Pt. II Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

May 20, 2019

Pt. II: Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

G.W.M Reynolds On Vice And Virtue

by

R.E. Prindle

GWMReynolds

This essay will concentrate on the novels, Robert Macaire or, The French Bandit In England, The Mysteries Of London, Faust, and Wagner, The Wehr Wolf. Their respective dates were 1840, 1844-48, 1845-46 and 1846-47. As can be seen the latter two novels are encompassed by the dates of The Mysteries Of London and they must be related to the greater novel- two side excursions, so to speak.

We know that Reynolds went out on his own in a foreign country at the age of sixteen, going immediately to take up residence in France with a fair sized sum of money in his pocket inherited from his father as he hints in his novel Faust; then in 1833 at the age of nineteen he inherited a bit more through his mother. He was a natural scholar so that he studied extensively in many fields including literature and history. For such a young man, twenty-five and twenty-six in 1839-40 he writes with an astonishing, indeed, unbelievable maturity and knowledge both experientially and from study. Apart from being fictionalized his history seems to be accurate.

He is especially interested in vice and virtue in humanity. The configurations of his interest were formed by his reading of the Marquis de Sade; he read and internalized de Sade’s novels Justine, Juliette and Philosophy of the Boudoir. While de Sade, from whom the term Sadism is derived, is probably known by name only to most. I append here a short biography so that the reader knows how I understand him. De Sade was born in 1740 and died in 1814, the year Reynolds was born so we may assume that de Sade was still something of a sensation when Reynolds hit Paris in 1830.

De Sade’s fame as the source of the term Sadism was well earned although somewhat stale in the 21st century as films and novels have far surpassed his exploits. There is no longer anything to astonish in his novels. His problems began when his parents denied him marriage to the woman of his choice thus causing an extreme reaction. His reaction was so extreme and notorious, causing his parents such grief, that they had him imprisoned where he began writing his novels. Released by the French Revolution, which was crazier than himself, he functioned well. Napoleon, not so tolerant, had him committed to the famous insane asylum of Charenton. This aided immeasurably in making him a cult figure which he remains to this day.

He committed his grief to two most read novels, Justine and Juliette. He posited as a universal reality that a life of virtue led to unhappiness, pain and failure as characterized by Justine; and a life of libertinage and self-indulgence characterized by Juliette led to happiness and self-fulfillment.

When Reynolds read de Sade’s novels between 1830 and 1837 isn’t known. My guess is that he read them sooner than later and the antitheses between virtue and vice worked in him as he began writing.

Eugene Sue

Author of Mysteres de Paris and The Wandering Jew

An echo of Justine and Juliette can be found in the Mysteries of London. Reynolds transposes the sexes and has two male brothers Eugene and Richard Markham as protagonists. They are associated with two trees. (The symbolism of the two trees isn’t yet clear to me.) A financial disaster hits the Markham family leaving it and them destitute. Eugene, following the path of Juliette’s example opts for a life of crime to repair his fortunes while Richard decides to pursue virtue. They are to meet by the trees twenty years on to compare results.

This gives Reynolds the means to display his knowledge of vice and virtue. He certainly seems to know the ways of criminality. This investigation is continued in the first two novels written in conjunction with Mysteries titled Faust and Wagner the Wehrwolf. The first of his crime novels was Alfred de Rosann, quite astonishing as a novice novel, I will deal with it later, followed by Grace Darling, the Heroine of the Ferne Islands and the Robert Macaire or the French Bandit In England. After a hiatus of two years from 1842 to 1844 when he wrote nothing Mysteries began.   Faust and Wagner were written in succession.

The third of his crime novels was Robert Macaire or the French Bandit In England.

One imagines that Reynolds first heard of the famous French bandit at the theater either in 1833 or ’35 or perhaps he saw both. Macaire was a famous French highwayman, but as Reynolds has Macaire tell his sidekick Bertrand, times were changing and the place of the highwayman was becoming as obsolete as buggy whips would in the twentieth century. Thus while Macaire was involved in stagecoach situations his milieu was shifting to swindling and financial crimes. The future was clear. Reynolds has his ear to the ground.

