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.

G.W.M. Reynolds

A Mind Of Vast Proportions

by

R.E. Prindle

 

G.W.M. Reynolds had a remarkable career. I don’t know how many people have ever read his entire oeuvre, I certainly am not yet close, not even close enough to say closing. Still, I have read a few million words.

His work can be divided into two groupings. The first group is a preliminary to the outstanding second group. It seems almost unbelievable that a human mind could encompass the second group.

Reynolds was only 21 when he wrote his first novel in 1835. That book was titled The Youthful Imposter. This was the first in the group that may be called the French novels.

After a hiatus of three years this was followed by Alfred De Rosann and then his appropriation of Dickens’ Pickwick Papers, Pickwick Abroad, or The Tour of France in 1839, followed by Grace Darling also in 1939 and then in quick succession in 1840, Robert Macaire, The French Bandit In England, The Drunkard and The Steam Packet.

Then came the termination of the French period, Master Timothy’s Bookcase which took place in both France and England as Reynolds had returned to England in 1837. Both Pickwick Abroad and Master Timothy’s Bookcase were based on Dickens stories. Having no further source of inspiration Reynolds went dry for two years.

One imagines he put the two years to good use reading and thinking. Gathering his ideas together without format within which to place them. The bridge between the French group and the Mysteries series was image of two brothers and the two trees that were mentioned somewhat lovingly in Master Timothy.

Then the inspiration, the format, for his phenomenal period from 1844 to 1856 came from France in the fantastic novel of Eugene Sue: The Mysteries Of Paris. In his earlier period Reynolds explained quite clearly that his interest was in solving the mysteries of life. The two brothers and the two trees took immediate form in his mind and he rolled out the story that would consume 2500 pages or so working on many mysteries in the series called Mysteries of London. There was also a Mysteres de Londres published by Paul Feval in France beginning in 1843.

Now, the first premise of Master Timothy’s Bookcase was then of the mysteries or back stories that explained the true stories of certain events so there was a smooth continuation to his Mysteries of London. Once again Dickens was an influence as by 1844 several of his works had been published that dealt with the London sociology and its ‘mysteries.’

The Mysteries of London, a massive novel of 2500 pages in the two large volumes of today published by the Valancourt Press, was serialized over four years from 1844-48 while Reynolds’s supreme Masterpiece The Mysteries of the Court of London was as long running in weekly parts as today’s television series and as popular as Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey, from 1848 to 1856. The two works combined ran for a total of twelve years; a whole generation, almost, was brought up on these bestselling books.

One should also note that as there were no movies or TV at the time and most of the population was illiterate, well paying jobs, on a modest scale, were created as reading groups in which a reader read to a gathered audience. Thus, whether they charged a farthing, a half-penny or a penny, I know not, and perhaps had two or three reading groups, the reader probably lived well, well above their listeners that is.

More phenomenally the beginning and ending of Court of London bracketed eighteen other novels being composed during the same period. Nor were these minor works. Mary Price, for instance, ran close to a million words. Ellen Percy was equally long as was Joseph Wilmot. Court of London was itself five million words. I mean, these are staggering numbers. The Necromancer in the Valancourt edition runs to 600 pages of small print.

When I say bracketed, I mean that the inclusive novels must have involved problems that Reynolds was working out concurrently with the main frame Court of London. In my studies of Edgar Rice Burroughs, that author did the same thing. In his case he was unable to finish the novel that began the series as he solved his mental issues and when they were solved, he was able to finish his book.

While writing these eighteen novels while turning in weekly installments of the Mysteries of the Court of London Reynolds had to be working up two or three other novels at the same time and submitting weekly installments of those. This is a staggering work load. If it weren’t a fact, I would say it was impossible.

One can only marvel at such a capacious mind that had to be cogitating completely different stories and compartmentalizing his mind to keep them separate and coherent. Try that as a mental exercise. Absolutely impossible. The mere speed of writing to accomplish that must have been 60, 70 or even a hundred pages a day, one is stupefied. Reynolds had no problems with carpal tunnel either.

At the same time Reynolds was editing magazines and engaging in radical politics while he and his wife were raising eventually nine children. Reynolds was a superman guided by divine hands. At the same time he was keeping up on his reading and one can find traces of inspiration from that reading all through his works.

