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A critical study of the fiction of F. Marion Crawford

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A Thesis
Presented to
the Faculty of the Department of English
University of Southern California
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Master of Arts
Vera Anne Smith
June 19^1
UMI Number: EP44162
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T h i s thesis, w r i t t e n by
u n d e r the d i r e c t i o n o f h .S ’P. F a c u l t y C o m m it te e ,
a n d a p p r o v e d by a l l it s m e m b e r s , has been
presented to a n d accepted by the C o u n c i l on
G r a d u a t e S t u d y a n d Research in p a r t i a l f u l f i l l ­
m e n t o f the re q u ire m e n ts f o r the degree o f
D ate
Faculty Committee
I. FRANCIS MARION CRAWFORD ........................
His literary period . ................... .■ .■
His early life
His career as a n o v e l i s t ....................
II. ACLASSIFICATION OF THE N O V E L S .................
Classification according to national 'back­
Cosmopolitan and National novels
The Series n o v e l s ...........................
Characters common to the Series novels
Minor classifications.......................
CRAWFORD *S LITERARY C R E E D ......................
Definition of a n o v e l .......................
The purpose-novel...........................
The “Pocket-stage”
Historical romance
. .......................
Mystery novels
AN ANALYSIS OF THE N O V E L S ......................
Plot s t r u c t u r e .............................
Concluding n o t e s .........................
C h a r a c t e r s .............
H e r o e s ...................................
H e r o i n e s .................................
Minor c h a r a c t e r s .........................
D i a l o g u e .............................
The Supern a t u r a l ............................ 105
R e l i g i o n ....................................107
The n o v e l e t t e s ................................116
Characteristics of the best o n e s ............ 117
The poor novelettes.......................... 124
The short-stories.............................. 128
C O N C L U S I O N ...........
His p o p u l a r i t y ................................156
The changes in c r i t i c i s m ...................... 159
The bases for his popularity and his future
r a n k ...................................
His faults
Summaryof the study
It is to be the purpose of this thesis to study the
fiction of F. Marion Crawford and from this study to deter­
mine the value of the novels, novelettes, and short-stories
to American Literature and the;merit of. the author as a
novelist and literary artist.
The burst of romantic writing
just at the turn of the century has not been dealt with in
any detail and is barely mentioned in most histories of
American Literature.
As one of the important representatives
of this romanticism and as one of the most popular novelists
of that day, Crawford has been rudely neglected.
A single
chapter has been devoted to him by such men as E. P. Harkins
in Famous Authors and Frederic Taber Cooper in Some Ameri­
can Story Tellers. During the years 1882 to 1909 numerous
articles on Crawford or his novels and reviews of the novels
appeared in the magazines, but neither a complete study of
the novelist nor a biography exists.
All of Crawford's fiction has been studied with the
single exception of a play Francesca da Rimini, which was
produced by Sarah Bernhardt in Paris in 1902.
Twelve copies
of the play were published in that year by The Macmillan
Company, but none is available for use at this time.
To pursue the study of Crawford, this thesis will be
presented in six chapters.
The first will give biographical
data on Crawford, and the second, "The Classification of the
Novels,” will classify the novels (including the short novels
or novelettes), according to background, subject matter, and
the method of presentation.
The third chapter, “Crawford’s
Literary Creed,” will discuss the author’s views on the novel
and novel writing as these views are found in his monograph
The Novel: What It Is.. Chapter four, “An Analysis of the
Novels,” will analyze the full length novels on the bases of
plot structure, character portrayal, and background and will
summarize their characteristic points of construction.
fifth chapter, ’’The Novelettes and Short-Stories,” will in­
dicate the resemblance of these shorter works to the full
length novels and will point out the characteristics peculiar
to them.
Chapter six, or “Conclusion,” on the basis of the
findings of the preceding chapters, will attempt to estimate
Crawford’s merit as a novelist and to ascertain the value of
the author’s fiction to American Literature.
American Literature did not come into her own until
after the Civil War.
Fred Lewis Pattee in his A History of
American Literature Since 1870 says:
We have divided the literary history of the century
into three periods, denominating them as the Knicker­
bocker Period, the New England Period, and the National
Period, and we have made the last to begin shortly after
the close of the Civil War with those new forces and new
ideals and broadened views that grew out of that mighty
The field . . . is an important one: it is our first
really national period, all-American, autochthonic. It
was not until after the war that our writers ceased to
imitate and looked to their own land for material and
The period occupying the years from 1870 to about
1910 described by Mr. Pattee is the literary period to which
Francis Marion Crawford, of whose fiction this thesis makes
a critical study, certainly belongs.
His first novel appear­
ed in 1882 and his last in 1909, the year of his death.
"new forces, new ideals and broadened viewsn of which Mr.
Pattee speaks were not apparent in Crawford’s novels.
stories embodied, rather, the old forces of the drama, the
old ideas of chivalry and the romance of polite society, and
1 Fred Lewis Pattee, A History of American Literature
Since 1870. Preface.
the broadened views not of an emancipated America but of
all the countries in the world from the time of Zoroaster
in Persia to the twentieth century in New York and Boston.
American Realism did begin at this time, but the popularity
of books in the romantic tradition still persisted.
This romanticism, especially that which sought its
atmosphere in distant lands, was ably championed by Marion
Crawford commencing in the late eighties, a time when Ver­
non L. Parrington assures us "American taste was still ro­
According to Russell Blankenship:
The nineties saw the flowering of our second great age
of romantic fiction. By the beginnings of the eighties
some of the English writers were in conscious rebellion
against the rising schools of realism and naturalism.
This revolt was led by Robert Louis Stevenson, whose
romantic life and winning personality, coupled with a
charming literary style, very deftly concealed the ex­
tensive thinness of his work. In America the call was
joyously answered by many writers from 1890-1905.3
Blankenship further says that "there are three romancers
of the period who deserve slightly more than casual notice,"
and he mentions Francis Marion Crawford, Mary Johnston,vand
Winston Churchill.4
Francis Marion Crawford, whom the Dictionary of
2 Vernon L. Parrington, The Beginnings of Critical
Realism in America, p. 337.
3 Russell Blankenship, American Literature, p. 544.
4 IMsL* > P* 547 •
American Biography describes as "novelist, historian,”5
was horn on August 2, 1854 in Bagni di Lucca in the region
of Tuscany in.Italy.
His father was the American sculptor
and Thorwaldsen pupil, Thomas Crawford, whose American
works include the statue of Beethoven in the Boston Music
Hall, the equestrian statue of Washington at Richmond,
Virginia, and the figure of Armed Liberty on top of the
Capitol at Washington D. C.6
He had long resided in Italy
with his wife Louisa Cutler Ward, a sister of Julia Ward
Of their four children Marion was the youngest.
When but two years old he was sent to live with relatives
in Borderstown, Hew Jersey, but the next year when his
father died, Marion returned to Italy where his mother con­
tinued to reside.
He passed the remainder of his boyhood
here under the spell of the ancient Roman culture, but under
the tutorage of a French governess.
1. F. Harkins records
the novelist’s own remarks about his early introduction to
"Most of my boyhood,” he said, to an interviewer,
when he was in this country on his first lecture tour,
"was spent under the directions of a French governess.
Not only did I learn her language from her, but all
my studies, geography, arithmetic, and so forth, were
5 ££•» Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. IV,
p. 519.
6 _Cf., Maud Howe Elliott, My_ Cousin, F. Marion
Crawford, p. 8.
taught me in French, and I learned to write it with
great readiness, as a mere boy, because it was the lan­
guage of my daily tasks. The consequence is that to this
day I write French with-the ease of English.”7
When twelve years old Marion was sent to school at
St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire.
His sister,
Mary Crawford Fraser, later recalled his return from America.
At the age of fifteen Marion came back to us in Rome, a
great boy more than six feet tall, superbly proportioned,
and radiating life and strength.8
His education continued as cosmopolitan as before.
Lewis Pattee writes that:
. . . during the following ten years he was successively
student of mathematics and Creek at Rome; student with
a tutor at Hatfield Broadoak, Essex, England; matricu­
lant at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he pursued
courses in German, Swedish, and Spanish; and attendant
upon lectures at Karlsruhe and Heidelberg. As a result
he became fluent in most of the languages of Europe in­
cluding the Turkish and the Russian, and later learned
to converse in most of the Eastern languages. At twentytwo he was at the University of Rome specializing in the
study of Sanskrit in which he became intensely interest­
ed, and it was to perfect himself in this language at
its fountain head that in 1879, borrowing the money to
pay his expenses, he went to India.9
As might be expected during his stay in Essex and
at Cambridge, it was not the great business of the British
Empire nor the practical character of the Englishman that
7 E. F. Harkins, Famous Authors (Men), p. 171.
8 Mary Crawford Fraser, "Notes of a Romantic Life”
Collier’s . 45:22,(April 23, 1910.)
9 Dictionary of American Biography. Vol. IV, p. 519.
impressed Crawford, Put rather the romantic loneliness of
the countrysides and the strange secludedness of the inhabi­
His. sister recalls this attitude:
Before going to Cambridge he spent some time with a tu­
tor in Essex, and he grew to love very dearly the re­
mote English country with its hoary traditions and
kindly, honest atmosphere. The life in Essex furnished
the material for one of his early novels, The Tale of
a Lonely Parish. We were talking about it once, and I
remember he said: "England is the most romantic country
in the world. Anything could happen in those lonely
old country houses lost in a dip of the moors, miles
away from the beaten roads! The fierce privacy with
which the Englishmen surround themselves makes them
absolutely independent within their own domains. No
Eastern despot has finer opportunities for autocracy
than the ordinary English s q u i r e . •
Romance, however, was not all that appealed to the young
He was not devoid of a sense of humor, nor was
he above playing college pranks.
Even these, as illustrated
by one related by his sister, were carried off in his usual
"grand manner."
At Cambridge he did not earn the reputation of an
ardent student, but he enjoyed himself immensely. That
term "immense” was one which was constantly being ap­
plied to him by his compeers, and at last he thought
he might as well show people what it meant. He hunted
round for the biggest trotting horse he could find, had
a towering dog-cart built, dressed himself in checks a
foot square and of outrageous colors, and, thus equipped,
paraded the dignified university town, to the scandal of
the authorities and the delight of his fellows. He had
a clock, a French gimcrack exactly imitating a watch,
and, having instructed his tailor to make a pocket large
enough to hold it, he attached it to a big dog-chain,
10 Eraser, loc. eit.
the links of which dangled ostentatiously across his
waistcoat. One day in the train a facetious stranger,
glancing at this ornament, asked him the time. When
Marion pulled out a watch two inches thick and as hig
round as a mushmelon, the joker blanched. He thought
he was shut in with a maniac and rushed from the. car­
riage at the next stop.11
Always wherever he studied, his ability for master­
ing-foreign languages was his greatest asset.
After learn­
ing German at Cambridge, he studied at Karlsruhe and Heidel­
When he was twenty-two years old, Crawford returned
once more to Rome.
According to his sister1s account, his
return was due to financial reverses in the family.1®
also maintains that his interest in Sanskrit was incited by
a grammar book for that language which had formerly belonged
to her and which Crawford unknowingly took along with him'
on a trip.14
This interest led him to attend lectures at
the University of Rome for two years.
period, he left for India.
At the end of this
Mrs. Fraser says:
Some time after that, early in 1879, Marion went to
India with a learned and entertaining man. Dr. d'Acunha,
an Indian pundit with a Portuguese n a m e . 1 ®
11 Ibid., p. 23.
12 Harkins, op. cit., p. 172.
. 13 Fraser, op. cit., p. 23 (Most accounts merely
state that he returned to Rome to study Sanskrit).
Mr. E. F. Harkins maintains that Crawford went to India at
the suggestion of one of the professors at the University
of Rome who led him to think that he could pursue his study
of Sanskrit there and returning secure a professorship.16
Whatever the circumstances, Crawford "borrowed money to go
to India and once there undertook the editorship of the
Indian Herald at Allahabad.
He remained in India two years
and edited the paper at Allahabad for eighteen months of this
According to Yan ?/yck Brooks editing a paper was not
all that he accomplished in India.
He had joined the Catholic church in India, and, tigerhunting there and playing polo, he had studied the
Zend-Avesta with a Parsee priest and developed his gift
as a linguist. He kept his diary in Urdu, and in time
he spoke sixteen languages, five or six of which he
knew already.1?
Yery little is known about his conversion to Catholicism.
The only comment upon it is that of his cousin, Maud Howe
Elliott, who writes:
The fact was inevitable, given his temperament and
early environment. He was no bigot, and while to him
the road to Rome led on to ultimate beatitudes, he was
tolerant of those who strove to attain to perfection
by another path.1®
Upon returning once more to Rome, he found-himself
16 Cf. Harkins, op. cit., p. 173.
17 Yan Wyck Brooks, "Writers of the Eighties," The
Saturday Review of Literature. 22:3,(June 8, 1940.)
18 Yan Wyck Brooks, op. cit. p. 3.
unoccupied and soon sailed for America.
Here he lived most
of the time with either his aunt, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, or
his uncle, Samuel Ward.
First he studied more Sanskrit at
. Harvard, hut at length he branched out and tried his hand
at various things.
Brooks enumerates his ambitions and
He thought of entering politics, he longed to be an
opera-singer, he saw himself already a conquering hero.
Handsome, arrogant, clever and young, the centre of an
adoring circle of aunts and cousins, he seemed to be
universally informed and gifted. He drew, he modeled,
he studied singing with George Henschel, who led the
new orchestra in Boston; and he was already a journa­
list with an excellent training. So he feegan to write
for the press, on any and every subject, from Buddhism
to politics and railroads.19
Just at this point in his life with crossroads leading out
into all directions, his career as a novelist began.
May of 1882 at a dinner party in New York he chanced to re­
late the story of a diamond-merchant whom he had met in the
Simla Mountains of India.
The tale was such a captivating
one and Crawford told it so well that his uncle, Samuel
Ward, encouraged him to write it up in novel form.
cousin, Maud Elliott, in her biography states that George
Brett recalled the dinner afterward and said:
Mr. Ward, Crawford, and I dined together at the Brevoort
House, and at that time Crawford told us the story of
Maud Howe Elliott, o£. cit., p. 127.
Mr. Jacobs. Crawford was greatly disturbed because be
did not know wbat to do, bad failed in several things,
singing in tbe opera, teaching Sanskrit, carrying on of
the India paper. There was a discussion as to what
Crawford should do. I said, "There is no question what
you should do,— write out that story."20
Mrs. Elliott continues in her own words:
Uncle Sam always claimed the credit of having advised
Marion to write the book about Mr. Jacobs, the diamond
merchant at Simla. One thing is certain— Marion*s
destiny was fixed that night when he, Uncle Sam and the
young Brett, now the head of the Macmillan Company,
dined together at the old Brevoort House, at Fifth Ave­
nue and Eighth Street.21
Crawford began it that night-, and in the course of less than
six weeks he had finished his first novel.
In a very short
while Mr. Isaacs (the story of Mr. Jacobs) appeared, an in­
stant success.
Dr . Claudius was immediately begun and pub­
lished the following year.
Then came A Roman Singer, which
appeared first as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly at the
invitation of Thomas Bailey Aldrich and was published as a
novel in 1884.
Most of this year Crawford spent in Constan­
tinople, and here he married Elizabeth Berdan, daughter of
General Berdan.
The following year he settled at "Villa
Crawford" at Sorrento, Italy.
In this picturesque home com­
manding a view of the Bay of Naples and the Isles of the
Sirens, he lived until August 9, 1909.
20 Maud Howe Elliott,
Ibid., p . 128.
0 £.
During the years
cit., p. 127.
1882 to 1909 he published forty-four novels, a collection
of short stories, a play, a critical volume The Novel— What
It Is, and four historical works.
This tremendous volume of writing meant that he was
always exceedingly busy as well as sufficiently wealthy.
In addition to his writing, he visited America almost year­
ly and made numerous lecture tours.
He sometimes came in
his own yacht of which he was captain and master mariner.
There was no limit to his industry in ferreting out exact
information for use in his novels. For example, he learned
every process for the making of Venetian glass for Marietta.
a Maid of Venice and even became a silversmith to the extent
of making and executing his own designs for Marzio’s Cruci­
His sister testifies that he actually went to Prague
and learned Bohemian before writing The Witch of Prague.
Of the Bohemian language, she says:
It was the seventeenth language he had acquired. I do
not know how many were added to the list afterward.
Slav and Scandinavian, Persian and Arabic, Latin and
Teutonic tongues— he possessed them all, and I remember
his telling me gravely that any one ought to be able to
learn a new language in six weeks 1
He had a remarkably wide interest in cities and coun­
tries and in the people, language, and occupations peculiar
to them.
This interest was at the same time instigated and
22 Cf. Fraser, op. cit. p. 24.
23 Fraser, loo. cit.
compensated by a life unusually full of travel and excitement,
while his conscientious industry as a writer brought him the
fame and fortune he desired.
His sister is witness to the
complete satisfaction of her brother’s life.
Everything was Marion’s— success, honor, the affectionate
companionship of a devoted wife who read every line he
wrote with the keenest interest and true literary acumen;,
brave sons and beautiful daughters, who worshipped their
father; but nothing in this world had any real hold upon
him. He was quite detached; he worked to the very end,
in order that his dear ones might not miss any of the
comforts and luxuries with which he had always surrounded
24 Fraser, loc. cit.
In addition to his histories and short stories,
Marion Crawford wrote forty-four novels.-*-
These consti­
tute a large volume of work for the reader to comprehend
at one time.
They may be grasped as a whole more readily
and appreciated more satisfactorily if the novels are first
made to fall into some kind of classification.
Of the sev­
eral classifications possible, that according to background
or setting is the most obvious.
There is no necessity for
much labor and careful analysis here, for the novels seem
naturally to group themselves according to their various
national backgrounds.
For instance, seventeen novels group
themselves voluntarily through having Italy as their setting.
In the same way a single volume with a unique background,
such as India, always tends to stand alone.
Italy and India
are only two of twelve different national backgrounds util­
ized by this cosmopolitan author.
"Cosmopolitan" is a word constantly applied to
Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. IV,
p. 519. The Dictionary of American Biography lists fortysix, including in that list Uncanny Tales, a volume of short
stories, and Constantinople, which is an extended essay on
that city and an essay which contains no element of narrative
within its seventy-eight pages.
Crawford and to his novels.
Frederic Taber Cooper took
issue with this and pointed out the necessity for accurate­
ly defining the word.
How it is quite true that, if one runs over the entire
series of novels, which altogether must, count up to
about two score, it is rather surprising to find what
a long list of widely separated cities and countries
he has successively used as a setting for his stories.
And critics, with one eye solely for this bare fact,
and not for the reason behind it, have repeatedly
spoken of him as the most cosmopolitan of all contem­
porary writers. Whether this is the right word or not
depends upon the precise meaning which the word "cosmo­
politan” conjures up in our minds. If it means to us
no more than that the novelist has one year
written a
story of British India, another year of Constantinople,
and a third year of New York, then let us grant at once
that Mr. Crawford has qualified as a cosmopolite. But,
if the word signifies to you, as it does to the present
writer, that the novelist by preference and instinct,
goes away from home for his material; that, although he
has a rich store of material born of his two years mak­
ing, namely to take your material at close hand even if
need be from your own town, your own street, your own
backyard, he roams far afield, choosing indifferently
any old corner of the wide,
wide world from
perverse love of being away
from home; then
is emphatically not a cosmopolitan— he is simply a man
who has chanced to have had a succession of different
homes in widely scattered portions of the globe.2
The distinction that Cooper made is a very fine one, for
Crawford does not belong to that class of persons who have
been (everywhere and so designate themselves as Cosmopolitans,
but he does belong with that smaller group-which has lived
^ Frederic Taber Cooper
Forum, 41:488-89,(May, 1909.1
"Marion Crawford," The
in a variety of countries, staying long enough in each to
learn the language, become familiar with the customs, and,
to a certain extent, absorb the outlook and point of view
peculiar to the place.
A writer for The Edinburgh Review
expressed approximately this same opinion in an article
when he wrote:
But Mr. Crawford can write books which give us the
sense of being transplanted absolutely into a foreign
society where every gesture and action and motive is
somehow subtly different
from what it
would be among
English speakers, though we should be
puzzledto define
the point of distinction. And again his English people
are other than his Americans, yet the difference is
never emphasized. If he veve able to
effect in dealing with Englishmen, Americans, and Ital­
ians, it would be sufficiently remarkable, yet the less
so because Italy is his native country, and an American
whose home is in Italy must necessarily see a good deal
of English society. But the very best of all his books
Cigarette-Maker’s Romance] introduces neither Eng­
lishman, American, nor Italian, but deals with a little
colony of Russians living and working in a German town.3
This characteristic of Crawford’s was apparent even
in his short stories.
Fred Lewis Pattee remarked on this:
The life and training of Crawford gave him a viewpoint
which was singularly different from that held by the
short story writers who were so bravely exploiting
provincial little neighborhoods in all remote nooks
and corners of the land. His training had given him an
outlook more cosmopolitan than even that of Henry
Anonymous, "The Novels of Mr. Marion Crawford,"
The Living Age. 32: 452,(August 25, 1906.) (quoted from The
Edinburgh Review)
4 Pattee, A History of American Literature Since
1870. p. 390.
This cosmopolitan outlook resulted practically in
the selection of some twelve distinct national settings for
the novels.
Some of these are represented by only a single
novel such as India by Mr. Isaacs, early Arabia by Khaled~.
Spain by In The Palace Of The King. Persia by Zoroaster.
Bohemia by The Witch of Prague. and the Venetian Republic
by Marietta, a Maid of Venice.
Via Cruois stands alone as
having no distinct background, except its historical one,
of course, which is that of the Second Crusade.
In it
French, Normans, and English people journey across Europe
to the Holy City, Jerusalem.
There are two novels laid in
One represents the early city, Arethusa.
while Paul Patoff explores the modern capital.
Germany is
the scene for Griefenstein and The Cigarette-Maker*s Ro­
England is also the setting for two novels, A Tale
of A Lonely Parish and The Undesirable Governess.
are twelve American novels, most of which take place in
New York.
The trilogy which begins with Fair Margaret has
a vague background in New York although the characters tra­
vel a great part of the time about Paris', Versailles, and
Although New York is the American city by far the
most popular with the author, Bar Harbour, Maine5 is repre­
sented by Love In Idleness. Boston by An American Politician.
5 "Bar Harbour" is the spelling that Crawford used
in the story, Love In Idleness, although the publishers
changed the spelling when it was used as a sub-title to
"Bar Harbor.”
and a Connecticut country farm by The Little City of Hope♦
Italy, however, is the country most beloved to Marion Craw­
ford, and the action of twenty, or just about half of his
novels, takes place somewhere in this southern country.
Rome itself is the scene of more than a dozen novels.
smaller cities are; represented too.
The action of Marietta
takes place in Venice, and Strade11a commences there before
moving to Rome.
Although some of the scenes in Corleone
are laid in Rome, most of them are at Messina in Sicily.
The action of Adam Johnstone *s Son, a story of English peo­
ple, occurs at Amalfi in Campania, and that of The Children
of The King, as well as of With The Immortals, at Sorrento.
Even the tiny village of Subiaco southeast of Rome is the
scene for almost all of Casa Braccio Volume I.
Shall Offend moves from Naples to Rome, Florence, Milan
Monte Carlo, Paris, and London before returning again to
A clearer idea of the classification of the novels
according to their background may be gained by consulting
Table I on page 17.
