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Ambivalent and nostalgic attitudes in selected gothic novels 1976

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AMBIVALENT AND NOSTALGIC ATTITUDES IN SELECTED GOTHIC NOVELS by MARK SAMUEE MADOFF A.B., University of Michigan, 1970 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of English We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October 1976 (c ) Mark Samuel Madoff, 1976 In p r e s e n t i n g this the$is in partial f u l f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I ag ree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s t u d y . I f u r t h e r agree that p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department or by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . It i s u n d e r s t o o d that c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n shall not be a l l o w e d w i thout my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department o f English! The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Co lumbia 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 Date 1 October 1976 Research Supervisor: Professor Ian S. Ross ABSTRACT This dissertation focusses chiefly on the sensibility underlying selected gothic fi c t i o n published between 1764 and 1820. A preliminary section deals with the history of the term "gothic" from the Renaissance onwards, and in this section and elsewhere attention is given to the revival of interest in gothic architecture as affording insights for the c r i t i c of the novel. The general emphasis of the study is on attitudes to postulated gothic ancestors, and how a recreated gothic world pro- vides either a suitable environment for discovering an ideal social or p o l i t i c a l system, or opportunities for exercising greater imaginative freedom, especially in the treatment.of sensational or erotic subjects. P o l i t i c a l thinkers of the post-Renaissance seeking an "Ancient Constitution," as well as antiquaries indulging a taste for medieval artifacts, supplied a factual basis for the gothic, but i t s main attrac- tiveness lay in i t s imaginative richness, novelty, and potency as a domain of art. In both literature and architecture, the vogue of the gothic was part of an innovative reaction against the apparent limits of harmonious, decorous, rational, balanced art. However, the innovation usually took a subversive direction, employing familiar forms and a t t i - tudes in order to conceal or palliate the strangeness of the gothic, in order to link i t with more acceptable tastes. This dissertation traces the process of compromise with established styles in the literary and architectural work of the f i r s t prominent gothic fantasist, Horace Walpole, and contrasts his f i c t i o n a l techniques in The Castle of Otranto i i (1764) with those of Clara Reeve in The Old English Baron (1777), in which the gothic world i s made an improved, purified version of Reeve's own society. Two distinct attitudes towards the gothic developed: ambivalence and nostalgia. The ambivalent attitude retained much of the modern con- tempt for the gothic while realizing i t s sensational potentialities; i t combined amusement with a deeper source of fascination. The nostalgic attitude regarded the gothic world as an experimental site, where conservative and radical solutions to present problems might be imposed upon a loose historical framework. Ambivalent gothicism tended to follow an increasingly sensational line, investigating the attraction of e v i l and power, the plight of the victim, and the psychological accompaniments of extreme situations. An aesthetic basis of the art of strong sensation or terror is outlined through reviewing the central arguments of Burke's Enquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757). It is sug- gested that they helped to engender a controversy over the proper balance between sensationalism and decorum. The psychological theories of the Enquiry and the ensuing controversy are examined for the light they shed on gothic fi c t i o n a l practices, and c r i t i c s ' observations are cited as evidence of the tensionsbetween ambivalent and nostalgic attitudes towards the gothic. Although exoticism served both gothic ambivalence and nostalgia, i t was especially valuable for f a c i l i t a t i n g the approach to sensational materials, by providing a protective degree of aesthetic distance. i i i The ambivalent attitude and the careful exploitation of exoticism permitted freer exploration of painful, disturbing subjects than was possible in " r e a l i s t i c " f i c t i o n . This is documented through close analysis of The Monk (1795) by M. G. Lewis; The Romance of the Forest (1791), The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), and The I t a l i a n (1797) by Ann Radcliffe; and Melmoth the Wanderer (1820), by Charles Maturin. It is shown that, while nostalgic elements occasionally intrude in these novels, the usefulness of gothic exoticism l i e s in the increased a b i l i t y to concentrate on certain obsessive themes. Psychologically-threatening problems of identity, knowledge, education, and authority often appear through monastic models, and the figure of the criminal or outcast, who is usually a sexual aggressor, indirectly represents anxieties about relations between parents and children, rulers and subjects, men and women. It is argued that the ambivalent gothic became a dark medium on which were projected visions of psychic disintegration and oppression. The novels analyzed sought to realize the extraordinary crises of the soul, while offering varying amounts of r e l i e f from the pressures of the anarchic forces portrayed in conflict. Professor Ian S. Ross Supervisor iv TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter Page I. CLASSICAL AND MEDIEVAL ANCESTORS: Revisions of the Past 1 II. VITALITY IN FICTION: The Mixed Mode 80 III. "IMPENDING DANGERS, HIDDEN GUILT, SUPER- NATURAL VISITINGS": The Sensational, the Exotic, and the Gothic 153 IV. EROTIC DANGERS, MONASTIC TYRANNY, AND FAMILY SECRETS: Themes in the Ambivalent Gothic 191 CONCLUSION 256 BIBLIOGRAPHY 264 v ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I wish to express my appreciation for the support and guidance I have received from my supervisor, Professor Ian S. Ross, of the Department of English, University of British Columbia. The staff of the McPherson Library, University of Victoria, have given me generous assistance in using that library's holdings. The Canada Council has aided my research through Doctoral Fellowships, 1973-75. v i CHAPTER I CLASSICAL AND MEDIEVAL ANCESTORS Revisions of the Past Much of the appeal of the gothic novels began in a belief in the superior imaginative potency of another world, unfamiliar enough to be remote from the contemporary one. This basic belief often took on p o l i t i c a l , social, a r t i s t i c , and architectural, as well as literary, forms. For that reason, we cannot regard i t as an arbitrary, whimsical or disconnected phenomenon in the history of taste. In a l l areas, i t involved a reworking of c r i t i c a l principles to accommodate a different range of experiences, so that the whole vocabulary of cultural values expanded. Critics threw down or took up models for emulation, and examined the means by which such choices were made. The result was a revision of the past, at least as the past entered and influenced the English imagination. Terminological controversies over the gothic reflected the main features of that revision. Before turning to the actual emergence of the new gothic in f i c t i o n , we therefore need to pay attention to i t s background, and particularly to patterns of usage: the appearance of the word "gothic" in various contexts, the kinds of objects or qualities which i t labelled, and the complicated, overlapping connotations which the word acquired. Such study of changing attitudes and practices w i l l demonstrate the intermingling of motives for praise and blame, the - 1 - 2 ambivalence towards an era and i t s imagined c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s that per- vaded gothic f i c t i o n . I t w i l l also show that opinions which seemed aesthetic, or which arose i n aesthetic argument, c a r r i e d p o l i t i c a l or s o c i a l overtones as important as t h e i r overt meaning. The l i n e s of partisanship, although hard to draw exactly, must be considered for a f u l l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the novels. There are several large compilations o f f e r i n g d e t a i l e d accounts of the usage of gothic and the v a r i e t y of opinions brought to bear upon the term."*" In many of these, however, the l i t e r a r y gothic i s treated secon- d a r i l y . This i s hardly s u r p r i s i n g . Germann and Frankl, for example, write with the s p e c i a l viewpoint and purposes of the a r c h i t e c t u r a l h i s t o r i a n , and although most of t h e i r observations are accurate, they do not go out of t h e i r way to address the problems of f i c t i o n . The a p p l i c a - t i o n of t h e i r findings to the l i t e r a r y gothic w i l l be the chief goal i n the following discussion. Terminological controversy over the gothic tended to f a l l into two phases. The f i r s t was a version of the ongoing dispute between the Ancients and the Moderns i n which the putative barbarian creators of gothic art contrasted unfavourably, at f i r s t , with the Greeks and Romans. At the extreme of t h i s phase, gothic came to be c l o s e l y associated with 2 barbarous. The second phase, often containing the t y p i c a l arguments of the f i r s t , concentrated upon the aesthetic q u a l i t i e s of gothic a r c h i t e c - ture and medieval (or Renaissance) l i t e r a t u r e , and t h e i r d e f e n s i b i l i t y according to established or revised c r i t e r i a . The f i r s t phase was more concerned with the creators, the second with t h e i r creations. 3 Both phases of the controversy originated with the art c r i t i c s and 3 historians of the Italian Renaissance. It i s f a i r l y clear why anti- gothic sentiment should have developed under those circumstances: . . . un t i l the fifteenth century the influence of anti- quity was balanced by other influences, and no one thought of being a purist. Filippo Brunelleschi's researches into classical architecture . . . heralded a hardening of a t t i - tudes. An absolute standard of a r t i s t i c excellence, consciously based on the authority of Greek and Roman antiquity, was proclaimed in Italy. By this standard a l l the a r t i s t i c monuments of the post-classical age, that i s , a l l the works in the "modern" as opposed to the good antique style, were judged and condemned. . . . i t became apparent that the impure "modern" style must have been forced upon unwilling Italy by invaders, f i r s t by the notorious Goths and Lombards, who in the fourth and f i f t h centuries had squatted on the wreck of Roman ci v i l i z a t i o n , and in later centuries by their successors, the Germans.. 4 A typical and influential version of the Italian theory occurred in Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Painters, where he conflated the Gothic and Germanic stories, and made the crucial identification of the gothic with the non-classical: There are works of another sort that are called German, which differ greatly in ornament and proportion from the antique and the modern. Today they are not employed by distinguished architects but are avoided by them as mon- strous and barbarous, since they ignore every familiar idea or order; which one can rather c a l l confusion and disorder, for in their buildings, of which there are so many that they have contaminated the whole world, they made portals adorned with thin columns twisted in cork- screw fashion (vine tendrils) etc. . . After going on to describe these works in greater detail, building to a crescendo of disgust at their hideousness, Vasari proposed to explain their origin: This manner was invented by the Goths, who, after the destruction of the ancient buildings and the dying out of architects because"of the wars, afterwards built . . . edifices in this manner: those men fashioned the vaults 4 with pointed arches of quarter circles, and f i l l e d a l l Italy with these damnable buildings, so that their whole method has been given up, i n order not to let any more be bui l t . Vasari took up this episode of mistaken building as an intrusion into the perfect practice of the "antique" Greek and Roman architects, and as a constant warning to the "modern" architects who, after Brunel- leschi, were trying to recover that standard of excellence. His vitu - peration had i t s precedents. Filarete (Antonio Averlino) in his treatise on architecture written between 1460 and 1464 anticipated the connection between medieval architecture and the Goths or historical barbarians.^ Although he was a partisan of the ancient manner of building and of i t s recovery in f u l l purity, Filarete's references to the gente barbara s t i l l bears more of the historical sense of barbaric (pertaining to certain tribes), than of the literary sense barbarous (pertaining to a debased style).^ In the l i f e of Brunelleschi attributed to Antonio Manetti appeared the theory of the bringing of German building methods into Italy. Historically erroneous, like Vasari's later effort, this version contained more detail and, therefore, seems more plausible. De Beer has summarized the theory: The Vandals, Goths, Lombards, Huns, and others, being them- selves inexperienced in building technique, used German craftsmen who had s k i l l in these matters, and buildings were erected a l l over Italy in the German manner. But when Charlemagne drove out the Lombards, and came to an under- standing with the Roman pontiffs, he used workmen from Rome, who though not very experienced in practical building, worked in the manner of the Romans whose monuments they saw around them. . . . Then Charlemagne's empire was overrun by the Germans who re-introduced the German manner of building which lasted u n t i l the times of Filippo Brunelleschi.g This account was more sophisticated than Vasari's, since i t included German influences and allowed for a longer time-span; i t did not make 5 medieval architecture the direct product of the Gothic t r i b e s . An e p i s t l e to Pope Leo X, written about 1518 or 1519 and attributed to Raphael or a member of his c i r c l e , also looked towards several of the points which would come up i n Vasari's c r i t i q u e . The viewpoint i n this case was Roman rather than Florentine, but the h i s t o r i c a l view was essentially the same: a sequence of degeneration and p a r t i a l recovery of true a r t i s t i c p r i n c i p l e s . Like Brunelleschi's biographer, t h i s author differentiated between the e a r l i e r barbarians, the Goths, Vandals and Lombards, and the Germans: . . . when Rome was overrun by the barbarians not only were the buildings destroyed but the art of architecture i t s e l f was l o s t . With their l i b e r t y the Romans lo s t a l l genius and a r t . They broke up the beautiful ancient buildings around them and from them constructed their wretched dwell- ings. There arose a most ignorant and worthless type of architecture, painting and sculpture . . . l a t e r the Germans revived the art of architecture a l i t t l e , but their orna- ments "furono g o f f i , e lontanissimi d a l l a b e l l a maniera de'Romani." The author "contrasts the beautiful parts and proportions of a c l a s s i c a l building with the i r r a t i o n a l treatment, the strange animal figures and leaf ornaments of a 'German' e d i f i c e . Here c r i t i c i s m i s combined with history. I t i s evident that the author d i s l i k e s the medieval s t y l e s ; but when he opposes the 'Architettura Romana' and ' l a Barbara' i t i s not to be assumed that he i s being merely abusive; the second term i s p r i - 9 marily h i s t o r i c a l , whatever other implications i t may contain." But among those "other implications" was the ranking of cultures. "Barbara" cannot be merely an h i s t o r i c a l term (as de Beer claims) at a time when the works of c l a s s i c a l antiquity were valued so highly, at a time when non-classical forms f a i l e d to s a t i s f y the important a r t i s t i c standards. For the whole convenience of the theory of barbarian origins for the 6 gothic, i n I t a l y , lay i n the fact that the barbarians were by d e f i n i t i o n outsiders, who did not have the moral and i n t e l l e c t u a l a b i l i t i e s neces- sary for c i v i l i z a t i o n . Under the influence of a r t i s t i c standards that propose a cycle of excellence and degeneration, the former associated with native, the l a t t e r with foreign, elements, i t becomes hard to separate aesthetic from moral judgments, the a l i e n tribes from the despoilers of culture. None of the e a r l i e r statements reached the wide c i r c u l a t i o n of Vasari's Lives, or matched i t s influence. "No one before him had written with such sardonic asperity of medieval architecture, and i n th i s respect . . . he set the tone for ensuing centuries. . . . Vasari was the f i r s t to make the d e f i n i t i v e assertion that medieval architecture (and i t i s clear from his description that he was thinking of Gothic and not Romanesque architecture) was the invention of the Goths . . . th i s pas- sage i s without doubt the source from which subsequent writers were to derive the term 'Gothic' as applied to la t e r medieval architecture.""*"^ The I t a l i a n theory set up an opposition which was not limited to ar c h i - tectural types. I f the Goths and Germans had helped to s p o i l c l a s s i c a l architecture, that was only because they had undermined the whole c u l - t u r a l and p o l i t i c a l order which produced i t . Given the conscious revivalism and the sense of a lo s t national heritage that moved through I t a l i a n aesthetic thinking at th i s time, such scapegoating was quite predictable. The common idea of the Three Ages of Art, which we have already seen, i n s l i g h t v a r i a t i o n s , i n the L i f e of Brunelleschi and the Pseudo-Raphael l e t t e r , encouraged blame against the barbarians and intruders. For the Three Ages included the golden period of Greek and 7 Roman excellence, the period of decay under foreign influences, and the modern attempt to reach the original, ideal level again. Neutral his- torical or s t y l i s t i c senses of gothic did not f i t with an idea of history in which a r t i s t i c modes were identified with p o l i t i c a l and social forces; in which order or c i v i l i z a t i o n opposed anarchy or non-culture."'""'" As a result, gothic art must have seemed disorderly for two reasons: i t did not share any of the accepted aesthetic qualities, and i t s supposed originators were the defilers of the classical heritage and the bringers of p o l i t i c a l chaos. The notion of gothic disorderliness and irrationality posed a special problem for the modern disciples of Vitruvius. During the sixteenth century in Italy the term ordine came to replace Vitruvius' genere in describing classical columns: hence the "classic orders" of architecture. Ordine also occurred, with a great deal of confusion, as a synonym for maniera or opera. Usage indicates that there was a measure of equality for the "foreign" style, for the phrase ordine Tedesco 12 appeared frequently. The nature of the buildings, however, made the phrase into a paradox, clearly illustrated in the definition of "Ordine Gottico" in Filippo Baldinucci's Vocabolario Toscano dell'arte del desegno (Florence: 1681): . . . the working method in vogue under the Goths, the German manner and a kind of proportion which has nothing in common with the five good orders of Antique architecture; on the contrary, i t is a completely barbaric fashion involv- ing excessively slender, elongated, distorted and—in every sense of the word—enervated columns, imposed one on top of the other and cluttered with small tabernacles, pyramids, projections, disruptions, l i t t l e consoles, crockets, animal carvings and tendrils, a l l one on top of the other, with no order, no rule, no proportion and no t a s t e . ^ 8 G o t h i c was u n i q u e i n t h a t i t was an order without order. V i t r u v i a n s a l t e r n a t e d i n t h e i r r e s p o n s e t o i t : some p e r s i s t e d i n e f f o r t s t o f i n d a way o f i n c l u d i n g i t w i t h i n t h e c a n o n , a l a b o u r w h i c h c o n t i n u e d t h r o u g h t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y ; o t h e r s we re o c c u p i e d w i t h u s i n g t h e canon t o condemn t h e g o t h i c a l t o g e t h e r . S i n c e V i t r u v i a n d o c t r i n e s , a s e l a b o r a t e d by R e n a i s s a n c e t h e o r i s t s and a r c h i t e c t s , a l s o p r o v i d e d f o r s t y l i s t i c c o n f o r m i t y , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n r e s t o r a t i o n s , a c e r t a i n amount o f g o t h i c , o r 14 n o n - c l a s s i c a l , work was j u s t i f i e d . The k e y c a s e , w h i c h g e n e r a t e d g r e a t c o n t r o v e r s y , was t h e p r o j e c t t o c o m p l e t e t h e C h u r c h o f San P e t r o n i o i n B o l o g n a , f o r w h i c h d e s i g n s were c o m m i s s i o n e d be tween 1521 and 1 6 0 0 . I n t h e c o u r s e o f t h e d i s p u t e o v e r t h e p r o p e r s t y l e T e r r i b i l i a p r o d u c e d a v e r s i o n o f t h e s t o r y o f g o t h i c i n t r u s i o n i n I t a l y w h i c h was i n p a r t d i a l e c t i c a l , and w h i c h d i s p l a y e d t h e same c o n c e r n f o r t h e l a c k o f a d e f i n a b l e o r d e r i n t h e g o t h i c : . . . i n t h i s e x t r e m e l y c o n f u s e d s t a t e o f a f f a i r s t h e G e r - m a n s , o r t h e G o t h s a s some p e o p l e l i k e t o c a l l t hem, c o n - t i n u e d t o a c e r t a i n e x t e n t t o i m i t a t e t h e t h i n g s t h a t t h e y had s e e n i n Rome, e s p e c i a l l y t h e C o r i n t h i a n O r d e r . They m i x e d G r e e k c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s w i t h t h e i r own and s o , i n t h e i r own way , c r e a t e d a t h i r d k i n d o f a r c h i t e c t u r e and i n t r o d u c e d t h i s i n t o I t a l y ; i t i s t h e k i n d f o u n d i n San P e t r o n i o , one w h i c h ough t r e a l l y t o be d e s i g n a t e d as u n o r g a n i z e d r a t h e r t h a n o r g a n i z e d , a l t h o u g h t h e f o l l o w e r s o f a c e r t a i n C e s a r - i a n o , a commenta to r on V i t r u v i u s , c l a i m t o h a v e d i s c o v e r e d i t s p r i n c i p l e s i n t r i a n g l e s . . . . B u t s i n c e , t o t h e b e s t o f my k n o w l e d g e , we h a v e no s p e c i f i c r u l e s f o r t h e German o r d e r , we s h a l l have t o o r g a n i z e t h i s German work w i t h i n t h e f ramework o f o u r n a t u r a l and u n i v e r s a l r u l e s a c c o r d i n g t o t h e g u i d e - l i n e s l a i d down b y V i t r u v i u s . ^ By t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y t h e c o n t r o v e r s y o v e r g o t h i c c o n t i n u e d i n b o t h i t s p h a s e s , t o u c h i n g t h e c u l t u r a l d e f i c i e n c i e s o f i t s c r e a t o r s , w h e t h e r b e l i e v e d t o be G o t h s , Ge rmans , S a r a c e n s , Saxons o r M o o r s , and t h e o u t l a n d i s h q u a l i t i e s o f t h e i r w o r k s . Much o f t h e e i g h t e e n t h - c e n t u r y 9 criticism was a throw-back to the Italian humanists' arguments, with an additional element coming from Boileau's principles of Good and Bad Taste. One passage which is interesting because i t deals with literature along with architecture comes from the treatise on poetry and rhetoric by Johann Ulrich Konig (1727): The so-called Nordic peoples then flooded the whole of Europe with their ignorance and with that Bad Taste which clung permanently to their descendants; this can s t i l l be recognized today from the remains, among other things, of their badly composed writings, rambling romances, immod- erate passion for rhyming, clumsy monkish script, coarse- sounding speech, barbarous music, graceless costumes, badly-drawn paintings, and above a l l from their Gothic architecture..., io Kant, in his Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sub- lime (1764), joined those who believed that a l l things which offended against Reason, Nature and Propriety were gothic, or similar to gothic. His history of a r t i s t i c development resembled the Italian account, with reference to the Three Ages and a scheme which included general cultural values. In his encyclopedia of the arts, the Allgemeine Theorie der schonen Kunste (17f7«l-r74) , which was widely known among German neo-classicists, J. G. Sulzer turned back to Boileau for his vocabulary. For Sulzer gothic was synonymous with Bad Taste and he applied i t to works regard- less of the exact generic, regional or hi s t o r i c a l category in which they belonged; gothic was a catch-all label of derogation. Sulzer also applied the term "to a l l nations which engage in cultural pursuits before their taste has been adequately formed. Thus Gothic comes to mean something very like parvenu, and one can talk of Gothic behaviour as well as Gothic art. . . . S u l z e r even perpetuated the historical misconceptions of 10 Vasari, for he believed that the term gothic "originated in the clumsy imitations of ancient architecture perpetrated by the Goths who settled in Italy." He conceded that gothic works were "lacking not in essential qualities, nor even always in greatness and splendour, but in beauty, charm, and delicacy." The Goths had made a travesty of the mimetic process in art, having no clear idea of their subjects or their means of imitation. It was obvious to Sulzer why their works seemed so grotesque, and equally obvious that such grotesquery was inadvertent, the result of incompetence not design. Sulzer also took a clue from Shaftesbury's theories of taste and personality in associating aesthetic with moral judgments. He emphasized the causal link between a people's art and their spiritual well-being. Since gothic art was defective in most important aesthetic areas, a taste for i t did not bode well for a person's general mental balance, and such a taste multiplied meant that society i t s e l f had become debased. Although the objects of contempt changed, the German organicists, Pugin and Ruskin a l l followed a similar line of argument. The two phases of the controversy over the gothic were easily mixed so that, where arguments from aesthetic principles failed, they could be turned with no great degree of subtlety into ad hominem arguments instead. Vasari had begun this strategy by moving away from a detailed, i f mis- taken, critique of gothic aesthetics, and towards the barbarous origins of the art and the barbarous character of i t s defenders. The usual eighteenth-century procedure was a l i t t l e more sophisticated. For example, William Whitehead, writing in The World (No. 12, 1753), neatly associated a taste for the gothic with disturbing p o l i t i c a l and social events: 11 This, however odd i t might seem, and however unworthy the name of Taste, was cultivated, was admired, and s t i l l has it s professors in different parts of England. There is something in i t , they say, congenial to our old Gothic constitution; I should rather think, to our modern idea of liberty, which allows everyone the privilege of playing the fool, and of making himself ridiculous in whatever way he pleases.-^g In The Goths in England Kliger takes up the obverse side of White- head's accusation, and looks for the positive p o l i t i c a l uses of the word gothic. According to Kliger, "the term. 'Gothic' came into extensive use in the seventeenth century as an epithet employed by the Parliamentary leaders to defend the prerogatives of Parliament against the pretensions of the King to absolute right to govern England." The search for prece- dents for this resistance stimulated a considerable antiquarian movement in England. The antiquarians of the Parliamentary party believed that the Goths, by whom they meant the ancestral Germanic peoples, had "founded the institutions of public assemblies which, in i t s [sic] English parlia- mentary form, the Stuarts were seeking to destroy." By careful reworking of the depictions of northern tribes by Tacitus, Jordanes and Saint Augustine, the p o l i t i c a l researchers manufactured the support they needed: "The analysis of Gothic character found in these early texts described the Goths as a Teutonic folk to whom p o l i t i c a l liberty was dear. Further- more, the early texts offered a quasi-scientific explanation of the Gothic propensity for liberty in a theory of climatic influence on character . . . the f r i g i d temperature of the Gothic habitat in the northern regions was the physiological factor explaining Gothic vigor, hardiness, and zeal for 19 liberty." Mingled with this reconstruction was the doctrine of gothic moral and intellectual superiority, the "translatio imperii ad Teutonicos," which had' been promulgated in the north since the Protestant Reformation, 12 and which connected the gothic with enlightenment, through an opposition of ra c i a l characteristics: "the triumph of Gothic humanity, honor, and simplicity over invertebrate Roman urbanism, effeminacy, and luxury. The Gothicists pictured . . . a world rejuvenation or rebirth due to the triumph of Gothic energy and moral purity over Roman torpor and depravity." Kliger is f a i r l y cautious, however, about forming connections between p o l i t i c a l and aesthetic attitudes. Although he argues that the i d e a l i - zation of ancient Gothic liberty was essentially a whiggish exercise in creating historical precedents, he denies any firm link between p o l i t i c a l Whiggery and admiration for gothic architecture. Addison, who was a Whig, disapproved strongly of gothic architecture, while Horace Walpole, also a Whig, moved through avid approval, lesser enthusiasm, and occasional disapproval during his long career as connoisseur. Kliger also has to admit that the favourable, ethnic connotation of gothic did not overcome the unfavourable ones in practice, and that the favourable sense was not "the main or even important cause of the actual building of Gothic struc- tures." But he does go so far as to claim that "an association had been formed in some eighteenth-century minds between Whig principles of'popular government and the freedom from neo-classical restraints displayed in the Gothic building; per contra, from the opposing Tory point of view, the symmetry and balance of the Grecian building apotheosized the Tory aim of maintaining national stability through vested aristocratic interest 21 and a strong monarchy." Lovejoy suggests a quite different use of gothic, as a slur: It performed much the same necessary function that, in cer- tain circles, the adjective "Victorian" performs today. . . . The term also took on a certain p o l i t i c a l coloring; since i t 13 not only vaguely suggested "the old-fashioned" in general, but, more specifically,the p o l i t i c a l and social system of the Middle Ages, i.e., feudalism, i t sometimes served the progressives of the period as an unpleasant way of refer- ring to anything the Tories approved. . . . ^ Unlike Kliger, Lovejoy proposes that the Whigs applied the label gothic not to themselves or to the ancestral supporters of their parliamentary cause, but to the Tory establishment, whenever they wanted to set forth i t s regressive tendencies or to raise the spectre of tyranny restored. These partisan uses of the gothic seem contradictory only because they were part of the larger contradictions that had arisen in attitudes towards ancestors and towards the value in aesthetic argument of various kinds of traditional authority. There were Goths of the l e f t and right, self-proclaimed Goths and ridiculed Goths because the values of the medi- eval and classical heritages were fluctuating. The conflict between the two main cultural dispensations was the central fact behind the emergence of a new gothicism. Kliger presents the opposition in terms of familiar polarities, nature and reason, but i t is.plain from the evidence of his examples that a case could be made for both properties belonging to both traditions. Lovejoy concentrates instead on a succession of "returns to Nature," each of which represents a reaction against some previous formu- lation of what constitutes the "natural" in art. The reaction to the gothic or to any of the other new tastes, such as the taste for the rococo, the Chinese, or the Egyptian, with which the gothic often was associated depended on the aesthetic qualities they were thought to embody and on the current limits of the notion of creativity. Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century uses of the word gothic were various and undiscriminating; consequently, any attempt to determine what 14 kinds of objects were considered gothic must aim to be exhaustive rather than definitive. Aside from the multiplicity of p o l i t i c a l and social purposes which gothic could advance, a factor which contributed to this diversity was the variety of theories for the "invention" of the medieval styles. In trying to sort out the meaning of the gothic, Lovejoy has noted three common patterns of usage. In the f i r s t , any structure which did not satisfy neo-classical norms was called, gothic. Thus, we have the statement in Dryden's translation of Dufresnoy (1693): " A l l that is not in the ancient gust i s called a barbarous or Gothic manner." Similarly, Batty Langley, in Ancient Architecture Restored and Improved, etc. (1742), asserted that: "Every ancient building which i s not in the Grecian mode 23 is called a Gothic building." The second pattern of usage was more limited but equally inaccurate. This was the application of the label gothic to works which would now be called Romanesque. It is significant that Romanesque was the style that was actually believed, in Italy at least, to be of Gothic origin; the later "pointed" style was more likely to be thought German or Saracenic. The third pattern was exemplified in John Evelyn's Account of Archi- tects and Architecture which was prefixed to his edition of Freart's A Parallel of the Ancient Architecture with the Modern (1697). Evelyn adhered to the recent theory of the double genesis of "modern" architec- ture, regarding the Goths and Vandals, and the Moors and Arabs, as originators of what he called "a certain fantastical and licentious Manner of Building." He lumped together and thoroughly confused the Romanesque or Norman "heavy" style with the later pointed style which 15 Wren would c a l l Saracenic (that label also expressing a theory of "inven- tion") . Early and late medieval buildings, buildings overly heavy, ponderous, gloomy and overly light, frivolous, airy were condemned under 24 the same rubric and given the same designation, gothic. For Evelyn and his contemporaries, gothic referred to a l l architectural excesses. It did not matter much i f those excesses resulted from diametrically opposite causes. Failure to discriminate carefully among styles was understandably common with c r i t i c s of the gothic. Since they saw the gothic as merely one among several subversive new tastes they were unlikely to look into i t s finer divisions. Moreover, ignorance of an ignorant style was a form of protection against i t s effects. So gothic was placed with rococo, Chinese and Egyptian as an aberrant species, and the same objections often were lai d against a l l . This muddling of types was also encouraged by the modern supporters and builders of non-classical architecture, who f e l t no reluctance in introducing a mixture of elements into their 25 designs, producing strange, and not especially vigorous, hybrids. The c r i t i c s ' main target was the Saracenic or modern gothic of the thirteenth to fifteenth century. Their singling out of the Saracenic may have begun in "a valid aesthetic reaction against the excesses of the English Late Perpendicular and the French Flamboyant styles; but the attributes found in an extreme form in these were commonly ascribed to 26 'modern Gothic' as a whole." Among those attributes were lack of formal explicitness or rationality, and over-ornamentation, especially 27 where there was no functional or structural need. The standards for judging such deficiencies were sometimes translated into magnitude and 16 immediacy of impression. For example, in Spectator No. 415, one of the series on "The Pleasures of the Imagination," Addison contrasted the effects of a classical and a gothic building upon the beholder: Let any one reflect on the Disposition of Mind he finds in himself, at his f i r s t Entrance into the Pantheon at Rome, and how his Imagination is f i l l e d with something Great and Amazing; and, at the same time, consider how l i t t l e , in proportion, he is affected with the Inside of a Gothick Cathedral, tho' i t be five times larger than the other; which can arise from nothing else, but the Greatness of Manner in the one, and the Meanness in the other. Addison borrowed a psychological explanation of this contrast from Freart's P a r a l l e l , which made i t clear that "Meanness of Manner" resulted from the distraction caused by superfluous, t r i v i a l details: I am observing . . . a thing which, in my Opinion, is very curious, whence i t proceeds, that in the same quantity of Superficies, the one Manner seems great and magnificent, and the other poor and t r i f l i n g ; the Reason is fine and uncommon . . . to introduce into Architecture this Grandeur of Manner, we ought so to proceed, that the Division of the Principal Members of the Order may consist but of few Parts, that they be a l l great and of a bold and ample Relievo, and Swelling; and that the Eye, beholding nothing l i t t l e and mean, the Imagination may be more vigorously touched and affected with the Work that stands before i t . . . i f we see none of that ordinary Confusion which is the Result of those l i t t l e cavities, Quarter Rounds of the Astragal, and I know not how many other intermingled Particulars, which produce no effect in great and massy Works, and which very unprofitably take up Place to the prejudice of the Principal Member, i t i s most certain that this Manner w i l l appear Solemn and Great; as on the contrary, that w i l l have but a poor and mean Effect, where there i s a Redundancy of those smaller Ornaments, which divide and scatter the Angles of the Sight into such a Multitude of Rays, so pressed together that the whole w i l l appear but a Confusion.^ When we penetrate this pseudo-psychological language we see that Addison was describing the failure of the gothic to concentrate i t s effects. The combination of variety and disorder produced what Montes- 2 9 quieu called "a sort of enigma." Addison found such obscurity a 17 barrier to strong impressions. Addison brought this observation to bear on literary matters as well. In Spectator No. 62 he had proposed three categories of wit (poetical composition): true, false, and "mixt." True Wit, consisting in "the Resemblance of Ideas," was superior because i t manipulated the simple elements of natute and avoided the t r i v i a l , the accidental and the superficial; therefore, i t came closer to serving the mimetic purpose of poetry. In contrast, under False Wit Addison grouped a l l sorts of idle word-play, including puns, anagrams, acrostics, puzzles, figure-poems, riddles, and doggerel rhyme. Mixt Wit, partaking of both kinds, gave Addison occasion to attack the unrestrained working of fancy in poetry, and, in particular, the legacy of excess and whimsical imagination l e f t by the Metaphysical poets. It becomes plain, as Addison's arugment f i l l s out, that by True Wit he meant to encompass the essential properties of good poetry. Comparing the degrees of poetic sophistication, Addison made use of a suggestive architectural analogy: This is that natural Way of Writing, that beautiful Simpli- city, which we so much admire in the Compositions of the Ancients; and which no Body deviates from, but those who want Strength of Genius to make a Thought shine in i t s own natural Beauties. Poets who want this strength of Genius to give that Majestick Simplicity to Nature, which we so much admire in the Works of the Ancients, are forced to hunt after foreign Ornaments, and not to let any Piece of Wit of what kind soever escape them. I look upon these Writers as Goths in poetry, who, like those in Architecture, not being able to come up to the beautiful Simplicity of the old Greeks and Romans, have endeavoured to supply i t s place with a l l the Extravagances of an irregular Fancy . . . the Taste of most of our English Poets, as well as Readers, is extremely Gothick.^ Addison's comparison contained typical ahti-gothic complaints. With 18 his emphasis on "Simplicity" and "natural Beauties," he pointed out that the gothic not only failed to concentrate its effects but also failed to conform to nature. These shortcomings were closely connected. The lack of formal or technical discipline in either gothic buildings or gothic poetry was a sign of their creators' carelessness and ignorance: Goths were those who would not recognize that imitation of nature was the proper end of art, or who could not achieve such imitation. Mechanically, rather than essentially, related elements were the materials for Addison's False and Mixt Wit; the patterns of nature, definable by universally valid rules, were replaced in this inferior sort of writing by the accidental quirks of language. Simplicity referred not only to the obviousness or truth-to-nature of a building or poem but also to the means of i t s creation, and the remaining, vi s i b l e signs of i t s creation. In Addison's c r i t i c a l vocabu- lary, gothic came to mean something like a r t i f i c i a l or contrived. The hallmark of art was supposed to be i t s apparent effortlessness of execu- tion, i t s blending of f a c i l i t y with genius. In contrast, the elaborate- ness of the gothic, whether in a "Saracenic" abbey or a vapid poetic conceit, indicated laboriousness, a striving after the spectacular, the unusual, when the natural could not be.achieved. The gothic was unaccept- able in art because i t called forth unbridled energies in the a r t i s t , and required them from the beholder, wasting them in unnecessary exercises and fancies. In architecture, gothic continued to designate a l l types of non-classical buildings, from Saxon to Tudor, as various schemes for classifying them were tried out; Addison's literary usage, however, was an example of a general sense of the term gothic which was neither 19 historical (i.e., gothic means medieval) nor generic (i.e., gothic means romantic). In this sense, gothic stood as a catch-all term for the undisciplined, ignorant, formally extravagant art which obtruded upon the modern taste. Another common source of objection to the gothic was i t s apparent lack of symmetry. And again there were literary analogues of the archi- tectural defect. Like over-ornamentation or superficiality, this short- coming was believed to originate in a failure of mimesis. Nature was inherently symmetrical as well as simple and distinct. Symmetry, how- ever, had more to do with unity of total effect than with bil a t e r a l duplication. The artist's objective was to ensure immediate understand- ing of his work, and this required consistency in the relations of components and in their composition as a whole. "The demand for symmetry in architecture . . . expressed the same fundamental psychological theory as the insistence upon the unities in the drama and the disapproval of the mixture of genres. Bilateral repetition . . . was merely one of the 31 principal means of producing this singleness of effect. . . . " Since tediousness and obscurity were negative qualities in art (until Sterne and Burke, respectively), i t was proper for the art i s t to remove dis- tractions which might interfere with an almost automatic recognition of significant form. An issue closely related to gothic asymmetry was regularity, obser- vance of the laws of mathematical proportion. If symmetry was a recog- nizable aesthetic quality, regularity was the basis for that quality in geometry (or, in the case of poetry, in technical rules). That a build- ing was regular meant that i t accorded with the "uniform and exact 20 mathematical rules of proportion, such as had been laid down by Vitru- 32 vius." Concern for mathematically demonstrable regularity had grown for several reasons: the need to provide practical guidance in construc- tion to builders who were not engineers, the need to give theoretical jus t i f i c a t i o n for the elaborate neo-Vitruvian scheme of architectural "characters," the need to reduce human a r t i f i c e and natural object alike to f i r s t principles—which were assumed to be mathematical. Since the Vitruvian term ordine had been interpreted as a qualitative, as well as generic, measure which could be used to deprecate the gothic as an "order without order," i t was natural that any mathematical demonstration would prove the essential in f e r i o r i t y of gothic design and proportion; u n t i l the middle of the eighteenth century, there was no separate stan- dard of gothic mathematical proportion. Ignorance of the history of medieval building and i t s techniques encouraged the belief that the gothic was irregular and asymmetrical. Modern c r i t i c s who had made no active study of such projects did not realize that both regularity and symmetry were important considerations in the drawing of the original plans for cathedrals, churches, abbeys, and manor-houses. They did not suspect that most of the features that they cited in their accusations against the gothic were, in fact, the result of accidents and the gradual way in which the building had taken place; they were not identifying, as they often thought, the outlandish characteristics of some medieval system of aesthetics. Since the e a r l i - est medieval monuments s t i l l standing in England in the eighteenth century were the products of centuries of sporadic work, destruction of partly finished sections, and natural decay, i t was hardly possible to 21 speak of "the architect" of any such project. It was li k e l y that orig- inal intentions would have been ignored by succeeding generations of builders, that the f i r s t conception would have been muddled. In order to take historical factors into account eighteenth-century c r i t i c s needed access to medieval building records, plans, proposals and l i s t s . Especially in England, however, where the dissolution of the monasteries and other religious institutions had dispersed their collec- tions and lib r a r i e s , those materials were not readily available. But i t is doubtful whether many c r i t i c s would have f e l t any differently toward the gothic even i f they had been able to look into such documents, and had been moved to do so. They s t i l l could have attacked gothic art for i t s haphazard execution and casual composition—for the results i f not the intentions. It was an inescapable aesthetic observation: in i t s effects, the gothic lacked symmetry and regularity. The antiquaries provided historical evidence which did not f i t comfortably with neo- classical assumptions—and not a l l antiquaries' tastes were changed by the evidence. Other reasons for dislike of the gothic included "a physical dis- taste for the angular and pointed. . . . The spikiness of Gothic—the i n f i n i t e repetition of the pointed form in spikes, turrets, pinnacles, arches, doors, and windows—made the eighteenth-century observer feel 33 positively uncomfortable." One such observer was Goethe, who spoke of expecting Strasbourg Munster, which inspired his phase of admiration for the gothic, to appear as a "malformed b r i s t l y monster"; this sensitivity to gothic monstrosity was a typical, not an exaggerated, response. 22 Both Lovejoy and Robson-Scott also take note of the argument from universal acceptability, according to which the true test of the l e g i t i - 34 macy of an a r t i s t i c mode was i t s acceptance among c i v i l i z e d peoples. Since there were various ways of calculating the degree of acceptance, the argument was liable to be quite hard to pin down with particulars; i t was adopted, i f at a l l , without regard to the evidence of European architectural history—and recent history at that. Universal accept- a b i l i t y now may seem as i f i t should be a s t a t i s t i c a l notion, because we are more accustomed to looking for s t a t i s t i c a l universes; i n the eighteenth century the concept defined a much more limited universe of believers in the classical rules, the established c r i t e r i a of excellence. Universal acceptability was in fact a disguise for the process by which a cultural community selected and identified i t s members. The whole argument must have derived some of i t s force from the enduring belief in the Three Ages of Art: the opinions of the "barbarians" of the middle age were obviously much less important than the examples of the f i r s t , classical age and the aspirations of the latest age. Lovejoy does not find that the argument was very influential as a way of attacking the gothic, although the a l l i e d idea of universally valid aesthetic standards was the basis for much anti-gothic criticism. Lovejoy has offered the explanation that the argument originated in confusion over the meaning of "classic." Citing the example of Thomas Warton's Verses on Sir Joshua Reynolds's Painted Window (1782), Lovejoy contends that two connotations of classic often were mixed: one was the sense of "universal acceptability"; the other, of Palladian s t y l e , the current vogue in classical architecture. The gothic was certainly not 23 the latter, but that did not necessarily prevent i t from being classic in the former sense. Within the rationale of the new gothicism, i t was a point in favour of both architectural and literary gothic that they were "classic" English modes. The controversy over the gothic was a defensive action. Opponents of gothic art were not only interested in deriding i t s flaws; they were sensitive to those flaws because they believed in some other system, whether the superiority of Palladian architecture or the propriety of the dramatic unities, and they strove to defend that system against the encroachment of inferior alternatives. At the same time they were enforc- ing the rules for social standing, taste and knowledgeability. It was natural that the range of objects considered gothic should be very wide, including not only buildings and literary works but also various kinds of p o l i t i c a l opinion, p o l i t i c a l action, and social behaviour--in general, the outre. It is easy to see why the terminological controversy was so often inconclusive, when i t s terms of reference were as ill-defined as any in seventeenth- or eighteenth-century c r i t i c a l discourse. The pre- judices which ascribed outlandish origins to medieval art, which caused the term gothic to signify, on the level of ordinary usage, something like "barbarous" or "ignorant," added a tone of personal acrimony to the dispute over styles and values. The controversy over the gothic was restricted in i t s distribution because of differences in class interests and regional practices. An important factor was the gap between traditional craftsmanship and the realm of aesthetic disputes. It was not un t i l the middle of the seven- teenth century that a concept of competing styles, a necessary idea for 24 the maligning of. the gothic, was established i n England,"'"' and even then the impact of that concept was greater on one class of b u i l d e r s than another. For men i n the North the difference between Renaissance and medieval only became cl e a r when pure Renaissance buildings were b u i l t there; up t i l l then English a r c h i t e c t u r e was a mixture of both s t y l e s , but accepted as c l a s s i c a l . The differ e n c e between these buildings and Gothic was not very great and was not r e a l l y appreciated. Only when Inigo Jones was b u i l d i n g , did i t become clear that the I t a l i a n a t e was r a d i c a l l y d i f f e r e n t from the Gothic and that there were i n f a c t two styles.