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_Note 1._ The MS. gives the following alternative openings: "Early
in the present century"; "Soon after the Revolution"; "Many years ago."
_Note 2._ Throughout the first four pages of the MS. the Doctor is
called "Ormskirk," and in an earlier draft of this portion of the
_Note 3. Author's note_.--"Crusty Hannah is a mixture of Indian
_Note 4. Author's note_.--"It is understood from the first that
the children are not brother and sister.--Describe the children with
really childish traits, quarrelling, being naughty, etc.--The Doctor
should occasionally beat Ned in course of instruction."
_Note 5._ In order to show the manner in which Hawthorne would
modify a passage, which was nevertheless to be left substantially the
same, I subjoin here a description of this graveyard as it appears in
the earlier draft: "The graveyard (we are sorry to have to treat of
such a disagreeable piece of ground, but everybody's business centres
there at one time or another) was the most ancient in the town. The
dust of the original Englishmen had become incorporated with the soil;
of those Englishmen whose immediate predecessors had been resolved into
the earth about the country churches,--the little Norman, square,
battlemented stone towers of the villages in the old land; so that in
this point of view, as holding bones and dust of the first ancestors,
this graveyard was more English than anything else in town. There had
been hidden from sight many a broad, bluff visage of husbandmen that
had ploughed the real English soil; there the faces of noted men, now
known in history; there many a personage whom tradition told about,
making wondrous qualities of strength and courage for him;--all these,
mingled with succeeding generations, turned up and battened down again
with the sexton's spade; until every blade of grass was human more than
vegetable,--for an hundred and fifty years will do this, and so much
time, at least, had elapsed since the first little mound was piled up
in the virgin soil. Old tombs there were too, with numerous sculptures
on them; and quaint, mossy gravestones; although all kinds of
monumental appendages were of a date more recent than the time of the
first settlers, who had been content with wooden memorials, if any, the
sculptor's art not having then reached New England. Thus rippled,
surged, broke almost against the house, this dreary graveyard, which
made the street gloomy, so that people did not like to pass the dark,
high wooden fence, with its closed gate, that separated it from the
street. And this old house was one that crowded upon it, and took up
the ground that would otherwise have been sown as thickly with dead as
the rest of the lot; so that it seemed hardly possible but that the
dead people should get up out of their graves, and come in there to
warm themselves. But in truth, I have never heard a whisper of its
_Note 6. Author's note_.--"The spiders are affected by the weather
and serve as barometers.--It shall always be a moot point whether the
Doctor really believed in cobwebs, or was laughing at the credulous."
_Note 7. Author's note_.--"The townspeople are at war with the
Doctor.--Introduce the Doctor early as a smoker, and describe.--The
result of Crusty Hannah's strangely mixed breed should be shown in some
strange way.--Give vivid pictures of the society of the day, symbolized
in the street scenes."
_Note 1. Author's note_.--"Read the whole paragraph before copying
any of it."
_Note 2. Author's note_.--"Crusty Hannah teaches Elsie curious
_Note 3._ These two children are described as follows in an early
note of the author's: "The boy had all the qualities fitted to excite
tenderness in those who had the care of him; in the first and most
evident place, on account of his personal beauty, which was very
remarkable,--the most intelligent and expressive face that can be
conceived, changing in those early years like an April day, and
beautiful in all its changes; dark, but of a soft expression, kindling,
melting, glowing, laughing; a varied intelligence, which it was as good
as a book to read. He was quick in all modes of mental exercise; quick
and strong, too, in sensibility; proud, and gifted (probably by the
circumstances in which he was placed) with an energy which the softness
and impressibility of his nature needed.--As for the little girl, all
the squalor of the abode served but to set off her lightsomeness and
brightsomeness. She was a pale, large-eyed little thing, and it might
have been supposed that the air of the house and the contiguity of the
burial-place had a bad effect upon her health. Yet I hardly think this
could have been the case, for she was of a very airy nature, dancing
and sporting through the house as if melancholy had never been made.