In the majority of his novels, Marion Crawford de­
voted considerable attention and frequently many pages to
describing and re-creating the scene he had so well in mind
in order that it might actually appear before the eyes of
the reader.
There is such an abundance of accurate, speci­
fic knowledge of places and things in all of these descrip-
1884 A Roman Singer
1884 To Leeward
1885 Marzio1s Crucifix
1887- Saraoinesoa
1889 Sant* Ilario
1892 Don Orsino
1S92 Pietro Ghisleri
1895 Casa Bracoio, Volume I (in part) and
.Volume II (in toto)
1895 Taouisara
1896 Corleone (and at Messina, Sicily)
1902 Cecilia
Heart of Rome
1906 A Lady of Rome
1909 The White Sister
1909 Stradella (and at Venice, Italy)
1901 Marietta
1909 Stradella (and at Rome, Italy)
1888 With The Immortals
1892 The Children of the King
TABLE I (continued)
1895 Casa Braccio, Volume I (and at Rome,
Amalfi in Compania
1895 Adam Johnstone’s Son
Messina, Sicily
1896 Corleone (and at Rome)
1904 Whosoever!Shall Offend (and at Rome,
Florence, Milan, Monte Carlo, Paris, and
New York, New York
1888 Dr. Claudius
189B The Three Fates
1893 Marion Darohe
1894 Katherine Lauderdale
1895 The Ralstons
Stories of New Yorkers abroad
1897 A Rose of Yesterday, at Lucerne, Switzer
1905 Fair Margaret, at Versailles and Paris
1908 The Primadonna, at London
1908 The Diva’s Ruby, at London (Chapter I
at a little village in central Asia)
Boston, Massachusetts
1884 An American Politician
Bar Harbor, Maine
1894 Love In Idleness
TABLE I (continued}
1907 3 M Little City of Hope
1886 A Tale of a Lonely Parish
1909 The Undesirable Governess
1889 Griefenstein
1890 The Cigarette-Maker1s Romance
188S Mr. Isaacs
1887 Paul Patoff
1907 Arethusa (early Constantinople)
1891 Khaled
1900 In the Palace of the King
1885 Zoroaster
1891 The Witch of Prague
En route from France to Jerusalem
1898 Via Crucis
tions and re-creations that the reader immediately believes
as he reads and so allows his imagination to absorb wholly
and unconditionally the series of foreign scenes that pass
in rapid review.
The opening sentences of Saracinesca give
us the real Rome of 1865.
In the year 1865 Rome was still in a great measure
its old self. It had not then acquired that modern air
which is now beginning to pervade it. The Corso had
not been widened and whitewashed; the Villa Aldobrandini had not been cut through to make the Via Nationale;
the south wing of the Plazzo Colonna still looked upon
a narrow lane through which men hesitated to pass after
dark; the Tiber’s course had not been corrected below
the Farnesina; the Farnesina itself was but just under
repair; the iron bridge at the Ripetta was not dreamed
of; and the Prati di Castello were still, as their name
implies, a series of waste meadows. . . .
In those
days also were to be seen the great coaches of the
cardinals, with their gorgeous footmen and magnificent
black horses, the huge red umbrellas lying upon the
top, while from the open windows the stately princes
of the Church from time to time returned the salutations
of the pedestrians in the street. And often in the
afternoon there was heard the tramp of horses as a de­
tachment of the noble guard trotted down the Corso on
their chargers, escorting the Holy Father himself, while
all who met him dropped upon one knee and uncovered
their heads to receive the benediction of the mild-eyed
old man with the beautiful features, the head of the
Church and the State.6
The picturesque inhabitants of the city appear a few pages
further on.
Dr. Johnson would have liked the Romans— for in
general they are good lovers and good haters, whatever
faults they may have. The patriarchial system, which
was all but universal twenty years ago, and is only now
6 F. Marion Crawford, Saracinesca (New York: The
Macmillan Company, 1887) pp. 1-2.
beginning to yield to more modern institutions of life,
tends to foster the passions of love and hate. Where
father and mother sit at the head and foot of the table,
their sons with their wives and their children each in
his or her own place, often to the number of twenty
souls— all living under one roof, one name, and one
bond of family unity— there is likely to be a great
similarity of feeling upon all questions of family
pride, especially among people who discuss everything
with vehemence, from European politics to the family
cook. They may bicker and squabble among themselves,
— and they frequently do,— but in their outward rela­
tion with the world, they act as one individual, and
the enemy of one is the enemy of all; for the pride of
race and name is very great.”
This brief description of an aristocratic Roman
family comes to life not only in the Saracinesca trilogy
but also in the other novels such as Pietro Ghisleri, Casa
Bracoio, Corleone, and A Lady of Rome, and the old Rome has
disappeared completely only in Cecilia whose sub-title ex­
plains that it is "A Story of Modern Rome,”
In Marietta, A Maid of Venice, the charm of Venice
is introduced less obviously than the scenes of the Roman
One catches just a glimpse of this most distinc­
tive of cities now and then.
For example, when the youth­
ful glass-blower and hero of the story, Zorzi, starts out
to deliver a message, the reader is permitted to see Venice
at night.
The June night was dark and warm as Zorzi pushed
off from the steps before his master's horse and guided
7 Ibid., p. 10.
his skiff through the canal, scarcely moving the single
oar, as the rising tide took his boat silently along.
Again and again the words said themselves, the far-off
voices said them, the lapping water took them up and
repeated them, the breeze whispered them quickly as it
passed, the oar pronounced them a s it creaked softly in
the crutch rowlock, the stars spelled out the sentences
in the sky, the lights of Venice wrote them in the wa­
ter in broken reflections.8
It was not far now. With infinite caution he thread
ed the dark canals, thanking fortune for the faint star­
light that showed him the turnings. Here and there a
small oil lamp burned before the image of a saint; from
a narrow lane on one side, the light streamed across the
water, and with it came sounds of ringing glasses, and
the tinkling of a lute, and laughing voices; then it
was dark again as his skiff shot by, and he made haste,
for he wished not to be seen.9
In these passages the thread of the story is never wholly
submerged in the description.
Venice is the ever-present
background for the entire story although the author never
interrupts his tale to allude to it in any way.
The law of
the Venetian Republic is an important obstacle to the work­
ing out of the plot, but even the discussion of it is inci­
A few of the results of these laws imposed by the
Supreme Council occur to Marietta who, betrothed to a Vene­
tian she neither knows nor loves, muses:
It would have been much easier to submit if she had
been betrothed to a foreigner, a Roman, or a Florentine.
She had been told that Romans were all wicked and
8 F-. Marion Crawford, Marietta (Hew York: The Mac
millan Company, 1901) pp. 21-22.
9 Ibia.. PP* 23-2&
gloomy, and that Florentines were all wicked and gay.
That was what Nella had heard. But in a sense they
were free, for they probably did what was good in their
own eyes, as wicked people often do. Life in Venice was
to be lived by rule, and everything that tasted of free­
dom was repressed by law. If it pleased women to wear
long trains the council forbade them; if they took refuge
in long sleeves, thrown back over their shoulders, a law
was passed which set a measure and a pattern for all
sleeves that might ever be worn. If a few rich men in. dulged their fancy in the decoration of their gondolas,
now that riding was out of fashion, the Council immedi­
ately determined that gondolas should be black and that
they should only be gilt and adorned inside.10
In this way government so influential at the time exerts an
equal influence in the novel and comes into the plot as a
natural obstacle, not as mere historical background forci­
bly injected.
Although London forms the background for several
novels, it exercises no influence and is barely mentioned
in the narratives about Americans in London, who behave ex­
actly as they would have in New York or elsewhere.
Crawford wrote only two novels which may be called English
The Undesirable Governess is very short and is con­
cerned only with the plot, not the setting.
Although the
village of Billingsfield, which is its locale, is never
properly located on our mental English map, still A Tale of
Lonely Parish is essentially an English tale.
The lone­
liness suggested in the title and characteristic of small
10 ILid.> P. 139
English, villages, together with the British traits of re­
serve and fixity make up for what is lacking in physical
description of the countryside.
Mrs. Ambrose, the vicar's
wife, and her drawing-room as the author delineates them
in the following portion of a paragraph are typical of the
author's method of creating atmosphere.
She stood in the front drawing-room, that is to say
in the most impressive chamber of that fortress which
' Englishman's house. It.was a-formal room,.ar­
ranged by a fixed rule and the order of it was main­
tained inflexibly; no event could be imagined of such
.terrible power as to have caused the displacement of
one of those chairs, of one of those ornaments upon
the chimney-piece, of one of those engravings upon the
walls. The walls.were papered with one shade of green,
the furniture was covered with material of another
shade of green and the well-spread carpet exhibited
still a third variety of the same colour. Mrs. Am­
brose's sense of order did not extend to the simplest
forms of artistic harmony, but when it had an opportun­
ity of impressing itself upon inanimate objects which
were liable to be moved, washed or dusted, its effects
were formidable indeed. She worshiped neatness and
cleanliness; she left the question of taste to others.
And now she stood in the keep of her stronghold, the
impersonation of moral rectitude and of practical
Although Billingsfield never emerges from the gener­
al class of small English villages, its intimate and iso­
lated society is well depicted.
So quiet was the life of
the villagers that the news that the Juxon estate was out
of Chancery and soon to be reopened by a new squire led to
11 F. Marion Crawford, A Tale of a Lonely Parish
(New York: Macmillan and Company, 1886) pp. 40-4TI
unpredicted excitement.
It is not known exactly how the thing first became
known, but there was soon no doubt whatever that it was
true. Thomas Reid, the sexton, who remembered that the
old'squire died forty years ago come Michaelmas, and
had been buried in a "wonderful heavy" coffin, Thomas
Reid, the stern censor of the vicar's sermons, a melan­
cholic and sober man, so far lost his head over the
news as to ask Mr. Ambrose’s leave to ring the bells,
Mr. Abraham Roosey having promised beer for the ringers.
Even to the vicar’s enlightened mind it seemed fitting
that there should be some festivity over so great an
event and the bells were accordingly rung during one
whole, afternoon.12
In contrast to this English novel, Griefenstein de- •
picts the German countryside and the medieval traditions of
the great families while the traits of the German people
are not so marked in the delineation of the characters.
The quietness, the Calm and the cheery friendship of Billingsfield are entirely absent from the German countryside.
Here is a different kind of loneliness.
The quiet deepens
into a depressing silence, the calm is replaced by passions
only temporarily subdued, and the cheery friendship is ex­
changed for rigid family ties and more serious, adult at­
The background is unusually appropriate, for it
is as melancholy and oppressive as the theme of the story.
It is in all particulars a proper set for a play of hatred
and revenge.
The Swabian Black Forest is literally black, save
where the winter snow is heavy on the. branches of the
12 Ibid., p. 49.
huge trees and lies in drifts beneath them, covering
the soft carpet of fir needles to the depth of many
feet. The landscape is extremely melancholy and in
many parts is absolutely monotonous. At intervals of
several miles the rock juts suddenly out of the forest,
generally at places where the Nagold, more a torrent
than a river, makes a sharp bend. Many of these steep
and stony promontories are crowned by ancient strongholds, chiefly in ruins, though a very few are still
in repair and are inhabited by their owners. The
name of Griefenstein will not be found on any map of
the district, but those who know that wild and unfre­
quented 'country will recognize the spot. The tumbling •
stream turns upon itself at a sharp angle, swirling • .
round the base of a precipitous and wedge-like cliff.
So steep are the sides that they who chose the summit
for a fortress saw no need of building any protection,
save one gigantic wall which bestrides the wedge of
rock, thus cutting off a triangular platform, between
the massive bulwark and the two precipices that met at
the apex of the figure. This single fortification is
a solid piece of masonry, enormously thick and of great
height; its two extremities being surmounted by pointed
towers, connected by a covered walk along the top of
the wall, which, even at that height, is fully six feet
wide and nearly a hundred in length. This was the ram­
part behind which the Griefensteins had dwelt in se­
curity through many, generations, in the stormy days of
the robber barons.1 3
Even young Grief*s days at the University in Schwarzburg, although they are happy and contented days— even these,
are shadowed with the dark and somber hues of his own forest
The swift river that ran between overhanging build­
ings,. and beneath old bridges that were carved with
armorial bearings and decorated with the rare ironwork
of cunning smiths, famous long ago, bore in its breast
the legends of his own forest home, and was impersonated
13 F. Marion Crawford, Griefenstein (Hew York: The
Macmillan Company, 1889) pp. 6-7.
in many a verse he had learned to sing with his com­
rades. The shady nooks and corners, the turns in the
crooked streets, the dark archways of old inns, the
swinging signs with their rich deep colour and Gothic
characters, the protecting balconies, glazed with round
bulls’ eyes of blown glass set in heavy lead, .the mar­
vellously wrought weathercocks of iron and gold on the
corners of the houses, every outward detail of the
time-honoured and time-mellowed town spoke to his heart
in accents he not only understood but loved.^
The infinite variety of Crawford’s scenes is well
illustrated by the contrast between his background of Ger­
many and that of Spain.
As one expects of Spanish tales,
there is a great deal of colour in In The Palace Of The
Even through a misty November afternoon, the re­
turning Spanish troops make a gay entrance as they enter
the palace gates seeking their king, Philip of Spain.
At first the high-pitched clarions had sent their call
to the window, but now the shrill trumpets made rich
harmonies to the melody, and the deep brass horns gave
the marching time to the rest, in short full blasts
that set the whole air shaking as with little peals of
thunder. Below, the mounted officers gave orders, ex­
changed short phrases, cantered to their places, and
came back again to make some final arrangement a mo- ment later— their splendid gold-inlaid corslets and the
rich caparisons of their horses looking like great
pieces of jewelry that moved hither and thither in the
thin grey mist, while the dark red and yellow uniforms
of the household guards surrounded the square on three
sides with broad bands of colour.
There is an artistic consistency in the way in which
Cravirford returns again and again to the' colour of each
14 Ifria.. p. 74.
15 P. Marion Crawford, In The Palace of the King
(New York: The Macmillan Company, 1900) p . 13.
Just as the German forests meant darkness and shad­
ow to him, so Spain means colour, light, and shining jewels.
The following paragraph is typical of many.
It forms a
portion of the description of the great throne room of
Philip of Spain.
Seen from the high gallery above the arch of the
great entrance the hall was a golden cauldron full of
rich hues that intermingled in streams, and made slow
eddies with deep shadows, and then little waves of
light that turned upon themselves, as the colours thrown
into the dyeing vat slowly seethe and mix together in
rivulets of dark blue and crimson, and of splendid pur­
ple that seems to turn to black in places and then is
suddenly shot through with flashes of golden and opal­
escent light. Here and there also a silvery gleam
flashed in the darker surface, like a pearl in wine, for
a few of the court ladies were dressed all in white,
with silver and many pearls, and diamonds that shed
little rays of their own.^6
As Mary Crawford Fraser has already related, Marion
Crawford actually went to Prague and learned the Bohemian
language before he wrote The Witch of P r a g u e 7
Some of the
mysterious power behind this great city that he felt pene­
trates the pages of the novel and is symbolic of the .occult ’ gifts of the witch heroine, Unorna.
The silence of this
populous city is suggestive of hidden activities, of intrigues,
and of plots as yet unfathomed.
Here the novelist openly de­
scribes the capital city, its weather, its seasons, the
16 Ifrid., p. 96.
17 Cf. p. 11.
throngs in its streets.
Winter in Prague is but one long, melancholy dream,
broken sometimes at noon by an hour of sunshine, by an
intermittent visitation of reality, by the shock and
glare of a little broad daylight. . . . And yet these
same dusky streets are thronged with a moving multi­
tude, are traversed ever by ceaseless streams of men
and women, flowing onward, silently, swiftly, eagerly.
The very beggars do not speak above a whisper, the very
dogs are dumb. The stillness of all voices leaves noth­
ing for the perception of the hearing save the dull
tread of many thousand feet and the rough- rattle of an
occasional carriage. „ . .
And yet Prague is a great city, the capital of the
Bohemian crownland, the centre of a not unimportant
nation, the focus in which are concentrated the hottest,
if not the brightest, rays from the fire of regeneration
kindled within the last half century by the Slavonic
race. ■ There is an ardent furnace of life hidden beneath
the crust of ashes: there is a wonderful language behind
that national silence.18
Here is an absolute contrast to colourful Spain.
consistent dull, monotonous grey of the winter and the eversilence of the streets become almost too oppressive.
definiteness of physical description, the casual use of
foreign names -noticed in the scenes of Rome contribute to
the reality of Prague.'
The- snow lay heavily on all the rolling moorland about Prague, covering everything up to the ^.tes of the
black city, and within, all things were as hard and dark
and frozen as ever. The sun was still sun, no doubt,
high above the mist and the gloom which he had no power
to pierce, but no man could say that he had seen him in
that month. At long intervals, indeed, a faint rose-
18 F. Marion Crawford. The Witch of Prague (New York:
Macmillan and Company, 1890) pp. 27-29.
coloured glow touched the high walls of the Hradschin.
and transfigured for an instant the short spires of the
unfinished cathedral, hundreds of feet above the ice- bound river and the sepulchral capital; sometimes, in
the dim afternoons, a little gold filtered through the
heavy air and tinged the snow steeples of the Teyn
Kirche, and yellowed the stately tower of the town hall;
but that was all, so far as the moving throngs of silent
beings that filled the streets could see.19
The scenes of Griefenstein, In the Palace of the
King, and The Witch of Prague are highly romantic, but that
of Zoroaster is the most fantastic,
Persia is represented
in all the luxury, extravagance and lavish detail that is
included even now in the connotation of the word, Persia.
The historical background is important to the story, and
Darius* ascent to the throne and the death of Daniel, the
prophet, are accurately related.
appealed to.
The senses are continually-
All the stage props necessary to a Persian
banquet scene are present in the opening paragraph— golden
goblets, precious jade, rare fruits and flowers and spices,
and overlooking the great banquet hall a vast statue of the
former king.
On his head the head-dress of thrice royal supremacy,
in his right hand, and his left the sceptre of power and
the winged ?/heel of immortality and life, beneath his
feet the bowed necks of prostrate captives;— so sat the
kingly presence of great Nebuchadnezzar, as waiting to
see what should come to pass upon his son; and the per­
fume of the flowers and the fruits and the rich wine
19 I b i d . . P. 160.
came up to his mighty nostrils, and he seemed to smile
there in the evening sunlight, half in satisfaction,
half in scorn.20
Most important of all, perhaps, in the background of
Zoroaster is the deeply religious atmosphere which pervades
all its pages.
The religion is not Christianity, but a
pagan mysticism that controls the figures in the story and
throws a mantel of unreality over the deeds of the tale.
The most spiritual figure is Zoroaster, and his deeds are
more magic than miracle, as the following illustrates.
When the brazier was gone, and the coals were scat­
tered out upon the pavement, and the priests had trod­
den out the fire with their leathern shoes, Zoroaster
went to the black marble altar, and faced the east,
looking toward the stone mortar at the end.. He laid
his long, thin hands upon the flat surface and drew
them slowly together; and, in the sight of the priests
a light sprang up softly between his fingers; gradual­
ly at first, then higher and higher, till it stood
like a blazing spear-head in the midst, emitting a
calm, white effulgence that darkened the lamps over­
head and shed an unearthly whiteness on Zoroaster’s
white face.
And upon the place which had been the scene of such
frenzy and fury and drunkenness, there descended a '
peace as holy and calm as the quiet flame that burned
without fuel upon the black marble stone in the midst.21
By contrast with his novels of foreign setting, *
Marion Crawford’s American novels are, for the most part,
F. Marion Crawford, Zoroaster (New York: Macmillan
and Company, 1885) pp. 1-S.
^ Ibid., pp. 221-23.
lacking in atmosphere or background.
These novels are
shorter and so devote less space to pure description.
might be called "lighter” novels, that is, more pure narra­
tive with less attention paid to the influences such as
history, law, religion and so on.
Also many of the so-
called American novels take place outside of America— in
Europe or en route East from New York.
Katherine Lauder­
dale and its sequel The Ralstons both have their settings
in New York and are obviously American novels.
Just as A
Tale of a Lonely Parish was definitely English although
there was little of the English landscape described and
still less of England, the country, mentioned, so these
novels are American because the people think, talk, and
act like Americans and not because American government or
customs, as such, ever intrude.
The very short novel,
Marion Darche, is one of the few in which an American city
is significant.
In this New York society is openly describ­
ed and even-contrasted with European.
Among the many peculiarities which contribute to
make New York unlike other cities is the construction
of what may be called its social map. . . . What calls
itself society everywhere else calls itself society
in New York also, but whereas in European cities one
instinctively speaks of the social scale, one familiar
with New York people will be much more inclined to
speak of the social map. . . . In London or Paris, for
instance, ambitious persons are spoken of as climbing,
in New York it would be more correct to speak of them
as migrating or attempting to migrate from one social
field into the next. It is impossible to imagine
fields real or metaphysical yielding more different
growths under the same sky.22
Other than as a social map New York, itself, does
not enter into the story.
There is one pathetic attempt to
introduce the reader to the feeling of spring in New York.
The windows of the library were open, and a soft,
southeasterly breeze was blowing up from the square
bringing a breath of coming summer from the park leaves.
Those who love New York, even to the smell of its mud,
know the strange charm of its days and evenings in late
spring. Like the charm of woman, the charm of great
cities can never be explained by those who feel it to
those who do not.23
With this half-hearted attempt to romanticize the great
American city, Crawford stops.
In An American Politician, as in Marion Darche, the
locale, which in this case is Boston, is unobtrusive.
way of introduction, however, the author characterizes Mrs.
Sam Wyndham as a typical Boston aristocrat and in this
manner imparts a good deal about Boston people and Boston
fragments like the following -are informing.
Nevertheless, Mrs. Sam Wyndham held a position in
Boston which Boston acknowledged, and which Boston
insisted that foreigners such as New Yorkers, Phila­
delphians and the like, should acknowledge also in
that spirit of reverence which is justly due to a
descent on both sides from several signers of the
Declaration of Independence, and to the wife of one
22 P. Marion Crawford, Marion Darche (New York: Mac­
millan and Company, 1893) pp. 1-2.
23 Ibid., p. 186.
of the ruling financial spirits of the aristocratic
.part of Boston business.
For the rest, Mrs. Sam led a life very much like the
lives of many rich .Americans, • She went abroad frequent­
ly, wandered about the continent with her husband, went
to Egypt and Algiers, stayed in-England, where she hada good many friends, avoided her countrymen and country­
women when away from home, and did her duty in the so­
cial state to which she was called in Boston. She read
the books of the period, and generally pronounced them
ridiculous; she believed in her husband’s politics, and
aristocratically approved the way in which he abstained
from putting theory into practice, from voting, and in
a general way from dirtying his fingers with anything
so corrupt as government, or so despicable as elections;
she understood. Boston business to some extent, and
called it finance, but she despised the New York stock
market and denounced its doings as gambling. She made
fine distinctions, but she was a woman of sense, and was
generally more likely to be right than wrong when she
had.a definite opinion or expressed a definite dislike.
Her religious views were simple and unobtrusive, and
never changed.24
It can be said that Crawford’s novels may be classi­
fied according to national background very successfully,
for in each novel, the nationality of the characters is
very definite. With the exception of some American novels,
the country or city and its attendant climate, geography,
customs, language and laws exerts a potent influence upon
the story.
In some of the novels, the historical background
is important as well.
