A Note And Aside On George W. M. Reynold’s Mysteries Of Old London: Days Of Hogarth

by

R.E. Prindle

 

While Old London isn’t as widely read as George’s two masterpieces it is a very interesting book. It is an historical examination of the eighteenth century period of Duke of Wharton and his Mohocks.

A comprehensive review will follow later, this note examines an interesting passage while other notes may follow. In a review of the whole, one frequently omits significant observations or ideas. In this quote that is very remarkable for its time (1848) Reynolds examines weaving in a manner that neither Dickens or Ainsworth could touch.

The quote occurs on page 14 of the British Library reprint while George is setting up his story. Chapter 5, The Two Apprentices.

It has been well said that man is the noblest work of God; but it is not equally easy to decide which is the noblest work of man. Though in contrast with the wondrous achievements of Almighty Power, the efforts of the human race are as nothing- though the most complicated, the most perfect results of mortal ingenuity are mean and contemptible when placed in comparison with the stupendous creations of the Divine Architect- nevertheless the earth is covered with monuments, which excite our astonishment and our admiration at the intelligence, the power, and the perseverance of man!

But of all the acts which in their application, constitute the distinctions between social and savage life- between a glorious civilization and an enduring barbarism- that of Weaving is decidedly one of the chief. For though the savage may affect the finery of shells and flowers- though he may study external adornment by means of natural products most pleasing in his sight- and though he may even conceal his nakedness with leaves, or defend himself from the cold by the hides of animals- yet is only in those portions of the globe where civilization has been the tutress of the human race, that comfortable clothing is known. And for this we are indebted to the LOOM which we may therefore look upon as at least one of the noblest works of Man!

How much of her prosperity,- how much of her greatness does England now owe to that achievement of human ingenuity! Amongst all the departments of National Industry, none is more ennobling in its tendency to commercial progress, than the art of weaving! Alas! That War should ever impose its barbarism in a way of the pursuit of Peace! For while Peace aspires to make our homes happy and increase our comforts, thus augmenting the enjoyments of life- War- hideous barbaric War- snatches our industrious mechanics from their looms, and our agricultural labourers from their plowshares, to place them in the ranks of armies or on the decks of fleets. And, what gain we from War after all? Glory- yes, plenty of glory; aye- and plenty of taxation also! For taxation is a vampire that loves to feast on the blood of a Nation’s heart, and to prey upon the vitals of an industrious population. It is an avaricious, grasping, griping fiend that places it finger on every morsel of food which enters into the mouth, on every article of clothing which covers the person, and on everything which is pleasant to behold, hear, taste, feel or smell! It interferes with our warmth- our light- our locomotion- the very paper which diffuses knowledge! It roams over the land to claim its share of the produce of our fields and our manufactures: and it awaits on the key of our seaports for the unlading of vessels bringing things from abroad. The moment that the industry or the intelligence of man originates something new, the fiend Taxation overshadows it with its loathsome bat like wing. It plunges it fang into the rich man’s dish and the poor man’s porringer: but the poor man suffers the more severely from this rapacious robber because he has but one porringer, whereas the rich man has many dishes. Oh! Insatiate is that Fiend; for he attends the deathbed when the will is made, and in the spiritual court when it is proven:- he has his share of the price paid for the very marble which covers the grave of the deceased-; and it is only there- in the grave- that the victim of Taxation can be taxed no more.

As the chapter is entitled The Two Apprentices and as they are apprentice weavers I suppose that touches off George’s tirades against war and taxation. His interpretation of the role of weaving in civilization manages to bring in a sort of evolutionary discussion of clothing. Just as a note of interest Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus appeared about this time, and that is a discussion of clothes so the popular imagination may have been drawn to the importance of clothes in these marvelous years of the Dandies, of which George was one, and the early years of discovery leading to the opening of the European mind.

George elsewhere brings up the arrival of the silk weaving on English shores as, as he says, forty thousand Huguenots exiled from France arrived in England and set up the industry.

The novels are full of interesting historical facts as George was a very well read guy.

A Personal Aside

 

I have now read nineteen titles of Reynolds’ novels. The major ones twice. The third and fourth series of Mysteries of London only once, all of the novels up to and including 1850. I own most of the rest. There is one novel that John Dicks lists titled Louisa, the Orphan, to which I can find no other reference.
Apparently George was really appreciated on the other side of the Atlantic in the US. Unable to get enough of George, publishers had writers write numerous titles under his name and this was being done into the1890s. I recently purchased a book titled the Countess of Lascelles or Self-Sacrifice, Part I, a sequel Bertram Vivian also in two parts published by Hurst and Company.

Here is a partial list of title, only a partial list, written and published in the US well into the eighties and nineties by a host of publishers: Caroline of Brunswick, Lord Saxondale, Count Christoval, Eustace Quentin, Banker’s Daughter, The Opera Dancer, Child of Waterloo, Robert Bruce, The Gypsy Chief, Wallace, Hero of Scotland, Isabella Vincent, Duke Of Marchmont, Life in Paris, Countess and the Page, Edgar Montrose, The Ruined Gamester, Clifford and the Actress, Queen Joanna, Ciprina or the Secrets of a Picture Gallery. I recently purchased a title called The Countess of Lascelles, a sequel to Bertram Vivian and which is followed by the two volumes of The Doom of the Burkers. Bertram, Lascelles and Burkers is a six volume series built around the same characters

This is very strange because George W. M. Reynolds was apparently very famous in his day in the US but has been totally forgotten in the history of American literature. How could this be? A firm, T.B. Peterson of Philadelphia published more that a dozen titles under Reynolds name some legit and some not. And that was in the 1880s. Another mystery to be investigated. Why is Reynolds’ popularity in US literature totally forgotten?

Now is the time for a little recapitulation.

The range of George’s interests and the seeming depth of his knowledge is quite astounding. One wonders what his sources were. I’ve mentioned many of his more obvious influences even doubling in some cases such as the Pickwick Papers as sources.

One title I have come across in six volumes is Charles Knight’s amazing title, London. I think it is pretty clear that Reynolds read the work. It was originally published serially then issued in book form when enough articles accrued to bind from 1841-1844. These were years when Reynolds wrote no novels although remaining active journalistically. I have the Cambridge University re-issue. I can do no better than to quote the Cambridge intro:

The publisher and writer Charles Knight (1794-1873) was apprenticed to his printing father but later became a journalist and the proprietor of various periodicals and magazines, which were driven by his concern for education of the poor. As an author, he published a variety of works, including The Old Printer and the Modern Press (also issued in the [Cambridge] Series. He claimed that this six volume work on the architecture and history of London, published between 1841 and 1844, was neither a history nor a survey of London, but looked at the Present through the Past and the Past through the Present. It relies on the skills of eminent artists to bring both the present and the past of London to life, and it is arranged thematically rather then chronologically or geographically. This is a fascinating account of what was the greatest city in the world.

The articles are by several different authors that lovingly describe the attributes of London past and present. George may have read the articles and then examined the sites himself in these four years in which he obviously absorbed much of the information he includes in his novels. Some details fascinated him. In Old London he mentions the Fleet Ditch which was uncovered in the 1720s.

The Fleet Ditch is what was once a stream that was turned into a muddy, foul ditch by the advance of civilization. It was later covered so that it flowed under the city itself. George mentions it here in Old London and then opens his The Mysteries of London with a description when Eliza Sydney was pitched into it by the criminals.

As fascinating as his stories are, acquiring background information then makes the stories more intelligible while opening vistas of what the deeper meanings of the works are. Fathoming the depths of Reynolds mind is important, getting the references. So while I began writing knowing little but the stories, I have worked to develop an understanding of what George saw and was describing.

The struggle or effort goes on. I am now about to begin reading the works of Reynolds mature years, those after 1850, while I have to reread The Mysteries of London, third reading, and The Mysteries of the Court of London, also third reading. It appears that the edition most people are reading of Mysteries of the Court is that published by the Oxford Society (of which there is no knowledge) in England and the Richard F. Burton Society in Boston, USA. It is an expurgated and partially revised edition. Apparently Reynolds was more racy and explicit in the original. In his The Parricide he gets really raunchy. Thus for the third reading I would like to obtain the original.

Just as Mysteries of London had a third and fourth series it is possible that John Dicks actually published a third and fourth series of Court of London. In five volumes each they were titled The Crimes of Lady Saxondale and The Fortunes of the Ashtons. Thus the Oxford edition of 1900 consists of twenty volumes containing all four series.

It seems apparent that the latter two series were not the product of Reynolds’ pen. They must have been written by others. It seems to me that Reynolds does the same thing as Charles Knight did, that is employ other writers to write according to his plan. Thus he might also have done as Alexander Dumas did and put his name on others writing. Certainly Court of London does not seem long enough to have taken eight years to publish it. The four series of The Mysteries of London are equally massive as the The Court of London and they took only four years to publish. The massive first two series must have been completed by 1846 leaving the shorter two series to finish the series by 1848 when Court began. Thus it is probable that Dicks went on publishing Saxondale and The Ashtons after Reynolds finished with George IV and the Regency. Reynolds says that he then abandoned George IV and the Monarchy years.

It seems to me that Reynolds does the same thing in relation to the Past and Present as Charles Knight did in his London and, indeed, that is the approach I am taking in my Time Traveling series.

Knight’s work in a way forms a template for Reynolds novels that in the main are historical combining the past and present. The current novel under consideration, The Mysteries of Old London pertain to the early eighteenth century just after the reign of Queen Anne and the beginning of the four Georges. More particularly does it involve the beginnings of the Hell Fire Clubs of the next hundred years from 1720-21. George specifically mentions that this story begins in 1721 and deals with the period of the historical Duke of Wharton and his Mohocks who terrorized the after dark streets of London during the period. Reynolds character Jem Ruffles certainly represents aspects of the Duke of Wharton as well, probably, of the arch criminal Johnathan Wild.

One of the studies of Charles Wright is of the locality of Spitalfields which was associated with weaving, silk weaving to be specific. The association began with the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 by order of Louis XIV by which the Huguenot sect was expelled. The Huguenots were Protestants who had evolved out of the Albigensian faiths of Provence and who were nearly exterminated in the thirteenth century. The Huguenots evolved from the earlier belief systems of the Albigensians and were in direct conflict with the Catholic Church. They were harder to deal with than the Albigensians and were constantly at war with Northern government of France. In the fifteenth century under Charles IX a truce was made with the Huguenots and their being invited to Paris to celebrate. This was a ruse and trick of Charles and the Huguenots were set upon by the Catholics and murdered in the celebrated St. Bartholomew’s Massacre. The remnant remained in their stronghold in Gascony in the South of France ruled by Henri of Bearn. Charles was murdered and replaced by his brother Henri III. At Henri III”s death he was succeed by Henri of Bearn, the Huguenot, who became Henri IV. He negotiated the Ediict of Nantes giving his Huguenots the protection of the crown. A little under a hundred years later the Edict was revoked by Louis XIV resulting in the displacement of their silk weaving industry to Spitalfields in London.

This history of the Huguenots was covered by Alexander Dumas in his novels of the Valois kings of France written in the mid forties that Reynolds would have read. Thus the mention of the Huguenots and Spitalfields in the quote from Old London. Reynolds repeatedly gives brief accounts of the various London districts such as Spitalfields following the Wright method of uniting the past and the present. Since his info is so similar to that of Wright one of his key readings must have been Charles Wright’s London.

Of course, Reynolds tramped the streets of all those districts he mentions and probably talked to old timers who may have remembered far back. As Wright lived to the 1870s one wonders whether Reynolds and he had any talks.

In the ending of the Oxford edition of the first two series of Court of London Reynolds says that he has tired of writing about George IV and chose not to follow him into his reign as monarch. He says he has other projects to follow. If those projects were Lady Saxondale and the Ashtons then he probably did hire other writers to compose the text according to his plan. Otherwise where the latter two series came from is a total mystery. The Mysteries of the Oxford Edition need clearing up.

Part XIa

Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

 GWMReynolds

I have been having trouble finding a way into this chapter. Three efforts have been thrown aside; perhaps the fourth will succeed. I have been successful in finding a copy of The Youthful Impostor and added Vo. I of The Modern Literature of France. The latter is available under the title Georges Sand. A couple of quotes from those may possibly be a good lead in.

A preliminary quote is from David De Leon’s introduction to his translation of volume fifteen of Mystere’s du Peuple, Eugene Sue’s The Executioner’s Knife or Joan of Arc: A Tale of the Inquisition. De Leon:

Whether one will be satisfied with nothing but a scientific diagnosis in psychology, or a less ponderous and infinitely more lyric presentation of certain mental phenomena will do for him, whether the credit of history insists on strict chronology or whether he prizes in matters canonical the rigid presentation of dogma or a whether the tragic fruits of theocracy offer a more attractive starting point for his contemplation- whichever case may be (the career and novels of George Reynolds…) will gratify his intellectual cravings on all three heads.

Of course I have substituted Reynolds for De Leon’s quote of Sue. He pretty well covers the approach I am taking. The smooth or turbulent waters of a rolling river are what is meant by canonical waters, while the real history lies beneath the shining or muddy waters in the hidden river bed. With Reynolds it is necessary to penetrate the river’s surface and search beneath to understand the depth of Reynold’s thought.

Up to this time Reynolds has escaped the biographer’s pen. Fortunately for us Reynolds has left some pretty transparent clues in his writing making them fairly accessible auto-biography, more especially in the novels of his apprenticeship before embarking mid-stream as he began the fullness of his career with The Mysteries Of London. Two novels stand out in auto-biographical detail. The first is The Youthful Impostor first composed when he was eighteen in 1832 and edited before publication in 1835. The completely rewritten version of 1847 retitled The Parricide bears small relation to the first published version. The second work is his Modern Literature of France published in 1839 when he was twenty-five. The latter is non-fiction. In it he says in the introduction speaking directly to the reader p. XVII

The literature of France previous to the Revolution of 1830 resembled that of England at the present day; inasmuch as a moral lesson were taught through the medium of almost impossible fiction. Now the French author paints the truth in all its nudity; and this development of the secrets of Nature shocks the English reader, because he is not yet accustomed to so novel a style. To depict truth, in all its bearings, consistently with nature, is a difficult task; and he who attempts it muse occasionally exhibit deformities which disgust the timid mind. A glance at life in all its phases, cannot be attended with very satisfactory results; and while the age surveys much to please, it must also be prepared to view much that will be abhorrent to the virtuous imagination. The strict conventual usages of English society prevent the introduction of highly coloured pictures into works of fiction; and thus, in an English book which professes to be a history of man or of the world, the narrative is but half told. In France the whole tale is given at once; and the young men, and young females do not there enter upon life with minds so circumscribed and narrow that the work of initiation becomes an expensive and ruinous task. We do not become robbers because we read of thefts; nor does a female prove incontinent on account of her knowledge that such a failing exists. The pilot should be made aware of rocks and quicksands, that he may know how to avoid them; it is ridiculous to suffer him to roam on a vast ocean without having previously consulted the maps and charts which can alone warn him of peril. Such is the reasoning of French writers, who moreover carry their system to such a an extent, that they cannot hesitate to represent vice triumphant, and virtue leveled with the dust, for they assert that the former incredibly prospers, and the other languishes without support; whereas the English author points to a difficult moral in his fiction.

One might say that Reynolds plan of literature was formed in France while his five years there were the most significant and formative in his life. Whether he witnessed the three important days of the July Revolution that unseated Charles X is not important, what is important is that their import coalesced his own political outlook. Thus when he returned to England in 1836 it was in full revolutionary mode and remained so promoting the Revolution of 1848 by any and all means at his disposal. He directed his revolutionary effort toward ’48 by his involvement in the Chartist Movement in which he was ultimately successful. Coming from France where he believed that the July Revolution swept away ancient ways be violence, belief in violence offended the English agitators who believe evolutionary tactics the better approach. They belittled his contributions and diminished him personally. Notwithstanding his vision of Chartism triumphed changing English society and he should be rehabilitated and acknowledged as such.

Secondly the quote displays perfectly Reynolds’ literary ideals to present reality starkly as he saw it. I do not agree with many of his conclusions and in observing his usages do not necessarily endorse them in their entirety. Time has proven many of his observations fatuous and against human nature. To ignore them is to misunderstand his import. He is almost always going against the grain. Especially compared to Dickens and Ainsworth.

The French literature he discusses was prior to the effusion of the Forties, which was astonishing. In his critique he is referring to the theatrical or poetic works of Dumas and Victor Hugo. He apparently was an ardent theatre goer.

The tremendous events of the fifty years preceding 1830 were brought to a head in the July Revolution of France and the Reform Act of 1832 in England. The political and belated explosion in France in 1789 was only less significant compared to the Industrial Revolution of England and the subsequent economic reorganization. When the Napoleonic era ended modern society had been reorganized emerged complete.

Once again, Reynolds was keenly aware of changing customs and mores. This vision was held up starkly to him when he set foot in France shortly after the July Revolution. One should also note this was after the cholera epidemic of the same year. To quote him again: The +*-Modern Literature of France pp. XIII-XIV:

The literature of France since the July Revolution of 1830 is quite distinct from that under the fallen dynasty. A sudden impulse was given to the minds of men by the successful struggle for freedom which hurled the improvident Charles from his royal seat; and all aims—all views—and all interests underwent a vast change. Ages of progressive but peaceful reform couldn’t have accomplished so much, in reference to the opinions and tastes of a mighty nation, as those three days of revolution and civil war. The march of civilization was hurried over centuries; and as if France had suddenly leapt from an old into a new epoch without passing through the minutes, the hours, and the days which mark the lapse of time, she divested herself of the grotesque and gothic apparel, and assumed an attire which at first astounded and awed herself. And then men began to congratulate each other upon the change of garb; and now that they are accustomed to see and admire it, they look upon their rejected garments as characteristic of antiquity, and not as things that were in vogue only a few years since.

As a Chartist, other Chartists who were more evolutionarily minded disliked Reynolds because he was known for wanting drastic results by violent revolutionary means Reynolds retorts, p. XVI:

It is a matter of speculation whether the Reform Act (of 1832 in England) would have been even now (1839) conceded to the people of this country, if it had not been found necessary to keep pace as much as possible with the giant strides made by the French. Certainly a change has taken place in the literature of England since the passing of the Reform itself as well as that of France since the three days of July.

The change in literature in England was led by Edward Bulwer Lytton, William Harrison Ainsley, perhaps Charles Dickens, by Reynolds himself and quite probably writers like Pierce Egan and the Penny Blood and Dreadful writers as developments in printing and paper made ever cheaper editions possible making books of all qualities affordable to the rising literacy among the underclasses. Indeed by the 1850s, John Dicks, Reynolds printer and partner, would make available the complete Shakespeare for pennies. Of course, the type was so small they are virtually unreadable except to the most dedicated.

All of these writers were reformers, writing especially about the harsh penal laws.

The core attitudes of Reynolds remained unchanged from his introduction into France. It was in France that a very young eighteen year old wrote his first book, The Youthful Impostor.

-II-

Reynolds incorporates his entire life into his novels so this might be the right time to assemble a chronology of his life. For those who may have read my earlier chapters this account may seem familiar but it incorporates much new material, better organization and deeper thinking. Or so I think.

While George’s first novel, The Young Impostor was first composed in 1832 when he was eighteen the book was not to published until 1835 when he was twenty-one. There was some touching up for the 1835 version as he includes a chapter head quote from W. Harrison Ainsworth’s Rookwood that was only published in 1832 and couldn’t have been read for his original manuscript. He also chapter headed a quote from Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 novel Paul Clifford. That novel was definitely an influence on The Youthful Impostor. The Youthful Impostor is highly autobiographical so we can form an almost biographical account of his early years. By the way the 1847 rewrite of the Impostor, The Parricide, bears almost no resemblance to the earlier version. It can read as an independent novel and not his best.

George was born July 20, 1814. His father, a naval post-Captain commanded a cruiser during the Napoleonic wars. Born in Sandwich, Kent of the Cinq Ports, the family was moved to the island of Guernsey when George was two. Six years later the family returned to Kent and its capital Canterbury. Reynolds has indelible memories of all this so references to his early life crop up frequently in his works.

Returning to 1822, at the age of eight he was saddened by the death of his father thus making him an orphan. Orphans figure prominently in his works. His mother died eight years later depriving him of both parents leaving him on his own at fifteen under the guardianship of his father’s best friend Duncan McArthur, hence George’s third name. He passed under that man’s guardianship after his father’s death. His mother was not his guardian.

His relationship with McArthur, if we judge from his writing, was not a happy one. There are other references but in 1854 writing in his novel, The Rye House Plot, which by the way is a superb novel, George had this to say about his guardian: Rye House Plot, p. 63,

This guardian of mine was a man of stern disposition; and I loved him not.

I think we can apply the quote to Duncan McArthur. He, himself, was an old Navy man, a surgeon. From the age of eight to sometime at the age of thirteen George attended a school in Ashford, a few miles from Canterbury which were happy years for him as he idolized his schoolmaster. Then, as George styles it, at the tender age of thirteen he

was placed in the Sandhurst Military Academy in Berkshire. Thirteen would indeed had been tender to have been thrown in with older boys of sixteen or eighteen and even young men heading into their twenties. Tom Brown’s School Days at Rugby by Thomas Hughes at roughly this time shows how difficult George’s situation probably was. He was impoverished while probably the majority of the cadets were from titled families having plenty of money. So from thirteen to sixteen when George was either removed or removed himself the years must have been unpleasant. The Youthful Impostor covers those years.

George’s mother died in March of 1830 when he was fifteen. He left the academy shortly after his sixteenth birthday in September. He left for France at the end of 1830, a greenhorn of sixteen. A sitting duck for sharpers one might say.

The question then is how much money did he have. Dick Collins think nothing but I think he had to have much more so I accept his statement to the adjudicator at his 1848 bankruptcy hearing when George told him that he had had seven thousand pounds. Where did they come from?

In The Rye House plot he discusses such an issue like this. His character General Oliphant is speaking. “Eighteen years ago, when I was a youth under twenty, I embarked with my uncle, Mr. Oliphant, on board a vessel bound for a Spanish port where he had some mercantile business to transact, he being engaged in commercial enterprises. Mr. Oliphant was my +

guardian, my parents having died when I was very young. I must observe that Mr. Oliphant being a man of reserved and stern disposition had kept me in the most perfect state of ignorance as to my own affairs; and although I had reason to believe that my parents had left some little property, which I should inherit on obtaining my majority, I had not the smallest conception of what amount or value it might be or what nature it was nor where situated or deposited.

As it turned out the inheritance was a couple thousand pounds payable at twenty-one. This coincides with Dick Collins researches in George’s finances. So, I think we can believe that George is describing his own situation in the above quote. While it is generally thought that George inherited twelve thousand pounds when his mother died, we can I think dismiss the account. Where, then, did George get seven thousand pounds. If The Young Impostor is as autobiographical as I think it is then George was involved in a substantial swindle and fled England in somewhat of a hurry at the end of 1830.

George does not often write about his military life but he does in YI and the Rye House Plot. The cadets were given a fair amount of liberty and traveled from the barracks to London frequently. This was George’s first acquaintance with London and it was overwhelming.

In Chapter VI of the Parricide a rewrite of The YI Reynolds quotes this verse:

Houses, churches, mix’d together

Streets unpleasant in all weather,

Prisons, palaces contiguous,

Gaudy things enough to tempt you

Showy outsides, insides empty,

Baubles, trades, mechanic arts,

Coaches, wheelbarrows, and carts,

-This is London! How do ye like it?

Sometime then at thirteen and fourteen he had his first introduction to the Big City in company with other cadets on the town. Breathtaking and terrifying. And that was my impression of London too. I’m sure he was stunned by his first vision as I was a hundred seventy years later.

He frequently mentions the Hounslow barracks. Highwaymen infested the highways from Hounslow to London and also in the vicinity of Bagshot.

Reynolds with little money in his pocket traveled from Sandhurst to London and back many times apparently following at times through Bagshot and Hounslow.

Now, as a young cadet, he has himself returning from London late one night when he is accosted by two highwaymen. Naturally he had little money and was being harassed accordingly when a third party appeared who dispersed the robbers and rescued him. It would seem apparent that as the robbers worked in parties of three that the third party also a robber who intervened for another reason. Reynolds names him as Arnold. Having read the story and reviewing it, it should be apparent that Arnold thought he had found a use for the young cadet and he and, actually the other two, were contemplating some large scale swindle but needed a naïve young man to complete the ensemble as bait. George may very probably have been that young man.

Reynolds has James, his character, and Arnold dupe a Jewish usurer named Mr. Nathanial. The amount George mentions was seven thousand pounds. This may be a coincidence or it may be where his seven thousand pounds came from when he absconded to France at the end of 1830.

