It's a refreshing change to have an author who uses plain and simple language. So many of these authors, Lovecraft, Smith, Chambers, Machen, all are determined to use lots of advanced vocabulary that sends you to the dictionary every other sentence. Walpole eschewed that and gave us something we could get through with only a handful of dictionary look-ups per chapter. Hallelujah! And to think, he's the earliest of the authors to date, writing in the 18th century. Why later authors felt the need to sound ever more erudite is difficult to understand.

There is some archaic language, to clap a door, for example, or referring to servants as domestics, but on the whole the language is really quite straight forward and the native English speaker would have little difficulty in following along without a dictionary handy.

Also the story is very to-the-point: not much in the way of descriptions except to the extent a description is vital to a plot point. That's a huge change from later authors as well, who go to great lengths to describe all the things in intricate detail, even things that are of no importance to the action. Such over-descriptiveness may carry some historical interest to it when you are curious what things were like in a past period, but not so much story interest where it sometimes reaches the level of being clumsy and burdensome to wade through.

casque: helmet

durance: those who played Diablo II will be familiar with this word, but it is otherwise quite an archaic and obsolete word most modern readers would not be familiar with, meaning imprisonment or confinement.

disculpate: exculpate, to clear from alleged fault or guilt

I can't find any attribution for the picture, but it's clearly old enough to be public domain. It might well date back to the original publication of the story, or some version very soon thereafter. This is suggested to me by the fact that the helmet depicted is a 17th century Spanish style of helmet, not a Crusader-era Italian helmet that we should expect given the setting of the story (which was noted for us only in the Preface, so if you skipped that, go back and check it out now). I would expect most likely a bascinet. But most artists wouldn't know one helmet from the next, so they would just depict whatever they see in common use during their own lifetime. Hence my suspicion this was an illustration from some very early version of the book.

To follow along:

By way of a dedication, Walpole gives us this sonnet to his friend Mary Coke:


The gentle maid, whose hapless tale
These melancholy pages speak;
Say, gracious lady, shall she fail
To draw the tear adown thy cheek?

No; never was thy pitying breast
Insensible to human woes;
Tender, tho’ firm, it melts distrest
For weaknesses it never knows.

Oh! guard the marvels I relate
Of fell ambition scourg'd by fate,
From reason's peevish blame.
Blest with thy smile, my dauntless sail
I dare expand to Fancy's gale,
For sure thy smiles are Fame.


The picture used is a portrait of Lady Mary Coke, née Campbell, by Allan Ramsay

I wouldn't normally include a preface in an audiobook recording, but in this case Walpole is creating an important framing for the story that readers might find interesting to know before proceeding.

The picture used is a drawing of Strawberry Hill by William Marlow.

Strawberry Hill was home to Horace Walpole from 1749 onwards, built in a Gothic Revival style.

To follow along:

There is an additional preface to the second edition which I refuse to record. Partly because it is simply Walpole acknowledging that he did, in fact, write this piece, not merely translate it, and therefore it contributes no useful or interesting information to the reader, but also because he quotes, IN FRENCH, two rather extensive passages from Voltaire. As I have absolutely no capacity with the French language whatsoever, I will not subject you to it, nor humiliate myself, by attempting so much text in a language I cannot speak to save my own life.

What a bother that so many early English (and American!) authors felt so compelled to use so much French in their writing. Why were they so ashamed of their own language? I know French was the lingua franca of Europe for a long time, but if you are writing very specifically for an English-speaking audience, then who cares? You're not impressing anybody, you're just annoying everybody. Well, it's all in the past so we can't change it now, but ugh, how frustrating to the modern audience!

This could be understood as a prose poem rather than a story fragment.

The picture used is "statues of Memnon". This file comes from Wellcome Images (, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom. Refer to Wellcome blog post (

Used here under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (

To follow along:

Phaniol: names like this really make the native English speaker sympathize with the ESL student. There is absolutely no way to know how to pronounce this just based on the spelling alone, and there are quite a lot of options. And the author left us no hints as to what pronunciation he had in mind. Ugh. I'm glad this is so short, so I don't have to say the name too many times before we're done with it and never have to encounter it again.

asphodel: In the real world this is a type of lily, but there is also a mythological plant of this name, being an immortal flower said to grow in the Elysian fields.