The influence of these different
backgrounds tends naturally to group the Roman or Italian,
F. Marion Crawford, An American Politician (New
York: Macmillan and Company, 1884) pp. 8-9.
the New York or American novels and also to isolate those
stories which singly represent a country.
A second method of classification for the novels has
"been suggested by W. P. Trent in an article entitled "Mr.
Crawford’s Novels."
This method is still based primarily
on background, but it makes an additional distinction.
Trent explains it in this way:
Still it would seem that nearly all his novels can be
grouped as either cosmopolitan or national. Under the
first head will come those in which the characters, of
various nationalities, change their habitat according
to their own or the author’s convenience, such as Paul
Patoff, or in which a majority of the characters are
foreign to the country they are residing in throughout
the course of-the narrative, such as Mr. Isaacs. Un­
der the second head will come those in which a majority
of the characters are inhabitants of the country in
which the scene is laid, such as Saracinesca, Griefen­
stein, and Marion Darche.
By consulting Table II on pages 36 to 38, one may
see how a tabulation of such a classification results,
all the novels only twelve are cosmopolitan, while the re­
maining thirty-one are national.
This division merely"
segregates a dozen of those novels whose backgrounds vary
or whose characters are not inhabitants of the country in
which the story takes place and reclasses them according
to both national background and the nationality of the
The grouping of the national novels is the
25 w. P. Trent, "Mr. Crawford’s Novels," The Sewanee
Review, S :242,(February 1894.)
English people at Rome
1884 To Leeward
English people at Amalfi in Compania
1895 Adam Johnstone's Son
English people at Sorrento
1888 With The Immortals
American people at Paris and Versailles
1905 Fair Margaret
American people at London
1908 The Primadorma
1908 The Diva's Ruby
A Swede, long resident in Germany, at New York
1883 Dr. Claudius
Russian people in Germany
1890 The Cigarette-Maker*s Romance
Arabs, Jews, and other foreigners at Prague
1891 The Witch of Prague
English people in India
1882 Mr. Isaacs
Constantinople ,
A Russian and other foreigners at Constantinople
1889 Paul Patoff
TABLE II (continued)
American people at Lucerne
1897 A Rose of Yesterday
En route to Jerusalem
English, French and Norman peoples en route to
1895 Via Crucis
1884 A Roman Singer
1885 Marzio1s Crucifix
1887 Saracinesca
1889 Sant * ilar io
1892 Don Orsino
1893 The Children of the King
1892 Pietro Glhisleri
1895 Taquisara
1895 Casa Braccio
1896 Corleone
1901 Marietta
1902 Cecilia
1903 Heart of Rome
1904 .Whosoever Shall Offend
1906 X' Lady of Rome
1909 The White Sister
1909 Stradella
An American Politician
The Three Fates
Marion Darche
Katherine Lauderdale
Love In Idleness
The Ralstons
The Little' "City of Hope
A Tale of a Lonely Parish
The Undesirable Governess
TABLE II (continued)
In The Palace of the King
1907 Arethusa
same as in the first classification in Table- I.26
value of recognizing this classification lies in distin­
guishing between such novels as To Leeward which is a story
of English people at Rome and such volumes as Saracinesca
whose characters are natives of Rome.
About half of Crawford’s novels fall into a third
classification which comprises the serial novels.
series include two trilogies, the most famous of which is
the Saracinesca trilogy, Saracinesca (1887), Sant’ Ilario
(1889), and Don Orsino (1892).
The other trilogy is Ameri­
can and, in reality, is a three volume novel rather than a
true trilogy.
It includes Fair Margaret (1905), The Prima-
donna (1905), and The Diva's Ruby (1908).
The popular Saracinesca trilogy was later extended,
and at length almost all the Roman novels— all but Cecilia,
Heart of Rome, and Whosoever Shall Offend— -retained at
least one of the characters from this original series.
Some, such as Pietro Ghisleri, have only a few minor char­ Spicca, the melancholy duelist, and San Giacinto,
the giant relative of the Saracinesca.
Others actually
have some of the members of this Roman family as characters.
For example, in Corleone (1896) both Ippolito Saracinesca
and Don Orsino take part as well as San G-iacinto and the
old Saracinesca enemy, Ugo Del Ferice.
Ippolito Saracines­
ca, one of the younger sons and a Catholic priest, is the
26 Cf., Table I, pp. 17-19.
sole link between A Lady of Rome (1906) and The White Sis­
ter (1909) and the Saracinesca books.
These last two nov­
els were written much later than the trilogy and have no
connection other than their general Roman background and
this single minor character.
Of the Roman books, there are
nine novels which are related by having at least one common
In addition to the Fair Margaret trilogy, there is a
second American series of two, Katherine Lauderdale (1893)
and the sequel, The Ralstons (1894).
Many authors have
written numerous series novels, and not a few, like Marion
Crawford, have introduced a favorite character into many
otherwise unrelated novels.
There would be nothing remark­
able about Crawford's Roman and American series were it not
for his curious manner of bringing into the American series
a character from the Roman group and vice versa,. Paul
Griggs, the journalist, and 'Walter Crowdie, the. painter,
appeared first as active characters in Katherine Lauderdale,
and, other than their respective occupations, very little
was known about them.
In Casa Braccio, a Roman story pub­
lished the following year, Paul Griggs was again introduced,
but at an earlier point in his career.
In this story he
loved a girl who was half English and half Italian.
though the girl died, she lived long enough to give birth
to their illegitimate son whom they named Walter Crowdie.
This father and son also appeared in the Lauderdale sequel,
The Ralstons. Strangely:enough Katherine LauderdaleTs
sister, Mrs. Charlotte Slayback, who figured in both Kath­
erine Lauderdale and The Ralstons, reappeared with a
daughter in Corleone , an Italian novel of a still later
date which dealt mainly with the Saracinesca family and with
no other American characters. Mrs. Slayback and her daugh­
ter are very minor characters in all these novels.
versatile Paul Griggs, however, reappeared as an important
character in several other novels.
He was first heard from
as the raconteur of CrawfordTs first novel, Mr. Isaacs
(1882), again as the story-teller of Paul Patoff (1887),
and finally as a friend of the great soprano in The Primadonna and The DivaTs Ruby, the last volumes of the American
Such an intricate relationship as between the
Italian and American novels is rare.
Table III on page 42
attempts to clarify this relationship.
There is still another group of novels which forms
a separate and fourth classification, the mystery novels.
None of these is a mystery novel in the sense of a detec­
tive novel.
The term is used here to indicate a large
class of novels in which some mysterious circumstance or
event is important to the construction of the plot.
der this general head of mystery novels, about four smal­
ler groups may be distinguished: those in which a murder
The Italian Novels
Sant1 Ilario
Don Orsino
Pietro Ghisleri
The White Sister
Casa Braccio
Paul Patoff
(as raconteur)
Mr. Isaacs
(as raconteur)
f-------------------f TJ
H -
s j
The American Novels
Fair Margaret
The PrimadonnaT
The D i v a ^ R u b y ,
Katherine Lauderdale
The Ralstons
occurs-, those dealing with secret formulas, letters, or
treasures, those involving mysterious or confused identity,
and those which deal with the supernatural.
In the first group there are more than one would ex­
pect to find in the romantic hooks of an author like Craw­
ford, for murder is usually occasion for tragedy.
are twelve novels in which a murder figures or is at least
suspected or plotted.
Jour novels, all Italian, involve
secret formulas, letters, or treasures, and there are six
whose plots are constructed around mysterious or confused
identity of one of the characters.
with the supernatural.
Five other novels deal
These will he analyzed more care­
fully in a later chapter, hut Table IV on page 44 lists
the.groups of novels just mentioned.
Several minor classifications may still be indicated,
hut they are based on points of construction of of literary
creed and so will be discussed more fully in later chapters.
These groups, however, should he mentioned here.
On the
whole, Marion Crawford’s novels are distinguished for their
narrative technique, for their swiftly moving plots.
three novels which haye very little plot are naturally
grouped by themselves.
These are With The Immortals (1888),
The Little City of Hope (1907), and The Three Fates (1892).
For .this same emphasis on plot construction, those novels
which stress any other point and so depart from the author’s
I Novels in which a murder figures
To Leeward
Paul Pato?f
The Children of The King
Pietro Ghisleri
Casa Braceio
Taquisara Volume I
The Ralstons
in The' Palace of The King
Whosoever Shall Offend
The Primadonna
II Novels involving secret formulas, letters or treasures
Pietro Ghisleri
Heart of Rome
A Lady of Rome
III Novels constructed around a problem of mysterious or
confused identity
Dr, Claudius
Santf Ilario
Adam Johnstonefs Son
The Undesirable Governess
IV Novels dealing with the supernatural
Mr, Isaacs
With The Immortals
The Witch of Prague
.professed ereed form another distinct group.
This group
includes one which is almost a "purpose” novel, An .
Politician (1884), one moral novel, The Little City of Hope
(1907), and one novel which emphasizes character develop­
ment over plot, The Three Fates.
The last separate group
comprises the short novels and novelettes which are ten in
number and which include: Zoroaster (1885), Marzio*s Cruci­
fix (1885), The Cigarette-Maker’s Romance (1890), Khaled
(1891), Marion Darche (1893), Love In Idleness (1894), A
Rose of Yesterday (1897), The Little City of Hope (1907),
Arethusa (1907), and The Undesirable Governess (1909).
Hereafter in this thesis, all reference to the novels will
be to the full length novels only and will exclude these
last ten, which will be considered separately in Chapter V.
To summarize the classification of the novels two
major divisions are possible.
The most obvious and most in­
clusive of these is that according to national background.
It shows at the same time the wide range of settings used
by.Marion Crawford and the great number of novels whose
scenes are laid in Italy.
The second classification is
based upon the first and serves to separate the Cosmopoli­
tan novels from the National ones, or to distinguish those
novels whose characters are natives of the scene from those
novels in which the characters are merely visiting the
country depicted.
The other classifications deal with
small groups of novels.
The third distinguishes the series
novels and points out a few strange inter-relationships.
The fourth picks out the mystery novels and groups them ac­
cording to the type of mystery involved.
The fifth men­
tioned several points of structure which claim a few novels
as examples.
And the last one lists those works of fiction
which are not long enough to be real novels, but are in
reality novelettes and hereafter will not be included under
the general term, novel.
The value of such classifications lies in the fact
that they break up the very large number of Crawford’s
novels into groups small enough to bear more careful analy­
sis on points of structure to be discussed in a later chap­
A scarcely less important result is that such divi­
sions discover interesting facts, such as the relatively
large number of novels whose setting is Italy, or the in­
terest shown by the author in the mystery element of novel
The tables resulting from these classifications
have a value of their own in that they give, measurable and
comparable information that may be more fully grasped in
a hasty glance.
Fortunately for those who read the Crawford novels,
the author wrote a monograph to explain just what his in­
tentions were in writing the movels.
This small book of
just over one hundred pages, entitled The Hovel: What It
Is, was published in 1893, eleven years after Crawford’s
initial publication of Mr. Isaacs and sixteen years before
his death.
It might, therefore, be supposed that his lit­
erary creed as avowed early in his career might have under­
gone serious changes, but, as it happened, the fundamental
ideas which he professed in the monograph in 1893 were
just as scrupulously carried out in the publication of his
last novels.
From about 1870 until after 1909, the year of Marion
Crawford's death, there were such conflicting and antagonis­
tic schools of thought that it is not surprising Crawford
took a definite stand and allied himself with the pure ro­
Contending with this romantic school was one
group that wrote to teach a moral in novels such as Rev. E.
P. Roe’s Barriers Burned Away (187B).
The problem or pur­
pose novelist opposed the romanticists and clamored for the
truth, unembellished and absolute.
Hamlin Garland's Grum­
bling Idols (1894) and Frank Norris* The Responsibilities
of the Novelist (1903) contended that America was starving
for truth in fiction.1
One of the early purpose novels
was Margaretta W. DelandTs John Ward, Preacher (1888) which
dealt with the redemption of the soul.
Realism and truth
were paramount in William Dean Howells’ The Quality of
Mercy (1892) and The Traveler From Altruria (1894).
during the last quarter of his life, bitterly opposed the
romanticism of such authors as Crawford.
In 1896 Stephen
Crane, who championed the naturalism movement, published
Maggie, a Girl of the Streets, a true but brutal story of a
social problem.
At the turn of the century, Frank Norris
powerfully depicted the industrial problem in The Octopus
(1901) and The Pit (1902).
In triumphant opposition were
the romances— some historical and others purely fictional—
of Paul Leicester Ford, Mary Johnston, Winston Churchill,
Charles Major, Booth Tarkington, Silas Weir Mitchell, Fran­
cis Marion Crawford, and many others.
The opposition of
these romances was triumphant because, in spite of the boast
of the realists that they had what the readers craved, book
sales proved that romance was the popular form.
During the
eighties it was the pure romance and after 1900 it was the
historical romance that dominated.
Cf., Fred Lewis Pattee, American Literature Since
1870, pp. 396-97.
2 Ibid., p. 403.
Remembering this final, popular triumph of romanti­
cism and keeping in mind the fact that the Dean of American
Letters, William Dean Howells, was championing the cause of
realism, The Hovel: What It Is becomes more significant.
In this small critique, the author immediately sets about
defining a novel as an "intellectual, artistic luxury."3
This definition is one
. . . which can be made to include a good deal, but
which is, in reality, a closer one than it appears to
be at first sight. No one, I think, will deny that
it covers three essentials of the novel as it should
be, of a story or romance, which in itself and in the
manner of telling it shall appeal to the intellect,
shall satisfy the requirements of art, and shall be a
luxury, in that It can be of no use to a man when he
is at work, but may conduce to peace of mind and de­
lectation during his hours of idleness.4
From this definition he proceeds to the purpose of the novel
and then from this to the annihilation of such a thing as a
Probably no one denies that the first object of the
novel Is to amuse and interest the reader. But it is
often said that the novel should instruct as well as
afford amusement, and the "novel-with-a-purpose" is
the realization of this idea. . . . The purpose-novel,
then, proposes to serve two masters, besides procuring
a reasonable amount of bread and butter for its writer
and publisher. It proposes to escape from my defini­
tion of the novel in general and make itself an "in­
tellectual moral lesson" Instead of an "intellectual
artistic luxury." It constitutes a violation of the
unwritten contract tacitly existing between writer and
3 F. Marion Crawford, The Novel: What It Is, p. 8.
4 Ibid., p. 11.
Again he denounces the purpose novel and declares;
. . . it has no right to tell us what its writer thinks
about the relations of labour and capital, nor to set
up what-the author conceives to be a nice, original,
easy scheme of salvation, any more than it has a right
to take for its theme the relative merits of the "brown
tick car" and the "storage system," temperance, vivi­
section, or the "Ideal Man" of Confucius, lessons,
lectures, discussions, sermons, and didactics generally
belong to institutions set apart for especial purposes
and carefully avoided after a certain age, by the
majority of those who wish to be amused.6
Over and over Crawford insists that the real novel
is a play; a purpose-novel, then, is a miracle-play, for
"nothing short of a miracle could put a purpose-novel on
It is clear that his credo included no place for
the novel whose goal was to teach, to reason, or to argue.
Ethics, problems of sociology, of international relations •
— not one of these can justify the existence of a novel.
These, he maintains, are topics for essays, for lectures,
and for treatises.
Novelists are neither preachers, pro­
fessors, nor business men.
They are only public amusers.8
The novel, then, is to amuse or entertain the public.
is it to accomplish this?
8 Ihid., pp. 8-10.
6 Ibid*> PP- 16-17.
7 Ibid., p. 27.
, P* 22.
What must it do?
Crawford gives
explicit instructions.
It must deal chiefly with love; for in that passion all
men and women are most generally interested, either for
its present reality, or for memories that soften the
coldly vivid recollection of an active past, and shed
a tender light in the dark places of tygone struggles,
or because the hope of it brightens and gladdens the
path of future dreams. The perfect novel must be clean
and sweet, for it must tell its tale to all mankind, to
saint and sinner, pure and defiled, Just and unjust, It
must have the magic to fascinate and the power to hold,
its reader from first to last. Its realism must be real,
of three dimensions, not flat and photographic; its ro­
mance must be of the human heart and truly human, that
is, of the earth as we all have found it; its idealism
must be transcendent, not measured to man’s mind, but
proportioned to man's soul. Its religion must be of
such grand and universal span as to hold all worthy re­
ligions in itself.9
Perhaps that is, after all, the best ansvrer to the ques­
tion, "What is a novel?" It is, or ought to be, a
pocket-stage. Scenery, light, shade, the actors them­
selves, are made of words, and nothing but words, more
or less cleverly put together. A play is good in pro­
portion as it represents the more dramatic, passionate,
romantic, or humorous sides of real life. A novel is
excellent according to the degree in which it produces
the illusions of a good play— but it must not be for­
gotten that the play is the thing, and that illusion
is eminently necessary to success.10
The metaphor of the pocket-stage proved to be a clev­
er one and has been quoted by almost every literary critic
who ever considered Marion Crawford.
It is exceptionally
apropos of his own novels, which, on the whole, are singu­
larly lacking in expository discussion and which proceed with
9 Ibid., p. 43.
10 Ibid., p. 49.
direct narration.
ideal novel.
A pure romance, then, is Crawfordrs
To the historical romance, Crawford grants a
separate place.
The historical setting has probably been
selected, Crawford thinks, because it is of special interest
to the author.1-*- Very practically he states:
The average novelist likes to make use of historical
facts principally because he knows that his critics
cannot impugn the possibility of the situation he uses,
while the latter are so strong in themselves as to
bear the burden of the writer’s faults with compara­
tive ease, if his talents are not remarkable.12
In addition to this, the fact that an a priori impression
of interest exists in the reader’s mind favors an author’s
sensational treatment.
There is, however, one very impor­
tant proviso in the case of the historical novel and that
It must be good. The ordinary story may be bad from
an artistic point of view, and may nevertheless succeed
as a literary speculation, but in treating of history,
where the personages are great and the events are of
stupendous import, the distance which separates the
sublime from the ridiculous is even less . . . On the
whole, therefore, the historical novel is always likely
to prove more dangerous to the writer than to the read­
er, since, when it fails to be a great book, it will
in all likelihood be an absurd one.1 3 ’
This last danger may explain why Crawford’s histori­
cal novels are limited to only two, Via Crucis and In The
11 Ibid., p. 68.
12 Ibid,, P. 71.
13 I M d ., pp. 71-73.
Palace Of The King. Many of the other novels are based on
historical facts, but these two are the only ones which
attempt to utilize actual important historical characters
who, if not superbly treated, might become ridiculous and
so make the novel absurd.
Crawfordfs whole treatment of the controversy between
the realists and the romanticists is light and rather scorn­
He speaks of it as an issue since Plato’s day and as
one not likely to be settled ever.
He accepts the defini­
tions that the realist is he who shows man as he is and
that the romanticist is he who shows man as he should be.l^
On the basis of these definitions, he identifies himself
with the romanticists and says:
For my part, I believe that more good can be done by
showing men what they may be, ought to be, or can be,
than by describing their greatest weaknesses with the
highest art.15
Then he questions:
Why must a novel-writer be either a "realist” or a "ro­
manticist”? And, if the latter, why "romanticist” any
more than "realist”? Why should a good novel not com­
bine romance and- reality in just proportions? Is there
any reason to suppose that one element must necessarily
shut out the other? Both are included in everyday life,
which would be a very dull affair without something of
the one, and would be decidedly incoherent without
something of the other. Art, if it is ”to create and
foster agreeable illusions,” as Hapoleon is believed to
14 15la *> P. 76.
15 Ibid*> P* 77*
have said of it, should represent the real, but in such
a way as to make it seem more agreeable and interesting
than it actually is.16
After about eighty pages of not very profound analy­
sis of just-what the novel is, Crawford makes several per­
tinent observations concerning the qualities of a good novel.
One of these is that "the foundation of good fiction and
good poetry seems to be ethic rather than aesthetic."1?
explains this by saying that all appeals to taste may be
nullified by changes in fashion while that "which speaks to
a man as man, independently of his fashions, his habits, and
his tastes, must live and find a hearing with humanity so
long as humanity is human.”1®
"Sentiment heightens the value of works of fiction
as sentimentality lowers it. 'Sentimentality is to sentiment
as sensuality is to passion,” Crawford w r o t e . H e attempts
further to prove this by insisting for this reason the Ger­
man nation, which is sentimental rather than romantic, pro­
duces great plays but not great novels.
observation was worthwhile.
Here the mere
How often he slipped, if he
ever did, from the romantic group of writers into the senti-
16 IMA., p. 45.
17 Ibicl., p. 86.
18 Loc. oit.
19 Ibid., p. 95.
mental group will be interesting to ascertain.
As a conclusion to this monograph, Marion Crawford
advises the author to turn his attention from the outward
distinctions of race, of creed, and of age in order that he
may concentrate his ability in truthfully portraying man’s
heart which is eternally unchanged.
To conclude, he writes:
Sentiment, sentimentality, taste, fashion, daily speech,
acquired science, and transmitted tradition cleanse, soil,
model, or deface the changing shell of mutable mortality,
and nothing which appeals to that shell alone can have
permanent life; but the prime impulses of the heart are,
broadly speaking, the same in all ages and almost in all
races. The brave man’s beats as strongly in battle to­
day, the coward’s stands as.suddenly still in the face
of danger, boys and. girls still play with love, men and
women still suffer for love, and the old still warn
youth and manhood against love’s snares— all that and
much more comes from the depths not reached by civiliza­
tion nor changed by fashions. Those deep waters the
real novel must fathom, bringing up such treasures as
lie far below and out of sight— out of reach of the in­
dividual in most cases— until the art of the story-teller
makes him feel that they are or might be his. Caesar
commanded his legionaries to strike at the face. Humani­
ty, the novelist’s master bids him strike only at the
The Hovel: What It Is_ is not and does not pretend to
be a technical discussion of what constitutes a novel; it
merely states a few relatively simple facts that Marion Craw­
ford deemed essential to a good novel: that its sole object
must be to amuse, not to teach, to argue, or to explain;
that it must deal primarily with love, mankind’s most common
2® Ibid., p. 95.
interest; that it must-be realistic enough to be coherent
and romantic enough to depict life and love as enjoyable
and interesting; and that it must appeal to the feelings of heart because among changing opinions, theories, and
customs the heart of man is alone unchanged.
the necessary qualities of a novel.
These were
To what extent they
characterize his own novels and how conscientious Crawford
was in following his creed will appear in the succeeding.
In the preceding chapter which reviewed the quali­
ties Marion Crawford considered paramount in the construc­
tion of a'good novel, no mention was made of such things
as character development, philosophies, or social and politi­
cal influences.
These were not to he the problems of the
What we are accustomed to speak of as the signi­
ficance of a novel, its fourth dimension— this is entirely
lacking in the Crawford novels. Marion Crawford was a sto­
ry teller; consequently the emphasis in all the novels is
upon plot.
Seven of the best novels have been chosen for
the purpose of plot analysis.
These— M r . Isaacs (1882),
Saracinesca (1887), Pietro Ghisleri (1892), Marietta (1901),
Cecilia (1902), The White Sister (1908), and Stradella
(1908)— which include the first and last novels published,
will be discussed from the point of view of plot structure
in order that one may recognize that general pattern ac­
cording to which these excellent stories were told.
