors of ‘ Monk ’ Lewis, fuse together in the white heat of Maturin’s imagination. His acute insight into character, vivid descriptive faculty, and sensitive style of writing, arc in die tradition of Mrs, Radcliffe ; but by his unabashed free use of the supernatural he treads in die footsteps of Lewis, yet outstrips him in the force and skill of his attacks upon the reader’s nerves. “ Lewis’s horrors, liis crypts and smell of rotting corpses, pale beside Maturiii’s gruesome rcahsni and suggestive pow'er.”

His eerie atmosphere is evoked not by crude whiffs from die church- yard ; rather be insinuates horror by the adroit Radcliffan device of reticence and suggestion. Maturin was intimately acquainted with the dim and dusky corners of Radcliffe’s Gothic abbeys ; he had viewed with trepidation their blood-stained staircases, their skeletons and corpses ;


SCHAUER-ROMANTIK : OR CHAMBERS OF HORROR l6l

his vigilant eye had noticed each rusty lock and creaking hinge ; and he had carefully calculated the effect of these properties. The lurid horrors of ‘ Monk ’ Lewis also left deep impressions on Maturin’s treatment of the supernatural.

This connoisseur of sensations analyses his effects with the precision of a psychologist. “ Emotions ”, Maturin declares, “ arc my events,” and he delineates not only physical but mental torture. He paints life in extremes : tlic gloom is darker, the sadness deeper. He is careful to represent those struggles of passion when the soul trembles on the verge of die unlawful and the unhallowed, and he strives ” by means of his phik)Sophical problem-themes to awaken feelings of moral horror

During the formative period of his genius he wrote three novels : I'hc Fatal Rcvcnjje or The Family of Montorio (1807), The Wild Irish Boy (1808), and Ihe Milesian Chief (1812), of which only the first is a horror story ; the third being an historical novel, now chiefly remembered because of the striking resemblance it bears in the opening chapters to Scott’s The Bride oj Lammertnoor (1819).

His first novel. The Fatal Rcvetiffe or The Family of Montorio, is perhaps the most frightful romance, uniting physical and mental agony in a manner developed in his later Melmoth the Wanderer (1820). “I have allowed myself”, he says, ” to base the interest of my novel entirely on the passion of supernatural terror.”

Set in die gloomy Castle of Muralto, near Naples, in [690, the story unfolds the dark crim 's and mysterious deeds of an Italian family. The Count of Montorio has usurped the castle from his elder brother Orazio, and the latter resolves upon revenge. Having wandered over the earth for fifteen years learning black magic and other conjuring tricks, under the name of Schcnioli he becomes confessor in die Castle of Muralto, w^herc he awakens fright and horror by his mysterious doings. By his occult powers he begins U) tempt Annibal and Ippolito, the two4ons of Count Montorio, at the same time, in two different places, to murder their father. He conduct Ippolito to a vast subterranean region, and in a mirror of black marble showa him i.' himself in the act of murdering his father. Eventually under Schemoli’s hypnotic suggesDon, the two brothers murder the Count. In the end Schcinoli is condemned to death by the Inquisition, but while in prison dies of a burst blood-vessel. The two sons arc exiled and Montorio’s name erased from the records of the country.

Other dircads arc interwoven : the love of Annibal and the beautiful


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novice Ildefbnsa ; the love of Rosalia di Valozzi tor Ippolito — but all these pale into insignificance before the picture of fiend-like temptations and scenes of the occult. SchemoU behaves like a fiend in human shape, who appears and disappears at will, is always and never present. His ghastly, fiendish pursuits to this end fill three large volumes.

This clumsily constructed novel borrows its crude materials from ‘ Monk ’ Lewis : the corpses and spectres circulate so freely tliat they arc scarcely to be distinguished from the living ; yet in his use of suggestive terror Maturiii is indebted to the technique of Mrs. Radcliffc :

“ Something is near,” said the old man, “ I feci the ground near me pressed, as if by feet.” — “ Hush,” said I, “ all is silent, a body cannot move without a sound.” — “ There is something near,” whispered he again, “ for I feel tlic air driven to my face, as if some one passed me.” — “ ’tis the bat,” said 1, ” that whizzes past you, or the wind that waves the ivy ; I have heard, or felt nothing yet.” — ” Oh no, Signor, there is a strange motion in the air ; a rank and stifling ehillness, as if something that was not gcH>d, breathed upon us.”

There came indeed a blast across us, not like the blasts of that night, loud and feverish ; but cold and noisome, like a charnel stream. We sluiddcred as it passed ; I felt some effort necessary, to resist the palsied feeling that was stealing over me : ” Michclo, let us not be baffled a second time. This form, whatever it be , is probably approaching ; before it oppress us with some strange influence, 1 will rush forth and meet it : and be they favourable and malignant, I will know its powers and purposes. ...” I sought the aisle again. I'he moon poured a light as broad as day through the w'lndows. 1 saw the tomb of Count Orazio. I beheld a figure seated on it ; I advanced in hope and fear, it was Michclo — he sat like a mariner, who leans on a bare and single crag, after die tempest and the wreck : he was haggard, spent, and gasping. — 1 ruslicd to him, but he appeared not to hear my nuwing ; his head was raised, and his look fixed on die arched passage ; the moonlight poured a ghasdy and yellow paleness on !iis still features. I looked in his c%cs, they were hollow and glazed ; 1 touched his liand, it was cold and dropped from nunc. 1 shuddered, and scarcely thought him an earthly man. A monumt reproached my fears, and I tried to address some words of comfort and inquiry to him, but 1 was repelled by an awe in which 1 scarce thought Michclo an agent. . . .

Also tlie portrayal of Sclieinoli’s character recalls the design of Mrs. RadclifFc’s Schedoni. There is the same sallow visage furrowed with traces of bygone passions ; the same love of solitude, the same daunting glance and flash of piercing eyes, inspiring dread all around. Indeed, Maturin crowds into this story nearly every cliaractcr and incident that


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had been employed in earlier Gothic romances. And the setting, too, oscillates between the robbers’ den and ruined chapel, casdc vaults, and dungeons of the Incjuisition, while each scene is admirably adapted to the situation contrived and emotion displayed.

In power of construction, Mclmoth the Wanderer (1820), his master- piece, marks a distinct advance on Montorio, This novel has a haunting quality, and it equals The Monk, if not in talent at least in extravagant frenzy. Maturin works on die same general theme as Godwin’s St. Leon, and makes a striking use of physical immortality as a means of spiritual torture. Mclmoth is a story of great angelic sin, a boundless aspiration after forbidden knowledge.

hdaturin invests liis horror with startling realism and great suggestive power. Wc are compelled to linger in the haunting atmosphere of desolation in the opening chapters of the book where the picture of a lonely and decaying farm, cold and gloomy weather, leafless trees, and a luxuriant crop of weeds and netdes, create an inexplicable feeling of paralysing dread and some impending disaster. It is verdure of the churchyard, the garden of death. The rising voice of the stormy night seems to make wild and dreary harmony with the tone of the listener’s feeling, when young Jolm Mclmodi reads a manuscript telling of fearful matters as the demoniac portrait of his ancestor stares at him. The atmosphere is meedy filled by the deep rushing of the rain falling in torrents, while the sighs of the wind, and now and then a faint, distant, but long-continued peal of dnuider, “ sounds like the eludings of the spirits, diat their secrets arc disclosed The whole is bathed in an awful half-light reminiscent of Dante’s Infertio.

The pages that follow sustain diis nightmarish sensation. The narrative consists of a senes of talcs, intricately strung together. Although the structure is involved, there is an interior coimection between the six stories, and die powerful narradve leads up to a grand final catastrophe. In each tale the Wanderer, who has bartered liis soul in return for prolonged life, youth, and boundless power, is desirous to prevail upon some other mortal, to take the infernal Ic isc. with all its consequences, off his hands. But none can hear widiout loss of reason the secret of Melmoth’s coimnand of supeniatural powers. He wanders in search of individuals who, having fallen into utter distress, to escape further suffering, may be willing to exchange fates with him This provides situations for Maturin to depict dreadful suffering, for Mclmoth

appears with his offer, the fate of his prospective victims must be dire in


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164

the extreme. These pictures are drawn with a ^remarkable command of detail.

In every episode of the disconnected narratives, whetlicr in the mad- house, the subterranean vault of the convent, or the dungeon of the Inquisition, Melmoth’s appearance is awaited with tingling nerves. “ To the pressure from without is added the pressure from within. Maturin possessed a knowledge of human nature which belonged to no other writer of Ins school. Witli acute analysis he traces the workings of the mind as it passes from resistance to apatby and on towards the verge of insanity. The climax of agony wliich preludes the approach of Melmoth is internal as well as external.’* His approach is heralded by strange music, and his eyes have a preternatural lustre that terrifies his victims. None agree to his incommunicable condition. His

prayer falls parched and hissing on die fires diat bum for ever, like a wandering drop of dew on the burning sands of the desert.

Melmoth says :

1 have traversed the w'orld in the search, and no one, to gain diat world, would lose his own soul.

Melmoth has been assigned a definite term of a hundred and fifty years. The Wanderer is an ancestor of Jidm Melmoth of Dublin. Mon^ada, a Spanish monk shipwrecked near Melniotli’s house, relates to John tlic story of tlirce other victims of Melmoth, which he had found ill a manuscript owned by Adomjah, an aged Madrid Jew. Just as he is preparing to narrate several odier stories, they arc terrified by the apparition of Mclmotli himself. The latter tells tlicm tliat they have nothing to fear since his 'wanderings arc over, and no one knows his destiny for none have consented : Stanton in the London madhouse, Guzman, seeing his children starve, Elinor Morton, cruelly wToiiged, and last of all Immalce “ the lovely child of nature ”, the passionately adoring young bride, mother of his demon babe, deserted by all and dying in the prison of the Inquisition — all have refused to accept his Terrible Condition.

Melmoth sleeps, and in a fearful dream, where he overlooks an ocean of fire witli an agonized soul on every wave, he sees the clock of eternity strike a hundred and fifty years — ^his allotted span. On waking, Jolm , Melmoth and Mon^ada arc horrified to see that he has utterly changed and presents the appearance of extreme old age. The Wanderer tells


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165

them to leave him and not return, no matter what they see or hear ; that he must be left alone, and if they disobey their lives will be forfeit. Soon after midnight they hear sounds which grow more and more awful until it is impossible to discern whether it is the shriek of supplica- tion or the yell of blasphemy. Suddenly all is silent ; they go into die room but no one is there ; a window is open to a back staircase and they see damp footprints which they trace to a cliff overlooking the sea :

. . . there was a kind of track as if a person liad dragged his way tlirough it — a down-trodden track, over which no footsteps but those of one impelled by force had ever passed. . . . The ocean was beneath — the wide, waste, engulphing ocean ! On a crag beneath . . . somcdiing hung as floating to the blast. ... It was the handkercliief the Wanderer had worn about his neck tlie preceding night — that was the last traa** of the Wanderer.

The closing scene is especially reminiscent of die powerfully written last act of Marlowe’s tragedy.

Thus the dominating figure in the novel is the terrible Melmoth. An ineffaceable portrait of this sombre and mysterious Wanderer is given by Melmoth liimself :

1 have been on earth a terror, but not an evil to its inliabitants. None can participate m in)' destiny but widi his own consent. . . . No one has ever exchanged dcstiiues with Melmoth die Wanderer.

The reader senses behind him another being, from whom the deepest tragedy of human existence cinaiiatcs :

Where he treads, the cartli is parched ! Where he breathes, the air is fire ! — Where he feeds, the food is poison! — ^Whcrc he turns his glance is lightning.

This is like the Vandava or Dance of Destruction of Lord Siva.

We shrink back appalled before

... die ominous lustre of those eyes which ncvei rose on huyian destiny but as planets of wee.

The strange glare of his piercing eyes, and his smile, at once malignant, mocking and pathetic, burn themselves into the memory :

... die mountain whose lava of internal fire ha.> stifled, and undurated and inclosed for ever, all diat was the joy of earth, the felicity of life, and die hope of futurity.


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His eyes, lustrous with the brilliancy of hell, cast an enthralling, preter- natural glare :

. . . Accustomed to look on and converse with all things revolting to nature and to man, — ^for ever exploring the mad-house, the jail, or the Inquisition, — the den of famine, the dungeon of crime, or die deadi-bed of despair, — ^his eyes had acquired a light and a language of their own — a light that none could gaze on, and a language that few dare understand.

The fascinating personality of tins restless traveller is indeed a creation of genius ; his wanderings and endless persecution of mankind, his tragic, endless migration from one continent to another, undeterred by considerations of time and space, and Ids sudden appearance at fateful moments recall to mind the Wandering Jew. “ Faust and Mepldstophclcs seem to be combined, in his person, for he has studied both the lawful and unlawful sciences, achieved contact with the Devil, and at the price of his soul purchased a term of youth, and now, in tlie part of Mephisto- phelcs, seeks new victims.” The theme of demoniac temptation finds its highest expression in Mepldstophclcs, the most insidious agent of the philosophy of evil — die same that tempted The Monk, appeared jn Rosa Matilda's Zofoya, or in James Hogg's The Wool~gathcrer and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Unlike Milton, who elevates his Satan into a hero by degrading his deity to a vulgar bully, Maturin never fails to evoke his reader’s sympadiy with characters who resist evil.

In Melmoth the Wanderer we mark the culmination of the Schaucr- Roniantik phase. All the machinery of the Crothic scliool is here : the mysterious portrait, die decaying parchment, ruins and storms, Inquisition and convent cells, entombed lovers, dead biide and insane bridegroom, idyllic nature in die Indian idands — indeed the apotheosis of the whole cult. The Edinburj{h Review (July 1821) summed it up : “ To complete thii phantasmagoric exhibition, we are presented with sybils and misers, parricides, maniacs in abundance, monks with scourges pursuing a naked youth streaming with blood ; subterranean Jews surrounded by the skeletons of their wives and children ; lovers blasted by lightning, Irish hags, Spanish grandees, shipwrecks, cavcnis, Donna Claras and Donna Isidoras — ^all exposed to each other in violent and gloomy contrast.” Maturin has a much deeper, clearer, and more organized vision of the place of evil and horror in the world than his predecessors, and Melmoth of all novels of horror comes nearest to artistic greatness.

It has already been stated that Maturin’s methods arc subtler than


SCHAUER-ROMANTIK ! OR CHAMBERS OF HORROR 167

those of Lewis, for he seeks to communicate the presence of something

supernatural by a sense of haunting dread :

It was one of those dismal nights ... he perceived die miserable light that burned in the hearth was obscured by the intervention of some dark object.

. . . Between him and the light stood the figure of Mclmoth ... the figure was the same ; the expression of the face was die same — cold, stony, and rigid ; the eyes with their infernal and dazzling lustre, were still the same.

He uses with great power Mrs. Radcliffc’s method of suggestion :

The wind was high that night, and as the creaking door swung on its hinges, every noise seemed like die sound of a hand struggling with the lock, or of a foot pausing on the direshold. . . . He saw the figure of his ancestor appear at the door . . . saw him enter the room, approach his bed, and heard him wdiispcr, ** You have burned me> then ; but diosc arc flames I can survive — 1 am alive,— I am beside you ”... [John] started from his bed, — ^it was broad day light. He looked round, — there was no human being in the room but himself. He felt a slight pain in the wnst of his right arm. 1 Ic looked at it, it was black and blue, as from the recent grip of a strong hand.

At one place w'c arc reminded of Mrs RadclifFc’s description of the

Castle of Udolpho :

As they approached the (3asdc, die scene became glorious beyond the imagination of a painUT, who.se eye had dreamed of .sun-set in foreign climes. The vast edifice lay buried in shade, — all its varied and strongly charactered features of tower and piimaclc, bartizan and battlement, were melted into one dense aiul sombre mass. The 'hstant hills, with their comcal summits, w'cre still clearly defined in die dark-blue Jieavcn. and rhcir peaks still retained a line of purple so brilhant and lovely, that it seemed as if the hght had loved to linger there, and, parung, had left that Un: as the promise of a glorious morning. The woods that siirronudcd the CastL' stood as dark, and app? rendy as solid as itself.

Yet at times his use of ghastly realism goes beyond Lewis’s :

It w as on the fouirh niglit that I heard tlie slirick of the wretched female, —her lover, m the agony of hunger, had fastened his teeth m her shoulder ; —that bosom on whii li he had so ofrai luxiin tied, became a meal to him now.

Or :

They dashed him to the earth- -tore him up again— flung liim into the air— tossed him from hand to hand, as the bull gores a howling mastiff widi horns right and left. Bloody, defaced, blackened with cardi, and battered


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with stones . . . with his tongue hanging from his lacerated mouth, like that of a baited bull ; with one eye tom from the socket, and dangling on his bloody cheek ; widi a fracture in every limb, and a wound for every pore, he still howled for “ life — ^lifc — ^life — mercy ! ” till a Stone . . . struck him down. He fell, trodden in one moment into sanguine and discoloured mud by a thousand feet. . . . The crowd, saturated widi cruelty and blood, gave way to grim silence. But they had not left a joint of his little finger — a hair of his head — a slip of his skin.

Mon^ada’s dream in prison depicts an excess of physical horror :

The next moment I was chained to my chair again, — the fires were lit, the bells rang out, the litanies were sung ; — my feet were scorched to a andcr, — my muscles cracked, my blood and marrow hissed, my flesh consumed like shrinking leadier, — ^thc bones of my legs hung two black withering and moveless sticks in the ascending blaze ; — it ascended, caught my hair, — was crowned with fire, — I closed it, the fire was within, . . . and we burned and burned ! I wiis a cinder body and soul in my dream.

Maturiii can introduce horror on a cosmic scale :

. . . voices accompanied and re-echoed by the thunders of ten thousand billows of fire, lashing against rocks. . . . They talk of the imi^ic of the spheres !— Hrcaiii of the music of those living orbs turning on their axis of fire for ever and ever, and ever singing as they shine.

There is almost a Miltonic grandeur and irony in the image of

— the eternal roar of a sea of fire (tliarj . . . makes a profound bass to the chorus of millions of singers in torture.

In line with tlic poetic effusions of Mrs. RadclifFe, the works of Maturin arc distinguished by a powerful eloquence of style, and his dignified and stately language is in tunc with the grandeur and sid^limity of his theme. The impetuosity and profusion of his ideas arc clothed in suitable words and images, which arc pregnant with intense, passionate feeling. He ably analyses emotions, and appears to be swayed by the feelings he describes. Even his extravagances come flaming Jiot from his excited imagination. In a biographical note on the author prefixed to the 1892 edition of Mclnioth the Wanderer, wc read : “ He rouges lus roses, and pours perfume on his jasmine, though Maturings flowers are rather mandrakes and nightshades too fearful and venomous to flourish even in Circe’s garden.”

His narrative is marked by its sense of variety. Somctimc*s it grow.s biblical, as in Jew Adonijah’s speeches ; often it rises to poetic and lyrical


SCHAUER-ROMANTIK ; OR CHAMBERS OF HORROR T69

heights. His descriptions of nature are infused with a sense of atmosphere and local colour. He successfully recaptures the rich and balmy odour that scents the Indian air by night, its lofty colonnades of tamarind and banyan, its shedding blossoms, cocoa and picturesque palm trees, wliile a scries of pictures display the midnight darkness of the tropics, the clouds of suffocating dust, and thunders which are like the trumpet of doom.

His seiisuousncss and romanticism reminds us of the more voluptuous aspect of Keats :

Below . . . there were flowers and fragrance ; colours, like veiled beauty, mellowed, not hid ; and dews that hung on every leaf, trembling and sparkling like die tears of spirits, that wept to take leave of the flowers. The breeze, indeed, though redolent of the breath of the orange blossom, the jasmine, and the rose. . . .

He indulges in poetic effusions while commenting on the meeting of Isidora (Imnialec) and her Demon Lover in the Spanish summer night, when Mclmotli leans against the trunk of a giant myrtle-tree which casts a shade over his portentous expression, and they never utter a word to each other till the dawn appears, when die breeze speaks to her in a voice whose melody is borrowed from her own heart :

Language is no longer necessary to those whose beating hearts converse audibly — ^whosc eyes, even by moonlight, arc more intelligible to each other’s stolen and shadowed glances, than the broad converse of face to face ill the brightest sunshine — to wlnnn, in the exquisite inversion of earthly feeling and habit, darkness is light, and silence eloquence.

Speaking on love he says :

To love, beautiful Isidora, is to live in a world of the heart’s own creation — ^all whose forms and colours arc as bnlli.int as they arc deceptive and unreal. To those who love th<Tc is neither day or night, summer or winter, society or solitude. They have but two eras in their delicious but visionary existence, — and those are thus marked m the heart’s calendar — presthee — iilhciicc. Tlicse arc the substitutes for all the distiiictious of nature and society. The world to them contains but one individual, — and that individual is to them the world as well as its single inmate. The aimosphcte of his presence IS the only air thc\ can breathe in, — ^and the >g!it of his eye the only sun of their creation, in yhosc rays they bask and live.

Maturiii’s use t>f similes is explanatory as w'dl as ornamental. The short and quivering grasp of the hands of old Mclmoth is

like the daws of some bird that had died of hunger, — so meagre, so yellow, so spread.

C.P.— 13


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Tlie dark and heavy thunder-clouds arc like

shrouds of these spectres of departed greatness.