Published in 1840 Macaire was his third effort following Pickwick Abroad. By this novel he has pretty well learned his craft although his powers will grow exponentially by Mysteries. Macaire is tightly plotted and well written with every evidence of Reynold’s powerful mind. It shows little evidence of de Sade, clear evidence, even borrowing, from Frederic Soulie. Soulie was a French writer of ghastly crime/horror fiction who was, at least, an early model for Reynolds.

As in Mysteries of the Court of London an inspiring incident carried throughout the story ends it. The novel involves an enmity between the practitioner of virtue, Charles Stanmore, and the follower of vice, Robert Macaire. Close to the plots of de Sade’s Justine and Juliette.

The novel opens with Macaire in France holding up a stage containing Stanmore and killing two people while sadistically tying Stanmore to one of the large wheels. If the horse hadn’t remained still as Stanmore remarks he would surely have been killed by the revolving wheel. A sadistic crime in itself.

Papers taken from Stanmore tell of a banker in England who looks ripe for the plucking so Macaire and Bertrand head for England. It is not clear how these two desperadoes pass themselves off as businessmen, especially the clownish Bertrand but they do and Pocklington, the English businessmen invites them in, indeed, ask them to take up residence while in London. He has a beauteous sixteen year old niece, Maria, who falls head over heels for the forty some year old Macaire. As she is to inherit a large fortune Macaire plays the swain.

It so happens that Stanmore also has his eyes on Maria so he develops an inveterate hatred of his rival not realizing that the French bandit and Macaire are the same. Now, it also happens that Stanmore’s father had disappeared on a journey to Lyons in France where he was to establish a new business five years previously. He had waylaid by Macaire, robbed and murdered in a town thirty some miles from Paris on the way to Lyons as will appear later in the story. Macaire was acting as a member of an organized ring of criminals to which he still belongs being one of the leaders.

After mentioning that Macaire is posing as the financial agent named LeBeau who he learns is now on his way to London the two bandits determine to kill him before he arrives to prevent his ruining their plans. Using old skills they waylay his stage on his way to London, brutally drag him from the stage and stab him to death. These two are thoroughly evil men. This is important because while Reynolds is contrasting virtue and vice, he also holds that virtue and vice are equally mixed in a person so that after a life of vice, Macaire will very improbably turn to a life of virtue. But, Reynolds believes he can and it’s his story.

Stanmore becomes suspicious of Macaire and more especially Bertrand so he returns to France to investigate them. His findings lead him to an inn in the town in which his father was murdered. He is directed to the out of the way inn in which the murder occurred. The innkeeper intends to kill Stanmore for his money, but the latter overhears the plot being discussed and in the ensuing struggle kills the innkeeper. Questioning the innkeeper’s wife about his father she points out the place in the inn where Stanhope’s father’s body was immured. Concentrating on opening the wall Stanhope fails to notice that the wife has set the building on fire and fled.

The wife runs for some woods where Stanmore overtakes her. Then borrowing an incident from Frederic Soulie (pronounced Souliay) he ties the woman to a tree while he goes back to main road and inn and forgets her in the rush of events. By the time he gets back to her she is dead, half eaten by varmints.

Macaire has to return to France to account for Lebeau’s absence. Macaire gets into financial schemes and is recognized by the police and arrested. He would have been a goner except for his criminal network. Having pulled off a couple successful escapades Macaire does the necessary repairing to the gang’s den to distribute their share of the booty. This gets an immediate reward when his confederates help him escape from two different prisons.

This brings up the question of Reynolds’ own relationship to the law. Reynolds provides such exact descriptions of various prisons, police quarters, court affairs and prison customs that one wonders how he obtained his knowledge and familiarity. As a newspaperman he would have perhaps entered the various criminal retreats but that doesn’t seem a satisfactory explanation. Dick Collins, an eminent researcher of Reynolds and the period of Penny Dreadfuls gives Reynolds a questionable character.

