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stimulating and "horrid" stories. Maria Edgeworth too had aimed
her shaft at the sentimental heroine in one of her _Moral
Tales - Angelina or L'Amie Inconnue_ (1801). Miss Sarah Green, in
_Romance Readers and Romance Writers_ (1810) had displayed the
extravagant folly of a clergyman's daughter whose head was turned
by romances. Ridicule of a more blatant and boisterous kind was
needed, and this was supplied by Eaton Stannard Barrett, who, in
1813 - five years before _Northanger Abbey_ appeared - published
_The Heroine or The Adventures of Cherubina_. In this farcical
romance it is clearly Barrett's intention to make so vigorous an
onslaught that "the Selinas, Evelinas, and Malvinas who faint and
blush and weep through four half-bound octavos" shall be, like
Catherine Morland, "humbled to the dust." Sometimes, indeed, his
farce verges on brutality. To expose the follies of Cherubina it
was hardly necessary to thrust her good-humoured father into a
madhouse, and this grim incident sounds an incongruous, jarring
note in a rollicking high-spirited farce. The plights into which
Cherubina is plunged are so needlessly cruel, that, while only
intending to make her ridiculous, Barrett succeeds rather in
making her pitiable. But many of her adventures are only a shade
more absurd than those in the romances at which he tilts. Regina
Maria Roche's _Children of the Abbey_ (1798) would take the wind
from the sails of any parodist. In protracting _The Heroine_
almost to wearisome length, Barrett probably acted deliberately
in mimicry of this and a horde of other tedious romances.
Certainly the unfortunate Stuart waits no longer for the
fulfilment of his hopes than Lord Mortimer, the long-suffering
hero of _The Children of the Abbey_, who early in the first
volume demands of Amanda Fitzalan, what he calls an
"éclaircissement," but does not win it until the close of the
fourth. Barrett does not scruple to mention the titles of the
books he derides. The following catalogue will show how widely he
casts his net: _Mysteries of Udolpho, Romance of the Forest,
Children of the Abbey, Sir Charles Grandison, Pamela, Clarissa
Harlowe, Evelina, Camilla, Cecilia, La Nouvelle Heloïse,
Rasselas, The Delicate Distress, Caroline of Lichfield_,[98] _The
Knights of the Swan_,[99] _The Beggar Girl, The Romance of the
Highlands_.[100] Besides these novels, which he actually names,
Barrett alludes indirectly to several others, among them
_Tristram Shandy_ and _Amelia_. From this enumeration it is
evident that Barrett was satirising the heroine, not merely of
the "novel of terror," but of the "sentimental novel" from which
she traced her descent. He organises a masquerade, mindful that
it is always the scene of the heroine's "best adventure," with
Fielding's _Amelia_ and Miss Burney's _Cecilia_ and probably
other novels in view. The precipitate flight of Cherubina,
"dressed in a long-skirted red coat stiff with tarnished lace, a
satin petticoat, satin shoes and no stockings," and with hair
streaming like a meteor, described in Letter XX, is clearly a
cruel mockery of Cecilia's distressful plight in Miss Burney's
novel. Even Scott is not immune from Barrett's barbed arrows, and
Byron is glanced at in the bogus antique language of "Eftsoones."
Barrett, indeed, jeers at the mediaeval revival in its various
manifestations and even at "Romanticism" generally, not merely at
the new school of fiction represented by Mrs. Radcliffe, her
followers and rivals. Not content with reaching his aim, as he
does again and again in _The Heroine_, Barrett, like many another
parodist, sometimes over-reaches it, and sneers at what is not in
itself ridiculous.