It may have been at this time that Long’s Hotel became familiar to the young orphan. Long’s was apparently London’s most luxurious hotel at the time. Reynolds is almost breathless when he mentions the name. Long’s figures prominently in his pre 1844 works. Most often with criminal acts. And indeed, Reynold’s is familiar with endless hotel scams.

According to Collins there is some question as to young George’s integrity and George himself from time to time mentions that he has redeemed his youthful crimes, while swindles are frequently performed in his novels. That’s not proof of course but such a swindle would have provided the seven thousand pounds he said he had plus an incentive to leave England just ahead of the Bow Street Runners. At any rate we know that he showed up in France at the end of 1830 and we’ll take his word that he had seven thousand pounds.

If George was associated with this ‘Arnold’ who was part of the criminal underworld he must have been inducted into that society in some capacity. In that capacity he would have learned something of criminal ways of which he seems to be fairly familiar and according to Collins he did do some prison time while he went through a bankruptcy just before returning to England from France.

If I am correct, then George benefited by his and ‘Arnold’s’ swindle and absconded to France. Collins also records that he was arrested in Calais for playing with loaded dice. In Mysteries of London, first series, George gives a detailed description with diagrams of how to load dice. Of course, that may have been taken from a manual.

So, at the beginning of 1831 George landed in France where he would remain until 1836. From Calais he went straight to Paris where he remained either residing at Meurice’s Hotel or hanging around the

environs as may be indicated by his book of Pickwick Abroad. When he married he resided in different places as Collins’ research accords.

Evidence indicates that he did explore areas of France. At one point he laments never have been to Belgium, the closest he came was four miles from the border. Since one can only write about what is stored in one’s mind and one’s experience it follows that Reynolds must have been at the places he writes about or had read about them. As he frequently writes about Italy one does question his presence there. In his book Wagner, the Wehr Wolf his descriptions of Florence don’t seem to ring true so he may be working from from written accounts or pure imagination although his descriptions do resonate with the Italian period in Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. Otherwise he may have traveled about quite a bit.

As a green, but initiated, sixteen year old in 1831, perhaps with money, he would have been prey to various spongers and swindlers. It is difficult to envision a sixteen year old boy brazening his way through a foreign capital but he very obviously did for five years. One imagines his first six months must have been intense orientation. Yet he says that he completed The YI in 1832 and had been able to obtain a copy of Bulwer-Lytton’s Paul Clifford, read it and incorporated it in his first novel. We’re talking of a bit of a phenom here. He must have gravitated into journalistic and literary circles, possible theatrical, very quickly in his career, and he is merely a boy not attaining his majority until the year before he left France. I find this fairly astonishing.

He says he wrote The Young Impostor in 1832 so he must have been considering the story from his very landing in France if not before. As an eighteen year old It could only portray his experience up to that year. The novel itself in excellent and precocious for an eighteen year old; nor was it ignored. The copy I have is a reprint of an 1836 US edition published by E. L. Cary and A. Hart of Philadelphia. Thus within a year of its French publication it was published across the Atlantic. Why a Philadelphia company would appropriate an unproven title by an unknown author isn’t clear to me.

According to Collins within these two years he also met, courted and married his wife Susannah Pierson. (Collins say that Pierson is the correct spelling not Pearson.) She was apparently moving in literary circles as Collins describes her as a writer. She would later, in the 1850s, write a novel titled Gretna, which is available. Gretna refers to Gretna Green across the Scottish border where those wishing to elope repaired to. In 1745 a law was passed forbidding underage couples to marry without parental permission so that couples flew to Gretna Green for their nuptials. I was something like going to Las Vegas. It’s a good story.

In The YI A Pearson who was unmarried, while having a fairy like persona, not unlike Huon of Bordeaux, took him under his wing and instructed him in seedy practice. Whether he was related to Susannah isn’t known. So, by eighteen George was married and remained so until his wife died in 1854. He apparently never remarried.

According to all the references to books George makes in his writing he was reading voraciously. Here may be an appropriate time to discuss aspects of the literary situation in England and France during the thirties and forties.

The base for the writers in both England and France was the novels of Walter Scott and the Gothic novelists along with Byron. I would say that all the English and French writers were inspired by Scott. Scott died in 1832 at the young age of 61 thus missing the joy of seeing his influence on succeeding authors, except for William Harrison Ainsworth. Ainsworth who published his Rookwood in 1832. That book is almost an homage to Scott but lacks Scotts consummate style, complexity and depth. Ainsworth followed that up in 1835 with Crichton and then began an outburst of historical novels from 1839 with Jack Sheppard and a dozen more in quick succession through about 1845. At that time Reynolds was quiescent but he read all the titles and they influenced him greatly.

Of course Charles Dickens began his career in the late thirties and turned out a few titles in the forties. Dickens wasn’t that prolific but he made the most lasting impression of the novelists of the era. It is needless to say that he made his impression on Reynolds. George despised Dickens as a lightweight, and Dickens novels are lightweights. For me they are unreadable.

Lastly comes Edward Bulwer-Lytton. He was an important writer for his period and has survived into the present as an occultist. His novel The Coming Race is a must read for any esotericist. The idea of it seized H.G. Wells mind and he used it for his excellent novel The Food of the Gods. Bulwers’ Rienzi and The Last Days Of Pompei may still have a readership. He’s not a particularly good writer however. His opening line for Paul Clifford ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ for some reason is found hilarious by a certain type of reader. A contest is held each year to see if anyone can match this imagined terrible sentence. Reynolds uses it occasionally in his books. Bulwer maintained a fair reputation at least up to the 1950s while Reynolds was heavily influenced by him. And of course Byron. George even attempted ‘A Sequel To Don Juan’ but he was no Byron. He did get it published and it did find readers. Fortunately Byron was dead by that time and unable to the show the umbrage that Dickens did.

And then there are the magnificent French writers of the Forties and into the Fifties. The incomparable Alexander Dumas, pere inspired by Walter Scott began turning out his French historical novels in machine gun style, writing so fast that he had multiple serialized novels being published at one time. And what novels! Few novels can compare to The Three Musketeers or The Count of Monte Cristo. And, of course, Dumas is popular to this day.

At the same time Honore de Balzac was publishing his Human Comedy collection of novels. Strangely compelling, Balzac’s brain had an odd construction. Love him but I always wonder: Why am I reading this? Balzac too is read widely today. My favorite story in the novella The Girl With The Golden Eyes.

Victor Hugo, also widely read today, is not a favorite of mind. I will concede that Notre Dame de Paris – The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the US, is compelling and could possibly be a great book. The US title switches the focus of the book from the architectural edifice of Notre Dame to the character of Quasimodo, the Hunchback. The movies were essential to changing the emphasis from the edifice to the Hunchback. Les Miserables is an OK read but doesn’t impress me. Hugo was a Communist and in his novel 1793 actually advocates murdering all the Royalists because they would never accept the New Order. Don’t go away because you read that; it’s just my opinion.

And then we come to the incredible Eugene Sue. Not quite as prolific as Dumas but a non-stop writer. Not quite as concentrated as Dumas, his style is more diffuse but always interesting. His two key works, neither widely read today are The Mysteries of Paris and the Wandering Jew. Both are terrific books and very long. Both books were models for Reynolds Mysteries of Paris. The Wandering Jew may have resonated especially with him because it takes place in 1830, the year of the July Revolution and the cholera epidemic.

And now I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that another key influence might have been the American Edgar Allen Poe. While Poe didn’t have that many pages to his credit, he was a prolific writer of short stories and the short stories are amazing. Mind boggling. Inventive. Concentrated. They would be very difficult to top. They crossed the Atlantic quickly and were received with open arms in France and England. I may be reaching but I find evidences of Poe in his story of Grand Manoir in his Master Timothy’s Bookcase and we are going to look more closely at that shortly.

And, of course his mind is obsessed with the works of the Marquis de Sade. He must have read De Sade’s two great studies Justine and Juliette shortly after arriving in Paris. De Sade believed that following virtue would lead to an unhappy life while pursuing vice would lead to worldly success. The contrast of vice and virtue then informs almost all his works, but he wishes to reverse De Sade’s conclusions.

To really understand Reynold’s, one must be familiar with these authors. But he was so influenced by his wide reading that I’m sure these authors are just the tip of the iceberg.

In Pickwick Abroad George is familiar with all the sights of Paris. He must have at least visited all the prisons and insane asylums both in France and England. We get tours of many. Of course George was very interested in psychology. While Phrenology and Physiognomy may not be considered psychology, they are. Phrenology, an idea of the German, Franz Gall, was a crude attempt at brain anatomy and if risible today it was more because of the misuse by ununderstanding users than Gall’s idea itself that led to its discreditization. The notion was made on the right idea, different areas of the brain control different functions, it’s a moot point today but Gall deserves more credit that he gets, Reynolds entertains an interest in both ideas, especially physiognomy He was apparently a great reader of facial expressions.

Apropos of that, a very interesting novel is the novel Master Timothy’s bookcase published in 1840.

-III-

Master Timothy’s Bookcase is very serious and it is a major book. Interestingly the book begins in Kent, then follows Reynold’s career to Berkshire and London and then to France while ending with his return to England ending in the shire of Kent.

As Reynolds was only twenty-six in 1840 his mental acuity is actually astonishing. He had what one might call a four octave mind. Reynolds quite often resorts to supernatural or, perhaps, proto-scientific elements. In this book the hero Edmund Mortimer is the seventh son so-to-speak of a family founded six generation earlier. The ‘genius’ of the family appears to each member and offers them the approach to life that they think will make them contented and happy. They choose wealth, success et al. and all end up unhappy. Edmund Mortimer chooses Universal Knowledge. This choice, of course, reflects Reynolds ruling passion. George, himself, seeks Universal Knowledge and does a good job of it. However, even he at only twenty-six, he realizes that universal knowledge does not lead to happiness as knowing all displays mankind at its worst.

The more Mortimer, and we may assume Reynolds, learns about human nature, the more disgusted he becomes and regrets his choice. His peregrinations take him through several adventures and episodes.

The ‘Genius’ then gives Mortimer a supernatural bookcase that only he can see and is always with him. Whenever Mortimer is perplexed by a situation concerning the motivations or activities of the participants he he turns to the bookcase that provides him with a manuscript that explains the true situation all its manifestations he has only to ask. However, his bookcase cannot predict the future.

Mortimer’s uncanny ability to know the complete past history of people he has only just met will have consequences because he can produce no evidence as to how he acquired the knowledge. This becomes clear in the episode of the Marquis Delaroche. Without going into inessential details in this very clever story the Marquis neglects the wife of his dead brother whose fortune had been entrusted to him. Mortimer becomes acquainted with Athalie d’Estival, her name and confronts the Marquis Delaroche, to whom he is a complete stranger, attempting to shame him into supporting his sister-in-law.

The Marquis is old and the epitome of deviousness. When Mortimer butts into the Marquis’ life and proves to him that he has misappropriated his brother’s inheritance the Marquis sets Mortimer up. He opens his safe, leaving the door open, and gives Mortimer a casket containing his wealth refusing to give a proper written authorization for Mortimer to be in possession of the casket and expels Mortimer from his house. Immediately then, with his safe left open the Marquis commits suicide by slashing his throat. His servant accosts Mortimer leaving the house with the casket under his cloak and assumes the Mortimer stole it. The dead body is then discovered and circumstantial evidence indicates Mortimer to be both a murderer and thief.

Reynolds thoroughly dislikes the authority of circumstantial evidence, and with good reason, so this story gives him an opportunity to display its fallaciousness.

Because of his ability to know personal details of other people’s lives Mortimer’s friends consider him not only eccentric but insane. This is confirmed to the judge when he interrogates Mortimer. I will quote a passage because it indicates Reynolds brilliance and knowledge of psychology at only twenty-six years of age.

The Judge of Instruction commenced the usual system of catechizing; and for some time our hero replied with calmness and precision to the various question put to him. But at length, as those questions gradually touched more nearly on the dread event itself, he became confused- his ideas were no longer defined and distributed in their proper cells in his imagination, but were collected into one heterogeneous and unintelligible mass; and, yielding to the impulse of those sentiments which were uppermost in his mind, he commenced a long exculpatory harangue, the principle subject of which was his race. The Judge listened patiently for some time, and at length shrugged up his shoulders to imply his utter ignorance of the meaning of the prisoner’s speech. At length, exhausted by the long flow of verbiage in which he had indulged, Sir Edmund sank upon a seat, almost unconscious of what he had been saying and where he was.

That’s a pretty acute description of a state of mind. Reynolds was deeply interested in psychological studies. One must bear in mind that this period was the beginning of the great opening of the European mind. I doubt if there were many who could have reproduced that analysis. The description of the whole interview is masterful and that at only twenty-six.

In any event Mortimer was convicted of murder, declared insane, and committed to the Bicetre insanity wing. George was familiar with, at least, the outside of the building, this massive Bicetre structure housing criminals, the insane and others.

It seems obvious that George toured all these insane asylums and prisons. He was up on recent developments of the treatment of the insane. He was aware of Dr. Phillippe Pinel who had very recently begun the humane treatment of the mentally afflicted.

The people of the time were placed under unbearable distress and hardship, especially women. One reads of the women that Dr. Jean Martin Charcot at the Salpetriere of Paris in the 1860s, 70s and 80s treated and their mental sufferings were appalling. Their history of abuse was incredible. Nor were all asylums as enlightened as those of Drs. Pinel and Charcot and, remember, these were pioneers.

Whether George’s description of the Bicetre is accurate is beyond me to determine, he does however tell an interesting story of one of the inmates. The story sounds like it may have been true, but, read on: Mortimer has been declared guilty but insane. Committed to the Bicetre insane wing he domiciled with three other monomaniacs. The three stories are actual psychological evaluations of the inmates. The one the interests us most is the first. The story is a Frankenstein type.

The first was an old man of sixty-five with long grey hair flowing from the back part of his head, the crown and regions of the temples being completely bald. He was short in stature, stooping in gait, and possessed of a countenance eminently calculated to afford a high opinion of his intellectual powers, he was however a monomaniac of no uncommon description. Bred to the medical profession, he had given, when at an early age, the most unequivocal proofs of a vigorous and fertile imagination. He first obtained attention towards the singularity of his conceptions by disputing the rights of the Englishman, Dr. Harvey, to the honour of having first discovered the circulation of the blood. He maintained that Harvey merely revived the doctrine, and that it was known to the ancients. This opinion he founded upon the following passage in Plato: – “The heart is the centre or knot of the blood vessels, the spring or fountain of the blood, which is carried impetuously round; the blood is the food of the flesh; and for the process of nourishment the body is laid out in canals, which is like those drawn down through gardens, that the blood may be conveyed as from a fountain, to every part of the previous system.”

William Harvey published his treatise on the circulation of the blood in Frankfurt Germany in 1628. He did not come out of the blue as others were working on the same problem. Even he was assailed by skeptics and for a time lost reputation. I have no doubt that Harvey had read Plato and unless his memory was defective he probably retained an impression of Plato’s statements.

But to the point, Plato’s description is prescient. He understood the matter which he explained in literary, not scientific, terms so the imprisoned doctor was essentially right that Harvey could not claim to be the first to understand the role of the heart in the circulation of the blood. He was the first known physician to describe the issue completely in scientific detail or nearly completely.

The young physician was laughed at for venturing to contradict a popular belief, and was assailed by the English press for attempting to deprive an Englishman of the initiative honour of the discovery. He was looked upon as an enthusiast, and lost all the patronage he had first obtained by his abilities. Being possessed of a competency, he did not regret this circumstance in a pecuniary point of view; but his pride was deeply wounded, and he resolved to accomplish some great feat which should compel the world to accord him those laurels which had hitherto been refused. He was deeply skilled in the science of anatomy; and his intimate acquaintance with the human frame led him to fashion two beautiful anatomical bodies in wax. The one was a perfect representation of the form of man, with all the muscles and nerves laid bare; and the second; which took to pieces, was the image of a female in the last stages of gestation. These models were applauded as specimens of art, but obtained no praise as evidences of Anatomical skill. Again disappointed and disgusted at the coldness of a world that knew not how to appreciate the merits of his labours, the physician urged by the perpetual contemplation of his wax models and considering himself to be sufficiently practiced in the minutiae of the human frame by the manufacture of these representations of life, resolved in attempting a more sublime task. His elevated imagination aimed at nothing less than the fabrication of an animate being! For weeks- for months- for years in the solemn silence of a chamber fitted up for the purpose, and into which he never permitted a soul to enter, did the enthusiast study his project, without being fully aware of the way in which he should commence it. At length his intellect became so far affected by his strange meditations, that he felt convinced in his own mind that his experience could never be sufficient to encompass his lofty aim, unless he examined the fountains of life in the bosom of an expiring human being. Dead to all other feeling save the morbid one which urged him on to this study, he calmly resolved to choose some victim as a model for his projected work. He one night issued forth into the streets of Paris, in the midst of a horrible winter and accosted a young man whom, by his condition he supposed to be homeless and starving. He was right in his conjecture, and with kind words he enticed the unsuspecting mendicant home. He gave him food, and then caused him to imbibe a cup of generous wine, in which he had previously infused a powerful narcotic. The mendicant fell into a deep stupor; and the physician without a single sentiment of compunction hastened to perform his diabolical operation upon the lethargic victim. He bled him in the jugular vein; and, while the poor young man’s life was ebbing away, the anatomical speculator proceeded to hack away, with his unsparing knife, at those parts which he wished to lay open and examine at his own brutal leisure. In his hurry to accomplish his mysterious designs, he had forgotten to make fast the door to his study; and the curiosity of his old housekeeper led to the detection of his crime. The woman excited an alarm in the house; and his atrocious deed, with all its circumstances, was exposed. He was tried for the murder, and was condemned as a monomaniac to perpetual imprisonment in the Bicetre. At that time Mortimer became acquainted with this singular individual, he had been an inmate of the prison for upwards of thirty years, and never lost an opportunity of declaring that, if he were provided with the proper implements and materials, he would form a human being, far more complete, and less liable to organic derangement than man.

I consider that quote quite astounding writing and the template for numerous horror films in the twentieth century. One wonders if Reynolds had experienced this situation while he could not possibly have. His residence in France doesn’t leave time, however this story must be based on real events that he either read about or was told. Throughout his way to 1851 which is all I can attest to at this time Reynolds returns frequently to stories of physicians of which he seems to have intimate knowledge of his various descriptions. Of course, his namesake, Duncan McArthur was a physician and if Dick Collins was right did operate on cadavers as fresh as he could get. It is a small step from that to imagine a doctor working on live specimens but still the psychological description of the man in Bicetre is so complete and convincing that Reynolds was a very accomplished at the age of twenty-six.

He wrote circles around Bulwer-Lytton, Ainsworth and Dickens, his contemporaries while being far more accomplished than writers who followed him like Trollope and Willkie Collins as accomplished as these writers and their fellows were. They all must have been influenced by him to some degree.

Certainly Dickens and Ainsworth were, as he by them, but the quality of his mind is much deeper and more highly developed. Ainsworth who began an amazing sequence of historical novels in the early forties when Reynolds was quiescent tried to explore historical topics in a deep way but his mind was a little light, he takes a more academic style. A comparison between the two can be found in Reynolds 1854 novel The Rye House Plot.

Both Ainsworth and Dickens gravitated toward George’s style in their later works. Reading Ainsworth’s South Sea Bubble written in the 1860s is very close to his style.

George, of course was influenced by all three writers, among many, Bulwer-Lytton, Ainsworth and Dickens. Ainsworth who had a literary salon in the late forties and through the fifties excluded Reynolds from his coterie. He and Dickens were tight and getting Dickens and Reynolds into the same room would have been hazardous.

While Ainsworth’s Rookwood and Jack Sheppard were favorites of George and Dickens interestingly all three were in decline. The social conditions that had produced them had disappeared and a new crop of writers responding to new conditions replaced them. For my own tastes I prefer these Late Georgian to early Victorian authors to what followed.

There is a charm in the three and the sporting novels of R.S Surtees and Captain Marryat and the rest, William Makepeace Thackery, who can forget him, that is lacking as the epoch changed. Still we see a certain loss of innocence as advancing knowledge turned the world more serious and complex. The greatest of historians and histories, Edward Gibbons and the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire couldn’t have been written in the same way after Darwin’s Origin of Species. Maybe the big change occurred even earlier in Prince Albert’s Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851. The exhibition of all those machines and advance screamed: Hello to the Brave New World, as brave or maybe even braver than Aldous Huxley’s. Exhibitions became the rage until the great Columbian Expo of Chicago crowned the whole movement. What could ever top that? Nothing. Fade to modernity.

To return to George Reynolds. As I say, it was almost a tragedy that Reynold’s titled Master Timothy’s Bookcase after Dickens’ Master Humphrey’s Clock. The Magic Lantern Of The World, the subtitle, would have been much better. The Bookcase is very readable both as a novel and as a collection of stories with a great deal of philosophical matter pertinent to understanding the mind of Reynolds himself. As Dick Collins say, there is much autobiographical material in the novels and Bookcase is full of it.

End of Part XIa, Part XIb follows.

Part X, Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

A Review

Geo. W.M. Reynolds’ The Necromancer

by

R.E. Prindle

Reynolds’ writing system was such that he could write each installment of the Mysteries of the Court of London in seven hours leaving the rest of the week open. Thus he had a seven hour work week leaving time to do a myriad other things including writing other books. He says his mind was bursting with ideas. He had a powerful compartmentalized mind so that he could keep two or three novels going at the same time so that in the year of 1851 he wrote his installments for the Court of London and The Seamstress, Pope Joan, Kenneth and the Necromancer, the last two extending into 1852. We are going to examine here his very fine novel, The Necromancer, or perhaps one might rename it the Magician.

If as seems evident that every novelist is writing his own life whether consciously or unconsciously, it is also true that the novelist reflects his own time. Ostensibly the Necromancer takes place in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries but I think we can abstract a story about what was happening currently in his day. This will require much background work.

As is uppermost in every twenty-first century White mind the question of is the author in any way anti-Semitic, non, Feminist, a racist, and as it is expressed a Homophobe. We are going to explain the Necromancer as an explanation of Semitism in the England of Reynolds and ignore the other bete noirs. You have been forewarned.

Whether you consider Semites, that is Jews, as a religion, a nation, a people or whatever they are an economic, political and social force working solely for Jewish interests to the exclusion of all others. Jews consider themselves a nation and a people. The period from 1814 through the nineteenth century saw the rise of the Jewish people as the pre-eminent people of Great Britain. The rise was especially prominent from 1815 to 1860, the period most important of Reynolds novelist life.

It is not possible that he didn’t note the situation and if he didn’t mention it directly, which he doesn’t, then there must be a reason. Why would he have to resort to a parable such as The Necromancer? The answer was that even at that time there were penalties to writing ethnographical studies such as Reynolds’ that did not show Jews to critical advantage.

If one found it necessary to include Jewish characters they must be portrayed in the most benevolent light. Reynolds does mention Jewish characters but in a peculiar way. He lauds them as long suffering, unfairly victimized as a people but then he invariably displays them as what are called anti-Semitic stereotypes. Thus the pawn broker in Wagner, the Wehr Wolf.

He is depicted as a totally inoffensive person, obsequious to the extreme as a persecuted member of the bedeviled people. After these laudatory comments Reynolds then pictures a character bearing all the so-called Semitic tropes. He changes the stones on the pawned diamonds to paste, which Reynolds justifies by his peoples ages long persecution, as well as other criminal acts. It would seem that Reynolds knew the score.

The odd thing, since Jewish activity was at a height is that Reynolds makes no reference to Jewish economic or banking activities. Let us do a brief survey of where matters stood at the time. In 1815 Nathan Rothschild seized control of English currency and the Bank of England.

To explain:

A famous European and Jewish canard is that of father Mayer Amschel Rothschild and his five arrows, that is, his five sons. They were dispatched to European capitals to form a powerful network covering the continent and England. Nathan Rothschild was sent to Manchester to engage in the booming textile industry. Nathan was no businessman and could not succeed in textiles. He therefore turned to crime becoming a smuggler which would turn out to fortuitously make his fortune.

In 1806 Napoleon was conquering the German States, moving in on the Margrave of Hesse-Cassel. The Margrave was fabulously wealthy. He wanted to conceal his wealth from Napoleon who was more than eager to appropriate it. The Margrave then employed his Court Jew, Mayer Amschel Rothshild, to conceal it. Mayer sent a substantial portion of it to Nathan who by this time was floundering around as a banker. The money immediately established Nathan as a financial force. At that time the British were engaging Napoleon in the Iberian Peninsular War. Wellington the British general in the Peninsula needed cash desperately but the usually inventive English didn’t know of a secure way to get the money to him. Nathan was then used to transport the money. Using his, by this time, well developed smuggling skills in conjunction with his brother arrow, James, in Paris, they delivered the mail.

