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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Title: Paul Ferroll

Author and Title: Caroline Clive. Paul Ferroll: A Tale

First Edition: London: Saunders and Otley, 1855. 1 volume.

Summary: Paul Ferroll is a rich landed gentleman with an unpleasant wife "of violent temper." One morning, his wife is found stabbed to death in her bed and robbed of her watch. The murder weapon, a pen knife, is also missing. A gardener, Franks, is accused of the murder on thin circumstantial evidence and Ferroll, to the amazement of his neighbors, pays for his defense. After the servant's acquittal, Ferroll compounds the scandal by assisting the man and his wife's emigration to Canada. For his part, after the trial, Ferroll leaves his estate for an extended time. Years later, he returns with his second wife: Elinor Shaleton is the love of his early life, the penniless daughter of an old family. Settled once again, Ferroll becomes reclusive and turns his attention to his literary employments (mainly political essays). In regards to his neighbors, he scrupulously avoids accepting any invitations and rarely visits them. (Though, he does not hold his wife to the same.) A daughter, Janet, is born to the couple. Over the years, a number of events occur. Ferroll save his neighbor, Lucy Bartlett, from a mad butler who attempts to burn down her house. At grave risk to himsef, he superintends county's response to a cholera outbreak (this part of the novel is recounted through a journal). During the trial of working men accused of burning mills, Ferroll faces down a riot by shooting its leader (ironically, a man he saved during the cholera epidemic). Ferroll is arrested for murder, refuses bail, and tried for the crime: the jury finds him guilty, but strongly recommend him for mercy and Ferroll is pardoned by the government. The family then takes a trip to France where Ferroll suffers a serious accident. After a long recuperation, they return to England to find that Martha Franks, the wife of the man accused of Ferroll's first wife's murder, has returned as well. When some jewelry belonging to the dead woman is found in her possession, Martha is tried for the murder. Before her certain conviction, Ferroll confesses: it was he who murdered his wife. As proof to his claim, he recovers the murder weapon and missing watch from his wife's grave. The shock kills the second Mrs. Ferroll. With the assistance of Janet, Ferroll escapes from prison and flees to America. The second edition of the novel has a "concluding notice" showing Ferroll's last two years in Boston living a quiet life before dying himself. (TJB)

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References: BL; Sutherland


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