Nominally Cherubina is the butt of Barrett's satire, but the
permanent interest of the book lies in the skilful stage-managing
of her lively adventures. There is hardly an attempt at
characterisation. The people are mere masqueraders, who amuse us
by their costume and mannerisms, but reveal no individuality. The
plot is a wild extravaganza, crammed with high-flown,
mock-romantic episodes. Cherry Wilkinson, as the result of a
surfeit of romances, perhaps including _The Misanthropic Parent
or The Guarded Secret_ (1807), by Miss Smith, deserts her real
father - a worthy farmer - to look for more aristocratic parents.
As he is not picturesque enough for a villain, she repudiates him
with scorn: "Have you the gaunt ferocity of famine in your
countenance? Can you darken the midnight with a scowl? Have you
the quivering lip and the Schedoniac contour? In a word, are you
a picturesque villain full of plot and horror and magnificent
wickedness? Ah! no, sir, you are only a sleek, good-humoured,
chuckle-headed, old gentleman." In the course of her search she
meets with amazing adventures, which she describes in a series of
letters to her governess. She changes her name to Cherubina de
Willoughby, and journeys to London, where, mistaking Covent
Garden Theatre for an ancient castle, she throws herself on the
protection of a third-rate actor, Grundy. He readily falls in
with her humour, assuming the name of Montmorenci, and a suit of
tin armour and a plumed helmet for her delight. Later, Cherubina
is entertained by Lady Gwyn, who, for the amusement of her
guests, heartlessly indulges her propensity for the romantic, and
poses as her aunt. She is introduced in a gruesome scene, which
recalls the fate of Agnes in Lewis's _Monk_, to her supposed
mother, Lady Hysterica Belamour, whose memoirs, under the title
_Il Castello di Grimgothico_, are inserted, after the manner of
Mrs. Radcliffe and M.G. Lewis, who love an inset tale, into the
midst of the heroine's adventures. Cherubina determines to live
in an abandoned castle, and gathers a band of vassals. These
include Jerry, the lively retainer, inherited from a long line of
comic servants, of whom Sancho Panza is a famous example, and
Higginson, a struggling poet, who in virtue of his office of
minstrel, addresses the mob, beginning his harangue with the
time-honoured apology: "Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking."
The story ends with the return of Cherubina to real life, where
she is eventually restored to her father and to Stuart. The
incidents, which follow one another in rapid succession, are
foolish and extravagant, but the reminiscences they awaken lend
them piquancy. The trappings and furniture of a dozen Gothic
castles are here accumulated in generous profusion. Mouldering
manuscripts, antique beds of decayed damask, a four-horsed
barouche, and fluttering tapestry rejoice the heart of Cherubina,
for each item in this curious medley revives moving associations
in a mind nourished on the Radcliffe school. When Cherubina
visits a shop she buys a diamond cross, which at once turns our
thoughts to _The Sicilian Romance_. In Westminster Abbey she is
disappointed to find "no cowled monks with scapulars" - a phrase
which flashes across our memory the sinister figure of Schedoni
in _The Italian_. At the masquerade she plans to wear a Tuscan
dress from _The Mysteries of Udolpho_, and, when furnishing
Monkton Castle she bids Jerry, the Irish comic servant, bring
"flags stained with the best old blood - feudal, if possible, an
old lute, lyre or harp, black hangings, curtains, and a velvet
pall." Even the banditti and condottieri, who enliven so many
novels of terror, cannot be ignored, and are represented by a
troop of Irish ruffians. Barrett lets nothing escape him.
Rousseau's theories are irreverently travestied. The thunder
rolls "in an awful and Ossianly manner"; the sun, "that
well-known gilder of eastern turrets," rises in empurpled
splendour; the hero utters tremendous imprecations, ejaculates
superlatives or frames elaborately poised, Johnsonian periods;
the heroine excels in cheap but glittering repartee, wears
"spangled muslin," and has "practised tripping, gliding,
flitting, and tottering, with great success." Shreds and patches
torn with a ruthless, masculine hand from the flimsy tapestry of
romance, fitted together in a new and amusing pattern, are
exhibited for our derision. The caricature is entertaining in
itself, and would probably be enjoyed by those who are unfamiliar
with the romances ridiculed; but the interest of identifying the
booty, which Barrett rifles unceremoniously from his victims, is
a fascinating pastime.

Miss Austen, with her swift stiletto, and Barrett, with his
brutal bludgeon - to use a metaphor of "terror" - had each
delivered an attack; and in 1818, if we may judge by Peacock's
_Nightmare Abbey_, there is a change of fashion in fiction. How
far this change is due to the satirists it is impossible to
determine. Mr. Flosky, "who has seen too many ghosts himself to
believe in their external appearance," through whose lips Peacock
reviles "that part of the reading public which shuns the solid
food of reason," probably gives the true cause for the waning
popularity of the novel of terror:

"It lived upon ghosts, goblins and skeletons till even
the devil himself ... became too base, common and
popular for its surfeited appetite. The ghosts have
therefore been laid, and the devil has been cast into
outer darkness."