This was known to the French authorities as Fouche, the very clever Minister of Police, was aware of exactly how it had been done. The method is well demonstrated in the German Movie, The Rothschilds. So Nathan and his fellow Jews scored a bundle on that caper.

Nathan’s most outstanding feat that brought England to its knees was his capture of the currency after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. He spread the rumor that Napoleon had won Waterloo causing a stupendous sell off that drove prices far down. While others sold Nathan bought. Then his special couriers raced to London to carry news of the English, or allied, victory. Prices bounced back but by then using the fabulous wealth of the Margrave of Hesse Nathan owned huge amounts of securities that he sold at magnificent profit thus securing the base of the Rothschild dynasty, still going strong eight generations on.

To report this astonishing feat in history tends to mitigate the reaction of the Brits when they learned how they had been diddled out of the ruling of their country for Rothschild had pulled an astonishing cheat. Reynolds who was very well informed across the board must have known this but was constrained from portraying it for fear of Jewish retaliation which even was formidable.

We are now moving to the 1840s and Nathan who had passed was succeeded by Lionel Rothschild as the scion of the family. A most formidable and dangerous antagonist.

At this time young Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81) was attempting to establish himself as a literary wizard before entering politics. He had already written many novels when in 1844 he wrote Coningsby, Sybil in 1845 and Tancred in 1847. In Coningsby he laid bare the Jewish influence in European affairs when he wrote that the world was actually governed by different people behind the scenes than the public imagined. Thus he led the reading public to believe that the apparent rulers were mere operatives of others, that is, the Jews.

These three political novels made more of a stir than his earlier romances had so that it seems reasonable that Disraeli, Coningsby at least, had been read by Reynolds by 1851. In Coningsby Disreali lauds his Jewish mastermind as the most astounding human being since Adam. The character was based on the real life Right Honourable Lionel Freiherr Rothschild. (1808-1879) Named Sidonia in the novel.

Lionel, Lion-el means Lion of the Lord or God, what we might say, Defender of the Faith in Christian terms.

The Jews since Nathan had owned the State of England but they as a different religion from the Anglicans suffered political and religious disabilities. It was Lionel’s mission to remove them in which mission he was successful.

In 1847 he was the first Jew to be elected to Parliament. This was success but it would also have absorbed Lionel as just another member. He wanted more. He in essence did not want to be absorbed as an English member of the House of Commons but as an autonomous Jew. To be sworn in he had to take an oath of Christian formulation. This he refused to do wishing to be sworn in as a Jew.

In order to accommodate him this would have required a changing of the rules with long term consequences. Accordingly Lord Russell introduced a Jewish Disabilities Act to change the rules. In 1849 when the Act failed the German-Jewish Baron Lionel Rothschild resigned his seat. But still determined he won a bye election to keep his campaign going. Returning he still refused to swear on the New Testament demanding the Jewish or Old Testament. The oath still required him to say: ‘Upon the true faith of a Christian.’ He refused to do so on the grounds that Christianity was not the true faith, Judaism was. Once again he was compelled to resign his seat.

In 1852 he tried to bull his way through but once again was denied. Finally in 1858 Lionel Rothschild forced through the oath changes. Refusing to be bareheaded as required by English custom he demanded to wear his yarmulke or skull cap and instead of saying ‘on the true faith of a Christian’ he was allowed to say ‘so help me Jehovah.’

Thus he became the first Jewish member of the House of Commons but the first Jew in the House rather than an English member of the Jewish faith. Thus in this long battle to be seated Lionel changed the nature of the country into a country of Englishmen and nearly autonomous Jews. Already in control of English currency the Jews would now aspire to political power while moving freely through society ostensibly equal but actually superior having all English rights as well as autonomous Jewish rights that were denied the English.

Thus Disraeli’s astonishing Sidonia/Lionel cleared the way for Disraeli to serve in the Commons but also to become the Prime Minister; the intermediary between the English people and their Sovereign.

These activities were not carried on in a vacuum or beneath the observance of interested parties of which Reynolds was one. While he was only observing the struggle up to 1851-52 when he wrote the Necromancer the writing was on the wall. No doubt Reynolds had read Disraeli’s Coningsby and had watched Lionel Rothschild’s maneuvering. Being a novelist it was easy for him to shadow forth the denouement that occurred in 1858.

My reading of the Necromancer reflects Reynolds’ version of what was happening. Thus his protagonist Lionel Danvers is Lionel Rothschild. As an historical novelist he then creates a fictional history of the Danvers/Rothschild story. He combines the five arrows into one. As was commonly thought at the time the Jews were Satanic thus Danvers had sold his soul to Satan for a period of a hundred fifty years so and with the due date imminent it was necessary for Danvers to honor his commitment to Satan to redeem his soul.

Danvers existed under several names and guises as he was able to shape shift to any age at any time. Thus at various periods he was the middle aged Walter, a mature Lionel Danvers and a boyish Reginald or Conrad.

Even though he had sold his soul to the devil, Satan had given him an escape clause in that if he could find six virgins who would do anything for him, even die, he would take those six souls in exchange for Danvers’. For some reason I always read Danvers in the French form of D’enfer. Thus Danvers becomes The Lion Of the Lord of Hell. Whether correct or not it certainly fits.

Now, Lionel Danvers to use that name of his existence, had all the wealth of Europe at his command. While ostensibly an English Lord he spent all his time on the continent where he had the greatest concentrations of wealth in addition to his very large holdings in England. For him money had no other meaning than to buy power in whatever form it took by any means necessary.

In his Walter incarnation, his first, as the clearest example, Walter shows up in Genoa where he befriends the scion of the Landini trading family. He then bestows, not as a loan but for safe keeping interest free, an incredible fortune that Landini can use without any restrictions for his own benefit on the condition that whenever Danvers appears the Landinis are to return his money in full on demand or they become his slaves.

Naturally the Landinis being astute traders enjoy enormous success for several generations. Even though Danvers has never returned they still maintain his fortune. Each successor has been made aware of his obligation so that not only the trust is available ready to honor at any time but also interest. However suddenly the worst fortune descends on them and all their deals begin to sour, whole argosies are lost at sea. Danvers chooses this moment to return and demand his money. The demand can’t be honored.

But, the Landinis have a beautiful virgin daughter, Bianca. Danvers courts her, wins her heart and they set a date to be married. In the meantime, as debtors to Danvers, the Landinis have become his slaves. They are ordered to go to London and start a jewelry house, which they do.

Before leaving the marriage is arranged between Walter and Bianca. Before the marriage Danvers carries Bianca off to no one knows where. They both just vanish. Bianca becomes the first of the virgins sacrificed to Satan by Danvers. But, of course, the details that can be revealed here are mysteries to the reader.

Bianca had been abducted to Danvers ruined castle on the Isle of Wight. In the secret chamber where Danvers murders the women a score card is on the wall in fiery letters, thus Bianca becomes virgin soul #1, five more to go.

As the story opens Lionel Danvers is sacrificing his fifth, Clara Manners.

One of the deepest mysteries in this astonishingly deep book is the problem of Musidora Sinclair who Lionel has selected as his sixth victim. He seems to have had a singular attachment to the girl. Musidora had been a charming girl but at the age of seventeen she became of a very icy temperament unmoved by anyone or anything. As it turns out Lionel had attempted to lead her to his secret chamber, she lived on the Isle of Wight, but she got cold feet on the way to the chamber and fled. This event turned her heart cold. Now, after having despatched Clara Manners he decides to try again to make Musidora his final victim.

I take Musidora to mean Golden Song or music. Whether right or wrong, she is.

Lionel now has a problem because Musidora won’t allow him near her. Fortunately Lionel has a plan B. He will impersonate King Henry VIII, during whose reign the story takes place at this point, and wed her. Unfortunately her beauty overwhelms him and he impregnates her (another mystery) thus destroying her virginity. Even Lionel Danvers was not so stupid that he didn’t know that it was impossible to diddle Satan.

For Reynolds the story of the impersonation of Henry III is the central point of the story. Between Nathan and Lionel Rothschild a shadow government had been forming in England. While Queen Victoria was the apparent ruler at this time the actual rulers were, as Disraeli had written, other than the seeming rulers. Lionel lived till 1879 when he died at the age of seventy.

Granting that Disraeli was accurate then whatever power the shadow rulers had at the time, their power has gone on increasing to the present day when Evelyn Rothschild wields the power behind the throne. Prior to the Communist Revolution of 1917 Rasputin was deemed the power behind the Russian throne. He was also thought to be conspiring with the Germans. As it happened Rasputin had a Jewish secretary and we must suppose that the secretary had ties to other Jewish revolutionaries so that he was able to pass information to them much as Dreyfus had done in France in the 1890s.

In all probability the German agents Rasputin was thought to be conspiring with was actually being done by his Jewish secretary. The secretary would have been very intimate with Rasputin and would have had strong control over what information Rasputin received while having access to all or most of Rasputin’s info and plans. Thus Through Rasputin the Jews would have been able to influence the Czarina and through the Czarina the Czar.

In the US during the same period, the Wall Street speculator Bernard Baruch would become the actual co-president of Woodrow Wilson free to issue commands on his own authority subject only to correction by Wilson himself and he and Wilson were of like minds. So, at the crucial time of the Revolution both Russia and the US were subject to Jewish discipline.

Be that as it may, is it any coincidence that Lionel Danvers and Lionel Rothschild bore the same Christian name? I think not. Reynolds is trying to tell us something. So Lionel Danvers having circulated rumors that he was dead or on the continent set about to realize his lust on the body of Musidora Sinclair while posing as Henry VIII.

It will be remembered that at this time Henry was seeking a divorce from his Spanish wife Catherine, but it had not yet been achieved. Danvers has to fool Musidora into believing he, impersonating Henry, had succeeded in obtaining that divorce. First Danvers has to lure Musidora from her retreat on the Isle of Wight. He has a relative couple of Musidora living in the royal city of Greenwich invite Musidora to come for and extended visit to their castle. Then he finds a probable excuse for Henry to be a guest of the Earl and Countess Grantham, Musidora’s relatives.

There is some hint that Danvers magically transformed himself into a duplicate form of Henry. I don’t think that was necessary. At this point in history but few people would have seen Henry. So, all that Danvers would have had to have done is bought some clothes royalty would have worn and developed the persona. Of course Musidora knew Danvers well as a young girl and ought to have been able to identify his voice. But, this is Reynolds’ story and the disguise was complete although their was some uncertainty accepting face values.

Nevertheless Henry/Danvers showered Musidora with expensive gifts including a set of very expensive diamonds. It will be remembered that the Landinis from Genoa had been running a jewelry shop in London for about a hundred years.

Eventually, with continued prodding from the Granthams, who were completely fooled, Danvers/Henry break Musidora down and she agrees to marry the faux monarch. However suspicions remain and the strictest safeguards are taken. Musidora demands to see the papal bull nullifying Henry’s marriage to Catherine which matter was not resolved at the time.

Danvers has one forged. As three papal seals are needed Danvers obtains authentic seals.

As a political operative he has suborned numerous members of Henry’s household putting them on the payroll and so has one obtain seals from an authentic papal communication. The officiating priest is fooled and really has no choice but to marry Musidora and Danvers/Henry. Danvers cannot allow Musidora to circulate or talk about her marriage so he swears her to secrecy about the whole affair.

Nevertheless Henry learns of the fraud and swears his informers to secrecy because he doesn’t want the public to know that a shadow King Henry is loose in the kingdom. Reynolds here is describing the actual political condition in England that a second monarch is running the kingdom by secretive measures. This answers to Disraeli’s claim that others than the seeming rulers are directing affairs.

In fact Disraeli himself will become Prime Minister and facetiously and destructively make Victoria the Empress of India. Disraeli was ostensibly a Christian having changed from Judaism to Anglican at the age of thirteen. Thirteen is when a Jewish lad takes his Bar Mitzvah becoming a young man with a man’s prerogatives. It is very likely the change to Anglicanism was deceitfully made with political motives in mind. Disraeli became a Jew disguised as a Christian.

While there may be some objectors to my analysis one should note that Sir Piers Dunhaven the father of the second female victim had once had an extensive property in Cumberland but he had lost most of his property to usury. As Christians were forbidden usury it follows that Jews using their monopoly in usury had stripped Sir Piers of his property. There are subtle hints such as this to Lionel Danvers nationality.

What we have here then is an allegory of the subjection of England by the Jews according to Reynolds. On that level this is the shadow meaning of the novel.

On another level this is a near perfect Gothic novel. One is reminded of The Mysteries of Udolpho by Mrs. Radcliffe. As he was an old admirer of Mrs. Radcliffe I’m sure that Reynolds had Udolpho in mind as he wrote this. The story is also first class mystery and would beat out Willkie Collins for longest mystery story. And, Reynolds keeps the mystery going to the very end. Who could have guessed that Marian Bradley, Danvers last possible chance to beat the devil was his and Musidora’s daughter? Didn’t see that one coming did we?

The story is plotted out perfectly.   When we are shown the glowing signboard with the illuminated names and the blank spaces we have to wonder. That was the first mystery and the finest first mystery explained. This list of victims also gave Reynolds his opportunity to tell six tales and he loves to tell those tales.

Then there is the mystery of Danvers and where he gets his inexhaustible supply of money. His fortunes, not just a fortune but fortunes, come from over all Europe and England. An historical question often asked is how do Jews when expropriated and expelled out of one locality show up in a new one and immediately, as it seems, regain their wealth. The solution to that one is easy—usury. Aware that they may be expelled on short notice they kept jewels and portable wealth sewn into garments so that they could leave on amoment’s notice to resurface as wealthy elsewhere.

The Catholic Church and its opinion on money making money, that is usury, which is the objection to loaning on interest, penalized its own adherents and enfranchised the Jews who it politically disenfranchised. Interest in those days wasn’t six or seven percent either. Usury laws only came into existence much later. In those days interest was as much as fifty percent compounded daily or more so you can see how the money lenders, Jews, cornered the money supply wherever they were. The Danvers unlimited, renewed wealth must have come from usury, that is, legalized theft.

And Danvers applied his wealth artfully. The ruse of entrusting money to someone to be reclaimed whenever on no notice is a sure way to entrap the party. Reynolds was no dummy when it came to understanding ruses and ploys. He studied hard. The ploy that the Marquis of Leveson used to entrap Venetia Trelawney was classic.

The Marquis wanted sex from Venetia that she didn’t want to give. Not unlike Danvers, Leveson had unlimited funds that he didn’t mind losing so long as he obtained his desire. So he presented Venetia with a magnificent string of pearls. He told her he would redeem one or all at a time at a thousand pounds each on demand and with the last pearl she was his. Venetia then accepted what she thought was a guarantee that she would never be in want and never have to succumb.

However the wily Marquis set a series of matters in motion to compel Venetia to redeem the pearls. Borrowing from Eugene Sue’s Wandering Jew he has accomplices debauch the formerly steady husband of Venetia so that he turns to dissipation and gambling thus having to be bailed out frequently. Venetia soon has to bed the Marquis. The mysteries are usually tragic stories if you compassionate with the characters.

In this novel, while none of the characters has the memorability of the Resurrection Man from Mysteries of London, the whole ensemble of characters all work well together to create a memorable story.

The Necromancer is one of series of Satanic novels that Reynolds wrote from 1847 to 52. The first being Wagner the Wehr Wolf, 1846-47, Faust in 1847, The Bronze Statue in 1849-50 and then the Necromancer in 1851-52. Each is a beat the devil attempt on the part of the protagonist. Satan is a tough customer and none succeed.

The end of Danvers is a classic much exploited in novels and movies. Lionel (Walter, Reginald and Conrad) has lived for a hundred fifty years. When his attempt on the sixth maiden fails and Satan comes to receive his due, Danvers shrivels from a handsome young man into a withered old man bursts into flames and disappears.

I don’t know whether Reynolds was the first to use this dodge or not, but it becomes a classic dodge thereafter.

The estimable critic Dick Collins considers the Necromancer to be his favorite Reynolds. While I have now read twenty-five volumes of Reynolds I can’t place the volume ahead of the massive novels of The Mysteries of London, The Mysteries of the Court of London, nor, for that matter, The Mysteries of Old London. The last has a special place in my esteem; yet, as I have said, The Necromancer as a super-natural Gothic novel I think it may be near perfection. I’m sure that Mrs. Radcliffe would have been pleased with George’s effort.

Par XI of Time Travels With R.E Prindle follows.

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

by

R.E. Prindle

 GWMReynolds

George W.M. Reynolds

Now that in parts six, seven and eight we have an adequate time line of Reynolds’ career we can get down into the substance of his major works, Mysteries of London and Mysteries of the Court of London. For those not aware of the extent of his corpus, it is immense with about all of it written concurrently with his two major novels.

For instance, in the four years from 1844 to 1848 when the four series of Mysteries of London were written, George also wrote Faust: A Romance of the Secret Tribunals in 1847; Wagner, the Wehrwolf in 1846-47; The Mysteries of Old London: Days of Hogarth in 1847-48 and The Coral Island or, The Hereditary Curse in 1848 as he ended Mysteries of London and began Mysteries of the Court at the same time. All of these are significant works are of some length.

Also, in 1846, he began to publish his magazine, The Reynolds Miscellany which he edited. While I have not received the copies yet, Gyan Publishers of India offers ten volumes of the Miscellany in five volumes of about eight hundred pages each. I will browse them when they arrive.

Altogether this seems to be a heavy writing load, an impossible load. Yet when one examines Reynolds’ working methods and his careful time management it may have been easily done by him given his large mind. Certainly the load from 1844 to 1848 was, for him, light. He was responsible for turning in eight double column pages, minus illustrations a week.

George_IV_

George IV In Full Regalia

As his mind could apparently be rigidly compartmentalized; as he is said to have written very fast, then his actual work period turning out eight thousand words could be easily done in, say, six hours. He had to keep his whole story in mind for each sequent but, as I imagine, as he turned in an installment his mind, or part of it, immediately began plotting out the next installment so that when his next deadline approached he had the eight thousand words ready and could just spill them out. So, his whole work week by which he sustained his whole extensive family was only six hours long.

The rest of the seven days could be devoted to family matters, exploring the metropolis and reading. George read and studied. His Greek mythology was correct and extensive, and he drops classical references regularly. Oddly he makes few Biblical references. He very obviously was familiar with the British, French and German literature of the day. He was definitely literate in English and French and probably could read German. He takes his inspiration from where he can get it. Could there be any coincidence that the William Harrison Ainsworth depiction of the Gypsy camp in Rookwood is reflected in Reynolds’ passages of Gypsy camps in Mysteries of London? I think not.

As I am discovering, not many people are aware of W.H. Ainsworth. He seems to be virtually unknown, but then, so does Reynolds. Ainsworth was a very successful and influential author of the day turning out perhaps more books than Reynolds while being a major influence on Reynolds. Very good books, too, well worth reading.

While I had read Ainsworth’s name being frequently mentioned I had never read him until just recently. I was fortunate to pick up various sets of novelists of this period at an online auction for next to nothing. Ainsworth was one of the sets. While the books were nearly free, about a dollar each, the shipping from Topeka Kansas was horrendous. So, while I have some reading of the period, I can now immerse myself.

By the way, I have been familiar with the French writers for some time and more recently the German authors while an ardent admirer of ETA Hoffman for a couple decades. While it is clear that George read French with ease, it seems probable that he could wade through German texts also. So, what he did with a full week’s time is of interest.

Obviously, one thing, was how to become his own publisher. In 1846 only two years into Mysteries of London he obviously understood enough about publishing to launch his successful Miscellany at which time he began his ancillary novels to fill its pages. The first issue began with his Wagner, the Wehr Wolf. Undoubtedly the other three novels also appeared in its pages. I will find out soon.

Now, the two major works are immense. I have now read each twice. The first time I caught the most exciting highlights. The second time I penetrated the depth but the stories are so long and diverse a third and fourth reading would be necessary to organize all the characters and incidents. Actually both works are several novels in one. The stories are braided in such a way that that one story branches out replaced by another related story then rejoining further downstream. Each story could be abstracted and edited into a complete novel with certain characters interchangeably distributed throughout. Thus the story in the first series of Mysteries of the Court of Tim Meagles and Lady Diana Lade is completed and finished with Tim and Diana eased out of the rest of the novel.

Beau Brummel

The Beau w/Cravat

The question in that instance is who was Tim Meagles in real life. I believe he was none other than the Beau himself, Beau Brummell. As Mysteries of the Court is a story of the Regency of George VI and as the Beau had the same relationship with the Prince as Meagles, the two must be related as no other than the Beau had so close a relationship with the Regent.

As my authority for the history of Beau Brummell I use the biography of Capt. Jesse, titled Beau Brummell. The Capt. Published in 1844 and he is speaking first hand while having had an acquaintance with Beau in his exile in France. My edition is from a set called Beaux and Belles of England published probably in the 1890s by the Grolier Society of London, a veritable treasure trove of biographies of the era.

The Beau, a Dandy and Beau, is an example of a social species with a long history in England and indeed probably going back in the annals of time to the transformation of the human species from the anthropoids. It is certain that there were cavemen who wore their pelts better than others and perhaps bathed more regularly. The advent of Mr. Gillette being well in the future. The Beau himself was fastidious, apparently unlike his contemporaries as his fastidiousness is mentioned as exceptional. Make your own judgment.

Brummel who was named George as apparently were half the male members of England at the time, was the son of a wealthy merchant thus inheriting thirty thousand pounds on his father’s death or however long it took to get out chancery. Beau, surveying the social scene determined that the only society worth having was that of the aristocrats. Having money but no title he did not qualify for their company so the Beau became the Beau, the trendsetter of male fashion and thus gained acceptability.

He also developed into a master snob and as such rose to prominence or, at least, notoriety. His notoriety attracted the attention of the Prince, that is, George IV, later the Regent and then the King in his own right. There is a remarkable resemblance between the two. I post pictures. From these it appears that the two might almost have had the same father. At any rate, Prince and Beau become bonded, much like Meagles and the Prince. Remember that George IV in his own persona is the main character in the story. The Prince then resided in his mansion, Carlton House, on Pall Mall. Let me interject that there is an excellent survey of the Capital titled London by Charles Knight in six lengthy volumes, Cambridge University Press, containing wonderful historical essays on most of the locations mentioned by George- that is, Reynolds. The six volumes were originally issued in parts ending in 1844, One can sharpen one’s understanding.

But, George- that is Brummel- was terribly irked by his inferior position to George- that is the Prince and so he became demeaning and superior, ridiculing George IV in conversations with others so that the Prince, George, became infuriated and broke off relations with George, the Beau. The crowning touch came when he and a fellow ran into the Prince while walking. The Prince studiously ignored the Beau addressing only his friend causing Brummell to caustically remark: Who’s your fat friend? Well, come now. Completely in disfavor now the Beau deteriorated and as a relatively young man was forced into exile in Calais, France. This previous history is all that concerns us in his characterization in Tim Meagle.

Meagles’ story was written a while after Dumas’ very famous The Three Musketeers was published. The Three Musketeers is a fabulous myth. A wonderful creation of the equally fabulous Alexander Dumas. In Meagles and his companion Lady Diana Lade it appears that Reynolds is trying to create a myth to equal the Musketeers and female character, Milady. Indeed, there are such similarities that Reynolds may have considered himself a rival to the great Frenchman.

Read what Andre Maurois has to say in his biography of the three Dumas titled The Titans of 1957, pp. 182-83:

Never in the whole course of French literature has there been anything comparable to Dumas’s output between the years 1845 and 1855. Novels from eight to ten volumes showered down without a break on the newspapers and bookshops. The whole history of France was passed in review. The Three Musketeers was followed by Twenty Years After and that by Vicomte de Bragelone, another trilogy- Chicot the Jester (La Reine Margot), La dame de Monsoreau and The Forty-Five Guardsmen.

Simultaneously with these, Dumas was busy narrating the decline and fall of the French monarchy—The Diamond Necklace…Le Chevalier de Maison Rouge, Memoires of a Physician…Ange Pitou and La Comtesse de Charny. From early on he had planned to annex the whole of history to his romantic domain. “There is no end to what I want to do,” he said. ‘I long for the impossible. How am I to achieve what I have in mind? By working as no one has ever worked before, by pruning life of all its details; by doing without sleep…’ This programme accounts for the five or six hundred volumes which so astonish the reader…. No one has read all Dumas.

Compare Reynolds and his output from 1844 to 1859. He too wished to write the history of all Europe. When Maurois mentions the five or six hundred volumes he means, I imagine, parts. Thus if Reynolds is broken into parts he can account for three or four hundred volumes. The eight or ten volumes of Mysteries of the Court of London can be broken down to eight or ten complete novels all interrelated. Truly the period from about 1840 to 1880 is the height of British and European literature.

