Time Traveling #20, George W. M. Reynolds And Politics

April 5, 2022

Time Traveling #19

George W. M. Reynolds And Politics

by

R.E. Prindle

One thing that seems to have escaped we Reynolds Scholars is just how political Reynolds’ novels are; nor do we realize how revolutionary the years from 1830 to 1848 were.  English society was undergoing a huge political transformation.  Since the introduction of the potato into the diet the population had exploded and the people of the time understood it.   The potato without the Industrial Revolution would have been a disaster.

Was it not inevitable that Malthus made his dire prediction at this time?  To the casual observer Malthus’ view must have seemed inevitable.  The excess unemployed and unemployable was huge both in England and Ireland.

What saved England was first the emergence of railroads. The iron rails absorbed the idle creating a huge new workforce where none was before.  Further applications of steam also required new brigades of workmen and they were handy.  A large proportion of labor was skilled, requiring a fair education and demanding higher pay thus creating the phenomenon of the middle class which hadn’t existed before.

Railroads worked so well in England that it was assumed they would do the same for Ireland so rails were laid.  Ireland had no industry, being an agricultural economy, so very poor results.

Out of this English economic activity commerce developed apace.  English society was being overturned.  These money based businesses had a tendency to displace the old balance of the country on agriculture.  This challenged the old institution of aristocracy.  With numerous new workers clamoring for parliamentary representation the power of the old aristocracy was breaking.

Even as Reynolds in his novels railed against an hereditary aristocracy, and this was constant, he didn’t realize that his object was very near realization.  As he lay down his pen in 1860, Disraeli was proclaiming that the Reform Act of 1832  had rendered the aristocracy obsolete; they were toothless tigers.

In this transitional period (1830-48) the problem of a new political arrangement was paramount.  Contrary to Reynolds who found democracy sufficient there was much unease in accepting such an unpalatable solution.

As Disraeli examined political systems, he saw a descent from monarchy to Aristocracy to Parliament to a coming democracy with England in a mixture of all leading to the triumph of democracy and from there to total political failure such as we have now in both England and the US.

Political thinkers of doctrine all decried democracy.  Disraeli, learning from his father, believed the Jews had once had the perfect political system, and that the Jews had the true aristocracy, thus he despised democracy.

In the four series of Mysteries of London through the career of Richard Markham Reynolds devised utopian visions of the perfect democracy that was located in the Italian principality of Castelcicala.  Perfect democracy along with a perfect environment.  And, one might add, perfect people.

As Reynolds looked out at the squalor of London he divided the population into two classes, the rich and the poor.  The plight of the poor was desperate indeed.  Sanitation in the poor neighborhoods was deplorable indeed.  Reynolds’ picture of young children playing in  the streets of decaying garbage and filth, picking morsel from here there from the filth to eat are terrifying to today’s reader.

The scrounging class was very large, remember the population was struggling for the means of sustenance at the time Reynolds was writing. People earned what they could in any way they could, often quite despicable, the scourge of prostitution was everywhere prevalent.  At the time the Thames was so filthy that the stench from the pollution was such that a horrid odor spread from its banks.  At the time the sewers drained directly into the river.  A class of scroungers entered the sewer mouths at low tide penetrating as far as they safely could before the tide turned .  They rooted about in the oozing muck of frightful consistency to find objects of value.  They did find enough to actually make a satisfying living. 

A curious thing was in the dark tubes of insufficient oxygen they never caught any of the respiratory diseases, no flues, no colds.  The obvious lesson for us in the age of covid 19 is that the cure for flues and colds and respiratory viruses is to deny them oxygen.

Reynolds along with many others then and now believed that the raging crimes of London could be solved by sanitation, good jobs and education.  In his ideal democracy of Castelcicala mere democracy turned the principality around overnight, actually it only took the announcement that Castelcicala was a democracy.  Reynolds’ millennium had arrived.

Of course, as we know today, in a society of affluence, good education and good to excellent jobs, the criminal impulse is not rooted in poverty but in the souls of a portion of mankind.  Large portion.

Richard Markham’s story is actually a fantasy or fairy tale.  A sci-fi story that might as well be taking place in a parallel universe.  However, the progression of Markham’s life in terms of virtue vs. vice is an interesting tale, or, actually a novel within the novel.  The story begins with a good boy and bad boy, two brothers Richard and Eugene. (Eugene could be a tip of the hat to Eugene Sue and his Mysteries of Paris). 