The novel of terror has been destroyed not by its enemies but by
its too ardent devotees. The horrid banquet, devoured with
avidity for so many years, has become so highly seasoned that the
jaded palate at last cries out for something different, and,
according to Peacock, finds what it desires in "the vices and
blackest passions of our nature tricked out in a masquerade dress
of heroism and disappointed benevolence" - an uncomplimentary
description of the Byronic hero. Yet sensational fiction has
lingered on side by side with other forms of fiction all through
the nineteenth century, because it supplies a human and natural
craving for excitement. It may not be the dominant type, but it
will always exist, and will produce its thrill by ever-varying
devices. Those who scoff may be taken unawares, like the company
in _Nightmare Abbey_. The conversation turned on the subject of
ghosts, and Mr. Larynx related his delightfully compact ghost

"I once saw a ghost myself in my study, which is the
last place any one but a ghost would look for me. I had
not been in it for three months and was going to
consult Tillotson, when, on opening the door, I saw a
venerable figure in a flannel dressing-gown, sitting in
my armchair, reading my Jeremy Taylor. It vanished in a
moment, and so did I, and what it was and what it
wanted, I have never been able to ascertain"

- a quieter, more inoffensive ghost than that described by Defoe
in his _Essay on the History and Reality of Apparitions_: "A
grave, ancient man, with a full-bottomed wig and a rich brocaded
gown, who changed into the most horrible monster that ever was
seen, with eyes like two fiery daggers red-hot." Mr. Flosky and
Mr. Hilary have hardly declared their disbelief in ghosts when:

"The door silently opened, and a ghastly figure,
shrouded in white drapery with the semblance of a
bloody turban on its head, entered and stalked slowly
up the apartment. Mr. Flosky was not prepared for this
apparition, and made the best of his way out at the
opposite door. Mr. Hilary and Marionetta followed
screaming. The honourable Mr. Listless, by two turns of
his body, first rolled off the sofa and then under it.
Rev. Mr. Larynx leaped up and fled with so much
precipitation that he overturned the table on the foot
of Mr. Glowry. Mr. Glowry roared with pain in the ears
of Mr. Toobad. Mr. Toobad's alarm so bewildered his
senses that missing the door he threw up one of the
windows, jumped out in his panic, and plunged over head
and ears in the moat. Mr. Asterias and his son, who
were on the watch for their mermaid, were attracted by
the splashing, threw a net over him, and dragged him to

In Melincourt Castle a very spacious wing was left free to the
settlement of a colony of ghosts, and the Rev. Mr. Portpipe often
passed the night in one of the dreaded apartments over a blazing
fire, with the same invariable exorcising apparatus of a large
venison pasty, a little prayer-book, and three bottles of
Madeira. Yet despite this excellent mockery, Peacock in _Gryll
Grange_ devotes a chapter to tales of terror and wonder, singling
out the works of Charles Brockden Brown for praise, especially
his _Wieland_, "one of the few tales in which the final
explanation of the apparently supernatural does not destroy or
diminish the original effect."

The title _Nightmare Abbey_ in a catalogue would undoubtedly have
caught the eye of Isabella Thorp or her friend Miss Andrews,
searching eagerly for "horrid mysteries," but they would perhaps
have detected the note of mockery in the name. They would,
however, have been completely deceived by the title, _The Mystery
of the Abbey_, published in Liverpool in 1819 by T.B. Johnson,
and we can imagine their consternation and disgust on the arrival
of the book from the circulating library. The abbey is "haunted"
by the proprietors of a distillery; and the spectre, described in
horrible detail, proves to be a harmless idiot, with a red
handkerchief round her neck. Apart from these gibes, there is not
a hint of the supernatural in the whole book. It is a
_picaresque_ novel, written by a sportsman. The title is merely a

Belinda Waters, the heroine of one of Crabbe's tales, who was "by
nature negatively good," is a portrait after Miss Austen's own
heart. Languidly reclining on her sofa with "half a shelf of
circulating books" on a table at her elbow, Belinda tosses
wearily aside a half-read volume of _Clarissa_, commended by her
maid, "who had _Clarissa_ for her heart's dear friend."

"Give me," she said, "for I would laugh or cry,
'Scenes from the Life,' and 'Sensibility,'
'Winters at Bath': I would that I had one!
'The Constant Lover,' 'The Discarded Son,'[101]

"'The Rose of Raby,'[102] 'Delmore,' or 'The Nun'[103] -
These promise something, and may please, perhaps,
Like 'Ethelinda'[104] and the dear 'Relapse.'[105]
To these her heart the gentle maid resigned
And such the food that fed the gentle mind."

But even the "delicate distress" of heroines, like Niobe, all
tears, palls at last, and Belinda, having wept her fill, craves
now for "sterner stuff."