„, JO This r e l a t i v e l y l a t e introduction of s t y l i s t i c d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n into England f i n a l l y gave r i s e to a sense of d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with the native, hybrid s t y l e . Builders and patrons who knew the "better" s t y l e began to perceive the customary manner as vulgar and debased. > Even a f t e r t h i s i n f i l t r a t i o n of n e o - c l a s s i c a l d i s t a s t e , a b e l i e f i n the s u i t a b i l i t y , indeed the d e s i r a b i l i t y , of native design and technique persisted: In country d i s t r i c t s with plenty of natural materials and a strong l o c a l t r a d i t i o n , domestic architecture remained untouched by I t a l i a n influences even i n the eighteenth century. . . . Barns and farm buildings were s t i l l roofed and buttressed i n the Gothic way; and country workmen f o l - lowed Pugin's True P r i n c i p l e s with a naturalness which he praised but could never a t t a i n . While medieval ornament was enjoying i t s modish r e v i v a l i n the town, medieval con- s t r u c t i o n l i v e d an unassuming country l i f e , and Walpole l i t t l e suspected that the average barn was more t r u l y Gothic than his bepinnacled Strawberry.^ 7 Here Clark presents the main c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of t r a d i t i o n a l gothic b u i l d i n g as i t continued i n t o the eighteenth century: i t s d i s t r i b u t i o n outside fashionable c i r c l e s , i t s use i n mundane, f u n c t i o n a l s i t u a t i o n s , i t s emphasis upon proven p r a c t i c e s , and i t s naivete. Some further qual- i f i c a t i o n s make the account of t h i s survivalism more accurate. Gothic 25 survival was more a provincial than a s t r i c t l y rural phenomenon. Gothic was used for ecclesiastical and collegiate work, in accord with the generally accepted practice of conforming to the manner of existing 38 structures. The occurrence of survivalism also varied with the rela- tive power and influence of stonemasons, builders, and architects among 39 the construction trades. Controversy over the gothic was quite irrelevant to the traditional builders. The nature of the work they usually did and their limited opportunities for travel and architectural education insulated them from the issues under dispute. If, as Clark and Colvin have indicated, the traditional builders did most of their work either restoring and complet- ing churches, or constructing farm and domestic buildings, they were unlikely to have the chance to employ alternatives to the hybrid gothic style—had alternatives been available to them. Moreover, their con- tracts and contacts would have been with townspeople, merchants, parsons, yeomen farmers, and the lesser gentry, among whom architectural contro- versies and the changes of fashion were either unimportant or imperfectly understood. Their involvement with such matters was at best delayed or derivative. Builders, craftsmen, and most of their patrons did not have the resources to undertake the Grand Tour, which had promoted the growth 40 of the neo-classical taste in England. Their exposure to the principles of neo-classical design came through academic st u d y — i f their fortune or talent allowed i t — o r through association with the higher level of build- ing practice, such as the Board of Trade where Wren and his pupils were employed. As a result of these factors, a more or less passive advocacy of the gothic continued unaffected by the c r i t i c a l disputes or the 26 preoccupation of connoisseurs and amateurs. On the other hand, this kind of traditionalism gave l i t t l e direction to the shifts in fashionable taste that eventually defined the valid, native, gothic style in a pseudo-historical way. Before a taste for medieval things could reassert i t s e l f in the eighteenth century, two new ideas had to gain a place: a sense of the 41 novelty of medieval art and literature, and a sense of their identity. The latter would be influential only imperfectly and indirectly, but neither sense was to be found at the traditionalists' level. Given their persistence in using the hybrid gothic mode, their usual lack of formal academic training, their ignorance of architectural history and theory, their isolation and reliance on local design models, i t was unlikely that traditionalist builders would be a source for understanding 42 the complexities and classifications of medieval art. In addition, since they treated the gothic as the natural, indigenous style, capable of successfully assimilating the intrusive Renaissance styles, they would not have seen the gothic, at the same time, as merely one optional style among those available. Traditionalist builders thought of the gothic as "the style in which one builds." For the same reasons, they did not produce a sense of the gothic as something novel or exotic; after a l l , they had been using i t continuously well into the eighteenth century. The revivalists drew that sense from a set of cultural and historical associations from which the tradition- a l i s t s were far removed, i f only by their pedestrian, commonplace practice of unspectacular imitation. 2 7 The sense of the novelty of gothic was more important for the revival of gothic architecture and the creation of gothic f i c t i o n ; how- ever, the development of that sense was encouraged by his t o r i c a l , as well as aesthetic or fantastic, interests. Paradoxically, much of the encouragement came from English antiquaries, who were immediately con- cerned not with the novelty of medieval art but with the process of 43 identifying and differentiating i t s elements. This was the indirect way in which a sense of the identity of gothic contributed to the new literary gothicism—although the literary goths themselyeshhad.only an imperfect sense of that identity. The dissolution of the English monasteries and the dispersal or decay of their holdings stimulated antiquarian activity in England at an early date. The antiquary John Leland (1506?-1552) made a place for architectural antiquities in the history of Britain which he was planning, and which f i n a l l y appeared as the De Antiquitate Britannica published by Thomas Hearne between 1710 and 1712. The Britannica of William Camden (1551-1623) included even more architectural materials; in Camden's time the Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries was formed, with the purpose of gathering records and antiquities back to the Roman occupation. At the same time there developed considerable interest in church documents, frequently written in Anglo-Saxon, and hence an interest in Anglo-Saxon language and grammar. This concern with language and with legal and c l e r i c a l documents led to an interest in mediaeval church history and eventually to the publication of the Monasticon Anglicanum with Hollar's illustrations; thus the English public could from 1655 on contemplate reproductions of English architecture, much of i t Gothic, a l l of i t mediaeval. No other country could boast a similar publication.^ The antiquaries' subject matter was not limited to gothic or medi- eval artifacts. Antiquaries were by no means universally convinced of 28 the value of the gothic. In 1736, for example, Sir John Clerk berated Roger Gale for the misplaced loyalties of the members of the Society of Antiquaries: "I am sorry to find that Gothicism prevails so much in your Society. If your Antiquarians won't entertain a just opinion of i t , they won't believe i t to be only the degeneracy of Greek and Roman Arts and Sciences. In this view I myself have admired the laborious Dullness and Stupidity which appear in a l l the Gothick contrivances of any kind. These Barbarians had the originals in perfection and yet could discover no beauties for their imitation, but Goths w i l l always have a Gothick 45 taste." Even William Stukeley, the most prominent antiquary of the early eighteenth century, belonged to the Society of Roman Knights at the same time as he was secretary of the Society of Antiquaries, and spoke of "the abominable superstitions of the cloyster'd nuns and fryers" 46 and the harm they had done to the classical heritage. Frankl has re- marked that "the men of the eighteenth century.. . . took their love for two different styles as a sign of indecision and had to excuse them- 47 selves." Ambivalence was bound to affect the antiquaries' judgment whenever they had to deal with preference between styles, instead of investigation and description. And such questions of preference inevi- tably came up, in various areas of their interest: the conservation of artifacts, the landscaping of country estates, the treatment of real and a r t i f i c i a l ruins. The antiquaries were not simply h i s t o r i c a l researchers. They were involved in evaluating competing claims for cultural ancestry, and they had to consider the aesthetic:; implications of that competition. The antiquaries' activities concentrated in three areas: description, 48 identification, and conservation. Description, consisting of the 29 discovery, collecting and presenting of artifacts, often through publi- 49 cation, was a natural continuation of the work of the topographers. In i t s earliest stages, the antiquarian movement, like topography, had chauvinistic overtones and patriotic uses. Especially when they turned their attention from the monasteries to the monuments of chivalry, the baronial castles and manor-houses which already were being consciously imitated, Elizabethan antiquaries enlarged the sense of the nation's cultural richness and diversity. The glories of the past, vividly recalled, provided a suitable background for the glories of the present regime. Since the natural history and the human history of England were both enlisted in the service of the idea of British greatness, antiquar- ianism and topography became almost indistinguishable in their motives. The scope and texture of a topographical survey, like Michael Dray- ton's Polyolbion (1622), which magnified the whole nation, was matched by the minute attention that antiquaries gave to each region. The pic- turesque tourist coming to a strange county was also provided with a guide to i t s antiquities, i t s ruins, castles, cathedrals, and ancient homes. Antiquaries expressed regional, as well as national pride. Antiquarian societies existed mainly on the local level and became a new instrument for achieving social cohesion and for defining local interests. It is not surprising that antiquaries often delved into the very micro- cosm of historical research: their own family background. Thus, we have Horace Walpole writing to the Rev. William Cole: I am the f i r s t antiquary of my race [i.e., the Walpoles] —people don't know how entertaining aLstudy i t i s . Who begot whom is a most amusing kind of hunting; one recovers a grandfather instead of breaking one's own neck—and then one grows so pious to the memory of a thousand persons one 30 never heard of before. One finds how Christian names came into a family, with a world of other delectable erudition. . . . — I had promised myself a whole crop of notable ancestors—but I think I have pretty well unkennelled them myself.^ If antiquarianism bordered on one side on topography, on the other i t bordered on genealogy. The common element was the need to complete the pattern of native things—whether geographical, cultural, or familial. The activity of identification set the antiquaries apart from the descriptive topographers. Identification included the establishing of regional, hi s t o r i c a l , generic or s t y l i s t i c categories for artifacts; the proposing of theories to explain their origins and to account for the development of styles; and the analysing of artifacts, mainly for their decorative features. These studies, although by nature purely theoreti- cal and disinterested, were liable to lead antiquaries into the midst of the controversy over the relative value of styles, a controversy with both c r i t i c a l and practical implications. The activity of conservation was a response to those practical issues, of which the major one was the use and abuse of medieval a r t i - facts, especially buildings and parts of buildings. The antiquaries' conservatism had both secular and religious aspects. The original anti- quarian attention to ecclesiastical subjects persisted, fixed there by alarming developments. Antiquaries readily involved themselves in dis- putes over the commercial use of churches and monasteries, or their destruction for reasons of convenience. But the developers and specula- tors were not the only opponents with whom the protectors of gothic buildings had to cope. In 1778, when the new gothic taste had spread in literature and design, Vicesimus Knox, one of the more rabid opponents 31 of the gothic, complained about the use of stained glass in church windows, noting—rather contradictorily—the "glaring colours" of the glass and the muted, gloomy interior lighting that i t allowed. To Knox "the dim interior suggested the tainted atmosphere of papacy and made an appeal . . . to the ardent imagination, the activity of which the con- genital cla s s i c i s t viewed with profound disgust." The objects of his attack included both the affectation that was papish richness and the superstitious ignorance which the painted windows represented to him. Knox's use of the symbolic connection between light and religious belief was remarkably similar to the literary gothicists': A religious dimness may, perhaps, be deemed necessary for the bigoted inhabitants of the convent and the cloyster, whose minds, i t i s to be feared, are often as dark as their habitations; but light i s cheerful, and cheerfulness i s the disposition of innocence.^ Similar feelings led to the substitution of clear glass for coloured and attempts to brighten church interiors. A Low Church distaste for orna- ment and for the sensuous accompaniments to religious r i t u a l combined with the more general distrust of emotional or irrational religious experiences to advance such "reforms." Antiquaries regarded them with mingled suspicion and horror. A great deal of what passed for restoration or improvement of medieval buildings really amounted to extensive rebuilding in the better (i.e., baroque or neo-classical) style. Antiquaries acted as guardians against incompetent, careless or malicious restoration work; for the work of rationalizing existing churches so that they would be free from papish trappings was unlikely to f a l l into the hands of builders who had any stake in the original style. Antiquaries—and not only those who had 32 developed a special affection for the gothic—feared that many objects of historical importance and of considerable beauty would be relegated to the trash heap indiscriminately. Although many antiquaries seemed to edge toward a favouring of Roman Catholic institutions and r i t u a l (or at least an High Church position), i t was also possible to argue for the intact preservation of medieval churches and monasteries on purely con- servational ground. For the antiquary, any evidence of English history was worth saving, regardless of the doctrinal or p o l i t i c a l associations which i t bore. whatever their rationale, antiquaries practiced several kinds of conservation. They salvaged old stained glass that had been discarded. Where medieval buildings had fallen into irreparable ruin—and without knowledge of, or interest in, the constructive principles of medieval architecture, much of the damage was irreparable—they rescued whatever artifacts were portable. As Horace Walpole's correspondence with Cole and with his antiquarian adviser, John Chute, shows, i t was common for antiquaries to incorporate many of the rescued things into their new 53 buildings, usually with unfortunate aesthetic results. In such cases, the antiquary's motives went beyond conservation or the gathering of a collection, and turned into-the main force that directed the medieval revival: the use of a romantic, earlier time to enrich contemporary l i f e , to give satisfactions that the culture of the mainstream could not give. We can see that force working more directly i f we look to other aspects of the revived interest in past things than the architectural. Besides, architectural antiquarianism was rarely separate from i t s pos- sible literary uses, or, conversely, from i t s usual literary sources. 33 The interest in medieval architecture certainly had not been provoked by any sudden realization of either i t s aesthetic or i t s con- structive advantages. Instead, W. H. Smith notes, "the f i r s t stage of the Gothic revival was . . . appreciation of Gothic architecture merely 54 because of i t s antiquity and i t s historical associations." Smith's l i s t of motives for this appreciation makes no mention of some intrinsic value in the gothic: "People were interested in Gothic because i t pre- served ancestral traditions, because i t adorned the landscape, because i t inspired awe, because i t induced melancholy reflections, because i t gave them a congenial background. . . . It would be d i f f i c u l t to say that any one of these separate attitudes antedated any other, or that any one ever prevailed to the utter exclusion of any other.""^ Clark has noted that the favour shown medieval architecture by such early journal- writers as Pepys and Evelyn, and by many antiquaries, was expressed mainly through an appreciation of the massive scale of the buildings, the ingenuity of their ornamentation, and the labour which a relatively primitive people brought to their construction. In short, they were admired because they were impressive or because the fact of their being built was supposed to be impressive. The awesomeness of the gothic helped to determine i t s literary value, and i t s p o l i t i c a l value, also; for Horace Walpole in his famous compar- ison of the effects of "Grecian" and "Gothic" buildings could not resist emphasizing that the gothic cathedral was a piece of propaganda meant to enrich the Roman Catholic Church: . . . the men who had not the happiness of lighting on the simplicity and proportion of the Greek orders, were however so lucky as to strike out a thousand graces and effects, 34 which rendered their buildings magnificent, yet genteel, vast, yet light, venerable and picturesque. It is d i f f i - cult for the noblest Grecian temple to convey half so many impressions to the mind, as a cathedral does of the best Gothic taste—a proof of s k i l l in the architects and of address in the priests who erected them. The latter exhausted their knowledge of the passions in composing edifices whose pomp, mechanism, vaults, tombs, painted windows, gloom and perspectives infused such sensations of romantic devotion; and they were happy in finding artists capable of executing such machinery. One must have taste to be sensible of the beauties of Grecian arch- itecture; one only wants passions to feel Gothic. In St. Peter's one is convinced that i t was built by great princes. In Westminster-abbey, one thinks not of the builder; the religion of the place makes the f i r s t impression—and though stripped of i t s altars and shrines, i t is nearer converting one to popery than a l l the regular pageantry of Roman domes. Gothic churches infuse superstition; Grecian, admiration. The papal see amassed i t s wealth by Gothic cathedrals, and displays i t in Grecian temples. The meaning of the objects that the antiquaries collected, preserved and analysed came from two literary sources: the act i v i t i e s of the l i t e r - ary antiquaries,"^ and the experiments in new modes of poetic sensitivity, particularly the melancholy, the sentimental, and the sublime. Literary antiquarian activity can be traced back to Edmund Spenser's decision to revive chivalric subject matter and settings, and to affect 58 an archaic vocabulary and spelling, in the Faerie Queene. But the works which best i l l u s t r a t e the renewed interest in things medieval while pointing to the use of medieval l i f e in f i c t i o n date from the middle of the eighteenth century. They are Richard Hurd's Moral and Political Dialogues (1759) and Letters on Chivalry and Romance (1762), and Thomas Warton's Observations on the Faerie Queene of Spenser (1754), and Thomas Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765). These works are informative as much in their method of argument as in their substance, so that i t becomes hard to separate the two. 35 In the third of the Moral and Political Dialogues, that "on the Golden Age of Queen Elisabeth BETWEEN The Hon. Robert DIGBY, Dr. ARBUTHNOT, 59 and Mr. ADDISON," Hurd pretended to record the conversation of the travellers during their excursion to "Kenelworth Castle" [sic] in 1716. He supplied each with a different reason for the t r i p , suited to his character and to the arguments he would present: These were matters of high entertainment to a l l of them; to Dr. ARBUTHNOT, for the pleasure of recollecting the ancient times; to Mr. ADDISON, on account of some p o l i t i c a l reflexions, he was fond of indulging on such occasions; and to Mr. DIGBY, from an ingenuous curiosity, and the love of seeing and observing whatever was most remarkable, whether in the past ages, or the present (p. 37). The three behave like typical scenic tourists when they arrive at the Castle: On their entrance into the inner-court, they were struck with the sight of many mouldering towers, which preserved a sort of magnificence even in their ruins. They amused themselves with observing the vast compass of the whole, with marking the uses, and tracing the dimensions, of the several parts. A l l of which i t was easy for them to do, by the very distinct traces that remained of them, and especially by means of DUGDALE'S plans and descriptions, which they had taken care to consult (pp. 39-40). The visitors climb to a vantage-point in the ruins, whence they can look out over the countryside: "The prospect of so many antique towers f a l l i n g into rubbish, contrasted to the various beauties of the landscape, struck them with admiration and kept them silent for some time" (p. 40). Dr. Arbuthnot is overcome by "a melancholy of so delightful a kind, that I would not exchange i t , methinks for any brisker sensation." And he won- ders "how i t i s that the mind, even while i t laments, finds so great a pleasure in v i s i t i n g these scenes of desolation" (pp. 40-41). Addison, however, suffers no such mixed emotion, only pleasure, "a f i c t i o n of the 36 imagination, which makes me think I am taking revenge on the once pros- perous and overshadowing height . . . of inordinate Greatness" (p. 41). He observes with satisfaction the fact that humble farmers live in the lodge once occupied by the overbearing porter of the Castle, while a l l the trappings and ceremony of the overlords have dropped into oblivion. This observation soon turns into an overtly p o l i t i c a l reading of the scene. For Addison, the Castle awakens an indignation against the prosperous tyranny of those wretched times, and creates a generous pleasure in reflecting on the happiness we enjoy under a juster and more equal government. . . . I never see the remains of that greatness which arose in past ages on the ruins of public freedom and private property, but I congratulate with myself on living at a time, when the meanest subject i s as free and independent as those royal minions; and when his property, whatever i t be, i s as secure from oppression, as that of the f i r s t minister (pp. 44-45). The ensuing argument i s almost entirely between Addison and Arbuth- not; for Digby, although he mostly favours Dr. Arbuthnot's side, seldom offers an opinion of his own. Throughout the discussion Arbuthnot i s the mouthpiece for Hurd's opinions. The Dialogue deals in moral and p o l i t i c a l , not aesthetic, values; therefore, the arguments which Addison is made to bring against non- classical art and medieval customs are not the kind found in the real Addison's papers on the Pleasures of the Imagination. These former arguments are associative, whereas those in the Spectator often try to give some psychological account of an object's effects. It i s also significant that the chivalry and romance (or the tyranny and pomp) which are so much an issue in the Dialogue belong to the Tudor period; they are the romance of Sidney, Shakespeare, or even the seventeenth- century French romantic revival. Because the arguments do not directly 37 take in medieval things, i t was possible to skirt religious problems in the Dialogue, to delay treating the issue of "monkish superstition" that always arose in eighteenth-century medievalism. Arbuthnot defends Elizabethan culture by relating i t to the culture of the Greek and Roman golden ages. He compares the organized combat of the tournaments to the Olympic Games and the spectacles staged in the Roman arenas. He emphasizes the classi c a l content of the Elizabethan court masques. Through these means Hurd was trying to win a measure of respectability for chivalric customs and romance literature, by stressing their actual familiarity, their a b i l i t y to f i t within existing cultural limits; thus far, he stayed away from heterodox aims and methods. There i s , for example, no attempt in the Dialogue to jus t i f y the romance or the customs of chivalry according to their own rules or standards. Instead Hurd relied on c r i t e r i a about which there was already agreement. In that way his work in the Dialogue resembled that of the popularizer of gothic architecture, Batty Langley, of whom Walpole said that he had "endeavoured to adapt Gothic architecture to Roman measures; as Philip 61 Sidney attempted to regulate English verse by Roman feet." Despite his desire to avoid flouting the prevailing aesthetic and moral standards, Hurd showed one important change in his attitude toward the gothic, a change signalled through his terminology. In the Third Dialogue we meet, for the f i r s t time in c r i t i c a l discourse, a neutral use of the term gothic, even i f i t does not properly apply to the sub- jects under discussion. The degree of the change comes across clearly in the contrast between Addison's reference, in the Dialogue, to "a jumble of Gothic romance and pagan fable" (p. 65) and Arbuthnot's 38 "Gothic T i l t s and Tournaments" (p. 54): Addison makes Gothic and "pagan" roughly equivalent in meaning; Arbuthnot treats Gothic as the name for a period. From this point we can see the equation "gothic equals medieval or quaintly archaic" begin to compete with the derogatory equation "gothic equals barbarous." For Hurd the word gothic was a simple means of distinguishing "classic" or "Grecian" objects from those which could be grouped loosely under the heading medieval. By 1771, when James Beattie, in The Minstrel, mentioned "my gothic lyre" and "gothic days," the relative neutrality of the term showed even in i t s spelling: "the lower case 'g' indicates that 62 the term is losing i t s rac i a l and linguistic a f f i l i a t i o n s . " Compared with the earlier equation "gothic equals barbarous" Hurd's neutrality must have seemed*more like praise. As reaction to things medieval became more sophisticated, the term gothic wavered in meaning between neutrality (for the purpose of identifying artifacts) and out- right idealization. This shift accompanied the development of the concept of le bon vieux temps in eighteenth-century France, and i t s English counterpart: . . . not only were the romances of the Middle Ages p r e t t i - fied but the reading public derived from them and other second-hand sources a set of idealized notions concerning "Gothic" l i f e . Writers and readers of the second half of the century lent to medieval men and women the virtues that Tacitus grante'd to the Germans in order to satirize the vices of Rome. . . . And because for a time nobody was conscious of r a c i a l or national distinctions, even less of chronological ones, a l l medieval men were pictured„as cour- ageous, loyal, sober, chaste, honest and sincere./- There is an undercurrent of skepticism about the quality of l i f e in earlier times, in the Third Dialogue, that saves Hurd from any charge of idealization. Even on Arbuthnot's side of the f i c t i t i o u s discussion 39 lurks an acknowledgment that darkness and barbarity formed the background to the Elizabethan world; that the principal value of chivalric customs and romance literature was their power to l i f t people occasionally above those basic conditions. Hurd carried the ambivalence of the Third Dialogue into his larger antiquarian work, the Letters on Chivalry and Romance (1762). The Letters do make a more definite claim for the independent value of the romances, but traces of less favourable attitudes and terminology remain: The s p i r i t of Chivalry, was a f i r e which soon spent i t s e l f : But that of Romance, which was kindled at i t , burnt long, and continued i t s light and heat even to politer ages. The greatest geniuses of our own and foreign countries . . . were seduced by these barbarities of their forefathers; were even charmed by the Gothic Romances. Was this caprice and absurdity in them? Or, may there not be something in the Gothic Romance peculiarly suited to the views of a genius, and to the ends of poetry? And may not the philoso- phic moderns have gone too far, in their perpetual ridicule and contempt of it? (pp. 80-81). The rhetorical questions introduce a radically new defence of romance literature, but phrases like "politer ages" and "seduced by these bar- barities" betray ingrained attitudes, or at least Hurd's use of those attitudes to shield himself from accusations of "caprice and absurdity." This passage from Letter I also sets out the main purpose of the Letters: to show in detail the reasons for the romances' sui t a b i l i t y "to the views of a genius, and to the ends of poetry." The Letters go beyond the Third Dialogue as literary research; instead of aiming to modify the general reputation of an historical period, they urge that a specific range of subject matter, a specific imaginative power be used again in literary creation. 40 The f i r s t four Letters, however, are given over to a study of the chivalric code which Hurd regarded as the source for the romances. Here too the older prejudices show up. Hurd s t i l l could see that chivalric manners resembled madness, for they included fanaticism, recklessness and single-mindedness. Consequently, he had to relate these character- i s t i c s to the needs of heroic poetry, in order to connect them with art rather than barbarity. Hurd's sources for his research were, at best, second-hand. He admits in the fourth Letter that he did not learn about chivalry from the old romances directly, for he had not "perused these barbarous vol- umes my self; much less would I impose the ungrateful attack upon you. 64 . . . Thanks to the curiosity of certain painful collectors, this knowledge may be obtained at a cheaper rate" (p. 94). Hurd thus evaded the question of why he did not consult the romances himself and of what effect this might have on the valid i t y of his conclusions. In Letter V Hurd returned to the idea of a correspondence between Homeric and romantic depictions of heroism, acknowledging that the idea originated with Sainte-Palaye (p. 95). This parallel recalls the strat- egy of the Third Dialogue: use of the similarities between the classical and the gothic in order to prove the value of the latter. Hurd pursued these resemblances further in Letter V, observing that the p o l i t i c a l organization of Homeric Greece was like the feudal system: "an in f i n i t e number of petty independent governments." His main conclusion was that similar social institutions and customs arose because of similar p o l i t i - cal arrangements, a "common corresponding state" (p. 104). He worked around the problem of different r e l i g i o u s institutions by declaring that 41 "the religious character of the knight was an accident of the times, and no proper effect of his c i v i l condition" (p. 104). This was a strange statement from a bishop of the Church of England, since i t implied that politics were essential in forming the social order and religion merely contingent. In Letter VI Hurd changed the force of his comparisons and began to demonstrate the superiority of romantic to classical literature. After supporting his preference with citations from classical and gothic writers, Hurd concluded that "the fancies of our modern bards [i.e., Shakespeare, Spenser and Milton] are not only more gallant, but . . . more sublime, more terrible, more alarming, than those of the classic fablers . . . you w i l l find that the manners they paint, and the super- stitions they adopt, are the more poetical for being Gothic" (p. 114). The gothic had the advantage of the classical " in producing the sublime" (p. 117). Early in the same Letter, Hurd imagined that Homer himself, given the chance to judge, would have preferred "the manners of the feudal ages": "And the grounds of this preference would, I suppose, have been 'The improved gallantry of the feudal times'; and the 'superior solemnity of their superstitions"" (p. 108; the 1788 edition has "Gothic knights" instead of "feudal times"). ^ At this point in the Letters i t is already clear that Hurd was not writing a mere antiquarian treatise, an analysis of forgotten documents with mild apologies for their strangeness. He had set out to re-introduce hitherto unacceptable, contemptible subject matter into poetry, but he was also presenting an alternative set of standards for judging the qual- ity of poetry, standards which were based on i t s disturbing effects, 42 rather than i t s beauty. After a l l the habitual connecting of the gothic with superstition in a negative way, Hurd had taken a new c r i t i c a l direc- tion by suggesting that there were kinds of superstitions, and that some could produce stronger effects in poetry than others. And i f one was to use superstitions in poetry, i t was much better that they be Christian rather than pagan superstitions; that was another reason for preferring the gothic to the classical imagination—although the gothic was only more Christian, not truly Christian. Hurd's greatest accomplishment in Letter VI was his argument for the f l e x i b i l i t y of c r i t i c a l judgments, and his recognition that a r t i s t i c standards are founded on a framework which i s not necessarily fixed. Hurd demonstrated this idea in his defence of Spenser's Faerie Queene. A kind of defence had been tried before, i n Thomas Warton's Obser- vations on the Faerie Queene of Spenser, the f i r s t edition of which appeared in 1754, when Warton was only twenty-six years old. This work would have been before Hurd's mind when he composed his own defence; a second edition of the Observations, revised, came out in 1762, the same year as the Letters. Comparing the defences, Arthur Johnston has noted that "Warton's work is the more crabbed and detailed work of the scholar; he had read the romances to which he traced Spenser's debt. It i s there- fore with Warton, and not with Hurd, that the romances themselves enter the f i e l d of historical criticism of literature." Warton was equipped to apply h i s t o r i c i s t techniques and ideas to his subject. Yet, he was s t i l l beset by the lingering c r i t i c a l doubts and the ri g i d standards of his time: "One half of Warton's mind s t i l l approved of these standards. Even when allowing that the Faerie Queene should not be judged as a 43 classical epic, he could not divest himself of his preconceptions; he did not take the bold step of searching the poem for quite other prin- 66 ciples of organization and design." Hurd took that step—the lesser scholar, with the more radical influence. He was sure that some other c r i t i c a l approach to the Faerie Queene would reveal the poem in a different light: "Under this idea then of a Gothic, not classical poem, the Faery Queen is to be read and c r i t i - cized. And on these principles, i t would not be d i f f i c u l t to unfold i t s merit in another way than has been hitherto attempted" (p. 115). Hurd exposed the problem of re l a t i v i t y in Letter VIII, through an architec- tural analogy, the force of which i s a l l the more striking because Hurd's claims for the autonomous value of the gothic offered an alternative to the compromise invented by the neo-Vitruvians, like the Langley brothers, for gothic architecture: When an architect examines a Gothic structure by Grecian rules, he finds nothing but deformity. But the Gothic archi- tecture has i t s own rules, by which when i t comes to be examined, i t is seen to have i t s merit, as well as the Grecian. The question i s not, which of the two is conducted in the simplest or truest taste: but, whether there be not sense and design in both, when scrutinized by the laws on which each i s projected. The same observation holds of the two sorts of poetry. Judge of the Faery Queen by the classic models, and you are shocked with i t s disorder; consider i t with an eye to i t ' s [sic] Gothic original, and you find i t regular. The unity and simplicity of the former are more complete: but the latter has that sort of unity and simplicity which results from i t s nature (pp. 118-119). Despite the concession of more complete "unity and simplicity" to class- i c a l art and literature, the important feature of this analogy is the argument, like the one for superstitions, that there are kinds of "unity and simplicity," each suited to a particular style of work, and that 44 only against these should the work be judged. This idea allowed Hurd to attribute much of the contempt for romantic literature among c r i t i c s to their misapplication of the classical criterion of unity of action to the gothic, whose corresponding proper criterion was unity of design. In Letter IX Hurd asserted as a general principle "the preeminence of the Gothic manners and fictions, as adapted to the ends of poetry, above the classic" (p. 128). He explained the decline in esteem for the romances by referring to the unfamiliarity of the l i f e they depicted. Since, according to Hurd, there was no adequate representation of chival- r i c manners before they had passed away and become strange, a l l the masterpieces of romance were retrospective, imitative, romantic in their distance from the subject. By the time romances were written, the condi- tions under which they could be appreciated had disappeared; i t was hard to believe that they were anything more than extravagant, f i c t i t i o u s impositions. Classical heroic poetry had escaped a similar stigma, Hurd claimed, because Homeric manners were s t i l l recognizable in many primi- tive or natural societies; therefore, reality was s t i l l capable of verifying the fic t i o n . Classical manners and subjects were considered universal, whereas gothic were not. No doubt this was because the resemblances between them had been overlooked. Finally Hurd took up the test of truth, and i t s shortcomings when applied to f i c t i o n . C r i t i c s who had been trained to distinguish between deceitful, harmful fictions and true imitations of nature "suppose that the poets, who are lyars by profession, expect to have their lyes believed. Surely they are not so unreasonable. They think i t enough, i f they can but bring you to imagine the possibility of them. . . . Does 45 any capable reader trouble himself about the truth, or even the credi- b i l i t y of their fancies? Alas, no; he is best pleased when he is made to conceive . . . the existence of such things as his reason t e l l s him did not, and were never li k e l y to, exist" (pp. 135-136). Reason opposes the reader's deceiving himself, but i s pacified temporarily when the romance assumes the protective guise of allegory, and with i t an air of moral seriousness and intellectual complexity. In the end, however, "assisted . . . by party, and religious prejudices," reason "would endure these lying wonders, neither in their own proper shape, nor as masked in figures" (p. 154). Henceforth, the taste of wit and poetry took a new turn: And the Muse, who had wantoned i t so long in the world of fic t i o n , was now constrained, against her w i l l , to a l l y herself with s t r i c t truth, i f she would gain admittance into reasonable company. What we have gotten by this revolution . . . i s a great deal of good sense. What we have lost, is a world of fine fabling (p. 154). Hurd could not f u l l y approve this exchange. Implicit in his doubts about i t was the possibility that t e l l i n g the truth was not a necessary feature of f i c t i o n or poetry. Hurd was much less troubled by the conse- quences of "lying" in fi c t i o n than were other mid-eighteenth-century c r i t i c s and reviewers. Although the Letters carry some marks of antiquarian scholarship, their overall effect is to bring out the novelty of gothic literature, not to identify i t s characteristics carefully and lay them out in a systematic way. By disregarding the claims of moral or mimetic truthful- ness upon f i c t i o n , and by admitting that terror, sublimity and strong feeling were legitimate ends for i t , Hurd l e f t the way open to reverse the common attitude toward the gothic; for, i f the pleasures of the 46 gothic and the fantastic were not innately inferior to the l i c i t , rational pleasures of classical art, i t no longer made sense to regard the makers of the gothic (whether ancient or contemporary) as barbarians. No more than in the Third Dialogue did Hurd cross over in the Letters to idealize the age of chivalry or i t s products. The point of his study was to identify and remedy a deficiency in imaginative freedom which had affected the literature of his own time. Hurd was not optimis- t i c , however, that i t would be easy to recover that freedom. He believed that the efforts of Tasso, Ariosto, Spenser and Milton to revive chivalric subjects in poetry had been relatively f u t i l e ; these poets had laboured under the influence of a classical tradition which was tightening i t s hold on literary convention, and they had f e l t obliged to respond to i t . Hurd preferred to their hybrid works a (hypothetical) unmixed sort of romance, but, by his own admission, he was not certain where i t existed. Nevertheless, i f gothic values and subjects were to enter poetry again, Hurd believed that they had to come from the original sources, not from diluted imitations. The discovery of gothic originals formed the background to Thomas Percy's Religues of Ancient English Poetry (1765). At the centre of Percy's work was the famous fo l i o manuscript, "containing one hundred and ninety-five Sonnets, Ballads, Historical Songs, and Metrical Romances. The authenticity and actual existence of this manuscript were subjects of controversy after the f i r s t edition of the Religues appeared, so that Percy's nephew (also Thomas Percy) f e l t i t was necessary to give an account of i t s whereabouts and physical condition when he edited the fourth edition of 1794. The important facts about Percy's source 47 materials, for the purposes of this study, are these: the manuscripts were likely to be physically decayed or mutilated (we are sure of the extent of the damage in the case of the main f o l i o ) ; in addition, both Percy and his nephew were convinced that the texts had been corrupted during the process of transmission and recording, through the ignorance or laziness of singers and scribes; and f i n a l l y , both Bishop Percy's attitude toward his source materials—which varied between apology and condescension—and his use of them were a direct function of his belief that they were defective as transmitted. In his own Preface, Percy gives some sign of the doubts which might have prevented him from compiling these poems—but did not—and offers a rationale for his work: The reader is here presented with select remains of our ancient English Bards and Minstrels, an order of men who were once greatly respected by our ancestors, and contri- buted to soften the roughness of a martial and unlettered people by their songs and their m u s i c . . . . As most of them [the poems] are of great simplicity, and seem to have been merely written for the people, [the editor] was long in doubt, whether, in the present state of improved literature, they could be deemed worthy of the attention of the public. At length the importunity of his friends pre- vailed, and he could refuse nothing to such judges as the author of The Rambler, and the late Mr. Shenstone. Accordingly such specimens of ancient poetry have been selected, as either show the gradation of our language, exhibit the progress of popular opinions, display the pecu- l i a r manners and customs of former ages, or throw light on our earlier classical poets. They are here distributed into VOLUMES . . . showing the gradual improvements of the English language and poetry, from the earliest ages down to the present. . . . In a polished age, like the present, I am sensible that many of these reliques of antiquity w i l l require great allow- ances to be made for them. Yet have they, for the most part, a pleasing simplicity, and many artless graces, which in the opinion of no mean c r i t i c s * have been thought to compensate *.'-'Mr. Addison, Mr. Dryden, and the witty Lord Dorset, &c. See the Spectator, No. 70. To these might be added many eminent judges now 48 for the want of higher beauties, and, i f they do not dazzle the imagination, are frequently found to interest the heart (I, xv-xvi). Percy was a scholar, a student of languages, a translator, a l i t e r - ary historian, and a poet. Even more than Hurd, he was afraid of commit- ting some outrage against the prevailing standards of taste, but the weighty apparatus of his scholarship gave him the means of satisfying the distinct needs of three groups: the antiquaries, the c r i t i c a l readers, and the new literary Goths (of whom Percy could scarcely have been aware). The Religues contain a formidable array of documentation and explanation. Three introductory essays, one for each volume, provide information about 68 Percy's sources, the evolution of ballads and romances from an histor- 69 i c a l to a fi c t i o n a l purpose, and the cultural milieu which produced the poems and songs. The f i r s t treatise, the "Essay on the Ancient Minstrels in England" (I, xxv-lx), is thoroughly larded with supplements: the footnotes combined with the separate "Notes and Illustration" take up as much space as the main body of the essay. Percy admitted that "the desire of being accurate has perhaps seduced him into too minute and t r i f l i n g an exactness" (p. xix), but the defects of the ballads seemed to justify this attention. A sense of defective materials also determined Percy's editorial policy, yet he remained able to reconcile various demands upon him: . . . the old copies . . . were often so defective or cor- rupted, that a scrupulous adherence to their wretched readings would only have exhibited unintelligible nonsense, or such poor meagre stuff as neither came from the bard nor was worthy the press; when, by a few slight corrections or alive. The learned Selden appears also to have been fond of collecting these old things." (Percy's note, p. xvi.) 49 additions, a most beautiful or interesting sense hath started forth, and this so naturally and easily, that the Editor could seldom prevail on himself to indulge the van- ity of making a formal claim to the improvement. . . . Yet i t has been his design to give sufficient intimation where any considerable liberties were taken with the old copies, and to have retained, either in the text or margin, any word which was antique, obsolete, unusual, or peculiar. . . . His object was to please both the judicious antiquary and the reader of taste; and he hath endeavoured to gratify both, without offending either (I, xix-xx). As Percy himself anticipated in his Preface, i t was possible to read the Religues in several different ways, for several different reasons. The antiquary found there important records of England's literary, l i n - guistic and cultural development, treated with due respect and care (as Percy assured him). The c r i t i c a l reader could find there a poetic form which he probably had not considered worth his interest before, but which had some inherent attraction aside from i t s historical value. These two ways of treating the Religues tended to support each other: the antiquary received some release from the usual charge that he dealt only in esoter- ica from the fact that the ballads were pleasurable to read, and the c r i t i c a l reader received a serious excuse for indulging in this out-of- the-way form from the fact that i t was historically significant. Of course Percy's evident scholarship was reassuring to both groups, for i t promised the requisite purity of text and historical interpretations to the one, while i t considered the sensitive tastes and c r i t i c a l scruples of the other. If Percy seems now less blatant an advocate of a new position than was Hurd, that i s partly because i t i s hard to t e l l whether he meant the ballads to ill u s t r a t e his commentary or his commentary to jus t i f y his subject. Although Percy did not argue at any length for an alternative to the poetry of his day, as Hurd had done, his discovery of 50 redeeming qualities in the old ballads and l y r i c poetry, and his evoca- tion of the chivalric institutions and the minstrelsy, contributed to the increasingly receptive attitude toward medieval things, and thus satisfied the needs of that third group of readers: the new goths. The Reliques helped to direct renewed attention to folk and popular literature, to make these seem less distant and vulgar, and more deserv- ing of serious study—even i f i t took Percy's "improvements" to bring about this change. However, Percy not only elevated the ballads and songs in linguistic or cultural significance; he also opened them as a source of rich imagery and emotional power. He exposed the crudeness, quaintness and strangeness of "ancient" poetry (though much of the poetry in the Reliques was no more than a century old); he himself realized (correctly) that these qualities needed apology and correction, since contemporary taste demanded something better. But by making the strange poetry accessible he made provision for that reaction to change, and for a new emotional and thematic range to expand in modern poetry. Antiquaries contributed a fund of tentative knowledge about the cultural l i f e of former ages, and preserved that l i f e through the con- servation of buildings and other physical remains, or through the collecting of manuscripts which otherwise would have been relegated to the oblivion of the university libraries and great private collections. The antiquaries made English cultural and p o l i t i c a l history more readily available and, therefore, potentially more influential on the popular imagination. It is hard to estimate the value of this kind of work for the writers of gothic f i c t i o n , however inept many antiquaries may seem now as scholars, however l i t t l e gothic f i c t i o n adhered to the pedestrian 51 facts that came out of antiquarian research. At least antiquaries gave the basis in concrete detail which sometimes prevented gothic f i c t i o n from consisting wholly of formulaic plots and vague atmospherics. The antiquaries were mainly concerned with the identity of the gothic, the f i c t i o n writers with i t s novelty, but the antiquaries had provided, per- haps without intending to or realizing the consequences, an object lesson in the latter: the past was enjoyable and exciting to v i s i t , through the intellect or through the imagination. The strangeness of the gothic was balanced by i t s recognizable place in English history. It held a ra c i a l and national a f f i n i t y . It was a central paradox of eighteenth-century medievalism that an object could exert equal attraction because i t was alien and because i t was indigenous. A prime example of this dual meaning comes from the interest in ruins, which derived from both antiquarian and poetic sources. It expressed i t s e l f in the building of a r t i f i c i a l ruins to complete pic- turesque landscapes, or in the including of real ruins in a scene. Inevitably the question of the proper style for ruins arose. Antiquaries had studied both Roman and medieval ruins in England, but the latter, obviously, were more numerous. The idea that the gothic was a more natural style gave some support to the preference for gothic ruins. The naturalness of the gothic was based partly on analogies between gothic buildings and the new manner of English gardening which had gained ground since the late seventeenth century—both were supposed to share such 70 qualities as irregularity, surprise, rustication, and curvilinearity. In addition, the naturalness of gothic was based on the sheer abundance of gothic building in England. Thus i t also was natural in the sense of 52 being native. At least the new gothic could mimic traditional work f a i r l y well. William Mason, for example, preferred gothic to classical ruins in gardens, reasoning that since classical ruins were much less common in England than in Italy i t was pretensious to use them to decor- ate an English garden. Mason thus combined a concern for truthfulness and consistency with a sense of what was properly English. (He might also have pointed out that the gothic was related, through aesthetic theory, to the new English manner of gardening of which he was a student.) Lord Karnes believed that classical ruins were less desirable because they "depressed the beholder, reminding him of the tragic circumstance that the barbarians had triumphed over the taste of the ancients. As the condition of the Gothic ruin . . . represented merely the victory of time over strength, i t was on that account to be preferred. It did not convey any painful ideas, but affected the s p i r i t with a melancholy such as was only a source of pleasure to a person of fine sensibility. Karnes apparently chose not to link the gothic builders with the "barbar- ians" who had "triumphed over the taste of the ancients"; at any rate, that association did not affect the general significance he attributed to the gothic, not because i t was either alien or familiar, but because i t was symbolical. Karnes looked at the gothic ruin which was becoming a common fixture of the revived cult of mutability, and did not treat i t historically, as he did the classical ruin. With the discourse on Kenilworth Castle in Hurd's Third Dialogue we encounter arguments about the gothic that deal not with aesthetic continuity or consistency (as with Mason), not with erosion by time (as with Kames), but with social change and ancestry, with government and 53 culture. When the f i c t i t i o u s Addison inveighs against the "prosperous tyranny" of the Elizabethan nobles and indulges a "generous pleasure in reflecting on the happiness we enjoy under a juster and more equal government," a l l this inspired by the sight of the Castle before him, he is registering a complex of p o l i t i c a l responses. The gothic ruin—gothic in the broader allowance of his time—is a symbol of a p o l i t i c a l and social system alien from the contemporary one, and reassuringly inferior to i t . Addison's position is based on a parallel between bad government and bad architecture. Both the gothic castle and gothic tyranny are intrusive forms, alien to the true English s p i r i t which was better served by the reformation of architecture under neo-classicism and the securing of p o l i t i c a l and religious freedom after the Revolution of 1688. 