Eugene, after an angry quarrel with his father over money, quits the house going off to make his fortune by any available means, which is to say criminal, or vice.  He is the bad boy.  Richard implores him not to leave but saying virtue would be his own way in life.  Just like Justine representing virtue in De Sade’s novel everything goes wrong for him.  In the opening segment of Series one he, a naif, is lured into a criminal group, set up as the fall guy, is arrested, tried and sent to prison for two years while having been fleeced of most of his fortune leaving him only two hundred pounds a year to get by on.

I’m going to have to insert some spoilers along the way but the writing of the story is the essential part.  As Rudyard Kipling said in his poem ‘When ‘Omer Smote His Bloomin’ ‘Arp’ all the stories were old already.  Since Eugene had already disappeared into numerous aliases his name doesn’t appear again until the end of Series Two.

It is obvious that he must be some other character in the novel which Reynolds skillfully conceals.  Suspicion falls on Montague/Greenwood.  Reynolds’ use of names was the giveaway for me.  Montague in the type of name he would have used.  His use of names would be a good study.  Laura for instance is the lovable girl gone bad.  Yes, Montague/Greenwood is Eugene.  Green wood, always trying, always failing because in Reynold’s book Vice must lose although Eugene has a memorable ride.  George Reynolds enjoys what is vulgarly known as the low life.  ‘This sportin’ life ain’t no life, but it’s my life…’ as the song says.  It was Montague/Greenwood, through ignorance that nearly destroyed his brother’s life.

Richard and Eugene, or two sides of Reynold’s personality.  An alter-ego also enters the story in the character of Tony Tidkins, the Resurrection Man.  Reynolds tries desperately to kill off Tidkins, ever going so far as to blow him up but Tony hangs on and turns on Reynolds/Richard much as in William Wilson’s dual personaity in Edgar Allan Poe’s story.  The duel between the two is the most interesting story in the Mysteries.

For those who may not know a Resurrection Man was a criminal who exhumed newly deceased bodies to sell to physicians for scientific study.  As a dual personality one might consider the Resurrection Man/Doctor as a parallel to Richard/Eugene.  Reynolds really likes his doctors with whom he is unfailingly admiring.  Each has his cabinet of curiosities, freaks of nature rising, as it were, from the dead. And, in fact, in The Crimes of Lady Saxondale one does.

‘Don’t go out tonight, they’re bound to take your life.’  Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?  The Shadow knows.  George the Shadow.

.3.

Mysteries of London quickly turned into an autobiographical fantasy in which Reynolds seeks redemption for his youthful criminality.  When his father returned into England from Guernsey his intent was to settle in Kent near the Cinque Ports, thus the recurring locality of Walmer, one of the ports and an important naval base, figures prominently in Reynold’ imagination.  In 1854 he moved from London to Ramsgate, one of the Cinque Ports.  He and his family lived there in some style until his wife, Susannah passed away in 1858.

Back to Walmer.  That town was a major naval station with a large hospital attached.  Reynolds’ father, who died upon his return in 1822, had a great friend, a naval physician named Duncan McArthur, hence George William McArthur Reynolds.  Dick Collins in his preface to the Valancourt edition of The Necromancer speculates that McArthur was a physician living in Walmer who experimented on dead bodies provided by Tidkins’ father.  Thus, Tidkins was initiated into exhuming dead bodies, condemned thereby to the criminal life as he was permanently excluded from polite society.

Reynolds gives a very sympathetic biography of Tidkins, extended biography.  This in my estimation means that he identified in some way with the Resurrection Man as his alter-ego.  In one resurrection within a church, described in great detail, the resurrectionists, accompanied by the doctor and a young boy exhume a young girl.  It could be just a good story or the doctor could have been McArthur and the boy Reynolds.  In any event there appears to be a love/hate relationship with Tidkins but Tidkins must be destroyed.

The first two years, 104 issues of Mysteries was an extended war between Richard/Reynolds and Tidkins/Reynolds. The story is a terrific psychological thriller.  Ultimately as the two series end Richard personally finally succeeds in ridding himself of Tidkins who had been the monkey on his back through five thousand pages.