It will' be remembered that Crawford applied the meta­
phor of the ’’pocket stage” to the novel, and it may well be
that he had in mind some of the first rules of the stage
when he began to tell his stories, for in almost every in­
stance and certainly in the case of the seven novels select­
ed, the time, the place, and the characters are given at
the outset.
All of these seven novels set the scene within
the first five pages.
The opening sentences of Saracinesca
Cecilia give both the place and the time as in the for­
mer which begins, "In the year 1865 Rome was still in a
great measure its old self."
In The White Sister the scene
is not set.until page five whereas Angela, the heroine, is
introduced on page two.
The order of introduction may be
considered reversed here, for in the other novels the scene
is given first.
Next, one of the main characters is intro­
Several pages further on a second main character is
brought in, and finally the plot commences.
All of these
things are accomplished within the first fifty pages of the
seven novels, within the first twenty-five pages of six of
them, and withingthe first ten pages of two of them.
following table shows the consistent order of these begin­
nings and the quite regular spacing between the events.
M r . Isaacs
Pietro Ghisleri
The White Sister
r" .... . Introduction of'
character character
p. 4
p. 46
p. 1
p. 14
p. *16
p. 21
p. 10
p. 9
P. 3
p. 7
p. 1
p. 24
p . 2
p . 5
p. 14
p. 1_____ p.
2____ p.
10______p. 12
-L- J— .J. ML— .I -1.1.J_L .1
In Mr. Isaacs there is an unusual number of pages
between the introduction of Mr. Isaacs on page seven and
that of the heroine, Katherine Westonhaugh, on page forty
because of the details of Mr. Isaacs’ interesting early
life as he relates them to the narrator of the novel.
these relations are over, however, it may be noted that the
heroine is introduced immediately and that the plot com­
mences only six pages later.
In Saracinesca more time
elapses before the characters are introduced than in any of
the other novels.
This is the result of a long introduc­
tory discussion of the Roman society of 1865.
Still the
scene is set, Corona, the Duchessa d ’Astardente, and Gio­
vanni Saracinesca are introduced, and the plot is underway
within the first twenty-one pages.
In Cecilia there are
two important characters, Lamberto Lamberti and Guido d ’Este
described in detail by contrasting their characters.
description begins on page three.
The conversation between
the two friends serves to relate indirectly their characters
their friendship for each other, and the peculiar circum­
stances in Guido d ’Este’s life which constitute the sub-plot
In this way the pages intervening between page three and
page twenty-seven, where Cecilia is introduced, are not idle
In general, it is a legitimate statement to say that
Crawford’s novels in the beginning, usually for the first
twenty-five pages, follow a definite pattern, by which they
set the scene (usually both time and place), introduce one
important character, describing him as to both his physical
appearance and his character, introduce a second important
player in the same manner, and actually start the main
After the plot really begins, Crawford’s story­
telling technique is very similarly applied in all novels.
Pietro G-hisleri is constructed more according to the rules
that literature insists upon for a fine play, that is, it
•has a definite turning point approximately midway in the
story (page 191), reaches a final climax on page 413 when
Ghisleri tells Laura that he loves her, and concludes six­
teen pages later after they have been married.
The other
six best novels are constantly built up to a single climax
with no turning point clearly defined.
The more compli­
cated plots have several crises, but the goal of the main
plot is never reached until the end.
In Saracinesca the
goal is attained or the climax reached on page 415, while
thirty-five more pages are used to settle the rather in­
volved minor plot and to dispose of the undesirable char­
acters. ' Guido’s forgiveness and consent to the marriage
of Cecilia and Lamberti mark the climax on page 416 of
Cecilia, which concludes on page 421.
In the four other
novels, ho?/ever, in Mr. Isaacs, Marietta, The White Sister,
and Stradella, the climax is not attained until the last
page of the novel.
In Marietta, the entire story may be
said to be built up to the last word "son” which old
Peroviero used to address Zorzi, thereby showing his con­
sent to Zorzi’s marriage with his daughter Marietta.
plan of structure which calls for a suspense sustained un­
til the very last page and word is definitely a story­
telling device applied to a novel.
important implication.
It carries with it one
It always implies a novel which is
all story and which is, therefore, finished whenever the
story is completed.
There are no morals to be drawn, no
conflicting forces to be reconciled after the story con­
Sach event, each character, and each conversation
has been important only in leading up to the climax of the
story; hence this climax is not only the climax of the
plot, but also the conclusion of the story and the end of
the novel.
From a novel built entirely around the story plot,
one weakness may naturally and easily result.
lar weakness is known as coincidence.
This particu­
In one sense all
plots are series of coincidences; the fact that the hero
and the heroine ever meet may be called a coincidence.
Such an occurrence is perfectly acceptable because it would
not be thought unusual if it happened in real life.
however, the plot depends in some measure upon a coincidence
which cannot be conceived of in the reader’s mind as ever
happening or as happening only once in a thousand possible
times, the reader, then, is justified in thinking that the
story is overdrawn; thus the plot, in losing its probabili­
ty, loses also its reality.
Although all of Crawford1s
stories are extraordinary and although the plots -of many are
certainly not likely
ever to take place in the lives of any
of us, yet they are,
for the most part, possible.
reader is willing to
imagine withCrawford that at
time and under those
circumstances suchevents and
sults might have occurred.
such re­
In several of the novels, how­
ever, portions of the plots depend upon coincidences whose
probability is not convincing.
One of the weakest of these
is that one which occurs in Marietta.
Beroviero leaves for
a journey which is to take at least two months.
While he
is gone, his villainous son, Giovanni, attempts to steal
the formulas which hold the secret of the great glassblower’s art.
But they have been well hidden, and Giovanni
searches in vain.
At length he determines to spade up the
garden in the hope of finding the formulas buried there.
Then without any explanation, Beroviero returns from his
journey many weeks sooner than he had expected and, of course,
surprises his son in the act of directing the servants to
spade up the entire garden.1
The glass-blower’s discovery
of his son’s villainy is important to the course of the plot,
1 Of., 31. Marion Crawford, Marietta, pp. 351-53
yet the author never attempts an explanation of this im­
probable coincidence.
A similar incident occurs in Corle­
one , Volume II, when Corona Saracinesca travels all the
way’down from Rome on the continent to Messina in Sicily
and arrives just a half hour before the death of the man
whom she sought to interview, just in time to hear him
make an all-important confession and disclosure. 2
It seems
impossible that a journey of such length and uncertainty
would be so perfectly timed.
Among all the novels there
are many coincidences which are not so grave as these two
because they are not so important to the plot.
chance consultation of the medical book which Adele had
formerly used leads up to the uncovering of Adele*s crime
in Pietro Ghisleri.
The fact that the Saracinesca and
d ’Astardente estates are adjacent is a convenient coinci­
dence in Saracinesca.
But coincidences such as these seem
sufficiently probable, and as they are harmless aids to
the author, they are forgiven him by the reader.
The one inexcusable fault in plot structure is that
of an actual mistake.
Although such faults are not proof
of poor writing, they are certainly proof of careless re­
reading and revision.
An actual mistake in plot occurs in
Cecilia, a book which in interest and originality excels
2 Of., P. Marion Crav^ford, Corleone, Volume II,
p . 351.
many of Crawford’s other novels.
This mistake occurs quite
early in the hook in the following manner: Cecilia and her
mother are paying a call at the palace of Princess Anatolie.
Several other callers are present, and in the course of the
conversation Cecilia mentions that she has been studying
philosophy at the Sorbonne during the past winter.
d ’Este also comes to call on the Princess that afternoon.
His appearance at the palace and his introduction to
Cecilia are described, and there the thread of the general
discussion is resumed.
The conversation turns next upon
the remodeling of the old Roman palace purchased by Cecilia
and her mother.
At length upon the Princess’ suggestion
Guido takes Cecilia for a stroll in the garden.
As they
talk Guido refers to Cecilia’s knowledge of philosophy and
of Nietzche.3
Cecilia was a newcomer to Rome and was so
young that she had yet to attend her first party; conse­
quently it is impossible that Guido should have known of
her philosophic studies.
The plot assumes that he was pres­
ent when she told her friends about her studies, but as a
matter of fact Guido had not yet arrived, and no further
mention of these studies was made after he joined the party.
A mistake of this kind is a somewhat serious fault because
it testifies to an inexcusable carelessness; however it is
3 Cf., F. Marion Crawford, Cecilia, pp. 30-40.
not so serious a mistake as it would be if it had affected
the course of the plot.
But even such careless mistakes,
if they occur in any number, should be condemned.
ately this one is the sole example in all of Crawford's
novels and stories.
With the exceptions of the several improbable coin­
cidences and the one mistake in plot sequence, Marion Craw­
ford's plot structures are excellent.
The most obvious
characteristic of the plots is that they are all based on
love stories.
As is the case of many plays, the outcome
may often be guessed almost from the beginning, but this
does not defeat the interest in the story.
Events follow
each other quickly.
No long discussions of irrelevant
material interrupt.
There are numerous lengthy conversa­
tions in a majority of the novels, but these are always for
the purpose of furthering the plot.
In most of the books
the most nabural sequence for telling a story is scrupu­
lously followed.
First the time and place are given; then
one of the important characters is introduced.
The situa­
tion is revealed and minor characters are presented in an
indirect manner.
A second important character is usually
made to appear shortly after the introduction of the first.
As soon as these necessities of plot— scene, main charac­
ters, and situation— have been properly taken care of, the
plot begins.
The story moves fast as one would expect it
to with minor crises and sub-plots providing suspense and
a certain amount of surprise at intervals.
The tale moves
in a direct line to a definite climax, after which it is
shortly concluded.
In the better novels the climax is
ouite near the end, and in some cases it is actually the
end or last page of the story.
The latter is true of Mr.
Isaacs, Marietta, The White Sister, and Stradella.
tendency of Crawford’s partially or entirely to omit the
conclusions from his stories developed an unusual charac­
teristic , that of notes which occur at the end of the
In not a single case does the note add anything
to the tale.
It would seem that the stories ended too
abruptly and that the author for this reason sought to
ease them down by this awkward method.
There are no less
than eight novels which are concluded in this way.^
ending of To Leeward tells incidentally what happens to
each of the characters who survive the heroine whose death
ends the story.
The note to Saracinesca promises a sequel.
Its opening sentence and the resume which follows are
typical of these concluding notes.
And so the curtain falls upon the first act. Gio­
vanni and Corona are happily married. Del Ferice is
safe across the frontier among his friends in Naples,
4 The eight novels are: To Leeward (1884), Saracines­
ca (1887), Don Orsino (1892), The Children of the King (1892),
Katherine Lauderdale (1893), The Ralstons (1893), Adam Johns­
tone’s Son (1895), Via Crucis (1898).
and Donna Tullia is waiting still for news of him, in
the last days of Lent, in the year 1866. To carry on
the tale from this point would be to enter upon a new
series of events more interesting, perhaps, than those
herein detailed, and of like importance in the history
of the Saracinesca family, but forming by their very
nature a distinct narrative— a second act to the drama,
if it may be so called. I am content if in the fore­
going pages I have so far acquainted the reader with
those characters which hereafter will play more impor­
tant parts, as to enable them to comprehend the story
of their subsequent lives, and In some measure to judge
their future by their past, regarding them as acquaint­
ances, if not sympathetic, yet worthy of some atten­
tion. *
The second paragraph of the note explains alittle of the
political background of the novel.
The note on Don Orsino states: "This is what I know
of young Orsino Saracinescafs life up to the present time."
It proceeds, then, to speculate as to what may happen to
Don Orsino and finally gives the reason for depicting the
very early years of this young man.
I If anyone cares to ask why I have thought it worth
the trouble to describe his early years so minutely,
I answer that the young man of the Transition Period
interests me. Perhaps I am singular in that. Orsino
Saracinesca is a fair type, I think, of his class at
his age. I have done my best to be just to him.6
The note to The Children of the King is very like
the others; it begins', "So I have told my tale" and con­
tinues to tell what happened to the other characters of
5 F. Marion Crawford, Saracinesca p. 449.
6 F. Marion Crawford, Don Orsino p. 448.
the story and to reason as to the justice of Ruggiero’s
murder and suicide.
A very long note concluding Katherine
Lauderdale raises various possibilities as to what may yet
take place and promises a sequel to settle these possibili­
The note to The Ralstons, Katherine Lauderdale’s
sequel, is also quite long; it adds nothing to the story,
however, merely commenting upon Katherine Lauderdale Ral­
ston’s character and upon the events which have taken place
in her unusual life.
was never written.
is a short one.
The note also promises a sequel which
The conclusion to Adam Johnstone’s Son
It might be called a bit of light philoso­
phy, but actually it says nothing.
It has quite obviously
been added because the story itself ends so abruptly.
Of all the eight, perhaps the only worthy note is
that of Via Crucis, for it finishes the history of the
Its Biblical style and rhythm seem to round out
the setting and to give it that sense of completeness so
necessary to a long novel.
The note concludes with the
following short paragraph:
Moreover, and last of all, he had learned and under­
stood that the cause of God lies not buried among stones
in any city, not even in the most holy city of all; for
the place of Christ’s suffering is in men’s sinful
hearts, and the glory of his resurrection is the saving
of a soul from death to everlasting life, in refresh­
ment and light and peace.7
7 F. Marion Crawford, Via Crucis, p. 396.
With, this last note to Via Crucis as the sole excep­
tion, it may be. said that the notes at the conclusions of
the novels are unnecessary and awkward.
In the cases of
Don Orsino, Katherine Xauderdale, The Ralstonst The Chil­
dren of The King, To Leeward, and Adam Johnstone’s Son,
the notes are an attempt to cover up a too abrupt ending.
These abrupt and possibly unsatisfactory endings, however,
are the exception to the regular pattern of Crawford’s
These six novels may be considered decidedly in­
ferior to most of Crawford’s work.
There are three more novels whose endings are weak,
not because of repetitive notes at the conclusion, but
because of the faulty structure within the story itself.
The first of these three novels is Paul Patoff.
The theme
of the book centers about Paul’s finding his brother Alex­
ander who has been lost.
Paul must solve this mystery in
order to clear his own name.
Another incentive is provided
in that he wishes to marry Hermione Carvel, but he hesitates
to do this until he has proved his own innocence.
At length,
about three-fourths of the way to the end of the book, Paul
does find Alexander and is able to prove that he had no
knowledge of his brother’s capture.
The story should be
complete here, but unfortunately a new problem begins, for
Hermione begins to fall in love with Alexander.
The author
is obliged to convict him of a cowardice before the story
may end happily for Paul at last.
This anti-climax is un­
The close of In The Palace of the King is anticlimactic too, but to a far less serious degree.
The real
climax of the story occurs on page 326 when Don John comes
to life after having been thought dead.
The tale proceeds
from here to the expected conclusion in which all things
are set right again.
After all the important characters
have been carefully accounted for, the author allows the
story to slide down by telling the reader the unfavorable
reactions of two very minor villainous characters.
finally the last paragraph commits the unpardonable sin
of suggesting new events that are never to be told about
the hero and of disclosing the fact of the heroine’s pre­
mature death.
This anti-climactic paragraph reads as
It may be, too, that Don John’s splendid destiny
was measured on that night and cut off beforehand,
though his most daring fights were not yet fought nor
his greatest victories won. To tell more here would
be to tell too much, and much, too, that is well told
elsewhere. But this is true, that he loved Dolores
with all his heart; that the marriage remained a court
secret; and that she bore him one fair daughter, and
died, and the child grew up under another reign, a
holy nun, and was abbess of the convent of Las Huelgas
whither Dolores was to have gone on the morning after
that most eventful night.8
8 F. Marion Crawford, In The Palace of The King,
p. 367.
The unpleasant effect of these closing sentences is obvious.
If Don John’s greatest deeds are yet to be accomplished and
if Dolores* life with Don John is to be so .short, the climax
of their marriage a few pages before loses its significance,
and the struggles that lead up to it seem to have been in
The close of An American Politician parallels that
of In The Palace of The King.
The climax of the story oc­
curs when Joe Thorn tells John Harrington that she loves
The last chapter commences with this sentence, "John
Harrington and Joe Thorn were married in the autumn of that
year, and six months later John was elected to the senate.’*9
This one sentence concludes both the major and the minor
plots, but the author continues the tale further by creating
an important occasion at which John is to speak.
To tell
how effective the speech was and end the book thus might
have been satisfactory, but Crawford, instead, finishes by
relating the speech itself, and the speech is twenty-one
pages long and an unforgivable bore.
Whatever fire John
Harrington ever had, whatever charm was Joe Thorn’s, what-,
ever interest there was in the lives of these two— these
things are hopelessly lost in those twenty-one pages.
To summarize, then, it may be said that Crawford’s
9 F. Marion Crawford, An American Politician, p. 334.
novels always center around a love story and a definite
plan of plot structure; a pattern very similar in the be­
ginning to that of a play.
The scene, including the time
and the place, is given first and followed closely by the
introduction of one of the important characters, the presen­
tation of a second important character, and the initial
event of the main plot.
All these occur in rapid succes­
sion, in the good novels well within the first fifty pages.
From its beginning the plot moves swiftly with no discus­
sions or irrelevant developments to hinder it up to a final
climax, which after the fashion of many short stories and
oral tales is frequently the very last page of the story
and is always close to the end of the novel.
The overuse
of coincidence in several cases, the actual mistake in
Cecilia, the conclusions appearing in the form of notes at
the end, and the faulty anti-climactic ending of a few of
the novels— all these have been indicated.
Some of the
stylistic characteristics which help to make the plots of
Crawford’s novels move so swiftly and to preserve such
intense interest will be discussed later.
Though plot structure was Marion Crawford’s main
concern, characters were necessary to the progress of the
plot if subservient to it.
For this reason, the characters
in his novels are nearly all type characters, the types
that must be in order to produce a perfect plot; consequent-
ly the important characters are nearly always three— a hero,
a heroine, and a villain, or a heroine and two hero-type
The hero always seems to he one of four kinds, the
dark, contemplative or moody man, the pragmatic, more active
and aggressive man, the lighter, less intellectual soldier,
or the mystical, polished foreigner.
The first type is, by
far, the most popular with Crawford,
Almost all the heroes
of the Italian novels are of this first group.
Saracinesca is representative.
The author envisions him
in the following description:
Don Giovanni Saracinesca was neither very tall nor
remarkably handsome, though in the matter of his beauty
opinion varied greatly. He was very dark— almost as
dark for a man as the Duchessa was for a woman. He was
strongly built, but very lean, and his features stood
out in bold and sharp relief from the setting of his
dark black hair and pointed beard. His nose was per­
haps a little large for his face, and the unusual
brilliancy of his eyes gave him an expression of rest­
less energy; there was something noble in the shaping
of his high square forehead and in the turn of his
sinewy throat.10
It is characteristic of Crawfordfs descriptions that
special attention is always given to the eyes.
are tall and lean with rather long noses.
The heroes
They are always
sophisticated, with a singular attraction for women.
are serious, philosophical.
Pietro Ghisleri is probably
the most attractive of them all.
10 F. Marion Crawford, Saracinesca, p. 16.
He had seen and enjoyed much, if he had suffered
much also and his face bore the traces of past pleasure
and of past pain, though he was not more than two and
thirty years of age. It was a strong face, too, and
not without signs of superior intelligence and resolu­
tion. The keen blue eyes had that trick of fixing
themselves in conversation which belongs to the comba­
tive temperaments. . . . To adopt the simple style
of his passport, he might be described as six feet
high, eyes blue, hair and moustache brown, nose long,
mouth normal, chin prominent, face somewhat bony,—
particular sign, a scar on the left temple, l
G-uido d ’Este—
. . . a rather dark young man with deep-set grey eyes
that often looked black, a thoughtful face, a grave
mouth that could smile suddenly and almost strangely,
with a child’s sweet frankness, and yet with a look
that was tender and human— the smile of a man who
understands the meaning of life and yet does not des­
pise it . . .12
— represents the more philosophic but less active of this
type, and is, therefore, the only one of them who fails to
win the heroine of the story.
To this same type belong also such heroes as John
Ralston of Katherine Lauderdale and The Ralstons. Stradella
of the novel by that name, Giovanni Serveri of The White
Sister, Paul Griggs as described in Casa Braccio, George
Wood of The Three Fates, Marino Malipieri of The Heart of
Rome, and Paul Patoff in the book by that name.
To thetsecond classification belong those heroes who
11 F. Marion Crawford, Pietro Ghisleri, p. 12.
12 F. Marion Crawford, Cecilia, p. 3.
are distinguished by their ambition, their energy, and their
As has been already suggested, their atti­
tudes are pragmatic in contrast to the hedonistic or cynical
views of the dark heroes of the first class.
of this second group is John Short, one of the important
male characters in A Tale of A Lonely Parish.
John Short was eighteen years of age, neither parti­
cularly good-looking nor by any means the reverse. He
had what bankers call a lucky face; that is to say, he
had a certain look of energetic good will in his fea­
tures. . . . In complexion he was fair, and healthy to
look at . . . his eyes were honest but generally
thoughtful; his frame was sturdy and already inclined
rather to strength than to graceful proportion; his
head matched his body well, being broad and well-shaped
with plenty of prominence over the brows and plenty of
fulness above the temples. He had a way of standing
as though it would not be easy to move him, and a way
of expressing his opinion which seemed to challenge
Fearlessly energetic in the same manner are Don
Orsino in Don Orsino and Corleone, Brook Johnstone in Adam
Johnstone’s Son. John Harrington in An American Politician,
and Zorzi in Marietta.
Older men exhibiting these same
forceful characteristics are Mr. Juxon in A Tale of A Lone1Z Parish, Dr. Claudius in the book of that name, and Rufus
Van Torp in The Diva’s Ruby.
The third group includes those men who are of the
active, military type.
One of these is Lamberto Lamberti
13 F. Marion Crawford, A Tale of A Lonely Parish,
pp. 7-8.
who won Cecilia away from the melancholy Guido d ’Este.
Lamberto was:
. . . squarely built, of average height, a man of action
at every point, with bold blue eyes that could be pierc­
ing, a rugged Roman head, prominent at the brows, short
reddish hair and pointed beard, great jaw and cheek­
bones, a tanned and freckled skin.1 4
How similar is the description of Baldassare del Castiglione
in A Lady of Rome I
He was a square-shouldered man of thirty or a little
less, with short and thick brown hair and a rather
heavy moustache, such as is often affected by cavalry­
men; his healthy, sunburnt face made his rather hard
eyes look very blue, and the well-shaped aquiline nose
of the martial type, with the solid square jaw, con­
veyed the impression that he was a born fighting man,
easily aroused and soon dangerous, somewhat lawless and
violent by nature, but brave and straightforward .-*-5
Don John of In The Palace of The Ring, young Grief of Griefenstein, and Gilbert Ward of Yia Crucis are similarly de­
scribed and unquestionably belong to the same class of Craw­
ford’s heroes.
The last group is the smallest, having only two re­
presentatives, Mr. Isaacs and Constantine Logotheti of Fair
Margaret. The Primadonna, and The Diva’s Ruby. Although
Mr. Isaacs is a Persian and Logotheti a Greek., the similari­
ties between them are apparent at once to any reader.
are well-proportioned, lithe men; both are masters of sev-
14 F. Marion Crawford, Cecilia, pi 3.
15 F. Marion Crawford, A Lady of Rome, p. 14.
eral languages; both are clever financiers, possessing ex­
travagant tastes in jewels and ornaments of all kinds; both
are accustomed to surround themselves with luxury in the
way of numerous .satin pillows and soft-footed servants;
both have a predilection for making surprise gifts of great
value to the women they are courting; both may be distin­
guished immediately by their elaborate manners and smoothly
courteous speech.