Of course, such intense mental activity took its toll on his brain. My reading is that his mind broke, or became worn out, while composing the conclusion of Court of London. Reynolds had kept this story going for eight years meaning that he to keep all the details in mind while writing more than a dozen other novels. Now this additional writing didn’t break his concentration on Court of London and that is phenomenal. The series is divided in two parts, or possible two related novels of five volumes each. The second part can be considered a sequel to the first. As the story draws to a close in his mind he has to bring several different strands including ones from eight years back, but interlocked, to a conclusion. This calls for all his ingenuity and super human concentration. As I read, I reared back in my chair exclaiming: Let’s see him pull this one off.

He announces in the text that he is going to have to concentrate intensively to do that. The astute reader can feel the effort, and he is straining, it’s almost like a runaway train careening down a mountain grade with the engineer struggling for control but then bringing the train safely into the station. I found it breathtaking but I also divined what the effort had taken out of him.

And in reading the chronological list of novels in Stephen Knight’s G.W.M. Reynolds And His Fiction I found my understanding confirmed. Consider that the great Alexandre Dumas pere, had also expended his mental energies and at roughly the same time. He too was exhausted by 60. Eugene Sue completed his last novel and died. All three men expended prodigious mental energies during their prolific careers. Walter Scott also blew his brain out by excessive mental activity.

Reynolds himself would die comparatively young of a broken head, strokes and brain hemorrhage. One can only thank him for his titanic energy during the 1840 and 50s. As a slow writer myself I hold G.W.M. Reynolds in reverence.

A Note On G.W.M. Reynolds On The

Reception Of His Pickwick Abroad

by

R.E. Prindle

 

In March 1836 Charles Dickens began his story The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The story was issued in weekly parts concluding in October 1838. The series had been a great success, actually moving fiction into its modern phase. G.W.M Reynolds- George William MacArthur- noting Pickwick’s phenomenal success decided to piggy back on Dicken’s success so he began a continuation of the novel called Pickwick Abroad beginning three months after Dickens last installment in January 1838 in weekly parts through Aug. 1839.

His continuation was a success also. It did dumbfound the literary circles who considered it a plagiarism. For Reynolds his appropriation of the whole of Dickens’ idea and his cast of characters and, indeed, only a couple months after Dickens concluded, Reynolds began. The public must have said something like: ‘Oh, too much of a good thing.’

Reynolds version was running concurrently with the publication of Dickens’ Pickwick Papers in book form. How much confusion and dismay this may have caused was probably profound. Unheard of. The public unaware with what was happening very likely thought that Pickwick Abroad was, in fact, a sequel to the Papers. Whether the sequel cut into sales of The Papers isn’t known; perhaps it augmented them, the story becoming one in the public mind.

Regardless of copyright violations, copyrights being ill formed at the time, the sheer effrontery of appropriating another writers success was astounding and deeply, even viscerally, resented by Dickens as why shouldn’t it have been. Dickens bore rancor in his heart while it was always remembered by the literary crowd as a gaffe on Reynold’s part.

Both men went on to subsequent great success over the next thirty odd years with Dickens being a legend still. Reynolds who was extremely prolific, composing as many as possibly 40 very long titles actually sold more copies than Dickens. As happens to writers who write copiously the mind becomes worn and exhausted by the age of 60; it loses its flexibility. Following the excellent short biography of Dick Collins as published as a forword in the Vallancourt edition of Reynold’s The Necromancer in about 1862 Reynolds had ceased to write novels and apparently through with that line of endeavor sold all his copyrights to his printer, John Dick. They had been associates through most of Reynolds career.

Now in possession of Reynolds’ copyrights Dick accordingly brought out an edition of the entire corpus save Pickwick Abroad. This would seem to mean that publishing that book would be embarrassing, or, perhaps Dickens may even have requested that exclusion. Perhaps so, but it did sting Reynolds to the core. So that his entire corpus would be available one presumes, Reynolds found a publisher to reissue Pickwick Abroad dated 1864.

The book contains two prefaces, the first appearing to be from the first edition and the second from the 1864 reissue. In it Reynolds make no apologies. I quote the second preface in full:

On perusing the work, preparatory to the issue of this present edition, I see nothing that I regret having written, or that I have thought it prudent to omit. The ensuing pages are, then, a faithful reprint of the original edition, without the slightest abridgement: the plates accompanying it are also those which were expressly designed for the work, by Alfred Crowquill and Mr. Phillips.

With these words do I introduce the new edition of “PICKWICK ABROAD” to the public—sincerely hoping that its cheapness will have the effect of multiplying a hundred fold the number of readers.