An interesting thing, I digress,  is that the listings of his works on the title page of his books does and sometimes doesn’t list the first two series of Mysteries but he never ever mentions series three and four.  Probably why these two are so little known.  He also consistently mentions a book entitled Louisa the Orphan that is listed in his works nowhere else.  I’m dying to have a copy of Louisa, The Orphan. I have located a 1798 book titled Louisa the Lovely Orphan which is either a coincidence or perhaps George read it and rewrote it.

Perhaps when George finished series one and two he thought he had finished the story. But, then, perhaps George Stiff, his employer, didn’t want to give up a roaring success., so he asked for series three and four.  Reynolds wouldn’t have had worked out a story line so he had to scramble to come up with something.  Series three and four give evidence of such a situation.  While good, even excellent in parts, they show a fair amount of improvisation.

In the latter two stories of which the story of the Norwood Builder is a major stream one wonders where he got the story.  His contemporary and friend James Malcolm Rymer also included a short version of the Builder in his Varney the Vampire.  And then fifty years later, Conan Doyle retold the story in his Case of the Norwood Builder, based closely on that of Rymer.  Was the builder a real person?

A second stream is the continuation of Richard Markham’s career as the democratic leader of Castelcicala.  In this stream Reynolds  goes wild with fantasies of democracy.  While the earlier story in the first two volumes seemed to end satisfactorily, George now revives the story elaborating all his ideas on the perfection of democracy as a political system.  Now, a recap of how Richard arrived in the Italian principality of Castelcicala.

Richard, his early life destroyed, now an ex-con, stumbled around while waiting to turn playwright.  He hit the jackpot right out of box penning the only successful tragedy in modern English history.  Apparently after Shakespeare, no successful English tragedy succeeded, although not from trying.  As he stood up to honor the request for Author, Author Tidkins stood up bellowing ‘That’s Richard Markham who spent two years in Newgate Prison.  He is a felon.’  That, of course, ruined Richard’s theatrical career just as the wheel of fortune was turning in his direction.  Back to the drawing board.

.4,

At this point Richards star begins to rise, once again almost blighted by the Resurrection Man.  Richard is almost sunk in despair.  At this point the Duke of Castelcicala and his beautiful daughter Isabella arrive in exile in England.  Richard and Isabella are attracted to each other but Richard has his past hanging over his head that Tidkins does not fail to exploit.

Richard’s fortunes take a bound as the Duke recognizing his innate merit accepts his explanation of his past embracing him as his future son-in-law.

During this period Eugene under his various aliases pursues his criminal career. At first successful enough to put on a show of wealth, as time goes by and people become familiar with his style he slowly descends from a successful con man to the point where no one believes him.  The descent is skillfully handled by Reynolds.  Here Vice shows its true face.  It might be noted that the avatar of Vice, the Marquis de Sade himself spent a large amount of his adult life behind bars or in insane asylums, so, while touting vice, vice did little for him.  Justine and Juliette are astonishing stories nevertheless.

Castelcicalan affairs metamorphose so that the Duke is recalled to assume control bringing Richard with him.   Richard follows, engaging in a wild and successful military career exhibiting genius that Napoleon could have died for.   From this point on Richard is a made man.  Virtue triumphs in Spades.

The story closes back in London where Richard is pursuing the Resurrection Man.  He succeeds in terminating Tidkins’ career.  Hopefully for Reynolds that side of life dies with him.

Eugene returns to the old homestead to keep the appointment he made with Richard twenty years before to see whose career had been the most successful.  However as he arrives a man Eugene swindled sometime in the past chances to ride by.  He leaps out of the coach, pulls the trigger, Eugene lies dead.  Vice does not pay.

As noted earlier, the Mysteries were a roaring success, selling as many as forty thousand copies weekly.  One imagines that perhaps George Still his publisher and George Vickers the printer were reluctant to give up such a gold mine.  He or they implored Reynolds to write another series or two.

Reynolds was reluctant, wishing to branch off on his own, as he will soon but not affluent enough as yet. He must balance his aspirations against a reliable five pounds a week.  He accepted the task.  It would be interesting to know whether he had already worked out a plan for his next big project the Mysteries of the Court of London, at any rate he had to come up with something for the present.