72 The various reactions to the gothic ruin were merely symptomatic of the conflicting motives of literary and architectural gothicists. The new gothicists entertained a range of historical attitudes or per- spectives which were not entirely consistent with each other, and which brought an equal measure of complexity to gothic fi c t i o n . Frequently they viewed English history in terms of antithetical social or religious forces, and their literary works usually chose to approach these forces at some point of confrontation and conflict. The ambivalent historical perspectives of the gothicists showed plainly in their treatment of religious matters, and especially in their attitudes towards the Roman Catholic Church. Three typical attitudes towards religion emerge in a letter from Horace Walpole to his friend and protege Richard Bentley. On his way to v i s i t Sir George Lyttleton at Hagley Park, Walpole stayed overnight at 5 4 Oxford, where "as soon as i t was dark, I ventured out, and the moon rose as I was wandering among the colleges, and gave me a charming venerable Gothic scene, which was not lessened by the monkish appearance of the 73 old fellows stealing to their pleasures." The "monkish appearance" of the old scholars added to the charming associations with which Walpole invested the moonlit scene. That they were "stealing to their pleasures"—or that Walpole imagined they were— gave to their venerability an overtone of mystery and lecherous hypocrisy such as would become common in the gothic novels' depiction of monks and nuns. Walpole's pleasure in this tableau derived from several sources: his absorption in the melancholy (he seems to have awaited night-fall before setting out on his walk), his sense of the mysteriousness, quaint- ness and absurdity of the comparison between scholars and monks, and his temporary indulgence of a fantasy which the censorship of consciousness recognized was outlandish and somewhat contemptible. (I must also men- tion that Walpole was a former Cantabrigian, not an Oxonian; this, of course, aided the fantasizing.) Walpole was delighted in the same way when a French vi s i t o r to Strawberry H i l l mistook the Cabinet for a real chapel and knelt to pray. Walpole was excited that the resemblance was so convincing, that his imitation had succeeded, and that his guest was briefly embarrassed. Even while entertaining medieval or Catholic fantasies, Walpole maintained a sense of his own superiority—and his time's superiority—to them. Later in the same let.t-er to Bentley, Walpole expressed contempt for the dullness of many topographical surveys and hope that his projected new edition of Camden's Britannia would avoid that p i t f a l l . He then 55 mentioned a further danger in antiquarian activity: "Another promise I make you i s , that my love of abbeys shall not make me hate the Reforma- tion t i l l that makes me grow a Jacobite, like the rest of my antiquarian 74 predessors [sic]. . . ." Although Walpole enjoyed playing with the trappings and the ceremonial instruments of Roman Catholicism, this was a matter of manipulating superficialities, while the essential elements of Catholicism remained highly suspect, or wholly abhorrent. This bal- ance of Walpole's loyalties, however, was not always duplicated among other antiquaries. His fears that there was a connection between anti- quaries and Jacobites had some justification. Antiquaries who studied gothic churches or English ecclesiastical history had ample occasion to lament the destructive effects of the Reformation in England upon their subject matter. As conservators they f e l t that they were fighting a rear-guard action against those who, for doctrinal reasons—whether deist or Methodist—wanted to abolish church decoration, the emotional basis for worship, the richness of gothic design. Armed with such feelings, antiquaries made natural a l l i e s within any High Church movement. One of Walpole's chief antiquarian correspondents, for example, the Rev. William Cole, was himself a High Church Tory, a fact that Walpole sometimes had to skirt diplomatically in order to preserve their valuable friendship.''^ The correlation between antiquarianism and High Church a f f i l i a t i o n was f u l l y evident during the nineteenth century in England, when High Church members dominated the influential Ecclesiological Society.^ That Wal- pole usually realized the boundary line between his fantasies and his overt allegiances to Church and party does not remove the importance of Catholicism for other antiquaries, as a constant attraction, and as an 56 undeclared motivation for their interests and acti v i t i e s . Walpole's letter to Bentley also suggests a third approach to religion and medievalism: apparent-objectivity. Walpole described a v i s i t to Malvern Abbey where "the woman who showed me the church would pester me with Christ and King David, when I was hunting for John of Gaunt and King Edward."^ Walpole thus represented himself as being interested only in the historical associations of the place, not in i t s religious iconography. This preference seems consistent with his endur- ing fascination with English history, a fascination which produced such works as his Catalogue of the Royal and Noble Authors of England and his Historic Doubts on the L i f e and Reign of King Richard I I I . It was also consistent with his practice in forming c l e r i c a l . l i t e r a r y characters. The friars in The Castle of Otranto and The Mysterious Mother may be stereotyped figures, whose benevolence or viciousness bears some relation to Walpole's opinion of the Catholic Church and medieval r e l i g i o s i t y , but he did not concern himself very much with the doctrines they professed, the nature of their creed. They were not essentially different from the other characters he placed in the same his t o r i c a l period. Walpole used the Church in his f i c t i o n as a part of the fantastical world of the Middle Ages, an important but not a supremely important part. He was interested in i t for the colour i t provided, for the scandals and hypo- crisy and fanaticism which were attributed to i t in Protestant legend, and not for any i n t r i n s i c a l l y theological reasons. But his preference for secular—or non-doctrinal—studies was not exclusive. It did not affect his library acquisitions which, Lewis has learned, were "surprisingly strong in controversial theology"; for 57 "Walpole liked to read about the squabbles of clerics and the sort of thing that he found in Bayle—a statement by an abbot of Leicester that he had seen at Jerusalem a finger of the Holy Ghost and the snout of a 78 seraphim. . . . " It would appear that Walpole, who "called himself an i n f i d e l , " confined his interest in religion to i t s value as a curious outlet for human behaviour or as a feature of the constitutional system in England. He cared no more about conventional religion in antiquity 79 than he did in his own time. The complexity of the gothicists' historical outlook reflected the semantic confusion which s t i l l existed. The equation "gothic equals medieval" had not simply replaced the earlier equation "gothic equals 80 barbarous." The two meanings existed at the same time and acted upon each other. Since even in the eyes of i t s advocates like Warton, Hurd and Percy the gothic was a product of an age that was s t i l l basically barbarous, the ostensibly neutral sense of the gothic was "medieval" was framed by a mixture of admiration and contempt. Consequently, those advocates had several means of redeeming the gothic. The anti-goths, who were glad that they had been able to substitute a better taste for the gothic, accepted the fact that the gothic was the result of barbarous times because i t confirmed their whole historical outlook. The advocates of the gothic started out with this difference in outlook: they were unsure that progress had been made, or that i t had been made without cost. Historicists, like Thomas Warton and, to some extent, Percy and Hurd, could balance off the barbarity of the gothic by attempting to place i t within the context of medieval society. When they managed to free themselves from the burden of prejudice, they were able to view 58 societies and cultures not as competing, but as different. One could also overlook the crudeness or barbarity of the gothic in order to further some chauvinistic or sentimental purpose, but the most promising way to redeem the gothic—the way followed by the literary g o t h i c i s t s — was to show that gothic barbarity i t s e l f had a positive aspect, that i t could yield up an ideal world or could offer alternatives to the conven- tions of f i c t i o n . The works and l i f e of the Middle Ages had been seen through a f i l t e r of rational standards and expectations. As a result, the reputation of the Middle Ages had been very poor. Specific charges in this general indictment originated in history, fantasy, and ideology. The following outline of them w i l l consist of deliberate over-simplifications, because I am concerned here not with the best knowledge of medieval l i f e that was available to eighteenth-century scholars, but with the dubious know- ledge, or image, of the medieval that influenced gothic f i c t i o n . Since discussion of specific gothic novels in the succeeding parts of this study w i l l both depend upon and ill u s t r a t e this system of assumption, I have not supported i t here with careful documentation. Such evidence w i l l be clear enough in the novels themselves. Superstition In the past, superstition explained many events which the modern (i.e., enlightened) world could explain s c i e n t i f i c a l l y . Widespread ignorance about the natural system was matched by belief in the existence of supernatural agents, such as sprites, elves, demons, succubi, and fa i r i e s , who wielded great power over human l i f e and fortune. The cred- ulous people were susceptible to almost any miraculous or fantastic 59 story, no matter how outlandish or improbable. Religion The Roman Catholic Church exercised control over the Christian world in matters of belief and in matters of education and government. The Church used i t s moral and doctrinal authority to secure, sometimes secretly, enormous temporal power and wealth. The Church hierarchy was better organized and more resistant to change from within than any secular government, and i t s influence was international. The Church manipulated the behaviour and ideas of i t s believers through entirely non-rational means, incorporating into i t s own rituals the superstitious beliefs of the people; i t used superstitious threats to bully even kings and princes into carrying out i t s policies. Occasionally the Church masqueraded as an intellectual force, but i t s method of argument was sophistic, i t s philosophy convoluted and scholastic. In order to guar- antee that i t s members would be open to manipulation, the Church made sure to monopolize:the means of education and to prohibit members from interpreting religious texts or doctrines for themselves. The Church replaced reason with pomp, ceremony, and obedience to authority. Social Order The social order of the medieval period was the feudal system; i t s ethical code was chivalry. After the breakdown of Roman authority, people had to secure protection against the constant danger of murder, plunder and enslavement. The feudal system offered a certain measure of security but only at a terrible price i n personal freedom. Property, dignity and privilege were distributed inequitably. Summary power over 60 l i f e was not eliminated but legitimized, concentrated i n the hands of the few who were warlords and landholders. A system of quasi-religious obligations and oaths put off the threat of violence, or directed i t into a fanaticism which took for i t s most infamous outlet the brutality and absurdity of the Crusades. But such sublimations of power and violence did not disguise the fact that most people were chattels, with- out legal, p o l i t i c a l , economic or personal rights. Culture and Cultural Authority Although the mingling of religious and secular forces helped to determine the character of medieval art, the pre-Christian history of Europe was an equally powerful factor. Medieval culture bore the indel- ible mark of 'the barbarians who had assisted in dismantling Roman ci v i l i z a t i o n and had inherited i t s chaotic remains. In their malicious resentment of the balance, harmony and technical excellence of Roman art, the barbarians used i t s forms merely as a skeleton on which to hang their wild, disordered, extravagant embellishments. When they tried to imitate Roman works, their own ignorance of the rules which governed their making, and the debased state into which the surviving Roman tradition had fallen prevented them from creating anything more than a gross distortion of the originals. The barbarians made a grotesque caricature of a culture which they were unable to assimilate. The most reprehensible feature of medieval culture—only partly offset during the Renaissance—was the gradual erosion of classical authority, the substi- tution of a tradition which was non-rational, outlandish, unregulated, superstitious, animistic, and pervaded by religious dogma. 61 The advocates of the gothic answered these charges without ration- alizing or denying them. On the contrary, gothic f i c t i o n tended to accept the charges, often seemed bent on proving them; at least gothic f i c t i o n relied on the reader's belief that they were true. The prevail- ing critique of medieval l i f e kept i t s appeal, but the conclusions which i t generated for art, fantasy and literature changed as the possi b i l i t i e s for exploiting the past were realized. The customary contempt for the "primitive" stages of English history began to yield to an appreciation of the danger, passion, and excitement they could hold for the imagina- tion. Hurd had made the crucial movement when he demonstrated that i t was possible to keep some measure of contempt for an era while admitting, at the same time, i t s imaginative potentialities. Those potentialities also existed by virtue of the expanded range of aesthetic experience. Categories such as the picturesque (imported from painting), the sublime (imported from rhetoric and psychology), the melancholy (imported from homiletics), and the sentimental (imported from f i c t i o n and social fashion) made up a new area of legitimacy where the gothic could be accepted. They reconciled the apparent contradiction between contempt for the Middle Ages and a taste for the gothic by making the necessary leeway for the imagination and i t s covert a f f i l i a t i o n s . They allowed for a separation between p o l i t i c a l or religious convictions and fantasy. For example, while a nominal member of the Church of England might believe without reservation that the Church of Rome was an e v i l and per- fidious force—agreeing with the charges against "gothic" r e l i g i o s i t y — he might also believe, as a literary amateur, that Catholic liturgy, 62 i n s t i t u t i o n s , and treachery were su i t a b l e materials f o r a writer of f i c t i o n , because they lent themselves r e a d i l y to the sublime, the s e n t i - mental, the picturesque, or the melancholy. And strong convictions, or display of them, did not nec e s s a r i l y lead to a suppression of gothic excess. The sheer indecency of the gothic was i t s chief v i r t u e , for one purpose or another. Building a case against feudalism or the Catholic Church—the ostensible aim of much gothic f i c t i o n — o f t e n required that the e v i l s be depicted with d e t a i l e d thoroughness, so much so that i t now seems that the m o r a l i s t i c element was frequently an after-thought, the " e v i l s " the true centre of i n t e r e s t . The impact of the gothic novel depended on the rawness, naturalness, crudeness of i t s images. Although no one, perhaps, wanted to be trans- ported permanently to the p r i m i t i v e environment which i t recreated, the writer could i n v i t e h i s readers to v i s i t i t temporarily i n order to recover a store of f a n t a s t i c materials which had been purged too success- f u l l y from th e i r own immediate experiences. Along with the opportunity to indulge the f a n t a s t i c a l came the opportunity to t r y out f a n t a s t i c solutions to very r e a l problems. The old derogatory image of the gothic could be transformed i n two ways, each corresponding to a d i f f e r e n t set of new, in v i g o r a t i n g q u a l i - t i e s that were discovered i n i t . The f i r s t way was n o s t a l g i c , e l e g i a c — a n d l a t e r , Utopian. I t s basic premise was that e a r l i e r i n English h i s t o r y there had existed a n o b i l i t y of actio n , a heroism of endeavour, a genuine ( i f misguided) r e l i g i o u s f a i t h , a sympathy with nature, a constant involvement with 63 ceremony, pageantry, and r i t u a l , and a proper regard for social subor- dination, which had disappeared since. A l l these qualities could be inferred from the ruined buildings which remained the most impressive symbols of the past. By arguing that separate, distinctive c r i t i c a l standards should be applied to gothic art and literature, h i s t o r i c i s t s and antiquaries had laid a foundation for accepting gothic l i f e as valu- able in i t s e l f . Its loss became a cause for regret and lamentation. The various antiquarian a c t i v i t i e s — c o l l e c t i n g , preserving, cataloguing, publishing— the half-researches of Chatterton and Macpherson, the creation of modern imitations, such as the mock ruins and castellated country homes—all these were a means of supplying the loss, of finding .some substitute that would be acceptable to eighteenth-century tastes. The actual sense of loss of a valuable heritage was captured in James Macpherson's 81 Ossianic poems; these drew upon the melancholic, elegiac tradition that had been re-established in the early and middle eighteenth century 82 by Young, Blair, Thomas Warton, and Thomas Gray (the last of whom Macpherson influenced in his study of folk poetry). From the melancholic and contemplative poetry Macpherson had absorbed tone, theme and imagery: overblown, diffuse, emotionally-charged description, emphasis on lost heroic ancestors and the decay of ancient virtue, sympathetically reflected in the wind-bleached landscape of the bard's world. Even the antiquaries, who liked to think that they were interested in the gothic as scholars, not as enthusiasts, who wanted to appear scientific in their diligence, could not escape the elegiac sensibility and i t s social implications in their work. Their evocation of lost grandeur had more 64 influence on the new literary gothic than the scholarship they sought to encourage; for, the literary gothic was more concerned with re-directing a sense of personal and a r t i s t i c ancestry than with ordering and describ- ing antiquities. Considered for i t s lost splendour and vigour, the rawness of the gothic was made over, transformed into the quaintness of a culture which had not yet suffered the dubious improvements of sophistication, which had not yet substituted pragmatism for chivalry, cash value for honour, a mechanistic cosmos for the demons and s p i r i t s who intervened regularly in mundane events; which had kept a place for richness, extravagance, heroism, supernaturalism, the grotesque and the playful in i t s art, literature and architecture. Such calculations of cultural loss and gain were very persuasive on the emotional, associational level, and, although there did not develop at this time the wider critique of modernity that was the product of nineteenth-century malaise and disaffection, there were discernible p o l i t i c a l overtones to the nostalgia. Depending on the virtues a t t r i - buted to the imaginary Goths, the previous ages could take on a tory or a whig cast. Emphasis upon ancestral virtues such as fierce independence, respect for law and property, resistance to unjust authority, and defence of quasi-parliamentary p o l i t i c a l prerogatives amounted to a whiggish version of the gothic. Emphasis upon chivalry, the adventures of knights and princes, the gorgeousness of pomp and ceremony, and the benevolence or wisdom of the feudal lord or the priest made up a tory version of the gothic. In this way, strong convictions did act as a p o s i t i v e censorship on the gothic, by enlisting the past in service of contemporary ideology. 65 In either case, the crudeness of the gothic—the absence of modernity— was i t s advantage; within this transformation of the gothic, defence of modern progress was liable to fluctuate between mere lip-service and the condescension of the casual player of the game of fantasy. Strict anti-gothic moralism was unlikely in this revised version of the gothic, however, since only favourable qualities survived the transformation. The second way of transforming gothic barbarity into something positive seems less favourable, because i t involved a drastic change in ideas about the pleasures of literature. Its origins were in aesthetic and literary theory, with some secon- dary references to Elizabethan and Jacobean spectacular theatre and to the poetry of melancholy. It did not share the motives or the historical outlook of the other kind of transformation—in particular, i t did not partake of the elegiac sensibility. The most significant feature of this kind of transformation was that i t concentrated on terror as an aesthetic experience; on crime, criminals, victims, and abnormal psychology as especially worthy subjects for f i c t i o n ; and on the gothic as a limitless source of both. Within the terms of this transformation, the indictment against the gothic was accepted as substantially correct, as a p o l i t i c a l and social assessment. There was no dispute about.the superiority of the present to the past in material welfare and personal freedom. Gothic l i f e was indeed composed of a l l the horrors which an eighteenth-century Englishman was quite glad to have put behind him. Yet many of those horrors s t i l l held the power to provoke fear, and the reader of the gothic novel became willingly vulnerable to a kind of h a l f - a r t i f i c i a l terror lest the 66 horrid conditions return." J The discovery that i t was possible to accomplish this arousal through literary means, which were after a l l more transitory in their effects and more convenient than the sordid and dangerous practices of rumour-mongering and inventing conspiracies, inspired this second species of gothic. The arousal of political anxieties, in the narrow sense, was not, however, i t s main aim, and the l i s t of i t s more overtly p o l i t i c a l or religious targets, such as monasticism, the Inquisition, and feudal tyranny, none of which in reality posed much of an immediate threat to the British constitution, shows that these materials—so easily identi- fied as objectionable, so automatic in e l i c i t i n g response—were mere instruments. The gothic f i c t i o n writer brought forth familiar prejudices in order to set up a background of habitual belief against which other more fundamental, and painful, anxieties might appear. The ostensible targets were usually disguises or vehicles,for such anxieties. The elegiac sensibility succeeded in separating p o l i t i c a l revulsion from literary invention, by regarding the unpleasant features of medieval l i f e — i f at a l l — a s atypical, intrusive, admittedly barbarous; by c u l t i - vating an image of the gothic which would l i f t , temporarily, the dullness and imperfection of the modern world, which would cure the sluggishness of the modern imagination. The non-elegiac gothic could contain this elegiac image, could use i t for i t s own purposes, but in that event the image was changed, as i f by a distorting lens, by the less wistful treatment that the novelists gave i t . They held the nostalgic transfor- mation under suspicion, because they were less selective in their regressions, because they were more actively skeptical about ideal 67 systems and the r e l i a b i l i t y of a l i e n s o c i e t i e s , and because they con- sidered crudeness, superstition, and violence the essential character- i s t i c s of the gothic world and their putative gothic ancestors. They acknowledged the appeal of chivalry, n o b i l i t y , grace, and s i m p l i c i t y — and were ready to c i t e these q u a l i t i e s i n support of their use of the gothic, i n order to associate i t with the li g h t e r romance—but they f i n a l l y viewed the positive aspect of the gothic as contingent or decep- t i v e . The gothic novelists often practiced another form of primitivism, holding the opinion that natural b r u t a l i t y , not natural v i r t u e , was the basis of the primitive society that was their subject. Such b r u t a l i t y was valuable, even admirable, as a source of f i c t i v e situations and figures, not because i t confirmed some theory of h i s t o r i c a l progress (in which many of them probably believed), but because i t permitted a closer approach to such sensitive topics as perverse sexuality, c a p t i v i t y and oppression, and parental authority, than seemed feasible within the conventions of the r e a l i s t i c novel. The barbarity of the gothic was changed into a positive force for li b e r a t i n g novelists from technical and thematic constraints. Both means of transforming gothic barbarity met at one point of agreement: the range of imaginative options had been constricted unnecessarily and without advantage. The second means of transformation resembled the f i r s t i n that i t too included a sense of loss; t h i s was hardly an elegiac sense, however, for i t lamented the purgation from contemporary l i f e not of the p o s s i b i l i t y of grandeur, s i m p l i c i t y or chivalry, but of danger, i r r a t i o n a l i t y , miracles, supernatural occurrences, unrelieved m a l i c e — and the unrestrained art that could embody a l l those p o s s i b i l i t i e s . 68 The new gothic f i c t i o n could include the l i g h t e r , elegiac s e n s i - b i l i t y by bringing i t into a complementary r e l a t i o n s h i p with the primary, darker gothic, l i k e the p a s t o r a l with the a n t i - p a s t o r a l . This conjunc- t i o n was e s p e c i a l l y common i n the works of Ann R a d c l i f f e , where the contrasting t o n a l i t i e s , the l i n k i n g of moments of exquisite s e n s i b i l i t y with moments of panic, despair and abject t e r r o r , was not a matter of mere narrative v a r i e t y or r e l i e f . On the contrary, t h i s p a i r i n g c o n t r i - buted to the poignance of the victim's s i t u a t i o n , to the sublimity of the c r i m i n a l f i g u r e s . But even with R a d c l i f f e , whose l i g h t e r moments were executed with great attention to d e t a i l and p a i n t e r l y composition, who was known for her powers as a picturesque a r t i s t as much as for her powers as a maker of t e r r o r s , the l i g h t e r image was often only a f a l s e omen (and t h i s was more con s i s t e n t l y true with Monk Lewis and C. R. Maturin), a temporarily comforting facade behind which the darker aspect of the a l i e n world (and by proxy, the f a m i l i a r one) was l u r k i n g . In f i c t i o n a l confrontations, the l i g h t e r elegiac gothic was n a t u r a l l y i d e n t i f i e d with c i v i l i t y , decency, contemporary moral and e t h i c a l standards; the darker non-elegiac gothic was u t t e r l y a l i e n and threaten- ing, by comparison, and none the le s s for being unexpected and unprepared for . Confrontations between the two versions of the transformed gothic were the regular pattern i n the gothic novels. Such confrontations determined two important features of them: the novels were subversive i n t h e i r e f f e c t s — t h o u g h not for the reason t h e i r c r i t i c s feared, and not always on purpose—and they managed to be subversive (or educative) through a strategy of compromise with the f a m i l i a r r e a l i t y from which 69 t h e y d e p a r t e d . The n a t u r e o f t h a t s t r a t e g y and t h e t h e o r e t i c a l j u s t i - f i c a t i o n o f t h e g o t h i c n o v e l w i l l be t h e s u b j e c t s o f t h e n e x t s e c t i o n s o f t h i s s t u d y . 70 FOOTNOTES ^See Georg Germann, "The Gothic in Vitruvianism," Gothic Revival i n Europe and B r i t a i n : Sources, Influences and Ideas, trans. Gerald Onn (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1972), pp. 9-52; Maurice Levy, Le Roman «Gothique» Anglais 1764-1824 (Toulouse: Association des publications de la Faculte des lettres et sciences humaines de Toulouse, 1968), pp. 9-76; Paul Frankl, "The Period of Reaction Against Gothic," The Gothic: Literary Sources and Interpretations through Eight Centuries (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1960), pp. 235-414; B. Sprague Allen, "The Challenge of the Middle Ages," Tides in English Taste (Cam- bridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1937), II, Ch. 15; W. D. Robson-Scott, The Literary Background of the Gothic Revival i n Germany (Oxford: Claren- don Press, 1965), pp. 4-25; Arthur 0. Lovejoy, "The Fir s t Gothic Revival and the Return to Nature," MLN, 27 (1932), 414-446, rpt. i n Essays in the History of Ideas (1948; rpt. New York: Capricorn, 1960), pp. 136-165. (Subsequent references are to Capricorn edition.) 2 A. E. Longueil, "The Word 'Gothic' in Eighteenth Century Criticism," MLN, 38, 8 (Dec, 1923), 453-460: ". . . in the early Renaissance . . . the term 'gothic' took on a new and coloured meaning, a meaning that masked a sneer. To the Renaissance, mediaeval or Gothic architecture was barbarous architecture. By a trope a l l things barbarous.became 'Gothic'" (p. 453). 3 Robson-Scott, p. 2. Germann also finds this the point of origin for anti-gothic feeling. 4 George Henderson, Gothic (Harmondsworth.& Baltimore: Penguin, 1967), pp. 179-180. ^The f i r s t edition was published in Florence in 1550, an enlarged edition in 1568. This translation-is from Frankl, p. 290; also quoted in Germann, p. 38. ^See E. S. de Beer, "Gothic: Origin and Diffusion of the Term; The Idea of Style in Architecture," JWCI, 11 (1948), 143-149; Robson-Scott, pp. 4-5. Germann (p. 11) notes that Filarete was also the f i r s t theorist to use the term , s t i l e (style) as a synonym for maniera (mode of handling); he adopted the term from i t s former exclusively rhetorical usage. D̂e Beer, p. 145. De Beer distinguishes between special and general uses of "gothic": to denote the Gothic people only, or a l l barbarians. He also separates these uses, which are s t i l l h i s t orical and more or less neutral from the pejorative literary use of "gothic." De Beer gives his account of the relation between literary and architectural terms: "This literary use [i.e., gothic equals barbarous].became common in France in the seventeenth century and in England also in the eighteenth. It affected the architectural term, so that some writers use the latter as meaning primarily tasteless. This literary usage and the special develop- 71 ment of i t have produced the common view that the s t y l i s t i c term o r i g i - nated as a term of abuse" (p. 144). De Beer cites Rabelais for an early example of the literary abuse of "gothic." Longeuil concurs in the direction of literary influence: from France to England (p. 455). De Beer, p. 145. See also Frankl, p. 257, Germann, p. 11. 9 Robson-Scott, pp. 4-5; de Beer, pp. 146-147. "^Robson-Scott, p. 6. The term would have had to be adopted, espe- c i a l l y outside Italy, despite i t s historical inaccuracy (which was not concealed), i f only for lack of a better one. De Beer points out that the sixteenth-century Italian c r i t i c s like Vasari or Sansovino had their own term "Tedesco" (German) which had been in use since the fifteenth century and which had almost superseded the only major alternative, "moderne," by their time (p. 149). Germann suspects that Vasari was aware of the relatively recent provenance of the buildings against which he was reacting (p. 38). This would make him guilty of a deliberate distortion for argumentative purposes; de Beer, however, believes that he used the earlier criticisms ineptly rather than deliberately. ''""'"See Samuel Kliger, The Goths in England (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1952). Kliger is interested in t r i b a l , libertarian and whiggish connotations of gothic. His basic premise i s that gothic was always used for p o l i t i c a l or ideological purposes, of various kinds, and his extensive l i s t of the confusions which made gothic mean Celtic, Scan- dinavian, Germanic or ancestral shows the potential usefulness of the word. 12 " . . . the word 'ordine' acquires an authoritative significance which makes i t d i f f i c u l t to understand how the phrase 'ordine Tedesco', which was quite common in the sixteenth century, could have been used in a pejorative sense. Presumably, the situation w i l l have been similar to that obtaining around 1800 in respect of the words 'style' and 'taste', for at that time, i t was possible to negate the normally positive force of these expressions by the mere addition of an adjective" (Germann, p. 14). Thus, in Italy, the phrase ordine Tedesco could come to mean "order as a German would understand i t . " 13 Quoted in Germann, p. 15. 14 "Vitruvius considered that structures evolved on a" regional or historical basis were part of the architect's stock in trade: they were available to him and he used them as and when appropriate. His disciples regarded German or Gothic structures in much the same light: they used them because they were obliged to do so in order to complete Gothic churches in a conformist style!' -(Germann, p. 15). In Vitruvian theory, the five "antique" orders were generic types, invented for use only in certain situations. A later development was the theory of "characters," according to which styles were especially suited to their uses (e.g., Church Gothic, Castle Gothic, etc.)(Germann, pp. 22-23). 72 Germann, p. 13. Cesariano: Cesare Cesariano prepared an edition of Vitruvius' treatise (1521) in which he tried to show the validity of the theory by reference to a cross-sectional view of the original plans for Milan Cathedral. "^Quoted in Robson-Scott, pp. 10-11. "^Robson-Scott, p. 12. 18 Quoted in Arthur 0. Lovejoy, "The First Gothic Revival," p. 145. 19 Kliger, pp. 1-2; see also pp. 7-33. 20 Ibid., p. 3. "The translatio suggested forcefully an analogy between the breakup of the Roman empire by the Goths and the demands of the humanist-reformers of northern Europe for religious freedom, inter- preted as liberation from Roman priestcraft . . . the translatio crystal- lized the idea that humanity was twice ransomed from Roman tyranny and depravity—in antiquity by the Goths, in modern times by their descen- dants, the German reformers. . . . The epithet 'Gothic' became not only a polar term in p o l i t i c a l discussion, a trope for the 'free', but also in religious discussion a trope for a l l those s p i r i t u a l , moral, and cultural values contained for the eighteenth century in the single word 'enlightenment'" (pp. 33-34). 21 Kliger, pp. 4-6. 22 Lovejoy, p. 136. 23 Both quotations from Lovejoy, p. 137. 24 Lovejoy, pp. 137-139. "In the middle and late eighteenth century this distinction [between 'gothic' and 'Saracenic'] became familiar, and the style which we c a l l Gothic was commonly designated 'Saracenic', 'Arabic', or 'Arabesque'.-. . . Nevertheless, the same writers who, on occasion, distinguish 'the Gothic' from 'the Saracenic', sometimes con- tinue to apply the former adjective to the latter style also, with or without the qualification 'modern'" (Lovejoy, p. 140). 25 B. Sprague Allen, in Ch. XV of Tides in English Taste ("Classical Criticism of 'Gothic Taste'"), notes the ready association of gothic with chinois or rococo work. Robson-Scott does not agree, however, that their status in England was exactly equal. In Germany, he claims, the primary neo-classical target was the "baroque-rococo," and the recognized faults of the old gothic served to warn against the ultimate degeneracy of the "baroque-rococo." Here the assumed a f f i n i t y was so close that the term gothic often referred to objects that were, more precisely, baroque or rococo. But Robson-Scott argues that no such use of the gothic as a negative example was possible in England "where the h o s t i l i t y to Gothic had nothing to do with a reaction against the baroque-rococo tradition. On the contrary, in i t s early stages the Gothic Revival in V 73 England was i t s e l f an offshoot of that tradition." Robson-Scott's argu- ment would appear to depend on the fact that there was l i t t l e c r i t i c a l complaint against gothic survivalist building in England; the gothic that was maligned was the new imitative, eclectic gothic of Miller and Wyatt, which was treated as a successor to the worst of the rococo. If anything, in England the rococo gave occasion for c r i t i c i z i n g the gothic, not the reverse. (See Robson-Scott, pp. 15-16.) 26 Lovejoy, p. 141. See Warren Hunting Smith, Architecture in English F i c t i o n (1934; rpt., Ann Arbor: Univ. Microfilms, 1966), pp. 36- 40; and Virginia M. Hyde, "From the 'Last Judgment' to Kafka's World: A Study in Gothic Iconography," in The Gothic Imagination: Studies in Dark Romanticism, ed. G. R. Thompson (Pullman: Washington State Univ. Press, 1974), pp. 134-138 for the.positive influence of late gothic (Gothic Baroque or Perpendicular) architecture on literary images and associations. Both claim that the new gothic in literature related almost exclusively to these later concrete sources. 27 The same complaint came f u l l c i r c l e to form the cornerstone of "Gothic Revival" theory in England. Thus A. W. N. Pugin, in his True P r i n c i p l e s of Pointed or C h r i s t i a n Architecture (1841), dictated: "There shall be no features of a building which are not necessary for conven- ience, construction, and propriety" (p. 1).'- The f i r s t two terms are obvious, having to do with honesty in use of materials and common sense in use of space and design. Propriety, for Pugin, meant the reflection in architecture of proper hierarchical relations in society, through the connections among buildings in a community or among the units in a building. See Robert MacLeod, Style and Society: Architectural Ideology in B r i t a i n 1835-1914 (London: RIBA, 1971), pp. 9-13 and passim. 28 Joseph Addison, The Spectator, No. 415 (Thursday, 26 June 1712), in Eighteenth-Century English L i t e r a t u r e , ed. Geoffrey Tillotson et al. (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1969), p. 342. 29 Lovejoy, p. 143. 30 Joseph Addison, The Spectator, No. 62 (Friday, 11 May 1711), Addison and Steele: Selections from The Tatler and The Spectator, ed. Robert J. Allen (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1957), p. 109. Note also No. 70: "I know nothing which more shews the essential and inherent Perfection of Simplicity of Thought, above that which I c a l l the Gothick Manner in Writing, than this, that the f i r s t pleases a l l Kinds of Palates, and the latter only such as have formed to themselves a wrong a r t i f i c i a l Taste upon l i t t l e fanciful Authors and Writers of Epigram" (p. 122). There was some inconsistency, however, for in this essay Addison was praising the simplicity of folk ballads like "Chevy- Chase," whose popular appeal and transparency he opposes to the "Gothick." Later, of course, such songs were gathered up as the epitome of the gothic taste. "^Lovejoy, p. 146. 74 32 Ibid., p. 147. 33 Robson-Scott, p. 16. The l i s t of objectionable features indicates that the so-called ."Saracenic" gave the clearest examples of excess. 34 Ibid., p. 14; Lovejoy, p. 148. 35 S. Lang, "The Principles of the Gothic Revival in England, JSAH, 25 (1966), 242; see also de Beer, "Gothic: Origin and Diffusion of the Term," p. 157, and "Gothic and Some Other Architectural Terms," appendix to The Diary of John Evelyn, ed. E. S. de Beer (Oxford: OUP, 1955), I, 1-3. Germann sets a relatively earlier date for the occurrence of "style" in English than in other languages, but he makes i t clear that i t usually referred to continuous,-not radically conflicting, modes (Gothic Revival, p. 27). Lang, pp. 242-243. Also de Beer, "Origin and Diffusion," pp. 156- 162. 37 Kenneth Clark, The Gothic Revival: An Essay in the History of Taste, 2nd edn.(London: Constable, 1950), pp. 28-29. 38 H. M. Colvin, "Gothic Survival and Gothick Revival," Architectural Review, 104 (Oct., 1948), 91-92. This practice could overrule other con- siderations—under neo-Vitruvian doctrines, even the classical canon (Germann, p. 181). Clark differentiates between outright conservatism, which would have been more doctrinaire and self-conscious, and the f e e l - ing prevalent in the Oxford design community, that gothic was simply the natural mode for the type of building required. Colvin cites equally gothic projects outside Oxford, and l i s t s masons from Yorkshire and London who worked at Oxford to show that Oxford did not "enjoy a monopoly of masons who worked in Gothic" (p. 92). 39 See Colvin, p. 92, Lovejoy, p. 151. 40 It would be unfair, however, to press too far with this connection. By no means a l l the results of the Grand Tour were unfavourable to gothic architecture. John Evelyn's outburst about the "Crincle-Crancle" of gothic appeared in the second, posthumously published edition of An Account of Architects and Architecture, an appendix to his translation of Freart's P a r a l l e l (1707 ie'dn.,). Previous references to the gothic in his Diary were much more positive (see Lang, p. 245, n. 30, and de Beer, "Architectural Terms," passim.). Lang supposes that Evelyn changed his mind to conform to the change in fashion: " i t is clear that about 1700 Gothic was 'out' and the Italianate was ' i n ' " (p. 245). Architects like Wren and Hawksmoor who were educated in the Italian styles and were sure of the inferiority of the gothic used i t , nevertheless, when the occasion seemed to require i t , both for the sake of conformity and conser- vation and, as Colvin points out (p. 92) for the sake of "structural experiment." ^ 1Lang, pp. 240-243 and passim. Also de Beer, "Architectural Terms," p. 3. 75 42 Lang, pp. 243-245; also Germann, Part I, Ch. 6, "The Concept of Historical Development." 43 Robson-Scott notes that "though this interest is certainly anti- quarian rather than aesthetic in flavour, i t does at least show that the Gothic buildings were not forgotten. For the most part these writers seem to have accepted the Gothic style as a matter of course and even in some cases to have evinced a definite liking for i t " (pp. 18-19). And Maurice Levy: "Les travaux des antiquaires . . . montrent, mieux que la construction de rares eglises ou mieux que quelques temoignages oublies, la persistance, tout au long de l'epoque classique, d'un interet limite mais real pour 1'architecture medievale. Grace a ces erudits furent redecouverts les grands monuments nationaux d'un passe glorieux . . . " (Le Roman «Gothique» Anglais, p. 13). 44 Lang, p. 248, citing T. Kendrick, British Antiquity (London: 1950) and J. Evans, A History of the Society of Antiquaries (Oxford: 1956). The Monasticon was the work of Sir William Dugdale (1605-1686) who col- laborated with Roger Dodsworth. Further editions were published in 1664 and 1673. 45 Quoted in Lang, pp. 249-250, from S. Piggott, William Stukeley (Oxford: 1950), p. 56. The Society of Antiquaries had been rejuvenated in 1707. ^Lang, p. 250. 47 Frankl, The Gothic, p. 395. 48 See B. Sprague Allen, Tides in English Taste, II, Ch. XIV, "The Challenge of the Middle Ages," Part I, "The Persisting Interest in Gothic Architecture before Walpole"; Robson-Scott, pp. 18-24; Charles L. Eastlake, A History of the Gothic Revival, ed. J. Mordaunt Crook (1872; rpt. and rev., Leicester: Leicester Univ. Press: 1970), pp. 6-19; Kenneth Clark, The Gothic Revival, pp. 30-35; Frankl, pp. 396-414; Lionel Gossmann, Medievalism and the Ideologies of the Enlightenment: The World and Work of La Curne de Sainte-Palaye (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1968), p. 329 f f . 49 The topographical work was also carried through by William Gilpin's picturesgue tours, and his essay "On Picturesque Travel," in Three Essays (London: R. Blamire, 1792). The new vogue for tours produced a vast literature, including: William Hutchinson, Excursion to the Lakes (1776), Joseph Budworth, Fortnight's Ramble to the Lakes (1792), William Thompson, Tour of England and Scotland (1788), and tour descriptions by Daniel Defoe, John Wilkes, Tobias Smollett, Joseph Warton, and Arthur Young, a l l of which contained detailed accounts of both natural scenery and archi- tecture. One of the most p r o l i f i c successors to the topographers was John Britton who produced his series The Beauties of England and Wales in 18 vols, between 1800 and 1816, and four volumes of The Architectural A n t i q u i t i e s of Great Britain in 1814, with a f i f t h in 1818, in addition 76 to The Cathedral A n t i q u i t i e s of Great Britain (series from 1814), and Picturesque Views of English C i t i e s (1830). See Allen, II, 200-206. 5 0Clark, p. 31. "̂*"HW to Cole, 5 June 1775. Horace Walpole's Correspondence with the Rev. William Cole, ed. W. S. Lewis & A. Dayle Wallace (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1937), I, 375 (Vol. I of HW's Correspondence). For brevity's sake, subsequent references to Lewis' edition of the Correspondence w i l l appear in this form: Corr., Volume Number, page. The volume numbers are those running through the whole series, not those peculiar to the i n d i - vidual correspondences. F u l l information on dates of publication is presented in the Bibliography. 5 2 A l l e n , II, 98-99. 53 For Walpole's eclectic use of salvaged pieces, see Horace Walpole, A Description of the Villa of Mr. Horace Walpole . . . at Strawberry- Hill , etc. (1784; facsimile rpt. Farnborough: Gregg, 1969). 54 W. H. Smith, Architecture in English F i c t i o n , p. 8. 55Ibid., pp. 25-26. "^Horace Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting, in The Works of Horatio Walpole, Earl of Orford (London: G. G. & J. Robinson, and J. Edwards, 1798), III, 94. Unfortunately, this passage has been read so as to yield an opinion more favourable to the gothic than Walpole meant to convey in the f u l l context in which i t occurs. Although he cited the cases of Inigo Jones, Wren, and Kent, who "blundered into the heaviest and clumsiest compositions whenever they aimed at imitations of the Gothic," in order to prove that i t could not be a "despicable" style, Walpole was careful to qualify the force of his comparison (see daggered footnote, pp. 94-95). At the head of the paragraph immediately following this passage, he wrote: "I certainly do not mean by this l i t t l e contrast to make any comparison between the rational beauties of regular archi- tecture and the unrestrained licentiousness of that which i s called Gothic." Walpole's recognition of the power of the gothic was important, nevertheless, for the kind of f i c t i o n he helped to create. "^For examination of important works of literary antiquarianism, see Arthur Johnston, Enchanted Ground: The Study of Medieval Romance in the Eighteenth Century (London: Athlone Press, 1964). See also Clark, p. 35, pp. 41-43, and Joan Pittock, The Ascendancy of Taste: The Achieve- ment of Joseph and Thomas Warton (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973), pp. 170-171. Clark and Pittock disagree over the connection between literary and architectural developments, Clark arguing that the allow- ances made for Shakespeare and Spenser in literary criticism opened the f i e l d for gothic taste in architecture, Pittock that antiquarian research was a more li k e l y influence. 77 58 J. Mordaunt Crook, in his introduction to the facsimile reprint of Eastlake's History of the Gothic Revival, discusses the revival of interest in medieval art and customs that had already started during the reign of Elizabeth (pp. <27-28>). 59 Richard Hurd, Letters on Chivalry and Romance, with the Third Elizabethan Dialogue, ed. Edith J. Morley (London: Henry Frowde, 1911). A l l later page references w i l l be given within the text. ^The travellers would have consulted Dugdale's A n t i q u i t i e s of Warwickshire (1656). ^Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting, Works, III, 485. 6 2Longueil, "The Word 'Gothic'','" PP- 456-457. William C. Holbrook. "The Adjective Gothique in the XVIIIth Century," MLN, 56, 6 (Nov., 1941), 501. 64 The most important of the "painful collectors" was Jean Baptiste de La Curne de Sainte-Palaye (1697-1781), whose Memoires sur 1'ancienne chevalerie (1746; torn, xx of Histoire de l'Academie des Inscriptions et B e l l e s - L e t t r e s ) was the major source-book for the Letters. ^ I n an interpolation i n Letter VI made i n the sixth edition of the Letters (1788), Hurd explained the superior richness of gothic supersti- tion as literary material by pointing to i t s origins. Christian super- naturalism (which Hurd did not connect with the essential beliefs of Christianity) augmented the previous stock of fantastical images, so that the gothic writers had a more mature and heterogeneous mythology to work with. 6 6Johnston, pp. 100-107. See also Pittock, p. 190. ^Thomas Percy (Bishop of Dromore), Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, ed. Thomas Percy, 4th edn.(1794; rpt. London: L. A. Lewis, 1839), I, x i i . Percy believed the folio had been collected by Thomas Blount (1618-1679), the lawyer and antiquarian (pp. xx-xxi). Later page references w i l l be given within the text. 68 Percy's main sources for manuscripts or printed material were the Pepysian Library of Magdalene College, Cambridge (Pepys and Selden col- lections), the Ashmolean Library, Oxford (Anthony a Wood collection), the archives of the Antiquarian Society, London, and the British Museum. 