I thought about putting some ocean wave ambiance into this one. But it's so out of character for my recordings to do so, so I ended up deciding against it. Perhaps I can upload a second version with it just to see which one people prefer.

The picture used is "The Birth of Venus" by Sandro Botticelli

To follow along:

Talk about an under-developed piece. Feels like it could be used as a writing prompt for an ambitious budding author.

I can't find any indication of when this was written, but almost all of Smith's poems appears to have been written in the 1920s (or earlier!), mostly 1922 at that, so there's a fair chance this one was also written in that period. "The Hobbit" by Tolkien wasn't published until 1937. So this "The Desolation of..." language would not have been inspired by Tolkien.

To follow along:

vernal: spring

fumitory: a herbaceous annual flowering plant in the poppy family

profulgent: sending out rays of light; bright, shining. Annoyingly, I can't find a satisfactory pronunciation guide for this word, and the pronunciation recordings on youtube don't quite agree. So another word that nobody seems to know how to pronounce. There are two rather obvious possibilities, and probably other less obvious ones. I went with the one that rhymes with effulgent. Which happens to mean the same exact thing!

lave: wash

gravid: pregnant

basanite: an igneous, volcanic rock with aphanitic to porphyritic texture, it forms from magma low in silica and enriched in alkali metal oxides that solidifies rapidly close to the Earth's surface.

verdigris: the bright bluish-green patina formed on copper or brass by oxidation

gibbous: convex or bulging

The picture used is "The Grey Desert- KKH" by Raki_Man, and used here under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (

This desert is in Akto county, Kizilsu Kyrgyz Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang, China. It may not be ashen, but it is a grey-sand desert, so probably as close as can be had on our planet.

To follow along:

This makes me want to read more stories set in Yondo! Unfortunately, I don't think there are any more. Definitely fertile grounds for the budding author of the weird and supernatural!

Or if nothing else, it'd be a creepy and dangerous setting for an RPG.

This isn't a full story, it's just a fragment. Yes, it really ends mid-sentence like that. Just as it was starting to get interesting. Dagnabit!

Apparently there are many places in the US southwest that are named "Gold Canyon", including multiple places in California. I guess that's not really surprising given the Gold Rush of 1849. There are also Gold Canyons in Nevada and Arizona, and probably other places that we aren't interested in.

A reference to the Rosicrucians! If you've been following along my channel of late, we recently completed "Zanoni" which is all about the Rosicrucians. At some point everything starts to reference everything else, and because we've read through so many things by now, we start to get some of the references!

Although we don't know the full intention of the author with this story, it should be noted that if this is meant to be part of the Hyperborea cycle (just assumed, but not an unreasonable assumption given the reference to Haon-Dor we had in "The Seven Geases"), and Hyperborea is said (in "Ubbo-Sathla") to have been part of Greenland, then why is this story set in California? How does Haon-Dor's house end up way over thousands of miles west of Greenland? *boggle* Well, we'll just never know.

The picture used is of the Gold Canyon Trail by Jim A.

The Gold Canyon pictured is one close to Los Angeles, so probably not the one in the story which is presumably close to San Francisco, of which there is such a one in the real world. But I'm guessing it mostly all looks about the same regardless, so good enough.

I gave an AI art generator another try, but still couldn't get anything satisfactory. For all the great things I keep seeing about it, and how artists all feel so threatened by it, I don't get it. It isn't working for me!

To follow along:

This is the last of the Hyperborean cycle. In just 11 short stories, Smith paints an incredible world a surprising depth and lore. I certainly enjoyed these stories! There are four more short stories/prose poems coming up here that were tacked on to the book I'm reading that the editor called The Rim World cycle. Despite not being Hyperborea, they do give something of a similar vibe.

adit: a horizontal passage leading into a mine for the purpose of access or drainage

soporific: tending to induce drowsiness or sleep

medicament: a substance used for medical treatment

lubricious: there are two definitions here and neither one seems particularly apt, so I present them both and let you decide which one makes sense to you: 1) offensively displaying or intended to arouse sexual desire, or 2) smooth and slippery with oil or a similar substance

abdominous: having a large belly

lupanars: brothels

lascivious: lustful, wanton

approbation: approval

perspicacious: having a ready insight into and understanding of things

mazzard: in this context, a person's head or face

The picture used is "Vestal Virgins" by Jean Raoux, 1727, now displayed at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, France.