He wasn’t kidding about the cheapness either.

I think the feeling of insult by Dick’s omission of the book is deeply felt. And who knows but that a great of satisfaction by that omission was felt by Dickens.

There is also an issue of how long Reynolds resided in France. In the First Preface written in 1839 he says he resided among the French for ten years. If so, it was only possible from 1830 when he was sixteen to 1837-8 just before he turned 25. Collins who has researched he issue thinks that Reynolds was only in France for a couple of years from ’35 to ’37. One must choose between Reynolds and Collings. Now, the age figure 25 occurs frequently in Reynolds early writing usually in connection with a death. Psychologically, then, it would appear that the Reynolds of his youth died in 1839 when he was twenty-five and Pickwick Abroad was a success. In fact in the legend of Edmund Mortimer as told in Master Timothy’s Bookcase, Edmund Mortimer the literary alter ego of Reynolds, belongs to a family in which the male dies in his room in his mansion at the age of 25. Thus with the publication of Pickwick Abroad the previous G.W.M. Reynolds in the character of Edmund Mortimer died and the second G.W.M. Reynolds took his place. Reynolds was reborn in his mind in 1839. The legend of the Mortimers then continues into it eighth incarnation and through Reynolds II reborn from the ashes of Mortimer I, the Mortimer line lives on.

Another of the mysteries Reynolds so loved to unravel, this one a mystery of his heart.

The Mysteries of G.W.M. Reynolds

by

R.E. Prindle

Part I

 

It is now over two hundred years past since Walter Scott ended his great series of novels. Closing in on two hundred years since G.W.M. Reynolds began his truly amazing career that puts him in the pantheon of great novelists. Not exactly the household word of his contemporary, Charles Dickens, but after a century of neglect he is now making a belated reappearance. With the rise of on demand publishing his whole extensive catalog is now available although it requires some searching. The British Library is leader in the field.

Unfortunately the BL is reprinting the Dick’s English Library editions that use diamond point for print. At least the books aren’t heavy. For anyone beginning reading Reynolds, Valancourt Press of the US has a beautiful paperback edition of what may be Reynolds’ most popular work, the 2400 page Mysteries Of London. That book was inspired by the French writer Eugene Sue’s great work The Mysteries of Paris.

If your mind is attuned to the period Eugene Sue who was as prolific, if not more so, than Reynolds, is just as readable especially his two great masterpieces Mysteries of Paris and the Wandering Jew. The latter book has nothing to do with Jews, rather the Jesuits, but Sue uses the medieval legend of the Wandering Jew as a framing device.

Sue inspired Reynolds for numerous titles. Reynolds was accused of plagiarizing frequently and this may be true in the sense that he often used their structures. Dumas had Auguste Maquet who researched material and provided a story outline that allowed Dumas to put his entire effort into composition without having to invent the story line so he could clothe the skeleton of the story. In that sense Sue’s Mysteries of Paris provided the format for what was already in Reynolds’ mind.

Sue and Reynolds were part of that crop of novelists born from 1800 to 1816 and either died or petered out about 1860. Their brains were exhausted, worn out by their prodigious output. His contemporaries are the key to understanding Reynolds’ work. They were all essentially sociologists and psychologists. It might be advisable here to note that Reynolds born in 1814 left England at the age of sixteen on his own arriving in France in the turmoil succeeding the French Revolution of 1830 then returning to England in 1837.

Those seven years were the most formative years of his life. Not unlike the end of the century’s George Du Maurier who spent his childhood as a Frenchman then going to England with his French heritage. Reynolds developed an Anglo-French style of writing. His is not the pure English style of the period. It is much richer and fuller. He digs deeper.

As in his 1840 novel Master Timothy’s Bookcase he explains that his joy in life is exploring and explaining mysteries, getting behind the effects and seeking causes. He is not satisfied with surface appearances. He does so with spectacular results. Unfortunately he began his career by plagiarizing the characters and basic plot, such as it was, of Charles Dickens, (born 1812) Pickwick Papers, not to mention parodying Dickens’ title: Master Humphrey’s Clock with Master Timothy’s Bookcase. The loss of credibility cost Reynolds as he was shunned by the literary establishment while opening a feud that lasted their lives through.

Reynolds shows his rue in the 1864 reissue of Pickwick Abroad. To justify himself, in a preface he quotes from ‘a small sample of the favorable reviews which the greater portion of the press bestowed upon “Pickwick Abroad.”