Collins seems to have ransacked official sources for his information but fails to reference them. In addition to cheating at dice, that rather indicates that Reynolds was one of the shifty hangers on in Paris that he mentions in Pickwick Abroad.

Collins says: Quote: It is alleged- on poor evidence- that Reynolds stayed at the expensive Long’s Hotel in Bond Street and was arrested for trying to steal jewelry to pay the bill.

Unquote.

And there were a series of bankruptcies. One in France in which he was arrested in Calais trying to flee. Then in England in 1939 he spent six months in the Queens Bench Prison for unpaid debt. After becoming a leader in the Chartist movement he displeased the leadership because of unnamed financial schemes. So, let us say that Reynolds was probably flexible in his attitude toward strict probity. One does get that feeling.

One wonders then, was Reynolds personally aware of these criminal hangouts; did he actually mingle with them? His knowledge seems too precise for sheer invention. Also he seems too complimentary of the gendarmes who he says have absolute integrity and are the only upright characters in his novels. Was he trying to stay on their good side just in case?

In any event his descriptions of the prisons from which Macaire escapes are described in minute detail. Having once been caught in the meshes of the French police Macaire seems doomed to remain there as the police are hot on his trail after his last escape.

Now, at the inn at which Macaire had murdered his father, a beautiful young orphan girl, Blanche de Longville, had been placed there by Macaire who for some reason had been made her guardian. She had captured Stanmore’s heart, making him forget Maria, and resulting in a marriage. They were living in a posh area in Paris.

Macaire, quite desperate to escape finds his way to Stanmore and Blache’s mansion to throw himself on her mercy after maltreating through her teen years, expecting what that mercy might be wasn’t clear. Stanmore returns home to find police combing the area and Macaire, his arch enemy, in his wife’s boudoir. However Blanche manages to placate him explaining that if Macaire escapes the police and finds his way to Switzerland he is going to change his ways and end his days as the archetypal French bandit.

So, this Macaire, who had robbed him, possibly condemned him to death by tying him to the carriage wheel, actually murdered and robbed his father, beat him out for the love of the delectable Maria and other crimes too numerous to mention as well as heading up organized crime in France, throws himself on the mercy of Stanmore.

Well, love conquers all, doesn’t it? Rather than offend his wife, Blanche, Stanmore forgives all, gives Macaire traveling money, lets him out the back door and directs the police in the opposite direction, and sententiously pats himself on the back for redeeming a hardened criminal. Reynolds has Macaire living out his days living quietly in Switzerland and that redeems his murders and crimes, for you see good and evil are equally mixed in men. No one is totally bad.

His next novel, Master Timothy’s Bookcase concluded his first period and after a two year hiatus when, one presumes, Reynolds was recharging his batteries, perhaps searching for a more successful approach, organizing himself for the grand charge he began his magnum opus The Mysteries of London, that was a great compendium of crime. He was in fact inspired by Eugene Sue’s Mysteres de Paris but Mysteries of London doesn’t reflect much derivation from that work, however, this was apparently because he couldn’t fit much of it into his story.

Wonderful details preyed on his imagination so that at the same time he was writing Mysteries he also wrote two longish novels, Faust in 1845-46 and Wagner the Wehr Wolf in 1846-48.

Faust is rather an extraordinary novel. Here his inspiration was derived from the European myth of the man who sold his soul to Satan. He combines this story with the story of the German criminal organization called the Holy Vehm. As an adjunct to all he gives an exciting account of the Borgias, Pope Alexander VI, Caesar and Lucretia, or Lucreza as he spells it, Borgia. An amazing novel.

In this novel Reynolds extends his field from France and England to encompass Central Europe—Germany, Austria, Carniola and Italy. Eventually he will draw a circle from England into the Mediterranean touching the Africa of Homer’s Lotus Eaters, through the Dardanelles to Mingrelia or ancient Colchis where the Golden Fleece was kept through the Crimea thus encircling historic Europe. Interesting conception.