"Yet tales of terror are her dear delight,
All in the wintry storm to read at night."

In _The Preceptor Husband_,[106] the pretty wife, whose notions
of botany are delightfully vague, and who, in English history,
light-heartedly confuses the Reformation and the Revolution, has
tastes similar to those of Belinda. Pursued by an instructive
husband, she turns at bay, and tells her priggish preceptor what
kind of books she really enjoys:

"Well, if I must, I will my studies name,
Blame if you please - I know you love to blame -
When all our childish books were set apart,
The first I read was 'Wanderings of the Heart.'[107]
It was a story where was done a deed
So dreadful that alone I feared to read.
The next was 'The Confessions of a Nun' -
'Twas quite a shame such evils should be done.
Nun of - no matter for the creature's name,
For there are girls no nunnery can tame.
Then was the story of the Haunted Hall,
When the huge picture nodded from the wall,

"When the old lord looked up with trembling dread,
And I grew pale and shuddered as I read.
Then came the tales of Winters, Summers, Springs
At Bath and Brighton - they were pretty things!
No ghosts or spectres there were heard or seen,
But all was love and flight to Gretna-green.
Perhaps your greater learning may despise
What others like - and there your wisdom lies."

To this attractive catalogue the preceptor husband, no doubt,
listened with the expression of Crabbe's _Old Bachelor_:

"that kind of cool, contemptuous smile
Of witty persons overcharged with bile,"

but she at least succeeds in interrupting his flow of information
for the time being. He retires routed. Crabbe's close
acquaintance with "the flowery pages of sublime distress," with
"vengeful monks who play unpriestly tricks," with banditti

"who, in forest wide
Or cavern vast, indignant virgins hide,"

was, as he confesses, a relic of those unregenerate days, when

"To the heroine's soul-distracting fears
I early gave my sixpences and tears."[108]

He could have groped his way through a Gothic castle without the
aid of a talkative housekeeper:

"I've watched a wintry night on castle-walls,
I've stalked by moonlight through deserted halls,
And when the weary world was sunk to rest
I've had such sights - as may not be expressed.
Lo! that chateau, the western tower decayed,
The peasants shun it - they are all afraid;
For there was done a deed - could walls reveal
Or timbers tell it, how the heart would feel!

"Most horrid was it - for, behold, the floor
Has stain of blood - and will be clean no more.
Hark to the winds! which through the wide saloon
And the long passage send a dismal tune,
Music that ghosts delight in - and now heed
Yon beauteous nymph, who must unmask the deed.
See! with majestic sweep she swims alone
Through rooms, all dreary, guided by a groan,
Though windows rattle and though tap'stries shake
And the feet falter every step they take.
Mid groans and gibing sprites she silent goes
To find a something which will soon expose
The villainies and wiles of her determined foes,
And having thus adventured, thus endured,
Fame, wealth, and lover, are for life secured."[109]

Crabbe's Ellen Orford in _The Borough_ (1810) is drawn from life,
and in grim and bitter irony is intended as a contrast to these
timorous and triumphant creatures

"borrowed and again conveyed,
From book to book, the shadows of a shade."

Ellen's adventures are sordid and gloomy, without a hint of the
picturesque, her distresses horrible actualities, not the
"air-drawn" fancies that torture the sensitive Angelinas of
Gothic fiction:

"But not like them has she been laid
In ruined castle sore dismayed,
Where naughty man and ghostly sprite
Fill'd her pure mind with awe and dread,
Stalked round the room, put out the light
And shook the curtains round the bed.
No cruel uncle kept her land,
No tyrant father forced her hand;
She had no vixen virgin aunt
Without whose aid she could not eat
And yet who poisoned all her meat
With gibe and sneer and taunt."

Though Crabbe showed scant sympathy with the delicate
sensibilities of girls who hung enraptured over the high-pitched
heroics and miraculous escapes of Clementina and her kindred, he
found pleasure in a robuster school of romance - the adventures of
mighty Hickathrift, Jack the Giant-killer, and Robin Hood, as set
forth and embellished in the chapbooks which cottagers treasured
"on the deal shelf beside the cuckoo-clock."[110] And in his
poem, _Sir Eustace Grey_, he presents with subtle art a mind
tormented by terror.