As Stiff had the rights, he and Vickers could do with the Mysteries as they liked. I haven’t seen the printing history of the Mysteries but as Reynolds will to on to dominate the Penny Dreadfuls for eight years with his equally successful Mysteries of the Court of London one imagines that they sold well in book form.  Perhaps Reynolds decision to leave at the end of the Mysteries with the loss of future income irritated Stiff and Vickers enough that they filed bankruptcy proceedings against Reynolds in 1848 in what appears to have been a malicious act.

If Reynolds thought that he had ended the Mysteries at the end of series four he now had to quickly invent a continuation from scratch.  Series five and six  (Vols. three and four) definitely show a writer struggling to find a story line as there is a certain looseness and lack of real continuity such as was found in series one-four.  Reynolds falls back on the old reliable highway man to begin the new series in what seems to be a middle.  Might be called, in media res.

George needs a horrible villain to match the Resurrection Man so he fixes on naming his Old Death.  Rather lame.  I found the name repellant so that it took a second reading to begin to get into the story, or stories.  The two volumes turn into a rather discontinuous series of episodes while when stuck George throws in long short stories, almost novellas such as the very long tale of Tim the Snammer.  A good story but reminiscent of Capt. Marryat.

George does manage to weave the adventures of his hero, Tom Rain, into a few interlocking series of adventures- Tom and the Jews, Tom and Lady Georgiana, Tom and Old death, Tom and the Norwood Builder and the Norwood Builder without Tom.  Apparently up against the wall for copy he reintroduces Richard Markham and his further adventures as the savior of Castelcicala.  While barely kept within the story context, not sure that it was, this section is a very long tract on Reynolds’ utopian vision of democracy. As with all utopias the scheme depends on human beings acting as angels who are each a puppet on strings.

Of course, this was written in ’46 or ’47 while the revolutionaries were quivering in anticipation of the Revolution of ’48.  This revolution was no secret.  Karl Marx who lived in London at there time where he wrote the Communist Manifesto literally announced the revolution.  There is no evidence that Reynolds met Marx but Marx knew who he was.  Marx described him as a rich capitalist, this description must come from the 1850s.

Now, according to Benjamin Disraeli the ’48 was wholly planned and executed by the Jews so its advent would been no surprise to him.  Already in Parliament for ten years one wonders if he advised his fellows of the shape of things to come.  If not, he was complicit.

While bloody and difficult to suppress on the continent, in England it was only a series of wild demonstrations.  Reynolds took part to the extent of making public speeches which were so well received in Trafalgar Square that he was carried home on the shoulders of the demonstrators where he made another speech from his balcony.

In England the Jewish element was silent.  Instead, Reynolds as a Chartist was the star of revolutionary England.  In England the revolution was led by a political group called the Chartists.  Chartists because they had a list of demands compiled as a chart.  The Chartists were more an evolutionist group while Reynolds was a Red Republican, that is he favored a violent takeover of the government not unlike the 1793 Jacobin phase of the first French revolution or what was happening on the Continent of ’48.  He was shunned by the Chartist leaders.

Reynolds must have known the ’48 revolution was imminent, probably at the same time that he began writing the Mysteries in ’44.  The coming revolution was more or less an open secret.  Thus his writings are anti-monarchy and anti-aristocracy.  From the Reform Act of ’32 there was a steady drum roll to enfranchise the entire male population, that is for democracy. 

The desire for democracy was not universal however.  Democracy did not enjoy the sacred status it has today.  Disraeli who was about to lead the Conservative Party was adamantly opposed to democracy and throughout his long ascendency tried to prevent it.  The history of democracy was such that it always ended in disaster, something like socialism does, and, for that matter, what has happened today as chaos envelopes us.

Reynolds was strictly utopian.  He wanted democracy and democracy now. He had always favored a compete break with the past, an abrupt overturn of society wiping away the old and installing the new.  He applauded the first French Revolution for its violence.  Victor Hugo, the French writer, known today for his two novels, the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Misérables, writing in 1874 published his novel 1793, written after the disappointment of the Paris rising of 1870, called the Paris Commune, Hugo openly advocated the extermination of counter-revolutionaries as he believed the ‘old’ mentality would never accept revolutionary ideals.