Whether he visited these parts during his period in France isn’t clear and his details are fairly sketchy although fairly sharp for Italy. Carniola is an Alpine province of Austria along with Styria and Corinthia. Reynolds probably chose this province for a couple of reasons, the first because as no one had probably heard of it, it was therefore exotic and secondly because a ferocious sexual pervert who lived there in a castle as recorded by de Sade in his novel Juliette. This guy was so incredible that even de Sade hastened away.

Murder, crime and gore in profusion, Reynolds seems in a frenzy to outdo de Sade, Frederic Soulie and Eugene Sue combined and a fine job he does of it too.

Eugene Sue in his magnificent Wandering Jew, that great Armageddon, as his story unfolds the great march of Cholera out of the East that advances at the rate of thirty miles a day closes in on the Paris of 1830 and its revolution of that year. Sue knew how to erase millions of people at a time. What a story, and it goes on for over a thousand pages. Now, if Reynolds did reach Paris in 1830 he must have witnessed the devastation caused by the Cholera epidemic or, at the very least, its aftermath which would have been a topic of conversation. If as Collins suspects he arrived in 1833 he still would have heard stories of the great Cholera terror. If the hints in Reynolds novel, Grace Darling, are correct he places the time of that novel in 1833 so he might likely have still been in England at that time. His descriptions of the Revolution of 1830 in Alfred de Rosann are so sketchy that he may not have arrived in France in 1830 on the heels of the action as he claims.

In Faust he replicates the Cholera epidemic of Sue when Faust orders Satan to create an immense bubonic plague in Vienna and Europe that like the Cholera epidemic rises in the East and rolls over Europe. Thus the spectre derived from Sue’s Rodin makes its appearance in Reynolds. Further both the Cholera and bubonic plague are accurate history. Reynolds’ Faust takes place from 1480 through the first decade of the sixteenth century. Reynolds is very careful with his dates so that events actually occurred in the years he indicates. The bubonic plague he mentions occurred between 1500 and 1503. Interestingly he doesn’t blame fleas from rats in Genoa but, like the Cholera, has it arrive from the East. Current theories indicate that that may have been the case. The first plague of mid-fourteenth century swept through Europe so quickly that there must have been another source than ship rats. In the first place no crew would have been immune to the flea bites hence the Med would have been filled with ghost ships while the spread would have been slower and the diffusion more easily traced. Reynolds always appears to have read and thought deeply.

Faust is essentially a historical novel so that the eruption of Vesuvius in 1485 is accurate but the accuracy of the description of the actual eruption must be fictional. The eruption was however a major one.

So also Reynolds account of the Borgias is historically accurate allowing for description and motives to be interpretations. The villains of Sue’s Wandering Jew are the religious sect of the Jesuits, Reynolds replaces them with the German organization of the Holy Vehm whose description is accurate given a little novelistic license. What we have here, then, in this story is a magnificent contrast between virtue and vice, good and evil. The contrasts are carried out on many levels. The Vehm operates as a government within the government just as the Jesuits were a church within the church. In this case the Austrian government is upright but the Holy Vehm is not. Faust once he has sold his soul to Satan is the representative of a blend of virtue and vice with vice having the upper hand. Faust as the story develops is guilty through his machinations of the deaths of millions. As the representative of vice Faust’s counterpart is Otto Pianella who represents undivided virtue. Faust’s wife represents virtue, or Justine, while Faust’s mistress, Ida, Otto’s sister, represents Juliette or vice. Of course, she is as nothing compared to the mighty Lucreza Borgia, the scariest woman who ever lived.

Reynolds while considered a feminist is, actually, a realist. In general, he deplores the manner in which women are treated but he isn’t so silly as to believe all women are above reproach, thus one has a variety of female types. Lucreza Borgia in the novel is a willful completely evil woman while Nisida in the next novel, Wagner the Wehr Wolf is a ‘strong’ woman but a blend of good and evil.   Thus, Reynolds avoids the sappy feminist sentiment of the present.

He was perhaps overawed b Lucreza’s ruthless exercising of her will so that there is no good mixed with her evil. Lucreza was not going to go to Switzerland and while away her time after the Borgias’ power was destroyed.

