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

by

R.E. Prindle

 GWMReynolds

George W.M. Reynolds

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

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

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

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

George_IV_

George IV In Full Regalia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beau Brummel

The Beau w/Cravat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part X  a review of The Necromancer follows.

Reynolds_Miscellany_v1_n1

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

by

R.E. Prindle

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

GWMReynolds

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Eugene Sue

Author of Mysteres de Paris and The Wandering Jew

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

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

George: You got that, did you John?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John: What might that have been?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

George: Any money in it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

George: Yes…

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

George: Yes…

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

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

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

George: How would that affect the newspaper?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    

 

 

Part VI: Time Traveling With R.E. Prindle

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

by

R.E. Prindle

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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