In writing his Castelcicalan fantasy Reynolds disposed of such gory details.  He does portray a complete break with Castelcicala’s monarchy and aristocracy but they voluntarily surrender their stations to accept pure democracy

In this vision Richard Markham steps into the role of a savior who is embraced by an adoring population.  In a couple years he would actually enjoy this sort of adulation on the shoulders of the Chartists carrying him to his home.  One wonders how long it took him to come down from that elation and how it affected his attitude as he began his magnum opus The Mysteries of the Court of London that castigate the monarchy and aristocracy.

The population, of which perhaps the majority may have never even heard of democracy, rose in a universal shout of joy.  As a true democrat Richard rejected all emoluments becoming as the Roman Emperor Augustus did, the first among equals.  He even insisted on a first name basis.  Crime, ignorance and civil disobedience disappeared under his rule, or perhaps, counsel or just the shout of democracy. 

The failure of ’48 probably damped his ardor, but his novel is a great fairy tale.

.5.

We usually think of Reynolds as a novelist but he was also a very successful newspaper man with both a paper and a magazine, The Reynolds Miscellany.  As the newspaper was considered a radical sheet it therefore follows that he would be politically well informed.  As some of his novels deal with the Jewish presence, his journalism must have been attentive to Jewish activities.

Make no mistake English society was sensitive to the Jewish presence.  As fate would have it the lives of Reynolds and the most famous Jews of the period ran parallel, the top politican and novelist Benjamin Disraeli and the top Jewish financier, Lionel Rothschild who all died within two years of each other’

As they were working at cross purposes Reynolds and they would have been at odds.  Disraeli and Rothschild would have come under close scrutiny from Reynolds’ eye.  The question concerning Disraeli is, was he simply a Jewish politician or was he a prime agent in the Jewish conspiracy to win Europe for themselves.  Remember that Disraeli said that the Revolution of ’48 was wholly a Jewish enterprise.  Would they have shared the fruits with the Europeans if the revolution had been successful?  Not very likely.

When the crisis came in ’48 Disraeli had been successful in upsetting parliamentary organization, put it into confusion.  In vicious verbal attacks he had been successful in removing Prime Minister Robert Peel as the leader of the opposition.  Peel’s probable successor George Bentinck, a close associate of Disraeli’s, died a mysterious death while out walking thus leaving the way open for Disraeli to seize the opportunity to become leader of the Tory, Conservative, Party for the rest of his life.

It is a fact that Disraeli was tight with the Rothschilds. I don’t think it should offend anyone to say that the Rothschild family lacked integrity.  Disraeli was a habitue at the dwelling of Lionel Rothschild, who died in the same year as Reynolds, 1879,.  Disraeli also lived in Alfred Rothschild’s house after his wife Maryanne died. So there was a close relationship between Disraeli and the Rothschilds who were considered Messiahs who would return the Jews to Jerusalem in which they actually succeeded.

As I have pointed out in other articles Benjamin Disraeli’s father, Isaac D’Israeli, wrote a book titled The Genius of Judaism in which he posited that Jesus came to fulfill the Law and that having done so the Old Testament and the New Testament become the fulfillment of the Law in two volumes.  Thus Jesus was the completion of the law and thus Jews could assume a dual identity as Jew and Christian.  But Jesus was only a Jewish prophet while the Christ was a Greek notion attached to Jesus only much later to satisfy the gentiles.  Christian then is not a Jewish concept but they both use the same figurehead.

Is it coincidental that Ewald whose text is central to this essay was also a ‘complete’ Jew who had accepted Christianity as his second religious identity?  As always the Jews needed a huge propaganda unit to counter the antipathy they aroused.  There were many outfits set up to proselytize to Christianity, such as the British Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Among the Jews.  Is it a coincidence that the men who ran these organizations were most frequently Jewish completist Christian converts.

Was not their intent to convince as many Jews as possible to disguise themselves as Christians?  Thus they would open doors to society as Christians while remaining Jews.  That was how Disraeli lived his life although the Jewish side of the coin was always uppermost.  That said, would they not have conspired together with interested parties such as Disraeli and the Rothschilds as well as other rich and influential Jews in England and on the Continent?  In fact, they would have been connected to Disraeli through his father’s book perhaps forming a Jewish sub-group..

Disraeli certainly performed miracles for his Jewish people while actually undermining and injuring the prospects of England and his Christian fellows. To fathom Reynolds and clearly understand Reynolds’ novels would require a thorough examination of his journalism over the decades.  It

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