69 See Percy's "Essay on the Ancient Metrical Romances," Reliques, III, 2-38. 7°See'-: Lovejoy, p. 159, pp. 152-158. 78 Allen, II, 170-171 (Allen's paraphrase). Mason's concern for authenticity had i t s limits. He argued with William Gilpin over the use of purely decorative objects to complete a picturesque view, and saw nothing wrong with applying gothic facades to u t i l i t a r i a n buildings, such as barns, or with building a r t i f i c i a l ruins, a l l of which Gilpin strongly disliked. See C. P. Barbier, William Gilpin: His Drawing, Teaching, and Theory of the Picturesque (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963), pp. 117-120. 72 See Devendra P. Varma, The Gothic Flame (London: Arthur Barker, 1957), p. 19, and Bertrand Evans, Gothic Drama from Walpole to Shelly (Berkeley & Los Angeles: Univ. of Calif. Press, 1947), p. 7. 73 Horace Walpole to Richard Bentley, September, 1753, Selected Letters of Horace Walpole, W. S. Lewis (New Haven & London: Yale Univ. Press, 1973), p. 47. 74 Walpole, Selected Letters, p. 47. Ŵ. S. Lewis, Horace Walpole (New York: Pantheon Books, 1961), p. 46. ^Eastlake's reticence, in his History of the Gothic Revival, when discussing problems of doctrine or symbolism shows that he was uncom- fortable with the already v i s i b l e link between the gothic and Anglo- Catholicism (or Roman Catholicism, which A. W. Pu'gin openly professed); he was nervous lest a l l advocates of the gothic style be assumed to be Catholics, overt or covert. ^Walpole, Selected Letters, p. 50. 78 Lewis, pp. 124, 127. 79 Ibid., p. 5. Lewis cites Walpoliana, ed. John Pinkerton (London: 1799), I, 74. "Fontenelle's Dialogues on the Plurality of Worlds, f i r s t rendered me an i n f i d e l . Christianity, and a plurality of worlds, are, in my opinion, irreconcileable. Indeed, one would be puzzled enough to reconcile modern discoveries on this globe alone, with any divine reve- lation. I never try to make converts; but expect and claim to enjoy my own opinion, and other people may enjoy theirs. . . . Intolerance i s , ipso facto, a proof of falsehood. . . . Atheism I dislike. It is gloomy, uncomfortable; and, in my eye, unnatural and irrational. . . . I go to church sometimes, in order to induce my servants to go to church. I am no hypocrite, I do not go in order to persuade them to believe what I do not believe myself. A good moral sermon may instruct and benefit them. I only set them an example of listening, not believing (Walpoliana, 2nd ed. [1804], I, 74-76). 80 Longueil, "The Word 'Gothic'," p. 458. ^"Slacpherson, Fragments of Ancient Poetry Collected in the Highlands, 1760, Fingal, An Ancient Epic, 1761-62, Temora, An Epic Poem, 1763. 79 °^Edward Young, The Complaint, or Night Thoughts, 1742-46, Robert Blair, The Grave, 1743, Thomas Warton, The Pleasures of Melancholy,11kl, Thomas Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, 1751. 83 See Levy, Le Roman Gothique Anglais, pp. 613-614, for an argument connecting the gothic sensibility with the Revolution of 1688. Levy pushes past his discussion of the meditative and melancholic uses of the gothic (building) to suggest a p o l i t i c a l symbolism almost identical with what Hurd has Addison present in the Third Dialogue. The gothic ruin reminds the perceiver of past tyranny and present liberty; i t is a memor- i a l to the guarantees that support.the religious and p o l i t i c a l establish- ment. CHAPTER II VITALITY IN FICTION The Mixed Mode Sir Walter Scott was the f i r s t c r i t i c to note the close connection between Horace Walpole's work as an architect and his work as a writer, and i t is significant that Scott found that the chief characteristic of both was Walpole's effort to strike a compromise between the fantastical and the probable, between the antique and the modern: As, in his model of a Gothic modern mansion, our author had studiously endeavoured to f i t to the purposes of modern con- venience, or luxury, the rich, varied, and complicated tracery and carving of the ancient cathedral, so, in The Castle of Otranto, i t was his object to unite the marvellous turn of incident, and imposing tone of chivalry, exhibited in the ancient romance, with that accurate display of human character, and contrast of feelings and passions, which i s , or ought to be delineated in the modern novel. . . . It was his object to draw such a picture of domestic l i f e and manners, during the feudal times, as might actually have existed, and to paint i t checkered and agitated by the action of supernatural machinery, such as the superstition of the period received as matter of devout credulity. The natural parts of the narrative are so contrived, that they associate themselves with the marvellous occurrences; and, by the force of that association, render those speciosa miracula striking and impressive, though our cooler reason admits their impossibility. Comparing the evocative effects of the gothic story and the neo-gothic building upon the modern sensibility, Scott concluded that: It is . . . almost impossible to build such a modern Gothic structure as shall impress us with the feelings we have endeavoured to describe. It may be grand, or i t may be gloomy; i t may excite magnificent or melancholy ideas; but i t must f a i l in bringing forth the sensation of supernatural awe, connected with halls that have echoed to the sounds of remote generations. . . . Yet Horace Walpole has attained in - 80 - 81 composition, what, as an architect, he must have f e l t beyond the power of his art.^ Scott's own experiences as a writer and a builder put him in a good position to realize the d i f f i c u l t y of reconciling old forms and themes with modern tastes. Like Walpole, he was aware of the pleasures of imitating antiquities and of the natural connection between literary and decorative impulses. At Abbotsford, "there was a fine spring of clear water, which Scott enclosed in a Gothic well-front made of some of the stones he had acquired from Melrose Abbey. With the lime carefully blackened and moss put between the joints, i t looked, he boasted happily, at least three hundred years old. 'In honor of an old Melrose saint I have put an inscription in a gothic Latin verse, AVE, AVE, SANCTE. WALDAVE', 'and I intend that willows and weeping birches shall droop over 2 i t with a background of ever-greens'." Most of the materials for this tableau were genuinely ancient, but the associative concept that governed i t was s t r i c t l y modern. The problem of forming a synthesis, and the temptation to apply literary and architectural solutions interchangeably, persisted from Walpole's time to Scott's. Walpole himself saw his building and his fiction-writing as parts of a common project, and he invited comparison between them. Sometimes the connection that Walpole indicated was merely coincidental, as when he pointed out to the Rev. William Cole, who had been reading The Castle of Otranto: You w i l l even have found some traits to put you in mind of this place [Strawberry H i l l ] , When you read of the picture quitting his panel, did you not recollect the portrait of Lord Falkland a l l in white in my gallery? 82 Yet, there was a deeper, more fundamental connection between Straw- berry H i l l and The Castle of Otranto, for the methods and principles of creation were much the same in both cases. For this reason, an account of the assembling of the real "Castle" w i l l help to explain the character- i s t i c s of Otranto, and w i l l introduce the gothic sensibility which shaped both creations. Walpole bought the original Strawberry H i l l in 1749, when he was 4 thirty-two years old.. He had held the lease on the property for the two years preceding. Between 1749 and 1790 the estate expanded from five acres to forty-six and underwent almost continual new construction, while Walpole collected in his home such a deluge of rare, curious or precious articles that the Description of 1781 was already obsolete when i t came to the press and required several appendices for recent arrivals. Walpole's earliest accounts of his property did not promise that he would make i t into anything extraordinary. His description to Horace Mann, in the letter of 5 June 1747, was jokingly modest and demeaning: The house is so small, that I can send i t to you in a letter to look at: the prospect i s as delightful as possible, com- manding the river, the town, and Richmond Park; and being situated on a h i l l descends to the Thames through two or three l i t t l e meadows, where I have some Turkish sheep and two cows, a l l studied in their colours for becoming the view. . . .so I shall grow as much a shepherd as any swain in the Astraea. Walpole's letter to Henry Conway three days later repeated the comparison between Strawberry H i l l and a tiny "bijou" (a previous occupant had been Mrs. Chevenix, "the toy-woman a la mode"): It is a l i t t l e plaything house that I got out of Mrs. Che- venix' s shop, and is the prettiest bauble you ever saw. It is set in enamelled meadows, with f i l i g r e e hedges. . . . Dowagers as plenty as founders inhabit a l l around, and Pope's 83 ghost i s j u s t now skimming under my window by a most p o e t i - c a l moonlight. I have about land enough to keep such a farm as Noah's, when he set up i n the ark with a p a i r of each kind. . . . , 6 Walpole's i n t e n t i o n was to have a refuge far enough away from London to provide an excuse for the frequent absences from Parliament which he desired. From here he could write to h i s p o l i t i c a l protege Conway, with a mixture of feigned d i s i n t e r e s t and r e a l disillusionment, about an e l e c t i o n campaign i n which " a l l England, under some name or other, i s ju s t now to be bought and sold; though, whenever we become p o s t e r i t y and forefathers, we s h a l l be i n high repute for wisdom and v i r t u e . " ^ Although the o r i g i n a l house at Strawberry H i l l , b u i l t by the E a r l of g Bradford's coachman, had nothing to recommend i t a r c h i t e c t u r a l l y , i t did have advantages i n l o c a t i o n and associations: the neighbourhood was fashionable but not yet populous enough to d i s q u a l i f y i t from being fashionably r u r a l . With the property Walpole had also gained a pleasing l i s t of antecedent neighbours: "Essex, Bacon, Lord Clarendon . . . Lady 9 Mary Wortley Montagu, Pope and F i e l d i n g . " And h i s fancy of Pope's ghost r e v i s i t i n g t h i s part of Twickenham showed h i s poetic aspirations i n a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y whimsical way. The gothicism of Strawberry H i l l was an adjunct to the more conven- t i o n a l pleasures of genteel farming, r u r a l seclusion, and associations with the famous, and l i k e them i t was caught up i n the paradox of studied casualness. Even i f i t was not whimsical, a c c i d e n t a l , or spontaneous, the gothicism had to be shown as such. As an aid to t h i s deception, there was l i t t l e e a rly hint of Walpole's dedication to a p a r t i c u l a r s t y l e to i n d i c a t e what d i r e c t i o n h i s b u i l d i n g would take. There was, at f i r s t , 84 no thesis to demonstrate. Walpole did not draw up a comprehensive plan until the work was virtu a l l y complete, describing i t instead in letters as i t grew. The reference to Pope's ghostly, inspirational presence is suggestive of his intentions, but vague. Similarly, Walpole's continued use of secret "Persian" nicknames in writing to the other members of the Quadruple A l l i a n c e ^ signalled a taste for the exotic, the fantastical, the dramatic—but not necessarily the gothic. Thus, i t was plain that Walpole's creation would be an indulgence of fantasy before i t was plain what sort of fantasy would be indulged. In this apparent nonchalance and randomness, the creation of Strawberry H i l l resembled the creation of The Castle of Otranto. As Walpole told Mason, in se l f - j u s t i f i c a t i o n , Otranto was . . . begun without any plan at a l l , for though in the short course of i t s progress I did conceive some views, i t was so far from being sketched out with any design at a l l , that i t was actually commenced one evening, from the very imperfect recollection of a dream with which I waked in the morning.^ Of the famous dream, more later. Whether or not Walpole actually gave form to Otranto spontaneously, almost intuitively, as inspiration and the force of his dream prompted him, what matters is that he pretended to have done so, and that he seemed to have built Strawberry H i l l simi- l a r l y , without a simple idea of i t s f i n a l shape to guide him. A further resemblance w i l l emerge in this discussion: like Otranto, Strawberry H i l l was the continuation of a dream and was the product of "very imper- fect recollection." Walpole's f i r s t improvements did not change the character of the old cottage in any important way, and i t is indicative of his motives that, whatever size, shape or style of house he was imagining, his 85 i n i t i a l attention was to comfort and practicality. He hired William Robinson, Clerk of the Works at Greenwich Hospital, to design, but mostly to supervise, some rudimentary work; i t seems that Robinson's major job 12 was to move the kitchen. Like many architects and builders of the time, Robinson's involvement with the gothic was by contract more than by inclination or professional training. Walpole valued him because he was compliant and because "he knew how to build an eighteenth-century house 13 which, although i t might wear out, would not f a l l down." Robinson and his successors occasionally influenced Walpole's s t y l i s t i c choices; mainly they gave him the kind of practical engineering s k i l l s he needed in order to make his fantasies endure. Since he was not interested in building mere " f o l l i e s , " this was an important consideration. Walpolees conflicting motives for adopting the gothic style and his uneven talents for understanding and using i t affected a l l the friends 14 and architects whom he enlisted in carrying through the project. Such contradictory influences included his fascination with the details and the associations of gothic buildings; his lack of knowledge of, and con- cern for, the basic principles of medieval construction; and his wish not to "make my house so Gothic as to exclude convenience, and modern refinements in luxury." Walpole claimed that "the designs of the inside and outside are s t r i c t l y ancient, but the decorations are modern," and called the mixture, quoting from Pope, "A Gothic Vatican of Greece and Rome."^ What Walpole meant by "decorations" were not the transplanted tombs and portals which formed his bookcases and chimney-pieces, but the books, paintings, sculpture, and china that he had collected. Walpole defended the inconsistency between these objects and the rooms they 86 f i l l e d by asking a strange rhetorical question: Would our ancestors, before the reformation of architecture, not have deposited in their gloomy castles antique statues and fine pictures, beautiful vases and ornamental china, i f they had possessed them? lo Walpole must have realized the feebleness of the suggestion that he was somehow f u l f i l l i n g the intention of his gothic ancestors, for he conceded that he did not mean "to defend by argument a small capricious house" which "was built to please my taste, and in some degree to realize my . • „17 own visions. More fundamental contrasts between the antique and the modern at Strawberry H i l l resulted from various factors: Walpole's limited know- ledge of the gothic, his piecemeal building strategy, his deliberate abandonment of a conventional ground-plan, and his placing of comfort above purity of style. Walpole "loved comfort, and so we do not find him erecting a desolate monastery like Fonthill Abbey. Strawberry H i l l 18 is essentially a snug l i t t l e manor-house, dressed up in Gothic clothes." One concession to the modern idea of a manor-house was the adapting of ecclesiastical architecture, which gave most of the formal inspiration for Strawberry H i l l , to the normal cube-shaped room space. Walpole had no use for other, more obviously domestic, gothic characters. He detested the Tudor manner and the revival gothic of the time of James I, consider- 19 ing these "bastard" styles. Castles, such as Vanbrugh and Sanderson Miller had attempted, were picturesque but hard to heat, and spatially either overwhelming or paltry, depending on the builder's ambition. The sociable Walpole was not about to shut himself up in drafty monumental halls; he aimed at the charming, the mysterious, the picturesque, but 87 not the sublime. He was l e f t with ecclesiastical gothic models by default. Walpole laid a surface of gothic embellishments on the basic room- as-box. Even the Tribune or Cabinet he described as a "square with a semi-circular recess in the middle of each side . . . and with windows 20 and niches." The construction method remained the usual post-and- l i n t e l . Perhaps Essex, who had spent time on the Continent studying 21 gothic building technique, might have relieved Walpole's ignorance on the subject of vaulting, but the only evidence that Walpole cared about traditional workmanship was his employment of Thomas Gayfere, master 22 mason at Westminster Abbey, to build the garden chapel in 1772. The attempt at fanvaulting in the Gallery at Strawberry, "taken from one of 23 the side isles [sic] of Henry 7th's. chapel," gives a f u l l i l l u s t r a t i o n of the limits of Walpole's architectural understanding; i t consisted of a rectangle of elaborate gothic tracery and pendants cut out to the right size and fit t e d into place like a false ceiling, without structural or formal relation to the rest of the room. In assembling the gothic surface for his house, Walpole often used bogus modern materials and mismatched elements. Strawberry H i l l was f u l l of plaster mouldings, Portland cement, stucco, and wallpapers posing as masonry. The main staircase, for example, which Walpole considered the effective centre of the piece, was lined with a "paper painted in 24 perspective to represent Gothic fretwork." Like the gothic garden ruins which became popular in the 1720's—and which sometimes were mere facades like stage sets—Strawberry H i l l was meant to be visually impres- sive and rich in delightful literary and historical associations but 88 Walpole did not expect to go through the trouble and expense of building a cathedral in order to achieve such effects. One of his shortcuts was to l i f t either the design of a church fixture or the fixture i t s e l f out of i t s original context, and to turn i t to some other use. Thus, the pattern for the gothic wallpaper in the entrance h a l l and staircase was taken from Prince Arthur's tomb in Worcester Cathedral; the ceiling of the China Room was designed by Muntz after one in the Borghese v i l l a at Frascati; floor t i l e s were obtained from Gloucester Cathedral; the roof of the Tribune imitated that of the Chapter House, York Minster; the ceiling of the Holbein Room was after that of the royal dressing-room in Windsor Castle; the entrance screen was copied from the choir of Rouen Cathedral. The l i s t of borrowings and transplantings continues with f a i r l y open acknowledgment throughout Walpole's Description of Strawberry H i l l . Walpole and Chute were not singularly ingenious in making these adaptations. Their collecting was partly the result of the same acquisi- tive passion that had made English tourists in Italy and France gullible, 25 voracious consumers of landscape and genre painting; partly the result of Walpole's desire to secure himself in the company of "old castles, old pictures, old histories"; partly the result of the same eclectic reaction against neo-classical purism that culminated in the architectural confections of Vauxhall. The ground-plan of Strawberry H i l l reflected Walpole's divided allegiance—to modernity and to historical fantasy—and also his gradual way of completing the project. Strawberry H i l l did not follow a geomet- r i c a l l y regular plan, like that of Robert Walpole's estate, Houghton 26 Hall, Norfolk. Horace Walpole avoided the Palladian fashion and i t s 89 attendant aesthetic. He kept the "modern refinements in luxury" that ensured comfort for him and his frequent vi s i t o r s . He kept the requisite social separations: the servants' work and livi n g areas at Strawberry H i l l were s t i l l "below stairs." But he was equally interested in other matters, balance and consistency not among them. The asymmetry of the 27 , house, for example, Walpole chose deliberately. He inserted Essex s Beauclerc Tower between the existing Round Tower and the long south wing, whereas a more conventional plan would have placed i t at an opposite corner, for balance. Walpole varied the size of his rooms, making them 28 progressively larger; the early ones, he admitted, were quite small. He sought to enhance the house's irregularity of profile, the picturesque beauty of i t s many vistas, i t s own value in completing vistas from the surrounding park, i t s elements of surprise, and i t s display of the hap- hazardness which was then supposed to be truly gothic. The long course of the construction and the variety of builders employed helped to lend Strawberry H i l l a s t y l i s t i c incoherence that was an adequate substitute for centuries of ruination and restoration, for the admirable irregular- 29 i t i e s of the barbarous architects. Walpole provided a recognizably gothic profile for Strawberry H i l l by castellating i t s exterior. Although he did not choose to adopt f u l l y the proportions of a castle for his modern plan, Walpole did think of his house as a sort of miniature castle and regularly referred to i t as 30 "Strawberry Castle" in his letters. In this respect, he deviated from his ecclesiastical interests, but the facsimile of a castle, achieved with battlements, towers, and plain external decoration, was enough for him. It would have made as much sense for Walpole to have called his 90 creation "Strawberry Abbey," with i t s cloisters, Prior's Garden, and (later) i t s separate Chapel. This elusiveness of Strawberry H i l l ' s character was suited to Wal- pole' s flexible ideas about the estate and i t s purpose. Strawberry H i l l served two functions for him, one attached to the contemporary world and another to the past. Walpole saw in i t both a place where he might live in comfort and seclusion and a stage setting where he might realize the play of his imagination. A l l the concessions to modernity, the expedi- encies upon which the gothicism depended, provided the f i r s t . In order to perform the second function, the house had to include a l l the props and backdrops necessary for the f u l l repertoire of Walpole's fantasies, which tended to be either baronial or monastic. Thus, the mixture of styles and sources at Strawberry H i l l , though i t made for impure gothic architecture, supplied the appropriate materials and.atmosphere for each vision, whether Walpole imagined himself as a hermit monk or as a noble 31 descendant of Sir Terry Robsart. The gothicism of many nineteenth-century partisans, especially those who came out of the antiquarian line, was an earnest pursuit, originating in doctrine, or in social theory, or in a sense of s t y l i s t i c integrity. Walpole's gothicism, on the other hand, was always related simply to satisfying personal, imaginative needs—and those were rarely obsessive or all-consuming. Walpole f e l t himself the victim of ennui, of the d u l l - ness and insipidity of his own age. Seeking r e l i e f , he tried to dramatize himself and his environment, in order to bring his vivid quasi-historical dreams to l i f e . 91 Walpole has l e f t evidence of the attraction that fantasies about the past held for him. Thus, he wrote to George Montagu, on 5 January 1766, after some of the excitement immediately surrounding the publica- tion of The Castle of Otranto had died down: Visions, you know, have always been my pasture; and so far from growing old enough to quarrel with their emptiness, I almost think there is no wisdom comparable to that of exchanging what is called the rea l i t i e s of l i f e for dreams. Old castles, old pictures, old histories, and the babble of old people make one li v e back into centuries that cannot disappoint one. One holds fast and surely what is past. The dead have exhausted their power of deceiving—one can trust Catherine of Medicis now.^ There were, however, two important limitations upon Walpole's indul- gence in such attractive, secure, regressive fantasies. F i r s t , his gothicism was more subversive than overt and reactionary: he preferred to revitalize and enrich modern taste, to reconcile i t to the exotic and the unfamiliar, rather than to rebel against i t altogether. And second, because he was subversive and because his retreat from the mundane was only temporary, not doctrinaire, i t did not matter so much that his gothicism often consisted of sham and theatricality—veneer and fretwork wallpaper. Even i f he had known how to build an authentic gothic struc- ture, the stage setting, the house-as-theatrical-machine, would have sufficed for his divided purposes. Walpole was unwilling to exchange the "realities of l i f e " for dreams, except in a temporary, controlled way. His status and his important connections were valuable enough to overcome his d i s i l l u s i o n - ment and to prevent him from becoming entirely reclusive. Instead, he discovered the means of combining the natural pleasures of both realms— the familiar and the fantastical. After a l l , one of the "modern refine- 9 2 ments in luxury" which Walpole valued most was the luxury of being able to summon his visions and to mix them with a comforting measure of familiar reality, of being able to choose how much of the past he wanted around him. By thus disguising the strangeness of his fantasies, he disarmed some of the resistance to them. But not a l l . Walpole was provoked, nevertheless, by a certain sense of not being appreciated for his talents as an innovator. Offering Mme. du Deffand his own assessment of Otranto, he treated i t as the masterwork of his personal avante-garde: I have not written the book for the present age, which w i l l endure nothing but cold common sense. I confess to you, my dear friend, (and you w i l l think me madder than ever,) that this is the only one of my works with which I am myself pleased; I have given reins to my imagination t i l l I became on f i r e with the visions and feelings which i t excited. I have composed i t in defiance of rules, of c r i t i c s , and of philosophers; and i t seems to me just so much the better for that very reason.^ The bitterness and aggressiveness evident here were his response to Mme. du Deffand's lack of enthusiasm, for Otranto—and something more. Walpole's defiance of a l l short-sighted c r i t i c s was equally an expression of his hope that he might be seen as a.leader in some area; for his vicarious p o l i t i c a l career had already hit a large snag even as his literary career began. This fact helps to explain why he had undertaken his excursions into the "centuries that cannot disappoint one." In 1765 he had arranged to bring together the new Rockingham ministry, in which Conway was secretary bf state, but Conway did not secure for him the "considerable employment" which he declared his vanity "would have been 34 gratified in refusing." Although po l i t i c s alternately bored and attracted him, he f e l t that they were his proper concern, more a part of 93 his birthright than was literature. To some extent, his activities as builder, writer and antiquary compensated him for his inability to reach and maintain the level of p o l i t i c a l importance that his father had enjoyed. It was a source of both chagrin and amusement to Walpole that he- had to digress from p o l i t i c a l business in order to assert himself, and in order to avoid the betrayals to which he believed he was so susceptible. But Walpole's idea of his role as an innovator did not originate simply in pique. There were particular reasons why his social standing might give him the influence as a writer and taste-maker that he had missed as a politician. Foremost were the limits he placed upon his disaffection, reclusiveness, and eccentricity. He did move away from certain r e a l i t i e s , willingly; he did seek to insulate himself—physically at Strawberry H i l l , intellectually and emotionally through his gothicism in general. On the other hand, he was well-suited to the task of accom- modating his exotic visions to the views of the more pedestrian world, of reconciling the unconventional with the conventional. He never appeared outlandish in his gothicism, like Batty Langley, whom he joined in ridiculing. Although his own designs were perhaps as outrageous and fantastic as Langley's, he at least managed not to advocate them with such earnestness. When throngs of visitors eventually came to see Straw- berry H i l l — s o many that Walpole had to control them with rules and admission tickets—they came to marvel at the richness of his unique collection, at the miniature perfection of his Castle, not to patronize a mere curiosity. Walpole was beyond patronage. His social position gave him an important advantage, and he used i t conservatively. As Ken- neth Clark has observed, Walpole "did not so much popularise as aristo- 94 cratise Gothic." In 1750 the taste for pinnacles was associated with parvenus and Chesterfield could dismiss i t as such. But when the exquisite, cultivated Walpole took up Gothic, society began to feel that there might be something in i t . Moreover, Walpole's motives for favouring the gothic were relatively pure. Since he was neither a professional builder nor a professional writer, he did not have to obey his training, his patrons' voguish tastes, or the c r i t i c s ' strictures. Like Sanderson Miller, whose work 36 at Hagley Park he admired, Walpole undertook projects for his friends and soon became a famous source of advice about gothic artifacts, but this work was never a matter of necessity for him. Both Walpole and Miller may have suffered from superficiality and a dearth of hard know- ledge; yet, they remained enthusiasts, not cool performers of someone else's bidding lik e Kent or Wyatt, who attempted the gothic because their patrons demanded i t . Walpole was among the f i r s t generation of real gothic amateurs who were neither builders, by profession or tradition, nor antiquarian purists; whose interest in the gothic had strongly 37 literary motives and direction. He made a worthy successor to Hurd, for he seemed ready to f u l f i l Hurd's pessimistic suggestion that the v i t a l images of the past should enter actively into modern poetry. Wal- pole shared with Hurd a direct, personal sense of the banality which had overcome literature and a belief that a new balance could not be achieved through radical means. Like Strawberry H i l l , The Castle of Otranto was a manifestation of Horace Walpole's dream l i f e . Walpole promoted this connection, by claim- ing that the house, which was i t s e l f a dream-fulfilment, had also inspired 95 the dream that prompted him to write: Shall I even confess to you what was the origin of this romance? I waked one morning in the beginning of last June from a dream, of which a l l I could recover was, that I had thought myself in an ancient castle (a very natural dream for a head f i l l e d like mine with Gothic story) and that on the uppermost banister of a great staircase I saw a gigantic hand in armour.00 JO The "Gothic story" that made his dream seem "very natural" was com- posed of the fantasies suggested by his collection and house—of these as much as any medieval works of literary fantasy. The correspondence between Walpole's dream and his chosen environment was obvious. On the "great staircase" of Strawberry H i l l was a niche which contained a f u l l 39 suit of armour, and there was a separate Armoury at the head of those stairs, furnished with two suits of armour, two helmets, a gauntlet, and many other items of that k i n d . ^ For Cole, Walpole described his reaction to the dream as i f i t had inspired him, so that the circumstances under which he subsequently wrote his novel appeared quite dramatic: In the evening I sat down and began to write, without know- ing in the least what I intended to say or relate. The work grew on my hands, and I grew fond of i t — a d d that I was very glad to think of anything rather than p o l i t i c s — I n short I was so engrossed with my tale, which I completed in less than two months, that one evening I wrote from the time I had drunk my tea, about six o'clock, t i l l half an hour after one in the morning, when my hand and fingers were so weary, that I could not hold the pen to finish the sentence, but l e f t Matilda and Isabella talking, in the middle of a paragraph. You w i l l laugh at my earnestness, but i f I have amused you by retracing with any f i d e l i t y the manners of ancient days, I am content, and give you leave to think me as idle as you please.. n 41 Perhaps i t is tempting to take Walpole's account of Otranto's dream origin at face value, but there i s good reason to suspect i t . This 96 story was convenient, for i t allowed Walpole to protect himself against criticism and to prepare his readers for the kind of f i c t i o n he had created. It agreed rather too well with Walpole's comparison of his work with "inspired writings," a comparison which—as I shall show— Walpole used in the second Preface to Otranto in order to defend his treatment of the marvellous. The dream story suggested the author's lack of responsibility and his work's freedom from conventional restraints. According to this explanation, since Walpole had been driven by his dream, he was not entirely in control of the results. Moreover, by claiming that he had written hastily, Walpole could excuse the plainness or artlessness of diction into which he thought he had fallen. Because his romance followed the method of a dream, the marvellous events and monstrous figures might be expected to occur naturally, without elaborate justification. At the same time, the dream story permitted Walpole to maintain the diffidence appropriate to his dubious, mainly personal achievement. His hope that " f i d e l i t y " in "retracing . . . the manners of ancient days" might excuse his self-indulgence came as a sort of afterthought—the keynote of the dream story is amusement, idle fancy. And the net result of the dream story, whatever i t s veracity, was to cl a r i f y the relation of The Castle of Otranto to everyday reality, giving the reader comforting assurance of Walpole's real attitude toward his work. Walpole used another, more extensive story to introduce The Castle 42 of Otranto when i t was f i r s t published in 1764. This imposture too shows Walpole's concern for indicating, in advance, how his f i c t i o n should be read, and his impulse towards self-defence. For this reason, 97 the story is worth examining in some detail. When i t appeared, The Castle of Otranto masqueraded as a translation "from the original Italian of Onuphrio Muralto, Canon of the Church of St. Nicholas at Otranto," the English version supposedly having been made by one "William Marshal, Gent." The Translator's Preface to the f i r s t edition informed the reader that "the following work was found in the library of an ancient Catholic family in the north of England. It was printed at Naples, in the black letter, in the year 1529. . . . The principal incidents are such as were believed in the darkest ages of C h r i s t i a n i t y ; but the language and conduct have nothing that savours of barbarism" (p. 5). The reader was thus forewarned that he should take care to separate the tale's content, which was suspect, from the manner in which i t was told, which was familiar and acceptable. Citing internal evidence, particularly the "beauty of the diction, and the zeal of the author (moderated, however, by singular judgment)," the "translator" con- cluded that "the date of the composition was l i t t l e antecedent to that of the impression." This approximate date persuaded him to adduce the likely motivation for the author of the original: Letters were then in their most flourishing state in I t a l y , and contributed to dispel the empire of superstition, at that time so forcibly attacked by the reformers. It is not unlikely, that an artful priest might endeavour to turn their own arms on the innovators; and might avail himself of his a b i l i t i e s as an author to confirm the populace in their ancient errors and superstitions. If this was his view, he has certainly acted with signal address. Such a work as the following would enslave a hundred vulgar minds, beyond half the books of controversy that have been written from the days of Luther to the present hour (pp. 5-6). This explanation, other suppositions about the tale's origin, and the translation device i t s e l f were convenient in several ways. 98 "Marshal's" speculation about motives—which, in effect, made the orig- inal into a piece of Counter-Reformation propaganda of the most insidious kind—he offered as "a mere conjecture," though later in the Preface he seemed to take i t s truth for granted. But for Walpole's genteel readers the signals were quite clear: a work which "would enslave a hundred vul- gar minds" would not enslave theirs, especially not a work which had been discovered "in the library of an ancient Catholic family." Having introduced the reference to sectarian controversy, "Marshal" could have counted on his readers to summon up the proper measure of Protestant skepticism, to regard with dispassionate amusement the extreme measures, like this propaganda, used by wild religious partisans. An advantage in keeping a l l this explanatory material in the realm of conjecture was that i t remained possible that some other account of Otranto's creation would turn out to be correct. Thus, Walpole made provision for stepping into the author's role should his work receive a kinder reception than he anticipated. Such coyness was, of course, con- ventional. Devices similar to the translation device had already been used for some time in order to protect authors from ridicule—and from the charge of being mere authors (i.e., hacks). Aside from dissociating the author from his work, a translation or documentary device also could lend cred i b i l i t y to the f i c t i o n (or satire), by connecting i t with found manuscripts, real memoirs, journals or letters, by making i t resemble the adventures and scandals that were the favourite subject of popular journalism. The relationship between fi c t i o n a l and pseudo-factual elements added to the ironic complexity of the work. 99 Walpole used the translation device to ensure the credi b i l i t y of his narrative—or, at least, to locate i t among real types (i.e., Roman Catholic propaganda); however, he also used i t to ensure the tale's incredibility, to show that he was not directly responsible for i t s more egregious qualities. The translation device pointed to a fact that his readers were quite ready to acknowledge: that the absurdities in Otranto— though none the less absurd—were true to the conditions of popular belief at the time when the "manuscript" was composed (c. 1529), or at the time of the story's setting, which "Marshal" placed "between 1095, the aera of the f i r s t crusade, and 1243, the date of the last, or not long after- wards" (p. 5). Since the supposed translator was simply making available a document that was characteristic of a certain historical period, without trying to conceal i t s despicable purpose, he could not be blamed for pre- serving i t s outlandish mannerisms and blatant l i e s . If miracles and supernatural events were not to be believed in themselves, they were, nevertheless, credible features in a piece of medieval Catholic fantasy: Miracles, visions, necromancy, dreams and other preternatural events, are exploded now even from romances. That was not the case when our author wrote; much less when the story i t s e l f is supposed to have happened. Belief in every kind of prodigy was so established in those dark ages, that an author would not be faithful to the manners of the times, who should omit a l l mention of them. He is not bound to believe them himself, but he must represent his actors as believing them (p. 6). This last distinction illustrates Walpole's basic attitude toward the historical materials which he employed in his fantasies: one need not f u l l y re-enter the past in order to exploit i t s s t y l i s t i c resources. Sham was enough, for Otranto as for Strawberry H i l l , and the successful imposition was a pleasure in i t s e l f . 100 Walpole's translation device managed to deceive some of his readers, but not a l l . Thomas Gray wrote to him from Cambridge, where Otranto had caused only a minor sensation in Gray's c i r c l e : I have received The Castle of Otranto, and return you my thanks for i t . It engages our attention here, makes some of us cry a l i t t l e , and a l l in general afraid to go to bed o' nights. We take i t for a translation, and should believe i t to be a true story, i f i t were not for St. Nicholas.^ Since Gray had been a party to Walpole's secret, had read the manu- script before Walpole decided to publish i t , he was able to avoid being 44 fooled and to report on the work's reception with some detachment. A more typical sort of reaction came from Mason: . . . I w i l l not omit thanking you for a more extraordinary thing in i t s kind, which though i t comes not from your press, yet I have episcopal evidence is written by your hand. And indeed less than such evidence would scarce have contented me. For when a friend of mine to whom I had recommended The Castle of Otranto returned i t to me with some doubts of i t s origin- a l i t y , I laughed him to scorn, and wondered he could be so absurd as to think that anybody nowadays had imagination enough to invent such a story. He replied that his suspicions arose merely from some parts of familiar dialogue in i t , which he thought of too modern a cast. S t i l l sure of my point, I affirmed this objection, i f there was anything in i t , was merely owing to i t s not being translated a century ago. A l l this I make i t a point of conscience to t e l l you, for though i t proves me your dupe, I should be glad to be so duped again every year of my l i f e . ^ , . Mason's pleasure at being duped reflects three features of his reaction: his lack of c r i t i c a l acumen (his unnamed friend seems the more perceptive reader), his desire to ingratiate himself further with Walpole, and his acceptance of the whole false framework as something of more than passing interest. Indeed, deception was essential to the artistry, since the enjoyment of i t depended upon simultaneously observing and ignoring that the f i c t i o n (or the new-gothic building) was a sham. The case of 101 Walpole's French visi t o r who mistook the Cabinet at Strawberry H i l l for a real chapel demonstrates the actual working of the gothic sensibility: whether one was fooled or not, what was important was that the sham be impressive enough to excite the requisite associative fervor, that the sham transport•the beholder, or the reader, temporarily away from his modern scruples, while leaving him the chance to exercise them in the end. In Otranto the translation device was the chief means of accom- plishing this, and i t is significant that, even after he had claimed the work as his own openly, in the Preface to the Second Edition (1765), Walpole retained the Translator's Preface in subsequent editions. It was an integral part of the romance. I have already suggested that, beyond showing the reader that Otranto had to be considered at several ironic levels, the translation device indicated Walpole's reluctance to think of himself as a f i c t i o n - w r i t e r — or to be presented as one in public. That is why he continued to place so much emphasis, whenever he discussed the making of Otranto, upon his spontaneous, uncalculated and rapid method of composition. W. S. Lewis notes that Walpole "was bored with the insipidity of Richardson and the coarseness of Fielding and Smollett," but these were mainly objections against their literary qualities, not their personal characteristics or those of authors in general. According to the Walpoliana, however, he also had no tolerance for authors as social creatures: I have always rather tried to escape the acquaintance, and conversation, of authors. An author talking of his own works, or censuring those of others, is to me a dose of hypecacuana. I like only a few, who can in company forget their authorship, and remember plain sense... 102 Aside from such a direct expression of his dislike, Walpole showed his uneasiness with the idea of authorship in two other ways: through his copious apologies for Otranto, f i l l e d with references to his care- lessness and lack of technical s k i l l ; and through his half-hearted defence of the moralizing in the romance. In both cases, he was primarily interested in showing that, while he had (reluctantly) become an author, he was s t i l l a gentleman; and, as a corollary, that his social position should earn special allowances for his literary production. Walpole was anxious about the public reception of Otranto. His anxieties originated in his belief that fiction-writing was a risky occu- pation for a gentleman, but that only a gentleman could afford to take the risks necessary to rejuvenate f i c t i o n . His more explicit comments on the subject appeared soon after Otranto was published. For example, he replied to Mason's adulatory letter with a f a i r degree of apparent humil- it y : . . . I published The Castle of Otranto with the utmost d i f - fidence and doubt of i t s success. Yet though i t has been received much more favourably than I could flatter myself i t would be, I must say your approbation is of another sort than general opinion . . . your praise is so li k e l y to make me vain, that I oblige myself to recollect a l l the circumstances that can abate i t , such as the fear I had of producing i t at a l l (for i t is not everybody that may in this country play the fool with impunity); the hurry in which i t was composed; and i t s being begun without any plan at a l l . . . I think your friend judged rightly in pronouncing part of the dia- logue too modern. I had the same idea of i t , and I could, but such a t r i f l e does not deserve i t , point out other defects, besides some to which most probably I am not [sic] insensible.^ The parenthetical reference to the d i f f i c u l t y of playing the fool "with impunity" neatly outlines Walpole's position. Because he was neither a professional writer nor a professional builder, he did not 103 have to align his works s t r i c t l y with contemporary c r i t i c a l values. As a gentleman he could claim a certain licence to write—or to b u i l d — exclusively for his own amusement, following his own fashion, "in defi- ance of rules, of c r i t i c s , and of philosophers." Once he had sent his creations into the public realm, however, the situation changed somewhat. The literary amateur's privilege, i f abused or flaunted, might have undermined the reputation on which i t was founded. Moreover, Walpole must have believed that the kind of f i c t i o n that he had written (or invented) required the author "to play the fool"—that his gothic tastes, in that sense, were potentially dangerous. This belief did not stop him from flouting convention (his dissatisfaction with conventional f i c t i o n ensured that he would take the risk involved), but i t did make him cautious enough to appease conventional expectations occasionally. After the second edition of Otranto came out, with Walpole the acknowledged author, the Translator's Preface s t i l l may have offered the reader a context in which to read the romance, but i t no longer protected Walpole from the dangers of innovation (and Mason's letter makes one wonder how well i t ever had). Consequently, Walpole took care to define the limits of his work and to explain exactly what he thought he had accomplished. The defence and explanation had begun, in fact, in that part of the Translator's Preface where "Marshal" was supposed to be c r i t i c i z i n g the "original manuscript." He observed that, i f the "air of the miraculous" were accepted, no other unnatural or outlandish element would be found. Allow the possibility of the facts, and a l l the actors com- port themselves as persons would do in their situation. There is no bombast, no similes, flowers, digressions, or unnecessary descriptions. Every thing tends directly to the catastrophe. Never is the reader's attention relaxed. 104 The rules of the drama are almost observed throughout the conduct of the piece. The characters are well drawn, and s t i l l better maintained. Terror, the author's principal engine, prevents the story from ever languishing; and i t is so often contrasted by pity, that the mind i s kept up in a constant vicissitude of interesting passions (pp. 6-7). Here were the familiar restraints upon Walpole's imagination. He had to respect the demands of p r o b a b i l i t y — i f possibility were admitted— 48 especially in matters of characterization. He had to avoid elevated or heavily embellished language. He had to sustain a high level of tension and arousal: by concentrating the action, by alternating the reader's immersion in terror and pity, by constantly confronting the reader with the emotional crises of his characters. This argument had the effect of making the romance seem more normal than i t really was, by subjecting i t to many of the basic rules of fi c t i o n and drama. After defending the depiction of the servants in Otranto, the Translator's Preface turned to another area where Walpole may have anti- cipated controversy: the moral lesson which the romance pretended to convey. "Marshal" regretted that his "author" had not founded his story: . . . on a more useful moral than this: that the sins of fathers are visited on their children to the third and fourth generation. I doubt whether, in his time, any more than at present, ambition curbed i t s appetite of dominion from the dread of so remote a punishment. And yet this moral is weakened by that less direct insinuation, that even such anathema may be diverted, by devotion to St. Nicholas. Here, the interest of the Monk plainly gets the better of the judgment of the Author. The "translator" hoped, nevertheless, that the romance would satisfy the modern c r i t i c s ' preference that f i c t i o n have a didactic purpose in addi- 49 tion to i t s entertainment value: "The piety that reigns throughout, the lessons of virtue that are inculcated, and the rigi d purity of the 105 sentiments, exempt this work from the censure to which romances are but too liable" (pp. 7-8). Having correctly identified the moral muddiness of the tale, "Marshal" threw a sop to the more rabid moralists with his lame a f f i r - mations about i t s "piety," "lessons of virtue," and " r i g i d purity of sentiments." Since he had already invited his readers to cast the f u l l light of their modern Protestant discernment upon the devious mind that had fabricated the romance (i.e., the hypothetical propagandist's), he was unlikely to impress them with the solemnity or profundity of the fict i o n . At any rate, those were not the qualities which attracted most readers to The Castle of Otranto. There remained one good reason for the moral issue to arise here, and that was Walpole's desire to seem duly concerned with conventional notions of decency and serious didactic intentions, while, in fact, having no real concern for them at a l l . Only "Monk" Lewis, among the other gothic novelists, matched Walpole's a b i l i t y to treat the common proprieties so casually, and that was largely a measure of his confidence in the power of social standing to win exemp- tion from moral scruples. (In addition, Lewis was much more independently wealthy than Walpole.) In the second edition of Otranto, Walpole continued to justify and c r i t i c i z e his work, bu£ f i r s t he apologized to his readers for "having offered his work to them under the borrowed personage of a translator," again attributing the need for concealment to his modest expectations: As diffidence of his own a b i l i t i e s , and the novelty of the attempt, were the sole inducements to assume that disguise, he flatters himself he shall appear excusable. He resigned his performance to the impartial judgment of the public; determined to let i t perish in obscurity, i f disapproved; 106 nor meaning to avow such a t r i f l e , unless better judges should pronounce that he might own i t without a blush (p. 13). The project of se l f - j u s t i f i c a t i o n and explanation became more urgent now that Walpole's anonymity was gone. A further incentive was the romance's dubious success: despite the fact that the f i r s t edition of five hundred copies had sold out within three months, there was no overnight fame, and Walpole probably exaggerated Otranto's favourable reception—outside his own c i r c l e . C o n s e q u e n t l y , he wrote more directly about the guiding principles of the romance in the second preface, seeking to "explain the grounds on which he composed" it."'"'" These principles included both per- sonal motives and ideas about the relationship between traditional romances and novels. He described the inception of Otranto as an occasion for experiment and compromise: It was an attempt to blend the two kinds of Romance, the ancient and the modern. In the former, a l l was imagination and improbability: in the latter, nature is always intended to be, and sometimes has been, copied with success. Inven- tion has not been wanting; but the great resources of fancy have been dammed up, by a s t r i c t adherence to common l i f e . But i f , in the latter species, Nature has cramped imagination, she did but take her revenge, having been totally excluded from the old romances. The actions, sentiments, and conver- sations, of the heroes and heroines of ancient days, were as unnatural as the machines employed to put them in motion. The author . . . thought i t possible to reconcile the two kinds. Desirous of leaving the powers of fancy at liberty to expatiate through the boundless realms of invention, and thence of creating more interesting situations, he wished to conduct the mortal agents in his drama according to the rules of probability; in short, to make them think, speak, and act, as i t might be supposed mere men and women would do in extra- ordinary positions. He had observed, that, in a l l inspired writings, the personages under the dispensation of miracles, and witnesses to the most stupendous phenomena, never lose sight of their human character: whereas, in the productions of romantic story, an improbable event never f a i l s to be attended by an absurd dialogue. The actors seem to lose their sense, the moment the laws of Nature have lost their tone (pp. 13-14). 