In Fair Margaret Logotheti is presented
to the reader through the eyes of Margaret Dunne.
She glanced at him furtiveljr and saw that he was a very
dark man of rather long features; that his eyes were
almond-shaped, like those of many orientals; that he
had a heavy jaw and a large mouth with lips that were
broad rather than thick, and hardly at all concealed
by a small black moustache which was trained to lie
very flat to his face, and turned up at the ends; that
his short hair was worn brush fashion, without a part­
ing; that he had olive brown hands with strong fingers,
on one of which he wore an enormous turquoise ring.16
Mr. Isaacsf presentation is far more detailed and interest­
Isaacs was a man of more than medium stature, though
he would never be spoken of as tall. An easy grace
marked his movements at all times, whether deliberate
or vehement, . . . This infinitely supple and swiftlymoving figure was but the pedestal, as it were, for the
noble face and nobler brain to which it owed its life
and majestic bearing. A long oval face of a wondrous
transparent olive tint, and of a decidedly oriental
type. A prominent brow and arched but delicate eye­
brows fitly surmounted a nose smoothly aquiline, but
with the broad well-set nostrils that bespeak active
F. Marion Crawford, Fair Margaret, p. 36.
courage. His mouth, often smiling, never laughed, and
the lips, though closely meeting, were not thin and
writhing and cunning, as one so often sees in eastern
faces, but rather inclined to a generous Greek fulness.
. . . I have spoken of his graceful figure and perfect
Iranian features, but I hardly noticed either at our
first meeting. I was enthralled and fascinated by his
eyes. . . . They were dark and of remarkable size; when
half closed they were long and almond-shaped; when sud­
denly opened in anger or surprise they had the round­
ness and bold keenness of the eagle1s sight. There
was a depth of life and vital light in them that told
of the pent up forces of a hundred generations of
Persian might.I7
The main difference in the two men lies in a certain refine­
ment of taste and gentility of manner which is inherent in
Mr. Isaacs, but totally absent from the well-meaning but
vulgar Constantine Logotheti.
The reason for the more con­
crete and consequently more vivid description of Isaacs is
the fact that Crawford knew him— really a Mr. Jacobs--while
Logotheti probably represents a general type of Greek whom
Crawford met in Constantinople.
There are, then, four distinct types of heroes which
are in order of their popularity with the author: the dark,
intellectual but rather melancholy man who is found in each
of the Italian novels; the capable, pragmatic man of deeds
who is eminently successful; the less intellectual but
forceful type of man, always associated with the army; and
the aesthetic foreigner of Southern Europe or Asia.
F. Marion Crawford, Mr. Isaacs, pp. 10-11.
behavior of each type of hero is consistent with the au­
thor’s initial description of him.
As all the novels are
love stories, the heroes are best compared according to
their merits as lovers.
The heroes of the first type are
primarily gentlemen who, in most cases, help to make their
way to the lady of their desires by fighting and winning a
They are nearly always pursued by another woman, but
they remain indifferent to all but the heroine with whom
they are passionately eloquent.
The second type is distin­
guished by his unselfish generosity toward the woman he
loves and by his unbelievable patience and tenacity in
spite of unsurmountable difficulties.
The third type
usually suffers in the silence of an undeclared passion
which must remain a secret as a matter of honour because
the lady is either already married or loved by a friend.
At length, however, he blurts out his love in the spontane­
ous sincerity usually attributed to a soldier.
The fourth
type is the one who fascinates women and behaves toward
them in a thoroughly masculine and domineering way.
types are represented as strong and courageous, faithful
and sincere.
The dominant characteristic of all of Craw­
ford’s heroes is their gentlemanliness, which they neither
lose nor forget even for an instant.
Maria Louise de la
Ramee, who wrote under the pen name of Ouida, said of
Crawford: '"He is always a gentleman, and he is at his best
when writing of gentlemen in the society which he knows so
The heroines, like the heroes, easily fall into
types hut, unlike them, the heroines are very much alike.
The single method of classifying them is based upon general,
quite obvious qualifications, not involving differences in
philosophy or in fine traits of character as was the case
with the heroes.
One method of classifying the heroines would be ac­
cording to whether or not they are pleasant, likeable
women, but this is not possible with Crawford’s heroines,
for with but two exceptions, they are all genteel, kindly,
and very likeable.
Unorna of The Witch of Prague and Leo­
nora of To Leeward are the only ones who fail to show any
of the characteristics that make the other women pleasant
and charming.
From the rest of the group, these two,
Unorna, the cruel, and Leonora, the faithless, must be
excluded and marked as being unrepresentative of Crawford’s
Having excluded the two unattractive heroines, the
others are observed to belong quite definitely to one of
two groups.
The young, unsophisticated girls make up one
18 Ouida, "Italian Novels of Marion Crawford,” The
Nineteenth Century, 249:721, (November, 1897).
group, and the older women who have been in society several
years and who know well how to deal with men comprise the
This method of classifying the heroines, according
to age and sophistication, seems the only possible one as
well as the perfectly obvious one, for in all other re­
spects they are much alike.
There is little emphasis and
little distinction among them as to physical appearance.
Some are dark; others are fair.
Most of them are tall and
graceful, and all, of course, are attractive with beauti­
ful eyes.
Just as the most notable characteristic of the
heroes was that they were all gentlemen, so the heroines
are remarkable for their poise and stateliness.
proud, gentle, and wise.
They are
None is ever foolish, unkind, or
To the first class of heroines, the young, unsophis­
ticated girls, twenty-three belong.
They are listed below:
Katherine Lauderdale of Katherine Lauderdale
Angela Chiarmonte of The White Sister
Joe Thorn of An American Politician
Dolores de Mendoza of In The Palace of The King
Ortensia of Stradella
Marietta Veroviero of Marietta
Veronica Serra of Taquisara
Regina Spaletta of Whosoever Shall Offend
Constance Fearing of The Three Fates
Mamie Trimm of,The Three Fates
Margaret Dunne of Fair Margaret
Hilda Sigmundskon of G-riefenstein
Cecilia Palladio of Cecilia
Clare Bowring of Adam JohnstoneTs Son
Faustina Montevarchi of Sant* Tlario
Beatrix Stoke of Via Cruels
Katherine Westonhough of Mr. Isaacs
Sister Maria Addolorata of Casa Braccio,Volume I
Gloria Dalrymple of
Casa Braccio, Volume
Vittoria Corleone of Corleone
Beatrice do Mola of The Children of The Kins
Hermione Carvel of Paul Patoff
Hedwig di Lira of A
Roman Singer
The first eight
of these are
worthy of special mentionbe­
cause each one under the stress of a crisis displays unusual
These women, who are wholly good, would be exceed­
ingly dull if it were not for the amazing energy and initia­
tive which make them human.
All of these twenty-three
women with the exception of the last five (that is, numbers
one through eighteen), show strength of character enough to
make them individuals.
The last five women on the list
fail to exhibit any ititiative and so fail really to live
as people.
The second group is less than half as large.
erine Lauderdale and Margaret Dunne reappear in this list
in later novels as older, more aggressive women.
Dunne, incidentally, is the only unmarried woman in this
Corona Saracinesca of Saracinesca and Sant1 Ilario
Laura Carlyon of Pietro GhlslerT"
Maria Montalto of A Lady of Rome
Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine of Via Crucis
Donna Maria Aranjuez of Don Orsino
Katherine Lauderdale Ralston of TheRalstons
Grace Fearing of The Three gates
Margaret Dunne of The Primadonna and The Diva1s
Mrs. Mary Goddard of
A Tale of A LonelyParish
Countess Margaret of Dr. Claudius
In these more experienced women, self-assurance is not so
singular a quality.
Their courage is not the reckless hero­
ism displayed by the first eighteen of the first group, but
is the patient endurance of older, wiser women.
Their wis­
dom and their understanding of all the fine undercurrents
of social gossip and conduct make them very human.
All of
the women show admirable womanly stamina, and the first
five— Corona Saracinesca, Laura Carlyon, Maria Montalto,
Queen Eleanor and Maria Aranjuez— are exceptionally intelli­
gent women capable of shaping not only their own destinies,
but those of their husbands and lovers as well.
Of Crawford’s heroes and heroines, it may be said
that they are too consistent, the heroes too consistently
courageous and gentlemanly and the heroines too consistent­
ly sweet and gracious.
They never sink, even for an instant,
from this greater height.
And because they do not sink, they
do not rise, but seem rather to maintain such a serene level
of perfection that even perfection loses its significance.
In much the same way that all the heroes and heroines
are always good, all the villains are consistently bad*
They possess no redeeming virtues.
They are always cowards;
they are selfish, ungrateful, and evil-minded.
Of the
thirty-four full length novels, five (such as Mr. Isaacs)
really do not have a villain.
In the remaining twenty-nine
volumes, there are twenty male villains and nine female
The men, such as Del Ferice in Saracinesca. Monte-
varchi in Sant* Ilario. King Philip II of Spain in In The
Palace Of The King, Silas B. Barker in Dr. Claudius are
Before the end of the tales, they are miserable,
groveling cowards and not worth the reader’s scorn.
women villains are more finely developed.
They are more
cunning and usually— temporarily, at least— more successful.
Donna Adele Savelli in Pietro Ghisleri is the only young
The other eight are older women, whose crimes are
They are often jealous and are given to malicibus
In four instances their crimes are very similar;
they steal, or in some way defraud an innocent young ward or
near relative of her rightful inheritance.
This is true in
Taguisara, The White Sister, The Heart of Rome, and The
Three Fates.
As is often the case of purely plot novels, some of
the best, most human characters are minor ones who are in­
troduced into the plot for their character and not for any
deeds of theirs which would promote the plot.
acter is the elder Saracinesca.
Such a char­
The fierce old Prince is
supposed to be an elder Giovanni, the same man that Giovanni
will be in another thirty years or so, and yet the Prince
seems more real than his son.
He loves to argue and can
quickly work himself into a rage in an argument with his
son, who usually remains exasperatingly calm.
The instant
he realizes that he has said too much or gone too far, he
busies himself with some trivial occupation, lowers his
voice, and continues to speak but with calmness and compo­
These childish displays of violence make the vigor­
ous old man rather lovable.
Above all else he loves his
son,- Giovanni, but he differs with him constantly.
Saracinesca is handsome and imposing, bold and blunt of
speech, inspiring admiration and sincere affection in those
who know him.
An interesting character has been created in M r .
Isaacs in the person of Paul Griggs, the narrator.
person and character emerge indirectly from his own re­
flections and observations upon the characters of the sto­
The reader is amused by his constant self-condemnation.
As a journalist he has a broad knowledge and so is able to
listen intelligently to the strange discussions of the won­
derful Mr. Isaacs.
Griggs1 own musings about his unusual
companion illuminate his own personality, as when he com­
ments :
He (Isaacs) was probably in love, my acquaintance of
two days. He saw in me a plain person, who could not
possibly be a rival, having some knowledge of the
world, and he was in need of a confident, like a
F. Marion Crawford, Mr. Isaacs, p. 55.
There is always something faintly humorous about Griggs as
in the instance when he winds wool for Miss Westonhough
while Isaacs is away.
This ludicrous picture shifts on
the next .page to one which shoves Griggs, the solitary bache­
lor, to be a romanticist, a real friend to Isaacs, and a
tender consoler for Miss Westonhough.
She asks abruptly
where Isaacs has gone, and Griggs replies: "He is gone to
do a very noble deed.
He is gone to save the life of a
man he never saw."20
Griggs is the narrator of the tale,
the. simple person who makes the events of the plot coher­
ent, the author-appointed go-between for the leading char­
acters, and at the same time he is a likeable fellow, more
alive than any other in the novel except Mr. Isaacs, him­
Arisa, the slave girl in Marietta, is one of the
most colorful characters in any of the novels.
Her posi­
tion is so fantastic that it is almost absurd, and yet she
herself remains always alluring, consistently traitorous
to Contarini and just as consistently faithful to Aristarchi.
-The mere fact that she never relaxes the part
she plays makes her situation seem an actuality.
is, of course, beautiful, so beautiful that all who see
her are agreed that none has ever surpassed her.
20 Ibid., p . E5
strange part she plays is this.
Although she loves the
giant Greek captain, Aristarchi, she is Contarini’s slave
— or rather, he is hers.
He keeps her in a secret apart­
ment in the house of the Agnus Dei.
There Arisa lives
in the luxurious leisure attributed to Eastern women,
half sitting, half lying among the silken cushions of a
low divan, ready to receive her master at any hour.
scenes which take place between the master and his slave
are as near to being sensual as any in Crawford’s work.
Contarini greets her first by kissing the arching instep
of her foot, which after Eastern fashion is uncovered.
At last the young man’s head rested against her
shoulder among the cushions. The Georgian woman
opened her eyes slowly and glanced down at his face,
while her hand stroked and smoothed his hair, and
he could not see the strange smile on her wonderful
lips. For she knew that he could not see it, and
she let it come and go as it would, half in pity
and half in s c o r n . 21
And this is the part she plays.
While she kisses him and
smooths his hair, she is scheming for him to get more money
in order that she may have it eventually..
Contarini is a
weakling and has no ambition but to please her; so all the
wealth that he can obtain he turns into jewels and gifts
for Arisa.
These and all that she can steal from him she
carefully stores away or passes on to Aristarchi whom she
21 F. Marion Crawford, Marietta, pp. 42-43.
meets eacli night as soon as Contarini falls asleep.
she of the soft hands, the gentle voice, and beautiful body
is wholly absorbed in the rough Greek.
The fascination
that this remarkable woman exerts over the reader is worthy
of note, for it illustrates Crawford’s ability to picture
the bizarre.
Two other colorful characters are the Bravi in Stradella.
Trombin, the shorter of the two, is very fair with
pink cheeks and a turned-up nose.
His companion, Gambar-
della, is exceptionally dark with bushy eyebrows and a
waxed moustache.
Concerning his most noticeable feature,
the author says: ”His unusually long and melancholy nose
curved downwards over his thin lips like a vulture’s beak
as if trying to peck at his chin.”22
Physically and tem­
peramentally unlike, these two are inseparable companions.
They travelled a good deal, always together, and
their friends knew that they met with frequent and sud­
den changes of fortune. Their clothes were shabby now,
yet scarcely six months ago they had been seen strol­
ling arm in arm in Florence, in the Piazza della Signoria, arrayed in silks and satins and fine linen.
Only their weapons were never replaced in prosperity
by handsomer swords with gilded hilts, nor exchanged
in adversity for others of less perfect balance and
The fact that they are Bravi means that they offer
22 F. Marion Crawford, Stradella, p. 66.
23 Ibid., p. 67.
their services to those who can pay well for having desired
goods stolen, missing friends and relatives located, or
troublesome enemies and relatives disposed of.
Their cut­
throat profession is scarcely in harmony with their most
characteristic traits— their fine distinctions of honour,
their inordinate love of music, and their curious humor.
As an example of the latter, a piece of conversation is
repeated here.
"Venice is a dull place, compared with what it used
to be," Trombin admitted, and he raised his right fore­
arm, turning it till he could examine the threadbare
elbow of his coat in the glare of the candles. "Anoth­
er week will do it," he added, after a careful examina­
"I never sit down, if I can help it," said Gambardella mournfully.
"It is a strange fact," answered Trombin thoughtful­
ly, "that only those nations that wear breeches sit
upon chairs; the others squat on their heels, though
they have no breeches to save. This is a most contra­
dictory world. "24=
Their partnership was well worked out, for Gambardella, who was far-sighted, planned their business and
solved the intricate tangles in which they were frequently
involved, while Trombin, whose soft-heartedness and shyness
with women made him unreliable at times, acted as spokesman
for the two.
The Bravi are as■colorful and unusual a pair
as one can find and are illustrative of Crawford’s concern
24 Ibid., p. 68.
in later books for clever, minor characters.
The one major character, whose development as a char­
acter was seriously probed by Crawford, was George Wood, the
hero and only important male actor in The Three Fates.
novel was classified before as being the only novel in which
.character development superseded plot .^
The tale itself is
divided obviously into three parts corresponding to George
Wood’s three love affairs and to his three stages of devel­
Maria Louise de la Ramee says of The Three Fates: .
There is little movement in it, no incident of any
note, its interest lies entirely in the development of
character and in the evolution of feeling, but these are
so treated that they suffice to hold the reader’s charm­
ed attention, and the story of the man whose hesitations
and tergiversations made the subject of it is one that
may be read again and again with sympathy and curiosity
by those who can appreciate psychological problems. The
persons in it are such as we may have known today or
may know tomorrow; and the working of their minds and
inclinations is traced with a masterly skill, and is as
a psychologist’s diagram of the nervous system.26
The authoress may be exaggerating to some extent, but, never­
theless, psycho-analysis on the part of Crawford is quite
When the novel opens, George Wood is an obvious
social misfit in New York society.
His mother, who is now
dead, had had social position, and his father, who is now a
broken old man, had been a very successful business man un­
til he was defrauded of all his wealth by a business associ­
25 Cf., p. 45. (Chapter II)
26 Ouida, op. cit., pp. 723-24,
The son of these two found himself unable to partake
of the social privileges inherited from his mother and at
the same time just as unable to be the business man that
his father desired him to be.
The reason for this latter
state lay not so much in his distaste for all money matters
as in his belief in his own abilities as a literary critic.'
At this time he is engaged in doing numerous book reviews
for several New York newspapers and magazines, whereby he
certainly is not amassing a fortune, but is at least paying
his own expenses.
The first portion of the story (pages
1-189), is absorbed by his courtship of Constance Fearing.
To him she is the perfect woman.
She answers all his boyish
longing for sympathy, for admiration of himself, for beauty
and an impeccable standard in woman.
It is for her that he
writes a novel and so discovers his own talent, for her sake
that his attitudes toward society mellow and become more
But poor Constance Fearing tries so desperate­
ly to be honest with herself that she misjudges her own
feelings and refuses to marry him, only to realize immedi­
ately that she really loves him.
George is a very different man.
After this first episode
He is now a successful au­
thor; his views are broader; his prejudices are fewer and
less bitter; and his blind worship of an ideal woman is over.
The second phase of his life begins almost immediately,
though not at first as a love affair.
This time it concerns
Mamie Trimm, the only daughter of one of his mother’s
wealthy relatives.
Mamie is younger, not beautiful, but
very companionable and sincerely and deeply in love with
He is unaware of her attachment.for him until he
seems already involved.
Gradually it becomes pleasant to
him, even desirable, and he feels so sure of Mamie, so con­
fident that he really knows her that he overestimates his
fondness for her and fancies himself in love.
Again the
affair is abruptly broken off, this time by Mamie’s mother,
who has been scheming for the fortune which George is to
The end of this second part is almost the end of
the novel, for only thirty-two more pages remain in the
Yet these last pages are a distinct third part.
This remaining action takes place three years later.
has inherited the fortune for which Mamie Trimm’s mother as­
He has rid himself of the last of his social pre­
He has found his place in the world and has made
his mark in his chosen vocation.
And now he has met his
third fate, his last, Grace Fearing.
This older sister of
Constance Fearing represents real friendship, truth, honesty
— all George’s old ideals— and she is exactly suited to his
tastes, his temperament, and his aspirations.
The Three
Fates is in every way a very different book from the rest
of the Crawford stories.
The careful and almost exclusive
interest in character development is singular; the narrative
is completed and rounded out more fully than in the majori­
ty of the other novels.
The Italian authoress writing under the pen name of
Ouida made the following serious accusation of Crawford’s
He has also another fault which is visible in nearly
all his works, and is a grave one. He forgets at times
the attributes which he has given to his chief char­
acters. Thus Giovanni Saracinesea is described as a
man of strong, noble, and reticent nature, and of in­
tellect so superior that his wife tells him he will be
very great some day; and he resembles precisely one of
those men who become great leaders of other men. But
in the sequel (where he is called Sant’ Ilario), all
this changes, and he behaves like an idiot, and of his
great qualities we hear no more and certainly see
nothing. And when we still follow his fortunes in the
subsequent sequel of Don Orsino, he has sunk into com­
plete self-effacement, so complete that he allows his
son to be the associate and debtor of that very Del
Ferice whose utter baseness and vileness he knows so
well, and who tried in the famous duel to murder him
by foul play.27
This accusation was based on fact as Ouida pointed out in
her illustrations.
The fallacy lies in the fact that the
glowing descriptions of SaracineseaTs capabilities were al­
most always given as CoronaTs, his young wife’s, personal
views, which are somewhat exaggerated.
Saracinesea does
not live up to all the reader’s early hopes, but he becomes,
rather, increasingly like his father, unreasonably jealous
of those he loves, generous but conservative in public life,
and unaware, as are the other members of the aristocracy,
of the changing social conditions.
27 Ibid., pp. 727-S8.
What Ouida fails to
give Crawford credit for is the consistent baseness of Del
Ferice in the entire Saracinesea series.
Don Orsino as
representative of the new ambitious generation of Roman
aristocracy, Ippolito as the very wise and gentle young
priest, Spicca as the melancholy and mysterious duelist,
San Giacinto as the casual, powerful giant, his devoted
wife Flavia as the fun-loving, genuine woman, the old Prince
Saracinesea as the fiery head of his family, and Corona as
the calm and wise lady whose queenly beauty is never equaled
in Rome— all these Italian characters appear and reappear,
some a great many times and always consistently themselves.
Paul Griggs who appears in no less than eight novels (two
of which he relates), changes character only very slightly
and according to his age.
Even such minor persons as Wal­
ter Crowdie and Charlotte Slayback, who appear in several
different novels, retain their original qualities.
It may
be said that in consideration of the great number of char­
acters who reappear often in the novels, these are created
and recreated by Crawford with remarkable consistency.28
The generalization about Marion Crawford1s charac­
ters may be made, then, that most of themrrare type charac­
If they are heroes, they may be classified in one of
four classes; if they are heroines, they may be divided into
28 Of., Table III, p. 42.
(Chapter II)
two distinct types; if they are villains, they are all
wholly evil people without any redeeming Qualities.
though they all attain some individuality, the heroes and
heroines are deplorably fine and good, and the villains are
hopelessly ignoble-and false, for they carry out Crawford's
theory that the heroes and heroines should show man as he
should be, not as he is.29
The villains presumably, then,
represent man as he should not be, and this they do most
In the same way they follow Crawford’s idea
that the novel is really a pocket-stage, in which the im­
portant thing is for.the play— the action of the play— to
go on.30
The characters' function is to speak their parts
and perform their tasks, to dramatize the plot and not to
become real individuals.
This fact, however, does not pre­
vent several characters, such as the old Prince Saracinesea
(Saracinesea), Paul Griggs (Mr. Isaacs), and George Wood
(The Three Fates), from attaining distinct individuality;
nor does it rule out the especially colorful personages as
Arisa (Marietta), and the Bravi (Stradella).
That the
characters do acquire and retain individualities is shown
by their reappearing in many instances in different novels
with these same abilities and qualities.
29 £f., p. 53, (Chapter III).
30 ££• > P*
(Chapter III).
And if Crawford's
characters are not remarkable, yet they are what Crawford
wanted them to be— adequate perpetrators of the plot.
Just as every play has plot, characters, and setting,
so do Crawford’s novels have these and in the same relation­
The plot is of primary importance.
The sole func­
tion of the characters is to enact the plot.
Very little
time is taken by this author to discuss the characters and
their thoughts.
