October 9, 2020

Sixth Note

George W. M. Reynolds

And The Saxe-Coburgs

by

R.E. Prindle

As the first two series of The Mysteries Of The Court Of London indicate George Reynolds had a problem with the Saxe-Coburgs especially the reign of the four Georges. The first series of Court dealt with George III and his pre-reign clandestine marriage to Hannah Lightfoot, continuing in the second series to George IV’s regency and his problems with a forced marriage to Princess Caroline.

Reynolds bid adieu to George IV as he left the Regency in 1920 to assume the throne at his father’ death.  George IV lived until 1830 when he was succeeded by his brother William IV.  He died in 1937 being succeeded by the daughter of his second next younger brother, Victoria.  Needless to say, her reign filled the remainder of the nineteenth century and a little over.  In 1840 Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

As a female and a beloved Queen she as a Saxe-Coburg was beyond the reach of Reynold’s scathing attacks.  However, Victoria’s beloved husband Albert wasn’t.  Reynolds contained himself until the fourth series of Court of London, writing in 1855 or ‘56 when he unleashed a scurrilous attack on Albert.

As we know, George Reynolds was an advocate of violent revolution.  While he had not actually been present at the 1830 violent revolution in France, he arrived in the French capital in its aftermath in very late 1830, what we might just as well call early 1831.  He thus witnessed first hand the aftermath of that revolution.  As he was a mere sixteen year old boy on his own he was enthralled.

The revolution of 1830 is only the second stage of the French Revolution of 1789.  The revolution would continue its struggle to the third stage, the 1848 European revolution, from there to the 1917 Communist Revolution in Russia.  That was the end of that cycle.  A shift in strategy then occurred.

George Reynolds as a member of the British revolutionary activity, belonged to the group called the Chartists in which he was very active in the 1848 revolution in England.  He was very disappointed at its failure.

Then came the reaction to the revolution as the governing powers cracked down on the revolutionists, perhaps unable to understand.  Even though working conditions were bad which the rulers recognized nevertheless from their perspective civilization had made astounding advances and they were right.  Perhaps not understanding the workers reaction to the magnificent achievements of the scientific, technological and industrial advances to that time, Prince Albert took a hand in organizing the Crystal Palace Exposition  of 1851, just three years after the failed revolution.

The Crystal Palace Expo which sought to calm revolutionary fervor by displaying all those advances to the public was the first of the great expos that continued to mid-twentieth century.  The greatest of all the expos by far was the fantastic  Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.  The Chicago Expo had the greatest impact of any of the expos emulating that of 1851.  The like of the Chicago Expo has never come close to it again and now never will.

The Crystal Palace Expo which sought to calm the revolutionary fever undoubtedly did so while raising the ire of the revolutionists.  Witness the enraged George Reynolds attack of Prince Albert.  Its display of all the scientific, industrial and technological marvels, and remember this stuff was new and unseen before, showed the shape of things to come while giving confidence and hope. 

That confidence and hope was realized in 1893 at the very height of Euro-American self-confidence as the apex of all humanity and history.  Ironically the long downhill slide began at that moment.

George Reynolds was infuriated at the success of the Crystal Palace Expo for which he blamed Prince Albert.  He attacked through Albert’s Germanness and raged at all things German.  Albert’s own status was as the Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha of Central Germany.  All this happened before the unification of Germany in 1866.  Germany and Central Europe served as matter for light opera as the imaginary country of Ruritania.  Germany then was a congeries of over a hundred small duchies and principalities..  While these States strove to maintain the hauteur of royalty they were too small and impoverished to attain any real dignity compared to the large States like England and France.  They were as fleas to England in George Reynolds’ mind. And Prince Albert represented that poverty sponging off England in George’s mind.

His ire reached a peak in the fourth series of the Court of London composed in 1855-56 as this series was about to terminate.  It might be worth while here to mention that the third and fourth series are not concerned with the Court at all.  The third series, titled The Crimes of Lady Saxondale is concerned with denigrating the aristocracy while the fourth devolves almost to the level of celebrating the common people.

George opens his attack on Prince Albert by vilifying the Germans.  He creates the German Principality of Maxe-Stolburg-Quotha which is about the size of Hyde Park. The name is an obvious parody of Albert’s Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.  He makes the Prince of Maxe-Stolburg-Quotha Prince Albert’s brother. 

Maxe-Stolburg-Quotha is an impoverished dukedom as compared with Great Britain.   Albert’s brother is continually visiting England to cadge handouts of a thousand pounds.  A ridiculously low figure compared to Reynolds’ characters tossing around thousands, tens of thousands and even a hundred thousand pounds.  The Duke brings his rag tag court with him.  George gives them ridiculous names like Raggidbak, Kadger, Frumplehausen and Gumbinnen.  They arrive in the most pitiful condition, dressed literally in rags while demanding to be treated as potentates.