In 1775 we find Miss Lydia Languish's maid ransacking the
circulating libraries of Bath, and concealing under her cloak
novels of sensibility and of fashionable scandal. Some twenty
years later, in the self-same city, Catherine Morland is "lost
from all worldly concerns of dressing or dinner over the pages of
_Udolpho_," and Isabella Thorpe is collecting in her pocket-book
the "horrid" titles of romances from the German. In 1814,
apparently, the vogue of the sentimental, the scandalous, the
mysterious, and the horrid still persisted. Scott, in the
introductory chapter to _Waverley_, disrespectfully passes in
review the modish novels, which, as it proved, were doomed to be
supplanted by the series of romances he was then beginning:

"Had I announced in my frontispiece, 'Waverley, A Tale
of Other Days,' must not every novel reader have
anticipated a castle scarce less than that of Udolpho,
of which the eastern wing has been long uninhabited,
and the keys either lost or consigned to the care of
some aged butler or housekeeper, whose trembling steps
about the middle of the second volume were doomed to
guide the hero or heroine to the ruinous precincts?
Would not the owl have shrieked and the cricket cried
in my very title page? and could it have been possible
to me with a moderate attention to decorum to introduce
any scene more lively than might be produced by the
jocularity of a clownish but faithful valet or the
garrulous narrative of the heroine's
_fille-de-chambre_, when rehearsing the stories of
blood and horror which she had heard in the servant's
hall? Again, had my title borne 'Waverley, a Romance
from the German,' what head so obtuse as not to image
forth a profligate abbot, an oppressive duke, a secret
and mysterious association of Rosycrucians and
Illuminati, with all their properties of black cowls,
caverns, daggers, electrical machines, trap-doors and
dark lanterns? Or, if I had rather chosen to call my
work, 'A Sentimental Tale,' would it not have been a
sufficient presage of a heroine with a profusion of
auburn hair, and a harp, the soft solace of her
solitary hours, which she fortunately always finds
means of transporting from castle to cottage, though
she herself be sometimes obliged to jump out of a
two-pair-of-stairs window and is more than once
bewildered on her journey, alone and on foot, without
any guide but a blowsy peasant girl, whose jargon she
can scarcely understand? Or again, if my _Waverley_ had
been entitled 'A Tale of the Times,' wouldst thou not,
gentle reader, have demanded from me a dashing sketch
of the fashionable world, a few anecdotes of private
scandal ... a heroine from Grosvenor Square, and a hero
from the Barouche Club or the Four in Hand, with a set
of subordinate characters from the elegantes of Queen
Anne Street, East, or the dashing heroes of the Bow
Street Office?"

Yet Scott himself had once trodden in these well-worn paths of
romance. In the general preface to the collected edition of 1829,
wherein he seeks to "ravel out his weaved-up follies," he refers
to "a tale of chivalry planned thirty years earlier in the style
of _The Castle of Otranto_, with plenty of Border characters and
supernatural incident." His outline of the plot and a fragment of
the story, which was to be entitled _Thomas the Rhymer_, are
printed as an appendix to the preface. Scott intended to base his
story on an ancient legend, found in Reginald Scot's _Discovery
of Witchcraft_, concerning the horn and sword of Thomas of
Hercildoune. Cannobie Dick, a jolly horse-cowper, was led by a
mysterious stranger through an opening in a hillside into a long
range of stables. In every stall stood a coal-black horse, and by
every horse lay a knight in coal-black armour, with a drawn sword
in his hand. All were as still and silent as if hewn out of
marble. At the far end of a gloomy hall, illuminated, like the
halls of Eblis, only by torches, there lay, upon an ancient
table, a horn and a sword. A voice bade Dick try his courage,
warning him that much depended upon his first choosing either the
horn or the sword. Dick, whose stout heart quailed before the
supernatural terrors of the hall, attempted to blow the horn
before unsheathing the sword. At the first feeble blast the
warriors and their steeds started to life, the knights fiercely
brandishing their weapons and clashing their armour. Dick made a
fruitless attempt to snatch the sword. After a mysterious voice
had pronounced his doom he was hurled out of the hall by a
whirlwind of irresistible fury. He told his story to the
shepherds, who found him dying on the cold hill side.

Regarding this legend as "an unhappy foundation for a prose
story," Scott did not complete his fragment, which in style and
treatment is not unlike the Gothic experiments of Mrs. Barbauld
and Dr. Nathan Drake. Such a story as that of the magic horn and
sword might have been told in the simple words that occur
naturally to a shepherd, "warmed to courage over his third
tumbler," like the old peasant to whom Stevenson entrusts the
terrible tale of _Thrawn Janet_, or to Wandering Willie, who

"I whiles mak a tale serve the turn among the country

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