Reynolds changes the character of Meagles from Brummell’s own. The Beau according to Capt. Jesse was quite effeminate. Indeed, he never married and apparently had no female lovers. Meagles and Lady Lade seem to have had a platonic relationship until her husband died. They extorted a Marquisate from George III and then as the Beau had disappeared from England they disappear from The Mysteries of the Court.

Indeed, the Beau must have been trying to inveigle his friend, George IV, into making him a Marquis or ennoblement of some kind. Had Brummel been ennobled then he would have been entitled to associate with the aristocracy instead of being a hanger on.

Lady Lade throughout her and Meagles’ episodes dresses in men’s clothing so that she and Meagles appear as two men to the unobservant. As her name Diana indicates she represents the virgin huntress Artemis in Greek mythology or Diana in the Latin; the female archetype of the Piscean Age in Northern Europe. Reynolds repeatedly refers to her as the Huntress and other attributes of Diana, Tim must therefore be meant to be the male archetype of Pisces in Reynolds’ mind, not as the Redeemer but perhaps as the Trickster.

Just as the Beau longs for a title so does Tim. While the Beau retreated ungratified Tim and Lady Diana Lade obtain their Marquisate by criminal or blackmail means. Without going into details here, Tim and Diana have knowledge that would compromise the reputation of the Georgian House. Using this knowledge then they criminally extort their Marquisate from George III.

To some extent then, Mysteries of the Court is a roman a clef. How many of the other novels in the Mysteries of the Court collection may reference actual histories remains to be addressed.

The main theme is a condemnation of the Regent, George IV. Reynolds detests him as well as the whole aristocracy to the maximum. But, how much of that detestation is sheer envy. How much of himself did Reynolds put into Meagles/Brummell? Reynolds himself has the appearance of a Dandy or Beau and Ainsworth definitely was one. He is so vehement one has to wonder about his accuracy. Is this a fictional history of reality or mere raving. It is apparently reasonably accurate. Capt. Jesse who wrote of Beau Brummell while a stalwart member of his class condemns George IV for, as he puts it, teaching the aristocracy to live beyond their incomes, squandering their great wealth frivolously while living the lives of Libertines.

Reynolds then has the spirit of the times correct and while he may perhaps exaggerate he is not false. He himself believes he is writing fictionalized history; that is, fleshing out the fact with probable detailing.

Thus, in what might be termed the fifth and sixth series of the extended Mysteries of London and the Court, although these two series are not related to the first four, the fifth series concerns itself with the years around 1795 leading to the marriage of George IV with the Princess Caroline. The key point being his previous secret marriage to Mrs. Fitzherbert.

Reynolds does not tackle his main theme directly but embeds it in a series of stories, or novellas, or novels, peripheral to it while creating a sociological portrait of the times making George’s character confirmed by external events.

Mrs. Fitzherbert had ruled Carlton House and the Prince, as George then was, before the Regency, and enjoyed great privileges. The crisis came when George’s father, demanded that George marry the German Princess Caroline of Hanover, Germany who was something of a rustic. That meant he had to put away Mrs. Fitzherbert whom he found compatible and take up with Caroline who he detested.

He tolerated her long enough to create an heir, the Princess Charlotte and then made Caroline’s life miserable so that she exiled herself to the Continent. In Reynolds’ story, sixth series, she is living in Switzerland twenty years later. As this is 1815 Napoleon has just returned from his exile on Elba to Paris.

Reynolds is a clear writer and as his title indicates he is essentially writing a mystery he reveals clues only as necessary. The sixth series, then, titled Venetia Trelawney tells of Mrs. Fitzherbert’s attempt to regain her position at court through a surrogate, Venetia.

We are not permitted to know this until at the conclusion of the series of book five. Apart from all the subsidiary stories the main burden of the sixth series is George IV’s machinations to injure his wife, Caroline. He attempts to portray her as dissolute and morally corrupt for consorting with her equerry, Bergami. he was a fine figure of a man.

To achieve this goal the Prince, now Regent, goes to great lengths in a more or less improbable scheme. A Mrs. Owen has four lovely daughters who, following the Prince’s instructions, she is turning into courtesans and mistresses of duplicity. The youngest, Mary, refuses the training but the other three go to Geneva to be ladies in waiting for Caroline. There by subterfuge they make it appear that Caroline and Bergami are having an affair. Needless to say the scheme is baffled through the agency of Mrs. Fitzherbert.

That’s the general plan but of course much excitement is created by circumambient subplots that are braided into the main story. Many interesting characters are created. Larry Sampson, the Bow Street detective and his adversary the Hangman, Daniel Coffin. Coffin comes close to being as interesting as the Resurrection Man of the first two series of the Mysteries of London. Doctor Death of the third and fourth series doesn’t come close to the above two as a villain. Coffin is more related to the eighteenth century criminal master mind Johnathan Wild or Conan Doyle’s fictional Moriarty.

Of the six series the third and fourth are the weakest although having brilliant moments and a very good temptress, Laura Lorne. That will be dealt with separately. Having discussed the main story of The Mysteries Of London is the first eight parts of Time Travels there is no need to do so here.

When George closed off the second series of The Mysteries of the Court he said that he was through with George IV but that his head was bursting with ideas for a new series. Now a mystery ensues.

My edition of Mysteries of the Court was published by the Francis F. Burton Ethnographical Society in Boston and an Oxford Society in England in twenty volumes c. 1900 under the general title The Works of George W.M. Reynolds. By works is meant twenty volumes of The Mysteries of the Court of London, that’s all. Thus, the set is divided into four units of five volumes. The first five deal with the coming marriage to Caroline, the second five to Venetia Trelawney and the plot against Caroline. Then a third set issued under Reynolds’ name with his picture on the title page under the title, Lady Saxondale’s Crimes, while the fourth division of five volumes is called The Fortunes of the Ashtons. Thus, if the last two divisions are authentic the total work would be ten thousand pages. However there is no mention of the latter two series by any Reynolds scholar. Neither the Oxford Society nor the Burton Ethnographical Society give any indication of the provenance of the latter two series.

Richard F. Burton is the famous Victorian explorer, most notably in the search for the source of the Nile, and being the first European to penetrate into Mecca. He translated the entire Arabian Nights in seventeen volumes. So he became among the first ethnographers. The Oxford Society was also an ethnographical society. Little can be found on either on the internet.

Burton established his Society in 1843 splitting off from a predecessor. One wonders if Reynolds, ever curious, associated himself with the Burton Society and perhaps its predecessor. His Mysteries of the Court of London may be construed as an ethnographical study. I certainly read it as such. Possibly the Oxford and Burton Societies found the Mysteries of the Court so suitable that they commissioned writers to write the two additional series.

It might be possible that Reynolds commissioned the two series but there appears to be no earlier record of them at this tim, indeed, no record but their publication in the Works of George W.M. Reynolds. There is a story worth investigating in the American publishing house, T.B. Peterson. They were responsible for the publication of several novels written by their stable of authors under Reynold’s name. There is information on T.B. Peterson on the internet.

The firm was located in Philadelphia. They had a huge catalog what literature is in the Penny Dreadful style including a large selection of titles from writers like W.H. Ainsworth, Bulwer Lytton and, of course George W.M. Reynolds. They published a two volume edition under the title of The Mysteries of the Court of London. I have no idea whether it included the whole of the two series or a condensed version. They published twenty, perhaps more titles written by their authors under Reynolds’ name, including Ciprina or, The Secrets of the Picture Gallery.

This volume has actually been issued by the British Library as an authentic Reynolds. Possibly T.B. Peterson is unknown to them. Lord Saxondale, who was apparently a little less criminal than his wife Lady Saxondale, Count Christobal, and Lucrizia Mirano, Edgar Montrose or, the Mysterious Penitent, the Ruined Gangster. Peterson really liked The Necromancer while that title was also published by a New York firm.

Anent the Necromancer. I am of the opinion that this book was also not written by Reynolds, or possibly with a collaborator, even though it was published in his Miscellany in 1851. The style isn’t his, the vocabulary isn’t his while in my reading I had the feeling that the book was written by a woman. The detailing just seemed feminine. I think it probable that Reynolds was following in the footsteps of his model Alexander Dumas. Dumas collaborated with Auguste Maquet and others although the books were always issued as Dumas alone.

Perhaps in this case, Peterson called the Necromancer, the Mysteries of the Court of Henry VIII, Reynolds roughed out the story while employing someone else to do the actual writing. At any rate, I do not believe he was the writer or perhaps the sole writer.

Needless to say, Reynolds received no economic benefit because the US did not honor English copyright laws. Nor could Reynolds do anything about the counterfeits written under his name.

So, then, the question is from whence came the final two series and at what date were they written? And perhaps, why? Certainly they were commissioned. Having never read them I am unqualified to speculate but, perhaps, someone might know and be willing to share their knowledge?

Reynolds began the two works in 1844 and so far as we know finished them in 1856. Eighteen fifty-six was three short years before Darwin changed the world by issuing The Origin of Species and making evolution a household word.

By 1856 when the last word of the Mysteries was written Reynolds was already living in the Brave New England whether he knew it or not, and I suspect that he did know. Being wide awake was a new term at the time but I suspect that Reynolds was wide awake. The very face of England was changing as well as tunnels under the Thames. The tunnel probably cost several times what a bridge would have cost and have been more useful.

While writing mysteries of the Court Reynolds turned out twenty other volumes many of great length. Perhaps in the mode of Dumas he was making the maximum use of his time working long and sleeping little. Or, perhaps, as he was accused by Dickens, of employing other writers. Reynolds denies it.

Around him a new crop of novelists were rising, each having become aware of different times and formed by different social conditions. I suspect that although Reynolds remained a best seller throughout the century he became a little old fashioned. Certainly his newspaper kept his name alive and before the public. His politics would always have been ‘avant garde’ although by the turn of the century most of the Chartist demands had been met. The triumph of the Revolution still lay ahead a few years.

Part X  a review of The Necromancer follows.

Reynolds_Miscellany_v1_n1

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

by

R.E. Prindle

A Dialogue Between George Reynolds and John Dicks with asides from R.E. Prindle.

GWMReynolds

Let us imagine George Reynolds and John Dicks sitting over lunch and a nice glass of Lafite, as George spelled it, reminiscing in early 1860 about the good old days. At this point in time George had ended, or was about to, his novelistic career. He would now devote himself to journalistic matters with his very successful newspaper and magazine. John Dicks who began his association with George in late 1847 had run a tight printing shop always keeping up with developments in printing. An employee of George at this time he will soon be made a full partner and go on to an illustrious later career of publishing cheap literary editions for the masses.

Merely getting by back in ’47 they are now well-to-do men with money in the bank and more rolling in with every publication. They have every reason to think well of themselves.

John asks George how he came up with the idea or the first two Mysteries of London series about the Markham Brothers and the astonishing Resurrection Man.

 

George: That’s kind of an interesting story John. As you know my last couple of books, damn good books too, had flopped. My whole early career was kind of a waste. My apprenticeship one might call it. Personally I thought the Steam Packet and Master Timothy’s Bookcase were great, but, the fickle public, you know…

There I was approaching thirty supporting my family with odd jobs, looking desperately into the future with great fear, a failure without an idea, when George Stiff approached me and said he had a novel idea, serial, that he was calling the Mysteries of London, same general notion as Eugene Sue’s Mysteries of Paris. There was also another Mysteres de Londres by this other French fellow by the name of Paul Feval who had actually published his Mysteres de Londres that was alright. I had this notion of two brothers who chose different paths in life, Richard Markham, virtue, and his brother Eugene, vice.

John: Did that have anything to do with Ainsworth’s two brothers in Rookwood?

George: I remembered that and then there’s Cain and Able of course and Romulus and Remus of Rome but, more importantly I could never get De Sade’s two novels Justine and Juliette out of my mind with De Sade’s notions about the rewards of virtue and vice. So, I changed the sexes to men and reversed the roles and made virtuous Richard more successful than vicious Eugene. I think I’m right too.

John: Did Eugene have any reference to Sue, his first name?

Eugene Sue

Author of Mysteres de Paris and The Wandering Jew

George: Probably. A little joke. I leaned pretty heavily on Sue during my career. A lot more from his Wandering Jew than The Mysteres de Paris, and then his later work. Sue just died you know, young man. Worked himself to death. Terrific prolific writer. I borrowed a lot but don’t lets talk about that.

John: I hadn’t heard about Sue’s death. Interesting fellow. You didn’t by any chance use him as a model for the Marquis of Holmesford in the second series of Mysteries of London by any chance did you George?

George: You got that, did you John?

John: I know your devious mind, George. I remembered how fascinated you were that Sue kept a harem of women of many different nationalities and races in his castle. Then when Holmesford did the same thing I did associate the two. Of course you made Holmesford an old man for your literary purposes but the similarities were there.

George: The truth is stranger than fiction, John but fiction makes it more interesting. Do you know that many of those women were actually Sue’s slave girls? He owned them.

John: No, I didn’t know that. Most of them were white women, how could he own those? Where did he buy them?

George: Slavery hasn’t disappeared John, it’s true that we English outlawed the African slave trade back in ’02 or whenever but slavery is still going strong in America and the Brazils and the middle East. That fellow Livingston reports that the barbaric Arab slave trade from East Africa to the Middle East is tremendous.

The Ottomans control the Balkans and parts of the Caucasus so that slave marts selling whites is still Strong. Samuel Baker, the fellow that is organizing his African expedition actually bought his wife in Hungary at a slave mart in Budapest. Wonderful story. So, there were many sources for Sue to buy his women. Of course, I put in a sly joke with Holmesford in which, rather than die in bed, he struggles to his feet to stagger to the arms of his favorite and dies on her capacious bosom.

Everyone takes a negative view of it when it’s supposed to be a tender moment if humorous. Good way to die don’t you think John? Hated to see Sue die, there goes my inspiration. Dumas’ still alive but my intuition tells me he’s finished. Boy, what productively, exhausted his brain. I’m learning how that feels.

John: You mean the inspiration of the Mysteries series with Sue?

George: No. That was Stiff. Right before my nose but I couldn’t see it. Once I got into it though and finished with George IV, I borrowed his stuff for things like Joseph Wilmot, Mary Price and that sort of thing, his Matilda, or The Misfortunes Of Virtue for instance. You can see the de Sade reference. Sue plotted out the stories for me, I mean I used them, something like Maquet did for Dumas. And then I rewrote them according to my own sensibilities.

Back to Stiff. Nobody had any idea of how astonishingly successful the Mysteries would be. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do it, but Stiff promised a five quid note a week and always came through. Two hundred sixty quid a year. This seemed like a good deal to me for only a few thousand words a week. Coupled with what I could make on the side. I had a of words in me and they were free to me. Of course, as I came to realize I was making him a heck of a lot more than I was getting. The end result was that he bought himself a damn good income and lifestyle for next to nothing. Look how we’re living.

By the time I got into the second series though, I began to think that there’s something wrong here. If my writing could make their fortunes, my writing could do a lot better for me, I thought.

In ’46 then, still under contract for Mysteries, I began my Reynold’s Miscellany that has been fairly successful as you know. Somehow that brought us together. I realized your genius from the beginning—no, no, I’m serious John, no need for false modesty with me, your integrity, the whole works. So, when the second series was coming to the end, and the expiration of my contract, I had worked up the general outline for the George IV fifth and sixth series so were we’re ready to go as soon as I turned in my last clip to Stiff and refused to sign a new contract.

John: They weren’t too happy with that, were they?

George: I should think not. Of course, I had foolishly talked about the George IV series, so they thought they were going to have that too. That would have put them on Easy Street with me getting five pounds a week. They owned the rights to the Mysteries of London, lock, stock and copyright. Owned the title. If Stiff could have found a writer the Mysteries might have gone on forever.

Finding another writer wasn’t that easy. They should have come to terms with me and shared the income more equitably but, as they said, a contract is a contract. They apparently didn’t understand that contracts are written with a fixed term. They got lucky with me but although I think Tom Miller who they signed next is a fine person and a very adequate writer neither he nor Blanchard who succeeded him understood the audience. I, in association with you John, continued the success.

John: Stiff and Vickers came unglued then in ’48 and forced you into bankruptcy proceedings?

George: Damn ‘em. That was more Vickers who lost a lot of printing business so the clod uses my name to try to make up for my loss. Attacked the Miscellany, putting out a vile rag called the Reynolds something or other because he had some obscure typesetter with the name of Reynolds. Got his though. I know how they got me into that bankruptcy mess. I only owed two thousand and by ’48 that was nothing what with the Miscellany and the beginning of George IV. We were already bringing in that much each month. Vickers was just being vicious, humiliated me and got nothing out of it. Hope the villain is happy and rots in hell.

But that was then and this is now. Look where Vickers is at and look where we’re at.

John: I think your politics had something to do with that too, George. Remember what year that was? ’48? Ring any bells?

George: (laughing immoderately) I thought that Revolution of ’48 was the real thing; an ’89 that worked. Was I ever wrong. Marx put that manifesto out in ’47, alerting the reactionaries as to what was coming and were they ever ready for us. We were all riddled with spies. Put the government is a tizzie though. A little better leadership and it might have been done. I wasn’t keen on the Communist stuff though. Our Chartist idea was the best. No violence.

John: I was always of the opinion that revolutions mean violence. Anyway, they smashed the revolution and the revolutionaries scattered like leaves in the wind. Hope the Americans know what to do with them because they got a lot and the worst of them.

I always wondered, George, to change the subject a bit, of all your characters which was your favorite?

George: The Resurrection Man of course. Boy, did he really come from the depths of my subconscious. Terrified myself more than he did my readers. You know something though, John? I think I had stumbled on to something but I didn’t know what to do with it.

John: What might that have been?

George: Remember Larry Sampson the leading detective of the Bow Street Runners? And the hangman, Daniel Coffin?

John: Yes. That was strong, very effective. But…?

George: Better than strong, John. I don’t know if you’ve read this American Edgar Allen Poe, he’s dead now, tragic story, collapsed and died on the streets of Baltimore. Tragic death, tragic. Great artist. He wrote a story called The Murders In The Rue Morgue. Wonderful imaginative tale. He has an intellectual sort of detective, C. August Dupin. Initials spell CAD. Good joke, what? Poe was very intellectual keen on acumen. He thought he was a genius, probably was. Dupin solves the crime in the Rue Morgue, an impossible closed door mystery, sitting in his armchair. Acumen you see. I appreciated the acumen but I thought a true detective would keep records and biographies and with the information would be able to lead him more quickly and accurately to probable perpetrators. Thus, I introduced Lawrence ‘Larry’ Sampson of the Metropolitan Police, chief of the Bow Street Runners.

John: Your old friend Paul Feval has written a book, John Devil, in which he introduces a master detective from Scotland Yard by the name of Gregory Temple. Have you read that?

George: No, not yet. Have you read any of Feval’s Black Coat series? The crime network he portrays reminds me of our Johnathan Wild who had criminal London pretty well organized in the last century. Wild in turn reminds of Vidocq, the head of the Paris Surete. Francois Vidocq, who died a couple years ago by the way. Vidocq was a nasty criminal and obviously the greatest of con men. Imagine hiring a master criminal to be he head of police! There was a scandal. Just like Wild he was amazingly able to recover stolen goods without having to arrest a thief? Same routine Wild was running. The thieves stole and got a commission from the money Wild received for returning the stolen merchandise.

 

Prindle: Reynolds was of course right that the detective novel would become, or perhaps, was already becoming at the time he wrote a new genre. For the origin of the detective story most people nominate Poe and then trace it through a series of French writers leading up to Emile Gaboriau who has supposed to have been the inspiration for Conan Doyle’s great Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. From there it was off to the races.

Reynolds seems to have been overlooked as an early source. I’m sure that Doyle would have read Mysteries of the Court and have noted Sampson. Doyle used both acumen and a thorough record system. It can’t be proven, of course, but Reynolds was a staple for nineteenth century proto-pulp fiction, especially before the adventure novel of the Rider Haggard type and the detective stories of Conan Doyle and his epigone.

Certainly, during Doyle’s boyhood and youth Reynolds would have been essential reading along with W.H. Ainsworth, Bulwer Lytton and James Malcom Rymer. These writers were very popular throughout the nineteenth century while becoming passe at the beginning of WWI. They were old fashioned and didn’t fit into the post-war world. Thus they dropped out of literary history, if the Penny Dreadful, pulp writers, were ever a part of it. Back to George and John.

 

George: Speaking of criminals, that reminds me of those criminal Americans who respect no writer’s rights. It’s bad enough that they pirate my own works but they have the audacity to hire writers and then publish their stuff under my own name.

John: (laughing) You must be very popular in the United State.

George: I should hope so and maybe you laugh. Maybe I could sue over appropriating my name but I don’t think there’s a chance of success.

It’s not just a book either, listen to these titles: Ciprina or, the Secrets of the Picture Gallery, Lord Saxondale, Count Christoval, Lucrigia Marano, The Child of Waterloo or, the Horrors of the Battle Field. And there are more. I must be an entire industry over there. There might be dozens more under my name. People must think I’m a super-man, turning out not only my own works but these other people under my name. My god, don’t they have sense of decency? What’s a poor writer to do?

John: Speaking of that, I’m thinking of beginning a series called Dicks’ English Novels. I’ll have twenty or so of your novels plus your favorites by Dickens, Ainsworth, Bulwer-Lytton along with your favorites Notre Dame de Paris and Dumas’ Queen Margot. All your major influences except Byron. What do you think?

George: Any money in it?

John: Should be. All of it’s still popular and we’ll get it out at prices that will shock the industry.

George: Interesting. That sounds very good John and I’m sure that it will be a great success. We’ve worked together for ten years or more now, and a very successful partnership it’s been. Now that I’m about finished as a novelist and going to work for the newspaper perhaps with your plans we should make our relationship a full partnership. Does that sound feasible to you John?

John: Very satisfactory George. It would make me proud. Together I think we can make John Dicks the most successful publishing house in England while educating those the most that afford it the least. We can change the face of England and make it a better place. I want to get the prices down as low as possible. Without the paper tax we should be able to cut costs.

George: If you get the type any smaller John and keep our readership you may obtain both goals. I don’t know how those type setters can set such small type.

John: Quite a skill, I can assure you. I’d like to be able to invent a type setting machine where there are keys for the alphabet and punctuation marks so that the type setter can punch keys and the letters fall into place.

George: I’m sure someone is working on it. The steam press itself is a modern miracle. It would be impossible to get out the tens of thousands of papers and books we get out every week without them.

John: Yes. We’d be making a lot less money than we are now anyway. Quite a machine. By the way, George, I’ve got a suggestion.

George: Yes…

John: Well, as you know the government’s pretty unhappy with the Miscellany.

George: Yes…

John: It think we could get rid of some pressure by discontinuing it.

George: (unhappy but aware of the problem) Discontinuing the Reynolds Miscellany?

John: Not exactly getting rid of it but changing the name anyway. I’ve got an idea for a magazine I’d call Bow Bells. We could fold the Miscellany into it, under my editorship. It would be the same program but a little less…uh…er…aggressive, to keep the hounds off us. Doesn’t have to be done right now but something to think about, maybe. I’d really like to do it George. They haven’t forgotten ’48. That still rankles them.

George: How would that affect the newspaper?

John: Not at all, not at all.   That would continue under your editorship and I would edit the combined Bow Bells and Miscellany. Just a thought. We can keep it in the back our minds I’ve got some newer writers in mind.

George: Hmm, newer writers. I know your concern, John, and it is something to consider. I’ll consider it. I am getting pretty tired and fourteen years of turning out a zillion words a week has taken its toll. My brain doesn’t have the elasticity and vitality that it used to have. You see, I know how Dumas feels. Things don’t come as easily anymore. That would be a load off me. Let me think about it.

John: Let me say that I really admire your energy George. The ten years or so I’ve been working with you have been amazing. I wish we had The Mysteries of London from Stiff and Vickers. What a catalog that would make; Mysteries of London and Mysteries of the Court. I’d even throw in Mysteries of Old London, the Days of Hogarth. Underappreciated but it has one of the greatest tales I have ever read. My land, what an outstanding three works.

George: Oh, flattery…flattery. Keep it up. (laughing)

John: Just the truth, George, just the truth.

Part IX of Time Traveling With R.E Prindle continues.

    

 

 

Part VI: Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

G.W.M. Reynolds: Building A Publishing Empire

by

R.E. Prindle

 

George W.M. Reynolds is an interesting story, almost epic actually. No biography is currently extant. His history must be patched together by certain fragmentary sketches and assembled based on those autobiographical details from his novels in addition to fragmentary researches and solid facts that provide hints to interpret the novels.