‘From the Sunday Times: “Mr. Reynolds proceeds in his striking imitation of Boz (Charles Dickens). Would it were not so. The writer has powers that may be more worthily employed to working out an original story (which to a certain degree, this is) in an original manner.”’

And then from the Sun: ‘”In Pickwick Abroad” were not the work built upon another man’s foundation we should say it was one of the cleverest and most original productions of the modern British Press. We rise from the first Number with the only regret that Charles Dickens himself had not written it.’

In such a manner Reynolds tries to justify himself. As the work was published serially over twenty numbers and the second quote refers only to the first Number, by the twentieth part Reynolds himself seeks to exculpate his plagiarism, or perhaps, borrowing might be a kinder word. Afterall, Chretian de Troyes work The Holy Grail had four different continuators. Perhaps Reynolds should have described his Pickwick Abroad as a ‘continuation.’ But no, as we will see, he tried to appropriate Dickens characters.

Nevertheless, in his last part p. 607 of the 1864 reissue he writes:

“We must now think of bidding adieu to our friends” said Mr. Pickwick, “and of shortening the hour of departure as much as possible. One of the most important periods of my life has been passed in Paris; and though I have occasionally met with disagreeable adventures, still the reminiscences of them are almost entirely effaced from my mind by the many – many happy hours that I have spent in this great city since the day I left England. The numerous songs, tales, and anecdotes that I have heard or read are carefully entered in my memorandum book; and on my return to England I shall place the whole in the hands of some gentleman connected with the press, and who at the same time is conversant with France, and acquainted with the character of her inhabitants, for the purpose of laying them before the public in proper form.”

“The talented editor of your travels and adventures in England would be the most fitting for such a work,” observed Mr. Chitty. “He is the most popular writer of the day, and from the manner he executed the important task you formerly entrusted to his care and abilities certainly deserves your confidence in this instance.”

“No, –” returned Mr. Pickwick: “I am sorry to say that he declines the labour, and it therefore remains for me to find one who will be bold enough to take it, with the fear of being called imitator and plagiarist before his eyes. I am perfectly aware that there will be much hypercriticism to contend with – that many journalists will be severe, if not actually overwhelming, in their remarks on the new undertaking.”

‘Severe and overwhelming.’ Reynolds must have been bold indeed to continue through twenty parts, reach a conclusion and be off and running in a career that would span twenty-three years and involve from 20 to 35 million words. This guy, Reynolds turned out enormous works one right after the other, without pause and sometimes working on two or three at a time. Just amazing.

His masterwork, The Mysteries of the Court of London ran to ten volumes and about 5000 pages and took him eight years to finish while writing other novels. Marcel Proust is still blushing.

The Court of London is too staggering. There is no let up over the course of the work.

He was fortunate in his choice of wife in that she wrote for herself while also being the first editor who transcribed what must have been scurrilous penmanship as Reynolds must have been turning out thirty to fifty pages a day. The mere editorship must have been a consuming task. In addition, Reynolds kept a close eye on French literature as is evident by who he borrowed from. Sue (born 1804) was a constant source after his Mysteries of Paris published in parts 1841-43. Reynolds must have been reading the parts when issued. Paul Favel (born 1816) who wrote his own Mysteries of London beginning in 1843 which very probably was an influence on Reynolds who was keeping a close eye on literature from France. Favel is quite worthy too.

At least Reynolds implies as much in his 1840 novel Master Timothy’s Bookcase in which his apparent alter ego is the hero Edmund Mortimer. As a foundation for his later work Bookcase is essential reading. A stunning work in itself it is as nothing to Mysteries of London and The Court of London. Reynolds had a very powerful mind. He was capable of extraordinary mental gymnastics discussing the most complicated subjects in readily understandable terms.

Bookcase borrows the title and in a nearly unrecognizable form the method of Dickens’ Master Humphrey’s Clock. There was no need for Reynolds to make reference to Dickens work, or as roughly as Reynolds says he was treated for Pickwick Abroad, it was not enough to make him stop. Indeed the feud or assault continued to Dickens’ death which came before Reynolds’.

In Humphrey’s Clock, a number of old stories, were stored in the clock case from which members of Humphrey’s club extracted stories to read. Reynolds took the notion to a level that was impossible for Dicken to match.

The premise of the Bookcase concerns seven members of the Mortimer family as told through the life of the last Mortimer, Edmund. The genius of the family appears before each generation in turn and offers to give them through life the quality they think will make them happy.