She took all kinds of childish liberties with the Doctor, and with his
pipe, and with everything appertaining to him except his spiders and
his cobwebs."--All of which goes to show that Hawthorne first conceived
his characters in the mood of the "Twice-Told Tales," and then by
meditation solidified them to the inimitable flesh-and-blood of "The
House of the Seven Gables" and "The Blithedale Romance."
_Note 1._ An English church spire, evidently the prototype of
this, and concerning which the same legend is told, is mentioned in the
author's "English Mote-Books."
_Note 2._ Leicester Hospital, in Warwick, described in "Our Old
Home," is the original of this charity.
_Note 3. Author's note_.--"The children find a gravestone with
something like a footprint on it."
_Note 4. Author's note_.--"Put into the Doctor's character a
continual enmity against somebody, breaking out in curses of which
nobody can understand the application."
_Note 1._ The Doctor's propensity for cobwebs is amplified in the
following note for an earlier and somewhat milder version of the
character: "According to him, all science was to be renewed and
established on a sure ground by no other means than cobwebs. The cobweb
was the magic clue by which mankind was to be rescued from all its
errors, and guided safely back to the right. And so he cherished
spiders above all things, and kept them spinning, spinning away; the
only textile factory that existed at that epoch in New England. He
distinguished the production of each of his ugly friends, and assigned
peculiar qualities to each; and he had been for years engaged in
writing a work on this new discovery, in reference to which he had
already compiled a great deal of folio manuscript, and had unguessed at
resources still to come. With this suggestive subject he interwove all
imaginable learning, collected from his own library, rich in works that
few others had read, and from that of his beloved University, crabbed
with Greek, rich with Latin, drawing into itself, like a whirlpool, all
that men had thought hitherto, and combining them anew in such a way
that it had all the charm of a racy originality. Then he had projects
for the cultivation of cobwebs, to which end, in the good Doctor's
opinion, it seemed desirable to devote a certain part of the national
income; and not content with this, all public-spirited citizens would
probably be induced to devote as much of their time and means as they
could to the same end. According to him, there was no such beautiful
festoon and drapery for the halls of princes as the spinning of this
heretofore despised and hated insect; and by due encouragement it might
be hoped that they would flourish, and hang and dangle and wave
triumphant in the breeze, to an extent as yet generally undreamed of.
And he lamented much the destruction that has heretofore been wrought
upon this precious fabric by the housemaid's broom, and insisted upon
by foolish women who claimed to be good housewives. Indeed, it was the
general opinion that the Doctor's celibacy was in great measure due to
the impossibility of finding a woman who would pledge herself to co-
operate with him in this great ambition of his life,--that of reducing
the world to a cobweb factory; or who would bind herself to let her own
drawing-room be ornamented with this kind of tapestry. But there never
was a wife precisely fitted for our friend the Doctor, unless it had
been Arachne herself, to whom, if she could again have been restored to
her female shape, he would doubtless have lost no time in paying his
addresses. It was doubtless the having dwelt too long among the musty
and dusty clutter and litter of things gone by, that made the Doctor
almost a monomaniac on this subject. There were cobwebs in his own
brain, and so he saw nothing valuable but cobwebs in the world around
him; and deemed that the march of created things, up to this time, had
been calculated by foreknowledge to produce them."
_Note 2. Author's note_.--"Ned must learn something of the
characteristics of the Catechism, and simple cottage devotion."
_Note 1. Author's note_.--"Make the following scene emblematic of
the world's treatment of a dissenter."
_Note 2. Author's note_.--"Yankee characteristics should be shown
in the schoolmaster's manners."
_Note 1. Author's note_.--"He had a sort of horror of violence,
and of the strangeness that it should be done to him; this affected him
more than the blow."
_Note 2. Author's note_.--"Jokes occasionally about the
schoolmaster's thinness and lightness,--how he might suspend himself
from the spider's web and swing, etc."
_Note 3. Author's note_.--"The Doctor and the Schoolmaster should
have much talk about England."
_Note 4. Author's note_.--"The children were at play in the
_Note 5. Author's note_.--"He mentions that he was probably buried
in the churchyard there."
_Note 1. Author's note_.--"Perhaps put this narratively, not as
_Note 2. Author's note_.--"He was privately married to the
heiress, if she were an heiress. They meant to kill him in the wood,
but, by contrivance, he was kidnapped."