Reynolds drops all pretense of story turning to straight invective, heaping crude scorn on all German States.  Writing in 1856 it would be a mere ten years before Bismarck united the German States, Duchies and Principalities into the first State of Europe.  They became an industrial competitor of Great Britain, and indeed rapidly surpassed England as an economic power setting up the prelude to WWI.  The laughable States known as the mythical Ruritania would soon disappear.

George scornfully says that this position as Duke of Maxe-Stolburg-Quotha would have been Albert’s position had not Victoria rescued him to give him his magnificent position.  This direct attack on Albert must have come to Victoria’s attention.  She would have deeply resented it placing George on the non-person list.

George had already offended the Army with his novel The Soldier’s Wife of 1952-53.  That book was deeply resented by the Army to the point of banning the book.  George’s reputation was already so bad that he wasn’t welcome in polite society.

A Review of the ‘Popular Authors’ Essay by Robert Lewis Stevenson

This essay has some pertinency to George W. M. Reynolds. The essay may be found in full by typing in Robert Louis Stevenson Popular Authors on the Internet.  I discuss merely the last paragraph.

Quote:

What kind of talent is necessary to please the mighty public?  That was my first question and was soon amended with the words “if any.”  J.F. Smith [no longer a house hold name] was a man of undeniable talent,  Errmyn [James Malcolm Rymer] and Hayward have a certain spark, and even in [Pierce] Egan the very tender might recognize the rudiments of a story of literary gift; but the case on the other side is quite conclusive; or the dull ruffian Reynolds, or Sylvanus Cobb, of whom perhaps I have only seen unfortunate examples—they seem to have the talents of a rabbit, and why anyone should read these is a thing that passes wonder.  A plain-spoken and possibly high-thinking critic might here perhaps return upon me with my own expressions.  And he would have missed the point.  For I and my fellows have no such popularity to be accounted for. The reputation of an upper class author is made for him at dinner-tables and nursed in newspaper paragraphs, and, when all is done, amounts to no great matter.  We call it popularity surely in a pleasant error.  A flippant writer in the Saturday Review, expressed a doubt if I had ever cherished one “genteel” illusion; in truth I never had many, but there was one- and I have lost it.  Once I took the literary member at his own esteem;  I behold him now like one of those gentlemen who read their own MS descriptive poetry aloud to wife and babes around the evening hearth; addressing a mere parlour coterie and quite unknown in the great world outside the villa windows.  At such pygmy reputation, Reynolds or COBB or Mrs. Southworth can afford to smile.  By spontaneous public vote, at a cry from the unorganic  masses these great ones of the dust were laureled.  For what?

Unquote.

While tracking down references to George Reynolds on the internet I came across this essay by Robert Louis Stevenson entitled Popular Authors with a couple mentions of Reynolds.  By Popular authors Stevenson doesn’t mean all authors; no, he means ‘Popular’ as in ‘Popular Mechanics’ or ‘Popular Science.’  Something dumbed down for the multitude.  He means ‘Popular Literature’.  Literature dumbed down for the masses; that is Penny Dreadfuls, Dime novels, Pulps. Literature with high tones eliminated.  Polite or literary fiction is for an elite crowd trying to avoid rubbing shoulders with vulgar reality.

The essay opened my eyes to Stevenson, whom I may confess, I have never liked, his novels that is.  Stevenson was born in 1850 thus becoming aware in 1862-63.  This time would have been the heyday of the Penny Dreadful writers, a large catalog by that time would have been available to him.  As he mentions no Gothic authors in his essay we may assume that if read a few they made no impression on him, but he immersed himself in the Penny Dreadfuls.

Stevenson’s most famous imitation of Penny Dreadfuls is his astonishingly successful Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a fundamental text for the psychology of the generations following.  The idea of the story is great but the execution of it a little less so.  The book is pretty nearly a mere outline.  Stevenson was sickly as a youth, bedridden in fact, so that he apparently spent his time reading ‘sensational’ fiction or Penny Dreadfuls and even stranger stuff.  When I learned this, Stevenson’s writing style fell into place, he’s an epigone of his masters.

There is a rather extended review of the origins of Jekyll and Hyde on the internet (https://.grunge.com/230634/the-bizarre-truth-of-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde/ that gives a detailed list of possible influences.