Mortally offended by de Sade’s dictum that vile living always succeeds on this Earth while virtue always leads to unhappiness, in this novel practicing virtue succeeds while vice fails. Perhaps in Sue’s breathtaking Armageddon in which all the characters but one are immolated, Reynolds changes the end so that each virtuous character lives happily in the end while all the vicious characters die or end unhappily.

The Holy Vehm is destroyed, Ida checks out early, the Borgias seemingly on the way to success are thwarted, first their power is broken, then as fugitives Caesar Borgia after a number of failures is killed in an ignominious battle in Spain while Lucreza suffers a horrible death at the hands of her husband on the island of Lissa belonging to the Duke of Ferrara near Venice. This is one of the most terrifying depictions in the novel. Disregarding Lucreza’s terrible reputation the Duke of Ferrara espouses her with the assumption that she will reform her wicked ways, that is, give up vice.

Apparently, she has until Otto Pianella and his family are marooned on the way back to Vienna by snowstorms in the Julian Alps of Carniola. They put up on Lissa which comes to Lucreza’s attention. She arrests Otto and places him in the Iron Coffin. I won’t replicate the entire story that Reynolds makes as suspenseful as possible, but the Iron Coffin is a large room made of iron shaped like a giant coffin. The walls are moveable and gradually compress down to the size of an actual coffin in which the victim is entombed, where he gradually dies of starvation and dehydration.

As Otto’s situation grows dire Satan appears offering him the Faustian deal. No, no, says Otto, never, never, I put my faith in a higher power. So, in a choice between vice or virtue Otto remains true to God, or virtue. Well, one of Lucreza’s retinue finks to the Duke who is outraged that Lucreza has violated her oath so, at the last moment he releases Otto, justifying Otto’s trust in God, while condemning Lucreza to what would have been Otto’s fate. Thus, the terrible end of the truly vicious Lucreza Borgia.

Now, we are down to Faust himself. Faust had driven a lousy bargain with Satan receiving only twenty-six years of seeming prosperity and unlimited power. Now both hands of the clock, or clysidra, clocks hadn’t been invented yet, are pointing straight up. Remembering Reynolds’ description of the 1485 eruption of Vesuvius Satan takes Faust to the edge of the boiling caldera and after a lengthy triumph and lecture Satan pushes Faust in.

De Sade is repudiated, the results of Justine’s and Juliette’s lives are reversed and Reynolds triumphs over the Marquis de Sade.

While the main novel, The Mysteries Of London, raged on in its contests of virtue and vice, Reynolds began another rather lengthy novel he titled Wagner the Wehr Wolf.

And why not? While good and certainly interesting it doesn’t quite toe the mark made by Faust. Faust was well above the average while Wagner is closer to average but still with all of Reynolds’ inventiveness.

Too few people die and Nisida the villainess is a pale reflection of Lucreza Borgia, but still no slouch as a ‘strong’ woman. Nor is there a Jesuit Order or the Holy Vehm, just a highly organized criminal gang that is terrorizing Florence Italy. Reynolds may have lifted that idea from Dumas’ Count of Monte Christo and the gang in the Italian catacombs. The main story takes place in Florence but changes location to more exotic places including Constatinople, name not yet changed to Istanbul, and Sicily.

Reynolds’ geography embraces a rather large area from England, France, Central Europe, the Balkans, Italy to just off the coast of Africa to include the Greek Islands, Western Anatolia and Mingrelia on the East Coast of the Black Sea, formerly the Colchis of the Argonauts then turning west to the Crimea following in the tracks of the Argonauts and that pretty well encompasses the parameters of historical Europe. One wonders how Reynolds is writing all these novels, maintaining a growing family, keeping up on his reading and accumulating fairly detailed historical studies and he wrote several historical novels, Faust being one.

The adoption of a fantastic Werewolf story seems strange, but then, James Malcolm Rymer, his contemporary Penny Dreadful author was scoring big with his novel Varney The Vampire and would soon after write the classic story of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Sweeney Todd, a hit musical fifty years ago was the barber who turned his customers into sausages and sold them to another set of customers. Who would believe cannibalism in nineteenth century England?