107 Walpole carried over some of the important points from the Trans- lator's Preface: the promise to.depict probable behaviour, the supposed avoidance of overblown rhetoric, the reference to f i c t i o n as i f i t were drama (in the earlier Preface, Walpole had submitted his work to "the rules of the drama"). But Walpole added to these a comparison of the "two kinds of Romance," which was implicit in the f i r s t Preface but unde- veloped. The idea of such a comparison had not originated with Walpole. The immediate precedent—if not influence—came from Hurd, who had shown the trade-off between fancy and reason almost three years earlier, in the Letters on Chivalry and Romance. Hurd was not writing as a practitioner of f i c t i o n , however, and remained skeptical that modern inventions could match the originals. It is plain that Walpole did not share this skepticism. One reason why he did not may have been the fact that he did not disagree strongly with the common line of attack against the medieval romances and their modern descendants; therefore, he could anticipate what form a modern version of the romance would have to assume in order to be accepted. His own hybrid romance depended upon, and reinforced, the prejudice against romances that was widespread among c r i t i c s of f i c t i o n . An exam- ple of such prejudice in action occurs in Tobias Smollett's Preface to The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748) where he offers a short pseudo- historical condemnation of the romance, in order to connect his own picaresque use of the romantic types and subjects with that of Cervantes: . . . when the minds of men were debauched, by the imposi- tion of priestcraft, to the most absurd pitch of credulity, the authors of romance arose, and, losing sight of proba- b i l i t y , f i l l e d their performances with the most monstrous hyperboles. If they could not equal the ancient poets in 108 point of genius, they were resolved to excel them in f i c t i o n , and apply to the wonder rather than the judgement of their readers. . . . Although nothing could be more ludicrous and unnatural than the figures they drew, they did not want patrons and admirers, and the world actually began to be infected with the s p i r i t of knight-errantry, when Cervantes, by an inimitable piece of ridicule, reformed the taste of mankind . . . converting romance to purposes far more useful and entertaining, by making i t assume the sock, and point out the f o l l i e s of ordinary l i f e . ^ Smollett's polemical history touches upon three major complaints against the romance: (1) i t did not follow, imitate, or concern i t s e l f with Nature (ideal or mundane), but instead took up unrealities and illusory images; (2) i t was the product of a barbarous era, when a lying, power-hungry priesthood propagated marvels and superstitions; (3) as a result of both these defects, i t had no educative value. On the contrary, the romance might lead modern children, especially those of the newly- literate lower-middle class, to believe that their lives were too stable, 53 sane, and dull. Walpole exploited exactly such assumptions in order to reconcile his readers to the idea that the romances had their own l i c i t pleasures, which they might enjoy without losing entirely their contempt for the era and the mentality that had produced them. It was the readers' shar- ing of these assumptions that allowed them to understand how Otranto should be read, and to trust that i t s outlook was, after a l l , reassuringly novelistic, not romantic. The translation device, for example, only worked properly i f the second complaint (given above) was generally advanced; the association of extravagances and marvels with a particular historical period made the device's pretense plausible. And, of course, the thought that the romances were somehow a dangerous or a barbarous 109 entertainment did not reduce their attractiveness—when danger and bar- barity began to seem an antidote against the banality of c i v i l i z a t i o n . On the other hand, the frequent note of narrative sarcasm and condescen- sion implied a voice outside the credulous time of the story and i t s original t e l l i n g , a voice which expressed the modern attitude toward such fables: amused indulgence. By assimilating, instead of resisting, the novelists' criticism of romance, Walpole ensured that The Castle of Otranto could be appreciated on at least two levels: as an exciting alternative to the dull common run of f i c t i o n ; and as a brief excursion into the quaint romantic t e r r i - tory, with modern c r i t i c a l equipment brought along. These levels were not so much discrete as complementary. Certainly for Walpole's contem- poraries, especially for those who became gothic enthusiasts, the former was more important, since i t represented his real innovation and d i s t i n - guished him from other fiction-writers. But here again the case of Otranto resembled that of Strawberry H i l l . In both creations, the fact that Walpole made allowance for more familiar tastes or attitudes gave him the freedom to introduce the unfamiliar without appearing to deviate from the conventional mode. Thus, he could not have "given reins" to his imagination, unless he was confident that the reins could be grasped again, that the imagination could be subdued as well as freed. Excessive common sense j u s t i f i e d , for Walpole, the flight into the realm of visions, but the excesses of fantasy, in turn, invited reasonable controls. As a gentleman and an amateur, Walpole of course had more liberty than most builders or writers to choose a balance between the conventional and the unconventional. At Strawberry H i l l , as I have shown already, the 110 reasonable controls were various: convenience and luxury, availability of materials, technical s k i l l , eclectic tastes, and concern for social p o s i t i o n — a l l restrained Walpole's architectural gothicism and, in so doing, made sure that i t could not be dismissed simply as an affectation. The resulting gothic hybrid had the advantage of influencing the wider audience who were not liable to sympathize with either antiquarian or doctrinal gothicism, but who were able to react to Strawberry H i l l in terms of the picturesque, or of associative effects, or of the exotic collection. Similarly, in Otranto the two levels of appreciation enhanced the romance's acceptability by providing complementary experiences of i t s fi c t i o n a l subject: one that relieved the dullness and insipidity of "common l i f e " with an interlude in "the boundless realms of invention," another that rationalized the strange characters, scenes and themes by referring to accepted tastes and attitudes. Again, the advantage of this compromise was that i t made Walpole appear to be exercising a sort of self-censorship, whereas in fact he was reintroducing to fi c t i o n an interest in irrationality, violence, sexual deviance, and emotional excess that would not have been as palatable i f he had not offered his readers a way of explaining i t . After a l l , these were the themes that might be expected to interest a Roman Catholic propagandist, or that might have arisen naturally in barbarous times. Walpole wanted to use the romance—or a hybrid form of i t — t o con- vert the fi c t i o n of his day. In order to understand how he hoped to do this, i t is necessary to have a clearer idea of his attitudes toward the romance and the novel. Unlike the reformer Cervantes who figures in I l l Smollett's history of the romance, Walpole was not mainly worried about the dangerous, deluding effects of romance—though he was sensitive to them. Instead, he was disappointed by the limitations which he f e l t had been set upon the scope of f i c t i o n . Since Cervantes had held the romantic ideal up to ridicule, the evolution of f i c t i o n had come f u l l c i r c l e , so that the pallor of the modern novel was as undesirable as the luridness of the ancient romance. In objecting to "a s t r i c t adherence to common l i f e , " in the Preface to the second edition of Otranto, Walpole was referring to two different things: l i f e confined within the common defi- nition of what is natural; and low l i f e , populated by vulgar characters and depicted in a vulgar manner. The f i r s t sense required that f i c t i o n be d u l l , the second that i t be ungainly and disgusting. Walpole's claim that "the great resources of fancy have been dammed up," his desire to observe the probable behaviour of "mere men and women . . . in extra- ordinary positions," were measures of his dissatisfaction with the faithful recording of l i f e at itssmost circumstantial level. His sense of the shortcomings of conventional f i c t i o n affected the character of his own work in ways that he did not note in his Prefaces. Much of the strangeness of his technique in Otranto can be explained through the values which he did not hold, the conventions which he did not choose to observe. The new psychological realism did not appeal to him. He thought Richardson's works b o r i n g , a n d he did not linger over the psychological condition of his own characters except when i t overflowed in some strik- ing external act, some exaggerated gesture of passion or grief. He was interested in the spectacle in which his characters figured, not the 112 intricacies of personality. In the Walpoliana he is reported to have complained of the contemporary French tragedy that " i t i s not dramatic, not pity and terror moved by incident and action—but an interest created 5 5 by perplexity, mental conflict, and situation." The tools he employed in psychological analysis were rather blunt; for example, he laid the background for Manfred's competing feelings of rage and compassion with reference to abstract forces: Manfred was not one of those savage tyrants, who wanton in cruelty unprovoked. The circumstances of his fortune had given an asperity to his temper, which was naturally humane; and his virtues were always ready to operate, when his pas- sions did not obscure his reason (p. 42). Although such general terms were a common means of abbreviating more complex motives, Walpole, unlike many of his contemporaries, seemed con- tent not to penetrate much further into the origins of malice and revenge— indeed, he established the precedent for later gothicists, that such dark forces should be made more and more mysterious. This relative superfi- c i a l i t y , this reluctance to mull over causation and the minute sparks of feeling was convenient for Walpole, because i t permitted him to make his figures from a very malleable substance, to put them through rapid changes from one mask to another, without elaborate preparations to make this seem plausible to the reader. The characterization of Manfred again furnishes the best example of the advantages of such f l e x i b i l i t y . While his wife, Hippolita, glosses over the fact that the giant apparition is real, Manfred is depicted as going through various mental states: Manfred, though persuaded, like his wife, that the vision had been no work of fancy, recovered a l i t t l e from the tempest of mind into which so many strange events had thrown 113 him. Ashamed too, of his inhuman treatment of a Princess, who returned every injury with new marks of tenderness and duty; he f e l t returning love forcing i t s e l f into his eyes— but not less ashamed of feeling remorse towards one, against whom he was inwardly meditating a yet more bitter outrage, he curbed the yearnings of his heart, and did not dare to lean even towards pity. The next transition of his soul was to exquisite v i l l a i n y (pp. 48-49). While the reader has the suggestion of a tempestuous mind, the minute features of Manfred's sufferings and anxieties remain unstudied. The shallowness of the psychological penetration guarantees that dialogue, like the characters' other actions, w i l l stay at the level of gesture and exhibition, yielding few revelations about personality, emotion, or motivation. The unpredictability of the characters, however, lends them the i l l u s i o n of texture; Walpole thus avoided the error which he com- plained of finding in Fanny Burney's Cecilia — that of "continually letting out" a character's "ruling passion.""^ The fact that i t seems normal, within the romance, for the characters to s p l i t off abruptly on some new course also excuses their apparently motiveless changes of heart, such as Manfred's eventual acquiescence in entering the neighbour- ing monastery, which otherwise would seem arbitrary and mechanical. However, since the motivational basis for Manfred's earlier malignity is so thinly defined, the basis for his repentance does not have to be any more substantial—not, at least, in order to be consistent. While Walpole wrote as i f psychological subtlety were an encumbrance, he was equally impatient with the accumulation of circumstantial details required by r e a l i s t i c narration. In this respect, his f i c t i o n , like the traditional ballads which began to reappear at this time, has i t s own austere economy of representation. He does not immerse the reader in 114 the associative richness, or the mysteriousness, or the exoticism of the setting for its own sake. Instead, the setting is instrumental in serving his more fundamental interests, and he uses i t schematically, symbolically, and suggestively. These are a l l uses which tend to dis- pense with minute description and superficial, historical accuracy. The encounters, discoveries, threats, captures, and escapes that make up the whole plot of The Castle of Otranto occur in a maze through which the main characters hurtle, drawing along the reader at the same precipitous speed, refusing him the chance to situate them within their environment, or even to realize that environment. For this reason, the Castle assumes a schematic, rather than a circumstantial, reality: i t consists of the various routes the characters follow in their f l i g h t s , pursuits, and fatal encounters. We become aware of i t s layout, of the subterranean passages that link i t with the nearby places of refuge, of its galleries, chambers and corridors above ground, but this awareness provides l i t t l e more than an outline, in which objects become incidental to the rapid action. And as that action hurries toward i t s peak of violence and recogni- tion, the symbolic use of the setting becomes more evident as well. The symbolism depends mainly on the intrusive element in the scene: the giant, whose armour and burgeoning limbs throw Manfred's household into chaos, by appearing with disturbingly appropriate frequency and effect. From the very opening incident, when the great plumed casque crushes out the l i f e of Manfred's son and heir, Conrad ("a homely youth, sickly, and of no promising disposition"), on his wedding day, the giant apparition enters into a contest with Manfred for occupancy of the Castle and for 115 the power which i t represents. The helmet deprives Manfred not only of his son but also of free use of the Castle. The enormous weight of the "enchanted casque" breaks through the courtyard floor into the vault below, enabling the "sorcerer" Theodore to escape captivity and to aid Isabella in her fl i g h t (pp. 37-40). When Manfred f i n a l l y discovers him, Theodore points to the helmet as his "accomplice," in order to show the ridiculousness of the tyrant's accusations. But the connection between Theodore and the giant is more accurate than either he or Manfred sup- poses; for the armed figure is the most visible symbol of Theodore's legitimate claim to power, and of his true, noble lineage. As the figure grows beyond the capacity of the Castle, so Theodore's rights become obvious, beyond Manfred's capacity to deny them. The fact that the giant, once reassembled, turns out to be the venerable Alfonso's spiritual form c l a r i f i e s the symbolic pattern, which is further extended when Manfred, seeing Theodore dressed in armour, mistakes him for Alfonso's ghost (pp. 106-7). As the giant enlarges, i t helps to f u l f i l Manfred's family curse, which eventually destroys his children and revokes his power. It is appropriate that Alfonso should return in "dilated" scale, a change which indicates the vigor of his line (in contrast to Manfred's), the enormity of the crimes against him, the heavy burden of conscience upon Manfred, and the potency of the supernatural forces that guarantee jus- tice in the mortal realm. Manfred's loss of control over the Castle, as well as the Castle's inability to contain the giant, proves the f r a g i l i t y of his system of self-deception; the Castle is as puny as Manfred's attempts to deny his inherited guilt or to avert his family's doom. The f u l l extent of the symbolic pattern appears with the apotheosis of 116 Alfonso: . . . a clap of thunder . . . shook the castle to i t s foun- dations; the earth rocked, and the clank of more than mortal armour was heard behind. Frederic and Jerome thought the last day was at hand. The latter, forcing Theodore along with them, rushed into the court. The moment Theodore appeared, the walls of the castle behind Manfred were thrown down with a mighty force, and the form of Alfonso, dilated to an immense magnitude, appeared in the center of the ruins. Behold in Theodore the true heir of Alfonso! said the vision: and having pronounced these words, accompanied by a clap of thunder, i t ascended solemnly towards Heaven, where, the clouds parting asunder, the form of St. Nicholas was seen, and, receiving Alfonso's shade, they were soon wrapt from mortal eyes in a blaze of glory (pp. 144-45). Having witnessed this baroque spectacle, Hippolita provides the proper, sententious interpretation of i t s symbols: "My Lord, said she, to the desponding Manfred, behold the vanity of human greatness! Conrad is gone! Matilda is no more! in Theodore we view the true Prince of Otranto" (p. 145). Here the symbolic value of the Castle is duly sum- marized. Although the modern reader might not have brought the same degree of moral seriousness to his interpretation, he s t i l l might have seen the significance of the Castle, not in terms of the "vanity of human greatness," but of the vanity of self-delusion. In any case, i t is important to note that the Castle's symbolic function does not require that i t be carefully described. And exact description would have destroyed the suggestiveness of the setting, the vague sense that the Castle is an animate object as well as a symbolic one. In addition, the obscurity of the setting, which is a result of i t s hazy depiction, suggests the mystery which surrounds i t s inhabitants, a mystery which is f u l l y explained only when Manfred and Jerome t e l l the true story of Alfonso and his descendants—and only after the Castle is ruined (pp. 146-48). 117 Since the schematic, symbolic, and suggestive uses of the setting do not need a supporting fabric of detail, Walpole's desire to indulge personal, gothic fantasies determines the choice of a setting more than i t s treatment. There is scarcely any sign in The Castle of Otranto of the plenitude of artifacts, decoration, familiar associations, of the delight in an historical period vividly imagined, that Walpole maintained so diligently at Strawberry H i l l . He did not collect observations about costume, language, customs, or attitudes in The Castle of Otranto as he collected paintings, books, china, armour, and other items of virtu at Strawberry H i l l . In architecture, Walpole's gothicism naturally took the form of a fascination with objects and their associations, but in f i c t i o n he was not similarly bound to use the evocative power of historical things. At Strawberry H i l l the gothic veneer—the collection of recherche objects, the facile imitation of antiquity—was the whole gothic experience; in The Castle of Otranto, whatever attention was given to historical authen- t i c i t y and description served a purpose beyond the mere evocation of ancient times. Walpole's claim that he was "retracing with . . . f i d e l i t y the manners of ancient days" must be studied with reference to his u l t i - mate, actual subject—and that was not the "quality of l i f e " or the "customs" of medieval men and women. In Otranto exotic atmosphere is more important than historical accuracy. Although the plot might have been based, to some extent, on real events and persons,"'7 Walpole's efforts at lending an archaic flavour to the f i c t i o n were limited. He did try to affect a false medieval dic- tion and vocabulary (using the older pronoun forms), and to introduce the terms of chivalry and feudalism, but there is such a thorough mixture of 118 elements and idioms that the result has no particular historical char- acter, and cannot be identified with any period. Its main distinction is that i t is antique and quaintly formal. Considering language only, we have the following specimen, spoken by Matilda to Theodore: Stranger . . . i f thy misfortunes have not been occasioned by thy own fault, and are within the compass of the Princess Hippolita's power to redress, I w i l l take upon me to answer that she w i l l be thy protectress. When thou art dismissed from this castle, repair to holy father Jerome, at the con- vent adjoining to the church of St. Nicholas, and make thy story known to him, as far as thou thinkest meet; he w i l l not f a i l to inform the Princess, who i s the mother of a l l that want her assistance (p. 56). The importance of exoticism in the gothic novels w i l l be discussed in detail in the next section of this study; here i t is enough to observe two major factors. An exotic atmosphere was of prime importance in Otranto, in part because i t gave the reader the superficial t h r i l l of escape, but mainly because i t granted a certain measure of thematic licence. When examining the translation device and Walpole's acceptance of the common critique of romances, I suggested the advantages of Wal- pole's ostensible self-censorship and of his allowance of two levels of interpretation for Otranto (pp. !>8--;.v0- supra). The reading which can accommodate a l l themes comfortably, by dismissing those which seem predictably barbarous, and therefore outlandish, complements the reading which seizes upon the same themes precisely because they are barbarous and dangerous. The net effect i s that the fi c t i o n appears simultaneously 58 safe, moderate, or conventional, and subversive, excessive, or strange. In both cases, exoticism, not historical scholarship, provoked the appro- priate responses. For those readers who entertained a proper respect for their own time and a proper contempt for a l l others, the mere whiff of 119 the alien or the antique was sufficient to signal "barbarity." For those readers who saw in the exotic (whether historical or geographical) a respite from contemporary dullness, the goal was sensational novelty, not meticulous lessons in cultural history. In the c r i t i c a l passage with which this section began, Sir Walter Scott would appear to overrate the historical f i d e l i t y of The Castle of Otranto, since, as I have argued above, i t was hardly Walpole's object "to draw such a picture of domestic l i f e and manners, during the feudal times, as might actually have existed." It would almost seem as i f Scott had projected upon Otranto his own bias, for he himself preferred to display historical authenticity prominently in his f i c t i o n . In Ivanhoe (1819), for example, he took care to point out the differences in lan- guage and dress between the Anglo-Saxons and their Norman overlords, following the distinction through their oaths and vocabulary, their 59 customs, p o l i t i c a l relations, national characteristics and religion. Scott certainly could not have found any similar depiction of the actual texture of the past in The Castle of Otranto, and his admiration for the romance appears misguided, until one notices that the eventual emphasis in Scott's critique of Otranto f a l l s upon i t s excellence "in bringing forth the sensation of supernatural awe, connected with halls that have echoed to the sounds of remote generations," an excellence which he believed unattainable in new-gothic buildings. Scott correctly identi- fied the true strength—and the true subject—of The Castle of Otranto, which gives i t i t s own kind of authenticity: the evocation of an unfamil- iar, but impressive, state of emotional arousal and irrational belief. 120 The striving for strong emotional effects, and for dramatic themes which might occasion such effects, determined many of the peculiar char- acteristics of The Castle of Otranto: i t s unusual literary models, for instance. Given his interest in exploiting the display of strong emotions, i t was natural that Walpole should turn for inspiration, guidance, and jus- t i f i c a t i o n to a genre where excess of emotion and sentiment was a normal, conventional feature. Classical and Renaissance tragedy seemed the appropriate type. Thus, in the c r i t i c a l apparatus with which he sur- rounded Otranto Walpole liked to cite Shakespeare as his precedent and exemplar. He went so far as to revive the jaded dispute between French c r i t i c s , who valued the Rules, and English poets, who valued their genius and liberty, in order to defend Shakespeare's work and connect i t — i n 60 some obscure way—with his own. But this was only a pretended a f f i n i t y , a way of placating respectable c r i t i c a l opinion and Walpole's own sense of literary tradition. In practice, his real models came from another source: the spectacular theatre of Webster and Ford, the theatre of revenge and dark v i l l a i n y — t h e melodrama, not the tragedy. This sort of theatre had already put out roots in more recent times, reappearing in 61 Otway's Venice Preserved (1682), for example. The elements of spectacle—hyperbole, sentiments stretched to the extreme, i r r e s i s t i b l e cruel impulses—affected the dialogue in Otranto, and the whole method of dramatic presentation, structure, and character- ization. The characters, particularly the noble or "high" characters, tend to speak and act as i f they were constantly aware of an unseen audience, for whom they were playing the climax of a dramatic performance 121 which consists of nothing but climaxes. Contrary to the purpose that Walpole stated in the second Preface, they do not "think, speak, and act, as i t might be supposed mere men and women would do in extraordinary positions." There are several reasons for this apparent discrepancy, aside from Walpole's desire for sel f - j u s t i f i c a t i o n . F i r s t , and most important, is the matter of his innovative territory. Despite Walpole's careful exposition, in the second Preface, of his new fi c t i o n a l synthesis—an analysis which was so influential that Scott almost duplicated i t sixty years l a t e r — t h e evidence of the romance i t s e l f shows what Scott also noticed: a stronger interest in "extraordinary positions" than in prob- ab i l i t y . The veneer of conventional elements—the familiar patterns of locution, the decorum and sentimentality of the sympathetic characters— made this interest somehow "safer," by qualifying i t , but did not reduce the essential, attractive novelty of the "extraordinary situations." Second, there is the matter of Otranto's relative value and i t s context. The deliberately cultivated strangeness of the gothic context explains the characters' a r t i f i c i a l i t y . Since the situations into which they were cast were unusual, i t was not to be expected that their prob- able behaviour would be the same as the probable behaviour of the "mere men and women" in ordinary, bourgeois, r e a l i s t i c f i c t i o n . On the other hand, the implied distinctions between the old romances and Walpole's new mixed mode in the second Preface signal a shift in the notion of probability, to make allowance for differences in theme and approach. Although the claim in the Translator's Preface that Otranto contained "no bombast, no similes, flowers, digressions, or unnecessary descrip- 122 tions" was untrue in a l l except the last item, Walpole did manage to avoid what he considered the major defect of previous "productions of romantic story": the invariable association of improbable events with "absurd dialogue" and absurd behaviour. He did not bring to his charac- terizations the psychological penetration of Richardson or the wide- ranging insight of Fielding, but he did introduce some sense of motiva- tional and ethical patterns, of the interweaving of guilt and responsi- b i l i t y , a sense that he f e l t was badly lacking in the old romances. If the "actions, sentiments, and conversations" of Walpole's characters were not exactly natural, frequently anti-natural by the standards of the modern novel, they were at least more probable and less whimsical than those of the "heroes and heroines of ancient days," and as natural as might be expected in a strange realm of miracles and supernaturalism. Moreover, the context of The Castle of Otranto was not only gothic and alien, but also tragic. At any rate, Walpole treated the romance as i f i t had been composed according to the principles of tragedy—as he 62 understood them. The Translator's Preface invoked these by claiming "terror" as "the author's principal engine . . . so often contrasted by pity, that the mind is kept up in a constant vicissitude of interesting passions." Although these terms ("terror" and "pity")were dropped in the second Preface, in favour of the phrase "extraordinary positions," the same sense of high dramatic purpose remained to exercise an influence over criticism of the romance. For example, in defending his introduction of comic servants in Otranto, Walpole carefully distinguished between the chief qualities of the "high" and "low" characters: "the contrast between the sublime of the one and the naivete of the other, sets the pathetic of 123 the former in a stronger light" (p. 15). The main characters' involve- ment with the sublime and the pathetic, or with the conventions of tragedy, implies that they are acting at a level of elevated feeling, sentiment and language; defining this context helps to excuse their frequently a r t i f i c i a l , anti-natural speech and behaviour. Even i f we substitute a more accurate identification of the generic a f f i n i t i e s (i.e., "melodrama" instead of "tragedy"), we diminish the apparent a r t i f i c i a l i t y somewhat when we see i t against a conventional background that includes excessive emotion, heightened sensibility and sentimentality, and over- blown rhetoric as standard features. As with the excuse provided by Otranto's alien setting, this means of redefining what is a r t i f i c i a l or natural relies on the reader's expectations for various literary genres and types. Having greatly reduced the psychological and descriptive aspects of the narrative, Walpole was l e f t with two main areas for dramatic develop- ment: action and rhetoric. In both areas he managed to advance his interest in the excessive, the extraordinary, the sensational, and the sublime, while qualifying i t s extent and seriousness. He successfully imitated the pious Catholic propagandist or the medieval romancer, but retained the cooler c r i t i c a l intelligence and taste of the modern, genteel, Protestant skeptic. The action of Otranto is centred on the downfall of Manfred's house and the catastrophic fulfilment of the prophetic curse against i t . This basic plot line includes various subsidiary stories and problems: the extent and nature of Manfred's inherited guilt; the actual fate of Alfonso's descendants and the true familial connections among the charac- 124 ters; the romantic triangle of Theodore, Matilda and Isabella; and the fate of the loyal Hippolita. The reader's desire to discover the resolu- tion of a l l these interwoven matters—even i f the resolution be more or less mechanical—provides the impetus in The Castle of Otranto. Walpole depended upon this desire, and sought to make the reader conscious of i t by occasionally frustrating i t . This, he explained in the second Preface, was an advantage of the comic interludes: The very impatience which a reader feels, while delayed, by the coarse pleasantries of vulgar actors, from arriving at the knowledge of the important catastrophe he expects, per- haps heightens, certainly proves that he has been artfu l l y interested in, the depending event (p. 15). One cannot reach that "depending event," however, unt i l the characters have clashed with each other, pursued, captured, concealed, suspected, misunderstood, and discovered each other, and un t i l they have unfolded the meaning of the events in which they are caught up. The action is often punctuated by violence and spectacle. It opens with the death of Conrad under the gigantic helmet, and culminates with Manfred's blundering murder of his own daughter, Matilda, an act which, as Jerome observes with pious satisfaction, rounds out the cycle of blood vengeance: Now, tyrant! behold the completion of woe f u l f i l l e d on thy impious and devoted head! The blood of Alfonso cried to Heaven for vengeance, and.Heaven has permitted i t s altar to be polluted by assassination, that thou mightest shed thy own blood at the foot of that Prince's sepulchre! (p. 140). The intervening events lay a marked stress upon violence or the threat of violence. Indeed, this seems to be a f i c t i o n a l world in which animosity and force control a l l relations among people. Theodore is 125 twice imprisoned—the f i r s t time, in a particularly bizarre fashion, under the helmet that k i l l e d Conrad, merely for daring to link Alfonso with the helmet. Manfred claps his chamber door shut against Matilda, crying: "Begone! I do not want a daughter" (p. 29). Theodore mistakenly fights with Frederic, the Marquis of Vicenza, his eventual father-in-law, and wounds him grievously. Isabella flees from the Castle not simply because the i l l i c i t and unnatural lechery of Manfred offends her delicate sensibility, but also because she has good reason to fear that he w i l l extort her compliance (see pp. 30-33: "Heaven nor h e l l shall impede my designs! said Manfred, advancing again to seize the Princess"). Even the servant who brings Manfred the news of Conrad's death does not merely report, but comes "running back breathless, in a frantic manner, his eyes staring, and foaming at the mouth," whereupon Hippolita "without knowing what was the matter, but anxious for her son, swooned away" (p. 22). Allied with the element of violence is Walpole's avid taste for the spectacular and the extraordinary, which permeates both incident and speech, consistently revealing the vast distance between the f i c t i o n a l world, with i t s dangerous, freely-indulged passions and i t s supernatural agents, and the normal, familiar world of repressed desire, commercial advantage, and d u l l , conventional religion, which only occasionally intrudes. The romance is crammed with ominous, ghostly v i s i t o r s , with signs that comment upon, and magnify, the human concerns of the charac- ters. The giant's casque i s , of course, the f i r s t of these that we encounter, and i t s enormity does partially account for the panic that i t inspires. Like a l l the other spectacular apparitions, i t is awesome because i t s strangeness overwhelms the beholders. In addition, the 126 apparitions are a l l related in some way to the primary, ancient prophecy upon Manfred's family fortunes, which has declared "that the Castle and Lordship of Otranto should pass from the present family whenever the real owner should be grown too large to.inhabit it" (p. 22). Thus, when Man- fred makes plain his designs upon Isabella, the plume of the great helmet waves significantly at window-level, and the portrait of his grandfather, which hangs in the gallery, puts on an even more astonishing performance: At that instant, the portrait of his grandfather . . . uttered a deep sigh, and heaved i t s breast. . . . Manfred, distracted between the flig h t of Isabella, who had now reached the stairs, and yet unable to keep his eyes from the picture, which began to move, had, however, advanced some steps after her, s t i l l looking backwards on the portrait, when he saw i t quit i t s panel, and descend on the floor, with a grave and melancholy air. Do I dream? cried Manfred, returning; or are the devils themselves in league against me? Speak, infernal spectre! or, i f thou art my grandsire, why dost thou too conspire against thy wretched descendant, who too dearly pays for—e'er he could finish the sentence, the vision sighed again, and made a sign to Manfred to follow him. Lead on! cried Manfred, I w i l l follow thee to the gulph of perdition! The spectre marched sedately, but dejected, to the end of the gallery, and turned into a chamber on the right-hand. Manfred accompanied him at a l i t t l e distance, f u l l of anxiety and horror, but resolved. As he would have entered the chamber, the door was clapped to with violence by an invisible hand (pp. 32-33). If the sophisticated eighteenth-century reader did not entirely believe that the apparitions were real, he at least had the chance to discover what such a belief would have been like—and many readers were willing to be immersed in that receptive atmosphere, and deceived by i t , temporarily. The success of the i l l u s i o n results from Walpole's setting aside of rational explanations for the numerous strange and spectacular occurrences. Paradoxically, when natural causes are adduced for these occurrences, they seem less credible than supernatural ones. Having made allowance for the actual intervention of spi r i t s in moral affair s , as the price of admission into the alien, f i c t i o n a l world, we come to 127 suspect that any character's attempt at rationality is self-delusion, especially since reactions and interpretations in Otranto typically rely upon faith, superstition, or passion, not intellect. At least, the prevalent attitudes of credulity and near-paranoia indicate that rational explanations for events should be taken ironically. Such i s the case when, in Chapter III, Theodore, overcome with his passionate devotion to Matilda, exclaims: "from this moment, my injuries are buried deep in oblivion." As usual, the response of the spiritual forces, who are Theodore's guardians and monitors, i s immediate: "A deep and hollow groan, which seemed to come from above, startled the Princess and Theo- dore. Good heaven! we are overheard! said the Princess. They listened, but perceiving no further noise, they both concluded i t the effect of pent-up vapours" (p. 95). In the version of the gothic that, following Walpole's practice, did not permit the luxury of rational discourse for it s characters, such a conclusion was a sign of naivete, innocence, or complacency, for the guiding principle was that a l l events are portentous. Although the violent, spectacular elements in otranto serve to reinforce both the favourable and the condescending images of i t s vaguely- defined, medieval, foreign setting (i.e., to evoke responses based on the two main kinds of gothicism; see above, pp. 62-68), there is yet another dimension to their importance. For violence and spectacle are the basic materials of Walpole's thematic and psychological preoccupation with unrestrained criminal or sentimental passions and their display through action and speech. In the fi c t i o n a l environment of The Castle of Otranto, moderation i s almost unknown. Yet, i t s absence—the preponderance of overblown rhetoric, 128 formulaic exchanges of insult or affection, exaggerated responses to events—is not simply a matter of literary mannerism. On the contrary, these excessive qualities are perfectly consistent with the motive forces within the romance, Manfred's lust and greed, which are, after a l l , sins of excess, of ambition or desire indulged immoderately. Whereas the action of Otranto mainly concerns the downfall of Manfred's household, the real centre of interest remains the crime which has brought about the downfall—the crime and i t s effects on both the criminal and his victims. During the course of the gothic novel's development, the focus of atten- tion shifted progressively further and further from punishment and r e t r i - bution toward the mysterious, fatally attractive, often noble character 63 of the criminal himself. Excess, in i t s various forms and manifestations, i s the endemic disease of Otranto, affecting a l l i t s social levels in some way. Man- fred's servants appear by nature incapable of giving him a straight answer; they are stubbornly loquacious, refusing to t e l l a story or give a report in anything other than their own speed and fashion. They have not learned to discipline their tongues, their superstitious credulity, or their powers of observation, though in one scene Matilda's maid, Bianca,suggests that i t is her superior who is deficient: A bystander often sees more of the game than those that play. . . . Does your highness think, madam, that his question about my Lady Isabella was the result of mere curiosity? No, no, madam; there is more in i t than you great folks are aware of (pp. 57-8). This example of impertinence follows immediately after another. An unseen speaker, who turns out to be Theodore, asks Matilda, after the exchange of appropriate courtesies, whether i t is true, as he has heard 129 from the servants, that Isabella has fled from the Castle. Since the young man is supposed to be merely a peasant and Matilda's pious humility does not prevent her from paying s t r i c t attention to social distinctions, she replies disdainfully: What imports i t to thee to know? . . . Thy f i r s t words be- spoke a prudent and becoming gravity. Dost thou come hither to pry into the secrets of Manfredl Adieu. I have been mistaken in thee. Saying these words, she shut the^casement hastily, without giving the young man time to reply (p. 57). If Theodore's curiosity exceeds what i s proper in his social station, Matilda's suspiciousness, apparently picked up from her father, exceeds necessary caution, temporarily keeping her from meeting, and aiding, Theodore. When they f i n a l l y do meet, and Matilda assists him in escaping the Castle, Walpole presents their parting in a delirium of sentiment and magnified gesture: Go; heaven be thy guide!—and sometimes in thy prayers remember—Matilda! Theodore flung himself at her feet, and seizing her l i l y hand, which with struggles she suffered him to kiss, he vowed, on the earliest opportunity, to get himself knighted, and fervently entreated her permission to swear himself eternally her Knight.—Ere the Princess could reply, a clap of thunder was suddenly heard, that shook the battlements. Theodore, regardless of the tempest, would have urged his suit; but the Princess, dismayed, retreated hastily into the castle, and commanded the youth to be gone, with an air that would not be disobeyed. He sighed, and retired, but with eyes fixed on the gate, u n t i l Matilda, closing i t , put an end to an interview, in which the hearts of both had drunk so deeply of a passion, which both now tasted for the f i r s t time (pp. 95-96). Walpole, of course, was historian and genealogist enough to know that a young man, no matter how earnest, could not simply "get himself knighted" at w i l l ; presumably Theodore's peasant upbringing has l e f t him ignorant of such matters. The point of his vows and declarations, 130 however, i s to exhibit his greatness of s p i r i t and his robust innocence. Here, as elsewhere in The Castle of Otranto (and as in Walpole's verse tragedy, The Mysterious Mother), there i s not only flamboyant gesture, high sentiment, and intense passion, but also a self-conscious display, a parading of these dramatic colorations. This sense of self-dramatization i s activated with particular force in Matilda's death scene, much of which seems to be conceived as a suc- cession of tableaux, each somehow more lur i d than the preceding one. Thus, when Manfred stabs her, instead of Isabella, some of the monks nearby rush to aid "the aff l i c t e d Theodore" in trying to stanch her wound, while "the rest prevented Manfred from laying violent hands on himself" (p. 140). As Matilda i s borne from the church back to the Castle, "Theodore supporting her head with his arm, and hanging over her in an agony of despairing love, s t i l l endeavoured to inspire her with hopes of l i f e . Jerome, on the other side, comforted her with discourses of Heaven, and, holding a crucifix before her, which she bathed with innocent tears, prepared her for her passage to immortality. Manfred, plunged in the deepest a f f l i c t i o n , followed the l i t t e r in despair" (p. 141). At the sight of "the af f l i c t e d procession" Hippolita i s over- come by "the mightiness of her grief" and swoons. Matilda, who has already argued with her father over who should forgive whom, calls him to her side and "seizing his hand and her mother's, locked them in her own, and then clasped them to her heart. Manfred could not support this act of pathetic piety. He dashed himself on the ground, and cursed the day he was born" (p. 142). For fear of subjecting Matilda to an excess of passionate grief, Hippolita orders that he be taken to his chamber, 131 but she herself refuses to be separated from her daughter. Theodore wildly insists that Jerome marry him to Matilda, while there is s t i l l time, continuing his demands even when Frederic, prompted no doubt by his own claim upon Matilda, rebukes him: "Young man, thou art too unadvised. . . . Dost thou think we are to listen to thy fond transports in this hour of fate?" (p. 143). But we are to listen to them, for "fond transports" are the main material of which this scene i s composed. When Matilda, at last, expires, in an atmosphere permeated with teary sentimentality, piety and forgiveness, the reactions are predictably and impressively violent: "Isabella and her women tore H i p p o l i t a from the corpse; but Theodore threatened destruction to a l l who attempted to remove him from i t . He printed a thousand kisses on her clay-cold hands, and uttered every expression that despairing love could dictate" (p. 144). It is appropriate that the love between Theodore and Matilda, having scarcely begun, should end in this embrace, with i t s hint of necrophilia; for the basic excesses in The Castle of Otranto are a l l sexual. Manfred's own crime, for which he is personally culpable, i s his outrageous desire to use Isabella to perpetuate his line; since she has been entrusted to his guardianship, and has become a daughter in his household, this desire i s something between a breach of hospitality and outright incest. In addition, i t causes him to disregard the absurdity of the proposed match and Isabella's revulsion, and to cast off Hippolita, despite her faithfulness, simply because she is i n f e r t i l e . He is not alone in this lustful blindness; though Walpole does not emphasize the Marquis' degree of criminality, Frederic is quite willing, nevertheless, to exchange Isabella's happiness for his own sexual interest. He has fallen prey to 132 Manfred's scheme for winning consent to his plan, having developed a singleminded passion of his own—for Matilda. The daughters are almost sacrificed in this bargain, and Matilda is at last sacrificed outside i t , while Isabella must settle for a love-by-proxy, sharing Theodore's grief for his dead, true lover. Even Matilda, whose abstinence becomes the subject of her maid's banter (pp. 51-53), speculates, on her deathbed, that her meeting with Theodore, breaking her vow never to see him again, "has drawn down this calamity" upon her (p. 144). Finally, the mystery surrounding Theodore's ancestry originates, we learn from Jerome, with Alfonso's wish to conceal his marriage to the " f a i r virgin . . . Victoria" which, though lawful, he deems "incongruous with the holy vow of arms by which he was bound" (p. 147). It is the fate of Theodore, like most "gothic" children, to be betrayed, denied or abandoned by his parents, only to discover his identity much later in l i f e ; but the whole pattern is governed by sexual error. Walpole's interests in erotic impulses, the spectacular results of crime, and magnificently excessive gesture and speech, coupled with his casual attitude toward punishment, were not liable to please the next major writer of new-gothic f i c t i o n , Clara Reeve. In the preface to her romance, The Old English Baron (1778), she stated that her idea of the gothic novel was the same as Walpole's, but that his example had shown her certain faults which she had attempted to avoid. Reeve list e d the requirements for excellence in the gothic novel: "a sufficient degree of the marvellous, to excite the attention; enough of the manners of real l i f e , to give an air of probability to the work; and enough of the 64 pathetic, to engage the heart in i t s behalf." While agreeing that The 133 Castle of Otranto f u l f i l l e d the last two requirements, Reeve claimed that i t suffered from a "redundancy" in the f i r s t . She complained that, in Otranto, "the machinery is so violent, that i t destroys the effect i t is intended to excite. Had the story been kept within the utmost verge of probability, the effect had been preserved, without losing the least circumstance that excites or detains the attention." Reeve listed various excesses of "the marvellous" in Otranto, and tried to account for their adverse influence: "when your expectation is wound up to the high- est pitch, these circumstances take i t down with a witness, destroy the work of imagination, and, instead of attention, excite laughter" (p. 5). Whereas Reeve thought that she had perfected the formula that Walpole had been able to follow only clumsily, Walpole was not convinced by her evidence. He wrote to Cole, on 22 August 1778, that The Old English Baron was "a professed imitation of mine, only stripped of the marvellous, and so entirely stripped, except in one awkward attempt at a ghost or two, that i t is the most insipid dull nothing you can read. It certainly does not make me laugh: for what makes one doze, seldom makes one merry." In a similar vein, he remarked: I cannot compliment The Old English Baron. It was totally void of imagination and interest; had scarce any incidents; and though i t condemned the marvellous admitted a ghost. I suppose the author thought a tame ghost might come within the laws of probability.,,. D-> Although controversy over the relative merit of the two works continued, as subsequent c r i t i c s tried to define the true gothic method, i t is also important to note a point of agreement between Walpole and Reeve: in her preface to The Old English Baron, at least, Reeve admitted that the gothic romance should be entertaining and emotionally involving, as well 134 as probable. 