The individual who occupied the second place in the Calais mail was a man who had probably seen fifty summers. His cheeks were florid, his hair still dark, his teeth well preserved, and his large black eye seemed capable of piercing to the very soul, and of scanning the secret thoughts of the most wary and the most skilful in concealing their intentions beneath a mask of hypocrisy.
Stephen Basdeo is a historian and writer based in Leeds, UK.
There have been many brief and detached accounts of the Bastille current in the English sphere of literature; but this is the first connected and important history that has hitherto satisfied the curiosity of the public regarding an event that must be considered with no ordinary degree of attention. The throne of him whom the French deemed a despot was only to be essentially shaken by the destruction of the worst engine of its tyranny; and when the adamantine bars of the gates of that terrible castle were destroyed—when the secrets of the prison-house were displayed—when the dark dungeon of slavery was illuminated by the torch of popular vengeance—then emanated from that dismal abode young Liberty.
Originally written by G.W.M. Reynolds and published in The Monthly Magazine in 1837: List awhile, and I will tell / Crimes that caus’d a doom so fell / I Know, then, that as we led afar / The Saviour unto Golgotha, / Where, as the ban of all our race, / The cross was rear’d tow’rds heay’n’s face.
Belgium is now an independent kingdom, which, although circumscribed to exceedingly narrow limits, may still one day stand conspicuously amongst the nations of the European continent, if its government continue to be wisely administered, and its vast resources appreciated and brought into action, as they are at present.
A poem written by Victor Hugo in 1833 and translated by G.W.M. Reynolds: Behold the ball-room flashing on the sight, / From step to cornice one grand glare of light; / The noise of mirth and revelry resounds, / Like fairy melody on haunted grounds.
Written by Victor Hugo in 1835 and translated by G.W.M. Reynolds: How shall I note thee, line of troubled years, / Which mark existence in our little span? / One constant twilight in the heaven appears— / One constant twilight in the mind of man!
Frail plant, condemn’d to crouch beneath the storm, / Of earthly ills, and shiver to the blast, / That rules in this cold world, / Th’ungenial atmosphere.
If the attractions of any art can cause the soul of man to feel itself suddenly lifted afar from the grosser joys of earth, and wrapped in a species of blissful delirium—it is poetry. If there be any author who has complete power over the minds of his readers, to enchain them in the mystic bonds that his effusions cast around them, and actually to implicate them and their feelings, their sympathies, and their passions, in the scenes that he depicts in glowing colours—it is the poet.
If Walter Scott consecrated the actions of the savage and licentious ruffians of the olden time, who were called “gentle knights,” P. de Kock has not at least been guilty of exaggeration in his delineation of the good and bad qualities of ancient characters, morals, and manners. But as de Kock is one of the most important and most celebrated of French novelists, we shall proceed to examine his principal works in detail.
As part of pandemic poetry season we present Thomas Nashe (1567–1601) who was an Elizabethan poet, playwright, and fiction author and wrote a poem during an outbreak of plague.
“Always keep the receipt”—that’s what my grandmother told me. It was usually uttered after she’d bought me something from a toy shop—probably because she was worried that whatever she purchased might be faulty and have to have it exchanged. Its meaning does appear to have changed over time.
The deepest despair now seized upon all the survivors. Scarcely a family but had lost half of its number—many, more than half—while those who were left felt assured that their turn would speedily arrive. Even the reckless were appalled, and abandoned their evil courses. Not only were the dead lying in the passages and alleys, but even in the main thoroughfares, and none would remove them. The awful prediction of Solomon Eagle that “grass would grow in the streets, and that the living should not be able to bury the dead,” had come to pass. London had become one vast lazar-house, and seemed in a fair way of becoming a mighty sepulchre.
A poem written by Victor Hugo in 1835: The hall is gay with limpid lustre bright/The feast to pampered palate gives delight/The sated guests pick at the spicy food,/And at that table—where the wise are few/Both sexes and all ages meet the view;/The sturdy warrior with a thoughtful face—/The am’rous youth, the maid replete with grace,/The prattling infant, and the hoary hair.
But a loud and long laugh, and then a cry of rage echoed from the adjacent apartment; and they were followed by the din of a chisel and a hammer upon the marble; and then succeeded a crash, which shook the house to its foundation. Stephano, the Marquis, and his followers, ran into the studio; and as they entered, they stumbled over the shapeless pieces of broken marble which Manuel had scattered upon the floor. The statue had disappeared; but the remnants were before them!
Bilassa and Rimai distinguished themselves in lyric poetry and odes on sacred subjects; but the imperfection of their language and their metrical measures superseded the possibility of those two eminent bards attaining any very great perfection. It was the same with Bornemisa and Goénezi; and similar defects have characterized the Hungarian translation in verse of “Pierre de Provence et la Belle Maguelove.” Notwithstanding that poverty of language and metrical imperfection which threatened to ruin all attempts at eminent literary productions, the sixteenth century also witnessed the infancy of the Hungarian drama. Dramatic songs and dialogues in verse were the primal essays. We must, however, notice that in the thirteenth century, during the reign of Ladislaus the fourth, a troop of buffoons or jesters had appeared in Hungary, and were well received by the inhabitants of the principal towns where they performed.