Varney the Vampire, an incredibly long novel must have nudged Reynolds’ interest in that supernatural direction so he chose to explore another of the great medieval myths or legends of Medieval Europe, that of the Wehr Wolf. So, really, this era produced the subject matter for the next hundred and fifty years or so, Frankenstein, Faust, Varney the Vampire, Sweeney Todd and Werewolves and organized crime. The Curse of the Mummy would come later.

Wagner has a highly organized criminal gang that is central to the story maintaining its connection to the main frame of Mysteries of London. It is a true underworld inhabiting caverns deep into the earth. Whether meant intentionally or not by Reynolds its lower levels rest next to the lower levels of the Catholic nunnery that has an extensive underground. The doings in the nunnery in its underworld are as criminal as those of the criminals only a few feet awaythrough the rock. The two worlds are blended when the crime world is attacked, and the walls accidentally broken through and down. Thus, both the criminal underworld and the equally criminal nunnery were destroyed.

Reynold’s religious interests are intriguing. At this time in his life Reynolds was thirty-two. The Mysteries had solved his financial problems to this moment so his mental comfort zone was probably elevated. He had every reason to believe he could continue his success although the success of his future blockbuster, Mysteries of the Court of London might have astonished even him. At any rate he was relieved of youthful anxieties; he was successfully launched.

How he developed, or found time to develop his religious ideas isn’t obvious to me. Collins alleges that he did write a book of biblical criticism in 1833 when he was only 19 years old and would have had to have been in London at that time. At this point he has the North European abhorrence of the Catholic Church although an apparent strong belief in the existence of God or a deity, however, that could have been a front so as not to offend the reading public. His attitude toward the Moslem world seems to be a tolerant affection. Wagner makes a visit to then Constantinople, now Istanbul, a mere twenty-five years after the Christian capital fell to the Moslems. He forms connections and in order to free Florence from the dominion of the criminal gang he marches a Moslem army to Florence to do it. I must say I read that episode with a certain amount incredulousness.

One imagines that his fantasy was that he could unite the two worlds. The novel was placed in the years following 1516, a mere twenty-four years after the Moorish expulsion from Spain and the completion of the Reconquista. The Moslem slave raids probably hadn’t begun and from this time to 1830 when the French annexed Algeria and wiped out the Corsairs, the Moslem predations on the Mediterranean coast was constant. Eugene Sue’s The knight of Malta is a good representation of the situation and reads as well as Reynolds.

Sue, as Reynolds, was entranced with Byron’s epic poem The Corsair; the sentiments seem to coincide with their own. Indeed, The Knight of Malta can be read as Byron’s poem in novelized form. The opening lines of Byron establish the mental state:

Quote:

O’er the glad waters of the dark blue sea,

Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free,

Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam,

Survey our empire, and behold our home!

These are our realms, no limits to their sway—

Our flag the scepter all who meet obey.

Ours the wild life in tumult still to range

From toil to rest, and joy in every change.

Unquote.

To a large extent The Corsair forms a part of the mental equipment of all these early Victorian authors.

In addition to Christian and Moslem concerns one considers his evaluation of the Jews as an independent nation living in and on its host; this is difficult because Westerners have been indoctrinated and conditioned to believe that Jews are innocent victims. They are not, not in Hellenic times, not in Roman times and not in Medieval times and certainly not now. During early Christian times they were given the greatest boon that could be imagined: the monopoly of loaning money at interest. Christians, the Catholic Church, laid its congregation at the feet of the Jews to be exploited.

Do not believe that the Jews became money lenders because they were forced to. They have always been money changers. They did so on the porches of the temple where Jesus overturned their tables as sacrilegious. As usurers, even the simplest mind could easily figure out that the entire money supply must inevitably be in their hands. Nor did they loan on reasonable terms but at expropriatory rates of forty or fifty percent for a single day. The West was impoverished so that in Florence first, a State pawn shop was instituted to save both the State and its people financial grief. Other cities followed Florence’s example.