While not disparaging the list of influences, I think the author misses a very important one, that of Duke Wharton and his Mohocks (Mohawks).  One can mention another Queen Anne notable, Johnathan Wild although Hyde has no criminal network.  One imagines all youth of the time reveled in the stories of Wharton and Wild.  For my sensibilities the resemblance of Hyde to Wharton is striking.  Both men, the real Wharton and the fictional Hyde had respectable day jobs, but they really came out at night.

They both roamed the streets at night completely ignoring caution or disguise.  Wharton and his Mohocks even engaged in street battles with the Night Watch that they frequently outnumbered while being such hardened street fighters that they seldom lost and if any were captured Wharton had the influence to get them released.

So Hyde openly committed crimes arousing a crowd that pursued him to his lair.  While the movies that had him experimenting with weird chemicals to release his inner Satan, Stevenson’s Hyde like Wharton had been a rowdy in his youth and merely wished to experience those lost thrills again.  In a way Jekyll and Hyde could have been a companion volume to James Malcom Rymer’s (Errmyn) Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

As will be noted from Stevenson’s essay, he gives Reynolds the back of his hand calling him ‘the dull ruffian’ Reynolds’.  Stevenson may have thought Reynolds was a ‘ruffian’, probably correctly, but I can’t believe that he thought he was dull.  It is probable that he owed more to Reynolds than he cared to admit.

Even though the reputations of Rymer and Reynolds’  may have been eclipsed by WWI certainly the likes of J.F. Smith, and the Americans Sylvanus Cobb and Mrs. E.D.E.N. Southworth have fallen further from favor.  Oddly enough Cobb and Southworth were the top selling authors of the last half of the twentieth century in the US

Both were phenomenally prolific and popular.  Stevenson rightfully wondered how commonplace you have to be to find success.  Popularity involves finding a very large market and satisfying it.  Literary fiction quite often appeals to a small niche market. Stevenson falls between pulp and literary fiction and while he succeeded it was not to the extent of Reynolds whose sales really opened Stevenson’s eyes.

As it evolved, popular fiction in the twentieth century by writers like Mark Twain, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sax Rohmer, Bram Stoker, even Mary Shelley and a host of others dominated book sales while literary fiction languished. One might also mention movies that on the screen translated literary fiction into the genres of the popular along with numerous sci-fi and horror writers too numerous to mention. Stevenson’s essay is worthwhile to consider.

Sixth Note

George W. M. Reynolds

And The Saxe-Coburgs

by

R.E. Prindle

As the first two series of The Mysteries Of The Court Of London indicate George Reynolds had a problem with the Saxe-Coburgs especially the reign of the four Georges. The first series of Court dealt with George III and his pre-reign clandestine marriage to Hannah Lightfoot, continuing in the second series to George IV’s regency and his problems with a forced marriage to Princess Caroline.

Reynolds bid adieu to George IV as he left the Regency in 1920 to assume the throne at his father’ death.  George IV lived until 1830 when he was succeeded by his brother William IV.  He died in 1937 being succeeded by the daughter of his second next younger brother, Victoria.  Needless to say, her reign filled the remainder of the nineteenth century and a little over.  In 1840 Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

As a female and a beloved Queen she as a Saxe-Coburg was beyond the reach of Reynold’s scathing attacks.  However, Victoria’s beloved husband Albert wasn’t.  Reynolds contained himself until the fourth series of Court of London, writing in 1855 or ‘56 when he unleashed a scurrilous attack on Albert.

As we know, George Reynolds was an advocate of violent revolution.  While he had not actually been present at the 1830 violent revolution in France, he arrived in the French capital in its aftermath in very late 1830, what we might just as well call early 1831.  He thus witnessed first hand the aftermath of that revolution.  As he was a mere sixteen year old boy on his own he was enthralled.

The revolution of 1830 is only the second stage of the French Revolution of 1789.  The revolution would continue its struggle to the third stage, the 1848 European revolution, from there to the 1917 Communist Revolution in Russia.  That was the end of that cycle.  A shift in strategy then occurred.

George Reynolds as a member of the British revolutionary activity, belonged to the group called the Chartists in which he was very active in the 1848 revolution in England.  He was very disappointed at its failure.

Then came the reaction to the revolution as the governing powers cracked down on the revolutionists, perhaps unable to understand.  Even though working conditions were bad which the rulers recognized nevertheless from their perspective civilization had made astounding advances and they were right.  Perhaps not understanding the workers reaction to the magnificent achievements of the scientific, technological and industrial advances to that time, Prince Albert took a hand in organizing the Crystal Palace Exposition  of 1851, just three years after the failed revolution.