Some fine pictures of nature are embodied in his ornamental similes ;

There was a mild, inoppressive, but most seductive light in the dark-blue eyes that fell so softly on hers, like moonlight floating over a fine landscape.

or

There beamed among them, an eye of dark and brilliant light, like a star amid the deepening shades of twilight.

On the wrinkled checks of Guzman was

a gleam of joy, like the cold smile of a setting siui on a wintry landscape.

Happy tears arc like

diose showers in a fine spring morning, which announce the increasing warmth and beauty of the day.

There is also a note of sensuousness in some of his images :

The lovely valley of Valencia blushed and burned in all the glory of sunset, like a bride reccivmg the last glowing kiss of the bridegroom before the approach of night.

Immalcc, referring to her shadow, says :

There is not a rose-leaf that drops m the river so bright as its shadow. ... My fnend hves under the water. ... It kisses me too but its lips arc very cold.

Matuiin can be very expressive :

. . . the kiss of childhood that felt like velvet.

It is curious that Maciirin, a priest, should have introduced in his works sentiments averse to Chrisdanity. Certain specific charges of atheism and indecency may be levelled against him. Several passages from his novel easily spring to mind by force of especial indecency. There are some extremely detailed and lurid descriptions of what he conceived was monastic hfe in Spain. Mon^ada prays not to be made a monk :

Let me embrace the meanest, but do not make me a monk. . . . Give me a sword, — send me into the armies of Spain to seek death, — death is all 1 ask, in preference to that life you doom me to.


SCHAUER-ROMANTIK : OR CHAMBERS OF HORMR I7I

There are particular descriptions of atrocities inside the convent and conventual life :

. . . they spit in my face as they passed. 1 wiped it off, and diought how little of the spirit of Jesus was to be found in the house of his nominal brethren

Commenting further upon it he says :

. . . the Christianity of these coimtries is diametrically opposite to die Christianity . . . recorded m the pages of your Bible.

and that

. . . the infemal spirit is die licro, and in the disguise of a monk he appears in a convent, wlicrc he tornicnts and persecutes the community with a mixture of malignity and mirdi truly Satanic.

There arc statements like the following :

the virtues of nature arc always deemed vices inside a convent.

Or

I have hcaiJ much of the terrors of convents, — of their punishments, often earned till the infliction of death would have been a blessing. Dungeons, chains, and scourges, swam before my eves in a fieiy mist . . . — such is the sterility of humanity 111 a convent.

This element of anti-Cathcdic feeling in Gothic novels with an especial reference to Maturin may be the basis of a fruitful psychological study. The anti-Catliolic note is struck again and again in the Gothic novels.

Maturin weaves an original romance out of many varied strands, and Mvlmoth is not merely an ingenious patchwork of previous stories. Alchoiigli be frcc]iiently borrows scenes and incidents from other writers we have seen that his ideas and liis characters are peculiarly individual. Iinmalcc, the heroine in Mclmyfb the Wanderer ^ is a glorification q^thc Emily of Mrs. RadclifFe, wliile the monastic horrors, which form the scene of “ The Spaniard’s 1 ale,” have their corresponding setting in The Monk.

In “ The Talc of tbc Indians ” he display a close acquaintance with the Orient, its religions, and its literature. Shakespeare’s tragedies may have suggested to him the idea of enhancing the interest of his story by dissecting human motive ai’ 1 describing passionate feeling. The phrase . . would lose his own sou! ” echoes the biblical text, which may have inspired Maturin vvidi the idea of this romance. Marlowe’s Dr.


172


THE GOTHIC FLAME


Fausttis^ and the first part of Goethe s Fausts left a strong impression on this novel.

Melmoth the Wanderer fascinated Rossetti and Thackeray, and ** had some influence on the French romantic school and was utilized, in some particulars, by Balzac The genius of both Hugo and Baudelaire felt the spell. This novel may be called “ the swan-song of the ‘ roman- noir * ; after it the fashion gradually died away


CHAPTER VII


‘ GOTHIC ’ DISTRIBUTARIES : THE RESIDUARY INFLUENCES

After every tempest conics a calm, and at last tlic Gothic rage was to subside. The countless volumes tliat swarmed from tlic press, thick as Vallombrosan leaves, during those sixty years of the Gothic novel’s heyday, at last became demoded and out of vogue. Exponents of Gothic romance extend well into the first quarter of the nineteenth century, as is evident from the works of Francis Lathoin, Mrs. Meeke, Sarah Wilkinson, T. J. Horsley-Curries, W. C. Wren, Charles Lucas, Mrs. York, Catherine Ward, Jane Porter, William Child Green, Robert Huish, Hannah Jones, Eleanor Sleath, and very many more : bur these were minor ‘ gothic ’ writers whose works w^cre animated by the last flicker of enthusiasm for Gothic fiction. Reaction had set in ; the symptoms and process of disintegration were evident. Slowly and steadily the old and mighty pillars of* Gothic ’ tottered and crumbled.

As far back as 1927, Michael Sadleir raised a pertinent question: “ It remains to inquire where, when its great days were over, the Gothic romance took refuge.” This question still remains unanswered. It is interesting therefore to pierce the haze that mantles the diffluent waters of Gothic fiction, and tract the course of its distributaries. The story of

  • Gothic ’ disintegration and tlie obscure underground channels of Gothic

romance, is by itself a subject for iiidepeiideut research.

The process of literary disintegration dv'cs not follow any law of physics. Ill natural science, when there is the destruction of cohesion or disintegration of * matter ’, it Ncparatcs into its component particles. When, however, a body of literature dishiiegrates, first its old ^rms decay and then they arc transformed into svnnethiug new, and beautiful. Thus the florcsceiil body of ‘ Gothic ’ fiction became desiccated, as dry as old river-beds, and its waters diverged iuu tVesh channels, nourishing new forms of succeeding literature.

There seems to be difficulty in assigning limits to the period when Gothic fiction remained in vogue. Some date its declining interest from the year 1797, which saw in the publication of Mrs Radcliife’s

The Italian the zenith of the Gothic vogue, after wliich ” The Mighty

173


174


THE GOTHIC FLAME


Enchantress of Udolpho ” retired from authorship in die full blaze of her glory. K. K. Mehrotra has termed later noveUsts, like Lewis and Maturing “ belated advocates ” of an “ outmoded genre Others find the efflorescence of Gothic fiction extending well into the second decade of die nineteenth century, until the publicadon of The Heroine (1813), Waverley (1814), or Northanger Ahhey (1818) started eroding its established popularity. The evening sky is a diffused harmony of colours : the red stain of sunlight melting into a tint of glorious purple, then fading into a deep grey of darkening twilight ; nor can the eyes measure where one colour ends and the odier begins. Sc it is with the disintegrating phase of Gothic romance.

Edith Birkhead asserts that between the years 1797 and 1820 the Gothic novel maintained only a “ disreputable existence Writers who penned romances after 1800 may have written for a dwindlmg audience, but their works arc far from being discreditable. There remain lingering traces of conscious artistry, and those forebodings of mystery, wliich were characteristic beauties of the w'orks of Charlotte Smith and Mrs. Radcliffe. “ By 1800 the Gothic novels were in high favour with the reading public,*’ says Willard Thorp. Although ‘ Monk ' Lewis had written in j8oi that the “ uiiliccded spell” of the talc of terror was growing feeble, he himself, far from being merely a “ belated advocate ” of Gothic romance, or resisting the undercurrent of popular disfavour, swam rather briskly with the popular current. Still there were a host of readers in England w ho thought with Catherine Morland tliat novels should be “ all horrid **. The tale of terror was yet a living, vital thing.

Worlds do not pass away overnight and the transition from the Gothic W’orld of Otranto, Udolpho, and rranhenstew, to that of Heathcliff and Oliver Twist, cannot be described briefly nor measured with geometrical instruments ; but the main lines of the change are apparent if the story of Gothic disintegration is viewed against the background of shifting popular taste.

Sensibility, changes from age to age, and the eternal swing of the pendulum of literary liistory, the ebb and How of fiction according to certain inexpressible literary law's, inevitably brings in a reaction against any extreme. Thus it happened with the Gothic novel. Its forces spent themselves, its charms lost potency, its glamour was dissipated, and the Gothic spell broken. The reading public fell in a torpor — cliaracterized by the languor of an exhausted appetite.

It is perhaps rash to assert that Waverley either * ousted * Gothic


GOTHIC ’ DISTRIBUTARIES : THE RESIDUARY INFLUENCES IJS

romance from public favour or “ rendered it obsolete Mr. Sadleir’s statement that “ The Gothic novel crashed and became the vulgar blood ”, is only partly true. It did not ‘ crash ’ like a ‘ spent rocket ’ : rather its fall was like the slow collapse of a mighty empire, and the ‘ vulgar blood * was but a symptom of it. The phases of its decay are reflected in the changing tastes of the age, and in reviews that appeared in magazines and journals ; the process of disintegration is manifest in the satires, skits and parodies that followed in a trail during the period of ‘ Gothic * decline.

The opinion that the fame ot Gothic romances was eclipsed by the Waverley novels is also erroneous. According to Robert D. Mayo, “ twenty years of unimaginative repetition had already broken the hold of the talc of terror on the general reading public beyond Scott’s power to weaken it further ”. Moreover, it is easy to perceive a close semblance between the novels of Scott and Gothic fiction since both draw inspiration from die same fount. Waverley and its successors drink deep from the waters of Gothic romance, and there is a perceptible organic relationship between the Gothic efflorescence and the tremendous popularity of Scott’s works. The outmoded inodfs and properties of Gothic romance were replaced by Scott in a manner that afforded similar excitement but added to it the ccilour and conviction of reality. The wicked Montonis, the scheming Schedonis, the savage banditti and spectres of Gothic romance, became in the works of Scott genuine outlaws, monks, higliland chiefs, and phantoms of Scottish tradition. For the Salvator Rosa land- scapes were substituted rca’ mountains, forest-vistas, valleys and caves, and the impregnable castles of ScoiI..nd. The appeal of Gothic romance still cast a fresh glow on the reader’s mind, and (again quoting Mayo) “ when Scott breathed new life into the old ^orms, the general audience returned with the same eagerness

The causes of ‘ Gothic ’ di integration arc not far to seek. The first cause was psychological. Scott himself had an inkling : “ Children when tired of admiring a new play-thing find a fresh and distinct pleasure in breaking it to pieces,” he says. The finest flower ot Go’thic romance, which had afforded such general delight to die public, was destined to the comiiioii fate of neglect and contempt. Moreover, ever^' new and original kind of literature produces a tribe of imitators, who undersell the first author with highly coloured copies, but “ nothing so quickly cxliausts the popularity of a work of art as its power of multiplying its kind

The Gothic novel had become guilty of tlic excesses of the ‘ vulgar


176 TRB GOTHIC FLAME

I

blood ’ ; its atmosphere of crude sensationalism and violence was a logical outcome of the instinct for liberty which had inspired the whole movement. A soup^on of terror is enough to impart a strong flavour ; in excess the palate is deadened and nauseated. The Schauer-Romantik writers, by attempting to achieve their horror-effects through quantity rather tlian quality, gave a colouring of gross improbability to their themes. By becoming outrageous and too violent, diey began to defeat their ovm. object and failed to freeze the blood. Their methods out- stripped the limits of their reader’s endurance. Emphasis and exaggera- tion, duels, murders, and blazing scenes of horror, even spectres and fiends could appal no more, just as the chords of a violin when over- stretched no longer yield musical notes. Continued and repeated feelings of suspense and awe quickly made the satiated public indifferent to the strongest stimuli of that kind.

The imitators of Mrs. Radcliflfe and Lewis popularly misused the limited range of properties until familiarity turned into monotony. Peacock observes that tlie reader “ had lived upon ghosts, goblins, and skeletons ... till the devil himself . . . became too base, common, and popular ”. George Colmaii wrote in the 'nineties :

A novel now is nothing more Than an old castic and a creaking door,

A distant hovel.

Clanking of chains, a gallery, a light,

Old armour and a phantom all in white.

And dierc's a novel.

While the publication of The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) fanned tlie enthusiasm for Gothic romance it also contributed factors which eventually precipitated the decline of the ( iothic movement. Scott gives it expression : “ It was the cry at the period . . . that the romances of Mrs. Radcliffc. and xlft applause with w'liich tlicy were received, were evil signs of the times, and argued a great and increasing degradation of the public taste, which, instead of banqucttiiig as heretofore upon scenes of passion, like those of Richardson, or of life and manners, as in the pages of Smollett and Fielding, was now coming back to the fare of the nursery, and gorged upon the wild and improbable fictions of an overheated imagination.”

The Radcliffian technique of “ supcrnatunial explique ” considerably distracted public interest from examining the credibility of her talcs. Mysteries which were finally resolved in a natural manner were an insult to a reader’s intelligence and reason. Again, to quote Scott, ” the


’ GOTHIC ' DISTRIBUTARIES : THE RESIDUARY INFLUENCES I77

more imaginative class of readers resemble men who love to walk through a misty, moonlit landscape, more to be teazed than to be edified by the intrusive minuteness of a reasonable companion who may disturb the reveries by divesting every rock and stone of the shadowy semblances in which the fancy may have dressed them, by restoring to them the natural forms and commonplace tinge of reality

Finally, as the Gothic novel encompassed a wider range of human experience, it lost its individuality and merged into other forms. All these forces together engineered the disintegration of Gothic fiction.

As time drew on the type revealed a steady decline in popularity. The critical attitude which illustrates the first symptom of disintegration, is best reflected in the le views of tlie Critical and the Monthly. ** These critics . . . continued to emphasize the need for truthful characterization and careful motivation,” says J. B. Heidicr. As far back as 1765 both the Critical and the Afonthly reviewers had sniffed scornfully at the marvels of the first Gothic novel The Critical referred to the ‘ monstrosities ' of The Castle of Otranto ; the Monthly noted “ the absurdities of Gothic fiction”. The Gothic machinery in popular fiction had annoyed the reviewers, and when they learnt that The Castle of Otranto was not a translation (second edition), the Monthly reviewer was much irritated at the literary deception, and remarked :

It is indeed mure than strange, that an Author, of a refined and polished genius, should be an advocate for re-establishing the barbarous superstitions of Gotliic dcvilism.

But slowly the ferocity which had characterized reviews of The Castle of Otranto subsided, as this species of fiction catered to the taste of a large reading public. Clara Reeve’s The Old I:n(fiish Baton (1777), and Sophia Lee’s Recess (1783), won the praise of reviewers.

The perii)d between 1789 and 1800, which marks the cfBoresg^cc of Gothic romance, and the publication ot Mrs. Radcliffe’s novels, drew unhesitating praise and favour from the reviewer:^ : • however, “ the closing years witnessed critical dissatisfaction with what they had so recently accepted,” observes J. B. Heidicr. Godwin, in the preface to St. Leon (1799) advocating the realistic portrayal of the strictly marvellous, wrote :

The hearts and the curiosity of readers have been assailed in so many ways, that we, writers who bring up the rear of our illustrious predecessors, must be contented to arrive at novelty in whatever mode we are able.


lyS THE GOTHIC FLAME

The Monthly reviewer, while reviewing Mrs. RaddifFe’s first work The Castles of Athlin and Dunhayne (1789), had not yet entirely overcome the prejudice agdnst Gothic romance. After having praised its wonders and marvels, he said :

This kind of entertainment, however, can be little relished but by the young and unformed mind.

A Sicilian Romance (1790), despite its merit, had “numerous improba- bilities ”, but The Romaticc of the Forest (1792); and The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), drew favourable comments. On the evidence of reviews, the year T794 may be noted as the high-water mark of Gothic fiction. However, the tide turned once more when the Monthly reviewed The Italian (1797), and compared the Gothic romance to its disadvantage with the realistic novels of Richardson, Fielding, or Fanny Bunicy :

« 

This species of fictivm is perhaps more imposing than the formex, on the first perusal : but the characteristic which distinguishes it essentially from and shews its vast inferiority to, the genuine novel, is tliat, like a secret, it ceases to infercst after it can no longer awaken our curiosity ; while the other, like truth, may be reconsidered and studied with increased satisfactiom.

The merits of The Italian were well appreciated in die reviews, but the cridcs felt that the fortunes of the Gothic rtunance were careering down- hill, and diat it could not compete successfully with a realistic depiction of contemporary life as in the novels of Fielding, Smollett, and others. Time at last has proved its verdict a true one.

The Critical Reoiew^ dealing with Francis Lathom’s The Castle of Ollada in 1795, wrote :

Another haunted castle ! Surely the misses themselves must be tired of so many ghosts and murders.

^ 1*

The same year, this journal, while reviewing John Palmer’s The Haunted Cavern, stated : .

In truth, we arc almost weary of Gothic castles, mouldering turrets, and “ cloud enveloped battlements . The tale of shrieking spectres, and bloody murders, has been repeated till it palls upon the sense.

And again they observe :

We would wish that they would cease to build castles in the air, and return to terra fimia, to common life, and common sense.


' GOTHIC ' DISTRIBUTARIES : THE RESIDUARY INFLUENCES 1 79

Such evidence of sAiety with Gothic fiction can be found scattered in other journals and reviews.

Fielding had advocated a closely knit plot and the depiction of universal characters ; and for twenty years after 1740 the critics laid emphasis on characterization rather than on plot. The period between 1760 and 1789 marks a gradual acceptance of romantic novels which laid stress on careful plot development ; the years between 1789 and 1800 were a period synchronizing with tlie efflorescence of Gothic fiction, the finest flower being the works of Mrs. Radcliflfc.

During the ’eighties, which saw the beginning of a craze for Gothic fiction, haunted castles acquired great popularity. The middle of the last decade of tlie eighteenth century marks the climax of the vogue, but “ by the end of the century . . . the age proclaimed again the superiority of realistic depictions of contemporary life as written by Fielding, Smollett, and Fanny Burney

The reaction did not confine itself to periodicals, for by 1797 the symptoms of discontent definitely crystallize into a whole set of satires, parodies, and skits against the school of Gothic fiction.

There appeared in the Monthly Mirror an advertisement of The Mountaineers : or The Maniac of the Cave^ wherein the advertiser stated that

the fertility of the author’s incomparable genius never appeared to greater advantage ; presenting an assemblage of all the beauties of Desperation, Execration, Detestation , Perturbation, lluniiliation , and Ostentation. . . . The Piece is composed of Vikth and Sorrow, Joy and Horror with Rage and Despair most pleasantly blended. Amidst a variety of scenery which is too numerous to be here inserted arc the follow'ing : A picturesque view of a ship- wreck, A storm at Sun Rise. A Superb Banquet, interspersed with eating and drinking, singing and dancing A dreary C-avc, most beautifully decorated with Skulls, Skeletons, Bones and Monuments. . . . The piece to conclude with a pleasing view of the Infernal Regions. In which w^jjl be introduced an entire new Shower of Fire, and a grand Country t)Ai5cE BY Dead Bodies, assisted by Furies, Imps and Devils of tlie^whole company.

The Magazine Bncyclopeilique for 1797, cited by Ferdinand Balden- pciger in the Journal o f Comparative Literature, printed “ a recipe to obtain a good mixture of shudders and fright, in three volumes ”, as follows :

Recipe :

An old castle, half of it crumbling down,

A long corridor, wdth numerous doors many of which must be liidden. Three corpses sdll weltering m their blood.


i8o


THE GOTHIC FLAME


Three skeletons carefully wrapped up.

An old woman hanged, stabbed several times in her throat.

Robbers and ruffians galore,

A sufficient dose of whispers, stided moans and frightful din.

All those ingredients well mixed and divided into three parts or volumes give an excellent mixture which all those who liavc no black blood may take just before going to bed while having their baths. They will feel all the better for it. Probatum cst.

In 1799 the same journal parodied the kind of romance people were devouring by advertising the mock title “ The English Knight, or Adventures once somewhat extra ordiiiar)-% but quite simple and common- place nowadays of Mr. Bahaud, a shopkeeper of the Rue St. Honorc . . . translated ... by the R. S. Spectre Ruini, an Italian Monk (2 vols.). They take place in the ruins of Paliizzi, Tivoli, in the tombs of St. Claire, in the abbeys of Grasvillc, in the Castles of Udolpho, Mortymorc, Montroir, Lindcnberg ; in a word, in all the places where you find ghosts, monks, ruins, ruffians, underground passages, and a western tower and dungeons.”

The romance had b(‘Come a cheap mechanical thing, and thg mind of the nation was turning away from it to reinstate those teachers of moral prudence W'hose inHuence had been impaired by the flood, but not destroyed. The frequent parodies and satires are symptomatic of the new sensibility whicli was manifesting itself in English prose fiction as the Gothic maimer became exhausted. Winifred H. Rogers, who has examined nearly fifty such works, notes the marked change in the readers’ sensibility during the years 1796-1830 and comments that these attacks hurled against the pseudo-sentimentalists and Gothic novelists “ do not explain the change ; they arc merely a factor in that change, but a factor worthy of note ”.

early as 1789, when Mrs. Radcliffe’s The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne appeared, James Cobb pubhslicd Ins skit The Haunted Tower, which pokes fun at one of her favourite motifs ; the idea of a haunted wing or chamber. He ridicules the Gotliic sources of terror, by depicting certain stock situations.

More Ghosts! (1798) is a satire against the Gothic novel according to a contemporary reviewer.