The first Mortimer chose glory, the next literary fame, then love, success in all enterprises, Health, Wealth and finally Edmund the hero of our story chose Universal Understanding. Of course, for each quality there was an upside and a downside; in all cases the downside prevailed eroding happiness and becoming a curse.

Reynolds very cleverly shows the downside of universal understanding. The Genius of the family named Timothy provides Edmund with a magical bookcase that solves all mysteries for him. Like his subconscious the bookcase is always with him providing a written scroll to answer whatever mystery Edmund asks.

If one remembers the US radio commentator Paul Harvey, his shtick was : You’ve heard the story, now, here’s the backstory. Harvey explains the mystery much as Timothy’s magical bookcase does.

One is also reminded of The Divine Pymander of Hermes Trismegistus, tr. 1650. In it the scholar explains how Poemander helped him solve mysteries. Reynolds was very well read so there is no reason to believe he hadn’t read the book. The scholar explains the situation thus:

My thoughts being once seriously busied about the things that are, and my Understanding lifted up, all my bodily Senses being exceedingly holden back, as it is with them that are heavy of sleep, by reason either of fulness of meat, or of bodily labour; Methought I saw one of an exceeding great stature, and of an infinite greatness, call me by my name, and say unto me, ‘What wouldst thou hear and see: Or what wouldst thou understand to learn and know?

Then I said, Who art thou? I am, quoth he, Poemander, the mind of the great Lord, the most mighty and absolute Emperor: I know what thou wouldst have, and I am always present with thee.

Then I said, I would learn the things that are, and understand the nature of them, and know God, How? Said he. I answered that I would gladly hear. Then said he, Have me again in mind, and whatsoever thou wouldst learn, I will teach thee.

And there you have the magic bookcase, the unconscious of Freud, the auto-suggestion of Emile Coue. The biblical injunction: Seek and ye shall find. In a reasonable sense Edmund took the particulars of a situation worked them through on an unconscious or semi-conscious sense just as Reynolds does in his explications.

Thus, through the first couple hundred pages Reynolds has Edmund living his life, meeting people and involving himself in their problems, the back stories of which are explained by recourse to Timothy’s magic bookcase.

All goes well until Edmund is accused of a murder which he didn’t commit but which circumstantial evidence indicates he did. In trying extricate himself his explanations were so vague and bizarre to his judges, but not to we readers, that he is convicted and sentenced to be hanged but then he is considered to be insane and his sentence is commuted to life imprisonment in the Bicetre Insane Asylum.

He is then sent to the famous French prison for the insane where he is considered to be a mono-maniac. He is imprisoned with three other mono-maniacs. Now, Reynolds wants to introduce a discussion of the circulation blood. I think this really clever the way he leads his story to this point, creating a false ending with the monomaniac interlude and then Edmund will be freed from the life sentence when during the 1830 French revolution the revolutionaries throw open the prison doors and unleash a small army of loonies on Paris.

Edmund’s fellow inmate, a doctor, had contested William Harvey’s right to be called the discoverer of the circulation of blood, contending that Plato had been before him. Reynold’s describes the situation:

‘The first (monomaniac) was an old man of sixty-five, with long grey flowing locks, with long grey hair flowing from the back part of his head, the crown and region of the temples being completely bald. He was short in stature, stooping in his gait, and possessed of a countenance eminently calculated to afford a high opinion of his intellectual powers, he was however a monomaniac of no common description. Bred to the medical profession he had given, when at an early age, the most unequivocal proofs of a fertile and vigorous imagination. He first attracted attention towards the singularity of his conceptions by disputing the right 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 of a knot of the blood -vessels, the spring or fountain of the blood, which is carried impetuously around: the blood is the food of the flesh; and for that purpose of nourishment, the body is laid out into canals, like those which we draw through gardens, that the blood may be conveyed as from a fountain, to every part of the previous system.”

The young physician was laughed at for venturing to contradict a popular belief, and was assailed by the English press for attempting to deprive we Englishmen 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.

Thus, Reynolds as part of his story introduces an extraneous discussion of the circulation of the blood in which he was interested. And then Reynolds goes on to explain the purposes of what will be his own more than vast body of work.