The Crystal Palace Expo which sought to calm revolutionary fervor by displaying all those advances to the public was the first of the great expos that continued to mid-twentieth century.  The greatest of all the expos by far was the fantastic  Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.  The Chicago Expo had the greatest impact of any of the expos emulating that of 1851.  The like of the Chicago Expo has never come close to it again and now never will.

The Crystal Palace Expo which sought to calm the revolutionary fever undoubtedly did so while raising the ire of the revolutionists.  Witness the enraged George Reynolds attack of Prince Albert.  Its display of all the scientific, industrial and technological marvels, and remember this stuff was new and unseen before, showed the shape of things to come while giving confidence and hope. 

That confidence and hope was realized in 1893 at the very height of Euro-American self-confidence as the apex of all humanity and history.  Ironically the long downhill slide began at that moment.

George Reynolds was infuriated at the success of the Crystal Palace Expo for which he blamed Prince Albert.  He attacked through Albert’s Germanness and raged at all things German.  Albert’s own status was as the Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha of Central Germany.  All this happened before the unification of Germany in 1866.  Germany and Central Europe served as matter for light opera as the imaginary country of Ruritania.  Germany then was a congeries of over a hundred small duchies and principalities..  While these States strove to maintain the hauteur of royalty they were too small and impoverished to attain any real dignity compared to the large States like England and France.  They were as fleas to England in George Reynolds’ mind. And Prince Albert represented that poverty sponging off England in George’s mind.

His ire reached a peak in the fourth series of the Court of London composed in 1855-56 as this series was about to terminate.  It might be worth while here to mention that the third and fourth series are not concerned with the Court at all.  The third series, titled The Crimes of Lady Saxondale is concerned with denigrating the aristocracy while the fourth devolves almost to the level of celebrating the common people.

George opens his attack on Prince Albert by vilifying the Germans.  He creates the German Principality of Maxe-Stolburg-Quotha which is about the size of Hyde Park. The name is an obvious parody of Albert’s Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.  He makes the Prince of Maxe-Stolburg-Quotha Prince Albert’s brother. 

Maxe-Stolburg-Quotha is an impoverished dukedom as compared with Great Britain.   Albert’s brother is continually visiting England to cadge handouts of a thousand pounds.  A ridiculously low figure compared to Reynolds’ characters tossing around thousands, tens of thousands and even a hundred thousand pounds.  The Duke brings his rag tag court with him.  George gives them ridiculous names like Raggidbak, Kadger, Frumplehausen and Gumbinnen.  They arrive in the most pitiful condition, dressed literally in rags while demanding to be treated as potentates.

Reynolds drops all pretense of story turning to straight invective, heaping crude scorn on all German States.  Writing in 1856 it would be a mere ten years before Bismarck united the German States, Duchies and Principalities into the first State of Europe.  They became an industrial competitor of Great Britain, and indeed rapidly surpassed England as an economic power setting up the prelude to WWI.  The laughable States known as the mythical Ruritania would soon disappear.

George scornfully says that this position as Duke of Maxe-Stolburg-Quotha would have been Albert’s position had not Victoria rescued him to give him his magnificent position.  This direct attack on Albert must have come to Victoria’s attention.  She would have deeply resented it placing George on the non-person list.

George had already offended the Army with his novel The Soldier’s Wife of 1952-53.  That book was deeply resented by the Army to the point of banning the book.  George’s reputation was already so bad that he wasn’t welcome in polite society.

A Review of the ‘Popular Authors’ Essay by Robert Lewis Stevenson

This essay has some pertinency to George W. M. Reynolds. The essay may be found in full by typing in Robert Louis Stevenson Popular Authors on the Internet.  I discuss merely the last paragraph.

Quote:

What kind of talent is necessary to please the mighty public?  That was my first question and was soon amended with the words “if any.”  J.F. Smith [no longer a house hold name] was a man of undeniable talent,  Errmyn [James Malcolm Rymer] and Hayward have a certain spark, and even in [Pierce] Egan the very tender might recognize the rudiments of a story of literary gift; but the case on the other side is quite conclusive; or the dull ruffian Reynolds, or Sylvanus Cobb, of whom perhaps I have only seen unfortunate examples—they seem to have the talents of a rabbit, and why anyone should read these is a thing that passes wonder.  A plain-spoken and possibly high-thinking critic might here perhaps return upon me with my own expressions.  And he would have missed the point.  For I and my fellows have no such popularity to be accounted for. The reputation of an upper class author is made for him at dinner-tables and nursed in newspaper paragraphs, and, when all is done, amounts to no great matter.  We call it popularity surely in a pleasant error.  A flippant writer in the Saturday Review, expressed a doubt if I had ever cherished one “genteel” illusion; in truth I never had many, but there was one- and I have lost it.  Once I took the literary member at his own esteem;  I behold him now like one of those gentlemen who read their own MS descriptive poetry aloud to wife and babes around the evening hearth; addressing a mere parlour coterie and quite unknown in the great world outside the villa windows.  At such pygmy reputation, Reynolds or COBB or Mrs. Southworth can afford to smile.  By spontaneous public vote, at a cry from the unorganic  masses these great ones of the dust were laureled.  For what?