A direct satire on the school of terror appeared in The Anti-Jacohin ' (1798), in the form of four acts of a burlesque The Rovers, or the Double Arrangement, with introductory discourse and notes. E. A. Baker called it


i^UTUlC DISTRIJSUTARIES I THE RESIDUARY INFLl^NCES l8l

die wittiest of all the attacks on both the sentimentality and the terrorism of those who learned from the German schools

In the Monthly Mirror (1800) was published a satirical parody “ St. Godwin, a Tale of the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Centuries by Count Reginald De St. Leon, which is obviously a hit at Godwin and liis novel.

The best of these extravanganzas is The Heroine, or The Adventures of Ckerubina (1813) by Eaton Stannard Barrett, which not only burlesques the ‘ Gothic ’ heroine, ‘ gothic ’ situations and machinery, but also travesties bodi the tale of terror and the language of sensibility. The author has fallen deeply under the spell of the literature he parodies, and his work is a cHnging kind of tribute to the force of its original, and catches the sc^ul as well as the form of Gothic fiction. Oliver Elton considers it “ the most comprehensive skit upon the fiction that was ceasing to be in vogue

There were certain other precursors of this work, Maria Edgworth mocked the current heroine in Angelina, one of her Moral Tales (1801). Mary Charlton, in Rosetta, or Modern Occurrences (1799), and Benjamin Thompson in The Florentines (1808), turned seriousness inside out, while Sarali Green in Romance Readers and Romance Writers (1810) described the follies of a clergyman’s daughter who lost Iier common sense through reading too much fiction.

Barrett parodies die romantic situations in the novels of Mrs. Radcliifc, Mrs. Roche, and ‘ Monk ’ Lewis, and achieves his effect by using actual phrases from the works against whicli he is hitting, and placing diein in absurd, ridiculous positions, and by paralleling the situations, actions, events or sentimerts expressed in Gothic novels. Throughout the book the author sustains a running fire of criticism, and yet provides abundant entt rtainment. He writes with great energy and unfiagging zest. Jane Austen herself read The Heroine, and confi^d the pleasure she derived from it. In t 8 16 The Biographical Dictionary *oJ the Living Authors of Great Britain and Ireland concluded with the following eulogy :

This work {Vjc Heroine) has been pronounced not inferior in wit and humour to Tristram Shandy, and m point of plot and interest infinitely beyond Don Quixote.

Since it is perhaps die best work of the reactionary school it deserves a closer scrudny. The story centres round the adventures of Cherry, a


i 82


THE GOTHIC FLAME


country girl, who, inspired by Gothic roman<!es, assumes the name of Cherubina. She reaches such an imaginative tension that she feels she is an heiress kept in unwarranted seclusion. She rummages her father’s desk for “ ancient stolen documents ” that may perhaps give some clue regarding her birth, and chances upon a yellow scrap which she interprets according to her own whim. She then escapes, leaving a note diat she is going “ to wander over the convex earth in search of her parents ”, and the story recounts her comic experiences. She faces tempests, explores deserted houses, and finally tliinks she has reached her ancestral castle in London, which is revealed to her as Covent Garden Theatre. After a scries of adventures she takes possession of somebody elsc’s castle and orders it to be furnished in ‘ Gothic ’ style. At one place she finds a blade^bone of mutton in some Gothic garbage and takes it for the bone of a foully murdered ancestor.

, The entire work is a more pronounced parody of Gotliicism than Northanger Abbcy^ and burlesques every feature of terror fiction : the inflated language, the excited swearings, the feudal furniture, the medieval architecture, the Gothic wcatlier, the supernatural temper, the spectres and phantoms.

The Gotliic heroine had alw'ays been a beautiful sliadow. Her beauties and virtues turned to perfection, as the reality of her character lessened. The Gothic novels had described her in lavish epithets : her mind was “ a rich jewel contained in a most beaurifiil casket ”, or her “ skin was white as the unsullied snow- on die mountains, save where the crimson of her lips, and the rosy hue of her cheeks, opposed a shining contrast to the shining brightness of her bosom ”. There were exquisite descriptions of the symmetry and proportion of her shape. There were poetic ecstasies like “ Her eyes w'cre large and sparkling ; but mild as the moon in the evening of summer, when she darts her trembling bc^s through the intermingled branches of the forest, and gilds the glittering stream that murmurs at their roots Barrett notes :

A heroine is a young lady rather taller than usual, and often an orphan ; at all events, possessed of tlic finest eyes in the world. Though her frame is so fragile, that a breath of wind might scatter it like chaff, it is sometimes stouter than a statue of cast iron. She blushes to the tips of her fingers ; when other girls would laugh, she faints. Besides, she has tears, siglis, and half sighs, at command ; lives a month on a mouthful, and is addicted to the pale consumption.


GOTHIC ’ DISTRIBUTARIES : THE RESIDUARY INFLUENCES 183

He observes :

I have read of some of them who were thrown among mountains, or into cells, and desolate chambers, and caverns ; full of slime* mud, vermin, dust, and cobwebs, where they remained whole months without clean linen, soap, brush, towel, or comb ; and at last, when rescued from captivity, forth tiiey walked, glittering like the morning star, as fragrant as lily, and as fresh as an oyster.

The acquired accomplishments of the Gothic heroine were legion. Slic could paint and sew, and play either the lute, die harp, the guitar, or the oboe — the four plaintive instruments to soothe one’s melancholy. She could compose ballads of unrequited love, and sing them melodiously to the pale moon floating upon the waters. The only initiative she ever displayed was in the unfailing courage to explore the dark recesses of castles and convents.

Barrett writes :

when a heroine is reduced to extremities, she always does one of the two thmgs, either faints on the spot, or exhibits energies almost superhuman.

Or even performs

joumics on foot that would founder fifty horses.

He remarks on the cons’cntiial smile of the heroine in all the silence of despair, something between Niobe, patience, and a broken lily. Cherubina says :

Tears arc my sole consolation. C^ft limes I sit and weep, I know not why ; and then 1 weep to find myself weeping. Then, when I can weep, I weep at having nodiing to weep at ; and then, when 1 have something to weep at, I weep tliat 1 c;umot weep at it.

Macaulay, wdio was a great lover of cheap Gothic romances, found twenty swoons distributed among four ladies in the course of a j;w- vohimc novel.

Barrett flings casual remarks on the stock ‘ gorliic • atmosphere, “ die rattling rain, and whistling wind ”, “ the horrid, horrible and horridest horror ! ”, of “ rusty daggers, moifidering bones, and ragged palls, that he scattered in all the profusion of feudal plenty He com- ments upon the blood on floors, and daggers, diat looked as fresh as a daisy at the end of ccnturic^ ”, and remarking on die supernatural says diat “ Indeed, ghosts keep such Ute hours, that ’tis no wonder they look pale and thin


THE Gonnc FLAME


184

Barret refers to The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Italian, and The Bravo of Venice, and praises them as being “ often captivating and seldom detrimental At the close of the book he summarizes his indictment against the Gothic romances in general. Professor Raleigh remarks : “ The prose romance was dead. It had fallen into its dotage, and the hand of Eaton Staimard Barrett had killed it. The Heroine seemed to mark the end of an age of romance, and the beginning of a new era of sententious prose.'*

The Hero : or The Adventures of a Nij^ht! A Romance, was published in 1817, and is jokingly dedicated to the authors of The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Tomb, Grastnlle Abbey, The Monk, Hubert de Scvrac, Celestina, and The Heroine.

An anonymous work, Prodiffions! ! ! or, Childe Paddic in London (1818) makes fun of the “ improbablc-immoral-absurd-sentimcntal-gothic- f fiction ”. It caricatures tlie Gothic heroes and villains and dwells upon their impossible adventures. The author hurls a lengthy satire on ‘ Monk ’ Lewis and the element of pornography in his work.

The works of Thomas Love Peacock are parodies of fiction itself as a type of literature, but parodies utilizi^d for satires of a mo« specific kind. His Nightmare Abbey (j8i8) is a satire against the romantic poets as well as against Gothic novels. Writing on the reading public of his time, be says :

That part of the reading public whicli shuns tlic solid food of reason for the light diet of fiction requires a perpetual adhibition of sauce picjiiantc to the palate of its depraved imagination.

Jane Austen’s Northangcr Abbey (i8i8), begun in 1797-98 and “completed in 1803, when Mrs. Radclilfc’s popular dominion was still unchallenged, was published at least half a dozen years tOii late to affect tlj^e gcneral taste ”, says Robert D. Mayo. This is proved by the contrast between the market value of Mrs. Radcliffe’s work and Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Whereas The Mysteries of Udolpho fetched £500 and The Italian f,Soo from the publishers, an ungenerous sum of f^io only was paid for the manuscript of Northanger Abbey. £. A. Baker suggests that “ the cautious publisher held up the book out of fear of affronting the thousands of readers who idolized Mrs. Radcliffe ”. Jane Austen writes in her advertisement prefixed to Northango Abbey :

This little work was finished in the year 1803, and intended for im- mediate publication. It was disposed of to a bookseller, it was even advertised,


" GOTHIC ’ DISTRIBUTARIES : THE RESIDUARY INFLUENCES 185

and why the business proceeded no farther, the author has never been able to learn. That any bookseller should think it worthwhile to purchase what he did not think it worthwhile to publish, seems extraordinary. . . .

According to Baker “ the burlesque of Udolpho was clearly part of the original design ”, for The Mysteries of Udolpho is closely parodied in certain chapters. Although tliere are a great many delicately tipped shafts of ridicule against Mrs. RadclifFe, Jane Austen practises a nice sense of artistic restraint. The satire hurled at the Gothic romances was rather subtle and fine, rather delicately mischievous, and it never did seriously disturb the popularity of Gothic talcs. This novel is directed particularly against those feminine readers whose minds were coloured with them and who confused Gothic fiction with the realities of life. Thomas Hervey Lister’s Granby (1826), is another satire of this type.

In Northangvr Abbey the ‘ heroine ’ is a young lady whose head is turned by romances which “ address die imagination alone, and act upon the mind like inebriating stimulants The story narrates the burlesque of Gothic experiences which Catherine undergoes during her visit to Nordiaiiger Abbey. Her imagination is excited because of an excessive dose of Gothic loinanccs, and she explores the secret wings in search for horrors, but finds herself only in sunny chambers. Nor does she chance upon any imprisoned wives, nor skeletons of immured nuns. Opening a black chest at midnight, she excitedly grasps a time-yellowed manuscript, which is eventually revealed as an old laundry list ! Mr. Tilncy’s ironic jests satirically comment on all the elements of Gothic romance. Austin Dobson says : “ It is probable that Northangcr Abbey was originally only a more serious and sustained attempt to do for the RadclifFc school what Cervantes liad done for Esplandian and Florismartc of Hyrcania, and Mrs. Lennox for Cassandra :uid Cleopatra”

During the first phase of ‘ Gothic ’ disintegration, the diffluent waters were channelled into Gothic serials, tales, fragments, and shockers^'^t the first great distributary was the Gothic drama w'hosc current bore all the extravaganzas and improbabihtics, the mystery and terror of Gotliic fiction. An adequate study of die subject is attempted by Bertrand Evans in his Gothic Drama from Walpole to Shelley, to which is appended a list of Gothic plays.

” The first dramatisation of a * talc of terror * was an adaptation of Walpole’s Castle of Otranto, entitled The Count of Narbonne in 1781 . . . by Robert Jcphsoii.” Mrs. Radcliffe’s A Sicilian Romance and A Romance of the Forest were acted on the stage in I 794 » the latter under the title of G.F.— 14


i86


THE GOTHIC FLAME


Fountainville Forest. The Italian reached the stage as The Italian Monk (1797), and in 1798 Boadcn produced at Drury Lane a dramatic version of Lewis’s The Monk, with the tide of Aurelio and Miranda. Thorp has pointed out that all these stage versions were tame» denuded of most of the supernatural effects. “ Thus at the very end of the century the critics were still insisting that the dieatre was no place fot the creations of a romantic imagination.”

The potent spell of Gothic romance had been losing its force and vigour for some years before 1820, yet in a new guise it continued to appeal to a minority audience down to the middle of the nineteenth century and beyond. The periodical press quickly responded to the vogue of Gothic romance. Serialized works like The Monk and the Robbers (1794-1805) in the Lady s Magazine, or The Ruins of St. Oswald (1800) and The Banditti of the Forest; or the Mysterious Dagger (1811-12) In the Ladys Monthly Museum, are full-length Gothic novels. Between the years 1791 and 1812 the Lady s Magazine had printed twenty-one Gothic romances in serialized form.

Two distinct types. Gothic talcs and Gothic fragments, mark the first cleavage in Gothic fiction. The former differs from the serialized romance only in point of length, seeking to achieve the same effects within a shorter compass of several hundred words, such as were spread over twenty to thirty instalments of the serialized novel. The elaborate romance first gave rise to shorter ‘ tales ’ with a pronounced undercurrent of ‘ Gothic ’ properties — ^with remote settings, idealized character- creations, and violent ot erotic incidents set in an atmosphere of terror. Robert D. Mayo points out that “ the presence of short tales of terror in the magazines from 1793 to 1820, along with Gothic novelettes and serialized romances, shows tliat the publishers of Blackwood's and the London Magazine were no innovators in oficring sensational fiction to tlTe reading public, but were adhering to an established precedent in periodical literature ”.

A typical example of this kind of fiction is The Clock Has Struck!!! a ‘ Legendary Tale ’ from the Lady's Magazine of 1 809. The writer lias abbreviated the entire apparatus of a full-length Gothic romance ; here are abductions, rescues, villainy, and murder ; die background is medieval, with its usual casde, chapel, and burial vaults, and there arc concentrated attempts to evoke an atmosphere of suspense, but all is compressed to less th^ twenty-five hundred words, with its focus on one single episode of terror. It is truly a Gothic romance in miniature such as might easily


GOTHIC ’ DISTRIBUTARIES C THE RESIDUARY INFLUENCES 1 87

be extended to several instalments in serial form or into the usual four volumes by any skilled writer. Mayo gives figures : “ In 1805, in fact, the high-water year for Gothic fiction in the Lady s Magazine^ tlirec of the four continued stories offered (or eighty-four per cent in quantitative terms) are tales of terror. After 1806 a period of decline for this type of fiction appears to have set in. From 1807 to 1809 the proportion drops to forty-four per cent ; and during 1813 and 1814 Gothic stories disappear entirely.” The periodicals offered a really fruitful period for Gothic short stories. “ The editors of English magazines had enlivened their pages with sensational fiction in both serial and short-story form, and . . by 1810 the Gothic short story was a well-defined and familiar species of fiction.”

The Lady s Magazine provides us with a ” sensitive barometer for the taste of its audience ”. As the very name suggests, it fed the fancies of leisured middle-class feminine readers, and was published for nearly fifty years after 1770, reaching a circulation of sixteen thousand. “ Terror became the regular ingredient of the Lady s Magazine^ every volume of which until 1813 was to feed in some form or other the general taste for imaginative horrors.”

During the first decade of the nineteenth century the Lady s Magazine pubhslicd several ‘ gothic ’ tales of which die followuig arc noteworthy : lidcHza^ A Gothic Talc (1802), Adelaide (1806), The Mysterious Admonition (1807), The Vale of Avignon, a Tragic Romance (1807), The Castle of Almeyda (1810). Yet none of diese extend beyond five thousand words, the shortest one limiting itself to six hundred. Towards the close of the eighteenth and beginning of die nineteenth century, the short stories and novels in instalment had become a popular and regular feature of the then respectable publications, such as the Scots Magazine (1789-1803), the Town and Country Magazine (1769-96), the Lady s Magazine (1770- 1837), the Monthly Mirror (1795-1811), the Ladys Monthly MvsHm (1798-1832), to name only a few.

Montague Summers has remarked that the Godiic iiovM is by nature committed to “ a certain leisure ” and ” long drawn suspense ”, and that it “docs not Dciniit of any abbrcviatK»n ”. Yet the writers of Gothic tales in the periodicals made a bold attempt in that direction, and very nearly achieved success.

Gothic fragments strike a nicer balance between form and content, and arc patterned after Sir Bertrand of the Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose (1773). or Nathan Drake’s Montmorcnci, a Fragment, from his Literary


i88


THE GOTHIC FLAME


Hours (i 798)» and his Sir Egbert and Henry Fitzowen in the Monthly Literary Rccreattons (i 807). Sir Bertrand was reprinted in the Monthly Mirror^ VoL XIII (January 1802), Sir Egbert and Henry Fitzowen appeared in the Monthly Literary Recreations, Vol. II (January 1807), and Vol. Ill (Octobcr-Deccmbcr 1807) respectively.

Most of the Gotliic fragments arc of a kindred species without any attempt at the construction of a thrilling plot sequence, having neither exposition, nor resolution of events, nor any accounting for mysterious horrors. Such patch-work is an exercise in evoking atmosphere, com- prising disconnected episodes of terror, and “ divorced from the novclcsquc elements which encumber the Gothic tale Some examples of die type are The Vision of Isnicna ; Raymond, a fragment ; Malvina, and Sir Edwin.

The Vision of ismena (1792), is a fantasy of terror, set in the frame- work of a dream-vision where one scene melts away swiftly into another ki a nightmarish sequence, and the audior tries to evoke feelings of suspense, wonder, strangeness, and fear in succession. Raymond, a fragment (1799) contains a wealth of Gothic details, and the narrative abrupdy ends at the very moment of crisis — a distinguishing characteristic of the writers of this genre.

Another distinguishing feature of the Gothic fragment was its readi- ness to exploit the supernatural. Whereas the Godiic talcs were a progeny of die Radcliffc school, explaining away mysteries, the JragweiUs made cxtaisive use of natural terrors. They abound in thunders, violent tempests, gloomy landscapes, caverns, howling winds, the tolling of distant bells, moping owls, spectral effects— in fact all the paraphernalia of Walpole’s Otranto.

A further corrupted form of the Gothic novel were the garishly crude sixpenny books, and the shilling shockers, of which W. W. Watt, writing for the Harvard University Press, says : “ The stories varied in lefi^th from mere anecdotes to talcs of thirty thousand words, but many of the publishers specialized in two definite lengths, dealing out thirty- six pages for Sixpence and seventy-two for a shilling.” These shilling shockers were bound under a captivating title-page, and die frontispiece depicted an etcliing of die most sensational incident of the story : a dark phantom before the distraught heroine in a deserted castle wing, or a gloomy hero bound in ropes against a tree by a group of banditti, or a frowning villain hurling his victim over a Go^ic precipice into the yawning chasm below. These ‘ blue-books ’ had such attractive multiple titles as: The Secret Oath, or Blood-Stained Dagger; The Miseries of


  • GOTHIC ’ DISTRIBUTARIES : THE RESIDUARY INFLUENCES I89

Miranda, or The Caverrfof Horror ; The Abbot of Montserrat, or The Pool of Blood, thundering " the maintitle at their readers through two barrels.

. . - Often the first of the two tides suggested the ‘ lovointcrest and the second represented the ‘ horrid ’ dement The more ambitious title-page inscribed an exciting synopsis of the entire tale.

How many of the shilling shockers were true abridgments of Gothic novels is not possible to determine, although Watt has pointed out that The Old English Baron, The Italian, and The Monk were abridged and pubhshed under various tides in this category as shilling shockers : also “ many of the shilling shockers were abridgments and translations from the German The stories provided nothing original. The ‘ love- interest * was subordinated to die thrill-producing machinery ; dicy clung to certain conventions of Gothic plot ; and die characters were exaggerated to an astonishing degree. The shockers not only set forth medieval legends of “ The Wandering Jew ”, the “ Demon Frigate *’ or “ Dr. Faustus ”, but also concentrated on Gothic anecdotes of freaks, monsters, and murderers, and thus catered to the perverted taste for excitement among degenerate readers.

Since the writers of the shockers were restricted by limitations of space, the intricacies of plot could not be detailed in a leisurely fashion, nor could the atmosphere be invoked in slow intricate detail. The author laid the setting of his scene in a single paragraph, and switched to a quick succession of incidents at once. Their publication and com- mercial value stand as an index of the sensation-craze into w’hich the Gothic vogue degenerated in its declining years.

The Gothic novelists contributed some vital components of romanticism. The matter, style, and spirit of Godiic romance, its images, themes, characters, and settings, sloughed their gross husk and emerged transformed into the finer elements of Romantic poetry. No attempt has been made so far to isolate the actual process of traiisformatiou^^or span die artistic distance between the finished product and its riw material. The intermediate stages of evolution liave receisvd no attention.

At the outset one notices certain startling resemblances between Gothic fiction and the canon of Romantic poetry : the philosophy of composition, the portrayal of die chief character in the story and the treatment of external nature, are all alike. There may well be a con- nection between the Romantic philosophy of composition as embodied in the Lyrical Ballads (1798) and the Gotliic philosophy set down by Walpole thirty-four years before. In both Gothic and Romantic creeds


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there is a marked tendency to slip imperceptibly from the real into the other world, to demolish the barriers between the physical and the psychic or spiritual. Sec Keats’s Ode to Psyche, last stanza, and Shelley’s The Sensitive Plant Compare the animated inanimate in Otranto, and the animated dead in Moutorio. We notice in botli the novels and the poems the same utilitarianism of arc as reflected in the philosophic prefaces and appended morals ; the same defiant anti-authoritarian note ; die same handling of grotesque and repellent themes ; the same nuances of style — the use of close wrouglit suspense, and vast, cataclysmic piling up of details for the final hurding climax. Compare the narrative method of The Giaour and Lara with Udolpho and Montorio, All are mystery tales, unrolled backwards by the explanation at the end.