When this is absolutely necessary, an ex­
pository paragraph or two may be inserted, but whenever
possible characters are revealed through conversation or by
means of the action itself.
By this same method the settings
of novels a-re frequently described in the beginning in a di­
rect manner, but more vividly and throughout the novels in
an indirect manner, that is, by a general diffusion through­
out the plot of the time, the place, and the customs.
In time the novels do not vary greatly.
A few of
them rely on early historical background, and for these dates
are clearly indicated.
The story of Via Crucis begins in
1145, that of Marietta in 1470.
The early part of the reign
of King Philip II of Spain, or 1556 to about 1565 is the
time of In The Palace of The King.
for Stradella.
1870 is the date given
The majority of the novels take place in
the latter part of the nineteenth century.
Definite years
are revealed in several: Casa Braccio Volume I, 1844; Volume
II, 1861 and 1864; Saracinesea, 1865; Sant* Ilarlo, 1867; Mr.
Isaacs, 1879; Don Orsino, 1887.
The last twenty years of
the century are suggested for The White Sister, Heart of
Rome, An American Politician, Griefenstein, The Witch of
Prague, and A Tale Of A .Lonely Parish.
The story of modern
Rome, Cecilia, the American trilogy, Fair Margaret, The
Primadonna, and A Diva *s Ruby, are definitely shown as tak­
ing place in the twentieth century.
As these were published
in 1902 and 1905, 1908, and 1908 respectively, their dates
of publication may be assumed to be approximately correct.
As for the remaining fourteen novels, whose publication
dates range from 1884 to 1906, their time is only vaguely
suggested as being contemporary.
The place of the novels has been discussed rather
fully in Chapter II of this thesis under the consideration
of classifying them according to their settings.
rz. 1
Table I
so classifies them, and from this table one learns that the
settings of the novels (excluding, as always in this chap­
ter, the novelettes and short stories) include seven differ­
ent cities in Italy
as well as two in America and cities in
the countries of England, Germany, India, Turkey, Spain, and
In addition, the crusade depicted in Via Crucis
journeys from France across the continent to Jerusalem, and
the travels of the primadonna of the American trilogy or
31 See especially pp. 16-34 (Chapter II).
Fair Margaret series take her to London, Versailles, and
Marion Crawford’s ability to recreate these
numerous cities and countries has also been discussed in
the second chapter of this thesis and will not necessitate
repetition here.
The most important thing about the set­
ting of the novels is their variety.
Such a large variety
of backgrounds would mean disaster for many authors, but
Marion Crawford had not merely been to the places he de­
scribed; he had lived there.
He worked as a journalist in
India as did Paul Griggs, and also like him he met a "Mr.
Like George Wood of The Three Fates, Crawford
had met Boston society, and like him again he had tried to
write magazine articles and reviews before skyrocketing to
fame on a first novel.
He had actually attended an English
and a German university before he wrote A Tale Of A Lonely
Parish and Griefenstein.
Concerning this last novel, Mrs.
Elliott, his cousin, writes:
The picture of Germany after the Franco-Prussian
war in his novel Griefenstein could have been drawn
only by a man who had lived the life of a German stu­
dent at the moment when the whole world was intoxicat­
ed by the wine of victory, who had enjoyed the gay
student life with its changing hours of study and
feasting, of poetry and song that mingled with the
clash of steel. Today this novel seems prophetic; it
shows so clearly the influences that swept the German
people into the world war.33
32 Cf., pp. 17-19. (Chapter II).
33 Maud Howe Elliott, My Cousin, F. Marion Crawford,
p. 40.
Not more than five or six years before Crawford wrote A
Roman Singer he himself had hoped to become one day a great
Mrs. Elliott comments on this also;
. . . He had a splendid voice, a fine dramatic delivery,
but a faulty ear.
While in Boston, Crawford studied with George
Henschel and strove with all his might to correct this
defect. In the beginning Henschel believed that he
might succeed, but finally told his pupil that he could
not hope to make a professional career. This was a
great disappointment to Crawford. In his novel A
Roman Singer he pictures the triumph of Nino the hero
which he himself had hoped to achieve.34
His sister testifies to his passion for exact, experienced
knowledge when she writes;
He was so scrupulous that he would not write about
any subject of which he had not personally and practi­
cally mastered the details. . . . For Marietta, A Maid
Of Venice, he went into every process of Venetian glasswork on the spot; . . . To write The Witch Of Prague he
went and lived in that city and learned B o h e m i a n . 3t>
His long residence in Italy and his love for its
picturesque coast towns account for his realistic pictures
of it in the twenty-three novels and stories which have their
setting somewhere in Italy.
His intimate knowledge about
these various settings, the application of his personal ex­
periences and the illustration by specific and concrete de­
tails— it is these that make the widely different backgrounds
34 rbifl-. PP» 89-90.
33 Mary Crawford Fraser, "Notes of a Romantic Life,"
Collier*s, 45:24. (April 23, 1910)
of his novels follow each other with equal realism and
equal effect.
In conclusion, then, there are two remarkable things
about the setting of Marion Crawford’s novels.
The more
unusual of these is the variety of locations used; the more
telling of the two is the realistic and accurately detailed
way in which they are depicted.
In addition to the
sis— plot, character, and
obvious divisions for novel analy­
setting— there is a fourth element,
the manner of presenting these three, or the stylistic char­
acteristics of the author.
Crawford’s interest lay in tell­
ing a good story, not in forging a new method of narrative.
Frederic Taber Cooper remarks about this.
The natural consequence of this attitude is that
Mr. Crawford, while possessing an excellent technique
in fiction cannot be said to have added to it any new
or striking methods.
In the history of technique, he .
could not be cited, in the way that Henry James, let
us say, or Emile Zola must be cited, over and over
again, as the inventor of a peculiar manner, the found­
er of a new school.' Mr. Crawford remained from first
to last as he wished to remain, wholly free from
mannerisms; and one of the qualities which give to his
books an unconscious charm is the simplicity of style
and method,.which may be compared to that rare good
taste in dress which does not call attention to
This ’’simplicity of style and method” is probably, as Cooper
suggests, the author’s most important characteristic.
It is
36 Frederic Taber Cooper, ’’Marion Crawford,” The Forum
41:488-89, (May, 1909).
not necessary to comment on this in any detail, for pages
57-61 of this chapter have explained the simplicity and
directness of his plot construction.
The extreme simplici­
ty of his character drawing has been pointed out as a poss­
ible defect of the novels.
The heroes and heroines are too
wholly good and the villains are too hopelessly bad.
most simple, entertaining narrative possible was Crawford’s
goal, and he attained it in most instances.
The method of
narration is always the most direct possible and subtle
changes in character are complexities unknown to Crawford’s
This extreme simplicity, however, does not prohibit
the author from showing some characteristics of style, the
most noticeable of which is the use of clever dialogue.
ability to converse well was a conscious social asset then,
and Crawford’s pocket-stage actors were especially endowed
with this ability.
Maud Elliott writes:
On re-reading Crawford’s novels a quarter of a cen­
tury after the last one was written, I sometimes rebel
at the length of the conversations. Compared to the
staccato dialogue of the moderns, they seem spun out.
The fact is, that in those days people talked that way.
Conversation was an art. We had time to exchange our
thoughts clothed in decent language, not as today in
a sort of naked code of dots and dashes.38
The following repartee is typical of many found in
27 _Cf., p. 83, (Chapter IV).
28 Maud Howe Elliott,
0 £.
cit., p. 187.
the novels.
To the modern ear it sounds very artificial,
and yet the habit of saying one thing for mere politeness
while thinking the opposite is still just as fashionable as
This piece of polite conversation occurs in Saraci-
"Yes; we were speaking of you, Don Giovanni," said
Donna Tullia, with some scorn. "Does it strike you that
you were exceedingly rude in not letting me know that
you were going out of town when you had promised to
dance with me at the Valdorno ball?" She curled her
small lips and showed her sharp white teeth. Giovanni
was a man of the world, however, and was equal to the
"I apologize most humbly," he said. "It was indeed
very rude; but in the urgency of the case, I forgot
all other engagements. I really beg your pardon. Will
you honour me with a dance this evening?"
"I have every dance engaged," answered Madame Mayer,
coldly staring at him.
"I am very sorry," said Giovanni, inwardly thanking
heaven for his good fortune, and wishing she would go
"Wait a moment," said Donna Tullia, judging that she
had produced the desired effect upon him. "Let me
look, I believe I have one waltz left. Let me see. Yes,
the one before the last— you can have it if you like."
"Thank you," murmured Giovanni, greatly annoyed,
will remember."39
In many of the novels the conversation is less stilt­
ed than it is in Saracinesea, whose story takes place in
Its artificiality here does not hinder its signifi­
Some of the long conversations seem awkward, and yet
39 F. Marion Crawford, Saracinesea, pp. 130-31.
the individual speeches are not so long as to be improbable.
In The Ralstons, eleven pages are consumed by a conversa­
tion between Mr. and Mrs. Lauderdale in which the husband
manages skillfully to avoid answering an accusing question.40
Not only does he save himself, but he counters with an ac­
cusation against his daughter'.
Although Mr. Lauderdale
speaks in a formal manner to his wife, it seems in keeping
with his selfish and tyrannical disposition.
This dialogue
is unusually clever in the way in which Mr. Lauderdale is
shown to elude the question put to him.
Some of the conversations recorded in the novels are
so realistic that bits of them remain with one.
these, though not humorous, do make one smile.
Many of
For example
there is the old Prince Saracinesea’s subtle pleading with
Corona in behalf of his son.
His impatience for Giovanni’s
happiness would not allow him to wait until Giovanni should
speak himself.4^
Or there is Marietta’s reasoning with her
father to allow her to marry Zorzi and her very feminine
plans for eluding the promise of her betrothal to Contarini .42
40 Cf.,
F. Marion Crawford, The Ralstons, pp^ 168-77.
41 Cf.,
F. Marion Crawford, Saracinesea, ppi 311-19.
42 Cf.,
F. Marion Crawford, Marietta, pp. 369-86.
Dialogue has frequently been inserted in novels to
increase and prolong suspense, to re-impress a scene alrea­
dy described, or to aid in the delineation, but Crawford
deftly forces his puppets to converse so that in almost
every instance their conversation promotes the plot.
logue abounds and still the plot progresses rapidly.
characters speak as the actors of a well-rehearsed play do.
Only the essential things are said; mere words are conserv­
ed and there is no waste.
In much the same way that postponing the climax un­
til the end is a characteristic of short stories and oral
tales, the element of mystery is also characteristic of
As Crawford applied the first to his novels, he like­
wise employed the latter.
One does not mean by this that
his novels are mystery stories in the sense of detective
The reader never has the least concern about the
mystery, but there is some element of mystery in almost all
of the novels.
There are twelve novels in which an actual
murder or a plotted one figures.
Four novels are concerned
with the mystery of stolen or lost formulas, letters, or
treasures, and four others involve mysterious identity. °
These facts, however, do not attest to Marion Crawford’s
43 Cf., Table IV, p. 44 (Chapter II), which classi­
fies the novelettes and short stories as well as the novels.
zest? for unraveling mysteries, but rather to the lengths
to which he would go to create complications which would
hinder the satisfactory conclusion of the love story and so
enrich the plot.
What really is distinctly characteristic
of Crawford is the aura of the supernatural which surrounds
four of the novels.
Four out of a possible thirty-four
full length novels is a very small proportion, but the fact
that the supernatural events, regardless of how fantastic
they seem, are always related with the greatest seriousness"
and are always given as facts— this makes it distinctly a
Crawford characteristic.
The one plot-less novel With The
Immortals is a pure fantasy.
Van Wyck Brooks hints that
it may be an outgrowth of some of the table discussions at
the author’s own parties.
One of his romances, With The Immortals, suggested
the conversation at the dinner-parties, which ranged
over literature, politics, and art from the days of
Pliny and Horace to those of King Humbert. The English­
man in the story had bought a villa like his own, a
half-ruined castle on the cliffs, and he invented an
electrical device that produced an immense eruption
under the sea. This suddenly caused the reappearance
of seven or eight immortals, Caesar, Leonardo, Pascal,
Heine, Chopin, and two or three others, who emerged from
the mist after the storm and wandered about the grounds
and joined in the conversation at the castle.44
The Leonardo whom Mr. Brooks mentioned is, of course, Leonar­
do da Vinci, and the two he did not mention are Chevalier
44 Yan Wyck Brooks, "Writers of The Eighties,” The
Saturday Review of Literature, 22:3-4.
(June 8, 19401
Bayard and Dr. Samuel Johnson.
In the discussions, which
in form remind one of Plato’s Dialogues, such topics as
government, love, religion, humour, and the after life are
The conversation here again is handled with
skill, and the hook is charming and not at all dull.
whole idea is fantastic, although the author never admits
this, and this unbelievable situation is recorded as a
matter of fact.
Witch Of Prague. M r . Isaacs, and Cecilia the
situation is normal and only a character or two are connect­
ed with the supernatural.
The Witch Of Prague is a novel
greatly inferior to Crawford’s usual standard.
Unorna, the
witch, is endowed with the power of hypnotizing anyone whom
she pleases.
Until she falls in love with the wanderer, her
great enterprize has been that of keeping alive, under a
spell, a very old man, by which means she and a physician
are trying to solve the problem of everlasting life and
Both M r . Isaacs and Cecilia are representative of
Marion Crawford’s best writing, and the supernatural plays
an important part in each of t h e s e . I n Mr. Isaacs all
the persons and events are perfectly normal except for one
This one is the remarkable Ram Lai, the Buddhist,
who is an ’’adept” by profession.
Appearing suddenly in
unexpected places and vanishing just as suddenly back into
space several minutes later, Ram Lai, wrapped always in
grey, makes a strange figure against the colorful but es­
sentially natural background of the novel.
So great becomes
the reader*s belief in Ram Lai, that he is not surprised at
the conclusion of the tale when Isaacs, grieved and stunned
by the suddenness of Katherine Westonhaugh*s death, is van­
ished away by his friend to seek the happiness of pure
Perhaps Cecilia presents the most interesting aspect
of the supernatural.
According to the story Cecilia and
Lamberto Lamberti have the experience of dreaming the same
dream about each other.
In the dream they are lovers, while
in actual life they are only casual acquaintances.
This re­
markable phenomenon, Crawford treats as if it were unusual
but not at all impossible.
And so completely does the read­
er adopt Crawford’s viewpoint that the conclusion, in which
Cecilia and Lamberti meet and plight their troth just as
they have done so often in dreams, seems quite natural.
Whenever the mystic and supernatural enter into his novels,
the author treats them with a passive reverence that is at
the same time odd and very charming.
Because his Italian novels were his most popular,
Marion Crawford is usually thought of as a distinctly Catho­
lic novelist.
As a matter of fact, although he himself was
a converted Catholic, only half of the full length novels
have a Catholic setting.46
All of these are Italian novels,
except the two historical ones Via Crucis and In The Palace
Of The King.
In the other novels, no specific religion is
indicated, and in none is the subject of theology or of
Catholicism ever discussed.
Maria Louise de la Ramee re­
marks ;
His priests, by the way, are always excellently
drawn, from the humble village vicar to the learned
and imposing cardinal. He has penetrated alike their
interiors and their characters with that skill which
is only born of sympathy, and it is, therefore, per­
haps only natural that he has not the faintest con­
ception of the motives and views of the socialist and
republican whom he dreads and hates.
Although the authoress here has hinted that Crawford1s
Catholicism may have prejudiced him against the revolutiona­
ry class in Italy, it is obvious that it actually aided him
as a novelist, for this very prejudice was shared by all
the Italians whom he wrote about, and without it he could
not have understood and sympathized with them so thoroughly;
whereas political and social revolutions had no bearing on
the "stories” he wished to tell.
An obvious and distinctive characteristic of Marion
Crawford’s style is his desire to footnote or in some way
to document his statements.
Some of these are in the notes
46 Cf., p. 7, (Chapter I).
Ouida, ojo. cit., p. 7E0.
at the close of the novels.
This is true of Stradella,
Marietta. and The Heart Of Rome.
The note on the first of
these is not very accurate and reads as follows:
I shall tell no more, but leave the singer and his
young wife to their happiness. If anyone would know
the end that followed years afterwards, he will find it
in the chronicles that are in almost every great libra­
ry. I shall only say that while those two lived they
loved, as few have, and that Stradella*s fame was great­
er when he breathed his last than it had ever been be­
fore; and in Italy he is not forgotten yet.48
The note on Marietta is more accurate and reflects some of
the author’s keen interest in these old, semi-historical
The story of Zorzi Ballarin and Marietta Beroviero
is not mere fiction, and is told in several ways. The
most common account of the circumstances assumes that
Zorzi actually stole the secrets which Angelo Beroviero
had received from Paolo Godi, and thereby forced Angelo
to give him his daughter in marriage; but the learned
Comm. C. A. Levi, director of the museum in Murano,
where many works of Beroviero and Ballarin are preserv­
ed, has established the letter’s reputation for honor­
able dealing with regard to the precious secrets, in
a pamphlet entitled '*L’Arte del Vetro in Murano,” pub­
lished in Venice, in 1895, to which I refer the curious
reader . . .49
The note at the close of The Heart of Rome disclaims
any historical basis for the characters and plot used, but.
it traces the true history of several cases of the lost wa­
ter and of hidden statues unearthed in Rome which stimulated
48 F. Marion Crawford, Stradella, p. 415.
4® F. Marion Crawford, Marietta, p. 458.
the author to imagine the situation in this particular
Footnotes occur at the bottom of numerous pages in
With The Immortals and in To Leeward.
In the former, the
notes give the source consulted for the conversation which
Crawford created for the ghosts of such men as Caesar,
Heine, Leonardo da Vinci, Pascal, and others.
These notes
also give the sources of some of the philosophical ideas
that are mentioned.
It is, however, the footnotes which
occur unexpectedly and perhaps singly in one novel which
make Crawford’s documentation unusual.
Notes such as these
occur in Dr. Claudius, A Lady Of Rome, The Children of The
King, and Stradella.
Some are purely explanatory as is one
in The Children of The King which explains what kind of
craft a "felucca* is.5l
Others are for the sake of clear­
ness as one in A Lady Of Rome which reads:
Note--The '^Piedmont Lancers," to which Castiglione
belonged, are purely imaginary, and are by no means
meant for the "Piedmont Regimant," which would be more
rightly classed with the Dragoons.52
Still other notes are actually informational as the one in
Stradella which follows here:
For Trombin’s view of Christina’s character and
Monaldeschi*s murder, I am indebted to the admirable
50 Cf., F. Marion Crawford, The Heart of Rome
51 Cf., F. Marion Crawford, The Children of The King,
p. 49.
52 Cf., F. Marion Crawford, A Lady of Rome, p. 383.
and trustworthy work of Baron de Bildt, a distinguished
Swedish diplomatist, entitled Christine de Swede et le
Cardinal Azzolino (Paris, 1899J7 The writer points out
the singular ignorance of the truth about Monaldeschi
displayed by Browning and the elder D u m a s . 53
This strange desire of Crawford’s to document these
purely romantic tales is probably a reflection of his in­
terest in history, in social history and in customs, which
he evidenced in his four non-fiction Ave Roma Immortalis; studies from the chronicles of Rome, Constantino­
ple , Salve Venetia; gleanings from Venetian History, and
The Rulers of The South; Sicily, Calabria, Malta.
volumes, although not real histories, are based on facts and
on information gained firsthand.
His sister, Mary Fraser,
maintains that the writing of history was his ultimate as­
Yet it was a mere accident of expediency that he be­
came a novel writer at all. His heart was in for higher
things. He always looked forward to the day when he
should be able to close the book of romance and devote
himself to the one study which he considered worth pur­
suing, that of h i s t o r y . 54
This is hardly believable of so natural a story-teller, but
it does account for his peculiar stylistic characteristic
of footnoting.
Although it can scarcely be called a stylistic char­
acteristic, the great and perhaps only defect in his style
53 f. Marion Crawford, Stradella, p. 255.
Mary Fraser,
ojd .
cit., p. 24.
is his carelessness.
His extensive travels and his fertile
imagination furnished him with infinite materials for sto­
He possessed a native talent for weaving plots, pro­
longing suspense— in short, for telling stories; consequent­
ly careful craftsmanship was no concern of his.
source came his greatest weakness.
From this
In no case is it a lack
of skill, but it is mere carelessness. .Evidences of it
show themselves in many ways.
One of the most frequent in
occurrence is the unnecessary repetition of a word or phrase.
Saracinesea on the whole is a well-constructed novel, but
even here are examples of this carelessness.
For instance,
on page 61 in line four the statement is made, "The picnic
was noisy, and Giovanni was in a bad humour."
On the same
page, the opening sentence of the second paragraph is,
"Giovanni was in a bad humour that day," and on the follow­
ing page in line three one reads, "He was in a thoroughly
bad humour . . . ”55
Repetition may often be used, of
course, for a valuable effect, but here it is merely care­
Very frequently if more care had been taken, awkward
sentences and situations could have been avoided.
things as the very awkward introduction of Paul Griggs in
The Ralstons are so noticeably bad as to spoil the spell of
the story for several pages.
Griggs is introduced in the
55 Cf., F. Marion Crawford, Saracinesea, pp. 61-62.
following manner:
Paul Griggs, the author, and Walter Crowdie, the artist,
came forward into the bright light. Crowdie has been
already described. Griggs was a lean, strong, grey­
haired, plain-featured man of fifty . . . 56
Griggs* description would have been all right had Crawford
not preceded it with that unfortunate sentence, "Crowdie has
been already described."
Even its word order is awkward.
Perhaps the most stupid piece of awkwardness occurs
in Sant’ Ilario. in the paragraph which follows here in
Before describing the events which close this part
of my story, it is as well to say that Faustina has
made her last appearance for the present. From the
point of view which would have been taken by most of
her-acquaintances, her marriage to Gouache was a highly
improbable event. If anyone desires an apology for
being left in uncertainty as to her fate, I can only
answer that I am writing the history of the Saracinesea
and not of anyone else.5?
Surely careful revision would have detected and eliminated
such tactless opposition to the reader’s curiosity.
In summarizing this analysis of the novels according
to the topics which have been considered, plot structure,
characters, settings, and stylistic characteristics, one
finds that the important points which Crawford set forth in
his book The Novel: What It Is have been closely adhered to
56 F. Marion Crawford, The Ralstons part II, p. 38.
F. Marion Crawford, Sant’ Ilario p. 422.
and that they do characterize his novels.
The sole object
of the novels is to amuse and entertain.
With the exception
of With The Immortals, which has no plot, all are love sto­
They deal with romantic adventures which do not fail
to depict life and love as enjoyable and interesting.
they appeal only to the reader's heart.58
In almost all of
these long novels— in all except The Three Fates, which em­
phasizes character development, and With The Immortals, in
which no plot is attempted— the one important thing is the
plot structure.
Crawford's plots move swiftly, carried a-
long almost wholly by dialogue and action in a rather defi­
nite pattern to a climax which preceded the end of the tale
by only a few pages.
The characters, heroes, heroines, and
villains, are type characters, each kind sharing common
George Wood of the character novel The Three
Fates and several minor characters merit special notice.
Variety is the keynote to the settings of the novels.
hanced by concrete details and drawn from experienced knowl­
edge, many of them are surprisingly effective.
stylistic characteristics are notably his use of dialogue,
his fondness for mystery and the supernatural, and his
passion for documentation.
The essential defect in his
style is his carelessness.