As to parentage: His father was George Reynolds, a naval officer during the Napoleonic wars. His dates: 1762-1822. During those Napoleonic wars in 1802 he was commissioned a Captain and given command of the Tribune, a 36 gun frigate with which he was able to capture what researcher Dick Collins says, were several prizes. The proceeds from those prizes were distributed in shares to the officers and crew. Collins gives no idea of the richness of those prizes but we must presume that he received, possibly, ten to twenty thousand pounds overall and possibly more. This is important as when his son assumed his inheritance in 1830 it is possible that he received twelve thousand pounds. Thus, it would likely have come from the proceeds of these prizes.

Prize money would have been in addition to his wages and whatever emoluments that might have amounted to three hundred pounds or more per annum. If Reynolds’ father had invested his prize money and lived on other earnings it would make his having twelve thousand pounds not unreasonable. This is important because the size of GWM’s inheritance is disputed. Dick Collins, for instance, seeks to diminish it to near nothing. Guy Dicks places it at seven thousand. Without any other assurance than the prizes I accept the figure of twelve thousand, if for no other reason than Reynolds was too affluent in France than for there being little or no inheritance.

On his mother’s side, Caroline Frances Dowers, 1789-1830, her father was a Purser Dowers, Purser is his Christian name, who was the commandant of the Royal Naval Hospital in Walmer, Kent. Caroline and George were married in 1813. George W.M. was born a year later in Sandwich, Kent but that location doesn’t figure in his writings while Walmer and Deal, two neighboring towns where Dowers and his guardian Duncan McArthur lived, have prominent places as well as Canterbury with a nod to Ashford.

GWM had a brother, Edward, born in 1816 with whom he was associated through life, serving with the publishing company George created. Shortly after in 1816 his father was stationed on the island of Guernsey where GWM spent the next six years. Guernsey will figure in his novels. It was probably there, next to France, speaking a French dialect that his affection for France arose.

In 1822, the family returned to Kent in Canterbury where his father died soon after. His mother at that time was thirty-three, a young and probably attractive woman. She was appointed guardian of her sons. As a backup guardian a great friend of her husband’s, the surgeon Duncan McArthur of Walmer, 1772-1850 accepted the responsibility on her death in March of 1830 at the very young age of forty-two. Thus, Reynolds was an orphan at fifteen. His being an orphan is important in his writings. George was eight years old when his father died, and fifteen when his mother passed. Excluding his two years of infancy his life had been divided evenly between Guernsey and Kent. Orphaned at eight when is father died and then left parentless after another eight years his childhood must have had a profound effect on his psychology.

In 1828 he had been placed in the Sandhurst Military Academy in Berkshire. Neither Sandhurst nor Berkshire have a prominent place in his novels. His total experience in Kent then takes place from 1822 to 1828 and those years were apparently the most formative years of his life for which he appears to have had a great affection. He was sent to school at Ashford, Kent, a relatively large town equidistant from Canterbury and Walmer-Deal. Whatever happened in Walmer-Deal then happened between 1822 and 1828 but left an indelible impression on him.

In those years George must have associated in Walmer with Duncan McArthur and possibly his grand-father Purser Dowers. George is fixated on these years and these towns plus Canterbury. Walmer especially is connected to his character of the Resurrection Man, Anthony Tidkins, in the First Series of The Mysteries of London. At that time body stealers from graveyards, known as resurrection men were supplying corpses to physicians for dissection in the advancement of science. Dick Collins speculates that Duncan McArthur, a surgeon, bought bodies. In the novel Tony Tidkins was born in Walmer and supplied bodies to ‘the surgeon of Walmer.’ Thus, Duncan McArthur.

This is quite possible if not probable. Reynolds seems quite familiar with doctors and their scientific experiments. The Mysteries of London were written in two series. For some reason Collins thinks that the Second Series was never written but it is readily available today. It comes in two volumes totaling sixteen hundred pages. It doesn’t appear to be well known. However in Volume III, that is, First Series, Vols. I and II and Second Series, Vols. III and IV, Reynolds describes some offices of ‘the foremost surgeon in England’, a Dr. Lascelles that he leased from a cadaverous, hideous criminal Benjamin Bones, also known as Old Death. Old Death was not a resurrection man but looks like he had been resurrected.

There are many alter-egos of Reynolds in the Mysteries and one in Vol. III is the highwayman, Thomas Rainford or Tom Rain as he was known. He is in Old Death’s crummy old house in which Dr. Lascelles, the foremost doctor in England rents rooms. Rainford enters these rooms to find pickled body parts, lifelike casts of human heads and such. Lascelles is a phrenologist in interest. One, then, is led to ask, did Dr. Duncan McArthur also have such a collection and was an eight to fourteen year old G.W.M. Reynolds introduced into such a gruesome environment by his guardian. Where else could he have witnessed such scenes and attributed them to Walmer. The influence in the novels is extensive.

At fourteen then he was entered into the military academy. What happened between he and his guardian after the mother died while he was a few months short of sixteen isn’t clear. It is hard to believe that Reynolds with his literary bent wasn’t restless in a military environment while being exposed at fourteen to that, to me, repulsive environment was negative. It was probably there that he had his first experiences with gambling and drinking.

He wrangled his way out of Sandhurst in September of 1830. One imagines that McArthur and Dowers resisted this but as military men they probably thought they had to give the young fellow his head. He demanded his inheritance then and there which he must have received but with great reluctance. Whether his brother also had an inheritance isn’t clear but as his brother joined George in France he may have brought a fresh supply of money.

As important as 1822-28 were to Reynolds development, the years in France from 1831-36 were equally important. There is no clear account of what happened in those years, only what may be gleaned from his writings and some facts Dick Collins has collected.

What is clear is that the most significant occurrence was that Reynolds was illuminated almost upon landing in France. Reynolds says that he became a Liberal at Sandhurst, by which he means, that among the sons of the aristocracy as an inferior he developed a deep resentment for that faction of society. In France his illumination codified that resentment into a program.

Illumination may be a new concept to many readers but the term and concept arose from the dissolution of the Medieval Order and the rise of the scientific consciousness promoted by astronomers and alchemists. It became apparent to many that the old order was no longer suited to emerging social exigencies as condensed into the 1789 Revolutionary slogan Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. Its key components were the elimination of monarchy, the aristocracy, that is the privileges of birth, and the rejection of established religion and priestcraft and certain sexual revisions.

In its evolution in the sixteenth century it took the form of the Rosicrucian Order and Rosicrucianism remained the backbone of Illumination down probably to the present. The Illuminati sect of Rosicrucianism appropriated the word. Thus Reynolds appears to have been initiated into the Rosicrucian Order. At least, in his novel the Wehrwolf he has his hero Wagner leave the Island of the Lotus Eaters in his novel to go to Sicily in which the venerable head of the Rosicrucian Order existed as a 164 year old man with whom he had a long interview, or, as I read it, he was initiated or illuminated. This chicanery was common during the eighteenth century and the formation of Freemasonry that incorporates all these legends.

Most famous in the Revolutionary days were Cagliostro, otherwise Joseph Balsamo and the Count de St. Germain, alchemists and magicians. Alexander Dumas has a wonderful interpretation of the career of Cagliostro in his novel Joseph Balsamo. You may be sure Reynolds read it. Of course, such men as these were not what they claimed to be but society was credulous and many took them at their word. After all, with that great European legend or myth of the Wandering Jew sightings of him were common as there were many Jewish poseurs. They wandered and announced themselves and were credited as such. Cagliostro and St. Germain were actually a significant part of the Revolution.

Another impostor of sorts was Adam Weishaupt who appropriated illuminism to form the Illuminati. That group is now passed off as legendary for whatever reasons the Left has, but they did exist and were a key part of the Revolution as Jacobins. Nobody denies the Jacobins.

One must remember that the revolutionary and Napoleonic years were from 1789 to 1815 and Reynolds was born in 1814. He was an ardent follower of Napoleon considering him the greatest man of history. Joseph Balsamo (Cagliostro) and the Comte de St. Germain were still living legends while Reynolds was in Paris. Dumas was writing amazing stories about Cagliostro and the Revolutionary period concurrently with Reynolds’ novels. The French writers he would have been familiar with in the 1830s were all imbrued with the events of 1789-1815. This period was one of most breathtaking events in the history of Europe.

More or less as an aside these first fifty years of the nineteenth century were the formative years from which the succeeding two hundred years have evolved. A work still treasured by the cognoscenti was published in 1841, Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds containing long essays on John Law and the Mississippi Bubble as well as that amazing phenomenon The South Sea Bubble. W.H. Ainsworth wrote a wonderful novel describing the South Sea Bubble. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Reynolds’ read it as he has numerous examples of bubble companies and frauds in his pages. In the early nineteenth century the Frenchman Gustave Le Bon would add his magnificent psychological study the Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind that Freud would incorporate into his Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego thus forming the basis of mind control today.

In addition the Regency Period and Reign of George IV were part of his living memories. When he arrived in France very late in 1830, the year George IV died, really 1831 the Revolution of 1830 had just taken place in July 1830- the July Revolution- that removed Charles X and placed Louis Phillipe on the throne. Almost from enthronement the Revolution of 1848 was being planned and a mere eighteen years later took place ending the monarchy in France permanently. Reynolds himself was working toward 1848 probably from the day his shoes hit French soil.

Reynolds was an enthusiastic supporter of the July Revolution and cheered wildly at the displacement of the aristocracy. In his estimation it placed the French high above the English who retained both monarch and aristocracy. He despised the English nobility. That attitude would have been a common one of course but, I believe it likely that Reynolds humiliating experiences at Sandhurst cemented that hatred in his mind.

Sandhurst would have been full of the sons of the aristocracy who would have demeaned mere commoners. Nor would he have had the money to keep up with them.

What drove him to France isn’t clear but those five years were to be the most influential of his life. Reconstructing those five years is not easy although some key events can be dated.

A sixteen year old striking out on his own in a foreign country with inadequate language skills is daring while if he had what to a sixteen year old was an enormous sum of twelve thousand pounds in his pockets sharpers and sponges would have spotted him immediately.

There is a passage in Vol. II of The Mysteries Of The Court Of London that might explain his situation. A sixteen year old orphan girl, the beauteous Carmilla, actually Rose Foster has been cleaned out of her inheritance by sharpers.

Another home! Alas! Alas! ‘tis much more easily said that done; and the orphan felt that it was so, and her heart, as it were, came up into her throat as she reflected that the only true home which she had ever enjoyed had been swallowed up in the grave of her parents.

O God! robbery is bad, forger is vile, rape is atrocious, and murder is abhorrent; but to ill-treat an orphan, to be merciless toward the poor being from whom death has borne away the fond mother and the doting father, never to send them back again, oh, this is abhorrent also, and the wretch who has no pity for the orphan is capable of robbery and forgery and rape and murder.

There is a cri de couer, a hysterical wringing of hands. We can’t reconstruct exactly what happened after Reynolds’ beloved mother died orphaning him completely. What his relationship with his new guardian was we don’t know, but, just as Carmilla was easy prey for the criminals who took advantage of her youth and innocence, it is more than likely that something similar happened to Reynolds in France.

Thus it cannot be accidental that his account of his first adventures in France should have been recreated in his continuation of Dicken’s Pickwick Papers, Pickwick Abroad. It is a novel full of sharpers and spongers preying on Pickwick who may have been a variant of the prosperous Reynolds. This novel is an interesting account of English ex-pats in Paris.

In the post-Napoleonic years there was such an influx of English people into Paris for extended stays that the Meurice Hotel was created to accommodate them by creating as English an atmosphere in France as possible. It would be almost the same as the Jewish and Italian colonies in New York City c. 1900. It is in the atmosphere of the Meurice that Reynolds places his version of Mr. Pickwick for the duration of that famous character’s stay in France.

It is there that Pickwick is surrounded by sharpers and sponges and plain thieves. One wonders how Reynolds saw himself in that mélange. Perhaps with his twelve thousand pounds he is Mr. Pickwick himself though certainly not as a sponge although one gathers the impression that Reynolds was somewhat addicted to sharp practices. Perhaps his first year or two were spent Pickwick fashion. Quite high living for a sixteen year old. Remember though as Mortimer from Master Timothy’s Bookcase returns to England Mortimer philosophizes whether a young man can be a Man of the World. Perhaps that can be interpreted that he had tried and failed in France.

In these five years in France of rapid intellectual development at no time could he have let the grass grow under his feet. He obviously worked in a vast amount of reading. One should keep in mind that in 1839 in England he compiled a book, The Modern Literature Of France, a book of excerpts with prefaces. It is certain that he read and was deeply influenced by Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame De Paris, or the Hunchback of Notre Dame in common parlance. The book was published in the year of his arrival in 1831. He carried the memory of its pages in mind from that time forward. He read the Marquis de Sades’ Justine, and Juliette, and the Philosophy of the Boudoir and was deeply influenced by those books. His rather racy sexual descriptions probably derive therefrom. He praises the apparently horror novelist, Frederic Soulie (not translated into English yet) while making use of his techniques in his own novels.

Paris must have been wildly active while he was resident. Survivors of the 1789 revolution would have been sixty or seventy years old, filled with stories. Reynolds endorsed the crimes of the French Revolution. The Bohemia immortalized by Henry Burger in his 1859 novel would have been in rapid development thus combining the political, art and literary scenes. Balzac, Sue and Dumas as well as lesser light were all writing in the shadow of the Revolution and Napoleonic years. That Reynolds showed interest in the art scene is evidenced by his chapter in Mysteries of the Court of London. Thus his brain was swarming with images and innumerable scenes copped from the French novelists.

Connected to all would have been the process of illumination, the formation of Reynold’s Weltanschauung and his uniting with the Zeitgeist. I have been unable to identify a reference to the Freemasons but the mystic cult of Rosicrucianism seems to have attracted his attention, hence illumination. Reynolds was a very prominent Liberal, touting Liberalism, hence illumination constantly. A Liberalism almost current with that of the twenty-first century. He was true blue.

After three years in France he made his first novel attempt: The Youthful Impostor. I haven’t read that as yet but the title perhaps indicates his feelings about himself. He was probably premature in taking on the trappings of The Man of the World that he so much wanted to be.

He began a bookstore at about this time while attempting to found an Anglo-French newspaper. One can only conclude that they were unsuccessful and left France a year later as a bankrupt. But not before he married Susannah Frances Pierson at the British Embassy. In Volume IV of the Mysteries of London Charles Hatfield and Perdita Hardinge were married at the British Embassy in November. Was this a reenactment of his and Susannah’s marriage? As he seems a little gushy about the event his and Susannah’s marriage at the Embassy must have made a significant impression on him.

In 1836 his French adventure ended as he went broke, returning to England with wife and new son in tow. He was only twenty-two and had lived a lifetime or two in France. The years from 1837-44 seems to have been a period of struggling to re-orient himself. After all having been under the impression that he was rich in 1831 to have gone smash in 1836 and then having to find a way to wealth again must have taken some courage. During 1842-44 he seems to have realized that his early efforts were getting him nowhere so was searching for a new direction. 1844-48 is an expression of that reorientation that ended in the Revolution of 1848 and the elimination of the French monarchy at last.

Even though only twenty-two in 1836 it would seem that some interest in his abilities adhered to him from his French journalistic activities because on his return he found ready employment as the editor of the Monthly Magazine then tottering, and which he revived.

The English loved to sojourn in Paris. In the brief period of peace in 1802 as Venetia Murray records in her An Elegant Madness when the English rushed to France. Then after the final defeat of Napoleon in 1815 the love affair with France recovered. Indeed, much to Reynolds’ chagrin the English offered Louis Philippe sanctuary in England after 1848. As mentioned the Meurice Hotel was established to cater to English tastes.

As magazine editor in Paris Reynolds published Thackeray’s first appearance in print so it is probable the he had established some sort of reputation that was honored on his return. Reynolds then began publication of Pickwick Abroad in the Monthly’s pages. While usually considered a plagiarism Reynolds’ explains his position clearly:

The founder of the ‘Pickwick club’ which now exists no longer had violated the promise he had sometime since made to himself and voluntarily deviated from that tranquil mode of life it was his intention to adopt when his first biographer, ‘Boz’ took leave of him.

So, as Reynolds apparently saw it, if the first biographer abandon’s a biography a second biographer may legitimately write a continuation. Remember that the club no longer existed so it was Mr. Pickwick himself. A fine line perhaps but Pickwick Abroad is not about the club. Indeed, the grand epic of the Greeks was written by several hands of which Homer’s was just one. There were several continuations written for Chretien De Troye’s Grail story. Not everyone agreed with the notion but Pickwick Abroad was a success giving Reynolds a literary reputation, of sorts, in England.

None of the following six efforts leading to 1842 created much of a fuss. During that time, however, Reynold’s was exploring all of the highways and byways of London and he may have devoted much of his time during his two missing years to that endeavor as well as doing extensive reading. He was certainly well read and aware of scientific, technological and societal developments. It seems clear to me that he had read the psychological literature of his time and knew how to apply it accurately. He apparently visited many insane asylums in both France and England as the interiors of the various asylums seem to be accurately portrayed. He was aware of Dr. Pinel who liberalized the handling of the insane in France. All of this interest in matters combined with his illumination gives an extraordinary depth to his writing making the most of intense experiences giving them almost a visual reality.

While writing Vol IV of the Second Series, the Revolution of 1848 occurred about 40% of the way through in February of that year. Reynolds broke off his narrative to celebrate the event and encourage the Chartists to do the same in England. As he was in the process of writing about his heroine, Laura Mortimer, he has her begin her course in illumination as taught by her music teacher beginning with the Marseillaise and some poems by Victor Hugo. Hugo was a monster influence on Reynolds. Cross fertilization was apparently widespread.

Reynolds, once again taking inspiration from Dickens for the last volume of his early period, Master Timothy’s Bookcase, he then remained unpublished from 42-44. Looking again to France, Reynolds read the early installments of the great Eugene Sue’s Mysteries of Paris. Receiving this inspiration his thoughts fell into place and he began to write the magnificent First Series of The Mysteries Of London.

At this point I wish to cautiously introduce a work that appeared simultaneously with Reynolds and Sue, Paul Feval’s own version of The Mysteries of London. While virtually unknown in the US today Feval was a magnificent crime writer inking the stories of the Black Coats. Being aFrenchman his take on haunts that both he and Reynolds were aware are yet quite different but equally as terrifying as Reynold’s.

The First Series of Mysteries of London quickly set Reynold’s on his feet and he was in a position to look forward to building a publishing empire and regaining the dreams of his youth.

The First Series ended in 1846 and it was that year that he established his weekly newspaper the Reynolds Miscellany. The First Series had been stunningly successful, selling in the tens of thousands per week so that perhaps giddy with success he thought his name so familiar and respected the magazine would sell by itself. On the other hand, it was a dream coming true. The first issue began with his novel Wagner The Wehrwolf. The story itself may have been patterned on the success of James Rymer’s Varney the Vampire of recent issue. If so, the story worked, the magazine was a success and continued to large sales for several years before being folded into John Dick’s Bow Bells.

At this time, 1846-48, Reynolds was also getting increasingly involved in the politics that led up to the February Revolution and the Trafalgar demonstration of that April. This shows in his erratic writing of the Second Series. While having high points such as story of Perdita Hardinge the Second Series is a low point in his production. In getting involved in the Miscellany and the Revolution it is clear that he was taking on too much.

A sea change took place in his career when he formed an alliance with the printer John Dicks in 1847. Dicks would remain his printer for the rest of his career being made a full partner in 1854.

Make no mistake, Reynolds great success depended on his relationship with Dicks. Without a relationship such as this, carrying much of the burden, great success is impossible.

He was now able to free himself from his association with Stiff and Vickers who published The Mysteries of London. They appear to have regarded Reynolds’ writing as for hire and kept the copyrights as theirs. This departure does not appear to have been amicable. Stiff tried to undermine the Reynold’s Miscellany while Reynold’s believed that his 1848 bankruptcy was engineered by Stiff in spite. Nevertheless the groundwork for a remarkable publishing empire was being laid.

Nearly all the information on Dicks I take from his grandson Guy Dicks’ and his book The John Dicks Press, self-published in 2005 and reprinted in 2016.

As an amusing aside if you google Guy Dicks what comes up is a series of articles on men’s penises. Guy Dicks doesn’t get a mention.

Guy’s grandfather John was born four years after Reynolds in 1818. He served a fairly long apprenticeship with specialty publishers before joining Reynolds. His most interesting was with the Chinese dictionary compiler Robert Morrison. He came to Reynolds as an expert printer and innovative publisher. He and Reynolds were on the same wavelength although I don’t know whether Dicks was illuminated or not.

Although Dicks was an employee of Reynolds until 1864 when he was made a partner in that year the two men worked working even more expanded the empire. In addition to Reynolds’ novels and the Reynolds Miscellany they created the Reynolds News paper that survived for well over a hundred years. As their business grew and as technological innovations improved publishing methods the firm kept up, changing with the innovations adding huge steam presses that turned out thousands of impressions an hour.

Between the two of them they tried to be model employers much in the style of the twentieth centuries Henry Ford.

Those developments were in the future, in 1846-7 it is clear that Reynolds was writing weekly installments in a rush while trying to establish a publishing empire of his own. His mental energy must have been enormous and his ability to organize his time phenomenal. Let us never forget that he had a wife and large and growing family.

While the Second Series, especially Volume IV, suffers from all this activity, in 1847 he wrote a complete novel of several thousand words titled Faust: A Romance of the Secret Tribunals that is well plotted and tightly written. It also displays a fair amount of historical knowledge and research. This must have been in the second half of 1847 as in 1846-47 he was turning out Wagner the Wehrwolf which is interesting and exciting but a lower quality than Faust. At the same he was writing these three novels there are reference in the Second Series indicating that he was organizing his thoughts to begin the phenomenal Mysteries of the Court of London.

His mental capacity was phenomenal, his mind was so compartmentalized that he could be working on four separate extensive novels while editing the Reynolds Miscellany during 1846 and part of 1847. His wife Susannah must have been managing the family finances while bringing up a troop of noisy children, and also, it might be added attempting novels also. Her novel Gretna Green appeared at this time.

He began his magnum opus, The Mysteries of the Court of London in 1848 and from then on, he was on solid ground with Dicks backing him up in the founding and development of his publishing empire.

While the humiliations Reynolds suffered as a sixteen year old striking out on his own had been extremely painful to him providing wretched memories, with the rise of his empire he redeemed those years and mistakes. When he died he left an estate of nearly thirty thousand pounds thus putting him up in the class of those aristocrats he despised so much. Alls well that ends well, eh George

Part V

Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

by

R.E. Prindle

 

Dead White Men

I dreamt I saw Joe Hill

Just as alive as you and me.

‘Oh, but Joe you’re dead,’ says I,

‘I never died said he…

‘I never died…

‘I never…’

 

Mankind longs for immortality. A life beyond death. Some believe that they pass on their genes to offspring that is a species of immortality. It may be believed that corporeal immortality in any form is an impossibility. However when corporeal existence ends there is a hope that one’s name and fame may live on in remembrance. In this pursuit many have been successful, embalmed in the history books or literature. Thus in the early twenty-first century Julius Caesar is a name known to all. King Tut is a name well known though his name has survived only because his tomb had been successfully hidden and was only discovered in the twentieth century, 1922.

As discussed in Part IV, literary fame can be long lasting. Homer is still a best seller in the twenty-first century three thousand years after his death. His works are freshly translated in nearly every decade. Thomas Mallory’s King Arthur is a steady seller six hundred years after having been published; the great Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall Of The Roman Empire is a very steady seller two hundred and thirty years after his demise. Of course, Shakespeare. All of these men are alive and well intellectually millennia and centuries after leaving the planet. They never died….

There is another we have not mentioned by the name of Francis Rabelais and his once immensely influential book, Gargantua and Pantagruel. Once banned by the Catholic Church as obscene, and it truly is, the book became a sort of bible to large numbers of Europeans. Rabelais is perhaps most remembered as the man who introduced the phrase ‘Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.’ A very attractive law to a large number of people.

The law was adopted by the people who are known as Libertines. The most famous Libertines of all were the Englishmen who established the Hell Fire Club of Medmenham Abbey. Discontinued in the 1760s it continued a movement begun in 1719 in a short lived club that ended in 1721. The famed author Tobias Smollett mentions a house he visited where impious practices were celebrated in his 1748 novel Roderick Random.

The key law in these clubs or gatherings was do what thou wilt. The motto was popular and practiced from that time on. For our purposes G.W.M. Reynolds records the attitude although strangely he makes no reference to Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel or Hell Fire Clubs although he does refer frequently to Libertinism; most probably because of his familiarity with the writings of the Marquis de Sade.