_Note 3. Author's note_.--"They were privately married."
_Note 4. Author's note_.--"Old descriptive letters, referring to
localities as they existed."
_Note 5. Author's note_.--"There should be symbols and tokens,
hinting at the schoolmaster's disappearance, from the first opening of
_Note 1. Author's note_.--"They had got up in remarkably good case
_Note 2. Author's note_.--"The stranger may be the future master
of the Hospital.--Describe the winter day."
_Note 3. Author's note_.--"Describe him as clerical."
_Note 4. Author's note_.--"Represent him as a refined, agreeable,
genial young man, of frank, kindly, gentlemanly manners."
_Note 5._ Alternative reading: "A clergyman."
_Note 1. Author's note_.--"Make the old grave-digger a _laudator
temporis acti_,--especially as to burial customs."
_Note 2._ Instead of "written," as in the text, the author
probably meant to write "read."
_Note 3._ The MS. has "delight," but "a light" is evidently
_Note 4. Author's note_.--"He aims a blow, perhaps with his pipe,
at the boy, which Ned wards off."
_Note 1. Author's note_.--"No longer could play at quarter-staff
_Note 2. Author's note_.--"Referring to places and people in
England: the Bloody Footstep sometimes."
_Note 3._ In the original the following occurs, but marked to
indicate that it was to be omitted: "And kissed his hand to her, and
laughed feebly; and that was the last that she or anybody, the last
glimpse they had of Doctor Grimshawe alive."
_Note 4. Author's notes_.--"A great deal must he made out of the
spiders, and their gloomy, dusky, flaunting tapestry. A web across the
orifice of his inkstand every morning; everywhere, indeed, except
across the snout of his brandy-bottle.--Depict the Doctor in an old
dressing-gown, and a strange sort of a cap, like a wizard's.--The two
children are witnesses of many strange experiments in the study; they
see his moods, too.--The Doctor is supposed to be writing a work on the
Natural History of Spiders. Perhaps he used them as a blind for his
real project, and used to bamboozle the learned with pretending to read
them passages in which great learning seemed to be elaborately worked
up, crabbed with Greek and Latin, as if the topic drew into itself,
like a whirlpool, all that men thought and knew; plans to cultivate
cobwebs on a large scale. Sometimes, after overwhelming them with
astonishment in this way, he would burst into one of his laughs.
Schemes to make the world a cobweb-factory, etc., etc. Cobwebs in his
own brain. Crusty Hannah such a mixture of persons and races as could
be found only at a seaport. There was a rumor that the Doctor had
murdered a former maid, for having, with housewifely instinct, swept
away the cobwebs; some said that he had her skeleton in a closet. Some
said that he had strangled a wife with web of the great spider."
--"Read the description of Bolton Hall, the garden, lawn, etc., Aug. 8,
'53.--Bebbington church and churchyard, Aug. 29, '53.--The Doctor is
able to love,--able to hate; two great and rare abilities nowadays.--
Introduce two pine trees, ivy-grown, as at Lowwood Hotel, July 16,
'58.--The family name might be Redclyffe.--Thatched cottage, June 22,
'55.--Early introduce the mention of the cognizance of the family,--the
Leopard's Head, for instance, in the first part of the romance; the
Doctor may have possessed it engraved as coat of arms in a book.--The
Doctor shall show Ned, perhaps, a drawing or engraving of the Hospital,
with figures of the pensioners in the quadrangle, fitly dressed; and
this picture and the figures shall impress themselves strongly on his
The above dates and places refer to passages in the published "English
_Note 1. Author's note_.--"Compare it with Spenser's Cave of
Despair. Put instruments of suicide there."
_Note 2. Author's note_.--"Once, in looking at the mansion,
Redclyffe is struck by the appearance of a marble inserted into the
wall, and kept clear of lichens."
_Note 3. Author's note_.--"Describe, in rich poetry, all shapes of
_Note 1. Author's note_.--"Conferred their best qualities": an
alternative phrase for "done their utmost."
_Note 2. Author's note_.--"Let the old man have a beard as part of
_Note 1. Author's note_.--"Describe him as delirious, and the
scene as adopted into his delirium."