The typical Crawford novel, al­
58 Cf., questions raised on p. 56 (Chapter III).
though it may not evidence as careful craftsmanship as one
would like, can be depended upon to provide a colorful back­
ground, a little mystery--or even a bit .of the supernatural,
— a courageous, gentlemanly hero, a charming heroine, a
despicable villain,-all of which will be so combined as to
furnish the reader with several hours of excellent narra­
It will not teach him, it will not make him more
aware of the life around him, nor will it even stimulate
his thinking; but it will amuse and entertain him, and, per­
haps, it may exact from him a little admiration of the au­
thor’s ability to tell a story.
Although the main volume of Crawford’s writing con­
sists of the thirty-four full-length novels, discussed in
Chapter IV of this thesis, there are in addition ten short
novels or novelettes and one volume of short-stories.
novelettes in structure closely resemble the novels and
should, therefore, be dealt with first.
They are distin­
guished for their simple narrative and their brevity.
simplicity of style was mentioned before1 and was illustra­
ted by Crawford’s simple plan for the plots of the novels.
The same simple, direct procedure is followed in the short
The place and the time (when it is not contempora­
ry), are indicated at the beginning, at least one and often
two main characters are introduced, and the plot begins—
all within the first thirty pages.
In the case of Khaled:
A Tale Of Arabia setting, main characters, and plot have
all been defined in the first three pages.
As the stories
proceed, their simplicity is increasingly evident.
plications of the piot, crises, and minor characters exist
in a minimum amount.
The dialogue is shorter and more
concise than it is in the novels.
^ QL* > P* 100, (Chapter IV).
From this simplicity of
style and construction, the second characteristic, brevity,
The average novelette is two hundred and fifty-
two pages in length.
Love In Idleness, covering one hun­
dred and eighty-six pages, is the shortest; Arethusa,
covering three hundred and fifty-five, is the longest.2
Of the ten novelettes, five are well-constructed and
interesting, while the other five are Crawford’s weakest sto­
The best novelettes are the following: Marzio*s Cruci­
fix (1885), Zoroaster (1885), A Cigarette-Maker’s Romance
(1890), Khaled (1891), and Arethusa (1907).
These five have one important quality, that is, at­
mosphere, a quality not found in the novels.
Hamilton has said:
It is commonly supposed that what is called ’’atmosphere”
in a description is dependent upon the setting forth of
a multiplicity of details; but this popular conception
is a fallacy. "Atmosphere” is dependent rather upon a
strict selection of details pervaded by a common quali­
ty, a rigorous rejection of all other details that are
dissonant in mood, and an arrangement of those selected
with a viexv to exhibiting their common quality as the
pervading spirit of the scene.^
In the novelettes, which are shorter than novels and which
must be less detailed, the selection of details is neces-
2 Although the number of pages would seem to indicate
that Arethusa is a novel, its structure forces its classifi­
cation as a novelette.
s Clayton Hamilton, A Manual of th£ Art of Fiction,
p. 117.
sarily more important';
In the novels the backgrounds or
settings were often very real, effective.
Mere setting is
expanded in the novelettes to include atmosphere.
setting is comparable to the backdrop in a stage play, that
necessary background against which, or in front of which the
actual play takes place, atmosphere is that which surrounds
each character and each action of the play.
It is apparent
in the language of the narrator and in the dialogue of the
For example, Zoroaster opens with the following
The hall of the banquets was made ready for the feast
in the palace of Babylon. That night Belshazzar the
king would drink wine with a thousand of his lords, and
be merry before them; and everything was made ready.
From end to end of the mighty nave, the tables of
wood,.overlaid with gold and silver, stood spfead with
those things which the heart of man can desire; with
cups of gold and of glass and of jade; with great dish­
es heaped high with rare fruits and rarer flowers; and
over all, the last purple rays of the great southern
sun came floating through the open colonnades of the
porch, glancing on the polished marbles, tingeing with
a softer hue the smooth red plaster of the walls, and
lingering lovingly on the golden features and the redgold draperies of the vast statue that sat on high and
overlooked the scene.4
The dialogue, commencing a few pages further on,
adopts the same sentence rhythms which are comparable to
those found in Isaiah.
The young Zoroaster speaks:
"Say, 0 Daniel, prophet and priest of the Lord, why
does the golden image seem to smile to-day? Are the
4 F. Marion Crawford, Zoroaster, p. 1.
times accomplished of the vision which thou sawest in
Shushan, in the palace, and is the dead king glad? I
think his face was never so gentle before to look upon,
— surely he rejoices at the feast, and the countenance
of his image is gladdened.5
The basic Biblical rhythm continues throughout the entire
story to the final paragraph which reads:
And he took the bodies of Zoroaster the high priest,
and of Mehushta the queen, and of the little Syrian
maid, and he buried them with fine spices and fine lin­
en, and in plates of pure gold, together in a tomb over
against the palace, hewn in the rock of the mountain.6
In Marzio’s Crucifix the atmosphere is that of a
silver-smith’s shop.
The reader is made to hear the rapping
of the hammers and to smell the wax and pitch and "the curi­
ous indefineable odour exhaled from steel tools in constant
use, supplemented by the fumes of Marzio’s pipe.1’’'’ Maud
Howe Elliott comments on the realness of Marzio’s studio
as Crawford depicted it:
Marzio’s Crucifix is to Crawford’s novels what Silas
Marner is to George Eliot’s. It bites into the memory
as acid on copper plate. The book has dramatic quality,
the time covered is only a few days, the characters are
alive. The scenes in Marzio*s Crucifix are as careful­
ly chiselled as the chalice on which the apprentice,
Giambattista, is at work. Only a man who has sat at
that bench, worked the pedal, used the tiny chisels
stuck by hundreds in pots of sand, modelled the strong­
smelling red wax. could have created the atmosphere of
Marzio’s studio.°
5 Ibid., p. 5.
6 Ibid., p. 290.
^ F. Marion Crawford,Marzio’sCrucifix,
8 Maud HoweElliott, M£ Cousin, F. MarionCrawfofd,
p. 229.
Marzio’s shop and the crucifix that he fashions for his
masterpiece are the basis for and the conclusion of the
plot; they are the links between the characters and the
means of binding closely together the characters and the
events of the plot.
The Italian authoress Ouida was aware
of the artistry of this novelette when she wrote:
That side of Italian life which is given in Marzio’s
Crucifix, for instance, is drawn with an accuracy not
to be surpassed. The whole of this story indeed is
admirable in its construction and execution. There is
not a page one would wish cancelled, and nothing could
be added which would increase its excellence,9
Just as the silver-smith’s trade provided a distinct
atmosphere for Marzio’s Crucifix, so does the manufacture
of cigarettes for A Cigarette-Maker’s Romance.
The story
of the several Russians, the Polish girl, and one Slav, who
earn their scant living by manufacturing hand-made cigar­
ettes in the dingy backroom of the ’’Famous Cigarette Manu­
factory of Christian Fischelowitz, from South Russia,” re­
flects in every instance the pervading influence of the
cigarette shop and the curious affinity of these so close­
ly associated in a foreign country.
The story begins in
this shop under circumstances emphasizing the social dif­
ferences which exist among the employees; it ends in the
same shop, but in a very different situation, a fact which
9 Ouida, ’’Italian Novels of Marion Crawford,” The
Nineteenth Century, 249:719, (November, 1897).
illustrates how strong the ties of mutual labor and poverty
can be.
The atmosphere of Khaled: A Tale Of Arabia, like
that of any fairy tale, is wholly imaginary, and unbelievable
from its opening sentence, "Khaled stood in the third heaven,
which is the heaven of precious stones, and of Asrael, the
angel of Death,”10 to its equally fantastic conclusion.
maintain this Eastern atmosphere, Crawford has employed
Eastern terms even in writing Khaled*s description of Zehovah, the heroine.
One daughter only has been born to him in his old age,
of such marvellous .beauty that even the Black Eyed
Virgins enclosed in the fruit of the tree Sedrat, who
wait for the coming of the faithful, would seem but
mortal women beside her. Her eyes are as the deep
water in the wells of Zobeideh when it is night and
the stars are reflected therein. Her hair is finer than
silk, red with henna, and abundant as the foliage of the
young cypress tree. Her face is as fair as the kernels
of young almonds, and her mouth is sweeter than the
mellow date and more fragrant than "God mingled with
As descriptions such as this, which appeal to the senses,
abound in the Arabian tale, so do vivid similes like the
Now indeed the quarrel which had been begun by the
blow struck in the dark spread suddenly to great dimen­
sions, for the words spoken were caught up as grains of
10 F. Marion Crawford, Khaled: A Tale Of Arabia, p. 1.
11 Ibid., p. 3.
sand by the wind and blown into all men’s e a r s . &
Arethusa, because it is longer and the tale more com­
plex, does not produce so striking a single effect as do’the
other novelettes just mentioned; however the very time and
place, 1376 and Constantinople, do lift it immediately out
of the realm of the ordinary.
Carl Zeno, an adventurous
young Venetian gentleman, and Arethusa, the mysterious slave
girl whom he purchased for a friend and then fell in love
with, are the only important characters and ones who blend
in with the ancient city and the fourteenth century to create
an atmosphere.
The hero and heroine, the minor characters
selected from the strange races which inhabit Constantinople,
and the events, such as the buying and selling of Arethusa
and the locking up of Omobono, the timid secretary, in the
strong-box by the Tartar giant— these persons and events
color the atmosphere which gradually emerges from the pages
of the story as one of ancient superstitions and hostilities
and of strange, almost barbarous customs.
Even the delica­
cies which they eat, baked peacock and rose-leaf preserve,
seem in keeping with this atmosphere.
What detract from it
are the dialogue and the choice of words used to tell the
story, for they are, for the most part, colorless and quite
modern American.
The words of the unfinished song—
The waters are blue as the eyes of the Emperor’s daughter,
Ibid., p. 211.
In the crystal pools of her eyes there are salt tears.
The water is both salt and fresh.
Over the water to my love, this night, over the water.^3
which serve as a signal for the conspirators in the story,
are fitting, but the modern words and ideas carelessly
brought in by Crawford destroy the mood of the plot and the
An example of the latter, introduced as the authorfs
opinion, follows:
With every woman, to love a man is to feel that she
must positively know just where he is going as soon as
he is out'of her sight. If it were possible, he should
never leave the house without a ticket-of-leave and a
policeman followed by a detective to watch both.14
With such exceptions as this last, Arethusa express­
es a certain atmosphere.
As Clayton Hamilton has suggested
should be done, all materials out of harmony with the de­
sired effect have been eliminated from Marzio1s Crucifix.
Zoroaster, A Cigarette-Maker*s Romance, and Khaled.
In all
five novelettes the plot is a series of closely related
So close is the relationship of these events and
so stable is the maintenance of the atmospheric effect that
the whole attains to a sense of completeness, rather than
to a sense of finish or end, at its conclusion.
The brevi­
ty of the story and the simplicity of the narrative are also
factors which determine this desirable effect..
F. Marion Crawford, Arethusa, p. 185.
14 Ibid., p. 197.
In each
instance— Marzio’s peace of mind and his completion of the
wonderful crucifix, Zoroaster’s fulfillment of Daniel’s
prophecy, the cigarette-maker’s realization of his dream,
Khaled*s winning of a human soul, and the Venetian’s con­
summation of his hopes for Arethusa and for Venice— the
conclusion is not the end of the plot, but the completion
of a circle commenced in the opening pages*
Atmosphere and a sense of completeness are the dis­
tinguishing qualities of the successful novelettes.
full length novels are too long and too complex ever to at­
tain these qualities which are peculiar only to short works.
The other five novelettes, A Little City of Hope (1907), A
Rose of Yesterday (1897), Love In Idleness (1894), Marion
Darche (1893) and The Undesirable Governess (1909) do not
attain these characteristics and are, therefore, inferior.
If it is true that a well-constructed novelette de­
mands a more careful selection of details, the reverse is
probably true, that when the selection is carelessly made
the novelette will fail.
The careless craftsmanship of
Crawford mentioned in the preceding chapter as responsible
for the defects in the novels is also responsible for the
poor quality of these five novelettes.
Love In Idleness is an impossible love story, im­
possible because the heroine is unattractive.
Fanny Tre-
hearne’s tactless and unfeminine manner is disclosed in her
first conversation with the hero, poor Louis Lawrence, who
"I thought you might have somebody stopping with
"No. Nobody but you. Why do you say stopping in­
stead of staying? I don’t like it.”
"Then I won’t say it again,” answered Lawrence meekly.
"Can you drive?"
"Oh— well— yes,” replied the young man, rather doubt­
fully, and looking at the smart little turn-out.
Fanny Trehearne fixed her cool grey eyes on his face
with a critical expression.
"Can you ride?” she asked, pursuing her examination.
”0h yes,— that is— to some extent. I ’m not exactly
a circus rider,' you know— but I can get. on.”
"Most people can do that. The important thing is
not to come off. What can
you do anyway? Areyou a
good man in a boat? You see I ’ve only met you in
society. I ’ve never seen you do anything.”15
In chapter four of this thesis, clever dialogue was
named as one of Crawford's pleasing characteristics,-*-6 but
in these five novelettes his careless and hurried writing
has led him into producing some very awkward and often im­
possible bits of conversation.
for instance, the following is
In The LittleCity of Hope,
supposed to be part of a
conversational speech by a thirteen year old boy to his
1 5 F. Marion Crawford, Love In Idleness, pp. 19-20.
16 Cf., pp. 101-4. (Chapter 17}.
’’I'd like to know how!” cried the boy in a tone of
protest. ’’You could do sums and you grew up to be a
great mathematician and inventor. But what’s the good
of a geographician, anyway?”17
What boy of thirteen would use the word ’’geographician”?
The boy’s vocabulary is as large as his father's and his
practical wisdom is much greater.
The story is an uncon­
vincing Christmas story, in which impossible obstacles are
overcome so that Christmas Day may be happy.
A Rose of Yesterday begins with the story of a young
girl’s imaginary love for her guardian who is thirty-five
years older than she and then turns to the involved tale of
this same man’s constant but secret love for a married
Neither story is at all convincing, and the change
from one to another destroys any unity the book might have
Unity is also lacking in Marion Darche, which attempts
to relate two love stories, that of Mrs. Darche and Harry
Brett and that of Dolly Maylands and Russell Vanbrugh.
though the last two are the more interesting couple, most of
the plot revolves around the complicated affairs in Mrs.
Darche's life.
The Undesirable Governess is the impossible story of
Ellen Scott who disguises herself as an ugly, even crippled
17 F. Marion Crawford, The Little City of Hope, p. 42,
girl in order to attain the position as governess in the
household of her lover’s family.
The romantic dispositions
of the father and several sons make it necessary for the
governess of the younger sisters, to be as physically un­
desirable as possible.
The scheme is successful for a
time and Ellen wins the affection of lady Jane, the mother,
but a second problem arises when the family discovers sat
the same time Ellen’s engagement to the eldest son and the
mysterious circumstances of her birth.
on a doorstep!)
(She had been left
In the last chapter, however, it is miracu­
lously revealed that this "undesirable governess’* is really
the heiress to one of England’s largest estates.
To summarize the characteristics of Crawford’s novel­
ettes it may be said that in the better ones— in Marzio’s
Crucifix, Zoroaster, A Cigarette-Maker’s Romance, Khaled,
and Arethusa— the author has achieved a worthy artistic
effect by using the most simple narrative and by excluding
all details except those which are consistent with the mood
of the tale.
Of the other five novelettes, it need only be
said that they represent the least artistic of all the au­
thor’s work because they have been artificially composed
and carelessly constructed.
Clayton Hamilton, in character­
izing the novelette, said:
The novelette deals with fewer characters and incidents
than the novel; it usually limits itself to a stricter
economy of time and place; it presents a less extensive
view of life, with (most frequently) a more intensive
Applying this statement to Crawford’s worthy novelettes
proves its truth, for these stories of less extent are
written with a more intense, more careful design.
scene and event, every conversation, all descriptive words
point in one direction, toward a single artistic effect.
In addition to the novelettes, Marion Crawford wrote
seven short stories, which have been collected into one
volume entitled Uncanny Tales, or Wandering Ghosts.19
cause of their great simplicity of narrative and their
singleness of effect, they are the closest literary rela­
tives of the novelettes and logically should be discussed
in this chapter.
All of the "Uncanny Tales" contain some­
thing of the supernatural and horrible.
Of this type of
tale Edgar Allan Poe was a master and of its artistic
possibilities an earnest defender.
In the essay Twice-Told
Tales he wrote:
The tale proper, in our opinion, affords unquestionably
the fairest field for the exercise of the loftiest
talent, which can be afforded by the wide domains of
mere prose.
fie allude to the short prose narrative, requiring from
Clayton Hamilton, o£. cit., p. 173.
Uncanny Tales was the title to the volume published
in Britain. The Macmillan edition published in New York
was titled Wandering Ghosts.
a half-hour to one or two hours in its perusal. The
ordinary novel is objectionable, from its length, for
reasons already stated in substance. As it cannot be
read at one sitting, it deprives itself, of course, of
the immense force derivable from totality. . . .
A skillful literary artist has constructed a tale.
If wise, he has not fashioned his thoughts to accommo­
date his incidents; but having conceived, with delib­
erate care, a certain unique or single effect to be
wrought out, he then invents such incidents--he then
combines such events as may best aid him in establish­
ing this preconceived effect. If his very initial
sentence tends not to the outbringing of this effect,
then he has failed in his first step. In the whole
composition there should be no word written, of which
the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one
pre-established design.
It may be added here, par parenthese, that the author
who aims at the purely beautiful in a prose tale is
laboring at great disadvantage. For Beauty can be
better treated in the poem. Not so with terror, or
passion, or horror, or a multitude of such other points.20
Even such a modern writer as Clayton Hamilton saw the
importance of the singleness of effect that Poe emphasized,
when he wrote and italicized the following aim of a shortstory:
The aim of a short-story is to produce a single narra­
tive effect with the greatest economy of means that is
consistent with the utmost emphasis.21
Although Crawford did not express— at least not in
writing— any so well-thought-out or so artistic a purpose
for his short-stories, it is evident that he planned each
20 Edgar Allan Poe, '’Twice-Told Tales,” Graham’s
Magazine. 20:298-99, May, 1842.
2-*- Clayton Hamilton,
ojd .
cit., p. 177.
compact tale with care and with a technique very like Poe's.
The stories are, for horror tales, exceptionally well done.
They are from twenty-three to sixty-eight pages long, a fact
which indicates not only a .brevity .of words and pages hut a
singleness of purpose and a simplicity of narrative as well.
Of the seven tales, two, The Dead Smile and The Doll's Ghost,
are related by the author omniscient.
The other five are
told in the first person, and one of these The Screaming
Skull is a monologue.
The single point of view in these
five and especially the monologue form are effective in add­
ing to the authority of the horror and of the supernatural
The three most effective tales, the monologue
The Screaming Skull, Man Overboard 122 and The Upper Berth23
abide by the rules set forth by Poe to a surprising degree.
To illustrate, one might consider the structure of
The Screaming Skull, which begins with the short, yet de­
scriptive sentence, "I have often heard it scream."24
this arresting statement, the old sailor continues his tale,
or his half of the conversation with his friend.
The mono­
logue covers a period of several hours during a windy night
22 This tale was published singly by the Macmillan
Company in 1903 at New York and at London.
2*5 This tale was first published by P. B. Putnam’s
Sons in 1894 in Volume I of Antonym Library.
24 F. Marion Crawford, Uncanny Tales, p. 43.
in a house close to the sea.
Alarming incidents occur dur­
ing these hours and are related through the colorful lan­
guage of the badly frightened sailor, until at length he
bids good-night to his friend, saying, "Good-night, again,
and don’t dream about that thing if you can."25
The mono­
logue ends here, but the story is concluded by a single
paragraph taken from a newspaper telling the circumstances
of the mysterious death several weeks later of this retir­
ed sea captain.
From the opening sentence to the last noth­
ing is told but the actual story of "the screaming skull";
no word occurs that does not, at least indirectly, contri­
bute to the narrative proper or to the mood of the tale.
In somewhat the same manner Man Overboard! begins
by the narrator's recalling, "Yes, I have heard ’man over­
board! ’ a good many times since I was a boy, and once or
twice I have seen the man go."2®
This story, however,
lacks suspense because the narrator knows the ending; where­
as the captain who is telling about the screaming skull is
experiencing some of its horrors at the very time of his
The Upper Berth doesn’t commence as quickly as the
the others.
In the beginning the narrator remarks on the
25 Ibid., p. 94.
26 Ibid., p. 99.
stupidity of the conversation that evening, describes the
men who were present and one, Brisbane, in particular.
"It is a very singular thing," said Brisbane.
Everybody stopped talking. Brisbane’s voice was not
loud, but possessed a peculiar quality of penetrating
general conversation, and cutting it like a knife.
Everybody listened. Brisbane, perceiving that he had
attracted their general attention, lit his cigar with
great equanimity.
"It is very singular," he continued, "that thing
about ghosts. People are always asking whether anybody
has seen a ghost. I have."27
So the story is at last begun by.Brisbane about the ghost
that inhabited the upper berth of state-room 105 aboard the
Brisbane’s description of this strange sleep­
er is quite clear and definite for so unearthly a thing.
It was something ghostly, horrible beyond words, and
it moved in my grip. It was like the body of a man
long drowned, and yet it moved, and had the strength
of ten men living; but I gripped it with all my might—
the slippery, oozy, horrible thing— the dead white eyes
seemed to stare at me out of the dusk; the putrid odour
of rank sea-water was about it, and its shiny hair hung
in foul wet curls over its dead face. I wrestled with
the dead thing; it thrust itself upon me, so that I, at
last, cried aloud and fell, and left my hold.28
In the story it is the daylight, sane atmosphere and the
abundance of realistic details that make the existence of
this ghost sleeper seem possible.
27 Ibid., pp. 201-202.
28 Ibid., P« 225.
Several characteristics of Marion Crawford’s writing
which were apparent in the novels and in the novelettes are
also obvious in these few short-stories. The supernatural
is the most important characteristic here, for all seven
tales are highly supernatural.
Crawford’s interest in the
sea and his working knowledge as a sailor are again em­
ployed in four of the stories.
One of the author’s numerous
documentary notes follows The Screaming Skull and reads:
Note.— Students of ghost lore and haunted houses will
find the foundation of the foregoing story in the legends
about a skull which is still preserved in the farmhouse
called Bettiscomb Manor, situated, I believe, on the
Dorsetshire coast.29
And again one finds evidence of Crawford's carelessness, al­
though the short-stories seem to have been more carefully
planned than many of the longer works.
The carelessness
here is evidenced by the unnecessary repetition of the same
simile in two stories.
In The Dead Smile the following sen­
tence occurs:
Sir Hugo’s face seemed, at best, to be made of fine
parchment drawn skin-tight over a wooden mask, in which
two eyes were sunk out of sight, and peered from far
within through crevices under the slanting, wrinkled
lids, alive and watchful like two toads in their holes,
side by side and exactly alike.30
The following two sentences appear on successive pages of
The Screaming Skull.
29 Ibid., p. 96.
20 Ibid., p. 3.
Luke was a red-headed man with a pale face when he was
young, and he was never stout; in middle age he turned
a sandy grey, and after his son died he grew thinner
and thinner, till his head looked like a skull with
parchment stretched over it very tight, and his eyes
had a sort of glare that was very disagreeable to look
I'm not nervous or imaginative, but I can quite believe
he might have sent a sensitive woman into hysterics—
his head looked so much like a skull in parchment.32
Although the novelettes and short-stories represent
only about one fourth of Marion CrawfordTs fiction— eleven
volumes out of a total forty-five, they represent, in some
respects, his best writing.