66 In her later, f u l l c r i t i c a l work, The Progress of Romance (1785), Reeve avoided controversial judgments by choosing not to discuss any works published after 1770. Because she simply let her previous treat- ment of The Castle of Otranto stand unchanged, The Progress of Romance contains no reaction to gothic f i c t i o n as such, although she did offer praise to Thomas Leland's Longsword, Earl of Salisbury (1762), mainly for i t s accurate depiction of chivalric manners and for i t s avoidance of violence and supernaturalism. Even The Old English Baron escaped comment, though modesty had not stopped her from having her f i c t i o n a l disputants admire her own translation of Barclay's Argenis (The Phoenix, 1772). It was unlikely, at any rate, that Reeve would have been willing to treat the gothic as a significantly new, separate phenomenon, for her chief purpose, in The Progress of Romance, was to rescue the romance, of which the gothic was merely a sub-type, from i t s dangerous position on the periphery of decorum and moral seriousness. She sought to place i t within the legitimate literary tradition, to counteract the common innuendo to the effect that i t was a sub-literary form, suitable only for a barbarous people or an unwisely governed nursery. Her definitions 67 of terms were sometimes self-contradictory, but her basic method was clear enough. Like Walpole, she argued for the legitimacy of a taste somewhat beyond the conventional by connecting a disreputable with a reputable genre. Just as Walpole had conceived of The Castle of Otranto in tragic terms, so Reeve traced the origins of the romance to the epic and demonstrated their formal and thematic correspondences. 135 While believing that new romances could be made compatible with the taste of modern readers, Reeve was more concerned with the readers' moral welfare. Consequently, she f e l t obliged to show that romances could have the same degree of moral seriousness or educative value that was assigned customarily to the epic or c h r o n i c l e — o r at l e a s t , that they could be r e l a t i v e l y harmless. Within the dialogue format of The Progress of Romance, Hortensio, the disputant least convinced of the romances' value, subscribes to a severe doctrine: there are no gradations of quality i n f i c t i o n ; a l l f i c t i o n i s morally indefensible, because i t purveys l i e s and seductive hal f - t r u t h s , under the guise of entertainment. Although this h y s t e r i c a l 68 view was already fading from the pe r i o d i c a l reviews, i t was also gaining support among Methodists and Evangelicals, who added to their indictment a distaste for f i c t i o n ' s s t r i c t l y m a t e r i a l i s t i c outlook.^ What i s most interesting, however, for an understanding of Clara Reeve's own practice as a w r i t e r , i s the outcome of the moral aspect of the argument. Hor- tensio 's frien d l y opponents f i n a l l y lead him to ease his outright ban against f i c t i o n , but not without sharing his condescending attitude toward children and members of the "lower orders," whose i n t e l l e c t u a l capacities and moral tendencies did not enable them to choose what was f i t to read. It would appear that, between the writing of the preface to The Old English Baron and the writing of The Progress of Romance, Clara Reeve had l o s t most of her e a r l i e r , minimal interest i n "the marvellous" and had become more w i l l i n g to make concessions to the moralists. Her idea of accommodating the romance to modern tastes was to s t r i k e a balance 136 between i t s sheer entertainment value and some (fabricated) serious pur- pose. But in The Old English Baron i t s e l f we can see the increasing importance of conventional, bourgeois moralism in determining the themes of the gothic novel and their treatment. The motto of The Old English Baron, underscored repeatedly by the more self-righteous characters and the narrator, is the omnipotence of the "over-ruling hand of Providence" and the "certainty of RETRIBUTION." Although the ostensible setting for the novel (during "the minority of Henry the Sixth, King of England") makes the characters' belief in such divine intervention seem plausible, this recurrent emphasis upon faith and piety i s misleading, as an indicator of the novel's significance; for purely human actions and concerns control i t s outcome and mark the limits of i t s r e l i g i o s i t y . The actual attitude toward piety is not the overt one: ultimately i t i s shown to be a natural accompaniment to material goods, possessed by those who deserve them—a luxury afforded by security and seasoned with complacency. In the scheme of power and interests that dominates the narrator's attention, prayer and moral persuasion are admirable, but secondary, instruments, and any idea of higher justice becomes inextricably confused with commercial advantage. Litigation, negotiation, calculation, and force of arms are the serviceable tools that bring the criminal to punishment, arrange the exceedingly happy fate of the principals, and confer a just settlement upon the deserving (s t r i c t l y according to rank). Providence and retribution are earthly, direct, nonmysterious, and essentially rational. For the exotic, passionate, sometimes ludicrous forces with which Walpole had imbued The Castle of Otranto, Reeve substituted the canny 137 play of modern commercial instincts. This substitution shows nowhere more clearly than in the consistent flattening of potentially romantic elements in The Old English Baron, and of those the issue of courtship and marriage is the most noticeably affected. Courtship here involves repressing or concealing passion, while proving to the bride's family one's solvency and rank. Marriage l i k e - wise i s more a matter of economic than romantic or erotic attachment, although the contrary notion occasionally, and briefly, appears for the sake of sentimental interest. But in such matters Edmund i s , above a l l else, the prudent hero. In compliance with the commercial mores, he postpones declaring his own real affection for Lady Emma unti l he has settled the question of his birth and estate. For this he is later admired; however, as a result, he must resort to indirection in wooing her, by describing his own plight as i f i t were a friend's: My friend i s so particularly circumstanced that he cannot at present with propriety ask for Lady Emma's favour; but as soon as he has gained a cause that is yet in suspence, he w i l l openly declare his pretensions, and i f he is unsuc- cessful he w i l l then condemn himself to eternal silence. . . . His birth is noble, his degree and fortune uncertain. . . . It is utterly impossible . . . for any man of inferior degree to aspire to Lady Emma's favour; her noble birth, the dignity of her beauty and virtues, must awe and keep at their proper distance, a l l men of inferior degree and merit; they may admire, they may revere; but they must not presume to approach too near, lest their presumption should meet with i t s punishment (p. 68). Reeve makes this discretion seem both comic and masochistic, for Emma, playing upon Edmund's temporary di s a b i l i t y , succeeds in humiliating him with questions and jibes, while amusing herself (pp. 66-69). The anti-romantic version of courtship and marriage, as transaction and prize, persists in the actual wedding negotiations. In the midst of 138 celebrations over Edmund's good fortune, Baron Fitz-Owen suggests that he and Edmund "retire from this croud" for they have "business of a more private nature to transact" (p. 142). That business i s , of course, the marriage agreement, and the following scene, in which Emma is asked to lend her approval to the match, clearly exhibits the contrast between passion and business upon which the very technique of the novel is based. Emma approaches her father, "with tears on her cheek, sweetly blushing like the damask rose." Baron Fitz-Owen explains to her his need for her consent: I have promised to a l l this company to give you to him; but upon condition that you approve him:SI think him worthy of you; and, whether you accept him or not, he shall ever be to me a son; but Heaven forbid that I should compel my child to give her hand where she cannot bestow her heart (p. 143). Emma's reply emphasizes the fitness of her relationship with her father, her obedience and propriety; i t is rather self-congratulatory, but dwells very l i t t l e upon the condition of her heart except in an almost legalis- t i c way. Such emotional spectacle as there i s , is abruptly curtailed, and summarized by the narrator: A fresh scene of congratulation ensued; and the hearts of a l l the auditors were too much engaged to be able soon to return to the ease and tranquillity of common l i f e (p. 144). It is this idea of a "common l i f e " that distinguishes so sharply between the gothicism of Walpole and that of Clara Reeve. Whereas in The Castle of Otranto the characters, l i v i n g constantly on the edge of c r i s i s , never enjoy anything resembling "ease and tranquillity"—except, perhaps, through death or seclusion from the world—the attainment of such peace and security is the chief goal, and the common lot, of Reeve's 139 characters. The narrator of The Old English Baron scrupulously records not only the major alliance between Edmund and Emma, but also the lesser alliances, among the various sons and daughters of the lords who have brought Walter Lovel to justice and Edmund to his rightful position. Reeve is evidently most comfortable when dealing with the equitable exchange of property, or with the private, discreet, bloodless punishment of the murderer, or with the elaborate calculus needed to compute the cash-value of Edmund's noble upbringing. She is least comfortable, and capable, when dealing with the spectacular, the supernatural, the exces- sive, the violent—anything that distracts her from a certain ideal transformation of the past. Unlike Walpole, she has no relis h for extravagant display of strong scenes, nor for close scrutiny of the criminal psyche. Even the sentimentality which helps to nourish the reader's imagination through more st e r i l e , business-like passages, she governs with the s t r i c t rule of decorum.^ Reeve's preoccupation with normalcy accounts for several strikingly non-romantic features of The Old English Baron. The narration of the combat between Sir Philip Harclay and Walter Lovel, for example, seems mild and colourless, small compensation for the intricate legal and emo- tional preparations for i t (pp. 100-101). The episode in which Walter Lovel tries to escape from his captors i s similarly abridged (p. 134), so as to add to the general impression that he makes a-mediocre criminal. Reeve consistently avoids using suspenseful devices, which might arouse the reader to a state of tense alertness. Finally, "ease and tranquil- l i t y " give the moral theme to the prolonged coda that follows the c i r - cumstances of the main characters and their descendants into the third 140 generation (pp. 151-53). Sir Walter Scott attempted to explain these features, which he regarded as signs of the failure of her imagination, through the l i m i - tations of Clara Reeve's l i f e . "In her secluded situation, and with acquaintance of events and characters derived from books alone," he argued, she could not avoid following "a certain creeping and low line of narrative and sentiment." Isolated from the great world of masculine activity, she had to resort to "prolix, minute and unnecessary details" which at least offered "a secret mode of securing a certain necessary degree of credulity from the hearers of a ghost-story."7"'" While this is a valid, useful explanation, i t is incomplete; for i t misses the real sense in which Reeve's limited thematic and emotional range was an advantage. Her details may have been prolix and minute, but were rarely unnecessary, since they not only secured her story's credi b i l i t y (scarcely in danger) but also clearly associated i t s sup- posed historical setting with a whole set of familiar bourgeois values, by evoking the texture of late-eighteenth-century ethical and practical l i f e . For Reeve, unlike Walpole, the historical setting was not a theatri- cal setting, where excessive, strange passions and behaviour might be indulged with exceptional fic t i o n a l licence, under the supervening protection of apparently conventional prejudices. For Reeve, the con- tr o l l i n g metaphor for romance was more lik e l y the classroom than the theatre. I have already noted how Reeve's didactic preoccupation increased between The Old English Baron and The Progress of Romance (see pp. 132-136 above); in a s t i l l later work, her Memoirs of Sir Roger de 141 Clarendon (1793) both the didacticism and i t s effect on the treatment of historical subjects are plain. In the Memoirs Reeve turned away entirely from the purposes and techniques of gothic f i c t i o n in order to use his- tory as a source of ethical education: She saw in the fourteenth century the heroic days of pris- tine morality, and as such she described them, to rebuke her own degenerate age, to stimulate i t s ideals and to counteract the debilitating influence of pessimists and levellers. Even in the earlier work, however, the historical setting was, in effect, non-historical. Inasmuch as history yielded up exotic, strange, exciting, or forbidden images, i t was harmful—at best t r i v i a l . Reeve's view of gothic l i f e was confined to models of superior conduct, to the ethical excellence of the putative gothic ancestors. In The Old English Baron, consequently, there is room neither for chauvinistic invocations of Old England (despite the t i t l e ) , nor for speculative interweavings of history and f i c t i o n (as in Sophia Lee's The Recess), nor for contemptuous dismissal of vicious anachronisms. Instead, Reeve's historical setting is a relatively neutral territory where the victory of positive ethical forces may be enacted. Thus, in The Old English Baron history was ideal- ized, paradoxically, by being made recognizable, and, in that sense, r e a l i s t i c ; i t was transformed into an extension, or a moralist's dream, of the present. This conjunction of bourgeois aspirations and historical isolation produces, not surprisingly, certain exemplars of the "pristine morality." Such is the old retainer Joseph's description of the elevation of Edmund into his new position: 142 He closed the tale with praise to Heaven for the happy discovery, that gave such an heir to the house of Lovel; to his dependants such a Lord and Master; to mankind a friend and benefactor. There was truly a house of joy; not that false kind, in the midst of which there is heaviness, but that of rational creatures grateful to the supreme benefactor, raising their minds by a due enjoyment of earthly blessings to a more perfect state hereafter (p. 150). The "house of joy" is the exact opposite of Manfred's Castle, just as the gothic method and sense of history that i t reflects are the oppo- site of Walpole's. This we can t e l l even from such key words as this brief, pious account gives us: r a t i o n a l , grateful, enjoyment. Rationality, gratitude, and enjoyment (especially of "earthly blessings") are alien factors in The Castle of Otranto, where they a l l would detract from the romance's sheer impressiveness and from i t s emphasis on depravity and fatalit y . This is a matter of historical perspective as much as tech- nique. Otranto evokes the (not very specific) f i c t i o n a l realm that corresponds to the enlightened, condescending eighteenth-century view of the Middle Ages that was outlined in the f i r s t part of this study (see pp. 65-68 above). Though cursorily, Walpole touches upon a l l the impor- tant elements of that image: devious priests, tyranny, superstition, excessive power, ignorance, and barbarous behaviour. The manner of narration becomes part of the matter narrated, for the novel stands at two removes from the reader: i t is the work both of Walpole, the modern skeptic and dilettante, and of his f i c t i t i o u s Counter-Reformation propa- gandist. Walpole succeeds in balancing c r i t i c a l and imaginative responses to Otranto, by playing the reader's sense that the gothic is impressive, spectacular, or delightfully disturbing, against his sense that i t cannot be admirable, p o l i t i c a l l y . But the former sense is insinuated despite the latter. 143 Reeve's treatment of the historical setting is much less compli- cated; i t illustrates a variant of that kind of gothicism which I have called e l e g i a c o r U t o p i a n (see p. 62 above). She does n o t r e c o g n i z e any vicious o r contemptible features in gothic l i f e — a s she conceives of i t . The alleged barbarity of the gothic holds no appeal for her, either as a source of unaccustomed, primitive excitement or as an object of derision and wonderment mixed. The unrepentant malice of Walter Lovel, for example, and the juvenile spitefulness of such unsavoury followers as Wenlock and Markham, are not supposed to be typical of some darker aspect of gothic behaviour. These are mere intrusions. Moreover, Reeve does not try to make perversity or malevolence interesting, as Walpole at least starts to do with Manfred in Otranto. In contrast, Walter Lovel, having "entered into the service of the Greek emperor, John Paleologus," becomes moder- ately successful and respectable, in exile in the dying empire (p. 153). Reeve discovers, however, no inherent advantages in gothic l i f e , beyond i t s convenient neutrality and i t s ancestral overtones, which f a c i l i t a t e her educative purposes. The lives of her gothic characters are indistinguishable from purified, simplified modern lives; they are no more particularized in their common setting than in their personali- ties. In her adaptation of historical materials to serve as templates for didactic tools, Reeve shows a significant impulse in late-eighteenth- century gothicism: the origin of elegiac gothic in bourgeois complacency and moralism-, rather than radical disillusionment. In thus transforming the age of the gothic ancestors, i t is obvious that Clara Reeve had l i t t l e use, or tolerance, for sensationalism or exoticism, for she did not read these as primary qualities in history. 144 In addition, as her discussion in The Progress of Romance shows, these were qualities which embarrassed her when she came to defend the old and new romances: they were likewise not primary qualities in literature. In examining gothic fi c t i o n and related c r i t i c a l writings we w i l l find a constant tension between the elegiac mode—particularly Reeve's v a r i e t y — and the darker, ambivalent mode, which exploits the otherness of the gothic. We w i l l also find that this tension is often expressed through the presence or absence of sensational and exotic elements in the novels, and through attitudes towards sensationalism and exoticism in theoretical works. 145 FOOTNOTES Sir Walter Scott, "Life of Walpole," Sir Walter Scott on Novelists and F i c t i o n , ed. loan Williams (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968), pp. 85-88. 2 Edgar Johnson, Sir Walter Scott: The Great Unknown (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1970), I, 396; for the application of Scott's associative habits to Abbotsford, see also p. 372. Alice Chandler, in "Sir Walter Scott and the Medieval Revival," Nineteenth-Century Fiction, 19 (1964), 315-332, shows the relationship between Scott's medievalism and his view of the contemporary world. 3 Walpole to Cole, Corr., 1, 88. 4 Lewis, Horace Walpole, p. 98. ^Walpole to Horace Mann, 5 June 1747 OS, Corr., 19, 414; see also Selected Letters, pp. 43-46 (Walpole to Mann, 12 June 1753). Walpole to Henry Seymour Conway, 8 June 1747, SL, p. 22. 7Ibid., pp. 23-24. g Walpole, Description, p. 1, asterisked note. 9 Lewis, Horace Walpole, p. 98. "^The "Quadruple Alliance" consisted of Walpole, Thomas Gray, Richard West, and Thomas Ashton. See Lewis, pp. 46-47. "'""'"Walpole to William Mason, Corr., 28, 6-7. 12 W. S. Lewis, "The Genesis of Strawberry H i l l , " Metropolitan Museum Studies, 5 (1936), 62. 13 Lewis, Horace Walpole, p. 107. 14 Among the friends were John Chute and Richard Bentley who made up, with Walpole, the "Committee of Taste at Strawberry H i l l . " Chute and Walpole dominated the trio—Chute as architect, Walpole as antiquary—for Bentley, the draughtsman, was conventiently out of sight in Jersey un t i l 1761. When he came to live with Walpole they quarreled and ended the relationship. (See Lewis, "Genesis," p. 64,.) Mann, Montagu and Mason also contributed advice. James Essex designed the Beauclerc Tower and the New Offices, and probably exerted some influence on Walpole's choice of styles, drawing him away from his early preference for the Perpendic- ular gothic. Essex died before the Offices were buil t , and James Wyatt executed them. 146 "'""'walpole, Description, p. i i i . Ibxd. , pp. m - i v . Ibid., p. iv. 18 W. H. Smith, Architecture in English Fiction, p. 41. 1 9 I b i d . , pp. 36-39. 20 Walpole, Description, p. 55. See Agnes Addison, Romanticism and the Gothic Revival (1938; reprint, New York: Gordian Press, 1967), p. 41: "the post-Viollet-le-Duc mediaevalists shuddered when they found build- ings which pretended to be in the Gothic manner and yet were not stone vaulted, but were constructed in the simplest manner like a cardboard box and then plastered over with pinnacles and crockets and a few pointed arches." Michael Sadleir, " ' A l l Horrid? 1 Jane Austen and the Gothic Romance," in Things Past (London: Constable, 1944), relates the archi- tectural and the literary superimpositions of exotic elements upon a familiar base: "the sound of a strange language allured the ear, but i t s grammar (and indeed much of i t s meaning) were ignored" (p. 178). 21 James Essex, Journal of a Tour Through Part of Flandres and France in August [and Sept.], 1773, ed. W. M. Fawcett (Cambridge: 1888). 22 Lewis, "Genesis," p. 83. Walpole wrote to Thomas Barret (5 June 1788): " . . . neither Mr. Bentley nor my workmen had studied the science, and I was always too desultory and impatient to consider that I should please myself more by allowing time, than by hurrying my plans into expectation before they were ripe. My house therefore is but a sketch by beginners." 23 Walpole, Description, p. 47. 24 Walpole to Mann, Selected Letters, p. 44. 25 For an account of the new connoisseurs' purchasing habits, see Elizabeth Manwaring, Italian Landscape in Eighteenth-Century England (l*-9«2Spireprint!,*- Londonc:•.•ErarikaCass, 1965), pp. 14-34. 26 For plans see Walpole, Aedes Walpolianae (1747), reprinted in Works (1798); plans for Strawberry H i l l appeared in the Description and are reproduced in Lewis, Horace Walpole. 27 Walpole wrote to Mann (12 June 1753): "This view of the castle i s what I have just finished, and is the only side that w i l l be at a l l regular" (SL, p. 43). This would suggest that Walpole had a particular external effect in mind even at this early stage. 147 28 Ibid., p. 45: ". . . i t is really incredible how small most of the rooms are. The only two good chambers I shall have, are not yet built; they w i l l be an eating-room and a library, each 20 by 30, and the latter 15 feet high." W. S. Lewis associates the increase in room size with Walpole's "larger income and expanding knowledge" of the gothic, after 1762. See Preface to Correspondence with Cole, p. xxxii. 29 Allen, Tides i n English Taste, II, p. 75. 102. 30 Walpole to Mann, SL, pp. 43-45; Walpole to Montagu, Corr., 9, 31 Sir Terry Robsart, according to Walpole, was "an ancestor of Sir R.W. [Robert Walpole], who was Knight of the Garter." (Lewis, Horace Walpole, pp. 104-105, quoting Walpole's note to his letter to Mann, 12 June 1753.) Sir Terry symbolized Walpole's romantic and noble ancestry. 32 Walpole to George Montagu, Corr., 10, 192. 33 Walpole to Deffand, quoted in Scott, "Life of Walpole," On Novelists and F i c t i o n , p. 86. 34 Memoirs of George I I I , II, 149, quoted by Lewis, Horace Walpole, p. 74; for an assessment of Walpole's p o l i t i c a l career, see Lewis, pp. 69-95. For an account of Walpole's actual, considerable p o l i t i c a l i n f l u - ence, even after his disappointment in Conway, see John Brooke's entry for "Hon. Horatio Walpole of Strawberry H i l l , " in The History of P a r l i a - ment: The House of Commons, 1754-1790, i i i (Members K-Y), eds. Sir Lewis Namier and John Brooke (London: History of Parliament Trust, 1964), 595-597. The reality of this power did not necessarily detract from the reality of Walpole's disappointment and disillusionment with p o l i t i c a l l i f e . 35 Clark, Gothic Revival, pp. 81-82; Agnes Addison, p. 42. 36 Walpole to Richard Bentley, Selected L e t t e r s , p. 48. For an account of Miller's works, see Eastlake, pp. <41-43> (Introduction). 3 7Clark, p. 35, pp. 41-42. 38 Walpole to Cole, 9 March 1765, Corr., 1, 88. 39 The armour had belonged to King Francis I of France, and Walpole bought i t in 1772, after his dream. See Walpole, Description, p. 31 and figure opposite. Ibid., p. 32. 41 Walpole to Cole, 9 March 1765; Walpole repeated the story to Mason, in briefer form, without mentioning the details of the dream. He contin- ued to claim that the writing took two months, adding that he had decided 148 to publish his work only after Gray encouraged him (Walpole to Mason, 17 April 1765, Con., 28, 7). In the Walpoliana is the conflicting claim that he "wrote the 'Castle of Otranto' in eight days, or rather eight nights" (walpoliana, 2nd edni,, London: for R. Philips, 1804, I, 22). The conflict probably arises from the difference between the time necessary for a f i r s t draft versus that for a completed draft. "HW showed the MS to Gray in August [1764], and Gray encouraged HW to print i t . . . . 'At f i r s t i t was universally believed to be Mr. Gray's' (HW to Hertford, 26 March 1765)." (Corr., 14, 137, editor's note 1.) 42 The publisher's imprint for the f i r s t edition reads: "LONDON: Printed for Tho. Lownds in Fleet-Street, MDCCLXV," but Montague Summers records the actual date of publication as 24 December 1764. See Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto and The Mysterious Mother, ed. Montague Summers (London: Constable & Co,,, 1924), p. xxv. Summers' edition combines the various editions published under Walpole's supervision. Subsequent page references w i l l appear within text, and w i l l be to this edition. In the f i r s t edition (1764), the romance is subtitled "A Story"; in the Works (1798) i t appeared as "A Gothic Story." Sir Walter Scott, in his "Life of Walpole," pointed out that "Onuphrio Muralto" was "a sort of anagram, or translation, of the author's own name"—and, I would add, a deliberately transparent one. (See Scott, p. 85.) 43 Gray to Walpole, 30 December 1764, Corr., 14, 137. 44 Although i t was a friendly detachment, Gray's report was lighter and less enthusiastic than i t would have been had he been more of a flatterer. Walpole had also sent copies of the romance to other friends: Elie de Beaumont, Hertford, Montagu, Cole, Thomas Warton, and Mason. 45 Mason to Walpole, 14 April 1765, Corr., 28, 5-6. The "episcopal evidence" is supposed to be from William Warburton, Bishop of Gloucester (p. 5, n. 2). Mason here notes in passing one of Walpole's other precau- tions, that of committing his MS to another printer rather than issuing i t through the Strawberry H i l l Press. Apparently the hoax had some enduring appeal, for Peter Burra attests: "I have seen a publisher's catalogue which as late as 1801 advertised The Castle of Otranto as by Muralto, although Walpole had admitted his authorship in 1765," a decep- tion which he attributes to the usefulness of such "non-existent crea- tures" in making "the productions seem more strange." ("Baroque and Gothic Sentimentalism," Farrago, 3 [Oct. 1930], 168.) 46 Walpoliana, I, 23. See also L. B. Seeley, Horace Walpole and His World (London: Seeley & Co., 1895), pp. 24-25; Lewis, Horace Walpole, p. 161. Before presenting "Two Unpublished Fairy Tales by Horace Wal- pole," in Horace Walpole: Writer, P o l i t i c i a n , and Connoisseur, ed. W. H. Smith (New Haven & London: Yale Univ. Press, 1967), p. 241, A. Dayle Wallace notes that " i t i s significant that Walpole made no collection of f i c t i o n comparable to his collection of the plays, poems, and tracts of the reigns of George II and George III,"citing this as evidence that he "took comparatively l i t t l e interest" in the development 149 of the novel. Wallace attributes this to "a preference for imagination as against invention." For corroboration of this lack of interest, see Allen T. Hazen, Catalogue of Horace Walpole's Library (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1969), pp. 1-96 (Press I) and p. 97 f f . (Press K). 47 Walpole to Mason, 17 April 1765, Corr., 28, 6-7. The second edition of Otranto, bearing Walpole's name as author, appeared 11 April 1765 (see Summers, p. xxvi). 48 This notion of a balance between impossibility and probability had already been put forth in John Hawkesworth's essays on narratives in the Adventurer, No. 4, Saturday, 18 November 1752. See Eighteenth-Century British Novelists on the Novel, ed. George L. Barnett (New York: Appleton- Century-Crofts, 1968), p. 100. 49 K. K. Mehrotra, in Horace Walpole and the English Novel (Oxford: Blackwell, 1934; reprinted New York: Russell & Russell, 1970), and J. M. S. Tompkins, in The Popular Novel in England, 1770-1800 (London: Constable & Co., 1932) provide ample evidence from contemporary periodical reviews, of the moral scrutiny that was applied to novels and novelists in general. Anyone without Walpole's status might have had to worry about writing a novel with such unconvincing moral sentiments and such inter- esting evilness. On the other hand, Tompkins notes that the "didactic prepossession" applied most often to mediocre novels (of which there were many) without redeeming qualities. Excellent moral principles, however, were not enough to excuse a lack of entertainment, and Tompkins finds evidence of a declining devotion to the didactic standards towards the 1770's (p. 72; see Ch. I l l "Didacticism and Sensibility," p. 70 f f . ) . "^Mehrotra, pp. 22-37. Also see J. B. Heidler, The History, from 1700-1800, of English Criticism of Prose F i c t i o n (Univ. of I l l i n o i s Studies in Language and Literature, 12, 2 [May 1928]), pp. 134-135; and Malcolm Ware, Sublimity in the Novels of Ann R a d c l i f f e (Essays and Studies on English Language and Literature, Upsala Univ. English Instit., XXV; Lund: Carl Blom, 1963), p. 13. The reception for Otranto in France was generally as cool as Mme du Deffand's. Harold Streeter noted that " i t does not seem to have excited much comment in France despite i t s author's social prestige. The Mercure de France noted i t indifferently as a novel 'qui nous a paru propre a faire passer agreablement quelques heures de l o i s i r . ' Grimm regarded with approval this 'serie d'appari- tions surnaturelles reunies sous l a forme l a plus agreable qu'on puisse voir'." (The Eighteenth Century English Novel in French Translation [New York: Benjamin Bloom, 1970; Doctoral dissertation, Columbia Univ., 1936], pp. 117-118.) "'"'"Mehrotra is suspicious of this explanation, preferring the shorter section of the Translator's Preface that is not taken up with the trans- lation device: "Here he is not puffed up with his success, propounding inflated theories, or manipulating motives to place his tale in the best light possible" (Mehrotra, pp. 10-11). Mehrotra is too generous to the f i r s t Preface, too harsh toward the second. Although he could not have 150 anticipated a l l the attacks which would be made upon his work when he wrote the f i r s t , Walpole also used this opportunity to put i t "in the best light possible." In addition, however unrelated his theories may be to his actual achievement, they exerted a strong influence, neverthe- less, upon later c r i t i c s ' (e.g. Scott's, the Aikins') views on Otranto and the gothic genre. 52 Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Roderick Random, in Miscel- laneous Works (London: Mundell, 1796), I, l x v i i i . 53 Levy, Le Roman «Gothique», pp. 47-53. 54 For Walpole's criticism of the dullness of Richardson, see Heidler, p. 131. ''^ Walpoliana, I, 46-47. 5 6 I b i d . , p. 39. ""̂ Montague Summers, The Gothic Quest (New York: Russell & Russell, 1964), p. 184. Summers notes several parallels between the infamous career of the fi c t i o n a l Manfred and that of Manfred or Manfroi, "a natural son of the Emperor Frederick II." The parallels include usurpa- tion and the mysterious disappearance of a rightful heir, but Summers remains relatively unmoved by them; moreover, he does not provide any evidence that Walpole knew about the historical Manfred, or had him in mind when he composed The Castle of Otranto. 58 In Gothic Drama from Walpole to Shelley, Evans notes that Otranto and the genre i t initiated erupted from two related ideas: f i r s t , medi- eval l i f e was dark, gloomy, and barbarous; second, i t would be terrifying i f enlightened gentlemen and 'sensible' ladies were transported from con- temporary society and suddenly thrust into that earlier time" (p. 8). The f i r s t idea was a source of reassurance, the second, of excitement and imaginative stimulation. 59 Alice Chandler, "Sir Walter Scott and the Medieval Revival," pp. 324-326. 60 See Walpole's argument against Voltaire, Otranto, pp. 15-20. 6 1 C l a r a Mclntyre, "Were the Gothic Novels Gothic?" PMLA, 36 (1921), 644-667; Ann R a d c l i f f e in Relation to Her Time (New Haven: Yale Studies in English, 1920); "The Later Career of the Elizabethan V i l l a i n Hero," PMLA, 40 (1925), 874-880. Mclntyre argues that the label gothic was misapplied to the novels, most of whose fantasies were not at a l l located in the Middle Ages, but in "the a r t i f i c i a l period constructed by El i z a - bethan dramatists out of Renaissance Italy" (PMLA, 36, 666). Evans argues that the influence upon the gothic both of the Elizabethan stage and of Richardsonian sensibility was merely accretive, since both were chosen only because they offered appropriate materials for the larger 151 gothic plan. Masao Miyoshi treats the connection between the E l i z a - bethan and the gothic hero in The Divided Self (New York: NYU Press, 1969), pp. 7-8, suggesting the uniqueness of the gothic variety. Other c r i t i c s who have resisted an influence-based theory, in favour of a gothic "core" have included Eino Railo, in The Haunted Castle (London: Geo. Routledge, 1927), Edith Birkhead, in The Tale of Terror (London: Constable, 1921) and Varma, to some extent, in The Gothic Flame. 6 2 For evidence of Walpole's dramatic impulses, I would cite his own The Mysterious Mother (1768; 1778) and Jephson's stage adaptation of Otranto, The Count of Narbonne (1780), over which Walpole exercised some rights of supervision (Otranto, pp. xxxv.irxxxvii) .- Examination of Wal- pole's defence of his own, unacted play shows the extent to which he believed that he had cast i t in tragic form (see Otranto, pp. 253-260, 272-277). For the history of Otranto on stage, and i t s relationship to the tragic or melodramatic modes, see Evans, pp. 52-53; Otranto, p. x x i i i f f ; Charles Beecher Hogan, "The 'Theatre of Geo. 3'," Horace Walpole, ed. W. H. Smith, pp. 228-240; and Willard Thorp, "The Stage Adventures of Some Gothic Novels," PMLA, 43 (1928), 476-478. In a note in his 1777 edition of Pope's Works, Bishop Warburton praises the gothic romance, and specifically Otranto, for conformity to the aims of classical tragedy, to the Aristotelian concept of catharsis, which Walpole himself had invoked in his Translator's Preface. This line of criticism, however, remained undeveloped, either for support or attack. See Arthur L. Cooke, "Some Side Lights on the Theory of the Gothic Romance," MLQ, 12 (1951), 430 and n. 4. 63 Evans, pp. 81-89; Evans relates the transformation of the gothic v i l l a i n to the disintegration of the gothic hero (pp. 56-59). 64 Clara Reeve, The Old English Baron (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967), p. 4. Another form of the work appeared anonymously under the t i t l e The Champion of Virtue (1777) , but this version was less well- known. Further references w i l l be indicated within the text. 65 Quoted in Summers edn. of Otranto, pp. xxxii-xxxiii. 66 Clara Reeve, The Progress of Romance (Colchester: 1785; reprint, New York: Facsimile Text Society, 1930). ^Reeve's mouthpiece, Euphrasia, begins the discussion by trying to make certain key distinctions. She divides the novel from the romance, tracing the origin and technique of each to a corresponding established form—history and epic, respectively. But the c l a r i t y breaks down. After declaring that "romances, have been written, both in prose and verse," Euphrasia also states that "a Romance, is nothing but an Epic in prose" (p. 51). Her chronological division of romances into "ancient," "old," and "modern" is further distracting. 152 68 Tompkins, The Popular Novel in England, pp. 70-72: "in 1770 the Critical found i t s e l f unable to follow Bancroft in his logical conten- tion that, since the main business of a novel is to teach, i t had better not be too interesting," and the Monthly remarks in a review of 1772: "'The excellent lessons of morality which this work inculcates w i l l not be able to save i t from oblivion" 1' (p. 72). 69 See M. J. Quinlan, Victorian Prelude, A History of English Man- ners 1700-1830 (1941; reprint, London: Frank Cass & Co., 1965), and Aridr-.e Parreaux, The Publication of the Monk (Paris: Lib. Marcel Didier, 1960). Quinlan is somewhat more interested in the p o l i t i c a l views of both groups during the Napoleonic period, Parreaux vin>. their actions to enforce moral standards. ^ T y p i c a l of this restraint is the sequel to Emma's learning that Edmund is also "the man in whose behalf I once presumed to speak," that his fortune and lineage might permit them to marry: "From this period, the young pair behaved with solemn respect to each other, but with apparent reserve" (p. 134). When Sir Robert, "with tears on his cheeks" and f i l i a l obedience on his l i p s , seeks reconciliation with his father, the witnesses to the scene respond mildly, impersonally, decorously, as i f to a dramatic piece: "The company rose, and congratulated both father and son" (p. 139). Sir Robert is promptly matched with Lord Clifford's daughter. 7^Scott, "Life of Reeve," On Novelists and F i c t i o n , p. 100. 72 Tompkins, The Popular Novel in England, p. 231. Cooke ("Side Lights," p. 433) goes further in drawing a p o l i t i c a l meaning from the Memoirs: Miss Reeve . . . hoped her narrative would stimulate a few readers to imitate the virtues of olden days, and would convince them that the new ideas of the French Revolutionists were not as well founded as many people believed. Thus she attempted to convert the Gothic romance into a weapon of propaganda against the doctrines of the French Revolution and to make i t the conservative and romantic counterpart of the contemporary, r e a l i s t i c novel of purpose, which was being currently used to propagandize the new radical ideas. The lead was not followed, Cooke claims, because "the romance writers of the 1790's were more interested in terrifying their readers than in glorifying the old order of things." I do not believe that these two purposes are necessarily distinct. 73 This tension evidently affected Clara Reeve herself. In The English Novel (London: Constable, 1960) , Lionel Stevenson notes that Reeve's next novel, The Exiles, or Memoirs of Count de Cronstadt, '"departed from the placidity of her Old English Baron in favour of emotional despair and terrifying p e r i l s " (p. 163). This was not, how- ever, her ultimate technical or c r i t i c a l preference. CHAPTER III "IMPENDING DANGERS, HIDDEN GUILT, SUPERNATURAL VISITINGS" The Sensational, the Exotic, and the Gothic Sensational and exotic elements were not the sole property of gothic novels but the common stock of many kinds of popular f i c t i o n and sub- literature. Modern influence-studies of the gothic have reinforced this view by connecting the gothic novel with various precursors and parallel types which include sensationalism or exoticism in some way: the Italian- 1 2 ate revenge drama of the Renaissance, the Oriental fantasy, the 3 sentimental novel, the domestic persecution tragedy of Richardson, 4 5 Prevost, Arnaud, and Kotzebue, even the pastoral. Sensationalism and exoticism entered into discussions of larger issues, such as the dan- gers of novel-reading or of escapism. It is not my aim here to search out the "essence" of the gothic; 7 gothic literature and architecture are far too eclectic and synthetic to make that a reasonable task. However, I do propose to set forth the special usefulness of sensationalism and exoticism for the two main gothic strategies that I have already iden- t i f i e d : the ambivalent and the nostalgic. Though sensationalism and exoticism do not define precisely what i s gothic, those devices were exploited in singular, characteristic ways by the gothicists. Sir Walter Scott, who paid the f i r s t serious, comprehensive, c r i t i c a l attention to gothic f i c t i o n , confirms the central place of the sensational and the exotic within i t . Scott's remarks in the Prefatory - 153 - 154 Memoir which he contributed to the Ballantyne's Novelist's Library edition of Ann Radcliffe's novels (1824), might apply equally well to the gothicists as a group: The species of romance which Mrs. Radcliffe introduced, bears nearly the same relationship to the novel that the modern anomaly entitled a Melo-drame does to the proper drama. It does not appeal to the judgment by deep delineations of human feeling, or s t i r the passions by scenes of deep pathos, or awaken the fancy by tracing out, with s p i r i t and vivacity, the lighter traces of l i f e and manners, or excite mirth by strong representations of the ludicrous or humorous. In other words, i t attains i t s interest neither by the path of comedy nor of tragedy; and yet i t has, notwithstanding, a deep, decided, and powerful effect, gained by means independent of both—by an appeal, in one word, to the passion of fear, whether excited by natural dangers, or by the suggestions of superstition.g Later in the Memoir, while discussing the role of exotic settings, Scott again stresses the primacy of sensationalism and terror in the gothic: The materials of these celebrated romances, and the means employed in conducting the narrative, are a l l selected with a view to the author's primary object, of moving the reader by ideas of impending danger, hidden guilt, supernatural visitings, —by a l l that is terrible, in short, combined with much that is wonderful. According to Scott, there is only minor r e l i e f from this purpose; comedy or novelty can scarcely detract from i t , nor exoticism alienate i t entirely. The heroine " i s continually struggling with the tide of adversity, and hurried downwards by i t s torrent; and i f any more gay description is occasionally introduced, i t is only as a contrast, not a 9 r e l i e f , to the melancholy and gloomy tenor of the narrative." In a l l his c r i t i c a l works on the gothic, Scott returns to the idea that manipulation of strong feelings, and of terror in particular, is characteristic of the genre. In doing so, he expresses not only his individual response but the common opinion on the subject, based upon 155 an interest in the psychology of terror and sensationalism that had been followed since the late seventeenth century. The study of terror that was closest in time to the birth of the new gothic sensibility was Edmund Burke's Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757). The fact of the Enguiry's potential literary influence has been satisfactorily demonstrated,"^ but the degree or extent of that influence does not matter here. After a l l , appreciation of terror as an aesthetic exper- ience was available from several earlier sources, most notably John Dennis1 Grounds of Criticism in Poetry (1704); and the principles of a psychological method of enquiry, as employed by Burke, had been pro- gressively sharpened by Hobbes, Locke, Addison, Hutcheson, and Hume— the last three of these philosophers having also attacked many of the same problems as Burke. Burke's treatise simply had the advantage of respectability and currency over Dennis' when gothicism was being formed. "^ The Enquiry, therefore, is worth examining in great detail not because i t significantly influenced the gothic novel—there i s too l i t t l e evidence of that—but because i t helps to explain what the gothic sensibility was. So much of what i t lays down in theory coincides with the practice of gothic dramatists and novelists that i t serves as an accurate guidebook through this particular branch of sensationalist fic t i o n . It i s f a i r to assume that the frequent repetitions of Burke's language and ideas throughout the period when the gothic flourished i s an index of the Enquiry's value in revealing the grounds of an increas- ingly common experience—the willing enjoyment of terror. 156 The principles of a psychology of terror are set out early in the 12 Enquiry. The basic principle, shared with Hume, is that pain is a source of stronger sensations than pleasure. In the sixth section of Part I Burkeitconcludes that "the passions . . . which are conversant about the preservation of the individual, turn chiefly on pain and 13 danger, and they are the most powerful of a l l the passions." Hume used this comparison to account for the favoured subjects in poetry: "But nothing can furnish to the poet a variety of scenes, and incidents, and sentiments, except distress, terror, or anxiety. Complete joy and satisfaction i s attended with security and leaves no further room for 14 action." Burke maintains this concern with measuring the strength of sensations and of the corresponding pleasure, and i t shapes his func- tional definition of the sublime: Whatever is fit t e d in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that i s , i t is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling. I say the strongest emotion, because I am satisfied the ideas of pain are much more powerful than those which enter on the part of pleasure. Without a l l doubt, the torments which we may be made to suffer, are much greater in their effect on the body and mind, than any pleasures which the most learned voluptuary could suggest, or than the l i v e l i e s t imagination, and the most sound and exquisitely sensible body could enjoy. . . . But as pain is stronger in i t s operation than pleasure, so death is in general a much more affecting idea than pain (pp. 58-60). The link between terror and sublimity i s strengthened through repetition: Whatever therefore is terrible . . . is sublime too . . . for i t is impossible to look on anything as t r i f l i n g , or contempt- ible, that may be dangerous. . . . Indeed terror is in a l l cases whatsoever, either more openly or latently the ruling principle of the sublime (pp. 96-97). Burke even goes so far as to try to show a linguistic connection between 157 "terror" and "sublimity" (pp. 97-98). Burke's description of the effects of the sublime upon the mind i s highly relevant to gothic techniques. The most powerful degree of sub- limity causes the passion of astonishment, and astonishment i s that state of the soul, in which a l l i t s motions are suspended, with some degree of horror. In this case the mind is so entirely f i l l e d with i t s object that i t cannot entertain any other, nor by consequence reason on that object which employs i t . Hence arises the great power of the sublime, that far from being produced by them, i t anticipates our reasonings, and hurries us on by an i r r e s i s t i b l e force (pp. 95-96). Thus Burke describes a condition of complete arousal and preoccupation and, most important, a condition which is somehow non-rational or supra- rational. The enjoyer of the sublime must assume a posture of intellec- tual surrender akin to the gothic victim's and the gothic reader's. In the fourth part of the Enquiry, devoted to efficient causes, Burke provides a second explanation of this state of submission, this time in physiological terms. The crucial problem is this: how can astonishment, the highest level of sublime emotion, which depends upon pain and terror for i t s stimulation, be experienced as delight?"*"^ Burke argues that the tonic effect of the "exercise of the finer parts of the system" (i.e., the nervous system) through "a mode of terror" is analo- gous to the beneficial, bracing effect of manual labour, "which is a mode of pain," on the grosser organs (i.e., the muscles and tendons). The sublime has a therapeutic.effect on the nerves and the faculties of sensation; by seeking the sublime, one l i t e r a l l y practices (pp. 254-258). The practice, however, requires moderate conditions. It most stop short of real pain or torture. At several points Burke emphasizes that 158 actual safety and security are as necessary to the enjoyment of the sublime as i s a r t i f i c i a l terror: When danger or pain press too nearly, they are incapable of giving any delight, and are simply terrible; but at distances, and with certain modifications, they may be, and they are delightful, as we everyday experience (p. 60). Terror is a passion which always produces delight when i t does not press too close (pp. 73-74). If the pain and terror are so modified as not to be actually noxious; i f the pain is not carried to violence, and the ter- ror i s not conversant about the present destruction of the person, as these emotions clear the parts, whether fine, or gross, of a dangerous and troublesome incumbrance, they are capable of producing delight; not pleasure, but a sort of delightful horror, a sort of tranquility tinged with terror, ( P. 257)..-;:... As we shall see later, the modifications of terror were as important to the gothic as the sensationalism that produces terror. Burke's thera- peutic exercise of the nerves i s parallel to the temporary entry into the gothic world with.modern prejudices and values as a sort of l i f e l i n e . Although the physiology of terror was the least plausible part of the Enquiry,^ i t did generate some long-lived metaphors for gothic theorists. For example, in her essay "On the Pleasure Derived from Objects of Terror," Anna Laetitia Aikin (later Mrs. Barbauld) echoes the Burkean nerve theory: "A strange and unexpected event awakens the mind, and keeps i t on stretch. . . . Passion and fancy co-operating elevate the soul to i t s highest pitch; and the pain of terror i s lost in amaze- 18 ment." The survival of such ideas as the aesthetic self-sufficiency of shock and the transformation of tension into enjoyment was quite natural, because they helped to justify the attractions of the gothic and to explain the fascination of excess in quasi-scientific terms. 