To follow along:

This story was the first of the Hyperborean cycle to be written, and as such, some of the details don't line up quite right with details from other stories. We can explain this by noting that after several centuries, things tend to get fuzzy and details are often lost and fantastical tales made up to replace the lost details. It's a normal and common thing to happen.

The few examples I can find of "Zeiros" being pronounced are not how I would think to pronounce it. I prefer the German manner of pronouncing the "ei", where everybody else seems to go with what in German would be an "ie". I've said it a lot on other stories, but if you are author wanting to use names where the pronunciation is not completely and blindingly obvious (like Bob or Jane), put something in the book to indicate what pronunciation you have in mind. A footnote, and appendix, anything at all. Ugh. And the name Tirouv? I can't even... C'mon, authors! Do better with pronunciation guides for your names!!

Anyways, given that English is extremely inconsistent about the pronunciation of ei (and ie), unlike German which is very consistent with these, and that no hint is given by the author as to what it should be, you are going to get the German style ei pronunciation from me :-P

It's not just ESL students who pull their hair out over English spelling, even us native speakers struggle with it!

mordant: as an adjective to describe an acid, it must mean burning or pungent. Rather curiously, there is a Warhammer 40K unit called the Mordant Acid-Dogs, who are tunnel fighters.

chary: cautious or suspicious

bole: the trunk of a tree

purpureal : of a purple color

quinquangular: having five angles or corners; pentagonal

ebullition: the action of bubbling or boiling

hassock: a firm clump of grass or matted vegetation in marshy or boggy ground

To follow along:

Well that was a very dark and horrifying ending D:

A fathom is 6 feet (1.8288 meters). Well, 6 feet for the US, in the UK it's more complicated and could vary from 5 to 7 feet. The word is typically used in measuring the depth of water.

effulgent: shining brightly; radiant

panoply: in this context, a complete set of arms and armor. More generally, a complete or impressive collection of things.

gelid: icy; extremely cold

glaucous: of a dull greyish-green or blue color

serried: standing close together

The use of the word 'pendant' in this story is curious. Obviously we're not referring to jewelry. It is perhaps best to just go directly to the word's etymology from the Middle English: denoting an architectural decoration projecting downwards, or the Old French pendre, meaning 'hanging'. We understand this meaning when the word is first used in this story as an adjective: pendant icicles. Afterwards, the word is used in a way where the 'icicles' is left implied, we just supposed to remember it.

buskin: A calf-high or knee-high boot of cloth or leather

bouleversement: an inversion, especially a violent one

parhelia: plural of parhelion, a bright spot in the sky appearing on either side of the sun, formed by refraction of sunlight through ice crystals high in the atmosphere

atavistic: relating to or characterized by reversion to something ancient or ancestral

legerdemain: skillful use of one's hands when performing conjuring tricks; or more generally: deception or trickery

purlieu: the area near or surrounding a place

thew: muscles and tendons perceived as generating physical strength

propitiate: win or retain the favor of a god or spirit by doing something that pleases them

This story might make for a pretty good movie. Of course, you can't trust Hollywood with it, they will add in some female love interest that makes no sense whatever, so it would have to be done by some indie group. But if a faithful adaptation were made, and there's still quite a bit of room for artistic license even while remaining highly faithful to the source, it could be pretty intense.

To follow along:

So the stories are arranged in in-world chronological order. We saw in "The White Sybil" that this glaciation was prophesied long before it ever happened. Then we saw in "The Coming of the White Worm" that Rlim-Shaikorth brought forth with him glaciation everywhere he went. But we are told in this story that the glaciers here are from Polarion. This leads us to many questions: was the glaciation of the White Worm related in any way to the glaciers of Polarion? If not, did the White Worm's glaciers melt before these Polarion glaciers advanced? Or did the White Worm's glaciers make it possible for the Polarion glaciers to begin advancing southward? Did the White Worm's glaciers merge with the Polarion glaciers? Are the people in-world confusing the glaciers of the White Worm for the glaciers from Polarion? Are the White Worm's glaciers in fact the prophesied glaciers from Polarion? I need to know!! Unfortunately, I suspect these questions were never answered by Smith, so we'll never know :(

Apparently I couldn't decide on what sound that 'o' in Eibon should take, so it changes throughout the story. Oops.