And paradoxically, the five
unsatisfactory novelettes are his weakest stories.
others, Marzio'_s Crucifix, Zoroaster, A Cigarette-Maker's
Romance, Khaled, and Arethusa, illustrate Crawford’s story
telling ability quite as ?/ell as do the best of the full
length novels, and in addition they show a certain compact­
ness and a kind of concise vividness not evident in the
long novels.
The careful selection of their details pro­
duces a new quality in Crawford's writing, atmosphere.
compactness and the atmosphere of the novelettes make them
complete stories, each of which produces a definite artistic
To attain this effect Crawford was necessarily a
more careful craftsman when writing these novelettes than
51 Ibid., p. 48.
32 ibid.» P* 49.
when writing the long novels.
The single artistic effect
which Poe advocated Crawford attained in four of the six
"uncanny tales."
These stories too have been carefully
composed, and in them each event, each paragraph, and some­
times each word has been thoughtfully chosen to heighten the
desired tone and mood of the tale.
From this it would seem
that the careful craftsmanship forced upon Crawford by these
shorter works should have proved that his field was short
fiction, and yet the weak novelettes indicate that these
when carelessly done are the worst failures.
The careless
novels still retain the benefits of the author’s narrative
The novelettes do not have this to lean upon.
Much the same conclusion, then, must be drawn in
regard to these short works as was done in regard to the
When not marred or wholly destroyed by careless­
ness, the novelettes and the short-stories are interesting
tales, containing effects of atmosphere in the novelettes
and of horror in the short-stories that are long remember­
As in the novels, character is not important; plot is
what attracts and then holds the reader’s interest.
quality they have which separates them' from the novels, the
quality of atmosphere produced by a consistent tone of mood
throughout the tale, evident in each event, each setting,
and each character, at the same time controlling the plot
and emerging from it to tie, or weave, together the begin­
ning and end of each tale.
Thirty-two years is but a fragment in the history of
American Literature, far too short a period in which to de­
termine the place of a
Marion Crawford died
on April 9, 1909, and since that date his influence upon
literature, his popularity with the reading public, and his
interest to the critics have steadily diminished.
ture in general has turned its back upon the fiction that
strove only to entertain, tending more and more to face
realism and its accompanying interest in the social studies.
When the stream of novels and novelettes, which had appeared
for twenty-seven years at the rate of more than one and onehalf stories a year, ceased abruptly, the interest the read­
ing public had had in them and their author disappeared.
Because Crawford has not been followed by any notable au­
thors who have tried to imitate his works or to uphold his
creed, the critics have ceased to mention him, except in
instances where his period or the entire group of romantics
is studied.
The numerous reviews of his novels and the many maga­
zine articles, such as those by Ouida, Frederic Taber Cooper,
and W. P. Trent, which appeared from 1882 until about 1912,
testify to his popularity during those years.
E. F. Harkins
in a volume of sketches on American literary figures, pub­
lished in 1901, wrote of Crawford:
He is easily the best known of the American authors who
make their homes abroad.1
Mr. Crawford has frequently been called "a born
novelist,” and we have yet to find a critic who, judg­
ing him by all that he has done, is inclined to deny him
the right to that high title. His dialogue is vivid,
his problems, as a rule, logically worked out, his
dramatic situations strong and timely.2
Frederic Taber Cooper, who published an article in
The Forum a month after Crawford's death and who included
him in his volume Some American Story Tellers, published
in 1911, was possibly the first to attempt to speak serious­
ly of his real merit.
In the latter volume, he asserted;
Whatever position may be assigned to him now or here­
after in English letters, it must be conceded that he
was first, last, and always a prince of story tellers,
whose title was inborn and not acquired.3
What place will be ultimately assigned to Mr. Craw­
ford in the history of fiction it is somewhat early to
predict. Excepting as a conservative force, it is
doubtful whether he has influenced the formal develop­
ment of the modern novel in any important degree.
It has sometimes been claimed that Mr. Crawford was
in a measure responsible for the modern spread of cos­
mopolitanism in fiction, but at best it must have been
a remote influence, since his was of that rare and per­
fect. kind that few others possess the skill to imitate.4
1 1. F. Harkins, Famous Authors (Men), p. 169.
2 Ibid., p. 181.
3 Frederic Taber Cooper, Some American Story Tellers,
p. 2.
4 Ibid.• PP- 22-25.
Four years later Fred Lewis Pattee wrote a limited,
but rather complete history, A History of American Litera­
ture Since 1870, in which he devoted about seven pages to
Marion Crawford and his fiction.
Pattee, for the first time
writing as one who is looking back on the period and is see­
ing the author in that period, is especially impressed by
Crawford's cosmopolitanism and says:
No other American novelist has ever covered so much
He wins us first with his worldliness, his vast
knowledge of the surface of life in all lands. He is
full of cosmopolitan comparisons, wisdom from everywhere,
modern instances from Stamboul and Allahabad and Rome.
To read him is like walking through foreign scenes with
a fully informed guide, a marvelous guide, indeed, a
patrician, a polished man of the world.
He has told his stories well; he holds his reader's
interest to. the end. Slight though his stories may
often be-in development, they are ingenious always in
construction and they are cumulative in interest. He
has undoubted dramatic power, sparkling dialogue, thrust
and parry, whole novels like Saracinesca, for instance,
that might be transferred to the stage with scarcely an
Pattee closes his otherwise careful analysis with the follow­
ing compliment:
He stands undoubtedly as the most brilliant of the
American writers of fiction, the most cosmopolitan, the
most entertaining. His galaxy of Roman novels, especial­
ly the Saracinesca group, bids fair to outlive many
novels that contain deeper studies of human life and
that are more inspired products of literary art.6
5 Fred Lewis Pattee, A History of American Literature
Since 1870, pp. 390-92.
6 Ibid., p. 393.
In 1930, a decade and a half after the publication
of Pattee’s history, Vernon Farrington’s history of the Be­
ginnings of Critical Realism In America was published.
This period is said to cover the years 1860-1920, but the
author states:
American taste was still romantic, and from his villa
at Florence,” F. Marion Crawford regularly sent forth
heavy romances that were regarded as contributions to
our literature.8
The interval of fifteen years between this and the statements
of Pattee seems to have tempered considerably the enthusiasm
for Crawford.
In addition to the reference quoted above,
Parrington mentions The Novel: What It l£ as a "retort court­
eous to Howells’ contention that plot is childish and a sto­
ry ends well that ends faithfully.”9
He is, however, not
fair to Crawford’s novels in that the only one he mentions
is An American Politician which he analyzes and finds absurd,
as it certainly is.10
Because it is one of the three or
four actually poor novels of all that Crawford wrote, Mr.
Parrington should have acknowledged this fact and have indi­
cated that the other novels were different in theme and, for
^ Crawford’s villa was at Sorrento. There is no in­
dication that he ever lived in or near Florence.
8 Vernon L. Parrington, Main Currents In American
Thought, Volume III ”The Beginnings of Critical Realism In
America,” p. 237.
9 Hoc. cit.
10 Ibid*» PP* 171-72.
the most part, better constructed.
Russell Blankenship, studying Crawford as one of the
three American romantics of the late nineteenth century,
reaffirms the merits which Pattee and others had commended
and indicates clearly his place in that period of American
Writing books that accorded with his theory of litera­
ture, he stressed vivid color, action, adventure,
artificial plot, and unusual characters.' . . . So
clearly did Crawford state his creed, and so intelli­
gently did he construct his novels according to that
creed, that he became the most capable champion of the
American romantics, just as Howells was the acknowl­
edged leader of the realists.
Crawford wrote a large number of novels in a rather
short life, but in all his books he is entertaining,
and in some he reaches a high degree of narrative skill.
As a novelist Crawford excels only in plot movement.
He tells a story well, so very well that the reader
overlooks the flagrant use of time-honored melodramatic
devices, the inability to create convincing characters,
and the many artificial props used to sustain suspense.11
The comments of these several American literary his­
torians have furnished the only criticism of Marion Crawford
since his death.
In June of 1940, however, there appeared
as a preview of Mew England: Indian Summer, which was about
to be published, an article by the. author Van Wyck Brooks
in which an excellent sketch and criticism of Crawford is
The most telling part of the article follows.
11 Russell Blankenship, American Literature, pp. 547-48.
He [Crawford] was an improvisator, a story-teller, natu­
ral, nonchalant, easy, and the art of the novel was al­
ways the least of his cares. Personally brilliant, he
was anything but a brilliant writer, and problems of
technique and social problems, which occupied the minds
of James and Howells, were far from his intellectually
simple world. His fresh, brisk style was in no way
distinguished, and his characterizations were general
and somewhat blurred. His people were puppets in what
he called a "pocket theatre,” and one scarcely recalled
their traits when the curtain fell. But his narrative
gift was astonishing, and his interest in life was eager
and inexhaustible, wide, and observant. Add to this
versatility, which was truly astounding, his lucidity,
his energy, his dash, and the zest and masculine charm
that informed his writing, and one understood the vogue
of Marion Crawford, with his tone of a clever, accom­
plished man of the world.12
There is no disagreement regarding Crawford’s story
telling skill nor the interest in first-hand knowledge of
strange, foreign cities which the novels arouse.
These were
the bases for his popularity during his life and these will
probably be the bases for his place in future American lit­
erary histories.
When one comprehends the variety in time, in scene,
and in plot to be found in Crawford’s stories, one can
understand more easily the popularity or vogue that he
enjoyed for more than thirty years.
An article in The
American Review of Reviews for May, 1909 makes the follow­
ing statements:
Before he had passed his fortieth year, eighteen of
his novels had been published, and at the time of his
12 Yan Wyck Brooks, ’’Writers of The Eighties,” The
Saturday Review of Literature, 22:4, (June, 1940.)
death, after twenty-seven years of writing, there was
a list of forty titles accredited to him in the pub­
lisher’s catalogues. Of these woyks it is stated that
2,000,000 copies have been sold.10
Only twelve years after the publication of M r . Isaacs, in
1894, W. P. Trent wrote:
If he was disappointed in not finding one of his
novels in the list of ten best American books compiled
not long since from votes given by the readers of a
well-known literary weekly (a list which admitted
General Wallace’s Ben Hur, but had no room for Cooper’s
hast of The Mohicans), he has recently been consoled
by learning from the pages of one of the monthlies that
at least five of his novels are in constant demand at
the public libraries and that he ranks fifteenth in
popularity among all novelists, living or dead, who
are known to the readers that patronize those institu­
tions .14
The fact that at least two of his works were published in
French is attested by a footnote to this same article which
Nevertheless the French Adademy awarded the author a
medal for it rZoroaster] and for Marzio’s Crucifix, the
French versions of which were both from Mr. Crawford’s
facile pen.
The popularity of the Crawford stories is proved
further by the fact that four of the ’’pocket-stages” actu­
ally were produced upon the stage.
Concerning Crawford’s
1^ Marion Crawford, ’The Novelist,” The American
Review of Reviews, 39:636> (May, 1909.)
14 W. P. Trent, ”M r ..Crawford’s Novels,” The Sewanee
Review, 2:240, (February; 1894.)
1^ Ibid., p. 255 (footnote).
dramatic ability, the Encyclopaedia Britannica states: **lt
was but natural, therefore, that A Cigarette-Maker’s Romance
should be effective upon the stage . . .**16
Of the other
dramatizations, Mrs. Elliott writes:
Crawford was haunted by the desire to write plays,
or to have his novels dramatized. Dr. Claudius was
produced in New York, where it held the stage only one
week. In The Palace of The King, Crawford’s most
successful play, was produced by Viola Allen and had
a long run. . . . The most popular cinema adaptation
of his stories is probably The White Sister. From
time to time the dramatic movie appears upon the screen,
vastly changed, however, and not to its profit from the
story Crawford tells.I?
The novels, the novelettes, the short-stories— all
are easy to read. . They are true to the creed; they only
None contains anything to challenge the reader’s
beliefs, his theories, or his knowledge.
None imparts a
single new idea.
The faults in Crawford’s fiction are many.
obvious is a fault in technique.
The most
The author is careless.
Careless inaccuracies of plot, careless repetitions of
phrases, and careless and abrupt conclusions occur through­
out all the works.
But in this not to be expected of one
who wrote as much and was as busy as Marion Crawford?
Charles D. Lanier gives the following amazing information?
16 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume VI, p. 649.
17 Maud Howe Elliott,
0 £.
cit., pp. 278-79.
The Chronicler of the Saracinesca told me recently
that in twenty-five working days, broken only by Sundays,
he' had completed a story of over 150,000 words, and that
in his own manuscript. This gives the enormous average
of 6,000 words per day . . .1°
Maud Howe Elliott speaks of his extraordinary energy and
His working hours were from nine till noon, then a
brief respite, a light lunch, and at it again till the
daily stint of five thousand words was done.10
Norman Douglas, who was admittedly influenced by Crawford’s
financial success, adds some details of how he spent his
time when he wasn’t writing.
He cruised about in summer, lectured three months in
America, his native country, and passed a few days
every year in London discussing business with his pub­
lisher, Macmillan.20
Had Crawford been less ambitious, less prolific and
more discriminating, he would undoubtedly have been a bet­
ter writer.
Fred Lewis Pattee makes the following indictment
against him.
His works are without deep emotion, without tenderness,
without altruism, without the higher reaches of imagi­
nation. He has no social or moral purpose as Howells
had. He sees the body, but not the soul, society
rather than life in its deeper currents, a society mar­
velously complex in its requirements and its accouter­
ments, its conventions and traditions, but he looks lit­
tle below the superficial, the temporal, the merely
worldly. . . . He writes of the human spectacle and is
content if he brings amusement for the present moment.
. . . He wrote rapidly and easily, and his Style is
1Q Charles D. Lanier, **F. Marion Crawford, Novelist,**
The Review of Reviews, 6:712.
19 Maud Howe Elliott, 0£. cit., p. 160.
20 Norman Douglas, Looking Back, p. 402.
clear and natural, but it is also without distinction.
His pictures are vividly drawn and his stories are ex­
ceedingly readable— journalistic excellencies, but there
is nothing of inspiration about them, no breath of
genius, no touch of literature in the stricter sense
of that word.21
These weaknesses which Pattee indicates may be accounted
for by pointing out a weakness in Crawford’s creed.
the monograph The Novel: What It Is, Crawford openly op­
poses the inclusion of social or moral purposes and stress­
es the importance of the plot.
The novel, he insists,
should resemble a pocket-stage whose sole purpose is to en­
The over-stress upon plot brings in several
accompanying defects.
incidence. 23
One of these is the overuse of co­
Another is the secondary place accorded the
characters, who necessarily become mere types, not living
as individuals but coming to life occasionally to move the
plot along.24
A third fault resulting from Crawford’s ab­
sorbing interest in plot is the reader’s feeling (expressed
by Mr. Pattee), that he is seeing only the surface, the
outside of society and of life; he sees the pictures clear­
ly, he is actually witness to the happenings and events,
21 Fred Lewis Pattee, op. cit., p. 393.
22 cf., Marion Crawford, The Novel: What It Is, pp.
23 Cf., p. 61, (Chapter IV).
24: £f. , p. 72, (Chapter IV).
but lie never understands the great emotions and the larger
causes beneath that make the pictures and underlie the
■From the forty-five volumes of fiction, the shortstories, novelettes, and novels that Marion Crawford produced--from this immense store come tales that move swiftly
toward a great and dramatic climax; tales that are mysteri­
ous as well as mystical and unearthly; tales that are sheer
love-stories; tales that deal with huge spectacles of soci­
ety, such as the Roman aristocracy after i860 in the Saracinesca trilogy, or the peoples of the Second Crusade in
Via Crucis, or the nobility of the court of Philip II of
Spain in In The Palace of The King; tales that are tiny
scenes, compact and complete as Marzio1s Crucifix, Zoro­
aster, and A Cigarette-Maker1s Romance; tales that range
in time from the days of Daniel the prophet to the year of
the author's death and that stretch in place from Persia
and Constantinople across Europe and the Atlantic Ocean to
New York and Boston.
All these are to be found in the
fiction of.F. Marion Crawford.
Although Crawford's popularity has declined rapidly
since his death in 1909* it does not seem probable that his
name will ever be entirely unknown.
Just as the popular
magazines publish stories which appeal to those who read
only for entertainment, so there must be novels which may
be read easily and for the same purpose.
That Crawford’s
stories, or the best of them may always be found among
these may well be.
It seems likely that a few of the
short-stories will hold a permanent and worthy place in the
field of horror stories.
The Screaming Skull, Man Overboard
and The Upper Berth, as tales of sheer horror, are excellent
The last one was recently included under proper classifica­
tion in the volume The Rise of Realism, published in 1933.25
A study of the short novels or novelettes in Ameri­
can fiction would necessitate the inclusion of the more
artistic Crawford novelettes, such as Marzio’s Crucifix,
Zoroaster, and A Cigarette-Maker’s Romance.
These three are
such delicate stories and such true pictures of their re­
spective countries and eras, that they may stand out more
significantly after a longer passage of time.
Likewise several of the novels, Saracinesca, Mariet­
ta, Pietro Ghisleri, and Stradella, as representative of
the Italian series, and M r . Isaacs, the unbelievable story
of India, may be significant in American Literature as
novels whose greatest assets were their foreign setting and
their skillful narrative.
It has been the purpose of this thesis to ascertain
the merit of F. Marion Crawford as an author and the place
25 Cf., Louis Wann, editor, The Rise of Realism.
of his fiction in American literature.
It is hoped that
Crawford’s merit has been established as that of a story­
teller, whose ambition was to be the kind of author that
he actually was* one who told a variety of entertaining sto­
ries in a skillful manner.
It is hoped further that the
place of Crawford’s fiction has been determined as that re­
presentative of the popular, light romanticism evident at
the turn of the century and representative of the public
taste for literature which was essentially genteel and
polished and not only decidedly non-American but foreign in
M r . Isaacs. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1882.
D r . Claudius.
New York: Macmillan and Co., 1883*
A Roman Singer.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company,
To Leeward.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1884.
An American Politician. New York: Houghton, Mifflin and
Company, 1885*
A Tale of A Lonely Parish.
IH8FT------ ------
New York: Macmillan and Co.,
Paul Patoff.
New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1887
London: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1887 .
With The Immortals.
New York: Macmillan and Co., 1888.
Griefenstein. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1889*
Sant * Ilario. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1889 .
The Witch of Prague.
The Three Pates.
New York: Macmillan and Co., 1891 .
New York: Macmillan and Co., 1892.
The Children of The King.
1892 .
New York: Macmillan and Co.,
Don Orsino. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1892.
Pietro Ghisleri. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1892.
Casa Braccio.
New York: Macmillan and Co., 1894.
Katherine Lauderdale♦ New York: Macmillan and Co., 1894.
The Ralstons. Rev York: Macmillan and Co., 1895*
Adam Johnstone»s Son. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1895*
New York: Macmillan and Co., 1895*
2 vols.
New York: Macmillan and Co., 1896 .
Via Crucis. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1898 .
In The Palace of The King.
1900 .
New York: The Macmillan Co.,
Marietta. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1901.
New York:
The Heart of Rome.
The Macmillan Company, 1902.
Whosoever Shall Offend.
Fair Margaret.
TheMacmillan Company, 1905*
New York: The Macmillan Company,
New York: The Macmillan Company, 1905*
A Lady of Rome. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1906 .
The Primadonna.
New York: The Macmillan Company, 1908.
New York: The Macmillan Company, 1909*
The White Sister. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1909*
Zoroaster. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1885 .
Marzio»s Crucifix.
Macmillan and Co., I8 8 7 .
A Cigarette-Maker's Romance. New York: Macmillan and Co.,
Khaled. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1891 .
Marlon Darche. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1893Love in Idleness. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1893*
A Rose of Yesterday.
New York: The Macmillan Company,
Arethusa. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1907*
The Little City of Hope.
New York: The Macmillan Company,
The Undesirable Governess. New York: The Macmillan
Company, 1909•
Wandering Ghosts (British title, Uncanny Tales).
The Macmillan Company, 1911•
The Novel: What It ]Cs.
New York:
New York: Macmillan and Co., 1893*
Constantinople♦ New York: Charles Scribner*s Sons, 1895 .
Ave Roma Immortalis. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1898 .
Blankenship, Russell, American Literature.
Holt and Company, 1931. pp. 543-52.
New York: Henry
Cooper, Frederic Taber, Some American Story Tellers. New
York: Henry Holt and Company, 1911. pp. 1-26.
Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. IV. New York:
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1930. pp. 519-20.
Douglas, Norman, Looking Back. New York: Harcourt, Brace
and Company, 1933. pp. 370-410.
Elliott, Maud Howe, My Cousin, F. Marion Crawford. New
York: The Macmillan Company, 1934. 312 pp.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, fourteenth edition, Vol. VI.
York: Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., 1929.
Hamilton, Clayton, A Manual of The Art of Fiction. New
York: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1926. pp. 1-225.
Harkins, E. F . , Famous Authors (Men),
and Co., 1901. pp. 169-83.
Boston: L. C. Page
Farrington, Vernon L . , The Beginnings of Critical Realism
in America. Vol. Ill, M a m Currents in American
Literature. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company,
1930. pp. 171-72; 237-39.
Pattee, Fred Lewis, A History of American Literature Since
1870. New York: The Century Company, 1915. pp. 381-93.
Perry, Bliss, A Study of Prose Fiction.
Mifflin Company, 1920. 397 pp.
New York: Houghton,
Stevenson, Robert Louis, "A Gossip On Romance,** Essays.
R. L. Phelps, editor. New York: Charles Scribner's
Sons, 1906.
_______, "On Some Technical Elements of Style In Literature,"
Essays of Travel And In The Art of Writing. New York:
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1923.
Trent, W. P., et. al., Later National Literature. Part II,
Vol. IV, The Cambridge History of American Literature.
New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1921.
Wann, Louis, editor, The Rise of Realism 1860-1888. Vol.
Ill, American Literature: A Period Anthology. New York:
The Macmillan Company, 1923. pp. 797-99.
Brett, George P., "P. Marion Crawford: Novelist and Histo­
rian,” The Outlook. XII (April 24, 1909), 915-17.
Brooks, Van Wyck, "Writers of The Eighties," The Saturday
Review of Literature, XXII (June 8, 1940), 3-4.
Cooper, Frederic Taber, "Marion Crawford," The Forum, YT.T
(May, 1909), 488-91.
Fraser, Mary Crawford, "Notes of A Romantic Life," Collier's
XLV (April 23, 1910), 22-24.
Lanier, Charles D. , "F. Marion Crawford, Novelist," The
Review of Reviews, VI (January, 1893), 712-15.
"Marion Crawford, The Novelist," The American Review of
Reviews, XXXIX (May, 1909), 636-37.
"The Novels of Mr. Marion Crawford," The Living Age, XXXII
(August 25, 1906), 451-65.
Ouida (Maria Louise de la Ramee), "Italian Novels of Marion
Crawford," The Nineteenth Century, CCXLIX (November.
1897), 719-33.
Poe, Edgar Allan,. "Twice-Told Tales," Graham’s Magazine, XX
(May, 1842), 297-99.
Trent, W. P., "Mr. Crawford's Novels," The Sewanee Review.
II (February, 1894), 239-56.
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