Thus Reynolds introduces us to the Jewish money lender, Issachar. Now, both Reynolds and Dickens had had their run in with Jewish damage controlmen. Dickens was disciplined over his Jewish character in Oliver Twist, Fagin. Reynolds had been dressed down for some remarks in Grace Darling.

Jewish emancipation from the rule of the Catholic Church had begun in France by Napoleon after 1800, by 1840 it was working its way through Central Europe. The Jews qua Jews didn’t become powerful until after Napoleon’s defeat and Nathan Rothchild’s capture of the English currency in 1815. As a result of England’s victory the Rothschilds were in the early stages of consolidating their power. Naturally one of the first steps was controlling the press and publishing, at that time the only effective means of disseminating information. By the time of Wagner Disraeli had published most of his novels and was becoming a power in the State. Both Dickens and Reynolds had heeded their chastening, Dickens submissively and Reynolds with his usual cheek.

Issachar is portrayed as the archetypal Yiddish money changer living in dirty squalid quarters but above the physical portrayal of the usual Jewish caricature he is lauded as the long suffering noble victim, a man of virtue unfairly maligned and Jews so for millennia. Thus Reynolds has fulfilled his obligation to laud the Jews. He describes Issachar as a man of integrity however Issachar is the biggest cheat and crook alive. Nisida’s mother had pawned the family diamonds with Issachar, however, Issachar without hesitation steals the diamonds replacing them with paste. The father being something of an expert immediately discovers the imposture. Issachar justifies himself in some unsatisfactory way and Reynolds blithely goes on about the long suffering Jews.

It is generally thought therefore that Reynolds was genuinely sympathetic to the Jews. I’m not sure that’s true. I think he was just doing to wise thing so he could go on publishing.

For story continuation, we have Wagner, a ninety year old man, living deep in the Black Forest of Germany with his beauteous grand-daughter. Reynolds is very keen on sixteen year old beauties. They abound in his stories. According to Dick Collins Reynolds married his wife Susannah when she was seventeen. Collins says Reynolds may have been her second husband, she having already been taken to wife at 14.

Clara, Wagner’s granddaughter and main support, disappeared one day no one knew where. Wagner is unable to support himself and about to expire when a demon appears offering to restore him to youth. This a much better deal than Satan offered Faust in the previous novel. All Wagner has to do is spend one day a month as a wolf. He knows the day because his fate is based on the lunar calendar. The contract ends when Wagner fails to honor it. As can easily be seen this, on the face of it is good deal, what makes it a great deal is Wagner also gets a substantial guaranteed annual income. Wagner may be old but he is no fool; he signs the deal.

Now a sprout of forty with cash in hand Wagner need no longer skulk about the woods of the Black Forest where all things strange happen. Anyone who is up with German stories of this period knows there are so many desperadoes haunting these woods that they are no place for a fun loving young Wehr Wolf. Wagner hies himself to Florence, Italy where the climate agrees with his clothes.

There he runs into his granddaughter Clara. It wasn’t easy to pass himself off to her as his grandfather but like any young guy of independent means Wagner is a smooth talker.

He then finds some digs and runs into Nisida, the daughter of a Lord who, in fact, turns out to be the reason that Clara disappeared from the Black Forest. He has persuaded the virtuous and beautiful Clara to abandon her virtue and become his secluded mistress. Daughter Nisida learns this determining to kill Clara and therein hangs the tale.

Reynolds throws in the description of some of Wagners transformations which are exciting and well done. On his monthly rampage Wagner merely tears through the countryside like a tornado.

The other part of interest is at the end when Wagner establishes contact with the Rosicrucian Order in Sicily. This perhaps establishes Reynolds’ own religious position. He is a Rosicrucian. He is said to have been a Deist so that fits. I rather accept that Rosicrucianism was his faith. Having studied the religion somewhat I consider myself a Rosicrucian also if one needs a label. And we all do.

Between 1844-48 then Reynolds has launched his career successfully with his Mysteries of London, worked through his French period and examined a major legend of Germany and Central Europe.

In Part III I will deal with Dickens early output in relation to Reynolds.

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