Gothic villain and Romantic hero come of the same lineage. Bertrand Evans notes that the villains Manfred, Montoni, and Schedoni, in the novels of Walpole and Mrs. Radclifle . . . after leaping the gap between tBe ages . . . show us the Byronic hero. Resemblances are obvious : yet the one is a villain and the other a hero.” These figures move in a similar world : the panoramic landscape settings, the Gothic interiors evoking terror and fear — in fact the whole machinery of Mrs. Radcliffe and the authors of her scliool furnished die pattern and set the style for poets of the succeeding generation.

The Romantic poets hark back to the sources of terror, and once again revive the latent feelings of awe, wonder, and fear. La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Alastor, The Thorn, Darkness, rely wholly or in part on the terror-motif for their impressiveness. Also the streak of morbid- grotesque, the use of horrible and gruesome detail — ^lingers as an iiilicrit- ance of Gothic in the second generation of romantic poets. The unpleasant and diseased realism of die Schauer-Romantiks, their veritable mania for worms and reptiles, the clement of the gor)% wliich had quickened the ^ppetitc of jaded sensation eventually inspired the pathologic and ghastly ill Romantic poetry.

In both Got;hic novels and romantic literature the conception of die titanic in character is paralleled by die conception of the titanic in nature. The storm-racked atmosphere tinged with prevailing misty melancholy, a romandc richness of colour and a persistent suggesdon of dim and sweeping vasmess — all derive from Godiic setdngs. The charm of Mrs. Radcliffe’s arcadia, where in the shadow of exalted mountains repose vast woods, their gloomy grandeur diffusing a sacred enthusiasm over the mind, and where the scent of orange blossoms pervades the


' GOTHIC ' DISTRIBUTARIES : THE RESIDUARY INFLUENCES I9T

dewy air mingled with* a fragrance of spicy myrtle far among the cliffs, preludes the enchantment Nature held for the Romantics. In more than one way, the prose of Mrs. RadcUffc anticipated and guided the poetry of the Romantic revival. Prose like hers could not hope to remain prose long,” says Raleigh, and before his time T. S. Perry had registered the same possibility : “ The poets of the Romantic school were indebted for far more than moonlight and roaring wind to this curious story (i.c. Otranto).^*

Tlie Gotliic novel and Romantic poetry were in constant interaction, many writers of each making frequent sallies into the domain of the other. The average Gothic novelist was a poet too. The verses that intersperse their novels arc romantic in tone and atmosphere. Besides, Mrs. Radcliffe, Lewis, and Matiirin wrote Gothic ballads and versified many Gothic incidents.

While the Gc^thic roinanccrs» tried their hands at fragments qf Romantic poetry, the Romantic poets experimented with Gothic fiction in the novel and drama. The first generation of Romantic poets drew their inspiration from contemporary romance, a debt too great but little reckoned, the legacy of boyhood Gothic fiction. J. C, jeaffreson, in The Real Shelley (1S85), says : “ It is something to the lionor of prose fiction that the two greatest poets of the nineteenth centur)' (i.c. Shelley and Byron) may be said to liave been mentally suckled and reared on novels . . . taught by novels how to feel and think and how to make others feel and think,”

The (lOthic villain who had evolved from Manfred 111 The Castle of Otranto, through Lord Lovcl in The Old English Baron, and through Malcolm, Mazzini, the Marquis Montoni, and Schcdoni of Mrs. Radcliffe, finally taking on various traits in Eblis of Beckford, or Falkland of Godwin, or Matiirin s Montorio and Melmoth was transformed into the stalwart Romantic figure who finally became the Byronic hcijQ ”, an evolving, changing concept, alihougli individual and distinctive* in each of his manifestations.

Byron’s narrative heroes are cast in the true Gothic mould, verging on the metaphysical Miperman, victims of 1 >estiny, fired by vengeance and suffering from remorse, Childc Harold bears faint traces of the Wandering Jew, and is a victim of Destiny ; the Giaour is veiled in mystery and aloofness ; die Corsair is another misanthropic figure, whose superman qualities recall Montoni ; Lara belongs to die meta- physical superman group ; while Manfred, a mysterious magician, is an


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THE GOTHIC FLAME


apotheosis of all that has gone before, and represents the climax of Byron’s Gothic achievement.

All are aristocratic, moody, self-tortured, driven to an eccentric philosophy and way of life by disillusion — Harold, to aimless wandering ; the Giaour, to a total retreat from the world ; Lara, to contemptuous and passive toleration ; and Manfred, to a plunge into the oblivious maze of supernatural science. All are marked by the same haunting sense of padiological melancholy ; exiles from society, burning with a flaming desire to penetrate occult mysteries ; or brooding, crafty princes who, fired by consuming ambition, sacrifice friend and foe alike to their dark and mysterious ends. They move amid wild and gloomy settings : in dusky moors, lonely heaths, castles of luxury or decay, staring over bleak landscapes.

Another Gothic character was the * villainess ’ who may have inspired the theme of ‘ fatal women ’ in Romantic poetry. The ‘ Gothic ’ villainess was violent in emotion, ambitious and unscrupulous, and never shrinking from the use of poisoned goblets if need be. Countess Mazzini in A Sicilian Romance, Countess Villefort and Laurgntini in Christabel where Lady CkTaldinc is a wilful pow'cr of evil incarnate m a contrast to the elegant Antonias and fair Emelies, the angelic heroines of Gothic fiction. These ‘ fatal wromen ’ may have inspired Coleridge’s Christabel where Lady Geraldine is a wilful power of evil incarnate in a tempting body, a queer mixture of Matilda and tlic Bleeding Nun. Keats’s J.amja, the serpent woman who tramples men under feet and ruins them by her deadly charms, or Byron’s Gulnarc, a combination of violence and sw’cetness derive their inspiration from the same ‘ Gothic ’ source.

An outstanding Gothic motif— the Wandering Jew — first enters Rufnantic poetry in Wordsworth’s Borderers, “ A wanderer must I go ” says Marmaduke at die end of Act V. It also occurs in the third book of* Keats’s Endymion ; Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner is a wanderer over uncharted seas ; Shelley's Alastor is the St. Leon type of Wandering Jew.

At this stage it may be w'orth while to examine the * Gothic ’ influence on individual poets ; Wordsworth modelled his blank verse tragedy, The Borderers (1795-96), partly on The Robbers of Schiller, and more on current Gothic fiction. He often uses Radclifle’s panoramic method with the human touch inset, evoking fear by means of natural


  • GOTHIC ’ DISTRIBUTARIES : THE RESIDUARY INFLUENCES 193

description. Two of i&s poems, Guilt and Sorrow and Peter BelU have a Gothic flavour.

In the former the Gothic atmosphere is obtained by description, and from the terror of a murderer who is flying from the scene of his crime, alone in a storm on Salisbury plain. The landscape terrifies him. Sec stanzas 9, 10, 12 and 13. Wordsworth’s ravens, gallows, shrieks, phantoms, darkness and storm, the red sun and ruined building, are reminiscent of The Mysteries of Udolpho,

Peter Bell reveals a similar use of landscape to evoke fear, and the poet consequently explains away the supernatural terrors. Peter, lost in a fearsome wood, comes upon a glade bathed in moonlight (lines 356-60), in which stands an immovable, lonely ass. All is ghostly silent ; Peter suspects witchcraft, grows afraid, looks into the pool, and drops into a swoon before an inexplicable thing of horror. Wordsworth docs not hold us on tenterhooks long enough like Mrs. Radcliffe. He cxplaii\s that Peter had only seen the face of the owner of the ass, drowned by accident. The second and the third part of Peter Bell accumulates a set of RadclifFian terrors. Peter, while riding home on the ass, is frightened by a scream emanating from a cave. Looking back Peter finds a stain of blood, which is explained away as coming from the wounded car of the ass. Peter secs the ghost of his betrayed wife on tlie road, which the poet explains to be an optica^ illusion. Lane Cooper describes the poem as “ Wordsworth’s Ancient Mariner

Wordsworth is at certain times and in certain moods Radcliflian. In a number of fragments of the Prelude^ external nature is in consonance with moods of terror. He “ paints the visionary dreariness ” of scenes in “ cidours and words that are unknow'n to man There are descrip- tions of days “ tempestuous, dark, and wild ”, and of rising crags

That, from die meeting-point of two highways Ascending, overlooked them both, far-sirctchcd.

In the same poem. The Prelude^ he pictures an open place "that

overlo*.

From high, die sullen water far beneath On which a dull red image of die moon Lay bedded, changing often tirnrs its form Like an uneasy snake. From hour to hour We sate and sate, wondering if die night Had been ensnar'd by witchciaft.


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THE GOTHIC FLAME


The last two lines have a typically Gothic tinge. The Radcliffian method and effect is obvious in the lines :

1 heard among the solitary hills Low breathings, coming after me, and sounds Of indistinguishable motion, — steps Almost as silent as the turf they trod.

Then the titanic in Nature is portrayed :

When, from behind that craggy steep till then The horizon’s bound, a huge peak, bLick and huge,

As if with voluntary power instinct Upreared its head. 1 struck and struck again.

And growing still in stature tlic grim shape Towered up between me and the stars, and still.

For so it seemed, with purpose of its own And measured moQon like a hving tlung.

Strode after me.

Coleridge bases his play Remorse (1813) on the Sicilian’s talc in Schiller’s Ghost-Sevr ; his Christabcl (1816) is a supernatural ballad, and, says Eino Railo, “ even as a fragment, is a masterpiece of the poetry of terror He successfully creates a ‘ Gothic ’ atmosphere in th(^ opening lines of this poem, and displays a complete mastery over Gothic materials, while every subtle detail of the descriptive background evokes a sense of eeriness and fear as we float dreamily through scenes of unearthly misty moonlight. The poem, with its sense of foreboding and horror of the serpent-maiden, narrates a true Gothic tale. The Gothic details make an imposing array : ’Tis middle of night by die casde clock ”, “ the night is chilly, but not dark ” ; a small full moon is half- veiled by broken clouds ; a haunted castle stands near a rock. The fiend quality of Geraldine, the Gothic description of die castle interior “ carved with figures strange and sweet ”, the moan in the forest, the magic bells — are suoh stuff as Godiic romance is made of.

The delicacy and subtlety of the poetic genius of Coleridge produced the weirdness of The Ancient Mariner (1798), who is akin to die Wandering Jew, a man haunted by his crime. The poet uses the dream as a device for revealing the future, and piles up a number of Gothic conventions rather than horror. The sinking of the fearful skeleton ship, the seven nights spent in company with the dead, the re-animated spectre-corpscs, all are reminiscent of Gothic tradition. The setting of the wedding- scene recalls Lewis’s Alonzo and Schiller’s Ghost-Seer^ and like most Gothic novels the poem ends in a moral.


' GOTHIC ' DISTRIBUTARIES : THE RESIDUARY INFLUENCES 195

Some descriptions ill Kubla Khan (1816) recall Maturin and Lewis.

A savage place ! — as holy and enchanted As e*cr beneath a waning moon was haunted By woman wailing for her demon-lover,

reminds us of Immallce and her demon-lover Mclmoth. The Wandering Jew, who had appeared in Lewis’s The Monk^ with flashing eyes and floating hair, had visited the spectre-ridden Raymond, drawn a circle about liimself while exorcizing the phantom, and bade the hero close his eyes and refrain from gazing upon him during incantation. Coleridge, who had bitterly criticized The Monk^ uses the same ingredients in :

Beware ! Beware !

His flashing eyes, his floating hair !

Weave a circle round him thrice And close your eyes with holy dread For he on honey-devr hath fed And drank die milk of paradise.

The poetry of Keats touches the mysterious springs of suggestive terror. The famous La Belle Dame Sans Mercia which so exquisitely evokes the Renascence of Wonder, has echoes of the unknown lady who touches the shield in Mrs. RadclifFe’s Gaston dv Blondeville :

Her beauty was faded, yet she seemed young, and she had a look of sorrow and of wildness, too, that touched the hearts of many, that beheld her.

Martha L. Shackford has, in Modern Languaijc Notes (XXVI — 1921), traced the influence of Thj Mysteries of Udolpho on The Eve of St. Agnes. Keats was familiar with Mrs. RadcliiFc. He wTites to Reynolds on March t8i8 :

1 intend to tip you die Danioscl Radcbtfi* — I’ll cavern \ou, and grotto you, and waterfall you, and wood you, and water you, and imnicnsc-rock you, and tremendous-sound you, and solitude you.

Some passages in Lndymion recall Mrs. RadcliiFc. Keats had a leaning towards ruined castles, and die interior dcscripdon of a f>ocm like The Eve of St. Agnes yields an impression strongly RadcliflSan. The picture of its Gothic hall shows a similar feeling for atmosphere :

In all the house was heard no human sound ;

A chain-dropped lamp was flickering by each door ;

The arras, rich with horseman, hawk and hound,

Fluttered in the besieging wind’s uproar ;

And die long carpets rose along the gusty floor.


THE GOTHIC FLAME


196

He writes to a friend, speaking of Sl Agnes Eve ahd The Eve of St. Mark : “ You see what fine mother RadcliiTe names I have.” The grim story in Isabella of Lorenzo’s ghost, who

Moaned a ghosdy undersong

Like hoarse iiight-gusts sepulchral briers along,

is surely inspired by ‘ Gothic

The Oriental luxury and abundance in his descriptive matter, style, and material resemble Bcckford. Keats knew Vathvk. It contributed a few detailed devices in other phases of his verse. The burning heart of Eblis reappears twice in Hyperion, a Vision :

One hand she pressed upon that aching spot Where beats the human heart, as if just dicn.

Though an immortal, die felt cruel pain.

0

Or from Cap and Bells :

Annoy’d

Her tender heart, and its warm ardours fann’d

To such a dreadful blaac, her side would scorcli her hand.

The following from the banquet scene in Lamia smacks of Vatlick :

Of wealthy lustre was the banquet-room,

Filled with pervading brilliance and perfume :

Before each lucid panel fuming stood A censer fed with myrrh, and spiced wood.

Each by a sacred tripod held aloft.

Whose slender feet widc-swcrvcd upon die soft Wool-woofed carpets : fifty wreaths of smoke From fifty censers dicir light voyage took To the high roof, . . .

The following extract from Hyperion : A Vision has resemblances to Vathek’s approach towards the vaUcy of Eblis :

1 looked around upon die curved sides Of an august sanctuary, with roof august,

Builded so high, it seem’d that filmed clouds Might spread beneath as o'er the stars of heaven. . . .

The embossed roof, the silent massy range Of columns nordi and south, ending in mist Of nothing.


‘ GOTHIC ’ DISTR1BUTAR1£S : THE RESIDUARY INFLUENCES I97

Byron acknowlcdgcs'his debt to Gothic romance :

Oeway, liadcliffc, Schiller, Shakespeare’s art, ‘

Had stamped her image in me.

The nature description of Childc Harold, in style, tone, and material is reminiscent of Mrs. Radcliffe. The poet pictures the elemental phases of nature, mountain, sea, and storm. The description of Venice in Canto IV, stanza 18, strikes a close correspondence between RadclifFe’s prose and Byron’s poetry. Also some passages in The Giaour, including one of a deserted palace, arc of a Radciiffian turn.

Blessington reports, in Conversations, that Byron had a mild preposses- sion for worms and speaal predilection towards vampires. “ Do you know ”, said Byron, “ that when I have loc^ked on some face that I love, imagination has often figured the changes that death must one day produce in it — ^the worm rioting on lips now smiling, the features an4 hues of health changed to the livid and ghastly tints of putrefaction . . . this is one of my pleasures of imagination.”

Byron’s Lines Inscribed upon a Cup formed of a Scull, his Siege of Corinth, some passages in The Gtaotir, and The Bride of Abydos abound in gory details.

This last is very much a versified Gothic romance. GialFir kills his brother to gain power, and proposes to marry his daughter to a villain to gain still more power. In The Siege of Corinth, the Gotliic spectre of a damsel appears to her lover after her death, though he thinks it is she in person. She chills him with a touch. In Lara, Byron makes use of a Gothic situation in which the terror is not explained away. Attendants rush in and discover Lara stretched on the ground in a semi-conscious state with his sabre half drawn ; what has happened we arc never told. Manfied abounds in Gothic machinery : a curse, remorse, large Gothic halls, a fiery star, an attempted suicide, spots of blood on the gohUet, a hall filled with demons, a pliantom, a towxr with a secret chamber; a warning abbot, terror-stricken and chattering domestic servants, and a mysterious death by blasting.

But of all the Romantic poets the nnuJ of Percy Bysshe ShcUcy was most deeply saturated with Godiic diablerie. Shelley as a youth was an ardent disciple of Gothic romances. He read them omnivorously, and his pen assayed the style of the most haggard spectre-monger of Lane’s Minerva Press. He retained far into his years of splendid and imaginative poetry the tricks of Gothic style, and the flavour of Gothic


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material. The effect of this riot of imagination ‘exercised a potent spell on the impetuous spirit of Shelley, who, during his adolescence, revelled in moon-illumined casdes, saturnine monks, scowling desperadoes and obtrusive spectres. Urged by a resdess desire, in quest of die supernatural, he haunted cemeteries in expectation of “ high talk with the departed dead ” ; dabbled in chemical experiments and read ancient books of magic by candle-light. Under die influence of ‘ Monk ’ Lewis and Charlotte Dacrc, he wrote two Gothic novels : Zastrozzi (1810) and St, Ifvyne (1811). These, says Lord Ernie, arc “ curiosities of Htcrature of the melodramatic and blue-firc type Shelley also wrote a Gothic fragment : The Assassin (1814).

Shelley’s most striking Gothic description is to be found in Alastor, These are descriptions of

Rocks, whicli, in unimaginable forms,

Lifted their black and barren pinnacles In the light of evening. . . .

Its precipice, obscuring the ravine, disclosed above

Mid toppling stones, black gulphs and yawning caves,

Who^c windings gave ten thousand various tonguc^s To the loud scream. . . .

And then finally “ the howl of thunder ” and “ the hiss of homeless streams ”, mingle in solemn song with

the broad river.

Foaming and hurrying o’er its rugged path

which

Fell into the immeasurable void Scattering its waters to the passing winds.

Similar Gothic descriptions abound in The Witch of Atlas, and also in T/ia* Cenci, where, “ beneath the crag ”, ” the melancholy mountain yawns ” and

Below

You hear but sec not an impetuous torrent Raging among the caverns.

Horror was passion with Shelley. His verse is coloured throughout with a morbid relish for the ghastly, and “ death’s-head ” allusions ; chamcl-housc metaphors and fragments of cadavers arc scattered through- out his work in consequence of his Gothic romance reading and writing. His vocabulary consists of a profusion of words like * ghosts ’, ‘ shades ’,


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‘ tombs ‘ torture \ * c^amd \ and * agony His similes too have a supernatural tint. In Alastor the poet is

an inspired and desperate alchymist .

Staking his very life on some dark hope.

In Ode to the West Wind the dead leaves arc compared to “ ghosts from an enchanter fleeing Shelley often attempted to work on the ‘ gothic * emotion of fear ; the lurid patches in The Revolt of Islam, the decaying garden in The Sensitive Plant, the tortures of Promedieus, or the agonized soul of Beatrice in The Cenci — all are captured in words of anguish and despair. In The Cenci the fierceness of algolagnic sensibility is clearly marked, while streaks of it gleam in, and animate many of his other poems.

Thus the Gothic novf^l left an indelible stamp on the romantic diaracters and nature painting ; ‘ gothic ’ threads of horror were in- extricably woven into the new romantic material. The currents of influence are most widely diffused, and vital to the spirit and method of treatment in Romantic composition.

The contribution of the Gothic novel to ninctcenth-ccntury fiction was not merely a sense of structure, but also a certain spirit of curiosity and awe before the mystery of tilings. In structure the ‘ Gotliic * method of dramatic suspense was combined with the picaresque type, and in theme the romantic spirit was made to blend with the spirit of realism. The Victorian writers are indebted to the technique and devices of Gothic fiction : most of their works were patterned and modelled after the demoded species. The interesting plots in Victorian novels bear impress of the w^idespread and long enduring vogue of Gotliic romance, and reveal that notable writers were conscious of the power of the weird and eerie.

W. C. Phillips has emphatically asserted that Dickens “ was pjLorc indebted to that waning romance than cnticism has generally indicated”, and indeed there is no want of continuity between the Gothic romance and the mid-ninctccnth-ccutury novels. “ Dickens, the plot-maker, as opposed to Dickens the dcliiieaior of human oddities, brought down to date the essential appeal of The Romance of the Forest, and adapted it to the prejudices, credulity, and taste of the audience for whicli he wrote.” From the final scene in Oliver Twist, where Bill Sykes brutally murders his mistress, through the opium-tainted atmosphere of Edwin Drood, there is no complete story lacking in the most brutal stimulants of fear.


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Although Dickens, in his realism, treads in ^e footsteps of Fielding and Smollett, in Great Expectations he portrays a scene where we find Miss Havisham standing by her dressing-table whicli is covered with dust — in a room displaying traces of former splendour, faded tapestries and heavy tables of maiblc. Her satin slippers have faded and turned yellow with age ; the wedding cake stands mouldering in the centre of tlic old banqueting table. The whole effect resembles the feeling of dread created in Chateau le Blanc in The Mysteries of Udolpho, where Emily and Dorotliee explore the chamber of tlic dead Marchioness, where hangs the black veil, and on the dressing-table a pair of gloves dropping to pieces with age.