“Of a surety…there are individuals in his world whose motives are so strange that they escaped human comprehension. Many an action in a man’s life is explained by some little sentiment or feeling, lurking at the bottom of his soul, and buried in the most infallible mystery. The most extraordinary and important deeds are frequently regulated or indeed engendered, by motives so trivial that, if judged by the side of other men’s minds, they would appear totally incapable of exercising so powerful a control over a sensible imagination. We are apt to exclaim against the explanations frequently given by romanticists and novelists, to account for the conduct of the heroes or heroines, as unnatural and being at variance with probability; but, in the great volume of human nature, we trace the motives of character, and eccentricities of disposition, which seem to justify the wildest descriptions of the professed dealers in fiction. No romance, which emanates from the imagination is so romantic as the tales of real life. Oh! If the veil were withdrawn from all eyes—if the whole world could read the mysteries and secrets of the heart—how much villainy would be suddenly exposed—how much how many unjust suspicions explained—and how many supposed motives of applause as rapidly turned into evident causes of blame.

So, there you have the goals towards which Reynolds is striving in all his work with his very powerful mind.

After Edmund escapes from the Bicetre Asylum he immediately returns to England. Here the stories of deep mystery end and there is an interlude before a long story titled The Marriage of Mr. Pickwick. Ends the book. I will deal with the Pickwick story in another part.

It would appear that the French part of the Bookcase story represents Reynolds’ sojourn in France in fictionalized or perhaps, hypnoid state. In the interlude Reynolds looks back and examines that stay from a more sober point of view. Here in an interesting interchange between Edmund, already an alter ego, with another man who appears to be a different alter ego. The second alter ego gives a different brief history of what might have been a portrait of Reynolds in France seen from a different perspective. It is well to bear in mind that Reynolds arrived in France when he was sixteen with a very ample inheritance of 12,000 pounds. Such a young sport with money must have been seen as easy prey to sharpers. As his stories are replete with such characters and stories, indeed, Pickwick Abroad is a virtual catalog of sharp and indeed, criminal practices, Reynolds must have had the same approximate encounters. It is most likely that at least one or two succeeded and probably more as he went through 12,000 pounds in six years. Here is the passage; Edmund, the sober Reynolds and Mr. Ferguson, the flighty Reynolds.:

As Sir Edmund was returning home…he stopped for a moment to request a light for his cigar at a lonely cottage which stood on the way to his own mansion. A young man with a pale countenance and yet with an ironical and smirking expression thereupon, answered the knock on the door, which stood half open. The individual immediately addressed Sir Edmund by name and claimed acquaintance with him.

“I have seen you before,” said he:–your face is familiar to me.”

“I reside in the neighborhood,” answered the baronet; “and that may be the reason—”

“No.” Interpolated the stranger. “ I have seen you elsewhere. I never stir out of my own house and therefore well aware that I couldn’t have seen you in the vicinity. I was once a man of the world, now I am a misanthrope.”

“Indeed,” said Sir Mortimer; “and yet,” he added glancing around him, “methinks that for a misanthrope you are tolerably comfortable.”

“It was in Paris that I saw you.” Exclaimed the stranger, without heeding the observation, and having reflected for a moment. “Ah, now I remember you well, and who you are—and the strange adventure which befell you there. But, believe me, I am delighted to see you released from that horrid dungeon into which you were cast. I never believed your guilt,–I knew you were innocent,–indeed, I was fully able to judge of the force of a combination of circumstances, all collected against you, from my own experience in a most extraordinary scene of adventures, and yet”, he added with remarkable rapidity of utterance, which was evidently characteristic of him, “mine was rather a laughable than a serious history. Did you know me by name in Paris? Did you ever hear of Mr. Ferguson, who had acquired the honourable distinction to the name of the ‘Man of the world? No! Well—I believe I was as much entitled to the name as the Barber in the ‘Arabian Nights Entertainments’ was to that of Silent…’

Undoubtedly as a sixteen year old in 1830 Reynolds over the next six years flattered himself as being a man of the world, which he was, he ruefully recalls, as much as the obviously talkative Barber in the Arabian Nights had received the sarcastic name of Silent.

Also Reynolds having read the Arabian Nights shows how he must have passed much of his time in France. The work was translated into French from 1702-1713 by Antoine Galland and first in England as late as 1844 by Edward Lane.

Reynolds was exceptionally well read for such a young man. He was only twenty-six in 1840 when this book was written. He was interested in all the Liberal Arts including psychology as being developed by the great Anton Mesmer and his successors and hence the inkling of the sub- or unconscious. And he considered himself a teacher. Quite extraordinary.

As there will be discontinuity between this period and part two and three I will discontinue here and pick up on the continuation shortly.

 

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