_Note 2. Author's note_.--"Make the whole scene very dreamlike and
_Note 3. Author's note_.--"There should be a slight wildness in
the patient's remark to the surgeon, which he cannot prevent, though he
is conscious of it."
_Note 4. Author's note_.--"Notice the peculiar depth and
intelligence of his eyes, on account of his pain and sickness."
_Note 5. Author's note_.--"Perhaps the recognition of the
pensioner should not be so decided. Redclyffe thinks it is he, but
thinks it as in a dream, without wonder or inquiry; and the pensioner
does not quite acknowledge it."
_Note 6._ The following dialogue is marked to be omitted or
modified in the original MS.; but it is retained here, in order that
the thread of the narrative may not be broken.
_Note 7. Author's note_.--"The patient, as he gets better, listens
to the feet of old people moving in corridors; to the ringing of a bell
at stated periods; to old, tremulous voices talking in the quadrangle;
_Note 8._ At this point the modification indicated in Note 5 seems
to have been made operative: and the recognition takes place in another
_Note 1._ This paragraph is left incomplete in the original MS.
_Note 2._ The words "Rich old bindings" are interlined here,
indicating, perhaps, a purpose to give a more detailed description of
the library and its contents.
_Note 1. Author's note_.--"I think it shall be built of stone,
_Note 2._ This probably refers to some incident which the author
intended to incorporate in the former portion of the romance, on a
_Note 1._ Several passages, which are essentially reproductions of
what had been previously treated, are omitted from this chapter. It
belongs to an earlier version of the romance.
_Note 1. Author's note_.--"Redclyffe shows how to find, under the
surface of the village green, an old cross."
_Note 2. Author's note_.--"A circular seat around the tree."
_Note 3._ The reader now hears for the first time what Redclyffe
_Note 1. Author's note_.--"The dinner is given to the pensioners,
as well as to the gentry, I think."
_Note 2. Author's note_.--"For example, a story of three brothers,
who had a deadly quarrel among them more than two hundred years ago for
the affections of a young lady, their cousin, who gave her reciprocal
love to one of them, who immediately became the object of the deadly
hatred of the two others. There seemed to be madness in their love;
perhaps madness in the love of all three; for the result had been a
plot to kidnap this unfortunate young man and convey him to America,
where he was sold for a servant."
_Note 1._ The following passage, though it seems to fit in here
chronologically, is concerned with a side issue which was not followed
up. The author was experimenting for a character to act as the
accomplice of Lord Braithwaite at the Hall; and he makes trial of the
present personage, Mountford; of an Italian priest, Father Angelo; and
finally of the steward, Omskirk, who is adopted. It will be noticed
that Mountford is here endowed (for the moment) with the birthright of
good Doctor Hammond, the Warden. He is represented as having made the
journey to America in search of the grave. This alteration being
inconsistent with the true thread of the story, and being, moreover,
not continued, I have placed this passage in the Appendix, instead of
in the text.
Redclyffe often, in the dim weather, when the prophetic intimations of
rain were too strong to allow an American to walk abroad with peace of
mind, was in the habit of pacing this noble hall, and watching the
process of renewal and adornment; or, which suited him still better, of
enjoying its great, deep solitude when the workmen were away. Parties
of visitors, curious tourists, sometimes peeped in, took a cursory
glimpse at the old hall, and went away; these were the only ordinary
disturbances. But, one day, a person entered, looked carelessly round
the hall, as if its antiquity had no great charm to him; then he seemed
to approach Redclyffe, who stood far and dim in the remote distance of
the great room. The echoing of feet on the stone pavement of the hall
had always an impressive sound, and turning his head towards the
visitant Edward stood as if there were an expectance for him in this
approach. It was a middle-aged man--rather, a man towards fifty, with
an alert, capable air; a man evidently with something to do in life,
and not in the habit of throwing away his moments in looking at old
halls; a gentlemanly man enough, too. He approached Redclyffe without
hesitation, and, lifting his hat, addressed him in a way that made
Edward wonder whether he could be an Englishman. If so, he must have
known that Edward was an American, and have been trying to adapt his
manners to those of a democratic freedom.