159 At any rate, the physiology of terror need not be taken very seriously, as long as we recognize that i t was symptomatic of the approaching literary storm. The key point i s the defining of a category of literary (and re a l - l i f e ) experience that departs from rational con- siderations and relies upon sensationalism pushed toward an a r t i f i c i a l limit. Since one kind of gothic—the ambivalent—also takes simulated pain, terror, and awe as i t s principal components, the process of defining that category automatically amounts to an analysis of the gothic. The real substance of the analysis is Burke's examination of the sources for the sublime in the second and third parts of the Enquiry. Foremost among them is what Burke calls obscurity. It encompasses not only darkness, shadow, or concealment, as might be expected, but secre- tiveness and deliberate mystification. Burke's il l u s t r a t i o n of this non-physical sense of obscurity is suggestive of typical gothic themes. He refers to "those despotic governments, which are founded on the pas- sions of men, and principally upon the passion of fear." For such governments, he observes, sublimity i s a matter of coercive policy, and they "keep their chief as much as may be from the public eye." Further- more, "the policy has been much the same in many cases of religion" (pp. 101-102). Burke's emphasis upon the effect of the obscure and the hidden agent of terror evidently coincided with the gothic novelists' and was understood by them in relation to their own practices. In the posthu- mous extract "On the Supernatural in Poetry," Ann Radcliffe has one of her scenic travellers refer specifically to this part of the Enquiry, 160 using Burke's notion of obscurity in order to cl a r i f y a new distinction between terror and horror: "Terror and horror are so far opposite, that the f i r s t expands the soul, and awakens the faculties to a high degree of l i f e ; the other contracts, freezes, and nearly annihilates them. . . . And where l i e s the great difference between horror and terror, but in the uncertainty and obscurity, that accompany the f i r s t , respecting 19 the dreaded evil?" The terminology is certainly Burke's, but the problem addressed—of decorum and effectiveness—is peculiarly gothic. Burkean theory and gothic experiment agree in finding that what is supplied by the imagination is more terrifying than what is depicted plainly. This does not diminish the importance of actual force, or the threat of force. Burke affirms that, aside from objects which are them- selves dangerous, or which are associated with danger, "I know of nothing sublime which i s not some modification of power" (p. 110). However, this source of the sublime i s particularly associative and indirect; power i s sublime because i t represents the potential of the object to i n f l i c t pain upon the perceiver. That a potential for power should be sufficient agrees nicely with the requirements of obscurity; for the gothic novelist this means that an exact outlining of a powerful, threatening figure may be delayed almost indefinitely, for maximum terrifying effect. The high ranking of power as a source of the sublime coincides with prominent gothic motifs—the noble rapist, f i l i a l sub- mission, the corruption of authority, imprisonment, mental torture—and with prominent gothic symbols, which a l l represent the power of authority over the individual victim—the castle, the monastery, the prison, and 161 the madhouse. Considering the primary role of pain and power in Burke's theory, i t is surprising to find a modern student of sadistic literature like Mario Praz missing the point of the Enquiry entirely and f a i l i n g to include Burke in his summary of "the aesthetic theory of the Horrid and the Terrible which had gradually developed during the course of the • i , „20 eighteenth century. Burke's treatise becomes especially useful for understanding the gothic when i t turns to an application of his principles to literature. For example, Burke measures the standard level of obscurity in different arts in order to rank their a b i l i t y to e l i c i t strong emotions. His axiom is simple: "It is one thing to make an idea clear, and another to make i t affecting to the imagination. . . . A clear idea is . . . another 21 name for a l i t t l e idea" (pp. 101, 108). Inasmuch as poetry is an image-making art, "the images raised by poetry are always of this obscure kind" (p. 106). For this reason, poetry is superior to painting, for instance, in producing the sublime; painting tends to strive for accuracy and clarity of imitation, instead of "a judicious obscurity." This preference for poetry (i.e., literature) over the visual and plastic arts i s more than a vindication of the literary imagination by a literary man. Through this argument Burke gives an alternative to the mimetic standard of art, which, as I have indicated in Chapter One, was unsuited to the new gothicism. Burke demonstrates that the less accurate and complete the artist's rendition of his subject, the stronger i t s impact; and strength of sensation is equal, in aesthetic validity, to truth or harmony. Kiely comments on the literary sections of the Enquiry: 162 . . . the greater effect of the Enquiry was to enlarge the possibilities of art rather than to restrict and schematize them. Burke's discussion of language, though brief, points the way to further considerations of words as suggestive and evocative rather than s t r i c t l y imitative. Extending his own argument that the sublime passions depend, to some degree, on an incompleteness of knowledge, he asserts that the business of poetry and rhetoric is "to affect rather by sympathy than imitation; to display rather the effect of things on the mind of the speaker, or of others, than to present a clear idea of the things themselves." ^ The connection with the gothic i s twofold. In arguing that the sublime must be judged according to standards adapted to i t , Burke puts forth the same sort of claim as Hurd does for the gothic, in the Third 23 Dialogue and the Letters on Chivalry and Romance. It should be noted, in addition, that Hurd's defence of the s t y l i s t i c superiority of the gothic was partly based on i t s greater capacity to "produce the sublime." Moreover, the movement in Burke that Kiely has identified, from imitation and image-making to evocation and exploring internal responses, is the same as the movement of the gothic away from circumstantial reality and the drama of action towards psychological reality and the drama of f e e l i n g — a movement we have already seen under way with Wal- pole's Castle of Otranto. That movement required devices specified under Burke's concept of obscurity: suggestion, rich and wild imagery, carefully managed disorder, and suspense. Other items on Burke's l i s t of sources for the sublime help to define the aesthetics of the gothic. Among the "general privations," for example, Burke names "Vacuity, Darkness, Solitude and Silence," (p. 125) which also happen to be the conditions of that central exper- ience of gothic f i c t i o n , the protagonist's imprisonment. These condi- tions are also present in the graphic monument of what Levy calls the 163 24 "claustral," Piranesi's series of etchings of the Carceri d'Invenzione. Speaking of the sublime effect of suddenly alternating brightness and darkness, Burke observes: "And this is not the only instance wherein the opposite extremes operate equally in favour of the sublime, which in a l l things abhors mediocrity" (pp. 146-147). We encounter the same abhorrence in gothic f i c t i o n , where both scene-painting and characteri- zation elevate the taste for juxtaposed extremes almost to a theory of personality. Burke makes this taste consistent with his philosophical technique: "He attempts to describe the strongest of emotions, the most engrossing of ideas, the greatest of pleasures, the most dreadful pains, in an effort to ascertain what inventions of the imagination might pro- 25 duce them. The ultimate art should stimulate the ultimate response." Although the effort sometimes yields t r i v i a l results, such as Burke's exhaustive treatment of intermittent sounds and flashing lights, the desire for the ultimate and the excessive—the basic impulse of the gothic s e n s i b i l i t y — i s set by Burke on an empirical foundation which makes i t appear more credible and legitimate. The f i n a l source of the sublime worth considering here is "the a r t i f i c i a l i n f i n i t e , " a concept which we meet in connection with archi- tecture. Burke's plain opinion of gothic architecture was unfavourable: Burke himself never recognized tin'. Gothic architecture the out- standing i l l u s t r a t i o n of the sublime he advocated: magnitude, apparent disorder, magnificent profusion of detail, the expres- sion of immense energy, the suggestion of i n f i n i t y through ornamental traceries, the awful gloom of the interior . . . his sole reference to Gothicism reveals the common Augustan preju- d i c e s . 2 6 Yet, when we examine the concept of the a r t i f i c i a l i n f i n i t e closely, we shall see how i t might be interpreted to support gothicism, in architec- 164 ture and in f i c t i o n , against Burke's avowed lack of sympathy. The a r t i f i c i a l i n f i n i t e is a d i s t i l l a t i o n of various factors: the mind's passive attitude before the sublime, the mind's acquiescence in i t s own deception by the sublime, the appeal of the sublime to i r r a - tional and mechanical mental processes, and the positive value of power, terror, and ignorance in furthering the sublime. The crucial fact about impressions of the infinite—whether i t is real or a r t i f i c i a l — i s the mind's inability to conceive of boundaries or limits to the supposedly in f i n i t e object. The mind is overwhelmed, i t s reasoning faculties ren- dered useless. Often this i s a matter of i l l u s i o n , and Burke offers the example of "succession and uniformity" in order to describe the process. The repetition of identical objects in sequence, such as the columns of a rotunda or a colonnade or an oblong Grecian temple, tends to persuade the viewer's mind to supply mechanically an i n f i n i t e progression where, in reality, none exists. On these grounds, Burke complains against the profusion of right-angles and broken visual planes in the cruciform gothic cathedral plan, which distracts the perceiver's attention and spoils any possible i l l u s i o n (pp. 134-135). Burke's theory, however, including the a r t i f i c i a l i n f i n i t e , was adapted to support the contrary argument, in favour of the gothic. Chief among the adaptors were Uvedale Price, who built also upon Van- brugh's and Reynolds' ideas, and the Rev. John Milner, who claimed that the superiority of the gothic for ecclesiastical buildings was authorized by Burke and asserted that gothic churches "are more conducive to 27 'prayer and contemplation'." Only twenty years after the Enquiry appeared Mrs. Thrale was able to cite Burke in support of a favourable 165 opinion of gothic things, his original attitude having merged somehow with Horace Walpole's: "I observed i t was in Manners as in Architecture, the Gothick struck one most forcibly, the Grecian delighted one more 28 sensibly. 'Tis the Sublime & beautiful of Burke over again." The reversal of architectural attitude becomes less puzzling when we take into account a feature of the a r t i f i c i a l i n f i n i t e , as Burke describes i t , which is perfectly attuned to neo-gothic tastes in build- ing. I am referring to the o r i e n t a t i o n of the i n f i n i t e , and hence, the sublime. Burke considers the question of whether the i l l u s i o n of inf i n i t y operates more powerfully in one direction than another, and he concludes that the sublime i s , above a l l else, an experience of vertical 29 or perpendicular i n f i n i t y . The sublime affects the whole conscious- ness with vertigo. It is logical that, in comparison, horizontal infinity—viewing an expansive panorama—gives an inferior t h r i l l , for i t bears no immediate sign of power relationships, of potential identi- fication with the superior or the inferior. I have already referred (Chapter One, note 26) to Virginia Hyde's observation that neo-gothic taste was greatly affected by the Perpendicular style, favouring exag- gerated, soaring vertical lines, and I believe i t a f a i r generalization. We find the epitome of this taste for ve r t i c a l i t y in William Beckford's reconstructed Fonthill Abbey, with i t s soaring, structurally unsound octagon tower, i t s twelve-foot-high park wall, and i t s cavernous, 30 inhuman interior spaces. If Beckford was not striving for terror, he was at least looking to create very strong impressions, impressions that seem to demand a kind of perceptual submission that is part of the sub- lime. 166 Burke spends relatively l i t t l e time dealing directly with this aspect of gothic taste, but the remainder of his theory gives a satis- factory psychological account of i t , in which ve r t i c a l i t y i s not merely of optical significance. Maurice Levy, for example, believes that the common element in neo-gothic architecture and gothic f i c t i o n i s the replacement of a horizontal by a vertical axis of imagination. Levy combines the ideas of obscurity and i n f i n i t y to extend the range of sublime objects, so that they include d i f f i c u l t or arcane knowledge, of the self or of ultimate things. The vertical i n f i n i t e i s the line of dreaming, of i n i t i a t i o n , of questing, of descent into deeper levels of consciousness. Levy suggests that the recurrent vertical arrangement of architecture and of narrative layers in the gothic novels symbolizes the arrangement of the personality and the dreamer's penetration through i t , a movement which is both illuminating and terrifying. He also links the idea of vertical i n f i n i t y to the historical preoccupations in the novels: C'est encore par un mouvement de descente verticale dans un passe national qu'on explique le mieux le retour a l'epoque des Croisades, de la Reine Elisabeth, ou du r o i Charles l e r . Collectivement . . . l a societe anglaise s'enfonce dans son histoire pour y trouver obscurement sa verite, peut-etre aussi pour y puiser des images susceptibles de 1'aider a integrer, en les fixant a. un niveau rassurant de son propre passe national, les evenements de 89.^ Inasmuch as i t can be adapted to the creation of fi c t i o n a l scenes, characters, and plots, the idea of the a r t i f i c i a l i n f i n i t e also provides a simple model of gothic technique. Just as the viewer of a sublime object, limited to a monotonous yet suggestive set of images, builds his sensation of being overwhelmed (i.e., of the sublime) on the extension of those images, so the reader of gothic f i c t i o n , held in ignorance 167 except for a few disturbing impressions constantly reinforced—of potential danger, for instance—imagines terrifying events, gruesome personal histories, unseen p e r i l , through the aid of his own conspiring 32 invention. The a r t i f i c i a l i n f i n i t e and the vertical orientation were not new features in the literature of the sublime. Both the Longinian and the topographical sublime employ the concept of elevation, either l i t e r a l or metaphorical, and Burke introduces most of the key objects that would have been familiar from either branch of the theory: mountains, storms, seas, chasms, awesome buildings, limitless space, evocative language. Burke's real innovation, however, i s his dissociation of the vertical axis of imagination, and the sublime experience in general, from religious beliefs. Other enthusiasts of the sublime saw religious significance in their experiences, religious symbols in sublime objects. For them, the sublime was a confrontation between man with his meagre capabilities and the immensity of the divine presence in the physical world. Admiration for sublime scenery was a form of worship well-suited to Christian or 33 Deistic piety. Without denying a l l religious implications, Burke describes a sub- limity which is not necessarily or primarily religious in meaning. The vertical line extends from man to God, perhaps, but also from man to whatever is rendered mysterious, potent and terrible by art. The divine power may be the ultimate instance of such potentialities, but Burke does not refer a l l terror to i t . Instead, Burke secularizes the sublime experience by concentrating on the psychological basis for i t . For this 168 reason, we must differ with W. F. Wright's contention that Burke's sub- lime "arose from a philosophical realization of the divine in nature" and that i t had l i t t l e in common with Walpole's supernatural awe, a claim which leads him to conclude that "the appearance of terror in the 34 English novel had been prepared for scarcely at a l l . " To counter this, I would return to an analogy with architecture. Burke founds a system of terror on psychological, rather than religious, principles at the same time that Walpole and other gothicists are starting to blend ecclesiastical designs freely into their own dramatic structures in order to evoke not only conventional piety but i t s parody. In both cases the movement i s away from previous associations, towards more 35 sensational, flexible practices. Although the terror of the gothic kept i t s basically religious, authoritarian character, acting as an 36 extension of the strictest Protestant visions of guilt and punishment, the Enquiry shows how different powers and agents may be substituted for the customary ones according to scie n t i f i c principles—how the stock of terror may be expanded. The main interest in the Enquiry is reserved for the art of pure terror, such as Scott believed that Ann Radcliffe was practicing. In following that interest, the Enquiry reaches certain conclusions which help to illuminate the difference between ambivalent and nostalgic gothicism. 1. The Enquiry establishes a category of art whose aim is not mimesis but the stimulation of strong feelings. Burke does not treat this as an inferior purpose. 169 2. The Enquiry demonstrates how the spectacle of pain, or the threat of personal i n j u r y , may be the source of a mixed, modified pleasure. 3. In analyzing those q u a l i t i e s of objects which lend them sub- l i m i t y , the Enquiry a r r i v e s at an account of the core of ambivalent gothicism, which seeks to evoke an imaginary yet q u a s i - h i s t o r i c a l age of ruthless power, without sentimentality or n o s t a l g i a intervening. 4. The common factor i n a l l sublime properties i s extremity. The degree of excellence of a sublime object depends upon the i n t e n s i t y and p u r i t y of the t e r r o r that i t induces. Thus, the c r i t e r i o n of aesthetic value s h i f t s away from the usual t e s t s : moral value, educative value, formal p e r f e c t i o n — a l l y i e l d to the strength of the reader's or viewer's sensations. 5. The Enquiry presents surprise, suspense, shock, suggestiveness, and t e r r o r as legitimate l i t e r a r y devices, and, of course, these are also the chief instruments of ambivalent gothicism. 6. The Enquiry defines sublimity as whatever draws the imagination and the senses beyond usual l i m i t s , i ncluding the extraordinary and the unknowable. Though analyzed r a t i o n a l l y by Burke, the sublime operates non-rationally. The t e r r o r of the sublime o r i g i n a t e s i n the spectator's sense of v u l n e r a b i l i t y and helplessness, i n his delight at a threat survived, at a superior power encountered and withstood. The w i l l i n g v i c t i m , l i k e many gothic protagonists, meets a f a c s i m i l e of death or of inner darkness which, because i t i s only a f a c s i m i l e , can be vanquished. Pamela Kaufman has interpreted t h i s conquest i n terms of the Freudian dualism of eros and thanatos. In e f f e c t , within the art of 170 terror the "fantasies symbolize a preoccupation with survival. . . . Both Burke and Freud agree that the fundamental human desire is to sur- vive and to l i v e as individuals. . . . They differ over which 'passion' expresses this w i l l for self-preservation." Kaufman then draws a con- nection between Burke's interest in surviving dangers and the gothic: "In Freudian terms, the Gothic fantasy is counter-phobic, that i s , i t 37 embraces the very terror that i t fears." The last phrase is a fine rendition of the ambivalence of the gothic. The direct thrust of the Enquiry i s away from conventional literary experiences and towards the exploitation of shock for i t s own sake—for the imaginative exercise—and for the sake of revealing the darker aspects of the psyche. Yet, i f the Enquiry does give a rationale for gothic sensationalism, at the same time i t also gives, in i t s very definition of the sublime, the means of opposing excessive sensational- ism. Along with the more radical statements we discover a concern for decorum and taste. Or, as Kiely has summarized the relationship between Burke's sublime and the gothic: "One finds in Walpole, Radcliffe, Reeve, 38 and Lewis not only Burke's ideas but Burke's problems." The most persistent problem was setting out boundaries for the sensational, balancing freedom of exploration against disgust and moral revulsion. For the gothic, this problem coincides with the central con- f l i c t between nostalgia and ambivalence. In general, we w i l l find that nostalgia militates for more severe limits upon sensationalism, because, as we have seen in Chapter One, the nostalgic version of the gothic world i s more selective. Ambivalence requires the techniques of sensa- tionalism in order to depict the excesses of gothic power that i t both 171 admires and condemns. Burke approached the problem by trying to indicate exactly what kind and what degree of terror were bearable, and by trying to account for the reaction to real, as well as artificially-depicted, scenes of distress. Burke recognizes that there i s a difference between delight- ful horror and disgust, or actual pain; therefore, he favours a surro- gate danger, made up of associations with potent objects, suggestions of unnamed threats, and substitutions of symbolic figures for ultimate sources of power. To his successors this solution was more provocative than conclu- sive. After a l l , they had immediate real i t i e s like the gothic novel and gothic drama to consider. Mrs. Barbauld (Anna Laetitia Aikin), in a work specifically devoted to the problem, shows with her essentially anti-sensationalist position how sensitive the issue of propriety had become and how many negative cases she saw around her: It is undoubtedly true . . . that the representation of dis- tress frequently gives pleasure; from which general observa- tion many of our modern writers of tragedy and romance seem to have drawn this inference,—that in order to please, they have nothing more to do than to paint distress in natural and striking colours. With this view, they heap together a l l the a f f l i c t i n g events and dismal accidents their imagination can furnish; and when they have half broke the reader's heart, they expect he should thank them for his agreeable entertain- ment. An author of this class sits down, pretty much like an inquisitor, to compute how much suffering he can i n f l i c t upon the hero of his tale before he makes an end of him.^g At f i r s t i t appears as i f Mrs. Barbauld were merely questioning the more extravagant uses of the sensational, but as she continues her dis- cussion i t becomes clear that she is identifying a failure of what Hume called "conversion"—the accommodation of distinct, and often contrary, 172 passions. In the process, she implies that painful sensations cannot be converted or modified toward anything like Burke's surrogate pain, and that p i t y — t h e preferable emotion—operates quite independently: The view or relation of mere misery can never be pleasing. We have, indeed, a strong sympathy with a l l kinds of misery; but i t i s a feeling of pure unmixed pain, similar in kind, though not equal in degree, to what we feel for ourselves in the like occasions; and never produces that melting sorrow, that t h r i l l of tenderness, to which we give the name of pity. They are two distinct sensations, marked by very different external expression. One causes the nerves to tingle, the flesh to shudder, and the whole countenance to be thrown into strong contradictions; the other relaxes the frame, opens the features, and produces t e a r s . ^ This f i n a l contrast i s equal to the worst of Burke's physiology, yet the prevailing contrast i s that between pain, which is neither an aesthetic nor a controllable sensation, and pity, which 'is both aesthetic and decorous. It was not the painful subject but the painful treatment of i t that Mrs. Barbauld disliked, the dropping of pity from the classic terror and pity of tragedy. This criticism had justi f i c a t i o n , at least as far as the gothic was concerned. The internal struggle within the gothic centred on questions of excessive sensationalism (i.e., terror-mongering) and the excessive sentimentality usually associated with nostalgia. In 1757 Burke set aside pity as the chief source of our interest in distressing events and placed terror at the core of a prospective literary genre. In 1764 Horace Walpole's translator persona claimed terror as his "author's principal engine" in Otranto. And in 1824 Scott would make terror the characteristic instrument of the gothic. But i t is not Mrs. Barbauld's favoured instrument, and her criticism represents the countervailing, censorious voice which required moral elevation, sympathy, and restraint 173 rather than spectacle. Mrs. Barbauld is exact in advising how painful subjects are to be managed. Her recommendations comprise a survey of anti-sensationalist opinion: . . . no scenes of misery ought to be exhibited which are not connected with the display of some moral excellence or agree- able quality. . . . The misfortunes which excite pity must not be too horrid and overwhelming. . . . A judicious author w i l l never attempt to raise pity by any thing mean or disgust- ing there must be a degree of complacence mixed with our sorrows to produce an agreeable sympathy; nothing, therefore, must be admitted which destroys the grace and dignity of suf- fering. . . . Scenes of distress should not be too long con- tinued. A l l our finer feelings are in a manner momentary, and no art can carry them beyond a certain point, either in intenseness or duration. Constant suffering deadens the heart to tender impressions. . . . It is therefore necessary, in a long work, to relieve the mind by scenes of pleasure and gaiety . . . provided care be taken not to check the passions while they are flowing.^ However, Mrs. Barbauld further complicates her position in her 42 essay "On Romances: An Imitation." Here she inquires into the reasons for our paradoxical delight in "the groans of misery" and "complicated anguish," and dismisses as simplistic and mistaken two previous lines of argument which Burke had also dismissed: that the spectacle of f i c t i o n a l 43 sufferings aids the reader in bearing his own real ones; and that the sense of commiseration arising from fic t i o n a l sufferings gives the reader a chance to congratulate himself on his sensitivity and magnanim- ity. Unfortunately, Mrs. Barbauld does not present her own positive views on the subject. Nevertheless, scanning her c r i t i c a l writings we find a measure of consistency in her suspicion of strong scenes and shock techniques. 174 Another moderating voice is Dr. Nathan Drake's. In his Literary Hours, Drake regards literary fantasy as a refuge from real horrors, in particular from those of the Napoleonic Wars: Long . . . as our eyes have been now turned on scenes of tur- bulence and anarchy, long as we have listened with horror to the storm which has swept over Europe with such ungovernable fury, i t must prove highly grateful, highly soothing to the wearied mind, occasionally to repose on such topics as l i t e r - ature and imagination are willing to a f f o r d . ^ This should not suggest, however, that Drake was attracted to literature only as a means of escape and relaxation. Such motivation would have prejudiced him against gothic sensationalism, which offered escape, perhaps, but not of a kind "highly soothing to the wearied mind." In fact, Drake was drawn to "gothic superstition" (this included a l l forms of supernaturalism), which he f e l t was an enduring imaginative 45 influence, "even in the present polished period of society." Else- where Drake made i t clear that his contemporaries could only be expected to produce, and to understand, replicas of a past belief which was no longer emotionally or intellectually available to them: In this age, when science and literature have spread so extensively, the heavy clouds of superstition have been dis- persed, and have assumed a lighter and less formidable hue; for though the tales of Walpole, Reeve, and Radcliffe, or the poetry of Weiland, Burger, and Lewis, s t i l l powerfully arrest attention, and keep an ardent curiosity alive, yet i s their machinery by no means an object of popular belief, nor can i t now lead to dangerous credulity, as when in the times of Tasso, Shakspearef,-j and even Milton, witches and wizards, spectres and fa i r i e s , were nearly as important subjects of faith as the most serious doctrines of religion.,^ 46 Drake valued gothic superstition as a "source of imagery," capable of bringing about "a grateful astonishment, a welcome sensation of 47 fear." He feared that attempts to discredit and expunge from poetry even the simplest and most popular superstitions would cause "our 175 national poetry" to "degenerate into mere morality, criticism, and satire . . . the sublime, the terrible, and the fanciful in poetry, 48 w i l l no longer exist." Drake's loyalties were close to Hurd's, Walpole's, and Burke's. There is the same delight in fantasy, the same dread of banality and mere common-sense, the same enthusiasm for gothic v i t a l i t y . But, like Hurd in his cultural defence of gothicism and Walpole in his architectural fantasies, Drake insisted on adding a "sportive" element to the more sombre concept of terror-inspired imagination described by Burke. His gothicism was more eclectic yet low-keyed. Thus he was able to skirt the problem of sensationalism and i t s limits by identifying two complementary aspects of gothic super- st i t i o n : . . . although this kind of superstition be able to arrest every faculty of the human mind, and to shake, as i t were, a l l nature with horror, yet does i t also delight in the most sportive and elegant imagery. . . . The vulgar Gothic . . . turns chiefly on the awful ministration of the Spectre, or the innocent gambols of the Faery.^ Drake carried over this distinction in his analysis of folklore and popular beliefs, and was evidently interested enough in advancing the cause of the lighter, "sportive" gothic and i t s compatibility with the more terrifying kind to compose his own short f i c t i o n as a demonstra- tion piece. The resulting story of the knight Henry Fitzowen has negligible literary value, since Drake has had to overlook any principle of dramatic pacing or s k i l f u l plot construction for the sake of cramming as many diverse incidents and effects into the story as possible. That he should have bothered with such an inconclusive experiment seems less surprising when we look at his essay "On Objects of Terror.""^ With no great originality Drake here concluded that "objects of terror may . . . 176 be divided into those which owe their origin to the agency of superhuman beings, and form a part of every system of mythology, and into those which depend upon natural causes and events for their production.""'"'" Examining the latter category, Drake came upon the danger of sensation- alism which Mrs. Barbauld had also recognized. Because no supernatural agents were involved in causing them, natural terrors were more probable and familiar. There was no distance provided by condescension and rationalization to make them less personal for the enlightened reader. Therefore, they remained a potential source of shock, disgust, and indecency unless carefully managed. The story of Henry Fitzowen should be regarded as an exercise in the counterbalancing of sensationalism. For this purpose Drake recommended the use of picturesque description, the evocation of conventionally sublime or pathetic sentiments, and the contrivance of suspense devices: No efforts of genius . . . are so truly great as those which, approaching the brink of horror, have yet, by the art of the poet or painter, by adjunctive and picturesque embel- lishment, by pathetic or sublime emotion, been rendered powerful in creating the most delightful and fascinating sensations. Drake's examples of disgusting and pleasing horror are interesting because they exhibit the tension between subject and treatment: A poem, a novel, or a picture, may . . . notwithstanding i t s accurate imitation of nature and beauty of execution, unfold a scene so horrid, or so cruel, that the art of the painter or the poet i s unable to render i t communicative of the smallest pleasurable emotion. . . . The' Mysterious Mother . . . a tragedy by the late celebrated Lord Orford [Horace Walpole], labours under an insuperable defect of this kind. The plot turns upon a mother's premeditated incest with her own son, a catastrophe productive only of horror and aversion, and for which the many well-written scenes intro- ductory to this monstrous event cannot atone. 177 Drake commends Dante's story of Ugolino in the Inferno as an instance of a painful subject tastefully handled, and applies the same standard to the other founder of a gothic "school": In the production of Mrs. Radcliffe, the Shakspeare of Romance Writers, . . . may be found many scenes truly t e r r i f i c in their conception, yet so softened down, and the mind so much relieved, by the intermixture of beautiful description, or pathetic incident, that the impression of the whole never becomes too strong, never degenerates into horror, but plea- surable emotion is ever the predominating r e s u l t . ^ Even Scott, with his f u l l appreciation of terror and the sensa- tional, adopts the "familiarity breeds contempt" argument with regard to the explicitness of horror, correctly employing Burke's doctrine of 54 obscurity in support of his position. From Burke through Scott, the advocacy of a manipulative, sensa- tional literature was counterbalanced by a reticence that was sometimes moral, sometimes aesthetic. Ideas of.limitation merged with ideas of effectiveness and impressiveness. Burke had defined the general limit. The reader's sufferings had to be aesthetically distanced, not authentic or personal; they had to be f e l t in some way different from actual pain, fear, and horror. That i s the point of Mrs. Radcliffe's distinction between terror and horror—the separation of personal and aesthetic passions. This requirement that terror be moderated and distanced was particularly applicable to the gothic, because the conviction persisted that gothic exuberance and inventiveness were insidious forces which might become dangerous, morally and imaginatively. Of course, the danger, like the imaginary gothic world, was both appalling and attractive, a paradox upon which gothic ambivalence was founded. In considering anxieties over sensationalism and the pressure 178 to limit i t , the different versions of "gothic barbarity"—the ambiva- lent and the nostalgic—become very important. Underlying desires for restorative fantasy, fears of strong passions, attraction to power and ev i l or revulsion against them—these competing impulses affected the degree to which sensational elements were accepted and exploited in the gothic novels. Various shadings of disgust, interest and enthusiasm are discern- ible among writers and c r i t i c s : (1) disapproval and avoidance (e.g., Clara Reeve, antiquaries), (2) disapproval yet interest (e.g., A. L. Barbauld, Nathan Drake), (3) qualified approval and moderate use (e.g., Ann Radcliffe, Sophia Lee), (4) open approval yet moderate use (e.g., Horace Walpole, most gothic dramatists"'"') , (5) qualified c r i t i c a l approval (e.g., Burke, Scott, Coleridge), and (6) open approval and f u l l use (e.g., Lewis, Maturin, le Fanu, Lovecraft). However, when we study the occurrence of sensationalism in the gothic with attention to the main gothic aims and strategies, this l i s t reduces to two basic positions. Uneasiness with sensationalism i s typical of the nostalgic mode of the gothic. Because that mode concentrates on the heroism and senti- mentality which i t d i s t i l l s from gothic barbarity, i t can accommodate terrifying figures only as intruders into an ideal setting. It w i l l not make them too prominent or attractive. The tendency of the nostalgic mode is to become decorous and conservative. It converts the imaginary gothic world into an ideal extension of the ethical climate of the 1780's and '90's, or into an ideal corrective for i t . As we have seen in the case of The Old English Baron, this process of i d e a l i z a t i o n — 179 whatever the discontent with present r e a l i t i e s from which i t a r i s e s — simply improves upon conventional values by purifying them in fantasy. In serving this end the fantasy i s purged of disturbing themes and characters. The emphasis f a l l s on chivalric adventure, rationalized supernaturalism, and a pal l i d version of romantic love, conducted in an atmosphere which encourages the expression of certain fashionable emotions—melancholy, melting sensibility, pathos, f i l i a l piety—and discourages other less governable ones—lust, ambition, jealousy, malevolence, and fear. It is the influence of the nostalgic mode that resists the depiction in gothic novels of sexual rapacity, violence, real supernaturalism, and the dissolution of the family, even in works which are not fundamentally nostalgic. For example, W. F. Wright notes how Mrs. Radcliffe was guided in some matters by the nostalgic mode. Though she did not shrink from depicting physical sufferings and tor- tures quite graphically, she was careful not to allow any such events to befall her protagonists: "Mrs. Radcliffe treated herself and her readers to the c h i l l experience of horror and, at the same time, preserved her worthy characters free from a l l stain which would prevent their ultimate happiness and the joyful termination of the story.""^ The ambivalent mode of gothicism, on the other hand, i s fascinated with, and dependent upon, those features of the imaginary gothic world which the nostalgic mode avoids. The ambivalence originates with a t t i - tudes towards the putative gothic ancestors and their environment. The gothic is attractive and repellent for the same reasons: i t s violence, i t s rampant sexual and material aggressiveness, i t s dedication to extremes of feeling, action, and belief, i t s alienation from contemporary 180 l i f e . The gothic i s exciting and tantalizing, yet ambivalence makes one grateful to encounter i t only in imagination. Because the ambivalence concerns terror, force, and power, sensa- tionalism pervades this mode of the gothic. The central experience of this mode is not, as in the nostalgic, a delightful suspension of banality and common-sense; instead, i t i s an experience of being over- whelmed—by strong, disturbing sensations, by p o l i t i c a l or religious tyranny, by mystification, by an oppressive sense of the alien. The reader's resistance li e s in his enlightened contempt for the gothic world, which does not permit him to lend too much credence to the fanta- sies set within i t . Nevertheless, he willingly suffers manipulation of his fears, expectations and prejudices, in an exotic atmosphere which both verifies and limits the reality of his terror. The readeris reward—parallel to the psychological exercise that Burke describes—is the thematic expansiveness of the mode. The ambiv- alent mode uses sensationalism so freely, not only in line with Burke's discovery that sensationalism can move an audience irrationally, but also in line with i t s preoccupation, which is irrationality i t s e l f . The ambivalent mode concentrates on the fate of victims in extreme situa- tions, sufferers of extraordinary sensations—situations and sensations readily disposed in the imaginary gothic world. The reader shares in the extremity from a safe distance, so that he i s , simultaneously, disturbed and reassured by i t . The distance is largely achieved through exoticism, and in this matter, too, nostalgia and ambivalence differ. In the nostalgic mode, the gothic world is exotic in direct proportion to the gothicist's 181 antiquarian interests or disaffection with the present. The ideal world may be more or less h i s t o r i c a l , more or less insistently alien, but the exoticism i s never a mask for threatening subjects since those are rarely present. Scott has explained the value of the exotic for ambiva- lent gothicism in his preface to Radcliffe's novels: She has uniformly selected the south of Europe for her places of action, whose passions, lik e the weeds of the climate, are supposed to attain portentous growth under the fostering sun; which abounds with ruined monuments of antiquity, as well as the more massive remnants of the middle ages; and where feudal tyranny and Catholic superstition s t i l l continue to exercise their sway over the slave and bigot, and to indulge to the haughty lord, or more haughty priest, that sort of despotic power, the exercise of which seldom f a i l s to deprave the heart, and disorder the judgment. These circumstances are s k i l f u l l y selected, to give probability to events which could not, with- out great violation of truth, be represented as having taken place in England.^ The exotic settings and characters not only prevent the violation of truth but also the violation of the modern reader's confidence that his own time is essentially different from the gothic. Such confidence is a crucial part of the ambivalent position, and i t is expressed in that configuration typical of the ambivalent mode, the confrontation pattern. Bertrand Evans has used the study of confrontation patterns to extend the idea of exoticism beyond the geographical. Evans sees the relationship between gothic protagonists and their persecutors as a case of different cultures brought together by apparent historical accident. The source of terror i s the f r i c t i o n between their mutually incomprehen- sible systems of moral and aesthetic values: Walpole's Isabel [sic] and Mrs. Radcliffe's Adeline, Emily, and Ellena were no more born to the medieval scene than were Pamela and Evelina. Enlightened, virtuous, and "sensible," 182 they had been uprooted from their proper society and, with contemporary emotional and intellectual patterns intact, thrust into that era which was "barbarous." Subjected to the various menaces of the Dark Ages, they served as projections of the nervous system of their own time, as sensitive regis- ters of emotional reaction to horrors, and, clearly, as transmitters of the t h r i l l s of their exposure. When they shuddered, their home-bound contemporaries shuddered. c o According to Evans, the persecutor is the representative of the barbarous, dangerous gothic era. His l a i r (castle, palace, chateau, monastery) is the physical symbol of that e r a — s p e c i f i c a l l y , of i t s endurance or decay—and from the style of i t s construction and i t s state of repair we may infer much about the time and place that we, and the protagonists, have entered. The placing of ruined castles and abbeys in medieval settings, against a l l chronological probability, was not always a novelist's oversight. Ruins bore significances which we have already noted in some detail. They were melancholy reminders of mutability or cheerful reminders that tyrannical p o l i t i c a l and religious institutions had been replaced. In addition, however, given the more pejorative connotation of gothic as anachronistic, these ruins and their occupants also represent the presence of outmoded tastes and manners in the midst of modern society. Thus, the presentation of.the conflict between gothic protagonist and gothic v i l l a i n in historical or inter-cultural terms is a way of isolating aberrant forces within contemporary society. Safely removed from immediate reality, such gothic barbarities may be rendered contemptible and, at the same time, may be admired for their sheer brutality and magnificence. The convenient notion of "gothic manners" is as adaptable within the gothic novel as in common usage; in the novel, i t serves to mark off the various gradations of v i l l a i n y and the lines of conflict. 183 A striking example of conflict which shows the effect of ambiva- lence on gothic characterization occurs in Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolphg (17,94). The heroine, Emily St. Aubert, and her aunt, who has just become Mme. Montoni, are crossing the Alps into Italy. This par- ticular journey had been the testing ground for picturesque and sublime sensibility at least since John Dennis made i t in 1688, and the two women react i'n>. waysjcharacteristic of their different positions on the scale of taste. While Emily's soul rises in fashionable accord with the sublimity of c l i f f s and gorges and bursts forth regularly in poetic effusions of sensibility, Mme. Montoni's response is recognizably old- fashioned, and perhaps more r e a l i s t i c : she i s agitated by the dangers of the passage and disgusted by the chaos of rock and snow around her. This throwback to older ideas of order and security offends Emily because i t i s stodgy and insensitive, but there is evidence from outside the novel that Radcliffe was not wholly in sympathy with this opinion. Writing in her travel journals of her trip down the Rhine, she reports that the c l i f f s , the high wind, the roar of the river and the force of it s currents "were circumstances of the true sublime, inspiring terror 59 in some and admiration in a high degree." Yet, later during the ascent of Skiddaw she has trouble enjoying the sublime f u l l y : "But our situation was too c r i t i c a l , or too unusual, to permit the just impres- sions of such sublimity. . . . We followed the guide in silence, and, t i l l we regained the more open wild, had no leisure for exclamation."^ Mme. Montoni's ethical, as well as aesthetic, insensitivity i s rewarded through her marriage to the ruthless Montoni, whose tastes are as superficial as his moral code. Since Montoni i s truly a denizen of 184 the gothic world (decadent Venice, the terrifying Apennine stronghold), Emily seems entrapped in the usual pattern of confrontation. But, as I have suggested, much of the conflict i s displaced, and Emily's side is by no means vindicated at once. If she is a representative of a certain time or of a certain recognizable character type—the youth of exquisite sensibility—she also must bear the weaknesses of that time and the type. So the confrontation's meaning cuts both ways. Although both the aunt and Montoni are unsympathetic characters—the latter an alien—they effectively question the usefulness of Emily's emotionalism. A good part of the terror in Emily's encounter with Montoni comes from the realization that violence does not require an active imagination like hers in order to be successful and magnificent. Montoni is p i t i l e s s and tasteless, but in his world Emily's passions and appreciation of natural beauty and sublimity are rendered rather s i l l y . They w i l l not save her from him; for a time they prevent her from thinking inventively of her own safety. The pattern of confrontation in Udolpho both confirms the conventional, reassuring assumptions about gothic dangers and presents a feature of contemporary culture—excessive sensibility and the need 61 for fresh t e r r o r s — i n a less flattering light. Confrontation is the natural pattern for ambivalence to assume in the gothic because i t reflects divisions within society and the person- a l i t y . The battleground of the personality requires exotic distancing more than the battleground of customs and mores, because i t is so much closer to individual fears and revulsions, and is therefore more liable to repel the reader. The exotic trappings—castles, ruins, foreign stereotypes, archaic language and manners—are necessary because they 185 permit the setting apart of threatening yet fascinating potentialities within society and within the self. It i s as i f such things were merely, exclusively gothic, and consequently denatured. Exoticism amounts to a compromise with the reader's internal and cultural censor- ship very much like Walpole's compromise with prevailing architectural taste. The advantage gained is the same: a new area is claimed for the exploring imagination. In the case of ambivalent gothicism, the area prepared for freer exploration is the realm of terror, extremity and abnormal personality. That preoccupation explains why Burke's psychological theories reveal so lucidly the basis of the gothic sensibility in f i c t i o n ; for, as we shall see in the detailed study of selected gothic novels in the next chapter, ambivalence, with i t s characteristic themes and methods, dominates gothic f i c t i o n . It incorporates the nostalgic mode only to corrupt i t , showing i t s idealism to be a delusory myth. Instead of gothic ideals, the ambivalence of the f i c t i o n results in an obsession with dualities, of; which the typical pattern of confrontation i s merely the most obvious case. In the gothic novels we w i l l discover sexual aggression juxtaposed with sexual passivity, brutality with gentility, insensitivity with sensibility, selfishness with selflessness, coercion with justice, ambition with humility, and blasphemy with piety. 186 FOOTNOTES 1Mdntyre, "Were the Gothic Novels Gothic?" and "The Later Career of the Elizabethan V i l l a i n Hero"; for a counter-argument see Bertrand Evans, Gothic Drama, pp. 11-12. 2 Diana Spearman, The Novel and Society (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1966), Ch. 4, "The Rise of the Far Eastern Novel and the Beginnings of Romance in Europe"; see B. Sprague Allen on gothic and "Chinois"; Lovejoy, "On the Chinese Origin of a Romanticism," Essays in the History of Ideas (Capricorn edit.), pp. 99-135; Varma, Gothic Quest, Ch. 2, "The Background: Origins and Cross Currents" (p. 23 f f . ) ; Harrison R. Steeves, Before Jane Austen ?(iNew York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1965), Ch. 25. 3 Walter Francis Wright, Sensibility in English Prose Fiction, 1760- 1814: A Reinterpretation, Ph.D. Dissertation, Univ. of I l l i n o i s , 1935; Univ. of Illinois Studies in Language and Literature, 22, 3-4 (1937); Nelson C. Smith, "Sense, Sensibility and Ann Radcliffe," Studies in English Literature, 13, 4 (1973), 577-590. 4 James R. Foster, History of the Pre-Romantic Novel in England (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1949). ^Randolph Hoyt Hunt, "Hence, vain deluding joys . . .," Ph.D. Dis- sertation, Stanford University, 1962. ^Ioan Williams, The Realist Novel in England: A Study in Development (London & Basingstoke: Macmillan Press, 1974), pp. 3-11; Tompkins, The Popular Novel, pp. 72-84, 129, 209 f f . ; Spearman, pp. 221-223; John Tinnon Taylor, Early Opposition to the English Novel (New York: King's Crown Press, 1943), pp. 101-114; Michael Hadley, "A C r i t i c a l Puzzle: A Search for the German Gothic Novel," paper presented to the Samuel John- son Society of the Northwest in Seattle, Washington, 12 October 1974. Ŵ. E. Coleman, "On the Discrimination of Gothicisms," Ph.D. Dis- sertation, City University of New York, 1970; Francis R. Hart, "Limits of the Gothic: The Scottish Example," Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, Vol. 3, Racism in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Harold E. Pagliaro (Cleveland & London: Press of Case Western Reserve Univ., 1973), pp. 137- 153; Robert D. Hume, "Gothic versus Romantic: A Revaluation of the Gothic Novel," PMLA, 84 (March 1969), 282-290; Robert D. Hume and Robert L. Platner, "Gothic versus Romantic: A Rejoinder," PMLA, 86 (March 1971), 266-274. Sir Walter Scott, "Prefatory Memoir," The Novels of Mrs. Ann R a d c l i f f e (1824; rpt., Hildesheim & New York: Georg 01m Verlag, 1974), p. x v i i i . Ibid., p. x x i i i . 187 J. T. Boulton, ed., A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful by Edmund Burke (London: Rout- ledge & Kegan Paul, 1958), pp. lxxxl-cxxvii; Walter J. Hippie, Jr., The Beautiful, the Sublime, and the Picturesque in Eighteenth-Century B r i t i s h Aesthetic Theory (Carbondale, 111.: Southern I l l i n o i s Univ. Press, 1957), pp. 83-98; Robert Kiely, The Romantic Novel in England (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1972), pp. 12-17; Pamela Kaufman, "Burke, Freud, and the Gothic," Studies in Burke and his Time, 13, 44 (1972), 2179-2192; Levy, pp. 68-69. 11 Ian Ross, "A Bluestocking Over the Border: Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu's Aesthetic Adventures in Scotland, 1766," Huntington Library Quarterly, 28, 3 (1965), 225-227. 12 David Hume, "Of Tragedy," Four Dissertations (1757); rpt. Criti- cism: The Major Texts, ed. W. J. Bate (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1952), pp. 193-195. 13 Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 2nd edn. (1759; rpt., Menston, England: Scolar Press, 1970), p. 58. Subsequent references to the Enquiry w i l l be to this facsimile edition and w i l l be given within the text. 14 Hume, p. 195, n. 4 (Hume's note). "^Compare Hume, p. 193: "It seems an unaccountable pleasure which the spectators of a well-written tragedy receive from sorrow, terror, anxiety, and other passions that are in themselves disagreeable and uneasy." "^This follows Hume's doctrine (pp. 196-197) of conversion, by which the force of the imagination dominates over the normal effect of the passion, converting i t to i t s own direction. 