The Bronte sisters create striking effects by utilizing die devices of Mrs. Ami Radcliffc. Emily Bronte presents the amazing and terrific character of Hcadicliff in Wuthering Heights, Tlic picture of the wind- jwept Yorkshire moors provides a background for the expression of tense human feelings. The shadow of Hcathcliff’s personality has a demonic power. Andrew Lang, in an entertaining article, Mrs. Raddiffe s Novels^ which appeared in The Conihill Magazine, Jidy, ic)oo, pointed out that Charlotte Bronte borrowTd the idea of the hidden iimd wife in Jane Eyre from a similar incident iii A Sicilian Romance. In Jane Eyre she comes very near to the conception of the Gothic villain in her portrayal of Rochester. The Brontes never trifled with emotion nor made use of supernatural elements to heighten the tension. They present the terrors of actual reality and life.

Popular interest in s'ensational fiction could he revived only by exploring new diemes which might exert a fresh appeal. Away from the outmoded conventions of Gothicism in history and legends, writers like Sir Walter Scott, Allan Cunningham, and James Hogg sought real-life equivalents in tlieir quest for new materials. Later ingenious writers like Bulwer Lyttoii, Wilkie Collins or Stevenson experimented with new themes m quest of ingenious sources of mystery and terror.

George Edward Bulwer Lytton once more tried to elevate the novel of terror. His writings reveal a strong lt>ve of the mysterious. His Ernest Maltravers, Alice, and Strange Story, focus interest on some dark mystery which is revealed only at the end of the book. While invading the orbit of supernatural romance, he outstrips the realm of Gothic terrors, and soars into more exalted regions, inspiring awe rather than horror. According to him the exercise of reticence and leaving things unsaid should be the integral characteristic of a supernatural tale. He


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smoothes away the crudities of Gothic romance and strips off the vulgar blatancy of conventional spectral tales.

Zanoni was published in 1842. The Haunted and the Haunters^ or The House and the Brain in the Blackwood* s Magazine for 1859. The latter story centres round a mysterious personality, who exercises a strange power over the life and personalit)' of other individuals. He appears, no man knows whence nor why, and disappears as strangely, and his entire career is shrouded in mystery. Lytton here works on the night- mare motif, and endows inanimate objects with supernatural powers. The atmosphere imparts a ghostly chill, and in the darkness one feels the iiUi'lerable oppression of a shameless evil. At one place a woman’s hand, without a body, rises up to clutch some ancient documents, and then withdraws.

In A Strange Story Lytton introduces the elixir of life, and with other ‘ gothic ’ properties like magic, mesmerism, spectres, bodiless Eyes, and even a gigantic Foot. Margrave mixes certain chemicals and prepares to drink the elixir of life, but at the crucial juncture a stampede of beasts frightened by a dreadful Foot, dashes the beaker from his lips. The powerful liquid wastes its potentialities on the desert sands. A magic richness of foliage and green instantly springs up on the spot in the barren desert. The blooming flowers and colourful butterflies indicate life all around, but the body of the individual who so laboriously manu- factured the elixir lies dead. Lytton hints at a symbolic meaning : that the laboratory of the sci mtist holds several chxirs of life, and that the growth of life is magical, and ex/ tencc itself is a miracle. At one place tlic supernatural manifests itself, a vast Eye is seen in the distance, which moves nearer and nearer. Then . ther Eyes appear : Those Eyes ! those terrible Eyes ! legions on 1 gioiis ! .And chat d amp of numberless feet ! they arc not seen, but the hollows of the earth echo to their tread.”

In James Hogg’s The Wool-Cathcrvr, a man of vicious life is haunted by the wraiths of those he has wronged, and as he lies in the throes of death he hears the doleful voices of worn 'm in torment and the pitiful wailing of infants, though nothing is visible. After the man is dead, the supernatural howlmgs become so dreadful that “ tlic corpse sits up in the bed, pawls wi’ its hands and stares round wi’ its dead face When the watchers leave the room for a few seconds, the bodv mysteriously disappears never to be found again.

In The Private Memoirs and Confessions if a Justified Sinner , Hogg G.F.— 15


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wiices a talc of spiritual horror in a realistic setting. He handles the theme of temptation by the Devil, in the semblance of a duplicate personality. The talc without ever becoming mere parable keeps suggest- ing its inner meaning to us.

De Quinecy wrote KlosUrheim in 1832. In the Blackwood* s Magazine for January 1838 w^as published his The Household IVcecky which conveys a strange sense of foreboding, and exemplifies how tlic anticipation of horror, a period of psychic dread, is often more harrowing than actual reality. He published another tale of terror. The Avaigcr^ in 1838.

William Harrison Ainsworth attempted to revive the “ feeble and fluttering pulses of old romance **. He fashioned his early tales in Gothic manner, and remains a professed disciple of Mrs. Radcliffe. Montague Summers expresses appreciation in The Supernatural Omnibus : “ His sense of the supernatural, and the truly admirable way in which he utilized awe and mystery in his romances, have at least culled one, and diat not the least green, laurel in the stephane of immortality which crowns Ainsworth’s brow\”

In the European Magazine for 1822 had appeared his The Test of Affection^ -wdicreiii a wealthy person uses Mrs. Radcliffe’s supernatural tricks to test die devotion of his friends. TIktc are scenes of alarming noises and skeleton apparitions. In Arliss*s Pocket Magazine (1822) appeared his The Spectre Bride, but his Rookwood (1834), a novel, is probably the best in his manner. There is in it a profuse use of Gothic properties, like skeleton hands, flickering candles, and sepulchral vaults.

Marryat, said The Times Literary Supplement (5 April 1941), “certainly, if only by virtue of Snarleyyow and The Phantom Ship is in the Gothic tradition ”. The talcs of Mrs. Riddell arc dank w ith ‘ gothic ’ shadows and doom. Her Uninhabited House, The Haunted Rwer, The Nuns Curse arc sufljcicnt to show her lineage. Montague Summers has rightly rcctignized “ die Gothic tradition in Wilkie Collins and Le Fanu . . . two great masters of the mysterious and macabre, who . . . will remain, unsurpassed anil unapproached ”.

Sheridan La Fanu, the master of the horrific genre, loves to paint the ghastly and the macabre, and is gifted with a melodramatic and sombre power. Like Poe he can invest the most mechanical of plots with an atmosphere of weird and eerie horror. His works have a grimness and power derived from the Gotliic romance.

Joseph Conrad could touch the innermost springs of ‘ fear His romantic imagination displays a fine command over the possibilities and


‘ GOTHIC * DISTRIBUTARIES : THE RESIDUARY INFLUENCES 203

powers of ‘ terror \ A note of inexpressible mystery and unknown dread is struck in his novels : The Nigger of the Narcissus^ The Secret AgenU Typhoon^ and The Shadow Line. The voyage of the schooner, doomed by the evil influence of her deceased captain, recalls the awe and horror of Coleridge’s The Ancient Mariner.

In modern times the marvellous has become more scientific and for this reason even more frightening. The fantasy of H. G. Wells, as also of C. S. Lewis, shows us worlds unknown, monstrous and horrible.

Charles Brockden Brown, the first Gothic novelist of America, penned stories of sleep-walkers and vencriloquists, and shows an un- mistakable resemblance to Mrs. Radclifl'c and her technique. Brown has a deep interest in morbid psychology, and his novels illustrate die w^orkings of the luiinan brain under great emotional stress. Psychological interest produces a hypnotic effect, and creates in the readers a mood of awestruck horror.

Among other American writers, Hawthorne and Poc arc ‘ Gothic ' in their treatment of the supernatural and mysterious. 1‘hcsc writers show that the walls dividing the seen and the unseen world arc often very thin. Hawthorne creates a mysterious atmo'phcrc of foreboding and evokes the terrors of an invisible world, utilizing soul-shaking embodiments of mortal dread. The mystery of Death exerts a strong fascination over his mind, yet on die whole he is melancholic, not morbid. He docs not extend his art to the domain of physical horrors. His pictures are neither crude nor harsh, rather they arc shadowy and subdued.

Edgar Allen Poc cxphiited the ‘ gotlnc ' powTi* of suggestion, and cast a hypnotic spell over his readers to comply with his fantastical themes. He made full use of the power of words and tricks of style. In an article published in 1845, James Russell L >vvell wrote :

In raising images of liorror, he (Poe) has a stiange success, conveying to us sometimes a dusky hint, seme tcrnble doubt, which is the secret of .all horror. He leaves xo imagmaiioii the task of finishing the j.nctur,*, a task to which only he is compelenl.

Poe, an avowed apostle of the morbid and y’ -^tesque, made excursions mto the world of preternatural wonders, whue a finei realization of the mysticism and sinister beauty unJerhes the darker movements of thought. “ And what a mental chamber of terrors that mind was ! Horror piles on horror in his early and later ulcs ; blood, unnatural lust, madness, death— alway death — fill his pages and the ‘ haunted palace '


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of his brain,” says Howard Haycroft in Murder Jor Pleasure, the Life and Times of the Detective Story (1942).

Poe raised terror to tragic heights, and produced dramatic and powerful effects by a rigid economy of effort without any extravagant or superfluous touches. The successfully diffused atmosphere of creepi- ness in The Cask of Amontillado and The Masque of Red Deaths or the dreary pictorial effects in The Fall of the House of Usher, were definitely inspired by Mrs. Radcliffe’s deserted abbeys and the opening of Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer, The outline of Poe’s talcs is distinct, the im- pressions swift and deep. He added * psychology ’ to tlie old * gotliic ’ raw material, and captured tlie airy, gossamer filaments of sensations by touching upon obscure feelings of psychic dread.

E. F. Benson’s Image in the Sand and The Angel o f Pain are of Gothic lineage ; the stories of “ Geoffrey Crayon ” abound in situations of awe and dread ; and Irving (writing under his own name) sometimes strikes a note of horror. The subtle and recondite short stories of Henry James have a capacity to sway the feelings in a fir more potent manner than the raw sensations of ‘ Monk ’ Lewis and Matiirin. The author of The Ttmt of the Screw has a consummate scientific insight into the hidden springs of fear, and can thrill the reader by only a slight touch^on the nerve.

Thus the shadow' of ‘ Gothic ’ fell on both sides of the Atlantic in Victorian times.

The influence of the Gothic novel on modern detective fiction and ‘ thrillers ’ is by itself a fiiiitful topic for independent research.

Miss Dorothy Scarborough has made a wide survey of the mass of fiction introducing die ghastly and psychic elements in modern literature, and has stated that “ the real precursor of siipcrnaturalism in modern English literature was the Gothic novel Montague Summers, in his learned introduction to The Supernatural Omnibus, makes a historical ap*proach to the long scric.s of spectral tales and studies in phantom lore, and proves thaf certain supernatural themes — witchcraft, fairies, vampires, werewolfs, ghosts friendly and imfriendly, w'raitlis of the living — such macabre tales for thrills, curiosity and awe of invisible powers that continue to pour in till today, all drink deep at the old fount of Gothic fiction. In modem talcs of the ceric and weird, wc trace the same themes, rationalized and semi-rationalized, to suit our altered conceptions of the relation between flesh and spirit.

The symbols of dread and the ghostly were used cflectivcly in the


  • GOTHIC ' DISTRIBUTARIES ! THE RESIDUARY INFLUENCES 20 $

Gothic novel : the triple veil of night, desolation, and silence aided the cumulative effect of supernatural awe. The gruesome accompani- ments and suggestions conditioned an uncanny psychosis. Modern ghost stories work up to much die same clFect.

Each piece of crude and creaking machinery of Gothic romance has been brought to perfection by the individual writers of modern ghost stories : by E. F. Benson, Bram Stoker, M. R. James, Algernon Blackwood, and others. The portrait that walked out of its frame in Walpole's Otranto may have appeared ridiculous, but the same motif becomes in Bram Stoker’s The Judge's House a thing of menace and horror. The stage coach tliat carries Raymond and the spectre of the Bleeding Nun so fantastically at a tremendous speed in Lewis’s The Monky takes on a more artistic and terrible form in Amelia B. Edwards’s The Phantom (^oacli-

• M. R. James, whose hanntings arc real, where ghosts and demons have actual reality ; E. F. Benson and Marion Crawford with their vampires visibly and carnally sucking the blood of their victims ; or Algernon Blackwood and Robert Hichens, with talcs of macabre and elemental spirits — all stand in the Gothic tradition.

Thus, like the gtddcn and red-plumed Phoenix, the fabulous bird of Arabia, which at the close of liis long life builds himself a funeral pyre of the twigs of cassia, frankincense, and other aromatic woods, which he sets alight by the fanning of his wings to immolate himself, thus magically renewing his youth, so also die Gotliic romance even from its ashes rose in a new splendour, lit with new glories, rejuvenated and purified. Although its old garments have been cast aside, the same spirit is reincarnate in new forms. The Gothic novel remains a vital thing, a poiential force in the literature of today.


CHAPTER Vlll


QUEST OF THE NUMINOUS : THE GOTHIC FLAME

The main stream of Gothic Romance which issued from Walpole*s Otranto diverged into tlircc parallel chaimels : first, the Gothic-Historical type developed by Clara Reeve and the Lee sisters, finally culminating in the Waverley Novels of Sir Walter Scott, where historic supcnratural agents disport themselves against an autlientic background of chivalrous pageantry ; secondly, the School of Terror initiated by Mrs. Radcliffe and maintained by a host of imitators, perhaps the most extensive Gotliic type in which superstitious dread is aroused by constant, dim suggestions of the supernatural — as constantly explained away ; and lastly, the works of the Schauer-Romaiitiks or The School of Horrt)r, distinguished by lurid violence and crudity. Walpole adumbrated t)ic machinery and characters of a Gothic story ; Miss Reeve designed the characteristic Gotliic ghost in an English setting ; while Mrs. Radcliffe spreafl over all the warm colours of her romantic imagination. The later Schauer- Romandk writers were less concerned with atmosphere and suggestion than the bold machinery of animated corpses. Eventually die two Gothic streams of ‘ terror * and ‘ horror ’ met in the genius of Cliarlcs Robert Maturiii.

Readers of the Gothic novel w^rc able to consume increasing quantities of sensation as their appetite for terror demanded a succession of grosser stimulants. The later (iothic phase traverses a w^holc spectrum of horror : the Oriental and exotic horror of Ecckford’s Vathek, the throbbing physical horror of Godwin’s Caleb Williams and St. Leon, the dismal cliarncl house horrors of* Monk ’ Lewis, the weird quasi-scientific horror of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and the carnal vampire horror of Polidori. But ihevitably a point was reached when there were no new worlds of the macabre to conquer, and the Gothic novelist had perforce to indulge in an unwholesome profusion of ghastly and decadent realistic detail. The pullulating horror of the Schaucr-Romantik phase was not a mere excrescence or pathological accident, but consequent upon laws of literary psychology. Thus literary' Gothic describes a full circle from realism verging on romance in Smollett’s Ferdinand Count

Fathom, through the sustained romances of Walpole aJid Mrs. Radcliffe,

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QUEST OF THE NUMINOUS : THE GOTHIC FLAME 207

gradually returning to' realism in Lewis, Godwin, and other Schauer- Romantiks.

The Gothic novel was animated by the spirit of Gothic art. Kusldn, in The Stones of Venice^ enumerated various characteristics that make up the soul of the Gothic. Placed in order of their importance, they arc, as he described them : Savageness, Changefulncss, Naturalism, Grotesque- ness, Rigidity, and Redundance. These may be applied to fiction thus :

  • savageness ’ is in its broadest sense manifest in Walpole’s Otranto ;

‘ changcfiibicss ’ indicates the variety and intricate structure of plots in the Gothic novel ; ‘ naturalism ’ was evident in the pastoral settings of Mrs. R adcliffe, and ‘ grotesqucncss or the tendency to delight in the fantastic and morbid, was a feature of Scliaucr-Romantiks like Lewis and Maturin.

Walpole’s novel supplied an impetus and vigour to the commence- ment of the Gothic revival, and gave its literature a form and fashion. The acorn planted by him grew and proliferated, until the thickly inter- twining branches overarched a large expanse. One limb of this mighty tree is Mrs. Ann Radcliife, whose genius, despite changing literary fashions, continues to preserve her masterpieces alive. The Romance of the Forest still gives unfailing delight : The Italian is no mean example of a forceful psychological study ; whilst the very title, The Alysteries of Udolphoj has passed into proverb. Another branch, luxuriant with churchyard ivy, is Matthew Gregory Lewis w^hosc macabre talents gave The Monk such enduring uoiorictv that it ran into several editions. Maturin’s Mchnoth the Wanderer^ at the apex of all these branches, is vigorous even today. Other lesser, crowding branches, once quick and green, have become dead w^ood and fallen away, to be gathered only by collectors of such curios.

The Gothic novel was at its comelicst and best during the 1790’s, after which it was handicapped by popular prejudice, by the pedantny of reviewers, and the vagaries of its producers themselves. By 1 840 the vogue of the serial novel was finally established, as a|lpears from the generally increased dependence of the n; n>;.izincs upon serial fiction. The Gothic Romaiice was not a hasty mushroom that sprang up out of a reactionary desire for fetid sensation. It decayed, but only after a normal cycle of htcrary growth ; its ripeness was exotic, but the result of a gradual maturing ; and in its fiorcscent period it bloomed in works of intrinsic merit and beauty.

The full-blown Gothic novel is distinguished by three individual


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qualities : the subjectivity of the writer ; a love of the picturesque later turning into a passion for the supernatural and horrible ; and thirdly, it is also a barometer of reaction against the preceding age of literature, not proudly and fiercely rebellious as in France, but recording a gentle and unconscious revulsion.

Like the collapse of many mighty empires the realm of Gothic fiction crumbled away, yet it exercised an enormously potent sway over the realm of Englisli literature. It coloured Fnglisli poetry, shaped the succeeding dramas, and fashioned the technique of English prose. Out of a ‘ gothic ’ mould came succeeding melanchohc literature, witli its pleasantly harrowing tales of ill-starred love, and death, and deserted souls grieving eternally ; drama which was pitifully tragic, and lyrics that were despairing ; lengthy novels stuffed out with disasters and bespattered with the bleeding fragments of warm hearts.

• Gothic literature to a great extent shaped the style, material, an^ spirit of early nincteendi-century romantic poetry, the gruesome and grotesque elements in its stage-setting, its depiction of character and external nature. The Gothic novel left its mark on that enormous school of sensational fiction which flourished rougldy from 1830 to fsSo, or perhaps one might even venture on a later date. The sensational novel of the Victorian era, wliich relied pnmarily on an appeal to fear, and whose narrative texture of villainy, violence, and crime included the delineation of nuicli that was abnormal, terrible, and hideous, is a direct lineal descendant of the Gothic novel. I'hc Gothic manner w'as inherited essentially unchanged in tJic w iirks of Bui wer Lytton, Harrison Ainsworth, and the far finer artistic productions of Le Farm and other writers of macabre talcs. Thus one may say that the Gothic romance had a tonic influence on English literature.

Previously scant attention had been paid to the scenery in the novel. Mrs.* Kadcliffe set the style for morose landscapes, as Walpole had for gloomy castles. The writers of ‘ Gothic ’ gave to the English novel the technique of a dark impressionistic portrayal of Nature and the power of harmonizing tempests of the soul with extcnial storms.

The Gothic novel had a good historical and psychological justification for its origin : it was neither a sudden bursting wave nor a spontaneous revolution ; rather it was the outcome of an organic development with wide^spreading roots penetrating deep into the past. Romance, bom out of a spark of reaction, glowed with a steady numinous flame, fanned by the interplay of forces within and without, by the speculations and


QUEST OF THE NUMINOUS : THE GOTHIC FLAME 209

philosophies of Germany and France, countries to whicli English minds gave as much as they took, and all were enriched in the exchange. The revival of interest in heroic romances, Shakespeare, Spenser, and Milton, provided a fit vessel, and dissatisfaction with the realistic novels of the mid-eighteenth century supplied the fuel.

The last four decades of the eighteenth century record the upsurge of a “ Renascence of Wonder that affected Poetry, Painting, Gardening, and Architecture. The Gothic novel was an early expression of that movement which carried all Europe into a century of new thoughts and new strivings. “ Many qualities in cightcenth-ccntur)" art and life ”, says Oswald Doughty, “ combined with the great renaissance of imagina- tion to form the romantic revival.”

Romanticism insists upon aspiration, yearning desire, mystery and wonder, and from those essential elements spring the colour and char- aetcristics of the Gothic novel. It drew attention to new aspects of reality, and offered a fuller vision of life. Its yearning for the loveliness of die past was bom out of a passionate desire for die beautiful, and it struck an entrancing note of wonder and mystery, mingling themes of night, moonlight and dreams, seeking in the strange, mysterious Middle Ages an atmosphere remote and ideal. The ages of cliivalry and strange, incredible adventures, were a domain which fancy created and imagina- tion ruled. And in this enchanted land of mystery, beauty lay hid and wonder lurked. It initiated a new interest in medieval literature, in myths, folk-tales, ballads, and medieval romances of chivalr^^ The enlightened age, tired of too much light, was being attracted by the sootliing and alluring mystery of die Dark Ages ”,

The nucleus of any art form has been explained by Nietzsche as the interaction of two impulses, ilie Apollonian and the Dionysian. The Apollonian spirit embodies the artisdc instinct for order and individuation, the Dionysian urge restores man's communion with nature and irratitnial primitive forces. If from the benign smile of Apollo sprang August^i classicism, from the frenzied tears of Dionysus originated the romantic beauties of literature. From out of the desolavion and languor of Augustan culture, where the vigorously brandling roots lay covered in dust, sand, torpid and languishing, the Gothic novelists struck a magic Dionysian spring and literature sprouted full and green and luxuriantly alive. ” Having been shut up for a century in a cage of sceptical indifference,” says Edmund C5osse, “ the spirit of man w^as blinded by the light and staggered, bewildered by such strange phenomena.” The Gothic


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novelists touched the concealed, glorious, intrinsically healthy, primeval power that lay restlessly palpitating under the sophistications and form of the Augustan age.