Reynolds was accused of being a pornographer and it can be substantiated by the strain of Libertinism that haunts his writing. Consider this from the Second Series of Mysteries of London Vol III:

And now his sacrilegious hands drew aside the snow-white dress which covered the sleeping lady’s bosom. And the treasures of that gently-heaving breast were exposed to his view. But not a sensual thought was thereby excited in his mind; cold and passionless, he surveyed the beauteous spectacle only as a sculptor might measure the proportions of a marble Venus or Diana the huntress.

And not a trace of cancer was there: no unseemly mark, nor mole, nor scar nor wound disfigured the glowing orbs that, rising from a broad and ample chest, swelled laterally over the upper part of the arm.

I say, visualize that. …swelling laterally over the upper part of the arms…. This woman was endowed. The gentleman doing the surveying was a physician although the physician had entered the room and closed the door and the woman had been drugged. Fairly exciting, isn’t it?

So many of Reynolds’ characters are Libertines, and it may be assumed that Libertines were quite numerous in London societies and while not expressed their motto was certainly: Do what thou wilt.

Continuing on from Part IV of Time Traveling then, let us consider the Reynolds approach in his monumental Mysteries of London.

He divides society into only two classes: the rich and the poor. The rich go broke, usually by gambling or bad investments. The poor, in that stratified society are hopeless. There doesn’t seem to be a middle class although there are the fabulously wealthy merchants struggling for an entry into the aristocracy. Generally however it is the aristocrats who are rich but there doesn’t seem to be any means for their making money, they just spend it. The poor are the poor, and we mean destitute, usually driven to criminality though sheer desperation or they were trained to criminality from youth.

Thus, as the story opens the Markham Brothers Eugene and Richard are going their separate ways. Eugene is choosing to follow vice and Richard to practice virtue. The main story then will trace the careers of these two men. But there are numerous side stories.

Perhaps the central character of the story is a criminal by the name of Anthony Tidkins otherwise known as the Resurrection Man. He seems to have a real hold on Reynolds imagination. At one time resurrection men were the scourge of England. The most famous of the kind were two Scotsmen named Burke and Hare. In the interests of science resurrection men robbed graves of the recently dead to sell to physicians who dissected them in the interest of advancing scientific knowledge. In the case of Burke and Hare they didn’t always wait for victims to die natural deaths. The occupation of resurrection men was a horrible one while anxious relatives did their utmost to protect their loved ones graves.

Reynolds is quite taken with his character. Indeed, Tidkins is involved in the lives of nearly all the characters, he is the thread that holds the story together. He is really a horrid person but as Reynolds believed that no person could be wholly bad he provides a lengthy biography of Tidkins in which he explains that Tidkins began life inherently good but all circumstances conspired to make him bad leaving no way out but to become criminal and embrace it thoroughly . His father before him was a resurrectionist and hence Tony was inducted into his father’s business. He was born into the outlaw life. No one wanted him around as a child and he was denied any opportunity to practice virtue. He was intelligent and orderly in his thinking so he made himself a master criminal while being a born leader. He brings to mind the Kray brothers of 1960s England.

One wonders why he had such a fascination for Reynolds. One turns to the limited biography of Reynolds provided by Dick Collins. Reynolds came from Kent in the South East of England. His life in Kent runs all through his stories. Reynolds father was a captain in the Navy. He was stationed on the island of Guernsey during Reynolds early years, then he moved to Kent so that Reynolds was familiar with the towns of Walmer and Deal and the shire capital, Canterbury. Much of Master Timothy’s Bookcase centered around the Canterbury area.

As we know, Reynolds was born in 1814 while his father died in 1822 when his son was eight. His mother died eight years later when the lad was fifteen. She died in March. He was an orphan then at fifteen. He had been placed in Sandhurst Military Academy at the age of fourteen presumably at the instigation of the man who would become his guardian, his father’s close friend, a physician by the name of Duncan McArthur thus giving George William McArthur Reynolds his third name. Collins says:

A curious link arises between McArthur and Reynolds’ best creation Anthony Tidkins, the Resurrection Man. Tidkins was born in Walmer, and among his first body snatches is one done for the ‘surgeon of Walmer.’ In real life this was of course Duncan McArthur. Since the latter was still very much alive when this episode was published in 1845 GWMR was accusing his guardian of complicity in grave stealing. Certainly, as Trefor Thomas has said, the grave-robbing scenes in Mysteries are among the most memorable in literature, are very realistic and seem to owe a lot to someone’s personal experience. Since most surgeons of the day used illicitly obtained corpses, at one time or another, this someone was surely Duncan McArthur.

Conjectural perhaps, but probably accurate. Physicians show up in the stories as at least semi-reprehensible people. Reynolds frequently refers to physicians with preserved body parts, even heads.   Physicians might likely keep examples of diseased organs or heads for later examination. If McArthur did and Reynolds had seen them that might account for their regular appearance in his stories.

In any event McArthur’s practice was in Walmer and Tidkins came from Walmer and sold bodies to the physician of Walmer. What Reynolds may or may not have witnessed is open to conjecture but there is one scene, most terrifyingly presented in mysteries that would point to a terrifying experience in young Reynolds life and that may have been at the sensitive period in his life called puberty.

Richard Markham (a probable alter ego for Reynolds) and the Resurrection man may have tangled and an intense mutual antipathy occurs. Richard tries to track the elusive Resurrection man down to turn him in to the police. In the first instance, hot on the pursuit of Tidkins, Tony lures him down the mazy dark streets at the witching hour, lures him into his house where Richard is captured and thrown into a dark hole under the house from which he escapes. Once free a terror seizes his mind, he wants to get far away from that Resurrection Man. He begins running at top speed which pace he keeps up for hours and miles and miles. Finally stopping, one imagines to catch his breath, he has no idea where he is. A policeman conveniently appears who tells him: ‘Why, you’re in Walmer.’ There is a Walmer district in Ealing, London so there seems to be a psychological connection in Reynolds’ mind between the Resurrection Man and Walmer, Kent so Collins is probably right in his conjecture that George did witness some dealings between Duncan McArthur and a grave robber. Perhaps as the physician in the story was with the Resurrection Man when they raised the flooring in the church to retrieve a female body a young Reynolds was present. Collins also states that there is a lot of autobiography in Mysteries.

Collins purportedly was also preparing an annotated edition of the Mysteries but it hasn’t appeared as yet. Waiting, waiting.

Shortly after this scene Richard Markham successfully leads the police to Tony’s house. The police rush in but in the confusion Tony drops into his dungeon where he has mined the house. Lighting the fuse he escapes through a concealed exit just before the house is blown sky high. Richard hadn’t yet entered the house so he too escapes. At this point everyone believes that Tony Tidkins is dead but Richard is uneasy.

Was Reynolds then trying to exorcise a terrible memory in this sequence. Did he think he could escape the memory by killing the Resurrection Man in his mind. He must have realized he hadn’t as Tidkins escaped to rise again.

Reynolds is famous for creating incidents that aren’t resolved until the end of the story. One of these, in more strands than one, involves the Resurrection Man. Early in the story Tony and Cranky Jem are in custody. Tony turns informer on Cranky Jem whereby Jem gets transported and Tony goes free. A word on transportation. Transportation is being exiled to imprisonment in Australia. I always thought that it merely meant being sent out of the country but not so and the prison conditions in Australia were abominable. There was no mercy and the worst of the prisons was Norfolk Island. The most horrible story I’ve read about Norfolk Island was in Paul Feval’s John Devil. Painful to read. It is also not improbable that Feval based his account on Reynold’s, as well as Jules Verne in his In Search Of The Castaways.

And transportation at this stage in history was a very unpleasant affair. Jem is sent to Australia where he is assigned to some logging camp on the Macquarie River. Conditions are terrible and the food worse. Cranky Jem escapes and after being recaptured and subjected to the worst conditions of Norfolk Island he escapes again to return to England and vengeance.

The description of his situation is so realistic that I believe that Jules Verne appropriated the episode of the logging camp on the Macquarie in his novel In Search of the Castaways. In fact Feval may have been influenced by it as his novel John Devil was written in 1862.

Now, these episodes of eight pages each were sold for a penny each week. Penny sounds cheap but one remembers that pennies were cast also in half-penny and quarter-penny coins as well as the Mite which was one eighth of a penny. I don’t know if you could buy anything with a mite but a farthing could be spent. As noted, at least half the population was illiterate and another percentage barely literate so that market was closed except that enterprising fellows saw an opportunity and formed reading groups in which they read the weekly issue to the illiterates. I have no idea what the readers charged whether a farthing or ha’penny or what but Reynolds was creating a livelihood for readers and that would go on for twelve years.

The readers became entertainment to be looked forward to each week. That meant that each eight page episode had to end as a cliffhanger or on some interesting note. Reynolds needed so many characters intertwined to keep the customers returning each week. One method was to portray groups of commanding interest and mystery such as the Gypsies.

Here Reynolds has done his research and has a plausible explanation of the origin of the nation. This discussion of the Gypsies allows him to develop transient characters and include old standbys in novel locations. Thus Cranky Jem on his return fearful of being recognized joins a Gypsy band. Jem accompanies the Gypsies to their palace in the Holy Land. The criminal area of St. Giles of London was known as the Holy Land. He has been searching for Tidkins but, even though he knows all his haunts, he hasn’t been able to find him as Tony is laying low.

Chance however brings him to the Gypsie Palace where he is recognized by Jem who leaps on him and stabs him in the breast. The wound is very serious but not fatal. The Gypsies take Tony with them where over a period of a few months he recovers.

Richard Markham and the rest believe him dead until he is spotted again in the East End. Cranky Jem then dogs Tony through the streets finally locating his secret residence. By this time Jem has settled down a lot, has rejected his criminal ways and makes his living selling ship models. He is no longer quite so furious and violent as to attempting murder but there are hundreds and hundreds of pages to go before Tony gets his due. Tony’s fabulous criminal career has many incidents left.

Let us leave Tony and his adventures for now. Early on Reynolds introduces a character, a very good one too, he calls the Old Hag who lives on Globe Lane. She lives criminally as a procuress of young girls for prostitution for the aristocracy but is not thoroughly hardened. Reynolds refers to the story of the top courtesan of the Regency Era, Harriette Wilson. She was a familiar of the Regency Bucks, Beau Brummel and that lot. She is the woman who approached the Duke of Wellington, with whom she had been intimate, with the offer that for two hundred pounds she would edit him out of her memoirs. Many men had paid but the Duke famously told her ‘Publish and be damned.’

Her work is hundreds of pages long and, personally, I found it pretty boring stuff. As many of the people, including herself, were alive in the forties, perhaps that made her work more racy. Her book, along with other sources gave Reynolds necessary info to work with.

So, the Old Hag was a procuress, she found pretty girls to be mistresses for these Libertines, Rakes and old reprobates. This involves her with one of the story’s heroines, Ellen Monro who is involved with Richard Markham. Her father was the man who lost Richard’s fortune. The Old Hag plays a major role in the story until she is murdered by the Resurrection Man.

Tony finally meets his end as Reynolds draws his story to a close in one of the more thrilling adventures of the story.   Like all the adventures it is hundreds of pages long beginning way back when interrupted by other peoples’ adventures and years pass before the climax occurs.

Reynolds vision of society has two classes, the rich and the poor. The criminal element is part of the poor and the criminals are only criminals because they’re poor which doesn’t explain why the rich may behave as criminals. Somewhere between the criminals and the ‘pure’ honest folk is a class called Men of the World or Men About Town. These are usually Libertines and men of easy conscience who take the world as they find it and essentially do as they wilt.

Curiously Reynolds want to be considered a man of the world. He embraced the idea, for instance, of bankruptcy as a financial tool rather than something to be avoided. While he inveighs against gambling, in his youth according to Dick Collins he was arrested for playing with loaded dice in the city of Calais and taken back to Paris where Collins believes he was convicted and did time. If so, my guess would be that he was incarcerated in the Bicetre prison and insane asylum about which he writes familiarly.

Insane asylums figure prominently in his work, while he was aware of the Frenchman Pinel who pioneered humane treatment of the insane. I would imagine that life was so tough during this period that insanity was a fairly prominent condition, certainly among women who were seriously mistreated, abused and left with no recourse. Pinel worked in the early nineteenth century but real progress in understanding mental disorders wasn’t made until the 1860s when another Frenchman, Jean Martin Charcot, the father of modern psychology, of the Salpetriere Women’s Asylum in Paris, employed hypnotism in treating the women he treated who had endured terrific psychological abuse so that hysterical insanity was their only refuge. Once in the Salpetriere the doctors frequently continued the abuse.

While as a man of the world Reynolds seems to know a great deal about criminality and the world of the desperate poor he doesn’t seem to have much real experience with the world of Fashion or of the aristocracy. As seriously as he attacked them there was no reason for them to associate with him.

So, in this novel his two principle characters other than Tidkins are from a father who was a successful merchant who amassed a fairly large fortune and lived in a large house in the Holloway area in the North of London. The house seems to be isolated from all other habitations. Stephen Knight in his book points out that Holloway neither then nor now was a particularly desirable part of town. Its meaning in the novel he thinks was that you could see all of London spread out before you.

So, back to the beginning. As I said, I consider the Resurrection Man as the principle character, however, the story is rich with memorable characters. Next to Tony Tidkins the central character is the rather insipid Richard Markham, a man so pure and good he seems to have been born yesterday. He is virtue incarnate, which is, of course, the point. He is not only willing but eager to forgive even the direst injury.

Per the Marquis de Sade and Reynolds the question is does a life of Vice lead to unhappiness or does a life of Virtue. De Sade came down on the side of Vice as leading to happiness and Virtue to poverty and shame. But no matter how seeming the success of the vicious life and no matter how rocky the road of Virtue Reynolds says, Virtue in the end will prove the happiest and most successful.

Richard’s brother Eugene who becomes George Montague and then George Greenwood chose a life of Vice, that is a swindling man of the world. His early adventures bring him great success. While Richard is plagued with troubles and almost destroyed. His father’s old financial manager named Monro, at an age when he should have known better, makes a bad financial decision (is bilked by an adventurer) he then compounds the losses by frantically chasing other bad deals. While Eugene/George Montague is going from success to success by dubious Man of the World type ventures, confidence games, Richard begins life broke except for his mansion and two hundred pounds a year. His misfortune is compounded when he is drawn into a criminal situation and receives a two year sentence in prison even though he is innocent.

As an ex-con then his reputation is severely compromised which leads to a few unpleasant results. Remember that Reynolds is writing for the illiterate and barely literate so he has to gear his story to their verbal capabilities while attempting to find a place in literary society. His vocabulary is quite extensive while he tosses off the obscure seldom used word or two.

His language surely was above the understanding of the illiterates attending the readings. Thus the reader probably extended the time of reading with explanations.

Reynolds acknowledges the issue when among others Richard’s Butler misuses nearly his whole vocabulary by trying to sound literate. It is good comic relief and probably represented the actual situation of the listeners. Yet, they loved Reynolds. Still, the question is, what did they understand? How did they hear what they heard?

Reynolds, as I say, acknowledges his listeners turning Richard’s story into a rag to riches fairy tale in which he even marries the Princess and become the heir apparent, a Prince. He always leaves ample latitude for the listeners or readers to imagine that those fairy tales might come true for them.

Thus among the vicissitudes and turbulence a very large part of the novel is the ridiculous tale of how Richard, an ex-con becomes an actual Prince of the fairy kingdom of Castelcicala just North of Naples and South of the Papal States. But, back to the slums and the Resurrection Man.

Now, all these characters relate to each other in some way and their tales are actually fair sized novels when considered individually. Significantly each novel takes a couple years to work out so the audience is kept in suspense for a very long time. At the various readings it would be necessary to reprise the story to that point so that Tony Tidkins might probably have become a real man to the listeners, he had his place in all of the tales, and a significant place. These readings may almost have become seances while the listeners sat in the semi-darkness of oil lamps. Reynolds hypnotizes and jollies his listeners along often speaking directly to them through the reader’s voice.

Perhaps the Resurrection Man’s crowning achievement was his relationship with Adeline Enfield later Lady Ravensworth.

As this tale, or novel even, begins Adeline and Lydia Hutchinson are teachers at an elite boarding school. Adeline is an aristocrat and Lydia is not. Hence Lydia has to respect Adeline. Naturally they are very young and outstandingly beautiful.   Either Reynolds was a wild flatterer or he somehow moved in a world of only the most beautiful women. He would have been the man to hang out with. By the way the term to hang out was a current phase at the time, nothing new about it. Lydia is pure in mind and body while Adeline may be described as fast. Adeline then sets out to corrupt Lydia and makes her her partner in libidinous activities.

As they are subjected to a rigid discipline at the school their affairs have to be done on the sly. Adeline plays the role of a procuress. One of many of Reynolds female characters who recruit women for prostitution. Or frails, as Reynolds politely has it.

She and Lydia step out at night to meet Captain Cholmondely, pronounced Chumley and written as such in this review and Lord Dunstable, a couple of army officers. Adeline goes with Chumley and Dunstable is given the task of deflowering and corrupting Lydia. Being a Lord it may be expected that he overawed Lydia. The two men are Libertines, Rakes or Men on the Town. Dunstable having no luck in seducing Lydia, drugs her. Once deflowered she is easy to manage. So Lydia becomes a frail or lost woman.

The upshot is that Adeline becomes pregnant, which condition she successfully conceals until the actual birth of the child. Women had skills in those days. The baby is stillborn. Adeline conceals the baby in Lydia’s luggage then finks on Lydia who is thought to have been the mother. Apparently what should have been marked changes in either Lydia or Adeline went unnoticed. But then Adeline was an aristocrat and immune to censure.

Lydia fired from her job has a long relationship with Lord Dunstable which ends when he and Captain Chumley’s regiment is sent to Europe. Lydia rapidly goes downhill becoming a street walker and finally destitute and wrecked physically wandering the winter streets in thin rags. As she trudged wearily a flush rosy cheeked Adeline is being escorted from a private club to a coach by her gallant. Lydia accosts her asking for a sovereign to keep the cold at bay. Adeline cuts her dead.

Hatred of Adeline enters Lydia’s soul.

Moving ahead a few hundred pages and several months of readings Lydia is rescued from her life of shame by kind people and rehabilitated then sent out to be a lady’s maid. Adeline, now Lady Ravensworth, requires a new maid and as luck would have it Lydia Hutchinson is sent for the position.

Her hatred of Adeline has scorched her soul for a few years and now fate has placed Adeline in her power. Where is the Resurrection Man you say? He’s in the wings waiting to come on stage. Lydia, of course, know the history of Adeline’s malfeasance and threatens to expose her unless Adeline becomes her slave for a year. Thus Adeline falls under Lydia’s discipline which she can’t endure. She learns of Anthony Tidkins, disguises herself and visits him in his den. She commissions Tidkins to murder Lydia. He does, in Adeline’s presence and boudoir thus placing Adeline in his power. Lydia is strangled and disposed of in a pond on the premises. To give credit to the claim that Lydia absconded Adeline throws her jewellery box in after Lydia. Thus when Tidkins hears that the jewels were missing he quickly puts two and two together. He goes diving for the box. Without the added weight Lydia floats to the surface. Discovered she is given a burial above the lake’s marge.

Cut to the Baron of Ravensworth’s younger brother, a Mr. Vernon, who has been a reprobate while living as an ex-pat in the Middle East for some time. He is in financial trouble needing to inherit the estate to bail himself out. Murder seems the best course but it must look natural. Therefore Young Vernon had sent the Baron tobacco that had been treated with an undetectable poison that was only activated when lighted. So as the Baron deteriorated even though the tobacco was chemically tested it appeared normal. Reynold’s will use the undetectable poison dodge again in Mysteries of the Court of London. In that novel it is known as the Heir’s Friend.

However the Baron marries Adeline and at this point in the story as the Baron is wasting away she is pregnant. If she bears a son Young Vernon’s hopes of succession will be blown away forever. Therefore, he has to devise a plan to murder the child if a son. Who is recommended as the man for the job? Who else? The Resurrection Man.

The Baron dies, a son is born, Tidkins to the rescue. He has a rather elaborate plan that fails, failing as improbably as the plan, so everything falls apart. Adeline departs for the Continent with her son. Now there is much business as they would say on the stage that keeps the reader spell bound.

Reynolds is superb at this sort of business. A bare outline such as this does no justice to Reynolds story telling abilities. The man’s skill is outstanding. I can’t think of anyone comparable in English literature with the exception of Walter Scott and then that is of a much different quality but even the qualitative difference may be in favor of Reynolds. Amongst the French only Dumas, a consummate master, may equal or exceed Reynolds. Eugene Sue, as great as he is, is a notch or two below Reynolds although Reynolds plundered Sue much more than in the Mysteries of Paris and the Wandering Jew. Sue has more novels after these two, prodigious productions, and he died in 1857 at only fifty-four years of age.

Amongst the great English writers after Scott none can compare to Reynolds. Anthony Trollope another prolific guy with forty-seven novels to his credit, two excellent series, The Barchester novels and the Palliser Set is merely a pleasant writer. Interestingly Trollope was only four years younger than Reynolds, born in 1818, and began writing in the forties. Strangely, while Reynolds is lost in the past, Trollope seems to be part of a different reality and of the future. His six Palliser novels, at a length of four thousand pages or so might very possibly have been inspired by Reynolds multi-volume novels. His are genteel novels in which his characters are proper. While Reynolds penetrates deeply into the English character from which the future of England over the next hundred and fifty years could be extenuated, prefiguring in his way the Profumo scandal of the nineteen sixties and the race situation. His criminal world and his association with the money world could easily be seen in comparison with the Kray Brothers and their penetration of polite society. Their today scarcely mentioned criminal activities involving Lord Boothby and his ilk somewhat resemble those of the Resurrection Man.

I think it noteworthy that that period was drawn to a close only after Ronnie Kray used physical violence against Boothby that the police were allowed to, or ordered to, smash the Kray gang. It was all fun for the Boothby crowd until Ronnie Kray manhandled Boothby allowing him to see the dangers of their association.

Reynolds would have been quite at home writing that situation and it would have been as long as three thousand pages and better than the reality. Trollope one feels would have smoothed the situation over so that the crimes were only minor peccadilloes although a few people regretfully went to prison. But then Trollope was socially acceptable and Reynolds was not. So with Reynolds we have two different nations but different than those of Benjamin D’ Israeli novels.

Pardon the digression.

As I was saying, Young Vernon in order to eliminate his older brother had sent a large box of tobacco tainted with a debilitating poison thus in order to make the death look natural his brother was wasting away.   The Baron had long been a bachelor so Young Vernon would have been his heir but the Baron had married Adeline and she was again pregnant. If the child was a girl, no problem but if a boy Young Vernon was out in the cold without an overcoat.

If a son, it had to be put away. But how? Seeking a reference Vernon was directed to who else? The Resurrection Man. Tony was the man with devious plans and he has a humdinger for the child. As I say, this is a bare outline, you have to read Reynolds. The plan fails and Adeline takes her boy and leaves for an extended stay in France.

If you remember Cranky Jem, his inveterate hatred for Tony drove him on. He has spied on Tidkins, found his crib, and observed him carefully. Tony has a dungeon at his place in which he imprisons victims and where he stores his cash. While he was busy in the Ravensworth affair Jem broke into his house and explored the dungeon. On Tony’s return he notices things have been disturbed but, as yet, Jem hasn’t robbed him.

As this is an involved story involving many characters from the opening pages of the novel a couple of the Men about Town inveigle a young wastrel to use the mansion of Ravensworth in Adeline’s absence to impress the wastrel’s people by claiming the mansion as his own. As the group is enjoying themselves Adeline chooses the moment to return from France. In her absence Tony has been using Ravensworth as his hideout as he is too hot to return to his crib in London. He’s been selling off the odd picture and knickknack to finance his stay. Adeline notices missing items, asks the aged housekeepers what happened. They hadn’t noticed anything for Tony was staying in the large mansion parts of which they had no reason to visit. Tony reveals himself and takes Adeline captive.

In the interim Lydia Hutchinson resting in her grave had been exposed during a high water and her hand sticking out of the mud is noticed. The body is dug up and deposited in the kitchen. Now, remember that Tony and Adeline were partners in Lydia’s murder. To impress Adeline with her criminal guilt so that she can’t go to the police Tony takes her into the kitchen and shows her the reeking and decayed body. Already seriously overwrought Adeline shrieks and falls down dead.

Tony Tidkins, the Resurrection Man, puts his hand to his chin and soliloquizes : I think I’ve gone too far this time. The funniest line in a serious novel.

Tony quits the scene returning to his crib. Jem has been busy. Tony notices the disturbances in his house and hurries down to the dungeon to grab the cash and flee to America. Remember the Statue of Liberty: ‘send us the wretched refuse of your teeming shore?’ Look out America, Tony wants to reverence that great Statue.