Great God! how galling were these reproaches. I would not have encountered them for worlds, had I dared eject the author of them from my dwelling: but his hair was whitened with age and with affliction; and I could not have harshly used him. Indeed, there was a moment, amongst the many that were dissipated during this scene, when I was ready to fall at his feet, and confess how deeply I had wronged him, and supplicate his pardon: pride alone checked me. At length he departed, and he left his curse behind him…
Translated from the French of Victor Hugo by G.W.M. Reynolds in The Monthly Magazine (1837): A quarter of a century has gone,/Since Gallia welcom’d her Napoleon’s son;/Before th’ imperial consort gave him birth;/And kingdoms trembled at the frolics wild/Which Nature play’d to welcome Valour’s child.
At the period when our tale commences, George Hamel had more than fulfilled the great promises his infantine years seemed to afford of future greatness. His attention had been entirely devoted to the study of medicine; and at the age of five and twenty he was considered to be the most eminent physician in Nuremberg. His cousins were two of the most beautiful creatures that ever illumined this earthly sphere. Angiolina, the elder, was tall and stately—with dark blue eyes, light flaxen hair, and a clear complexion in which the white and red seemed to be struggling to decide which should obtain the conquest. Her bust was large and voluptuous—and her waist so thin, it appeared as if two hands could span it. She was a girl of a quick and fiery disposition, of strong passions, and endowed with even a masculine intellect.
It was in the year 1785—on a fine evening, in the month of May —that three young students, in the uniform of the Military College of Paris, were occupied in the pleasant discussion of a repast in the restaurant at St. Cloud which overlooks the park, and which every visitor of the present day to that sacred shrine of gastronomy knows by the name of Legriel’s. The first of the three individuals, whom we have thus abruptly alluded to, was about sixteen years of age, with a peculiar expression of countenance, which inspired respect rather than any softer feeling, and a blue eye that was in itself a soul. His companions were his juniors—probably by about a few months; and they were two fine, tall, handsome young men, with commanding though graceful figures, and eagle glances which bespoke all the military enthusiasm that filled their bosoms.
The following poem was written by Victor Hugo during the 1830s and first translated into English in a book titled “Songs of Twilight” by G.W.M. Reynolds.
Tim Hitchcock and Robert Shoemaker’s “London Lives: Poverty, Crime, and the Making of a Modern City, 1690-1800” (2015)
Hitchcock and Shoemaker’s work is well grounded in the scholarship of eighteenth-century social history, particularly in the history of crime. The need for this work comes from the fact that the history of crime and the history of poor relief have hitherto tended to constitute different subjects, but as Hitchcock and Shoemaker illustrate, the history of welfare and crime in the eighteenth century are interrelated. Moreover, even where previous scholars have attempted to build a history from below, the voices and the experiences of the poor are often marginalised and discussed instead in terms of official acts passed and the rise of charitable associations (pp.13-15). To build their argument Hitchcock and Shoemaker rely on a number of sources: the digitised MS. and trial transcripts from both London Lives and the Old Bailey Online; Workhouse and Settlement Records; Repertories of the Court of Aldermen; Parliamentary Papers; criminal biographies. The innovative feature with the online ebook version of this work is that the footnotes will link straight to the digitised sources in London Lives and the Old Bailey Online.
Most people have known this site as Here Begynneth a Lytell Geste of Robin Hood—that was the title I decided upon when I first set up the site in 2015. It was originally intended as a website solely devoted to crime and outlaws but, as any regular reader of this site will have probably guessed by now, its scope has organically expanded. The site now features writings by myself and other people on a range of historical and literary topics.
Suddenly the middle classes “saw themselves” in fiction, so to speak. The next major novelist, Samuel Richardson, also wanted to give readers a “realistic” novel. In 1740, he published Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded. This novel, set in readers’ own times (the 1700s for 1700s readers) was written as though it was a series of letters written by the title character, Pamela, a servant girl in the household of Lord B——, to her poorer family in the country. This format, used by many novelists since, including Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, became known as the epistolary novel. Now, Pamela was a pure and virtuous girl, but her depraved master, Lord B, is infatuated with her. He offers her many fine things, which she refuses, because she is virtuous. He spies on her undressing through the keyhole of her room, and even attempts to rape her, but she resists him. Then at the end of the novel, Lord B is so impressed with her virtue that he marries her, to which she eventually consents, for she has in fact fallen in love with him. Richardson’s message was clear: if a woman holds on to her virtue (if she doesn’t have sex before marriage) then she will be rewarded, either in this life or the next.
Organized crime groups have been a menace to society for hundreds of years. Everything from a simple group of Robin Hood-style highwaymen in seventeenth-century England, to the infamous Sicilian Mafia can be considered as organized crime groups. The first recorded incident of Sicilian-influenced organized crime in the United States occurred in October of 1890 when a New Orleans Police Superintendent was executed by a group of Sicilian immigrants. But how does organise crime emerge and flourish in some parts of the world and not others? And how can we even define the term? After all, many crimes, in fact, almost all of them, require a degree of method for their execution, but not all criminals are members of organised crime gangs.