"Mr. Redclyffe, I believe," said he.
Redclyffe bowed, with the stiff caution of an Englishman; for, with
American mobility, he had learned to be stiff.
"I think I have had the pleasure of knowing--at least of meeting--you
very long ago," said the gentleman. "But I see you do not recollect
Redclyffe confessed that the stranger had the advantage of him in his
recollection of a previous acquaintance.
"No wonder," said the other, "for, as I have already hinted, it was
many years ago."
"In my own country then, of course," said Redclyffe.
"In your own country certainly," said the stranger, "and when it would
have required a penetrating eye to see the distinguished Mr. Redclyffe.
the representative of American democracy abroad, in the little pale-
faced, intelligent boy, dwelling with an old humorist in the corner of
At these words Redclyffe sent back his recollections, and, though
doubtfully, began to be aware that this must needs be the young
Englishman who had come to his guardian on such a singular errand as to
search an old grave. It must be he, for it could be nobody else; and,
in truth, he had a sense of his identity,--which, however, did not
express itself by anything that he could confidently remember in his
looks, manner, or voice,--yet, if anything, it was most in the voice.
But the image which, on searching, he found in his mind of a fresh-
colored young Englishman, with light hair and a frank, pleasant face,
was terribly realized for the worse in this somewhat heavy figure, and
coarser face, and heavier eye. In fact, there is a terrible difference
between the mature Englishman and the young man who is not yet quite
out of his blossom. His hair, too, was getting streaked and sprinkled
with gray; and, in short, there were evident marks of his having
worked, and succeeded, and failed, and eaten and drunk, and being made
largely of beef, ale, port, and sherry, and all the solidities of
"I remember you now," said Redclyffe, extending his hand frankly; and
yet Mountford took it in so cold a way that he was immediately sorry
that he had done it, and called up an extra portion of reserve to
freeze the rest of the interview. He continued, coolly enough, "I
remember you, and something of your American errand,--which, indeed,
has frequently been in my mind since. I hope you found the results of
your voyage, in the way of discovery, sufficiently successful to
justify so much trouble."
"You will remember," said Mountford, "that the grave proved quite
unproductive. Yes, you will not have forgotten it; for I well recollect
how eagerly you listened, with that queer little girl, to my talk with
the old governor, and how disappointed you seemed when you found that
the grave was not to be opened. And yet, it is very odd. I failed in
that mission; and yet there are circumstances that have led me to think
that I ought to have succeeded better,--that some other person has
really succeeded better."
Redclyffe was silent; but he remembered the strange old silver key, and
how he had kept it secret, and the doubts that had troubled his mind
then and long afterwards, whether he ought not to have found means to
convey it to the stranger, and ask whether that was what he sought. And
now here was that same doubt and question coming up again, and he found
himself quite as little able to solve it as he had been twenty years
ago. Indeed, with the views that had come up since, it behooved him to
be cautious, until he knew both the man and the circumstances.
"You are probably aware," continued Mountford,--"for I understand you
have been some time in this neighborhood,--that there is a pretended
claim, a contesting claim, to the present possession of the estate of
Braithwaite, and a long dormant title. Possibly--who knows?--you
yourself might have a claim to one or the other. Would not that be a
singular coincidence? Have you ever had the curiosity to investigate
your parentage with a view to this point?"
"The title," replied Redclyffe, "ought not to be a very strong
consideration with an American. One of us would be ashamed, I verily
believe, to assume any distinction, except such as may be supposed to
indicate personal, not hereditary merit. We have in some measure, I
think, lost the feeling of the past, and even of the future, as regards
our own lines of descent; and even as to wealth, it seems to me that
the idea of heaping up a pile of gold, or accumulating a broad estate
for our children and remoter descendants, is dying out. We wish to
enjoy the fulness of our success in life ourselves, and leave to those
who descend from us the task of providing for themselves. This tendency
is seen in our lavish expenditure, and the whole arrangement of our
lives; and it is slowly--yet not very slowly, either--effecting a
change in the whole economy of American life."