But, he won’t get to. Jem has stolen his stash. As Tony is trying to guess who has taken the money his lamp illuminates an inscription at his feet- Crankey Jem has been here. And he still was. He suddenly confronts Tony and hustles him into a cell locking him in. Tony is prepared; he has mined the cell with a bomb. Pipe bomb. He threatens to blow the dungeon, himself and Cranky Jem sky high. Jem says go ahead making no attempt to flee. Tony lights the fuse but in the damp cellar the powder is too damp to create a real explosion. Rather than blow the building sky high it frazzles into a small explosion blinding the Resurrection Man. The Devil, Tony gets his due. Jem sneers at him and as Reynolds says disappears from sight. He was never seen again but he undoubtedly took Tony’s stash and left for the refuge of criminals, The United States of America.

And so that strand of the novel ends. There are numerous other strands left to resolve. This first series of the Mysteries was a monumental achievement second only to GWM’s The Mysteries Of The Court Of London which is even greater. Reynolds also wrote a second series in two volumes that formed the two series lasting for four years.

As the second series was ending in 1848 he began the even longer Mysteries Of The Court Of London. That story is a sort of historical novel concerning the period of the regency of the future George IV.

As Reynolds was writing the second series of Mysteries of London, in 1847-48 he also wrote a substantial novel, worthy of comment- The Mysteries Of Old London: Days of Hogarth. I will tackle that in a future Time Travel. Reynold had taken on further responsibility by beginning his magazine Reynolds Miscellany in 1846, while writing the Second Series and engaging in a bankruptcy trial so, while an excellent book, better than the Second Series it still shows a lack of attention that denies making it the equal of the First Series.

Thus, in sequence the historical period of the three novels is Mysteries Of Old London, 1723-50, Mysteries Of The Court Of London 1795-1820 and Mysteries Of London, 1731—48, and the date of the Revolution of 1848. If you want to read them in sequence it is no small task, this is their order and a reading is well worth it.

Part VI:  Building An Empire follows.

Pt. III

Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

GWMReynolds

Sources:

Reynolds, G.W.M: The Necromancer, forward by Dick Collins, Valancourt Press

http://www.victorianlondon.org/mysteries/mysteries-00-introduction.htm

 

When it comes to time traveling the Gothic and Romantic periods are my favorites. The study of origins is my favorite. One is astonished in Reading Reynolds and Dickens how little things have changed, the same personality types with all the same dodges, the same terms, the same ideas just dressed differently from the twenty-first century. Of course in this early stage of current developments, manners and methods were really crude, now they’ve become merely rude. Much of the change experienced in the present is only because of introduction of technological innovations. All of the innovations seem to be regressive in social effects. Superficial perhaps. By the time of the Industrial Revolution, blindsided by the coming of the railroads and their attendant infra-structure, society was totally mentally and also physically disorganized and had to adjust as rapidly as possible even as further developments crowded time swiftly along. It took decades to realize the nature of electricity which made its appearance at this time. Photography which captured the images of the time.

George Stephens knew not what he had done when he put steam engines on the rails. The joint stock company essentially arose from the railroads, giving birth to vast new streams of financial criminality. Steamships and the Marconi telegraph drew North America closer together and expanded opportunity.

Reynolds and Dickens certainly seized the new financial crimes as important elements of their stories. Dicken laments the displacement of the stage coach and its social structure as a whole major part of English civilization melted away as the snows of yesteryear.

The period of the Regency Bucks of the Romantic period and the new Men of the World or Man About Town captured Reynolds imagination. His Mysteries of the Court of London captures the spirt of the Regency Buck while the Mysteries of London chronicles the adventures of the Man of the World or the Man About Town. Although written in reverse order he apparently considered his two masterpieces as one unit. And what a magnificent achievement.

When he began Mysteries of London in 1844, he was only a young thirty, ending the story when thirty-four. During that period mind and skill developed exponentially, so as he began Mysteries of the Court of London, which would take eight years to write he moved into the years of his peak powers. Well were they exhibited. Court of London is amazing. Those eight years were astonishing years.

Thus, in these twelve volumes (of my editions) Reynolds seems to have captured the dark side of England. While apparently a true representation there were many others who wrote from a different viewpoint. One of the finest was R.S. Surtees (Richard Smith) who wrote great sporting novels centered on his hero Jorrocks and fox hunting. Surtee’s novels too are accurate portrayals of the Regency Buck but of rural England and not London. George Borrow’s curious novels, especially The Bible In Spain, are interesting although mostly concerned with the gypsies in England. The great Romanticists Byron and Shelley and their interpreter Thomas Love Peacock. Who can possibly ignore the great recorder of Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackery. The amazing career of the inventor of the historical novel, Walter Scott. Scott in his magnificent effusion literary skill influenced a couple of generation at least to 1850 both in England and the Continent. Both Sue and Dumas acknowledged their debt to the great Walter Scott. There were other Penny Dreadful writers, perhaps more narrow in scope, such as James Malcolm Rymer and his two great works Varney The Vampire and Sweeney Todd, William Harrison Ainsworth, Bulyer Lytton, a major influence of Reynolds and others. There is literary wealth to equal the gold mines of the Witwatersrand, too precious to be forgotten.

While famous in his time Reynolds’ fame was of a disreputable kind. He himself was disreputable and he wrote Penny Dreadfuls.

Victorian scholar Lee Jackson writes of general opinion of Penny Dreadfuls. He quotes a James Greenwood from his 1869 complaint against the literature, The Seven Curses of London.

Quote:

Is it because it stands to reason that all such coarse and vulgar trash finds its level amongst the coarse and vulgar, and could gain no footing above its own elevation? It may stand to reason, but unfortunately it is the unreasonable fact that this same pen poison finds customers at heights above its natural low and foul waterline almost inconceivable. How otherwise is it accountable that at least a quarter of million of these penny numbers are sold weekly? How is it that in quiet suburban neighbourhoods far removed from the stews of London, and the pernicious atmosphere they engender; in serene and peaceful semi-country towns where genteel boarding schools flourish, there may almost invariably be found some small shopkeeper who accommodatingly receives consignments of “Blue-skin,” and the “Mysteries of London,” and unobtrusively supplies his well-dressed little customer with these full-flavoured articles? Granted, my dear sir, that your young jack, or my twelve years old Robert… and so on.

Unquote.

Undoubtedly young Bob and Jack received an eyeful and a magnificent addition to their education.

So these Penny Dreadfuls, like the Dime novels of slightly later US, the comic books beginning in the 1930s, sci-fi movies and stories in the fifties and horror of all horrors, the Rock and Roll explosion that was seen as soul destroying missiles to be suppressed. Along the scale of decades the nineteen fifties are overlooked for the exciting years they were.

Were Penny Dreadfuls soul destroying? Well, a little over a hundred years later society degenerated from Mysteries of London to the totally soul destroying Tales From The Crypt comic books. A definite downward spiral there. But, how is it that the soul destroying Mysteries of London passed from vulgar filth to valuable literary virtue?

In point of fact, even as fiction, the Mysteries is accurate reportage of conditions in London of the time. Reynolds might have been of questionable morality himself, Mysteries reads as though he had personally experienced the incidents (literary skill perhaps,).   His portrayals are of what he considered ‘men of the world.’ Indeed, he desperately wanted to be known as ‘a man of the world.’ And that ‘man of the world’ seems to be a ‘gentlemanly’, or at least an aspirant to gentlelimaness, criminal. George Montague Greenwood schemes to separate rich men from their money by devious financial schemes. And he and his kind are successful. Was Reynolds one of these schemers? Certainly his knowledge of their ways would indicate that he associated with them. Amongst the Chartists, a political group, with which he was involved, he earned a reputation for promoting financial schemes for which he was rejected. Was his mind not then conditioned to such schemes? It would seem that he used false bankruptcies to advance his own financial affairs.

Reynolds very likely paraded the ‘Man of the World’ notion in his life or because it was so prominent in his novels that Dickens, who certainly bore Reynolds no goodwill, with justice, may very likely have been referring to him in this passage from The Old Curiosity Shop:

Quote:

‘He, he!’ simpered Brass, who in his deep debasement really seemed to have changed sexes with his sister, and to have made over to her any spark of manliness he might have possessed. ‘You think so, Sarah, you think so perhaps; but you would have acted quite differently, my good fellow. You will not have forgotten that it was a maxim of Foxey—our revered father, gentlemen—Always suspect everyone. That’s the maxim to go through life with.’–…

With deference to the latter opinion of Mr. Brass, and more particularly to the authority of his Great Ancestor, it may be doubted with humility whether the leveling principle laid down to the latter gentleman, and acted on by his descendant, is always a prudent one, or attended by practice with the desired results. This beyond question a bold and presumptuous doubt, in as much as many distinguished characters called men of the world, longheaded customers, knowing dogs, shrewd fellows, and their like have made, and do daily make, this axiom their star and compass. Still the doubt may be greatly insinuated. And in illustration it may be observed that if Mr. Brass, not being over-suspicious, had without prying and listening, had not been in such a might hurry to anticipate her (which he would not have been, but for his distrust and jealously.) he would probably have found himself much better off in the end. That it will always happen that these men of the world, who go through it in armor, defend themselves from quite as much good as evil, to say nothing of the inconvenience and absurdity of mounting guard with a microscope at all times, and of wearing a coat of mail on the most innocent occasions.

Unquote.

I would not consider the lawyer Brass of Dickens’ story a man of the world nor as I perceive Reynolds using the term. So long as one retires from the world to some extent that rescues oneself from many of the hazards of the world, but as nearly everyone must move about in the world I would prefer a very close attention, and if that attention slopped over into paranoia so be it, to who is doing what.

Reynolds very brilliantly portrays the hazards of fixtures and forces that may be operating to one’s detriment in the background. Indeed, if Richard Markham had been more of a man of the world and less naïve he would have avoided the snares that landed him in prison. Thus Reynolds’ trusting characters are always being blindsided.

Sometimes one’s projected villainies that are foiled save one from a greater danger. Reynolds very cleverly does this in the case of George Montague and Eliza Sydney. Eliza has been unwittingly mired into a scheme by her mentor, Mr. Stephens. Stephens has employed George Montague, alias of Eugene Markham, to bear false witness in the situation. A day or so before its realization Montague and Eliza who have become close, Eliza in love with him, during a horrid storm later at night, offers Montague a room to save him walking home as cabs are no longer available. Gorgeous woman of the swelling ivory orbs, Montague works himself into a fever entering her room with evil intent. Eliza awakens, is horrified at the thought of what Montague was contemplating and breaks relations off completely then and there. She is not a woman of the world.

This means he can no longer serve as Stephens accomplice. Stephens replaces him with the shifty lawyer, Mac Chizzle. Meanwhile, the police who had a spy system reviewing the mail working from a Black Room in which they open letters have opened and read a letter by Stephens detailing the scheme and the date of execution. The authorities are alerted. Stephens, Mac Chizzle and Sydney are arrested as Stephens would have been if he had maintained strict morality and not thought to rape Eliza. Thus his evil intents saved him from being caught in the police snare.

An excellent detail that shows off Reynolds’ brilliance and is something that the more basic Dickens could never have conceived and executed.

Ramifications from this incident in the first hundred pages will be continued throughout twenty-four hundred additional pages.

So, we have a huge record of virtue and vice as outlined in Part II of Time Travel. Add the concern with virtue and vice to that of the concept of man of the world and you have the core of Reynolds’ concerns. Now, how did Reynolds learn all the details that make his work interesting. After all he was now only thirty years old and seems to have the experience and knowledge of a much more mature man. He gives us at least a partial answer in this passage from his Mysteries.

Eugene Markham alias George Montague now becomes Greenwood, the moniker, George Montague having been worn out and no longer useful. Greenwood wishes to employ the criminal Tom the Cracksman, or burglar, for a crime. They are negotiating:

Quote:

“What the natur’ of the service?” demanded the Cracksman, darting a keen and penetrating glance at Greenwood.

“A highway robbery,” cooly answered this individual.

“Well, that’s plain enow,” said the Cracksman. “But first tell me how you came to know of me, and where I was to be seen because how can I tell but what this is all a plant of yours to get me in trouble?”

“I will answer you candidly and fairly. A few years ago, when I first entered into London life, I determined to make myself acquainted with all the ways of the metropolis, high or low, virtuous or vicious. I disguised myself on several occasions in very mean clothes, and visited all the flash houses and patter cribs- amongst others, the boozing ken in Great Saffron Hill. There you were pointed out to me; and your skill, your audacity, and your extraordinary luck in eluding the police, were vouched by the landlord of the place in no measured terms…”

“…the landlord’s a fool to talk so free; how did he know you wasn’t a trap in disguise?”

“Because I told him that my object was merely to see life in all its shapes and I was then so very young I could scarcely have been considered dangerous. However, I have occasionally indulged in such rambles, even today…”

Unquote.

Now, looking freely at what is known of Reynolds’ history, his father being a naval Captain, he was stationed on the British island of Guernsey next to France until Reynolds was eight, then was moved to Canterbury in Kent where he attended a school in its proximity. Then at fourteen in 1828 he was placed at the military academy at Sandhurst, which according to his scenario he left to flee to France at the age of sixteen in 1830. Perhaps this has something to do with so many of his heroines being sixteen. You have to pay attention to his very precise dates in his stories. Most of the biographical details I’m using come from the two Dick Collins’ articles noted under the title of the this essay.

Collins disputes the 12,000 pound inheritance of 1830 but I find it difficult to believe that a sixteen year old kid would have attempted to be an ex-pat in France without a sixpence in his pocket. Perhaps from his early experience in Guernsey he could handle the French language. I doubt if French was on the curriculum of Sandhurst. Collins points out that during the Napoleonic wars Reynold’s father captained a frigate and took several prizes. The proceeds from the prizes were parceled out in shares to officers and crew. It is not unlikely that the captain’s share might have added up to twenty thousand pounds, or more, to Capt. Reynolds’ estate, which have escaped Collins’ attention. Certainly the Reynolds family was not living hand to mouth. Reynold’s says specifically that he received the inheritance from his father. I have no difficulty believing that his father left his son twelve thousand pounds. His mother died in March of 1830 when he was fifteen thus he would have come under the jurisdiction of his active guardian Duncan McArthur. So McArthur would have been in charge of the family finances. He would have had to pay Reynolds way from those funds. It appears probable that Reynolds got into some kind of trouble at Sandhurst, possibly inducted into a gambling crowd, so that he left Sandhurst, removed by his friends, so the phrase has it. That happened in July of 1830 just as the revolution in France occurred. Now adrift with no direction it seems likely that he would have petitioned McArthur for his inheritance and with it leave for France where he stayed for six or seven years until his money was gone. He was probably a prey to the sharpers he depicts so well while learning their ways. Of course, the above may be just one solution to the Mysteries of G.W.M Reynolds.

At any rate as Reynolds returned to England in 1837 at the young age of twenty-three he had no familiarity with the metropolis having formerly lived in Kent at Canterbury which is why the area figures so prominently in his stories. Twenty-three is one of ages, along with sixteen, that recur frequently in his writings. So, beginning in 1837 at the age of twenty-three Reynolds began familiarizing himself with London high and low, East End and West End. A great and daunting adventure.

Now, Reynolds had met and married his wife Susannah Pierson in Paris. She was English but Collins can find few details about her except that Reynolds met her in prison, whatever that means, either as a visitor or an inmate. She may also have been married before at fourteen making her Reynolds her second husband at the age of either late sixteen or early seventeen. That occurred in in 1835 when Reynolds was twenty-one. The marriage was one of those made in heaven as they were happily married until she died.

A sixteen year old showing up in France with twelve thousand pounds must have attracted every sharper, or man of the world, in Paris, thus Reynolds’ education began. He knows whereof he speaks.

This learning curve must have been painful and arduous requiring a strong mind to survive and overcome. If he had twelve thousand pounds when he arrived in France he left without any. Twelve thousand pounds was a lot of money to go through in six years. He, therefore, arrived in England without any of the ready. He had to find his way out of the hole, what with a wife and offspring arriving frequently.

How autobiographical is the Mysteries? I think highly but it requires a lot of imagination and interpretation, and then you can’t be certain. It would appear that the two brothers Eugene and Richard Markham represent the two halves of a split personality. Richard is the naïve young sport who left England for France and came back as a variation of Eugene, this also plays into the de Sadian dichotomy of Justine and Juliette, virtue and vice. Thus viewing each half separately one arrives at the whole.

In the story Richard survives while Eugene/GeorgeMontague/Greenwood is killed off by an aggrieved victim. Thus virtue triumphs over vice reversing de Sade’s reverse understanding of life. That was in 1848. Does that mean that Reynolds lived the rest of his life in Richard’s shoes? Not as late as 1850 it doesn’t. According to his Chartist friends he was still full of questionable financial schemes.

Those schemes may very well have resembled the schemes of his characters and possible his alter ego Montague/Greenwood. If so, his alter ego was a much more successful schemer than he was. According to Dick Collins, who seems knowledgeable, but never gives the sources of his information, Reynolds was arrested in France and imprisoned in France for playing with loaded dice in Calais. The man certainly outlined the tricks of doctoring dice in the Mysteries, even with illustrations. Collins says that he met Susannah Pierson in prison in France. Whether that means that a very young Susannah was a visitor or a prisoner Collins doesn’t make clear. If she had been convicted of some malfeasance, then both she and Reynolds were partners in skirting the law.

Collins even makes a not implausible accusation that Reynolds was arrested for stealing jewels in order to pay his bill at Long’s Hotel in Bond Street. Reynolds’ has long passages that take place in Long’s Hotel in his novel Grace Darling or The Heroine of Fern Islands. His character Slapman Twill may have been his alter ego in this incident. At any rate Mr. Twill is arrested at Long’s restaurant for non-payment of bills and goes to King’s Bench prison much as Collins says Reynolds did.

And then Reynolds files for bankruptcy three times apparently having learned to take advantage of bankruptcy laws. He has the proprietor of the Dark House public house gloat that the bankruptcy laws were great as he had filed and was doing very nicely.

Thus as Reynolds roamed the lower and higher reaches of society he definitely lived in the lower until later in life. Even then he was probably not accepted in society because of his prison time as Richard Markham has a very difficult time living down his prison stay even though he was a dupe and innocent of the charges. Collins has him living in the lowest area of London, the Borough, at one time as well as other terrible locations.

One imagines Reynolds prowling the streets of these poverty stricken areas examining each and every side street until he became thoroughly familiar with the streets. This is especially evident in the Courts of London which can be very terrifying. Streets, buildings and inhabitants, Reynolds knew them all. He provides an accurate portrait of all aspects of London as it then existed.

I would like to close part III with an aside, that of the great plan of Reynolds’ novels, because all the novels seem to have a resemblance to Balzac’s Human Comedy. I am just sketchy here as I familiarize myself with Reynolds’ vast corpus. Reynold’s himself said the Mysteries of London and Court of London were one vast story. If so, then it appears that rather than two parts of the continuum there are three written out of order. Mysteries of London is actually Part three and it was written first. Mysteries of the Court of London is the second part written after both the first and last parts. Reynolds undertook to write The Mysteries of Old London or Days of Hogarth which portrays mid-eighteenth century London previous to the birth of George IV in the last two years of Mysteries of London.

The Court of London chronicles the doings of George IV during the Regency when Reynolds appears to have hated him for whatever reason. George IV died in 1830 just as Mysteries of London begins. Reynolds who was sixteen with George IV died then had actual memories of him as king.

So, between the three novels, Old London while not as long as the other two is not that short either, we have one long semi-historical novel of a hundred some years. Mysteries of London and Court of London are said to contain four and a half million words with perhaps a hundred-fifty to two hundred thousand for Old London so unraveling the mind of Reynolds which I believe is a worthy pursuit is a mighty project especially with all the side novels of further explication thrown in.

I doubt if I will be equal to the task but I hope my analysis is not an unworthy effort.

 

Part IV of Time Traveling with R.E. Prindle follows in which I will examine primarily the early novels Alfred de Rosann and Grace Darling and perhaps Master Timothy’s Bookcase

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.

Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle  Part I

G.W.M. Reynolds and Charles Dickens

The study of social progress is today no less needed in literature than is the analysis of the human heart. We live in an age of universal investigation and exploration of the sources of all movements. France, for example loves at the same time history and drama, because the one explores the vast destinies of humanity, and the other the individual lot of man. These embrace the whole of life. But it is the province of religion, of philosophy, of pure poetry only, to go beyond life, beyond time, into eternity.

Alfred de Vigny, Cinq Mars, 1826

I have reached the time in life when it’s time to travel back through the years to review my life. While my corporeal years are few compared to eternity my mental psychological and historical life goes back thousands of years but more specifically the last three or four hundred. I am no St. Germain, I don’t claim to have actually experienced those earlier centuries but I have made an attempt to recreate them in my mind. Looking back I find that mankind has made no emotional progress. As my ancestors were so am I, so are we all. If one can’t empathize and sympathize with them one is being snobbish.

I don’t mean to bore you with a mere lineal presentation to the evolution of the human, specifically the European mind, over three centuries. I intend to roam back and forth linking and combining.

In today’s mental climate some may be furious that I would specify the European mind but it is the mind in which my own mind has developed. I have little empathy for the Asian mind, for instance, except as represented by the European experience of it. Nor am I particularly interested in learning another racial mindset when there is so much to be learned of my own.

As a base of reference I have chosen the 1840s and 1850s, a time of great discoveries just before the Darwinian and psychological explosions that were a quantum leap from the past to the present. A leap which in my own time we are in the midst of experiencing. The future will bear little resemblance to the past.   Western Civilization is on the brink of extinction and has no desire to live. The Asian mindset seems poised to be its replacement. Both the US and Europe are on the brink of disintegration. Asian hordes are at the door and breaking it down. Kaiser Wilhelm was right about the Yellow Peril. Thus, it seems that I’m taking a sentimental journey.

The journey will be a literary one for the 1840s and 50s were years of great writers and even greater literary masterpieces.

The decades before the before the 60s and the annunciation of Darwin played John the Baptist to Christ. My life has been lived mostly in the literature of that period. The great predecessor to the period was the beautiful time called the Romantic era. The French and Industrial Revolutions had put a period to what had gone before. Man hadn’t changed but the circumstances of life had. Steam power had entered the picture and with it the coming of the railroads and iron ships, those great dividers between the medieval past and the present. Electricity, the telegraph and photography made their appearance. Between the moveable type developed in the fifteenth century and photographic pictures the past could be captured as it was forever. The movies of the twentieth century, even more effective, were an improvement in film technology.

Science destroyed the belief in supernatural beings, the fairies, the elves, the elementals and, yes, even the gods. To destroy the foundations of their belief was easy but to destroy the need for them has proven difficult. Hence the Romantic era when the mind groped to reconcile fancy with science and created beautiful literary effects. It was then that genre literature began to appear alongside so-called literary novels. Genres were considered inferior to literary novels and still are although why isn’t clear. What is clear is the genre novels rule modern literature.

Perhaps literary novels disguise reality under the appearance of things creating an artificial world that doesn’t exist except in the minds of the believers and they don’t want their illusions disturbed. Hence, the popularity of Charles Dickens for nearly two hundred years. Dickens is no Shakespeare but perhaps even better read. Dickens can make grim facts seem palatable, perhaps because of Dickens authorial and censorial distance from the facts diminishes the reality and more genteel and respectable minds can handle the unpleasantness, which is quite grim, because it is happening to different people under different conditions that bear no relationship to their own lives except to be pitied. Dickens specifically writes for the self-satisfied and well to do. Dickens pretties his characters up.

But for every Dickens who has survived the ravages of time there are many, many more who have sunk beneath the waves remembered only by those who think of a vanished Atlantis. Amazingly one of these writers who crashed beneath the waves during WWI, an English contemporary of Dickens, who was as or more popular than he at the time was forgotten after WWI. I don’t know large the market for Reynolds was on the eve of the Great Destruction but I have a copy of The Rye House Plot bound with Omar. It was advertised as rare but it should have been unique. One Norman Hartley Rickard went out and bought the parts for The Rye House Part one and two on 5/13/14 and the two parts for Omar on 6/16/14 then went to the trouble of having them bound together receiving the bound volume back on 7/22/14. He thought that much of Reynolds on the eve of the war. The novels themselves were printed sometime after 1880 by John Dicks as they advertise General Wallace’s Ben Hur. Both books are more obscure Reynold’s titles so that if they were available at the late date of 1914 indicates fair interest in Reynolds. And then the war came.