Unquote.

While tracking down references to George Reynolds on the internet I came across this essay by Robert Louis Stevenson entitled Popular Authors with a couple mentions of Reynolds.  By Popular authors Stevenson doesn’t mean all authors; no, he means ‘Popular’ as in ‘Popular Mechanics’ or ‘Popular Science.’  Something dumbed down for the multitude.  He means ‘Popular Literature’.  Literature dumbed down for the masses; that is Penny Dreadfuls, Dime novels, Pulps. Literature with high tones eliminated.  Polite or literary fiction is for an elite crowd trying to avoid rubbing shoulders with vulgar reality.

The essay opened my eyes to Stevenson, whom I may confess, I have never liked, his novels that is.  Stevenson was born in 1850 thus becoming aware in 1862-63.  This time would have been the heyday of the Penny Dreadful writers, a large catalog by that time would have been available to him.  As he mentions no Gothic authors in his essay we may assume that if read a few they made no impression on him, but he immersed himself in the Penny Dreadfuls.

Stevenson’s most famous imitation of Penny Dreadfuls is his astonishingly successful Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a fundamental text for the psychology of the generations following.  The idea of the story is great but the execution of it a little less so.  The book is pretty nearly a mere outline.  Stevenson was sickly as a youth, bedridden in fact, so that he apparently spent his time reading ‘sensational’ fiction or Penny Dreadfuls and even stranger stuff.  When I learned this, Stevenson’s writing style fell into place, he’s an epigone of his masters.

There is a rather extended review of the origins of Jekyll and Hyde on the internet (https://.grunge.com/230634/the-bizarre-truth-of-dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde/ that gives a detailed list of possible influences.

While not disparaging the list of influences, I think the author misses a very important one, that of Duke Wharton and his Mohocks (Mohawks).  One can mention another Queen Anne notable, Johnathan Wild although Hyde has no criminal network.  One imagines all youth of the time reveled in the stories of Wharton and Wild.  For my sensibilities the resemblance of Hyde to Wharton is striking.  Both men, the real Wharton and the fictional Hyde had respectable day jobs, but they really came out at night.

They both roamed the streets at night completely ignoring caution or disguise.  Wharton and his Mohocks even engaged in street battles with the Night Watch that they frequently outnumbered while being such hardened street fighters that they seldom lost and if any were captured Wharton had the influence to get them released.

So Hyde openly committed crimes arousing a crowd that pursued him to his lair.  While the movies that had him experimenting with weird chemicals to release his inner Satan, Stevenson’s Hyde like Wharton had been a rowdy in his youth and merely wished to experience those lost thrills again.  In a way Jekyll and Hyde could have been a companion volume to James Malcom Rymer’s (Errmyn) Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

As will be noted from Stevenson’s essay, he gives Reynolds the back of his hand calling him ‘the dull ruffian’ Reynolds’.  Stevenson may have thought Reynolds was a ‘ruffian’, probably correctly, but I can’t believe that he thought he was dull.  It is probable that he owed more to Reynolds than he cared to admit.

Even though the reputations of Rymer and Reynolds’  may have been eclipsed by WWI certainly the likes of J.F. Smith, and the Americans Sylvanus Cobb and Mrs. E.D.E.N. Southworth have fallen further from favor.  Oddly enough Cobb and Southworth were the top selling authors of the last half of the twentieth century in the US

Both were phenomenally prolific and popular.  Stevenson rightfully wondered how commonplace you have to be to find success.  Popularity involves finding a very large market and satisfying it.  Literary fiction quite often appeals to a small niche market. Stevenson falls between pulp and literary fiction and while he succeeded it was not to the extent of Reynolds whose sales really opened Stevenson’s eyes.

As it evolved, popular fiction in the twentieth century by writers like Mark Twain, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sax Rohmer, Bram Stoker, even Mary Shelley and a host of others dominated book sales while literary fiction languished. One might also mention movies that on the screen translated literary fiction into the genres of the popular along with numerous sci-fi and horror writers too numerous to mention. Stevenson’s essay is worthwhile to consider.

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