Category: 19th Century

The History of the Bastille | G.W.M. Reynolds

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.

The Wandering Jew’s Tale | G.W.M. Reynolds

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.

Outside the Ballroom | Victor Hugo

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.

19th-century French Poets and Novelists (Part II) | G.W.M. Reynolds

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.

19th-century French Poets and Novelists (Part I) | G.W.M. Reynolds

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.

A Tale of the Plague | William Harrison Ainsworth

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.

The Sculptor of Florence | G.W.M. Reynolds

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!

Hungarian Literature | G.W.M. Reynolds

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.

The Father: An Episode in the Life of a Nobleman | G.W.M. Reynolds

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…

Napoleon the Second: An Ode | Victor Hugo

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.

The Fatal Glove | Stephen Basdeo

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.

The Appointment: A Tale | G.W.M. Reynolds

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 History of Novels | Stephen Basdeo

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.

M.P. Shiel’s “The Purple Cloud” (1901) | Stephen Basdeo

“The empires of civilization have crumbled like sandcastles in a horror of anarchy. Thousands upon thousands of unburied dead, anticipating the more deliberate doom that comes and smokes, and rides and comes and comes, and does not fail, encumber the streets of London, Manchester, Liverpool … the fields lie waste, wanton crowds carouse in our churches, universities, palaces, banks, hospitals … in several towns the police seem to have disappeared.”