"Still," rejoined Mr. Mountford, with a smile that Redclyffe fancied
was dark and subtle, "still, I should imagine that even an American
might recall so much of hereditary prejudice as to be sensible of some
earthly advantages in the possession of an ancient title and hereditary
estate like this. Personal distinction may suit you better,--to be an
Ambassador by your own talent; to have a future for yourself, involving
the possibility of ranking (though it were only for four years) among
the acknowledged sovereigns of the earth;--this is very good. But if
the silver key would open the shut up secret to-day, it might be
possible that you would relinquish these advantages."
Before Redclyffe could reply, (and, indeed, there seemed to be an
allusion at the close of Mountford's speech which, whether intended or
not, he knew not how to reply to,) a young lady entered the hall, whom
he was at no loss, by the colored light of a painted window that fell
upon her, translating her out of the common daylight, to recognize as
the relative of the pensioner. She seemed to have come to give her
fanciful superintendence to some of the decorations of the hall; such
as required woman's taste, rather than the sturdy English judgment and
antiquarian knowledge of the Warden. Slowly following after her came
the pensioner himself, leaning on his staff and looking up at the old
roof and around him with a benign composure, and himself a fitting
figure by his antique and venerable appearance to walk in that old
"Ah!" said Mountford, to Redclyffe's surprise, "here is an
acquaintance--two acquaintances of mine."
He moved along the hall to accost them; and as he appeared to expect
that Redclyffe would still keep him company, and as the latter had no
reason for not doing so, they both advanced to the pensioner, who was
now leaning on the young woman's arm. The incident, too, was not
unacceptable to the American, as promising to bring him into a more
available relation with her--whom he half fancied to be his old
American acquaintance--than he had yet succeeded in obtaining.
"Well, my old friend," said Mountford, after bowing with a certain
measured respect to the young woman, "how wears life with you? Rather,
perhaps, it does not wear at all; you being so well suited to the life
around you, you grow by it like a lichen on a wall. I could fancy now
that you have walked here for three hundred years, and remember when
King James of blessed memory was entertained in this hall, and could
marshal out all the ceremonies just as they were then."
"An old man," said the pensioner, quietly, "grows dreamy as he wanes
away; and I, too, am sometimes at a loss to know whether I am living in
the past or the present, or whereabouts in time I am,--or whether there
is any time at all. But I should think it hardly worth while to call up
one of my shifting dreams more than another."
"I confess," said Redclyffe, "I shall find it impossible to call up
this scene--any of these scenes--hereafter, without the venerable
figure of this, whom I may truly call my benefactor, among them. I
fancy him among them from the foundation,--young then, but keeping just
the equal step with their age and decay,--and still doing good and
hospitable deeds to those who need them."
The old man seemed not to like to hear these remarks and expressions of
gratitude from Mountford and the American; at any rate, he moved away
with his slow and light motion of infirmity, but then came uneasily
back, displaying a certain quiet restlessness, which Redclyffe was
sympathetic enough to perceive. Not so the sturdier, more heavily
moulded Englishman, who continued to direct the conversation upon the
pensioner, or at least to make him a part of it, thereby bringing out
more of his strange characteristics. In truth, it is not quite easy for
an Englishman to know how to adapt himself to the line feelings of
those below him in point of station, whatever gentlemanly deference he
may have for his equals or superiors.
"I should like now, father pensioner," said he, "to know how many steps
you may have taken in life before your path led into this hole, and
whence your course started."
"Do not let him speak thus to the old man," said the young woman, in a
low, earnest tone, to Redclyffe. He was surprised and startled; it
seemed like a voice that has spoken to his boyhood.
_Note 2. Author's note_.--"Redclyffe's place is next to that of
the proprietor at table."
_Note 3. Author's note_.--"Dwell upon the antique liveried
_Note 4. Author's note_.--"The rose-water must precede the
_Note 5. Author's note_.--"The jollity of the Warden at the feast
to be noticed; and afterwards explain that he had drunk nothing."
_Note 6. Author's note_.--"Mention the old silver snuffbox which I
saw at the Liverpool Mayor's dinner."