During the earlier decades of the eighteenth century a stiff and starched formality had been more and more definitely imposed upon both poetry and prose. Those influences which had taught a flamboyant but none die less untidy literature a certain decorum and restraint, had in their turn become paralysed in a deathlike rigour. The Gothic novel was a symptom of general reaction against the forces of an exhausted Augustanism, and part of the movement which relaxed the classical restraints and widened the range of human sympathies, inciting literary minds to original, creative activity. Occasionally tinged with whimsi- cality and passion, often chaotic yet full of ivonders, these novels are a key to the imaginative vision of a thrilling world and the exciting fevelations of the unconscious. Immensely stimulating to the cramped fancy of the age, these fictions alone were strong enough to break the limitations of polished intellectual poetry and restore the fanciful, the terrible, and die sublime.

The rise <^f the (lOtliic novel may be connected with dcpra\tty, and a decline of religion. The sense of guilt, psychologists tell us, is deeply rooted in man, and when a religion loses its hold upon men’s liearts, they must find some other outlet for their sense of guilt. It may be that the Gothic novelist experienced a sort of catharsis or mithridatic purging of his fears and self-questionings in the portrayal of horrors which proceeded from the frenzy of the creative brain, and perhaps comforted himself by suggesting that life is a mystery which death solves, and whose horrors fade away as a tale that is told. Perhaps his animal faculties of fear and inquisitiveness demanded a vent. But undoubtedly the Gothic romances were never born out of pure perversity, nor were they the mere titillation of jaded senses.

' It remains to ascertain why horror so forcibly invaded literature just at this period. • The late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries have been recognized as, in all essentials, dominated by a strict concept of reason, that banished the emotional aura of religion and reduced the Deity to a clockwork I^rime Mover of the Universe. The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw a new recognition of the heart’s emotions and a reassertion of die numinous. It was these factors that produced the ‘ Gothic ’ horror. Like Love, Horror is an individual, primal emotion ; and it was a revival of pure emotion that these authors


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essayed within the isolated framework of the frowning castle and smiling meaidow, with plots designed solely for emotional effect. Their hanker- ing for emotion after an ultra-reasonable age demanded the crudest, most violently contrasted expression : it resembles the exaggeratefd, spontaneous reaction of children to tlic horror of the obscure and inexplicable, to giants and goblins.

In particular, these novels indicate a new, tentative apprehension of the Divine. Monastic life was no longer believed in, but at least it recalled the Ages of Faith and the alluring mystery of their discipline. The ghosts and demons, the grotesque manifestations of the supernatural, aroused the emotions by which man had first discovered his soul and realized the presence of a Being greater far than he, one who created and destroyed at wdll. Man*s first stirring of rcligiv>us instinct was his acute horror of this powerful Deity — and it was to such primitive emotion that he reverted, emancipated from reason, but once agaiq ignorant of God, his spiritual world in chaos.

Primarily the Gothic novels arose out of a quest for the numinous. They are characterized by an awxstruck apprehension of Divine imman- ence penetrating diurnal reality. This sense of the numinous is an almost archetypal impulse inlierited from primitive magic. The Gothic quest was not merely after horror — a simple succession of ghastly incidents could have satisfied that yearning — but after other-worldly gratification. These novelists WTre seeking a \frisson nouveau \ a \frisson ’ of the super- natural. Thcy’^ were mo dug aw'ay from the arid glare of rationalism towards the beckoning shadows of a more intimate and mystical interpret tation of life, and this they encountered in the profound sense of the numinous stamped upon the arcliitecturc, paintings, and fable of the Middle Ages. The consequent “renaissance of wonder” created a W'orld of imaginative conjiurings in which the Divine was not a theorem but a mystery filled wdrh dread. The phantoms that prowl along <hc corridors of the haunted castle w’uuld have no more power to awe thin the rats behind fluttering tapestries, did they not bear token of a realm that is revealed only to man's mystical appi-rception, his source of all absolute spiritual Vulues.

Supernatural manifestations have the power to fascinate and appal, for they touch the secret springs of mortal apprchf*nsion which connects our earthly with our spiritual being. Superstitions like the appearance of the dead among the living are perhaps most touching, since they excite a cold and shuddering sympathy for die strange beings whom we


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niay ourselves resemble in a few short years. They arc mute witnesses of our alliance with a greater power and make us aware of our fleshly infirmity and our higher destiny. As wc listen with a tremulous eagerness to the echoes from beyond the grave, our curiosity and awe assume the immensity of passions. As Schopenhauer said, men arc mere phantoms and dream pictures ; “ golden dreams hover over our cradle, and shadows thicken round the natural descent of the aged into the grave All that appears real about us is but die thiniu'^t shadow of a dream : in Nietzsche’s words, “ undemeath this reality in which we live and have our being, another and altogether different reality lies concealed ”.

Man’s spirit dicreforc feeds on mystery, and his soul is quickened by the icy touch of fear, for he experiences pure terror only ivhcn confronted by die dim, indestructible world of the supernatural. The quiverings of spirit which arc base when prompted by things sordid and earthly, become sublime when inspired by a sense of the visionary and immortal. The Gothic novelists strike a union between our spiritual curiosities and venial terrors, and mediate between the world without us and the world within us ; they make external nature redolent of noble associations and clothe the affections of the human heart with a spiritual digjiifyr.

The spirit world is not the illusion of a dreaming brain ; feelings of belief in life after deadi give energy to virtue and stability to principle. These novels enable us to comprehend, perhaps, the sublimity of that Deity who first called us into being, and thus elevate us above the evils of this world by granting us the sense of being the centre of powers more than earthly. The Gothic novel appeals to die night-side of the soul. As wc close its pages we shudder at the horrifying talcs of Satanic spirits and accursed beings, of mortals endowed with diabolical powers, and w'C recognize the evils of the soul that they represent. All the main ‘ gothic ' characters share the unreality and eerincss of ghosts. The same ‘ othcr- WQrldliness the same terrifying aloofness from common mortality exhales from Mary Shelley’s ‘ Monster ’ and the Wandering Jew of the Ahasuerus legend.

The authors of these works stand in the same relation to the reality of dreams as the philosopher to the reality of existence. Wc discover our larger life in dreams, and the Gothic novel lifts us from die narrow rut and enables us to join the unspaced firmament ; it adds eternity to our trivial hours ; and gives a sense of infinity to our finite existence. In short, it evokes in us the same feelings diat the Gothic cathedrals evoked in medieval man.


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“ Bcncatli the multiTarious crotchets and pinnacles, with which the Gothic novelists adorned his fictional fantasies, lay certain general principles of structure,’* says Michael Sadleir. In texture and design these novels echo the intricate workinansliip of Gothic cathedrals. These authors build their tales around suggestive hints and dim pictures ; their pastoral scenes and complicated adventures are dcfdy related to the final catastrophe. Their masterly ordering of incidents, their contribution to the structure of the novel as an art form, is distinctive and impressive. The Gothic novel was not a cul-de-sac, but an important arterial develop- ment of the novel.

These novelists were the first to perceive and emphasize the dramatic method which has since become a platitude of narrative tlieory. Their methods and technique inspired Scott’s feelings for individual scenes, led to the use of dramatic methods by Victorian novelists, the use of suspense in short stories by Poe and his successors, and eventually the mystifications and solutions of the modern detective novels and thrillers.

To bring the supernatural palpably into a scene, requires a bold experiment on the part of the novelist, and necessitates a long note of preparation and a whole train of circumstances that may gradually and insensibly lull the mind to an implicit credence. A scries of incidents alone is, however, not enough to evoke terror ; these have to make a strong impression on the mind. The Gothic novelist knew the poten- tialities of his art, and achieved his effects by one of two methods : the reahstic or the poetic. The first attempted to produce .1 semblance of fact by means of detailed description or by pretence to a logical sequence of reasoning ; the second aimed at arousing a poetic faith of the kind that Coleridge called “ a willing suspension of disbelief'’. Tlie Gothic novelists adopted cither or both methods and reinforced effects by skilfully and powerfully agitating the reader’s feelings.

One may justly assert that the true interest in story form came only with Gothic fiction. By bringing in new interest and excitement, it gave the novel an unprecedented populari'^v which has not waned even to this day. The very titles of novels published between 1740 and 1760 show how realistic fiction veered round the Hfe of an individual person- ality, tlie chief source of interest, while all the audiors laid a general emphasis on the truthful portrayal of contemporary Hfe. Dr. Huffinan considers the “ four broad principles ” governing English iioveHsts of the cighteentli century. They arc : die statement of a moral purpose.


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the truthful depiction of contemporary Englisli life, the constant pre- dominance of reason and common sense, and the observance of probability in plot, characters and machinery.

Smollett, in his dedication in Ferdinand Count Fathom^ defines the scope of a novel and states that although a novel should achieve the realistic portrayal of life, it must provide for a leading character as a focal point of production : “ A Novel is a large diffused picture, comprehend- ing the characters of life ... for the purposes .of an uniform plan, and general occurrence, to which every human figure is subservient. But this plan cannot be executed with propriety, probability, or success, without a principal personage to attract the attention, unite the incidents, unwind the clue of the labyrinth.’* The picaresque novel had emphasized action in and for itself, but the Gothic novelists used ‘ action ’ to contrive and resolve complications of plot. As Scott pointed out ; “ the force, tjierefore, of the production lies in the delineation of external incident, while die characters of the agents . . . arc entirely subordinate to the scenes in w'hich dicy arc placed.”

Now, when the force of production hinges upon external incident, there is a new emphasis upon a careful placing of the incidentt, which are striking and impressive, so as to sustain the interest of the long narrative. According to Mrs. Barbauld : ” die unpardonable sin in a novel is dullness : however grave or wise it may be, if its author possesses no powers of amusing, he has no business to write novels.”

When Walpole added dramatic effects to the old fairy-tales, he evolved a new technique in fiction, based on the principle of suspense. These books were the first to establish ‘ suspense ’ as the major ingredient in a novel, and their deliberate and artistic manipulation of this new tool of their craft is something quite different from the methods of Richardson and Fielding. Dr. A. C. Ketdc emphasizes that “ the works of great novelists of the eighteenth centur)' never depended for effect on die uifexpccted, except in the sense of verbal wit and incongruous situation in comedy ”. But the critics with their usual tardiness were not ready to accept the quality of suspense as a necessary concomitant of the novel : “ The story of a novel should be formed of a variety of interesting incidents ; a knowledge of the world and of mankind are essential requisites of the writer. . . . Sentiments should be moral, r haste and dehcatc . . . language easy, correct, elegant,” we read in the Monthly Review (1790). There is no mendon here of suspense or excitement.

The ardstic manipulation of suspense in the Gothic talcs developed


QUEST OF THE NUMINOUS ! THE GOTHIC FLAME 21 5

along various lines. First we meet with the black veil method of Mrs. Raddific : Emily in The Mysteries of Udolpho quivers in front of a dark velvet pall which uncamiily sways in the nocturnal wind. She draws aside the veil to confront a hideous corpse, putrid and dropping to decay. Again in the chamber of the dead Marchioness she shivers before the inky curtains, and perceives the folds moving unaccountably, when suddenly a repulsive face peers out at her. Inexplicable music forms another common device for creating suspense. Mysterious disappearances likewise increase the tension. Lights that glimmer and fade away, doors which open and close without any mortal aid, and groans' and wails of unexplained origin heighten the effect. Dread secrets b^f-rcvealed at the hour of death, and mysterious manuscripts half-deciphered in failing light, likewise stimulate intense curiosity.

The technique of spot-lighting individual scenes, another contribution of the Gothic novel, has already been touched upon. Certain pictures dp stand out from the rest strongly enough, amidst all the eddies and whirl- pool of incidents, for the reader’s imagination to remain focused on tlicm.

Indirectly, by tracing in fiction the progress and consequence of one strong, indulged passion, another trait adopted from the drama, they gave an impetus towards that science of psychology which was to turn into a craze and fashion a hundred years hence. They forecast the technique of the future novel by presenting certain subde studies of character-physiognomy. Thus, by portraying mental states and emotions of characters, they enlarged the scope of the novel, and by sounding the whole gamut of fear, pointed towards the psychological novel of over a century later.

The Gothic villains arc a prime examj. e of their creator’s instinctive feeling for psychologically interesting characters who yet meige with the pervading theme of the supernatural. We can distinguish three types of Gothic villain . the character of Manfred fashioned by Walpole in 1764, a type composed of ambitious tyranny and unbridled passion, who developed through Lord Lovcl of Clara Reeve’s The Old English Baron ; the early villains of Mrs. Rad/hfFe, culminating in Count Montorio of Maiurin and the character of Guzman in Melmoth the Wanderer, and also another descended from Karl Moor, the chieftain of Schillei’s Robbers (1781). The latter type presents an “ imposing figure ”. He is an outlaw, a Rousseauistic sentimentalist, a humanitarian who combats life’s injustices, follies, and hypocrisies. Haunted by a sense of loneliness, helplessness, and despair, similar Victims of Destiny arc La


THE GOTHIC FLAME


2X6

Motte in The Romance of the Forest^ Falkland m Caleb Williams^ and in St. Leon, the, disfigured, misanthropic outlaw captain.

The third type of Gothic viUain is the terrible * superman ’ whose ways lie in darlmess and whose strength originates far beyond mortal thought. He is a new mintage of the Satan portrayed by Milton in Paradise Lost — ^the immortal outcast, a masterful, vaunting villain, his spirit unbroken even in defeat. He is the Rosicrucian, die Alchemist staking his very life on some dark hope, and beliind him is all the mystery of Cabbala, Freemasonry, Mceiieval Satanism. This Miltonic superman appears in these novels for the first time in Eblis, ruler of the realm of despair in Beckford’s Vathek (1786). Nine years later Lewis introduced Lucifer in The Monk. Scliemoli, die villainous monk of Maturin’s Family of Montorio (1807) is obviously modelled upon his formidable predecessor Schedoni, Mrs. Raddiffe’s physical superman endowed Vith a ruined aristocratic past and mysterious intellectual power.

These three main types have been presented in order of increasing complexity. Manfred, a kind of wicked baron born out of fairy-tale, becomes the Victim of Destiny, a supersensitive being drawn to evil against his better will, impelled by blind Fate ; a character who senti- mentalizes over bygone days. The superman combines the qualities of both — ^Manfred assumes a gigantic physique and overwhelming motive, and the Victim of Destiny is now presented as the victim of injustice. Like Satan or the Ghost-Seer he has tempted fate, or has a Faustian compact imposed on him hke the Wandering Jew. Paying an out- rageous price for enormous benefits, he usurps his powers, then wraps his suffering in proud and lonely gloom. These three main types arc fluid concepts which continually interact, though not annihilating distinction, for the Gotliic villain remains to the last not a bundle of characteristics, but a set of characters. For the most part he is all melo- drama and extravagant emotion, designed to excite the last possible tWinge of sensation. His gradual development illustrates increasing skill in the art'of romance. In him w'c see also the emergence of the

  • Romantic ’ character — an alien soul solacing itself in occult experiments

with forbidden sciences or unscrupulous deeds. Lastly, the Gotliic villain, like Frankenstein’s monster, destroyed its creator, the Gothic novel

Interpreted in its social context, the Gothic novel is a subtle and complex aesthetic expression of the spirit of Europe in revolutionary fennent. It is the most characteristic literary expression of the orgy of


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mental and emotional excitement that accompanied the French Revolu- tion and grew out of the Industrialization of Britain. * Since it is an expression of die late eighteenth-century Zeitgeist^ aspiring towards a more individual, spiritual world, an examination of it illuminates certain important aspects of the period.

The ‘ fantastic ’ in literature is the surrealistic expression of those historical and social factors which the ordinary chronicle of events in history does not consider significant. Such " fantasia ’ express the profoundcst, repressed emotions of the individual and society. John Draper has observed diat the existence or the lack of social tranquillity . . . govi rns both the amount of literature producible and the types of literature produced ”.

The Marquis de Sade, in his preface to Lcs Crimes dc V Amour (t8oo), expressed the following opinion on the Gothic no\'el : “ Then there are the new novels, nearly whose whole merit lies in magic and phantas- magoria, with the Monk at their head, which are not entirely without merit ; dicy are the fruit of the revolution of which all Europe felt the shock.” Andre Breton considers the Gothic novels pathognominic of the social turmoils which agitated the w'holc of Europe towards the end of the eightcentli century. Michael Sadlcir finds the Gothic romance as much an expression of a deep subversive impulse as was the French Revolution.

Whether or not die principles underlying the French Revolution consciously aft'ected the oi’tlook of the Gothic novelists and widened their conception of life, is difficult to piove, yet one may say that these works arc symptomatic of the confused feelings of nostalgia and terror awakened by the times, sublimated by a purely artistic impulse. It would perhaps not be wrong to state that Rc'iiianticism and Revolution arc fundamentally manifestatioiLS of the same impulse. There is an unconscious indefinable relationship between the Terrors of the Frciich Revolution and the Novel of Termr in England. The excitement and insecurity engendered by the French Revolution did quicken die nerves of literature, and the Gothic novelists wen not immune from these tremors. Montague Summers shrewdly notes : “ Readers, it is presumed, delighted in imaginary terrors whilst the horrors of the French Revolution were being enacted all about them.”

Bodi in England and over the Coiitiiicut dark shadows were lowering ; tilt times were difficult, full of anxiety at the tremendous energies which were seething. Wider vistas were opening, new ideas fermenting <;.F. — 16


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in literature as in life. In France, unrestrained licence, rapine, and deeds of violence prevailed. It was such a period tliat produced the Marquis de Sade whose abnormal genius found vent in the composition of such romans noir whose pages of flagrant obscenity express his wild, erotic dreams. Harriet Jones, in her Preface to The Family of Santraila (1809), defends horrors on the grounds that they arc reflections of the horror of vice and depravity. Yet while the writers were conscious of the decadence of the old order, the future seemed to offer them no hope. Bewildered and desperate, caught in the vortex of an evolving social structure, their individual frustration emerged in scenes of violence and horror.

The prominent Gothic motif of the ‘ ruin ’ may be explained as being symbolic of the collapse of the feudal period ; the phantom tha^wanders along the corridors of the haunted castle symbolizes the inexplicable fear of the return of bygone powers ; the subterranean passages arc the dark alleys through which the individuals stumble as they moVc towards die light ; in the soiuid of thunder and in stormy settings there is the rumbling note of a distant camion. As Michael Sadlcir puts it : “ A ruin expresses the triumph of chaos over order. . . . Creepers and weeds, as year by year they riot over sill and paving stone, defy a broken despotism : every coping stone that crashes from a castlobattlcmeiit into the undergrovrth beneath is a small victory^ for liberty, a snap of the fingers in the face of autocratic power.” None tlic less the ‘ ruin * motif was expressive of the Gothic cult of the picturesque. “ 1 dote on ruins,” says a character in Mrs. Parson’s Lnry, “ there is something sublime and awful in die sight of decayed grandeur, and large edifices tumbling to pieces.”

The Gothic romance with its ruined abbeys, frowning castles, haunted galleries, and feudal halls, its patliless forests and lonely landscapes, records a revolt against die oppressive materialism of the time. Pictures of lofty and craggy hills, silent and solitary as the grave, stand as noble contrast to the bustling cities dark with smoke. This escape was a complete reaction against the unpleasant murkiness of industrial civiliza- tion. Everywhere there is a constant contrast presented between peasant simplicity and aristocratic decadence in the works of Mrs. Radcliflc. This idyllic pastoral society and love of mountains arc interlinked in the Gothic novels : Godwin’s hero indulges his melancholy among Welsh mountains, Mrs. Radcliflc sets her scenes of rustic simplicity on the heights of Alps and Pyrenees, while Frankenstein’s monster seeks refuge in Ac lonely hills. Elizabeth Cullen Brown, in The Sisters of St. Gothard


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(1819), says, A short reflection seems to convince me that virtue, benevolence, and all social and moral good, have fled the higher orders of society, and taken refuge in these happy mountains.” Their idealiza- tion of the simple life and rural community was a marked and direct influence of Rousseau. It is curious and interesting to note that most of the idealized peasant communities arc set in the verdure of Switzerland, a small, pastoral, traditionally independent and democratic country.

The Gothic novel also partakes of the general trends of contemporary ethics and religious thought. In the eightcentli century the Roman Catholic Cliurch made its last great attempt at universal domination. Religion had earlier allied itself with political despotism : in France under I^ouis XIV, and in England under the later Stuarts. Montague Summers, who has particular qualifications to comment on the subject, says, “ in die eighteenth century in France, monastic life, tainted by the general corruption, was at its lowest ebb The religious quarrels of the Commonwealth period in England, consumed by their own violence, engendered a scepticism which took the form of deism. Deism sought to equate ‘ reason ’ with ‘ nature * as the basis of religious thought just as reasc^n was the basis of that secular spirit of scientific inquiry which criticized prevailing dogma and questioned the authenticity of the supernatural : and since religion was to be justified by empirical natural reasoning. Deism found its first definite expression in England.