During a time of prolific writers Reynolds was extraordinary. He not only wrote at least 43 novels, the novels themselves were of extraordinary length. Of his two masterpieces the first, Mysteries of London runs to 2500 pages of smaller type in the current Valancourt Press edition. His master work, Mysteries of the Court of London is ten volumes running to 5000 pages. He has numerous works running to 1500-2000 pages. These were not merely rambling stories but tight and compact, serious sociological and psychological studies with strong historical connections.

While Dickens and Reynolds represent the English contribution to the period, Reynolds, while being English, was also a Francophile. His writing style is a combination of the English and French psychologies. His is such an interesting case that I might as well devote a little space to it indeed these rambles will center on his career.

Reynolds was born in 1814, being two years younger than Dickens. He came from Kent in the South East of England. Much of the scenery takes place there, especially around Canterbury, in his earlier novels. His home town was called Eastry. His father was a naval officer who died in 1822 when Reynolds was eight; at fourteen he was placed in the Sandhurst Military College by his mother apparently to follow in the footsteps of his father. His mother died in early 1830 leaving Reynolds a complete orphan at the age of fifteen. How this affected his situation is not clear but he either chose to leave Sandhurst or was encouraged to seek a career elsewhere sometime in late July as he turned sixteen. His formal schooling ended there. He was one hellacious reader though.

Some say he inherited twelve thousand pounds, some dispute this, but, at sixteen he must have had had enough money to encourage him to emigrate to a new country with a tender age and no skills. He seems to have existed reasonably well. His inquisitive nature led to him to examine all levels of society. His Pickwick Abroad demonstrates this.

There were large numbers of English people who either moved to France, spent long absences there of fled England for legal reasons. It is this society he depicts there in Pickwick Abroad. There are opinions that he was not a stranger to illegal activities there. Pickwick himself, in the novel, dwelt at the Meurice Hotel. The Meurice was begun by a Frenchman who realized that with the number of English in France they needed a home away from home. He therefore created the Meurice to cater strictly to English tastes. Reynolds seems to have been familiar with both residential customs there and the riff raff who lived off the legitimate residents. One wonders what his exact situation was,did he live or perhaps prey on those who did. He was obviously very intelligent and studious. He must have had abilities because he was able to earn money as a journalist becoming familiar with newspaper practices. On his return to England at merely twenty-three years of age he was entrusted to edit the Monthly Review which he revived and set back on its feet.

There is a question of how long he was in France. The general opinion is from 1830 to 1837. Dick Collins in his introduction to Reynolds’ The Necromancer as published by Vallancourt thinks he arrived there in 1835. That doesn’t seem quite right as Reynolds’ experiences would likely take more time to acquire. Reynolds himself says he lived in France for ten years. To justify that he must mean that he arrived in 1830, left physically in 1837 and lived on mentally for another three years while physically being in England. The extra three years would coincide with his writing which is French oriented through is Master Timothy’s Bookcase. This book would be his mental transitioning from France back to England making up the ten years.

At any rate his knowledge of France and French literature would indicate a seven year residence. He returned to England just as Dickens’ Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club was being published in parts- that is in installments published monthly or weekly. Reynolds had had an active journalistic and literary career in France publishing his first book there in 1935 at the age of 21 and editing an English oriented magazine.

Rather startlingly, even as Dickens’ Pickwick Papers was still in progress Reynolds began a continuation of the novel called Pickwick Abroad that took place, naturally, in France. As might be expected this plagiarism caused an uproar that would mar his career. Nothing daunted by the uproar Reynolds next appropriated the idea of Dickens’ Master Humphrey’s Clock with his own title Master Timothy’s Bookcase. Both plagiarisms were notably better than Dickens’ originals. The Bookcase took place in France and then in a weak conclusion, one supposes, mirroring reality, shifted to England to end with another Pickwick story, The Marriage Of Mr. Pickwick, and several representations of Mortimer’s, the narrator, life in England. As Bookcase appeared at the end of the ten years this might be what Reynolds termed his ten years stay in France.

Then comes a two year hiatus in which Reynolds wrote nothing. Reynolds was well read. He frequently references his reading including Homer’s Iliad, probably Mallory’s King Arthur, Walter Scott much of the Gothic period and the Romantic Era, most especially Byron. Byron’s poems the Corsair and Giaour made a great impression on him and indeed the next couple generations. He was well versed in French literature. Dick Collins in his introduction makes a very telling point for Frederic Soulie (accent aigu over the e) being a direct influence on Reynolds in his introduction to The Necromancer. Reynolds put together a two volume survey of the literature of France published in 1938 composed mainly of extracts with introductions to the authors. I reproduce the intro for Soulie here in full from Collins which fairly accurately portrays Reynolds approach to writing:

Quote:

Frederic Soulie

Turn we now to that young and successful writer, who descends into the vault of the dead and snatches the cold corse from the tomb, to introduce it into his tale, who calls in the assistance of plague and fire to add fresh horrors to his romances; and who delights more in the violated sanctuary of Death than in the splendor and gaiety of the drawing-room. Turn we to him who has revived the midnight terrors, the phantoms, the robbers, the murderers, the executioners, and the violaters of virgin innocence, that were wont to dwell in the legends of the olden times, or in the folios of a German library; whose patrons were Maturin, Lewis and Radcliffe; and whose readers were timid school-girls and affrighted nursery maids. Turn we to him who has regenerated that school of horror which had nearly exploded within the dozen years;–yes, let us turn to him whose favourite subjects are those which we have dreaded to think of at night in the days of our childhood.

The writer of an ordinary novel may possess a weak, pusillanimous and feeble mind, yet produce an amusing tale. His book may be called a good one; and he himself may pass as a man of talent and capacity. But the author of a romance…must own a powerful mind a vivid imagination and a fertile brain; or else his lucubrations will be vain and futile.

His murders must not be told with the coolness of a newspaper report: they must seem as if they were written in letters of blood themselves. The very page, which narrates their tale, must be surveyed with awe and a species of pleasing and fascinating abhorrence—if the reader can comprehend the antithesis—which create much more than a common interest in the mind. The romance writer must indulge in nothing puerile; no tame or vapid description will be pardoned in him: his work must be all fire, all vigour, all energy and capable of producing a species of electric interest throughout.

Such is the system of M. Frederic Soulie exemplified in his Deux Cadavres. This awe-inspiring romance, which seems as if it had been written in a charnel-house, by the light of those flickering candles that in Catholic countries surround the corpse, and by an iron pen dipped in human gore, in the most extraordinary creation of the brain that ever was yet, in the guise of a historical tale, presented to the world. Let the superstitious and the timid beware of it: they would not forget its terrible incidents for many a long night, after they had once perused it. It is a romance which haunts its reader as a man is haunted by a phantom of the victim whom he has slain: it is a book so full of horrors—and all those horrors so natural and so probable—not once exaggerated by the assistance of powers from beyond the tomb—that he, who reads it, lays it aside with the impression that such things might have been, and interrogates himself whether he be just awakened from a nightmare dream, or whether he have witnessed a series of terrible realities.

The scene is laid in England; and the epoch of the tale is the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. The work commences with the execution of Charles the First, which is described with painful accuracy. This is the first horror. Then comes the desecration of a grave in Westminster Abbey—the parade of a corpse through the streets of London—the hideous ceremony of presenting a jug of beer to the motionless lips of the dead thing, as the procession moves up the Poultry—the visit of two adventurous men to the Chapel in Windsor Castle at midnight—the exhuming of a coffin—the circumstance of one of those men putting his hand to the dead body which that coffin contained and finding by the disserved head that it was the corse of the late King—the journey through dark and dismal roads with that coffin upon a sledge drawn by dogs—rape of a beautiful girl by her lover in an hour of madness—the progress of the plague—murders, duels, riots and deaths—and then the horrid agonies endured by that young girl, who lingered through all the stages of starvation, tied to a tree, till she was wasted away, expired, and found a fleshless skeleton some time afterwards? This is the brief analysis of Les Deux Cadavres: this is the frame-work of the book upon which was built the reputation of M. Frederic Soulie.

Unquote.

This pretty well expresses the style Reynolds adopted combined with his reading of the Marquis de Sade. Reynolds used the episode of the woman tied to tree in Robert Macaire. Unfortunately Frederic Soulie has no translations into English so we can’t enjoy his spectacular style directly.

It appears that this part of quote is an analysis of Dickens:

Quote:

The writer of an ordinary novel may possess a weak, pusillanimous and feeble mind, and yet produce an amusing tale. His book may be called and good one; and he may pass for a man of talent and capacity but an author of a romance…must own a powerful mind, a vivid imagination and a fertile brain; else his lucubrations will be vain and futile….

Unquote.

That sums up Dickens as accurately as possible. If Dickens read this then one can imagine that he would be incensed and develop a deep seated aversion to Reynolds. Indeed, he would many years later say that Reynolds was a despicable person. The quote also expresses a certain amount of envy in his dismissal of Dickens from whom he had just appropriated the format of Pickwick Papers for his own Pickwick Abroad. At the same time the quote illustrates the difference between Dickens and himself.

Reynolds was apparently a theater goer in Paris becoming familiar with the plays of Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, both of whom would be major influences of the period 1840-60 and beyond. Dumas, of course, exists today through his incredible novels, The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. Hugo lives on through his work Les Miserables, recently a very successful stage musical in the US as a revolutionary play. Also making a most profound effect on Reynolds was another extremely prolific author, the great Eugene Sue. In 1843, two years before Soulie died, the parts for Sue’s Mysteries of Paris began appearing and that would galvanize Reynolds back into activity. He immediately began his own first masterpiece, The Mysteries of London. A French writer by the name of Paul Favel also wrote a work titled Les Mysteres De Londres at the time also inspired by Sue. Favel was an excellent crime writer detailing the activities of organized crime through his Blackcoats series. Written sometime after Reynold’s Robert Macaire or the French Bandit in England that mentions Macaire as the leader of a nationwide loose organization of criminal revolutionaries. It begins the story of the great worldwide criminal organizations of today as well as the US’ Statewide and national criminal organizations. The Revolution released them, and Democracy allowed them to prosper.

Reynolds while bursting with ideas seemed unable to express them without a format provided by someone else, hence his use of Dickens’ Pickwick Papers and Master Timothy’s Bookcase as wells as Sue’s Mysteries of Paris—he had to have a format to follow. When Sue’s Mysteries of Paris appeared the plan for Mysteries of London appeared. The basic premise had evolved in Reynolds’ mind, that of two brothers connected to two trees who go separate ways, one of crime and one of rectitude, who then reunite to compare the results of their systems.

This notion may have evolved from Reynolds’ reading of Justine and Juliette by the Marquis de Sade. In de Sade Justine who follows a life of rectitude ends up trashed and her sister Juliette who followed a life license ends up rich and happy. Reynolds reverses the results, complaining that such may be case in individual situations but certainly not systemic.

That is not to say his novels are slavish copies of other men’s work. Oh no, they are amplifications and extensions, completely original alternate versions. Sue, himself had just entered his masterpiece period with The Mysteries of Paris and its successor, the marvelous Wandering Jew. For my tastes The Wandering Jew far surpassed the great Mysteries of Paris and that is saying something in a long way. All these works are massive while the successor to Reynolds’ Mysteries of London, The Mysteries of the Court of London is twice as long as any other novel of the period while its intensity lifts one into the stratosphere. By the time of Mysteries of London Dickens was pursuing Reynolds in an effort to keep up. Reynolds by that time was more successful than Dickens so the latter had even more reason to be bitter.

The novel took four years of serialization to be completed and in that time both Mysteries of Paris and The Wandering Jew by Sue had appeared. The Wandering Jew in 1845, the year Soulie died, so both novels would have had an influence of Reynolds’ novel. For myself, as great as Mysteries of Paris is, I prefer The Wandering Jew. Its style may be offensive and off putting to today’s readers but the book has nothing to do with Jews; it is rather an anti-Jesuit story with the greatest villain ever, the Jesuit priest Rodin and his Invisible Hand.

The story involves a fabulous inheritance due to a number of inheritors including two children from Germany. In order to claim the inheritance they must be in Paris for the reading of the will on a certain date. If they fail to appear the fabulous fortune will fall to the Jesuits. It is Rodin’s task then to prevent the inheritors from reaching Paris. Simply killing them would arouse suspicions hence he has to engineer delays and obstacles hence the Invisible Hand. While without being apparent Rodin’s schemes are always at work.

Here we are introduced to the concept of rather than outright assassination it is better to exploit the weaknesses of the individuals so that they destroy themselves. Hence for one claimant Rodin easily leads him into a life of dissipation in which the man essentially drinks himself to death.

The closer the children get to Paris the more intensely the climax resolves into a final Armageddon in which all of the participants including Rodin and his Invisible hand are killed. The only claimant left standing is a good priest and he of course is a very charitable guy with no other use for the money. With such a model before him Reynolds digs deep keeping his own story racing along but to a relatively weak ending, a slight disappointment very poorly handled. He does much better in Court of London which ends in a real Armageddon.

Even as Mysteries Of London was drawing to a close Reynolds began the eight years of weekly installments of The Mysteries of the Court of London. The latter was a grandiose and magnificent structure. At the time England was only short of a fifty percent literacy rate. So a pretty good living could be made by organizing a group to read these stories to. Thus a man could gather a reading group of perhaps thirty people to whom he read the weekly installment. A really primitive radio setup, eh? I suppose one could organize two or three groups and live rather comfortably. I am not aware of what the readers charged but the penny was divided into half-pennies and even farthings or quarter pennies. For eight years people set aside an hour or two to be read to. This is not unlike todays filmed episodes that go on for years like the Game of Thrones. This is quite marvelous. Reynolds would have been the talk of the town for eight years, actually, combined with The Mysteries of London, twelve years. That’s something of an achievement.

His writing style then was conceived as to sound like he was talking directly to these hearers while always being so intense that their attention did not waver, and he succeeded. One can’t be sure but perhaps the memory of this success drove Dickens wild so that he himself devoted the last years of his life reading from his novels, especially Oliver Twist, to audiences.

Now, Reynolds had a particularly capacious and powerful mind. While he was writing Court of London over eight years he also wrote eighteen additional novels nearly all of which were 600 to 1500 pages. The ability to keep weekly installments in mind and while either consciously or sub-consciously planning several others is beyond phenomenal. While these were coterminous the variety of incident had to be kept fresh throughout the corpus or all would fail. Reynolds was capable of doing that while pacing his novels with fast flowing action. At the same time he is keeping up with social and scientific developments and raising a numerous family. His psychology is usually thoughtful and spot on. He refers, for instance, to Anton Mesmer and his Animal Magnetism that moved toward perfection as hypnotism. While revealing the unconscious, the realization of which would dominate psychology through the system of Sigmund Freud about far off 1920. The unconscious still remains misunderstood.

He makes reference to Franz Joseph Gall’s much misunderstood theory of phrenology, the forerunner of the discovery of the function of brain localities.

His corpus is perhaps too large to be read in full except by the most dedicated scholar, and I mean that in the singular, who would receive no reward for his efforts. The additional reading necessary to understand the full import and value of Reynolds is even more daunting.

The discovery of influences, for instance, and familiarizing oneself with them is a monumental task. Reynolds was born under Romaticism and began his career on the cusp of the Positive period of August Comte and Herbert Spencer.

Indeed Romanticism has never left us. A Romantic revival occurred post-Positivism and the then emerging scientific revelations. Literary styles were changing or evolving through the decades and the epigone of the 1840s and 50s were shadows of their forerunners while still better than the pulp writers they engendered. One of the finest of these was the Anglo-French writer George du Maurier who wrote three classics, almost a trilogy: Peter Ibbetson, Trilby (Svengali) and the Martian. While not as towering as The Mysteries of the Court of London, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Mysteries of Paris and The Wandering Jew they are astonishing works of art.

One of the great journalistic successes of all time, Punch or The London Charivari, the famous humor magazine, was founded in 1842. The magazine remained until the 60s of the twentieth century. During mid-nineteenth century Du Maurier was a regular contributor with both drawings and texts. He probably would have continued with the magazine until his death had not he been rejected for the editorship when it became available. Fortunate for us, for then he turned to writing his novels which were fabulous successes being reprinted until recent times. Like Reynolds his mind was divided between his French and English heritages. Born in France, he was removed to England in his teen years. This was a traumatic experience for him as the cultures of the French and English were so different. Reynolds had the advantage of developing an affection for French culture before he removed from England and although an orphan of only sixteen years he appears to have thought he was moving to a wonderland and was never disappointed. He had the misfortune to have expended his resources, bankrupting himself, thus expediting his return to England.

Du Maurier’s first novel, Peter Ibbetson, would detail his conflict with the English mentality in a beautiful story. As part of the Romantic revival Du Maurier combines the fairy world with proto-science fiction and fantasy. His French childhood in the novel is involved with fairies and his little girl friend Seraskier who reappears in England as the adult Duchess of Towers. Not only that his next novel Trilby is built on a character and situation created by the French Romanticist, Charles Nodier. In his novel also named Trilby, Trilby was a male Scottish fairy. Du Maurier transposes sexes and makes Trilby a woman in his title of the same name.

In Peter Ibbetson, Peter is in the care of his uncle who, upon defaming Peter’s mother, is murdered by him, justifiable homicide by another name; nevertheless he is convicted and sentenced to death but spared hanging through the intercession of the fairy Duchess of Towers.

Languishing in prison he goes bonkers and is transferred to an insane asylum. There he finds that while sleeping he can unlock a door and enter the dreams of the Duchess of Towers. A beautiful hundred pages follows.

Trilby, his second novel, is in one respect a very long fairy tale masquerading as real life. The novel records a fantasy of Du Maurier’s experiences as an aspiring artist in Bohemian Paris. A real font of pleasant memories for George. He remained a Bohemian all his life and made the most of enjoying that life. Trilby was a runaway smash hit equaling in impact Dickens Pickwick Papers.

There is a marked difference between the romanticism of Du Maurier and his contemporary William Morris. Morris writes in an Arthurian mode of pure fantasy while Du Maurier was affected not only by science but the so-called occult world of the founder of Theosophy, Madame Helena Blavatsky. Her The Veil of Isis published in 1873 may very well had had an influence on him. I have as yet no real proof that he read Blavatsky, other than the dream world of Ibbetson and the Duchess, but Theosophy is something that Punch would have been ribald about as well as the Spiritualist Movement.

While Comte’s Positivism did intervene between Romanticism and the Revival the whole fabric of the evolving mindset was blown apart by the issuance of Darwin’s Origin of Species . The Earth trembled beneath the feet of the Victorians and was further shifted by the rapid emergence of psychological analysis. Between Evolution and the developing knowledge of psychology that solidified with Freud’s pronouncements after the turn of the century. The ancient supernatural and fairy mentality had to be reconciled with the new scientific mentality; Mankind would not give up the concepts of the supernatural so easily.

To travel back in time again to the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution: by the time of that revolution the Scientific Revolution had been under steam for some little time. Thus, the European mind was developing rapidly. There are some, blind to reality, who will object to such a fact as racist. Associated with race, it may well be, however the fact is that science developed as with no other race on earth. This is fact. So, the European mind was solving nature’s mysteries. As simple as these solutions were they were mind boggling at the time. The very notion that air has weight is incredible to the mind. Even today no child believes air can be weighed until he is so instructed. The fact that air is made up of many gases and that these gases can be separated and that one of these, Oxygen, was the substance of life must have been just too astounding.

By the late eighteenth century then other mysteries could be explained in other ways than the supernatural. All those wonderful fairies, elves and elementals could be demystified and explained naturally. Thus the Gothic novel came into existence and the Gothic novelists made it a point to explain supernatural beliefs as perfectly natural. Thus, the transition from the Medieval world to the modern or rational world progressed. Lyell challenged the supernatural belief that God had created the Earth four or five thousand years previously. He presented the monstrous belief that the planet was immeasurably much older and that it developed under natural processes.

Inevitably these incipient sciences were primitive and left more unexplained that they explained. Resistance to all scientific revelations was strenuous, the European mind having been deeply corrupted by Biblical superstitions. Slowly the superstitious was being rejected. The wonderful and beautiful Romantic period was a confusion of the natural and supernatural as the supernatural was gradually disproved.

Reynolds, Dickens, Dumas, Sue and many others were born into the Romantic Age, experienced and moved out of it as society evolved. Byron was only one important Romanticist but one who influenced that generation experiencing the revelations of science and technological inventions, such as applications like railroad and iron steam ships and the telegraph.

By 1830 science had a firm hold on the imagination and European society was ready to advance to the Positivism of August Comte who organized the loose sciences into specific groupings or disciplines. Thus, writers, who are on the cutting edge of developments, began to amalgamate these developments. Reynolds wrestles to get all these literary genres that affected him into a coherent whole; no easy problem. He and Eugene Sue were prime examples of making order of European intellectual developments. Reynolds especially was a prominent primitive sociologist and psychologist. This makes his work extremely compelling.

The generation born into the Romantic Age and are bound into the transition from the Romantic to the Positivist were passing their prime and from the stage by the 1860s when their influences were being eclipsed by he march of time and a generation was emerging that handled the same material in a different manner.

In 1859, as the style of writing was changing, Darwin’s Origin of Species was published and that put a definite term to the Middle Ages. It was a new world from the 1860s on. Evolution was the issue while in France Jean-Martin Charcot was making great inroads in the study of psychology. The world could never be seen through the eyes of previous years again. In literature the giants had left the earth, their epigone would be much smaller.

Moving across the water to the New World of the nineteen twenties and thirties we have a strange phenomenon in the career of the short story writer, Damon Runyon. Something that emerged out of the Revolutionary/Napoleonic era that wasn’t so obvious before was the rise of Organized Crime. Dickens touched on it in the career of Fagin/Sikes in Oliver Twist. Reynolds, Paul Favel and Sue developed the phenomenon but by the nineteen twenties and thirties in NYC organized crime was virtually an alternate government. Democracy had no idea how to control it. Frank Costello, a leading Mafioso, wanted to make organized crime a legitimate form of business. In his way Damon Runyon aided and abetted Costello.

Runyon, after a terrible childhood in Colorado was brought East to NYC by W.R. Hearst as a sportswriter for his papers. Runyon because of his childhood had an affinity for the outcasts and outlaws. Once in NYC he made Satan’s Square Mile centered on 42nd and Broadway, known also as the Tenderloin, his ‘home.’ He took up a station at a deli called Lindy’s that his stories made famous as Mindy’s.

He sat and observed this immigrant store of criminals during the twenties, committing their antics to print in his short stories. Not really a very good writer other than that of this criminal milieu, he turned rather gruesome situations into charming stories for the uninstructed; the stories got grimmer as time wore on.

Without his knowledge of the actuality of his stories, as I say, one is charmed. The stories are written in the illiterate immigrant jargon of the times, a weak understanding of tenses and so forth that some, the New York newspaperman, Jimmie Breslin who was there at the time but wrote in the 60s, think that Runyon invented. I have actually heard people speak that way so I think it was the lingua franca of Satan’s Square Mile.

At the time I am writing, the American past of 1900-1950 has completely disappeared. At the time Runyon was writing in NYC, Jewish, Italian and Irish colonies were well defined and not yet Americanized except in a very superficial way. After all, unlimited immigration was only suspended in 1924 so that there were hordes of unassimilated immigrants clustered in their colonies. Dialects were heard constantly. Dialect humor didn’t disappear until after the 1950s. My aunt’s had heavy German accents until they died in the fifties or sixties.

In other words, there were still large populations that hadn’t learned English at all and many, many who had a flimsy grasp of it.

At any rate, Runyon uses this immigrant dialect as the basis of his stories, and it is that that really gives his stories interest. No matter, he sat with these criminals ona daily basis and mostly all day at Lindy’s. Without that there isn’t much there. However, he sat with these criminals as a very successful ‘real’ American. He gradually insinuated himself into the underworld as a sort of consiglieri. He was an important advisor within the underworld. He, really became one of them protected by his association with Hearst.

The stories are entertaining enough but then Runyon tried to make romantic characters of these thugs on the stage and in the movies. The effort revealed the situation as it was without the glamour. In what was supposed to be a comedy Runyon filmed a movie called A Slight Case Of Murder with Edward G. Robinson playing a very convincing Mafia Don. It isn’t charming on film.

Runyon contracted Cancer in the thirties dying in 1946. His era died with him. Organized Crime had become Murder Inc. and there was nothing funny about it anymore. The sort of last gasp for Runyon came in 1955 when a big budget movie in striking technicolor (the movies lost something when technicolor was discontinued) called Guys and Dolls was released glorifying the Underworld. Brando and Sinatra starred. The movie didn’t make it.

It would take the horror film, Coppola’s Godfather to put a romanticized Mafia over a decade or so on.

To slide back a century and a half ago I will now review Reynold’s novel Robert Macaire or, The French Bandit In England.

To be continued in Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle, Part II, Robert Macaire.