_Note 1._ This is not the version of the story as indicated in the
earlier portion of the romance. It is there implied that Elsie is the
Doctor's granddaughter, her mother having been the Doctor's daughter,
who was ruined by the then possessor of the Braithwaite estates, and
who died in consequence. That the Doctor's scheme of revenge was far
deeper and more terrible than simply to oust the family from its
possessions, will appear further on.
_Note 2._ The foregoing passage was evidently experimental, and
the author expresses his estimate of its value in the following words,
--"What unimaginable nonsense!" He then goes on to make the following
memoranda as to the plot. It should be remembered, however, that all
this part of the romance was written before the American part.
"Half of a secret is preserved in England; that is to say, in the
particular part of the mansion in which an old coffer is hidden; the
other part is carried to America. One key of an elaborate lock is
retained in England, among some old curiosities of forgotten purpose;
the other is the silver key that Redclyffe found beside the grave. A
treasure of gold is what they expect; they find a treasure of golden
locks. This lady, the beloved of the Bloody Footstep, had been murdered
and hidden in the coffer on account of jealousy. Elsie must know the
baselessness of Redclyffe's claims, and be loath to tell him, because
she sees that he is so much interested in them. She has a paper of the
old Doctor's revealing the whole plot,--a death-bed confession;
Redclyffe having been absent at the time."
The reader will recollect that this latter suggestion was not adopted:
there was no death-bed confession. As regards the coffer full of golden
locks, it was suggested by an incident recorded in the "English Note-
Books," 1854. "The grandmother of Mrs. O'Sullivan died fifty years ago,
at the age of twenty-eight. She had great personal charms, and among
them a head of beautiful chestnut hair. After her burial in a family
tomb, the coffin of one of her children was laid on her own, so that
the lid seems to have decayed, or been broken from this cause; at any
rate, this was the case when the tomb was opened, about a year ago. The
grandmother's coffin was then found to be filled with beautiful,
glossy, living chestnut ringlets, into which her whole substance seems
to have been transformed, for there was nothing else but these shining
curls, the growth of half a century, in the tomb. An old man, with a
ringlet of his youthful mistress treasured in his heart, might be
supposed to witness this wonderful thing."
_Note 1._ In a study of the plot, too long to insert here, this
new character of the steward is introduced and described. It must
suffice to say, in this place, that he was intimately connected with
Dr. Grimshawe, who had resuscitated him after he had been hanged, and
had thus gained his gratitude and secured his implicit obedience to his
wishes, even twenty years after his (Grimshawe's) death. The use the
Doctor made of him was to establish him in Braithwaite Hall as the
perpetual confidential servant of the owners thereof. Of course, the
latter are not aware that the steward is acting in Grimshawe's
interest, and therefore in deadly opposition to their own. Precisely
what the steward's mission in life was, will appear here-after.
The study above alluded to, with others, amounting to about a hundred
pages, will be published as a supplement to a future edition of this
_Note 1. Author's note_.--"Redclyffe lies in a dreamy state,
thinking fantastically, as if he were one of the seven sleepers. He
does not yet open his eyes, but lies there in a maze."
_Note 2. Author's note_.--"Redclyffe must look at the old man
quietly and dreamily, and without surprise, for a long while."
_Note 3._ Presumably the true name of Doctor Grimshawe.
_Note 4._ This mysterious prisoner, Sir Edward Redclyffe, is not,
of course, the Sir Edward who founded the Hospital, but a descendant of
that man, who ruined Doctor Grimshawe's daughter, and is the father of
Elsie. He had been confined in this chamber, by the Doctor's
contrivance, ever since, Omskirk being his jailer, as is foreshadowed
in Chapter XL He has been kept in the belief that he killed Grimshawe,
in a struggle that took place between them; and that his confinement in
the secret chamber is voluntary on his own part,--a measure of
precaution to prevent arrest and execution for murder. In this
miserable delusion he has cowered there for five and thirty years.
This, and various other dusky points, are partly elucidated in the
notes hereafter to be appended to this volume.
_Note 1._ At this point, the author, for what reason I will not
venture to surmise, chooses to append this gloss: "Bubble-and-Squeak!"
_Note 2. Author's note_.--"They found him in the hall, about to go
_Note 3._ Elsie appears to have joined the party.
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