Although Catholicism alone is never used by Gorliic novelists as a means of evoking terror, and aldiough there arc no direct theological attacks, die implication is always that leligion when abused becomes a horrible and ghastly perversion. Thus it is tlie incidental vestments, not the doctrine of Catholicism, that serve as a source of terror.

There is a charm about the sweet seehisiou of a Catholic monastery and pious convent life, but the tortures and atrocities behind its walls make the heroines resolute in rejecting the veil. They dread seclusion from the cheerful intercourse of society and pleasant view's of nature,* to be immured in silence to practi:c a life of rigid austerity, •abstinence, and penance, condemned to forgo the delights of the world. The monastery lias two visages : sweet and comforting is tin; angelic presence of the Abbess of St. Clair to Emily St. Aubert when her father is dead, but the face of Schedoni hidden under a dark cowl inspires dread in the heart of Ellcna. The monastic ga«b often envelops the heart of an assassin ; the walls of a cloister enclose tlie sullen misery of its votaries.

These novels portray their favourite theme of the sufferings of the


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unmlling nun in her convent prison, pining m the mute anguish of despair. Common knowledge of the existence of immoral nuns began the fashion for the most violent of the anti-Catholic novels, so that die cloister and the convent became symbols of horror and immorality. In The Monky Ambrosio dreams of his mistress and awakens to find she has the face of the Virgin Mary. The Monk thus illustrates religious perversion by the blasphemous associations of the Holy Virgin with the Monk’s mistress. The Spaniard’s tale in Mclmoth the Wanderer is fundamentally a treatise against the omnipotence of the Catholic Church, the fount of all evils and misery — symbolizing all the sinister potentiahty of Evil. Maturiii, with an avowed atheism, hurls a wild and fiend-likc acrimony of satire. The Inquisition remains one of the stock sources of horrpr in die Gothic novel, a tremendous monument of the power, crime, and gloom of the human mind.

This gothic movement towards fantasy and romance especially gaw: a fresh lease of life to the whole race of story-spinners and story-readers. The literate public of Addison’s time had been small, closely limited both geographically and socially. Addison had been anxious “ to bring philosophy out of closets, schools, and colleges, to dwell in cli^s and assemblies, at tea-tables, and in coffee-houses Now “ the novel . . . played a prominent part in developing die reading public says A. S. Collins. Better communications had broadened horizons both geo- graphically and socially, while Romanticism and fRiinanitarianisin discovered the need for education, and education created a more extensive reading public. Helen S. Hughes p^nnts out tliat “ out of this combina- tion of wealth, leisure, and education, emerged a new-reading public . . . not too sophisticated, ready to be entertained ”.

At the end of Chapter 26, volume 8, of his Popular History of England, Charles Knight quotes an estimate by Burke that in the final decade of the* eighteenth century habitual readers in England numbered from 8cr,ooo to 90,000. Professor W. P. Trent, an acknowledged authority 011 the minutiae of eighteenth-century bibliography, has the opinion tliat the estimate is too small. By now the profession of letters was recognizably established, theoretically free from die whims of a patron, but more than ever dependent on the taste of a public. The novelists understandably tended to give the public what it wanted.

It would appear, thcrcfi)re, that the development of a largei reading public determined the quality and standards of literature towards the close of the cightcenlli century.


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Gothic fiction wa» the mainstay and possibly the creator of the popular circulating library, which in its turn sustained Godiic fiction. Fashionable, they were in dieir day to be found on the* shelves of every circulating library, in both town and country, and they. were devoured with delicious thrills and exquisite dread by whole armies of enraptured readers, the ranks being filled with women and girls who had nothing else to do. These novels were read and reread on every side by school- boys, by prentices, by servant girls, by the whole of that vast population which longed to be in the fashion, to steep dicmselvcs in die Gothic romance.

They were admittedly popular fare ; thus one cannot argue that they lapsed into oblivion and are consequently unworthy of study because they are not interesting. Rather they consumed themselves in their own violence, and died not from ennui but exhaustion, tlieir essence distilled in the Romantic Movement.

Certain modem myths liave grown up around Gothic roman<?c. Dr. Kettle says the Gothic School has become “ an exotic laboratory for experiments in the darkest mysteries of human and superhuman evil It is significant that the leaders of the most modem — and not the least advertised — of modern movements, Surrealism, loudly announce their legitimate descent from the Gothic novelists, from wliom, as they teU us, they derive dieir essential ideas, their symbolism and sentimcnral forms. Nevertheless, in the last chapter of The Gothic Quests Montague Summers asserts that such a claim cannot be justified. ** The claims put forward by the Surrealists that their new movemenr is influenced by and draws vital inspiration from the Gotliic romance are sufficiently surprising to necessitate an inquiry into the significance and quality of this connexion — if indeed any such there be.”

The surrealistic methods employed by Walpole have already been discussed. The Gothic novelists produced surrealistic effects by^ the extensive use of grotesque contrast. Walpole had introduced the tracks of light and shade, colour and line, in his novel. Mrs. Radcliffc juxtaposed sound and silence, a kind of surrealism of atmospheric suggestion : a dead calm precedes the horrors of her tcmpc. ^ sounds of retreating steps are followed by a stillness as of the grave, the music sinks low and faint as the afar off castle gates close at night and all grows still as death, a profound stillness marks die pauses of the surge breaking loud and hollow on die shore, the windows of the great hall aic dark and, the torch being gone, nothing glimmers in the pitchy night save a sohtary star. Even


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the £dnt, intermittent susurrus of leaves deepens the solemnity of silence. In the works of the Schauer-Romantiks, scenes of entrancing sweetness are balanced against episodes of gruesome horror ; the macabre accom- panies the voluptuous, as in the famous Dance of Death.

An important surrealistic tcclmique of ‘ telescoping ’ images is also employed by diese authors. These novels arc neither historical nor descriptive of ancient medieval manners, but essentially descriptive of the eighteenth century ; and the fantastic telescoping of the two may be called a surrealistic technique.

The main doctrine of the Surrealist school is that there exists a world more real than the normal world, and this is die world of the unconscious mind. Their aim is to achieve access to the repressed contents of the unconscious, and then to mingle these elements freely with tfie more conscious images. In fact they, like Freudian psychologists, find a key to the perplexities of life in die material of dreams.

Dreams do constitute a definite source of the macabre and undoubtedly they inspired a number of Gothic talcs. The Castle of Otranto was, as Walpole tells us, the result of an architectural nightmare. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was likewise bom out of a dream. Lafeadio Hearn, in his Interpretations of Literature, has asserted that all the best plots of iiucabre talcs originate in dreams. He advises the writers of supernatural thrillers to study the phases of dream life, for nightmares provide a fertile ground for such apprenticeship. He writes : “ All the great effects produced by poets and story-writers and even by religious teachers, in die treatment of the supernatural, fear or mystery liave been obtained direedy or indireedy from dreams.”

No doubt there is a strikingly dose relationship between dreams and supernatural impressions. Mystical prescticcs usually haunt one in nocturnal hours when one arises from slumber. A guilt-laden individual star^g up from sleep, imagines himself confronted widi the phantoms of those he has wronged. The lover beholds die spirit of his dead beloved, for perhaps in dreams his soul had gone in quest of her. Savages, primitive men and children cannot possibly distinguish between dream and reality. Dreams arc to them just actualities of experience. And it is impossible to prove that our dream life is altogether baseless and non-material.

Yet the real ancestry of Surrealism should be sought not so much in die Gothic novd as in its disintegrated form : die Gothic fragments of die early nineteenth century. These fragments are patchwork exercises in cvoldng atmosphere by discotmected episodes of terror. Neidier


QUEST OF THE NUMINOUS ! THE GOTHIC FLAME 223

accounting for their mysterious horron nor attempting the construction of a thrilling plot sequence, these evoke precisely the same feelings through die medium of words as do the paintings of Picasso, Marc Chagall, Chirico, Klee or Max Ernst.

There have been sporadic attempts to give a Freudian interpretation to Gothic motif and machinery. The present writer has not fully attempted this application, and dicrcfore camioc judge of its validity ; nevertheless it is necessary and interesting to note how the forces of nature as painted by the Gothic novelists arc capable of being given a Freudian twist. The turbulent settings in which the tempter appears in Gothic novels, combine “ in the highest degree the struggle between the instmet of death on die one hand, which, as Freud has shown, is also an instinct of preservation, and, on the other, Eros, who exacts after each human hecatomb the glorious rcstoratioii of life The thunder j^tself, by Its violence and loudness of pitch giving a profound physical stimulus to the ear, and ‘ lightning often known as a ‘ tliunderbolt ’ which has a sudden and supremely devastating power, have been associated with the most terrifying things possible : as Mr. Hugh Sykes Davies puts it, “ the magnified image of the enraged father An angered father tlireatening punishment is the symbol of all power and terror for a child ; for an adult * tliunder ’ no longer evokes die image of an angered father, but transforms itself into that of an angry God. The terror of death and the grave arc closely allied to the theological representation of die divimty as the God of Wrath. Even the spiral staircase Jus been called symbolic of neurotic sensibility.

Melancholy, gloom, rape, and spiritual sufferings have earned for these works their Continental title of ' /es romau'i tioit \ They arc in English fiction the first manifestation ot vhat Mario Pra7 has termed “ The Romantic Agony ” of literature, and what Dr. Kettle refers to as “ that often terrible exploration of the darker sides of the human Qiind and experience, which later finds expression in such a novel as Wuthetins Heights

Signor Praz has made a wide survey of French and English literature in the Romantic period and advances the v.cw that one of the most characteristic aspects of this literature is a peculiar “ erotic sensibility ” : a sensibility profoiuidly algolagiiic, obsessed with the idea of pleasure obtained through sadistic or masochistic cruelty. Commenting on Algolagnia, the relation of the sex impulse to pain, Montague Summers has remarked : ‘‘ It is probable that something of this masochistic feeUiig


224


THE GOTHIC FLAME


lies (perhaps quite unconsciously) at the root* of the fascination so universally exercised by uncanny tales of ghosts and spectres, which send hearers or readers to bed shuddering and glancing over their shoulders with delicious apprehension of a supernatural visitant.” Immalee says in Melmoth the Wanderer : “ I never fdt a pain tliat was not pleasure.”

It is possible tliat such sentiments expressed in the Gothic novel reflect the neurotic and erotic features of the age, and were the harmless release of that innate spring of cruelty which is present in each of us ; an impulse mysterious and inextricably connected ^ith the very forces of life and death. The persecution of innocent females, so much a feature of the Gotliic novels, is at bottom an erotic impulse.

Horror-romanticism has often been equated with perverted religious craving. The imagination of a neuropath like Matthew Gregory Lewis and his lascivious phantasies have led critics to think that those who are victims of a debased religious craving are also subject to erotic disturbr anccs. So persistently has the theme of incest — ^as in The Monk — ^invaded literature that one suspi'cts the dread of diis sin to be somehow deeply intertwined with the roots of primitive religion. In The Castle of Otranto there is a vague suggestion of incest ; Ambrosio ends by raping and murdering his sister in The Monk, and henceforward the incest theme seems to pass into the convenrion of the Gothic novel. Even Mrs. Radcliffe hovers around it in The Romance of the Forest, and this theme was used by Maturin in the Spaniard’s tale of Melmoth the Wanderer to further heighten the shocking situation.

Professor Dobree has called the eighteenth century “ a century of passion ”, which in spite of “ its superficial garniture of exquisite refine- ment, its veneer”, was “a brutal age”. The literary obsession witli erotic and psychological or sexual perversion may have been a fantastic and terrible reaction against the corrupt aristocratic society of the day. As Montague Summers notes : “ The eighteenth century was pre- eminently the century of systematized licentiousness . . . corrupt to the core. ... All social life was concentrated on the elegant accomplishment of the sexual act. Science, art, literature, fashion, conversation, lent their every aid to enhance and embellish physical desire. ‘ Pleasure, voluptuous pleasure, was the soul of the eighteenth century ’ cries de Goncourt. Phallic ecstasy almost became a religion as in the days of decadent Rome. It was an era of subtle artificiality, of powder and patches, silk and perfume, when the silken petticoat, the lace ruffle, and essenced hair proved more provocative by candlelight than clean nudity


QUEST OF THE NUMINOUS : THE GOTHIC FLAME 22 $

in the golden noontide* sun/’ The dose of the eighteenth century is marked by a crisis of feeling, of human emotion which coindded with a great political crisis, the upsurge of a great revolutionary movement. It gave birth to the myths of fatal men and women, from which devdoped a magnificent iconography of melancholia and algolagnia.

The Godiic romance is not concerned with a realistic approach to life. Character study and the sodal emotion of humour did not appeal to its authors. They aimed at awakening the twin emotions of Pity and Fear, but mainly Fear, as being more sublime. It must be acknowledged that Fear exerts a potent spell upon the human mind : horrid stories do impart a fearful joy. Human nature craves not only for amusement and entcrtaiipnent but also demands the more strenuous catharsis of pity and terror. The talc of terror appeals to some deeply rooted human instinct ; an irresistible, inexplicable impulse drives us towards the macabre. Man in the darkness of his ignorance is attracted mothlike by the fascination of weird and ceric themes pertaining to his own death. As is the glory of the dame for the moth, so “ our instincts of love and terror arc the foundations respectively of our sense of beauty and the sublime ”, says Edward Niles.

The tempestuous loveliness of terror exerted a powerful fascination for the Gothic novelists. Alonso, the Spaniard, in Mehnoth the Wanderer, remarks, in his description of the death of the parricide tom to pieces by die mob ; “ the drama of terror has the irresistible power of converting its audience into its victims ”, and “Alas ! in what moment of success do we not feel a sensation of terror ! ”

The attempt to acliieve Beauty through the medium of Terror, was ultimately an experiment with Burke’s theory that everytliing calculated to awaken mental images of agmiy, of damxer, or ol things giving the effect of fear, remains a profound source of the sublime. We feel that they practically demonstrated Burke’s theory of Fear and Sublimity# In his Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the SublUne and Beautiful (17.V7), Burke had already defined the range and scope of the “ .Ncfvel of Terror Mrs. Radcliffe adhered to his doctrine of the equivalence of the obscure, the terrible, and the sublime when she invoked feehngs of dread under the obscurity of the triple mantle of night, desolation, and gloom, and by not carrying the idea of pain and danger as far as violence sustained her sublimity, pioducing a delightful horror, a kind of tranquillity tinged witli terror. In her introductory essay to Sir Bertrand, a fragment (1773), Mrs. Barbauld attempts to explain how and why scenes of terror


226


THE GOTHIC FLAME


excite pleasurable emotions. She also discriminates between the scene of natural horror in Smollett’s Ferdinand Count Fathom and the marvellous and terrible incidents in Walpole’s Otranto,

The Gothic novelists led the readers to an ultimate state of terror through slow degrees of mounting suspense. The sublime terrors excited by great passions and catastrophes, approximate to the tragic emotions of pity and exaltation. Around these works hovers a spirit akin to that of tragedy, at least in the medieval and commonly accepted sense of a fall from high estate to misery and a wretched end. We cannot but feci our emotion go out towards Sdiedoni, Montoni, or Ambrosio in their hour of death. Villains they may have been, but we have been the constant spectators of their crimes and motives, and at the time of retribution we feel a deepening of understanding and sympathy.

Other properties of Burke’s Inquiry, the stern beauty of mountainous landscapes, cataracts, and soaring eagles, the grandeur of storms with clasliing thunder and lightning, the conflict of mighty nature’s elements, are used by the Gothic novelists to arouse tlic emotions of terror and horror. Threatening physical exposure to the harshness of I^aturc is purely agonizing, but when felt only by the imagination, the pain is overpowered by sublime pleasure.

This type of literature cliicfly concerned with the primitive excitement bom of danger, battle, pursuit, the supernatural, fearful events, and visions, and love, appeals to the widest circle and gratifies the desire of its readers for something greater than reality, something they may admire and in their dreams w'ould emulate.

If a work of art is die complement of life and a compensation for reality, if it docs satisfy the need for spiritual activity, which ordinary reality does not satisfy, and if its purpose be to purify language, their the Gothic novel is a legitimate art form. It revived our apprehension of life itself by enlarging our sensibility, making readers more conscious of the kinship of* terror and beauty and renewing aw'cstruck wonder at possible forms of being.

An extension of Burke’s theory produced the Beauty of the Medusa, beloved of the Schauer-Romantiks, a leprous beauty tainted with pain, corruption, and death. Walter Pater wrote of the Medusa, remembering Shelley’s verse : “ What may be called the fascination of corruption penetrates in every touch its exquisitely finished beauty.” Widi the group of Schauer-Romantik writers the very objects which should


QUEST OF THE NUMINOUS ! THE GOTHIC FLAME


227


induce a shudder — ^thc livid face of the severed head, the squirming mass of vipers, the rigidity of death, the sinister light, the repulsive animals, the lizard, the bat — all these give rise to a new sense of beauty, a beauty imperilled and contaminated, a new thrill ”, says Mario Praz.

There are scenes in the works of the Schaucr-Romantiks that are worthy the pencil of a Murillo, a Rosa, a Goya, or any of those painters, who, inspired by the genius of suffering, delight in representing the most exquisite of human forms in the extremity of human agony. Perhaps, as in Melmoth the Wanderer^ the Ught of the moon gives an effect of corpse-like beauty to such lurid paintings as depict

a St. Bardiolomew flayed, witli his skin hanging about him in a drapery — a StF Lawrence, broiled on a gridiron, and exhibiting his finely-formed anatomy on its bars, while naked slaves arc blowing the coals beneath it.

, These works have been slightingly described as “ not good books, whose vitality springs from an inner source, but poor books, on which the colour of Hfc was reflected from their readers For Dr. Arnold Kettle die Gothic romances lack “ depth and significance ”, and were written “ with the sole interest to give the public sensations Conso quendy he asks “ whedicr diis school . . . can in any valuable sense be taken seriously ” ; their * horror ’ is ** an escape, a titillation of often rather jaded senses ”.

He finds the ” uniformity of the type quite astonishing [and believes] that it is almost impossible to distinguish one author from another This statement may be valid for minor Gothic authors who reflect each other and make common use of stock situations and attitudes ; but the major ones were distinctive, their works represent different phases and types of Gothic fiction. Dr. Kettle has stated “ it is foolish to try to see the reflection of outside serious influences Yet it is possible to trace a definite stream of German and French influences that converged iidth English Gothic tradition in the Schauer-Romantik School of Horror. Pcrliaps it is die torrential spate of Gothic fiction which leads Dr. Ketde to presume that “ dicy were easier to w’rite But the deft artistry of their works and qualities already enumerated would be by no means plain sailing for any novelist, past or present.

It has been a commonplace criticism to say diat Gothic novels are tenuous productions that display no knowledge of human passions, nor observations of life and manners. A closer scrutiny reveals them as lovely and glorious fabrics of supernatural enchantment whose texture


228


THE GOTHIC FLAME


and dark hues are tpo delicate to have been v^ven upon the loom of ordinary life. We have hardly the right to dismiss them with a patroniTing smile» and a joking reference to subterranean passages, long-suffering maidens, vanishing lights, and creaking doors, when they appeal to man’s innate sense of the mysterious.

As a product of imagination and art the Gothic novel is by no means negligible, but it is important to realize that their appeal is emotional, not intellectual. Maturin writes in his Melmoth :

Let those who smile at me, ask themselves whether tliey have been indebted most to imagination or reality for all they have enjoyed in life, if indeed they have ever enjoyed anything.

And Mrs. Radcliffe had written earlier :

What ardent imagination ever was contented to trust to plain reasoning, or to the evidence of the senses ? It may not willingly confine itself to die dull truths of this earth, but, eager to expand its faculties, to fill its capacity, and to experience its own peculiar delights, soars after new wonders into a world of its own.

Arthur Macheii has observed :

Man is so made that all his true delight arises from the contemplation of mystery, and save by his own frantic and invincible folly, mystery is never taken from him ; it rises within his soul, a well of joy unending.

Fiction, like the Kingdom of Heaven, has many mansions, and con- sidered as a separate and distinct species of writing, the Gothic novel possesses merit and affords pleasure, nor can we hope to find the qualities of a Fielding in die works of Mrs. Radcliffe ; it is as if one were to demand mangoes of the grape vine.

Jit is true that the machinery of Gothicism creaks at times, and its phantoms stalk too mechanically, diat a tone and colour of unreality undermines its values. Yet one may still relish even die strangely attraedve absurdities of the School, and find pleasure in its outmoded fantasies and stucco supematuralism, its most bizzarc intrigues and baroque adventures, its language which is sometimes queerly coloured and patterned. While we may laugh at the statue from whose nose three drops of blood fell, and may not get a shiver from the portrait that walked out of its frame, these novels met the need of their times, which had not been met by the polished intellectualism of die Augustan age.


QUEST OF THE NUMINOUS : THE GOTHIC FLAME 229

These novels answered to a demand for something wild and primitive, exciting the primordial emotions.

Almost everyone at some time or other has felt strange forebodings agitating his soul, that have suggested to his fancy a presentiment of evil. His liigher faculties have recalled images and feelings long buried in tlie depths of liis mind, stalking like spectres from the past. The Gotliic novelists took these vague spiritual disturbances, and with psychological intuition allied them to a love of the picturesque and renewed feeling for Nature. The resulting effect is tliat they leave the faculties of mind infinitely more elevated and enlarged.