1 7Hipple, pp. 91-92. 18 Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose by J. and A. L. Aikin, 2nd edn. (London: J. Johnson, 1775), p. 125. 19 "On the Supernatural in Poetry. By the late Mrs. Radcliffe," New Monthly Magazine, 16, 62 (1826), 149-150. As the editor explains, this i s not really an essay but an extract from the introduction to Radcliffe's last published work, the novel Gaston De B l o n d e v i l l e , which also appeared in 1826. 20 Mario Praz, The Romantic Agony (1933; 2nd edn. rpt., New York: Meridian, 1956), trans. Angus Davidson, p. 27. The only direct refer- ence to Burke comes in the Introduction, p. 20, n. 15. 21 See Boulton, p. l v i i i ; Kiely, pp. 12-13. 188 22 Kiely, p. 13. 23 Ibid., p. 15. 24 Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) published the second, greatly revised edition of the Carceri in 1765. See Drawings and Etch- ings at Columbia University (New York: Columbia Univ., 1972); Aldous Huxley, Prisons with the "Carceri" Etchings by G. B. Piranesi (London: Trianon Press, 1949); for a response to Piranesi from within the neo- gothic period, see the "Pains of Opium" section of Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater, 1st edn. (1821; rpt., ed. Alethea Hayter, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973), pp. 105-107. It is significant that De Quincey mistakenly calls Piranesi's architectural fantasies "Gothic halls." 25 Kiely, p. 13; also see W. J. Bate, From C l a s s i c to Romantic: Premises of Taste in Eighteenth-Century England (1946; rpt., New York: Harper Torchbook, 1961), pp. 153-156. Boulton, p. e v i l . 27 Ibid., p. c v i i . Boulton quotes from Milner's introductory letter, "Means necessary for further i l l u s t r a t i n g the Ecclesiastical Architec- ture of the Middle Ages," contained in the symposium, Essays on Gothic Architecture (1800). 28 Thraliana, quoted in Boulton, p. x c i i . 29 The actual discussion of horizontal and ver t i c a l comes in Part Two, Section VII of the Enquiry under "vastness." The difference between vastness and in f i n i t y i s negligible. 30 Peter Quennell, Romantic England: Writing and Painting, 1717-1851 fLondon: Weidenfeld and Nicblson, 1970), pp. 28-32; John Rutter, Deline- ations of Fonthill and Its Abbey (Shaftesbury: privately printed, 1823). 31 Levy, pp. 641-642. 32 Radcliffe describes this process in "On the Supernatural," pp. 149-150. 33 Samuel Holt Monk, The Sublime: A Study of Critical Theories in XVIII-Century England (1935; rpt., Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1960), Chs. I, IV, & X; Hippie, pp. 13-24; Henry V. S. & Margaret S. Ogden, English Taste in Landscape in the 17th Century (Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1955), pp. 134-167; Marjorie Hope Nicolson, Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Univ. Press, 1959); Ernest Lee Tuveson, The Imagination as a Means of Grace (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1960). W. F. Wright, p. 96. 189 35 In architecture, at least, sensationalism and f l e x i b i l i t y were to become important issues. In his History of the Gothic Revival, Eastlake condemns vir t u a l l y a l l neo-gothic building before Milner for excessively free adaptation of traditional gothic features, yet, at the other end of his historical period, he defends Street's and Butterfield's experiments with modern materials and "imported" styles. 36 Joel Porte, "In the Hands of an Angry God: Religious Terror in Gothic Fiction," in The Gothic Imagination: Essays in Dark Romanticism, ed. G. R. Thompson (Pullman, Wash.: Washington State Univ. Press, 1974), pp. 42-64; Peter Brooks, "Virtue and Terror: The Monk," ELH, 40, 2 (1973), 249-263. 37Kaufman, pp. 2190-2191. 3 8 K i e l y , p. 17. 39 Anna Laetitia Barbauld, "An.Inquiry into Those Kinds of Distress which Excite Agreeable Sensations," The Works of Anna Laetitia Barbauld, ed. with a Memoir by Lucy Aikin (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1825), II, 214. This essay also appeared in Miscel- laneous Pieces in Prose. 4 0 I b i d . , II, 215-216. 4 1 I b i d . , II, 217-225. 42 "On Romances: An Imitation," Works, II, 171-175. 43 Compare Addison, Spectator, #418. 44 Nathan Drake, M.D., Literary Hours: or Sketches, Critical, Narrative, and Poetical, 4th edn. (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1820), I, v i (preface). The preface i s dated August 1798. 45 Drake, "On Gothic Superstition," with "Henry Fitzowen, a Gothic Tale," Literary Hours, I, 105. 46 Drake, "On the Government of the Imagination: On the Frenzy of Tasso and Collins," Literary Hours, I, 12-13. 47 "On Gothic Superstition," p. 108. Note the close paraphrase of Burke 48 Ibid., p. 112. 49 Ibid., p. 106. 5 Q L i t e r a r y Hours, I, 269-275. 5 1 I b i d . , p. 269. 190 5 2 I b i d . , p. 271. 5 3 I b i d . , pp. 273-274. 54 Sir Walter Scott, "On the Supernatural in Fictitious Composition; and Particularly on the Works of Ernest Theodore William Hoffmann," originally published in the Foreign Quarterly Review, collected in On Novelists and Fiction, pp. 312-353. "'"'Thorp, "Stage Adventures"; compare Robert D. Mayo, "Gothic Romance in the Magazines," PMLA, 65 (1950), 762-789, "The Gothic Short Story in the Magazines," MLR, 37 (1942), 448-454, The English Novel in the Magazines, 1740-1815 (Evanston, 111.: Northwestern Univ. Press, 1962); Dorothy Blakey, The Minerva Press: 1790-1820 (London: Printed for the Bibliographical Society by Oxford Univ. Press, 1939). 56W. F. Wright, pp. 107-108; see also Tompkins, pp. 258-259. "^Scott, "Prefatory Memoir," p. x x i i i . 58 Evans, Gothic Drama, pp. 8-9. 59 Ann Radcliffe, A Journey Made in the Summer of 1794, Through Holland and the Western Frontier of Germany, etc. (London: G. G. & J. Robinson, 1795), p. 294. 6 0 I b i d . , pp. 456-457. 61 Nelson C. Smith, "Sense, Sensibility and Ann Radcliffe," demon- strates, contrary to usual opinion, a strain of criticism of sensibility in Radcliffe's novels, which makes her position closer to such s a t i r i s t s of the gothic cult as Peacock and Jane Austen. CHAPTER IV EROTIC DANGERS, MONASTIC TYRANNY, AND FAMILY SECRETS Themes i n the Ambivalent Gothic If nostalgia for gothic ancestors results in the creation of an i d y l l i c realm in fict i o n and fantasy which they may populate, ambivalence towards the gothic produces a radically different pattern. Permeated with danger, violence and strange magnificence, the imaginary world of the ambivalent mode is often sustained by erotic themes. Power is won through sexual crimes or i s used to commit them. Persecutions are mounted in order to gain sexual prey. The villain-hero suffers from, and is compelled by, his perverted erotic passions, abetted by his stunted emotional growth. The over-reaching that i s characteristic of his career usually has sexual overtones and consequences. The thwarting of f u l l erotic expression becomes, in gothic f i c t i o n , the mark of a l l destructive educational regimes, the source and instrument of a l l author- it y , including the parental. Victims who enter this gothic world assume that the expected assault against them w i l l be sexual—at least in p a r t — or that i t w i l l try to block their own sexual impulses, about which, however, they may be confused. Whatever learning arises from their predicament concerns the erotic aspect of their character. In this concentration on erotic violence and depredations the gothic novel follows a wider interest. In a survey of the sexual mores reflected in eighteenth-century f i c t i o n , Harrison Steeves has suggested - 191 - 192 that, a preoccupation with "libertinism, callous intrigue, and even sexual violence" was generalized, and that such a preoccupation arose from real problems and anxieties: Love in the modern sense; that i s , sexual interest associ- ated more or less closely with other spiritual and intellectual relations, i s , to be sure, the romantic theme of most eighteenth- century fictions, but sinister sexual complication is a charac- t e r i s t i c adjunct of the standard theme. In the whole breadth of that fiction we see sex in a l l i t s fluctuating lights and shadows, but very commonly as a road to misery of one sort or another. . . . In the eighteenth century i t s material effects could be . . . hopelessly tragic. Perhaps with this picture before us we can understand why the moralists- of the century spoke of seduc- tion or sexual surrender as "worse than death." In the merely physical sense i t often was. Morally, i t might in the end result in the utter annihilation of personality and self-respect. The fears and compunctions of the heroines of fi c t i o n were not i l l u - sions and not mere p i e t i s t i c sentiments; they were practical wisdom. While the reality of sexual danger and the effects of class anta- gonism help to explain some features of the gothic novels—such as their great appeal to female readers—gothic f i c t i o n remains, nevertheless, a special case. Gothic fi c t i o n treats power, violence, and sexuality not as adjuncts of the standard, romantic theme but as a counterpoint to i t . The nostalgic use of putative gothic ancestors requires that they be moral superiors; therefore, the nostalgic mode acquires a taste for romantic, chivalric love, for fine ceremony, for stylized eroticism at the most. The ambivalent view of the gothic period requires, for p o l i - 2 t i c a l as well as psychological reasons, a strong, disturbing undercur- rent of violence and sexual rapacity, which gradually overcomes any pretense of historical accuracy or idealization. As the ambivalent mode resists the nostalgic, the gothic novel becomes as concerned with the psychology of the persecutor as with that of the victim. Mrs. Barbauld's 193 prescription—that only the sufferings of the just should be depicted sympathetically—does not apply. Moreover, although the gothic novel includes, and relies upon, the tension generated by real sexual aggres- sion, i t i s not much taken up with redressing real grievances, teaching prudent behaviour, or proposing r e a l i s t i c solutions to problems. It is more an exploratory than a didactic kind of literature, and i t s natural f i e l d of operation is the landscape of extremity, which is mainly inter- nal, whose denizens are the i n f l i c t e r s and sufferers of to r t u r e — frequently interchangeable pairs. From the time of i t s inception, with.Otranto, the ambivalent mode seeks to present "mere men and women . . . in extraordinary positions," and to put i t s audience, as nearly as possible, in the same positions, under the influence of terror and persecution. In doing so, i t s purpose is to investigate the esoteric regions of the psyche, by pursuing dis- turbing facts—abnormal sexuality, abuse of power, the attraction of e v i l , the internal warfare of the mind—to their extreme manifestations. Because the ambivalent mode succeeds in conducting this pursuit under cover of certain prejudices about the historical or geographical setting of i t s ac t i v i t i e s , i t both censors and insinuates subjects which would be horribly painful i f approached directly and r e a l i s t i c a l l y . As Scott observed, the setting of gothic novels is mainly adapted to this purpose, and the more a particular setting is normally associated with extremes of behaviour and feeling the better suited i t is for gothic use. Existing prejudices and fantasy-images are most serviceable, and none more so for gothic f i c t i o n than the conventional wisdom to the effect that monasteries and convents were havens for criminals and 194 sexual deviants. This basic tenet of religious nationalism in England and of anti-clericalism on the Continent was perhaps supported by what were perceived in the North to be Counter-Reformation crimes against rationality and freedom, but the animus brought to bear against Catholic institutions in gothic f i c t i o n , where they are an absorbing, regular subject, is on account of their unnaturalizess, and hence, their perfect representation of forces that also strongly affect the non-monastic society. In particular, the ab i l i t y of monks and nuns, in fic t i o n , to shape, control, and distort the individual character i s an exaggerated account of the whole process of education, told only in extreme, dialec- t i c a l terms. The recurrent monkish v i l l a i n s and monastic settings of gothic novels provide an exaggerated model of personality development and the abuse of power by authorities and institutions. Some examples w i l l make clear how nearly theoretical this notion of monasticism becomes, an unusual trend for a literary type which i s so notoriously non-didactic. The f i r s t example involves, a comparison with Denis Diderot's The Nun (La Religieuse, 1760), a novel based on a real case of conventual tyranny and meant to expose and combat the genuine evils of the monastic system. It i s remarkable that the serious indict- ment contained in the f i r s t memorandum of defence drafted by M. Manouri, advocate for the heroine Suzanne, raises many of the same objections that are commonplace in gothic f i c t i o n : Are convents so essential to the constitution of a state? . . . What need has the Bridegroom of so many foolish virgins? And the human race of so many victims? . . . Does God, who made man sociable, approve of his hiding himself away? Can God, who made man so inconstant and f r a i l , authorize such rash vows? Can these vows, which run counter to our natural inclinations, ever be properly observed except by a few abnormal creatures in whom 195 the seeds of passion are dried up, and whom we should rightly classify as freaks of nature i f the state of our knowledge allowed us to understand the internal structure of man as well as we understand his external appearance? Do a l l these lugubrious ceremonies played out at the taking of the habit or the profession, when a man or woman is set apart for the monastic l i f e and for woe, suspend the animal functions? On the contrary, do not these instincts awaken in silence, con- straint and idleness with a violence unknown to the people in the world who are busy with countless other things? Where do we see minds obsessed by impure visions which haunt them and drive them on? Where do we see that fathomless boredom, that pallor, that emaciation which are a l l symptoms of wasting and self-consuming natiure?^ The tirade drags on further, but the questions are rhetorical, given Diderot's evident purpose. Similarly, no one is exposed to the ambivalent gothic vision for long without learning that a l l the answers point to the monastic target. There i s nothing in Manouri's memorandum, or in Diderot's narrative, that is not a confirmation—albeit in sensa- tionalized form—of popular beliefs, that is not echoed in gothic f i c - tion. Thus characterized, the monastic system is truly gothic, in several senses of the term. It i s outmoded, an anachronism within the prevailing p o l i t i c a l and intellectual order. It is tyrannical, maintained by mental and physical brutality. It is barbarous and irrational. Having decayed like the gothic ruin i t usually inhabits, i t avidly promotes the decay of i t s unwilling members. Belief in monastic perfidy, or at least in the unnaturalness of the monastic way of l i f e , penetrates even less rabid depictions of monks and nuns. There are numerous reversions to this belief in Ann Radcliffe's 4 novels, each adhering f a i r l y well to the standard line. In The Romance of the Forest, for example, Adeline, the extremely emotional female protagonist, confides in Mme. La Motte, the wife of her 196 temporary guardian, some details of her education in a convent. Like many helpless young women in gothic novels she is pressured to take the v e i l , but she is sensible and reluctant: Too long had I been immured in the walls of a cloister, and too much had I seen of the sullen misery of i t s votaries, not to feel horror and disgust at the prospect of being added to their numbers. The "Lady Abbess" uses the typical propagandistic and coercive approach of the unscrupulous pursuer of novices: It was her method, when she wanted to make converts to her order, to denounce and terrify rather than to persuade and allure. Here were the arts of cunning practiced upon fear, not those of sophistication upon reason [but i t i s clear that Radcliffe does not approve of either technique]. She employed numberless strategems to gain me to her purpose, and they a l l wore the complexion of her character. But in the l i f e to which she would have devoted me, I saw too many forms of real terror, to be overcome by the influence of. her ideal host, and was resolute in rejecting the v e i l . Here I passed several years of miserable resistance against cruelty and superstition. Adeline goes on to describe the tedium of her existence: . . . at length the horrors of the monastic l i f e rose so ful l y to my view that fortitude gave way before them. Excluded from the cheerful intercourse of society—from the pleasant view of nature—almost from the light of day— condemned to s i l e n c e — r i g i d formality—abstinence and pen- ance—condemned to forego the delights of a world, which imagination painted in the gayest and most alluring colors, and whose hues were, perhaps, not the less captivating because they were only ideal—such was the state to which I was destined. In The Mysteries of Udolpho, Emily takes refuge in a monastic com- munity after her father's death, and she is treated well there, but she— or rather Radcliffe—cannot resist c r i t i c i z i n g the unhealthy lassitude of the monks, who lead a secluded, quiet l i f e contemplating the same natural beauty that Emily herself admires so much, without her opportun- ity to re-enter active society. 197 Radcliffe i s less violently anti-Catholic than some gothic novel- i s t s , but her most charitable depictions of monasticism are tinged with the same conventional suspicions. In The Italian she imagines an ideal house, the convent of the Santa della Pieta, which is run according to the principles of Shaftesburian benevolence instead of the regular discipline. Radcliffe makes the abbess and sisters exceptionally com- passionate and virtuous, while emphasizing that "the society of Our Lady of Pity was such as a convent does not often shroud." In fact, the goodness of the Abbess l i e s in her less-than-perfect observance of the letter of Church law and her improved, but heretical, grounds for belief: Her religion was neither gloomy, nor bigotted; i t was the sentiment of a grateful heart offering i t s e l f up to a Deity, who delights in the happiness of his creatures; and she con- formed to the customs of the Roman church, without supposing a faith in a l l of them to be necessary to salvation. This opinion, however, she was obliged to conceal, lest her very virtue should draw upon her the punishment of a crime, from some fierce ecclesiastics, who contradicted in their prac- tice the very essential principles, which the Christianity they professed would have taught them.^ Radcliffe contrasts the mild, equable rule and demeanor of the Abbess with the treachery and ruthlessness of the Ursaline abbess from whose dubious protection the heroine Ellena i s later abducted. This running comparison sets in proper perspective Radcliffe's creation of an idealized female community very much like the most successful real con- vents. The convent of the Santa della Pieta is an- authentic matriarchy, and i t is easy to see why Ellena succumbs to i t s attractiveness. She is a helpless orphan—like most gothic "innocents"—who has lost her sole guardian and i s searching desperately for real, or even surrogate, par- ents. The Abbess of the Santa della Pieta temporarily f i l l s the place 198 of mother u n t i l Ellena can meet her r e a l mother (Sister O l i v i a of the Ursalines, who remains unknown to her through most of the novel, and who i s persecuted by the e v i l "mother" of the order). The motherliness of the good Abbess originates i n universal q u a l i t i e s of humane leadership and active virtue. Like the ideal characteristics of Clara Reeve's protagonists i n The Old English Baron, these are backward projections of values that d e f i n i t e l y are not gothic: In her lectures to the nuns she seldom touched upon points of f a i t h , but explained and enforced the moral duties, p a r t i c u l a r l y such as were most practicable i n the society to which she belonged; such as tended to soften and harmonize the affections, to impart that repose of mind, which per- suades to the practice of s i s t e r l y kindness, universal charity, and the most pure and elevated devotion. When she spoke of r e l i g i o n , i t appeared so interesting, so b e a u t i f u l , that her attentive auditors revered and loved i t as a friend, a refiner of the heart, a sublime consoler. . . . The society appeared l i k e a large family, of which the Lady abbess was the mother, rather than an assemblage of strangers. o By means of such benign figures, the nostalgic attitude towards the gothic occasionally appears against the darker, more threatening back- ground. But i t i s the "assemblage of strangers," not the ideal community, to which the gothic novel returns with greatest interest. Here i s the subject of the novelists' deepest psychological penetration. Here are their most disturbing revelations of the desolation of souls. Monasti- cism i s made to provide a complete pattern of the distorted society and the fragmented psyche. F u l l exploitation of i t s potential to represent the decay of normal feelings and attachments begins with M. G. Lewis' 9 The Monk. Lewis offers the most consistently erotic interpretation of "monkish malignancy" i n any gothic novel, an interpretation which, once noticed and misunderstood, made both novel and novelist infamous."^ In 199 fact, The Monk is an odd mixture of voices and techniques. Its frequent, lurid sadism connects i t with the sub-literature of excess and t i t i l l a - tion, yet the flagrancy of i t s sexual imagery is deceptive; for, beneath the lurid surface where Ambrosio's utter ruination is avidly described, there i s a level of acute, subtle observation of motives and compulsions. At this level, The Monk progresses beyond the mere stimulation of fear and excitement, and i t would be fairer to associate i t with the minute internal analysis of Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer than the blandish- ments of sensationalism. The Monk is worth examining closely for i t s successful transforma- tion of stereotypes and stock figures into a repellent yet fascinating image of human viciousness and self-deception. Many of the sardonic comments with which the narrative is laced seem to reinforce the stereo- types, as i f to suggest—and the contemporary reader would probably agree—that crudeness, violence and duplicity are what one should expect of barbarous times and a barbarous people. Despite such reassurances, however, the threatening implications of the "gothic manners" displayed in The Monk are not restricted to the alien environment. In The Monk the familiar elements of monastic evil—persecution, hypocrisy, lasciviousness, power-hunger—are put in service to a peculiar vision of human disease. Starting with caustic but rather juvenile satiEe, based on immediately recognizable comic types, Lewis gradually builds a darker, more hysterical account of the division and destruction of the personality. Although the emotional centre of the narrative i s a single, extended catastrophe—the temptation and surrender of Ambrosio— Lewis persists in linking Ambrosio's vulnerability, his pride and his 200 compulsions, with the weaknesses of the ostensible representatives of normality in the fic t i o n a l world. The master stroke of Lewis' technique is his insistence on tracing the various dualities of personality involved in Ambrosio's downfall in the sympathetic characters as well, his delight in subjecting them to the same Satanic, chaotic, subcon- scious forces, on a minor scale. The corruption of the " v i l l a i n " finds a reflection in the innocent faces of the other male figures, rendering their heroism much less certain. Lewis even raises the possibility that they do not have the courage, or the desperation arising from accidental circumstances, to follow through with their own obsessions, that a f a i l - ure of w i l l and imagination, more than a triumph of virtue, separates them from Ambrosio's ci r c l e of damnation. The subversive—because the a t t r a c t i v e — l i n e is the one the mob and the "heroic" figures take, the one that Lewis invites the reader to take, only to be trapped by i t : a confidence in one's self-righteousness before Ambrosio's example, as i f there were no identification with him and no vicarious enjoyment of his career. The Monk opens with references to many useful stereotypes: Spanish lustfulness, hypocrisy coupled with devoutness, cunning Catholic propa- ganda. The reader is not allowed to lend any credence to the trappings of piety, nor to develop any nostalgic interest in them, for they are made ridiculous as soon as they are introduced. To alert our suspicions, Lewis sets the f i r s t scene in the Abbey Church of the Capuchins where a large crowd has pressed in, apparently to witness the sermon of the famous abbot, Ambrosio. The spiritual bankruptcy of this throng is a f i t t i n g complement to that which Ambrosio has so far managed to conceal, 201 even f r o m h i m s e l f : Do n o t e n c o u r a g e t h e i d e a t h a t t h e Crowd was a s s e m b l e d e i t h e r f r o m m o t i v e s o f p i e t y o r t h i r s t o f i n f o r m a t i o n . Bu t v e r y few were i n f l u e n c e d by t h o s e r e a s o n s ; and i n a c i t y where s u p e r s t i t i o n r e i g n s w i t h s u c h d e s p o t i c sway a s i n M a d r i d , t o s e e k f o r t r u e d e v o t i o n w o u l d be a f r u i t l e s s a t - t e m p t . The A u d i e n c e now a s s e m b l e d i n t h e C a p u c h i n C h u r c h was c o l l e c t e d by v a r i o u s c a u s e s , b u t a l l o f them were f o r e i g n t o t h e o s t e n s i b l e m o t i v e . The Women came t o show t h e m s e l v e s , t h e Men t o s e e t h e Women: Some were a t t r a c t e d by c u r i o s i t y t o h e a r a n O r a t o r so c e l e b r a t e d ; Some came b e c a u s e t h e y had n o t b e t t e r means o f e m p l o y i n g t h e i r t i m e t i l l t h e p l a y b e g a n ; Some f r o m b e i n g a s s u r e d t h a t i t w o u l d be i m p o s s i b l e t o f i n d p l a c e s i n t h e C h u r c h ; and one h a l f o f M a d r i d was b r o u g h t t h i t h e r by e x p e c t i n g t o meet t h e o t h e r h a l f . The o n l y p e r s o n s t r u l y a n x i o u s t o h e a r t h e P r e a c h e r we re a few a n t i q u a t e d d e v o t e e s , and h a l f a d o z e n r i v a l O r a t o r s , d e t e r m i n e d t o f i n d f a u l t w i t h and r i d i c u l e t h e d i s c o u r s e . A s t o t h e r e m a i n d e r o f t h e A u d i e n c e , t h e Sermon m i g h t have been o m i t t e d a l t o g e t h e r , c e r t a i n l y w i t h o u t t h e i r b e i n g d i s a p p o i n t e d , and v e r y p r o b a b l y w i t h o u t t h e i r p e r - c e i v i n g t h e o m i s s i o n ( p . 7) . L e w i s r e v e r t s t o t h i s c y n i c a l , f l i p p a n t v o i c e whenever he needs t o r e a f f i r m t h e c o r r e c t n e s s o f h i s r e a d e r ' s e x p e c t a t i o n s , t o r e m i n d t h e r e a d e r t h a t t h e c u r i o u s b e h a v i o u r o f t h e S p a n i a r d s s h o u l d n o t s u r p r i s e h i m . Y e t , as t h e c y n i c i s m w e a r s t h i n , we come t o r e a l i z e t h a t t h e o p e n i n g s c e n e s e r v e s a n o t h e r p u r p o s e : t h i s i s t h e f i r s t o f s e v e r a l a t t e m p t s t o r e d u c e t h e m o t i v a t i o n f o r a l l a c t i o n s , i n c l u d i n g t h e p r o - t a g o n i s t s ' , t o t h e l o w e s t common d e n o m i n a t o r . L e w i s a p p e a r s t o d e l i g h t i n r e v e a l i n g t h e ambiguous mean ing o f n o r m a l l y " p u r e " a c t i o n s — p r a y e r , c o u r t s h i p , h e r o i s m , c h a r i t y . F o r t h i s r e a s o n t h e somewhat u n w i e l d y comedy o f t h e i n i t i a l C h u r c h s c e n e does n o t d i l u t e t h e menace f l o w i n g b e n e a t h i t . I n n o c e n t g e s t u r e s and i n t e n t i o n s may be r e g i s t e r e d f o r l a t e r r e c o n s i d e r a t i o n . One examp le o f s u c h c u l t i v a t e d a m b i g u i t i e s w i l l be e s p e c i a l l y u s e - f u l l a t e r i n t h i s d i s c u s s i o n when we l o o k a t t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f p e r i - p h e r a l c h a r a c t e r s and p l o t - l i n e s . I t i s an a p p a r e n t l y com ic i n c i d e n t i n 202 the opening scene. The young cavalier Lorenzo insists on removing Antonia's v e i l in order better to observe her charms (p. 11). The obvious reading of the incident emphasizes Antonia's virgin modesty and Lorenzo's fl i r t a t i o u s boldness. Subsequently, however, this unmasking is incorporated into a more sinister pattern. Antonia's physical beau- ties are progressively exposed, l i t e r a l l y laid bare, not only in the self-seductive dreams of Ambrosio and the magical spectacle arranged by Matilda, but also in the ominous dream of Lorenzo himself. As Antonia, like the image of the Virgin, is transformed from chaste maiden into "Medicean Venus," becoming the stimulus for Ambrosio's lu s t f u l fascina- tion, the encounter with Lorenzo and i t s dream-sequel seem less innocuous than at f i r s t . The confused erotic motives in Lorenzo are complemented by the sexual misadventures of the other "heroic" figure, Raymond de las Cisternas, whose subterranean surname is significant. The sense of impending sexual disaster is evoked at once. Leonella, Antonia's foolish aunt and companion, offers to explain the niece's shy- ness and provincial ways by te l l i n g the story of her parents' unfortunate marriage. The mother, Elvira, had fallen in love with a young nobleman whose father, the former Marquis de las Cisternas, violently opposed the match and f i n a l l y drove the couple into exile in the West Indies. The outcast nobleman succumbed to homesickness and tropical fever, leaving his family in a state of utter dependency (p. 13). This exposition is important on three different levels. The history of Elvira's suffering supplies us with the background for one of the major plot-lines—the unsuccessful effort to secure Raymond's protection for Elvira and Antonia. Lewis develops this f a i r l y conventional melo- 203 dramatic theme of familial reconciliation very l i t t l e beyond the impli- cation that assistance is always tantalizingly close yet strangely unavailable, a failure due to accidents and miscues. At a second level, the story hints at the eventual solution to the mystery of Ambrosio's origin, for Leonella mentions the presumed death of Elvira's infant son after he was taken away by the angry grandfather. Despite her overly earnest treatment of i t , the greatest importance of Leonella's tale is thematic, for her burden, the tragic perversion of love through rebellion and repression, becomes the principal subject of The Monk. The various tangential episodes and plot-lines are a l l elabor- ations of this theme, and i t is similarly carried through successive generations. As i f by a perverse logic of inheritance, Elvira's unhappy union brings not only Antonia into the world but also her ravisher and murderer, and Elvira's hard-earned wisdom enforces the priggish moralism that helps give the one control over the other. Elvira i s the victim of an interfering parent, yet she too intervenes—though on the side of purity and goodness—with equally disastrous results. She deliberately f a i l s to arm her daughter's innocence with discernment, deriving from her own misfortunes the extreme remedy of censorship. The remedy i n - flames the illness; innocence is as seductive as wantonness. In return for her devotion, Elvira i s strangled while trying to stop Ambrosio's i l l i c i t "marriage" with his sister. This i s a highly complicated revi- sion of Elvira's own story. As is characteristic of The Monk, motives and moral positions are freely substituted. The structure of The Monk is founded upon exactly such repetitions-with-variations. The attentive reader soon discovers that he must read a story like Leonella's both for 204 exposition and for warning. When Ambrosio f i n a l l y appears, he is clothed in such a glowing reputation that his virtue, like the hubris of the hero of classical tragedy, demands reduction. At this point the reader learns another principle of the novel's process which closely resembles the magnetic principle of the attraction of opposite poles. For Lewis there is a necessity—psychological as well as dramatic—that compels the possessors of perfect virtues or vices to encounter their opposites. The encounter often produces a conversion in which the energy devoted to one extreme position i s transferred to the other. Under questioning from Leonella, Lorenzo.paints a portrait of Ambrosio which sets him forthaas just such a perfect being, but at the same time i t i s clear that he has paid the price of unnaturalness for his perfection: "He is now thirty years old, every hour of which period has been passed in study, total seclusion from the world, and mortification of the flesh. T i l l these last three weeks, when He was chosen superior of the Society to which He belongs, He has never been on the outside of the Abbey- walls. . . . His knowledge is said to be the most profound, his eloquence the most persuasive. In the whole course of his l i f e Ifehas never been known to transgress a single rule of his order; The smallest stain i s not to be discovered upon his character; and He is reported to be so s t r i c t an observer of Chastity, that He knows not in what consists the difference of Man and Woman. The common People there- fore esteem him to be a Saint" (p. 17). In accord with this report, after his sermon the congregation scramble to honour Ambrosio as i f he were indeed a li v i n g saint. Lewis' sardonic tone throughout the scene renders the rel i g i o s i t y contemptible, giving his readers the outlet of their own superiority to "goths" and ignorant Spanish Catholics. The credulity and misplaced 205 loyalty of the congregation deserves to be betrayed through Ambrosio's depravity, and the trust of the community is partly responsible for his boldness i n embarking upon his career of sexual adventure. In fact, Lewis makes sport of the p l i a b i l i t y of the matrons of Madrid and the ease with which Ambrosio may lose his virtue. Where there are no saints, i t i s f o l l y to believe in them, but Lewis also recognizes that groundless faith i s positively dangerous. He allows the usual ambivalent view of the problem. On the one hand, excessive credulity may be dismissed as a characteristic of gothic times or gothic manners, and may be approached solely in terms of certain prejudices and expectations. Yet, on the other hand, the problem of duality, of public morality and inner compul- sions, i s made so real and immediate that i t cannot be relegated entirely to the alien realm of fantasy. After a l l , Ambrosio's predicament is psychologically plausible outside the preconceived limits of monastic e v i l . The epigraph of The Monk i s drawn from Measure for Measureand Ambrosio in many respects resembles the regent Angelo, who is a type of secular, governmental saint. From the moment when Ambrosio's sainthood is invoked^ The Monk moves toward his exposure and ruination. As John Berryman has observed, "the point i s to conduct a remarkable man utterly to damnation." The speed of the movement is governed by what Berryman identifies as Lewis' "main insight": "It is surprising, after a l l , how long i t takes—how 12 difficult i t i s — t o be certain of damnation." It is the search for certainty, at the subjectively accurate pace, that requires the novel- ist's painstaking attention, that keeps the reader perched on the edge of spiritual hopefulness, willing, perhaps, to follow either to salvation 206 or to damnation, but preferring the latter. As Ambrosio withdraws into the Abbey, Antonia exclaims, ironically and prophetically: "'He is separated from the world! . . . Perhaps I shall never see him more!'" (p. 20). Of course she is wrong, and i t is the spectacle of Ambrosio's immersion in the world and befoulment by i t that occupies the bulk of the novel. After the requisite physiognomic description of Ambrosio (whose face "seemed to announce the Man equally unacquainted with cares and crimes") with i t s suggestive equivocations, we are shown the source of his self - d e s i t r u G i t i o n n with l i t t l e delay. Lewis points i t out almost too insistently, as i f , caught up in the importance of his psychological enterprise, he does not always know how best to use his enthusiasm and his real analytical powers. In a long foreshadowing speech, Lorenzo accurately assesses Ambrosio's li k e l y behaviour: . . . a Man who has passed the whole of his l i f e within the walls of a Convent, cannot have found the opportunity to be guilty, even were He possessed of the inclination. But now, when, obliged by the duties of his situation, He must enter occasionally into the world, and be thrown into the way of temptation, i t is now that i t behoves him to show the b r i l - liance of his virtue. The t r i a l i s dangerous; He i s just at that period of l i f e when the passions are most vigorous, unbridled, and despotic; His established reputation w i l l mark him out to Seduction as an il l u s t r i o u s Victim; Novelty w i l l give additional charms to the allurements of pleasure; and even the Talents with which Nature has endowed him w i l l contribute to his ruin, by f a c i l i t a t i n g the means of obtain- ing his object. Very few would return victorious from a contest so severe (p. 21). Without much conviction Lorenzo adds: "'By a l l accounts He is an excep- tion to mankind in general, and Envy would seek in vain for a blot upon his character'" (p. 22). Leonella fears that Ambrosio's intolerance of sin w i l l make him an unmerciful confessor, and Christobal agrees: 207 "Too great severity i s said to be Ambrosio's only fault. Exempted himself from human feelings, He i s not sufficiently indulgent to those of others; and though s t r i c t l y just and disinterested in his decisions, his government of the Monks has already shown some proofs of his i n f l e x i b i l i t y " (p. 22). For Ambrosio, as for his counterpart in Mrs. Radcliffe's work, Schedoni, the insistence on an inflexible regime for the community is an over- compensation for the anarchy of personal desires. That Lorenzo should suspect vulnerability to temptation in the monk without later heeding his own suspicion i s less surprising i f we notice the applicability of his remarks about Ambrosio to himself. In particular, i t must be seen that Lorenzo is also "at that period of l i f e when the passions are most vigorous, unbridled, and despotic," and, though he is more resistant to temptation than Ambrosio, simply because he is more familiar with i t , he too is on t r i a l . It is a failure to realize and acknowledge the complexity of his own motives and desires that prevents Lorenzo from using f u l l y the warn- ings he receives about Ambrosio and Antonia. Not only does he ignore his rational misgivings, but he is unable to integrate with them the clues that the irrational, including his own subconscious mind.; sends up to him. He is so attached to the image of his essential decency that he cannot read any contrary message. After the meeting with Antonia and Leonella and an interview during which Christobal blunders by implying that Lorenzo has gained financially from his sister Agnes' confinement i n the convent of St. Clare, Christo- bal takes his leave, while Lorenzo remains in the "gothic obscurity of the Church." There he f a l l s into a melancholy reverie: 208 He thought of his union with Antonia; He thought of the obstacles which might oppose his wishes; and a thousand changing visions floated before his fancy, sad 'tis true, but not unpleasing (p. 27). The mixture of sadness and pleasure i s a f a i r description of melancholy i t s e l f and, though Lewis' inexactness in assigning each feeling to the corresponding train of thought is disturbing, there i s the fashionable emotion to account for i t . Soon, however, the ambiguities become unavoid- able. The reverie deepens into sleep, and Lorenzo dreams of subjects suggested by "the tranquil solemnity of his mind when awake." He recog- nizes the setting of the dream as the Church of the Capuchins where a l l is ready for a wedding feast: [The Altar] was surrounded by a b r i l l i a n t Company; and near i t stood Antonia arrayed in bridal white, and blushing with a l l the charms of Virgin Modesty. Half hoping, half fearing, Lorenzo gazed upon the scene before him. Sudden the door leading to the Abbey unclosed, and He saw, attended by a long train of Monks, the Preacher advance to whom He had just listened with so much admiration. He drew near Antonia. 'And where is the Bridegroom,' said the imaginary Friar. Antonia seemed to look round the Church with anxiety. Involuntarily the Youth advanced a few steps from his con- cealment. She saw him; The blush of pleasure glowed upon her cheek; With a graceful motion of her hand She beckoned to him to advance. He disobeyed not the command. . . . She retreated for a moment; Then gazing upon him with unutterable delight;—'Yes!' She exclaimed, 'My Bridegroom! My destined Bridegroom!' Destiny i s disrupted by the appearance of "an Unknown," a huge, "swarthy" figure with "fierce and terrible" eyes. He breathes f i r e "and on his forehead was written in legible characters—'Pride! Lust! Inhumanity!'" The monster attempts to ravish Antonia upon the altar, but before Lorenzo can spring to her aid the Church crumbles and the altar sinks, to be replaced by "an abyss vomiting forth clouds of flame." The monster 209 tries to drag Antonia with him into the pit; however, she is "animated by supernatural powers" and ascends angelically (though minus her gown) in a glorious apotheosis complete with heavenly choir and overwhelming radiance. The most obvious function of this dream is to warn against a crime which, in this case, has not even been thought of by i t s perpetrator. Similar warning-dreams occur in The Romance of the Forest (where Adeline receives three of them at one time) and in The Old English Baron—for a l l i t s lack of interest in the irrational. Typically the warning is not very useful to the recipient because i t is cryptic or incomplete or untimely. Lorenzo's dream presents another kind of d i f f i c u l t y , on account of i t s resemblance to real, rather than f i c t i o n a l , dreams. In real dreams, the dreamer may obtain knowledge he wants, but often this i s mixed with awareness of painful things unacceptable to the conscious mind; the dream-process does not carefully distinguish between good advice and self-revelation. In Lorenzo's dream there is one prudential message: Take care of Antonia or she may be swept away. A more pene- trating intelligence might even notice the clues that link "the Preacher" and "the Monster": the swarthy complexion, the burning eyes, the vicious- ness that Lorenzo has already foreseen as a trap set before the monk. The prudential message, however, is blocked by the disturbing mes- sage of the unconscious. This second message concerns Lorenzo's confused desires. In dream as in waking, Lorenzo is unsure how to prosecute, whether to prosecute, his suit for Antonia's hand. The obstacles are as much internal and emotional as financial. His instinct is to hide. As in reality he i s obliged to undertake complicated 210 negotiations before he dares to court Antonia, so in dream he hesitates to declare that he is her bridegroom. The circumstances are seconded by Lorenzo's mixed feelings, and the complexity of the latter is a l l the more remarkable because Lorenzo has not yet had a chance to form any serious doubts about Antonia. In his dream he discovers the same emotional law that Ambrosio invokes to cast off Matilda, and to murder Antonia. This is the pattern of desire and revulsion with which Lewis is fascinated, the pattern that 13 conjoins eros and death. According to this law of masculine rapacity, the virgin who has been "spoiled" (i.e., raped, in reality or in the mind) is suited only for death. If she was perfect before, she must be again perfected, and death is the means, the appropriate complement to the degradation of sex. Ambrosio imagines himself provoked by Antonia's angelic features, which he takes as a challenge; in Lorenzo's dream, Antonia becomes an angel in order to escape further debasement at the hands of a dark power. In both cases, however, the same assumptions run through the fantasies: there are whores and angels, they are trea- cherously yet conveniently interchangeable, there is no salvation—or normal sexual fulfilment—for ordinary women, or with ordinary women. If we assume, as the early part of the sequence certainly invites us to do, that the dream represents latent wishes as well as fears (i.e., the whole range of internal p o s s i b i l i t i e s ) , we understand why a l l Lorenzo's heroic measures to save Antonia are belated and ineffectual. 14 This i s not to say that Lorenzo would also like to rape her .(the identification of the Monster is not quite so tenuous). Nevertheless, i t i s important to see how Lorenzo's dream exposes potentialities for 211 action and desire which Lorenzo, despite his claims to worldly exper- ience, cannot admit in any man. To protect his confidence in the natural decency of human motives he must dismiss both dream-messages: When He woke, He found himself extended upon the pavement of the Church. . . . For a while Lorenzo could not persuade himself that what He had just witnessed had been a dream, so strong an impression had i t made upon his fancy. A l i t t l e recollection convinced him of i t s fallacy (p. 29). But his mind is s t i l l " f u l l y occupied by the singularity of his dream" when he encounters the "Man wrapped up in his Cloak" who turns out to be Raymond. The dream's significance and.its compelling reality are soon lost in the intrigues between Raymond and Lorenzo's sister, Agnes. Only rarely do Lewis' characters learn to appreciate the control that irrational forces exercise over their lives. It i s easier for them, and for Lewis' audience, to objectify and externalize such f o r c e s — to turn them into supernatural agents, for example, than to confront their presence within the personality. In fact, in The Monk the super- natural tends to have l i t t l e real, intrinsic importance. Demons, ghosts and witches are superfluous mechanisms, sensational projections of internal struggles. They may deceive us temporarily into supposing that responsibility for the conflict l i e s elsewhere, but the supernatural trappings, though highly entertaining most of the time, are mainly a means of excusing the narrowness of the repressive mind. Thus, when Matilda uses witchcraft to entrap her jaded lover with the sight of Antonia at her bath, the voyeuristic image is only slightly more vivid and enticing than what the monk has already imagined without her aid. The external demons are unnecessary; the demons of the self are s u f f i - cient . 212 Yet, they are regularly denied. The obliviousness of l i f e on the normal surface to the irrational, l i k e the closely related idea of sexual calamity, is an idea that i s multiplied continually in The Monk. For example, when Antonia receives from a gypsy fortune-teller an utterly transparent warning against "one more virtuous . . . than belongs to Man to be" (p. 38), she suspects nothing: "The Gypsy's prediction had also considerably affected Antonia; But.the impression soon wore off, and i n a few hours She had forgotten the adventure, as totally as had i t never taken place" (p. 39). Familiar gothic conventions make this omission natural: a gypsy witch may t e l l the truth, but an innocent, sensible, unimaginative g i r l i s not supposed to listen. This supposition agrees with the inverse relations of Lewis' psychology: the more truth is spoken and the more urgent the need for i t , the more quickly i t must be ignored. A similarly fatal obliviousness to the promptings of the irrational is the basis of the long tale of the Bleeding Nun which Raymond t e l l s Lorenzo. The tale is interpolated at. precisely the moment when Ambrosio is about to enjoy sex with Matilda for the f i r s t time. Tension between the two and within the monk has been building toward this moment, the atmosphere is heated with expectation of the "crime"; therefore, the interpolated episode creates a suspense which some readers have found tedious and puzzling.'*'"' But the story of the Bleeding Nun has a posi- tive value which is usually overlooked in the search for i t s sources and i t s flaws. It i s , simultaneously, a parable of the shortcomings of modern enlightenment, a prolonged joke about the fulfilment of desire, and a morbid reflection upon the closeness of desire and death. 213 Faced with the hardened opposition of the Baroness Lindenberg, who has mistaken Raymond's love for Agnes for an interest in herself, the lovers must turn, like a l l victims of gothic parental interference, to unusual measures. Neither of them believes in the local legend of the Bleeding Nun, which contains the requisite elements of a "haunting" superstition modified to suit the themes of The Monk—monastic anomie, hypocrisy, lust, and treachery. But the legend does provide a conven- ient occasion for their elopement. This purely instrumental use of superstition resembles i t s treatment in gothic f i c t i o n i t s e l f , where folklore and pseudo-historical settings are employed for the sake of evoking artificial terror. Sometimes the old beliefs suddenly regain their v i t a l i t y ; that i s how the lovers' plan turns into a sinister joke. Instead of Agnes, masquerading as the Bleeding Nun, the genuine Nun joins Raymond in his carriage and drives him on a terrifying flight across country. The hideous, rotten crone is the embodiment of erotic impulses gone wrong, and her nightly v i s i t s to Raymond's sick-bed where, vampire-like, she drains him of his physical and spiritual strength, indicate the persistence of sexual excess, not only as a curse against Agnes' family but as a debilitating force in Raymond's l i f e . The necro- phil i c overtones of this odious union foreshadow the end of two love affairs in the crypt: Ambrosio's rape and murder of Antonia, and Agnes' horr i f i c sufferings, with the child Raymond has given her. The magical and religious hocus-pocus with which the Wandering Jew exorcises the succubus cannot gloss over the basic sexual dilemma with false symbolism or sentimentality. Raymond must help remove the curse, but in his own generation he reinforces i t with a new "crime." Even while he t e l l s his 214 tale to Lorenzo he has set in motion the cycle of fat a l i t y which requires Agnes, in turn, to be enslaved. The meaning of the elaborate joke, of the Nun's example, of the pattern of sexual disaster, i s lost on Raymond."*"̂ Lewis does not give an explanation for Raymond's and Lorenzo's lack of awareness of the irrational. The technical demands of a suspenseful plot, complicated with dramatic ironies, do not permit their ignorance to be relieved, and their lack of insight is consistent with the general trend in gothic writing to diminish the conventionally heroic figures to manniquins.^ Moreover, we must suspect Lewis of a delight i n luring the reader into a judgmental trap. Raymond and Lorenzo, inasmuch as we think of them at a l l , are f a i r l y sympathetic characters, whereas Ambrosio, for a l l his self-delusion and victimization, is a criminal. The reader is forced to overlook in Lorenzo and Raymond the same denial of self that he condemns in Ambrosio. Lewis reserves close analysis for the extreme counterpart of the decent average men—for Ambrosio, "the Man of Holiness." Because Ambro- sio's suffering, like Raymond's, fi n a l l y is referred to natural, psycho- logical causes, Lewis wastes l i t t l e time in delaying our awareness of his duplicity. It is not the mere fact of Ambrosio's fragmented con- sciousness that concerns him—though he plays upon i t with a heavy h