During die period when the forces of Christianity were nearly spent, and majeriahsni had dislodged spiritual values, the Gothic novelists planned their novels with an awareness of the Deity and the consciousness of a just Fate. Whether the hero and lieromc clasp chaste bands at the ajtar or go togcdier to the clay cold grave, the villains learn in due course that die wages of sin is death.

Mrs. Barbauld found that the Gothic novel “ is alivays ready to enliven the gloom of solitude, to soothe the languor of debility and disease, to wm die attention from pain or vexations . . . ” ; and while the panorama of life passes before us, it makes us forget the ordinar)’ turmoils of exist- ence. “ It is pleasant to the mind ”, she adds, “ to sport in the boundless regions of possibility ; to find rchef from the sameness of every-day occurrences by expatiating amidst brighter skies and fairer fields ; to exhibit love that is alivays happy, valour that is always successful ; to feed the appetite for wonder by a quick succession of marvellous events ; and to distribute, like a ruling providence, rewards and punishments which fall just where they ought to fall.”

The Gothic novel with its romantic liiireahties, its strange and sensational beauties, its far Rights of extravagance, w'as not only the Novel of Adventure but also the novel of Happy Escape for spirits uneasy or terrified before the menace of the future. If man had not his dreams die world would become hideously real, and man himself an intellectual automaton. We call our dreams Romance, and it was just this diat the Gothic novelists gave to their rc,idcrs. As Walpole wrote in one of his letters : ” Visions, you know, have always been my pasture. ... I almost think there is no w'isdom comparable to that of exchanging what is called the realities tif life for dreams. Old castles, old pictures, old histories, and the babble of old people, make one U\e back into centuries that cannot disappoint one.” As a reward, the reader — ^if not


230


THE GOTHIC FLAME


too resdess» too imf atient, and too modem — 'fniJl fmd that he is trans- ported back many a long year from this atomic age to a realm of magic and marvels, of knight-errantry and adventure, of combat and love, and surely that in itself is praise enough.

We escape into a world where anything may happen so long as it is terrible, where flashes of lightning are more frequent than sunlight, and where, if we are not poisoned with a magic potion in the second volume, wc arc probably stabbed with a jewelled dagger in die diird. It is a world, in fact, of ungoverned passions and hisses and swoons, a realm where laws and morals arc consumed in a blaze of passion. Even the parodist of the Gothic school of fiction, Eaton Stamiard Barrett, realized that “ Romances such as The Mysteries of Udolpho, T^ie Italian, and The Bravo of Venice, which address themselves to the imagination alone, arc often captivating, and seldom detrimental

A work of art brings back to us the freshness and spontaneity of the emotions of childhood, and evokes in us a long obliterated primitive sensibility. These novels arc in the nature of adult fairy-tales, and the reader feels like a traveller on enchanted grounds. Well has Madame de Chasteney , the French translator of Udolpho, remarked that “ the iiitenacing voices, the prolonged gloom, the fantastic effect of its [ Udolpho\\ terrors overwhelmed me once more like a child without my being able to discover the cause

It is not intricacy or balHcmetit tliat causes the Gothic romances to be read and reread with a never-diminishing tlirill when the slick novel of today is forgotten in an hour. It is the small boy in all of us sitting before an open fire, with the winter wind howding outside, while a diffused atmosphere of warmth Ungers behind the drawn curtains, which sets imagination aflame and keeps company with Gothic romance. There remains a naive simplicity about these tales in spite of all com- plerity of incident : the villain and die hero and the exquisite heroine, virtue rewarded and vice punished.

It is impossible to deny the art and deUcacy with which the writers of the Gothic school calculated thrills, the adroitness with which tliey utilized the devices of reticence and suggestion, and analysed the effects with the precision of a psychologist. And who can be obUvious to the sense of atmosphere they created ? The landscape, ruins, characters, costumes, light and shade, sound and silence ; all arc subdued by delicate touches to die key of emotion ; everything lulling the reader into the state of mind most in harmony with die incidents to be enacted. The


QUEST OF THE NUMINOUS : THE GOTHIC FLAME 23 1

Gothic novel afiects thc'hearts of its readers with an«almost holy serenity : the pure tints of light upon an overspreading atmosphere and darkness are most touching and most eloquent. Sometimes it casts a spell. We are really possessed and enchanted by die melancholy -winds and the voices of the days of old. The memory of the past times return, and the very accents of the deceased seem to murmur from the grave. These novels are of the nature of complex symphonies with the feeling of awe and fear among the dominant motives.

Having read them, they float in our memory, here and tliere freshly remembered in their better parts, the rest fading into the distance and half-forgotten ; on the whole, a plcasmg pageant of gloomy castles and ruined ^beys— moon-illumined caves and forests — dance and Provencal song, and sun-burnt mirdi, and aerial music floating over fairy-haunted meadows — or clioral chant of monk or nun, borne to the car over die still waters of the Adriatic or the placid Mediterranean.

These novels arc works of great charm, and this they owe also to their apprehension of the numinous. These may be read and enjoyed in the fullness of their beauty — a beauty whicli is like that of some sdll night whcji die cypress point to hcavm as burned-out torches against the dusky sky, when the sickle of the harvest moon rides high above, and as the ivj' shimmers and trembles on the moonlit ruins, when the pause of solemn stillness is broken only by die hooting of a moping owl, or by the amorous notes of the nightingale — a constant reminder that there is Death as well as Love.



APPENDIX I


The total effect of The Castle of Otranto may be compared with the effect aroused by the paintings of prominent surrealist artists. Picasso is die first diat comes to mind, and half liis fascination lies in his capacity for arousing our sense of wonder. His manner is terrific at times, but mostly sombre in its colouring, csscndally tormented in its inspiration, and, accotding to Herbert Read, “ embodying in its totality the Gothic or (.icrmanic spirit **. Walpole’s novel has the same cumulative effect.

In the fantasies of Marc Chagall (born m Russia 1 8'<7, of Jewish parents), the impossible mingles with the possible as in dream experience, embodyuig the “ subversive tendencies ” in everything unfamiliar. He expresses the repressed inquietude of liis inner self in a lyrical and symbolistic manner and paints from the heart. His ‘ lyricism ’ m painting requires some explanation. Lyricism in poetry 'is a certain direct manner of giving expression to an eniodonal state ; we do not attempt to rationalize the expression. We feel the emotional equivalence of the words, although their literal meaning may be absurd. If we transpose the poem “ Go, and catcli a falling star ” m painting, we shall get something hkc the art of Chagall — an art in which harmony emerges from an iridescent shimmer of colours, colours which work upon our emotions as inexplicably as words in a lync ; colours which belong, not ti) any scene in nature but to a world of un- conscious fantasy. It is such a w'orld that Walpole evokes ; a world of images, capable of symbolizing the fertility of the artist’s vision and of expressing his creadve joy.

(diinco (bom in Greece iSXS, of Italian parents) paints dream landscapes and prcscnis a disturbing and terrifying oiuLination of objects. He is a master of emotive atmosphere, who wields his bmsh for an emotional use of colour, and whose art presents a new version i>f the “ pleasing horror ”. It is a world not far removed from that of Walpole’^.

The art of P.'iul Klee (born in Switzerland 1S79) is inscinctis e, fantastic, and naively objective, “ At times it seems child-like, at times primitive, at times mad,” says Herbert Read. He creates .1 world widi its own strange flota and fauna, and which has its own laws of perspective and logic. At times he escapes to the world of residual memory, of disconnected images, fcir that is the world of fantasy, die world of fairy'-tdlcs and myth. The art of Klee borders on a ” metaphysical art ”, and he directs his energies through die inw^ard eye towards another and a more marvellous w'orld. Klee’s world, in fact, is a fairy world, a world of spooks and goblins, called by Herbert Read “ a Gothic world ”, The Castle of Otranto has the same child-like spontaneity, the same portrayal of a “ primitive and mad world ’ , a stor\’ of ghosts .uid fantasies.

Max Ernst (bom near Cologne in 1891} has a symbolic vision, and as a true and enthusiastic super-realist, he breaks down the barriers, both physical and u.F. — 17 *33



INDEX

(Sec also Classified Bibliography)


Addison, 24, 37 i ^ 5 ^

Ainsworth. Wm. H., 202, 208 Allen, B. S., 115 American writers, 203, 204 anti-Catholic, 171, 219, 220 Arnaud, B., 36 Aubin, Robert Arnold, 23 Austen, Jane, 4, 5, 181, J84 autoiiiatisjn, 68

Baker, E. A., 9, 148, 156, 180, 184 Barbauld, Mrs., i, 13, 33, 42. 74, 78, 86,

97. 98, ioo, 102, III, 130, 214, 225,

229

Barrett, E. S., 181, 182, 183, 184, 230 Beaumont, £lie dc, 5 s Bcckford, 24, 37, 53, 131, 132 et sfij,, 196, 306, 216 Beckwith, F., 6 Beers, H. A., 16 Denson, E. F., 204, 205 Berkeley, 24

Bernbaum, Ernest, 8, 36, 81, 129 Bliagvadgita, 131 Bible, 13T, 147, 148, 171 Birkhcad, Miss Edith, 7, 61, 83, 99, 104, 107, 129, 134. J74 Blackwood, Algenioii, 205 BLur, 28, 3^

Blake, Nicholas, 240 Boyer, Clarence, 119 Breton, AndnS 10, 67, 154. 217 Bronte, Emily, 200 Brown, Chas. Brockden, 139, 203 Brown, Wallace Cable, 37 Bucke, Chas., 85, 128 Burke, Edmund, 16, 103, 130, 225, 226 Burney, Fanny, 178, 179 Buyers, C., 133

Byron, 42. 7 *. “ 8 . ^ 20 . »5o. 154, 155, 192, 197

Byronic hero, 60, 120, 191

a6i


Cambridge, 45 Carter, John, 6

Catholicism. See anti-Catholic characters, 59 et scq.

Cliagall, Marc, 233 Charlton, Mary, 181 Chastency, Mine de, 230 Chesterton, G. K., 337 Cheyiicy, Peter, 237, 241 Chirico, 233 Christie, Agatha, 240 Church, Elizabeth, 7 Clark, Kenneth, 17, 27 Cobb, James, 180

Coleridge, S. T.. 15. 38. 42. 54, 63. 100, 104, 105, 106, 112, 128, 1 3 1, 143, 147, 148, 154, 192. 194, 195 , 213 C'ollins, Wilkie, 340 Collins, Wm., 28 Colman, Geo., 176 Conrad, Joseph, 202, 203 Cooper, J. Feniiiiore. 339 Court-room, 92 Crawford, Marion, 205 t.>.iyon, Geoft'rcy, 204 Cunningham, Allan, 200 Cunuinghani, J., 28 Ciirties, T. J. Horsley, 83, 173, 237

Uacrc, Mrs. Cliarlotic, 27, 1 53, 166, 198

D’Aulnoy, Madame, 52

Davies, Hugh S., 10, 223

Dec, Dr.. 26. 49, 52. 53

Dcffand, Madame du,'4S, 56, 72

definition, jo

Defoe, DAiiiel, 27

De Quinccy, Thos., 202

De Sade. &VrSade,D. A. F. De, Marquis

Dickens, Chas., 154, 199, 200

D*Isracli, Isaac, 71, 72, 103

Dobree, Professor B., 44. 66, 224

Dobson, Austin, S5i


262


THE GOTHIC FLAME


Dodsley, Wm., 29 Doughty. O., 44, 68, 7J. 209 Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan, 139, 239 Drike, Nathan, 13, 39, 128, 187 drama, Elizabe^ah, 29, 30 Draper, John,'2i7 dreams, 38, 66, 67, 68, 80, 155, 222 Dunlop, John Colin, 36 Dunn, Dr. S. G., 235

Eastlakc, C. L., ii Edgworth, Maria, 181 Edwards, Amelia B., 205 •Elton, O., 48, 135, 181 Ernie, Lord, 115, 120, 19^

Ernst, Max, 233

Evans, Bertrand, 33, 185, 190

Feamside, C. S., 56, 72 Fielding, 39, 55, 63, 101, 105, 178, I79 Foster, Professor James R., 35. 36, 123, 123

French Revolution, 217 French translations, 35, 230 Freyc, W., 83 Fuller, Anne, 82

Galland, A., 37, 52 German translations, 34 giant hand, 42 Glanville, Joseph, 26 Godwin, Wm.* ij, 27, 131, 135 vt 155. J77, 206

Goethe, 32, 33, 121, 150 Gossc, Edmund, 209 graveyard poetry, 28 Gray. Thomas, 28, 45, 91 Green, Sarah, j8i G reen, Wm. Child, 173 guilt, sense of, 2id

Haferkom, Dr. Rcinhard, 23 Haggard, Rider, 133 Hamilton, Count Anthony, 53 Hamm. Victor H., 35 Harvey, John, *14 Haycroft, Howard, 204, 237, 239 Hazen, A. T., 56


Hazlett, Will., 72 Hddlcr, J. i., 177 Heilman, Robert B., 1 1 Heine, Maurice, 150 Henley, Wm., 135 Hichens, Robert, 205 HofTmaim, E. T. W., 154 Holbrook, Wm. C., 10 ‘ horrid novels *, 4 Hufiinan, Dr. C. F., 213 Hughes, Helen S., 220 Huish, R., 173

Hurd, Richard, 12, 25, 31, 35 Hutchinson, Win., 82

influences, 3, 31, 32, 37 investigations, 7 Irving, Washington, 204

James, Henry, 204 James, M. R., 205 Jeaffreson, J. C., 191 Jephson, Robt., 185 Job, Book of. See Bible Johnson, Dr. Samuel, 31, 37, 52 Jones, Haniiali, 173 Jones, Hai rict, 21 8 Jones, Sir Win., 135

Keats, 195

Kct, Professor W. P„ 13. .^2, 47, s8 Kettle, Dr. A. C., 214, 221, 223, 227 Ketton-Cremer, R. W., 55 Kitten, Alice M., 7, 68, 72, 124 Klee, Paul, 233

Lane’s library, 6 L.ing, Andrew, 200

Lathoiii, Pmucis, 5, 34, 36, 173, 178, 237 Lee, Sophia, 36, 74, 8t, 85, 8fi, loi, 177, 206

Lcland, Thomas, 38, 40, 75, 101 Lewis, Matthew G. (‘ Monk *), 5, 34. 36. 42, 59. 99. 127. 129, 131, 132. 139 ct Mvy., 155, 159. 160, 162, 167, 174, 176, 184, 195. 198, 204, 205, 206, 207, 216, 224, 238, 241 Lewis, "’r


INDEX


263


Lister, T. H., 185 Locke, 24

Loxiguicl, Professor, 7 Lorrain, Claude, 23, 24, 115 Lovejoy, A, O., 24 Lowell, James Russell, 203 Lucas, Chas., 173 lyricism, 233

Lytton, Bulwcr (Lord), 200, 208

Macaulay, 43, 47, 64, 71, 183 Machen, Arthur, 158. 228 McIntyre, C'lara F., 7, 29, 86, 106. 109, 118, T2., r23, 124, 126 McKillop, Professor A. D., 101, J03, 107, 130^

Maepherson, 25 Maliabharala, 13s Mallet, 28

Manwaritig, Or. Elizabeth. 2^, 123 Marsh, Ngaio, 240 Mathews, Idkin, 6

Maturin, Charles Robert, 2, 27, 33, 38, 120, 127, ^39* 13T, 139. 1.S3. T59, ct scq., 204, 206, 207, 215, 216, 220, 224, 228

Mayo, Robi. I")., 175, 184, 186, 187

Meeke, Mrs., 173

Melirota, K. K., 8, 174

Milton, 27, 31, 45. 119, 133, ^16

Mobiiis, J Ians, 7

  • Monk ’ Lewis. See Lewis, M. Ck

Montagu, Lieorge, 48 Montague, Edward, 34 Moore, Rev. M. R., 28 More, Hjiinab, 56 Morley, Professor Edith J., 7, 8 Murphy, Agnes, 32 Musgrave, Agnes, 83

Nichols, John, 65 Norman, Sylva, 157

Palmer, John, 178 Parnell, 28

Parsons, Mrs. Elizabeth. 5, 218 Peacock, Thos. L., 184 Percy, Dishop, 26, 42


period, 3

Phelps, Professor W. L., i, 8, 48

Phillips, Walter C., 199.

physiognomy, 108

Picasso, 233

Piozzi, ivirs., 122

plays. Gothic, 185

Poe, Edgar Allan, 42, no, 202, 213

poetry, Gotliic, 19 1

Polidori, Dr. J., 131, 155, 158 ct svq., 206

Pope, 27, 53

Porter, Jane, 173

Poussin (Dughet), Jaspar, 115

Poussin, Nicolas, 24

Praz, Professor M., 8, 36, 46, 123, 223, 227, 241 Prevost, 36

psychological novel, 215 psychology, 107, 108

RadcliflTc, Mrs. Ann, i, 7, 20, 25, 27, 29, 31. 33. 34. 36. 40, 42. 43. 57. 59, 60, 61, 64. 65, 75. 79. «4. 85 ct seq,, J2% 139. 145. 192, 167, i58. 173,

174. 17<^. 177. 179, 180, 184, 185, 190. I9I, 19-2. 195. 197. 200. 202, 203. 204, 206, 207, 215, 218, 221, 224, 225, 228, 239. -240

Railo, Eino, 7, 59. ir8, 155, 194 Ralph. James, 29

Read, Sir Herbert, 2, 10, 1 5, 16, 66, 69,

233

Reed, Dr. Amy, 23

Reeve, Clara, 13, 33. 40, 47, 56, 59, 74, 75 ct seq., 86, 101, !o6, 107, 146, 177, 206, 215. 235

Revolution, French. See French Revolution Rliinc, river, 32

Richardson, 38, 55, icA, 105, 121 Roche, M-s, Regina Maria, 5, 60 Rogers, Winifred H., 180 Roman policicr, 237, 238

  • Ikosa Matilda.' See Dacre, Mrs. C.

Rosa, Salvator, 23, 24, 45, 115, 122, 141,

175

Rousseau, J.J., 24, 25, 63. 01, IT2, 121 Ruskin, John, 14, 207


THE GOTHIC FLAME


264


Saalfeld, Rev. M. R., 38 Sade» Marquis D. A. F. De, 35. 150, 217, ai8, 241

Sadldr, Michad, 4, 5, 14, 19. 129* I73*

175. 213. 217, 218

Saintsbury, Professor G., r, 3, 4, 49 Sapper, 238

Sayers, Dorothy, 239, 240 Scarborough, Dorothy, 65, 130, 204 Schiller, 32, 33. 3<^. i^4. 150, 192. 194. 215

Scott, Sir Walter, i, 41, 42, 49, 51, 54, 56, 59, 72, 83, 90. 94. 98. 99. 100. 104. 107, 109, 113. 1 17. 120. 127, 154, 175. T76, 200, 206, 213, 214 seriak. Gothic, 186 Servais, Etienne, 36 Shackford, Martha H., 127, 195 Shakespeare. 29, 30, 45. 54. ii5. ii9.

T20, 124, 125. 151, 152, 171 Shelley, Mary, 38, 131, 154 ct scq.^ 206, 212

Shelley, Percy Bysshe, T97 ct seq.

Sleath, Eleanor, 173

Smith, Charlotte, 3^>, 107, 112, 122, 174 Smith, D. Nichol, 29 Smollett, 38, 39, 40, 107, 178, 179, 206, 214

Spenser, 3^, 45 Stein, Mrs. M., 30 Stephen, Sir Leslie, 34 Stevenson, 38 Stocklcy, V., 34 Stoker, Brain, 160, 305 Strachey, Lytton, 46, 69 Stuart, Dorothy M., 22, 56 Summers, Montague, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 32. 5I 66, 72. 74. 78. 99. 127. 128, 146, 147, 154, 158, T59, 187, 202, 204, 217, 219, 221, 223, &24, 238 Surrealism, 66 et seq., 221, 233 suspense, 64, 110, 214 Swift, Dean, 53

Tandava, 165 technique, 6vet seq.

Thomas, Gilbert, 239


Thompson, Benjamin, 181 Thompson! L. F., 123 Thorold, M., 122 Thorp, Willard, 174 Thralc, Mrs. See Piozzi. thrillers, 238

Tompkins, Dr. J. M. S., 8, 86, 107, no, 112, 114, 121, 131 Tovey, D. C., 21 Trent*. Professor W. P., 220

uticonscious, 68

villainess, 192 villain-hero, no, 117

Wallace, Edgar, 237, 239, 240 Walpole, Horace, 10, 12, 16, 23, 24, ^o, 3T. 33. 38. 40, 42 ct seq., 106, T07, 109. 146, 1S8, 205. 206, 207, 214, 23 T, 229,

233. 237

Ward, Catherine, 173 Warton, Joseph, 25, 94 Wartoii, Thomas, 35, 49 Watt. W. W.. 188 Watts-Duiiton, W. T., 42 Wells, H. G., 158, 203 Werthani, Dr., 241 White, Jas., 83

Wicten, Miss A. A. S., 7, 109, 114, 12 1, 127

Wilkins, Sir Chas., 135 Wilkinson, Sarah, 173 Will, Peter, 34 Wood, Mrs. Henry, 340 Woodbridge, Dr. B. M., 36 Woolf, Virginia, 49, 69 Wordsworth, 63, 117, 192, 193 Worringcr, Professor, 15 Wren, W. C., 173

Yeates, W. B., 53

York, Mrs., 173

Yost, C^alvin Daniel (jun.), 37

Young, 28, 36

Yvon, P., 45





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