Smith's writings would make for good SAT prep, in so far as vocabulary goes! HA!

malison: curse

400 feet = 122 meters

calamite: an extinct type of swamp place related to horsetails

perspicacious: having a ready insight into and understanding of things

desuetude: state of disuse

telluric: of the earth

veracious, not voracious! meaning speaking or representing the truth

debouch, not debauch! meaning to emerge from a narrow or confined space into a wide, open area

friability: the tendency of a solid substance to break into smaller pieces under duress or contact, especially by rubbing

Hziulquoigmnzhah: you will note my pronunciation of this word is hardly consistent. But look at it! I really have no idea how to pronounce in the first place, much less any clue how to pronounce it consistently. And from the sound of it, Eibon probably would have struggled as well. So I'm not worried about it.

orotund: of speech: full, round, and imposing

sententious: given to moralizing in a pompous or affected manner

horrent: of a person's hair, this would be standing on end, and it's possible that is the meaning he is looking for here. Otherwise it means expressing horror, which is also certainly possible.

refection: refreshment by food or drink; a light meal

objurgation: harsh rebuke

termagant: a harsh-tempered or overbearing woman

hieratic: highly stylized or formal

cephalic: of, in, or relating to the head

apterous: (of an insect) having no wings

Stylitean: The Stylites were early Christian ascetics who lived on top of high pillars, preaching, fasting, and praying. Dolomite is a type of mineral, and The Dolomites is a mountain range in northern Italy, so the fact that these Djhibbis "roost" on "dolomites" does sound like Stylitean is harkening to the Christian Stylites.

flibbertigibbet: a frivolous, flighty, or excessively talkative person

cacodemoniacal: evil

thallophytes: algae

To follow along:

I love how these old stories are so imaginative about life on other planets in our solar system! While I suppose authors today could be creative about life on planets in other solar systems, they would be confronted with the challenge of justifying human exploration of star systems many light years away, while a planet in our own solar system is much more reachable, but that alas, modern science has put to rest the matter of complex life on other planets in our system.

For Ubbo-Sathla is the source and the end. Before the coming of Zhothaqquah or Yok-Zothoth or Kthulhut from the stars, Ubbo-Sathla dwelt in the steaming fens of the newmade Earth: a mass without head or members, spawning the grey, formless efts of the prime and the grisly prototypes of terrene life ... And all earthly life, it is told, shall go back at last through the great circle of time to Ubbo-Sathla.

-The Book of Eibon


recherché: rare, exotic, or obscure

vermiculated: could mean either marked with sinuous or wavy lines, or worm-eaten. Or, carved or molded with shallow wavy grooves resembling the tracks of worms! In this case, probably that last one.

Liassic: of, relating to, or being a subdivision of the European Jurassic

eft: the juvenile stage of a newt

The picture used is by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab, depicting a young Earth being bombarded by asteroids.

To follow along:

This story feels a bit Lovecraftian to me. One can imagine that these two are not the only two to have been in possession of the stone, probably some one else thousands of years into Paul's future found it and used it and had the same experience. And then someone thousands of years forward from there. And on and on and on.

(Chapter IX of the Book of Eibon)

Rendered from the Old French manuscript of Gaspard du Nord.


The book I'm reading kept using the word 'steam' where it clearly should be 'stream'. The rest of the text seems to be edited just fine, only that one word is consistently wrong. How weird.

The picture used is "Rlim Shaikorth" by spaghet2forghet, used here under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license (

Many depictions of the white worm exist, but most are not under the Creative Commons license or something comparable, so this is the one you get. It's not bad. There was one I liked better, but couldn't use it.

To follow along:

Apparently the book I am reading from uses a shortened form of the story, which I did not realize until I got to the editing. The full version of the story can be found here:

Evagh has some servants, there's a prophecy, etc., so some nice details not found in the version I recorded, but obviously still fundamentally the same story.

It appears the abridged version was the one originally published in 1941, the full version being deemed too long. It wasn't until 1989 that the unabridged version was published. So by using the abridged version here, you are getting the experience the initial readers of the story would have had.

calamus: a type of reed used as a writing pen

lustrum: a period of five years

headsman: while it becomes obvious later in the story, in the introduction it may not be obvious that this means executioner. Specifically execution by beheading.

Tscho Vulpanomi - we've heard this name several times now in the Hyperborea series, and I really don't know how to pronounce that first word. That 'ts' phoneme exists in the Wade-Giles romanization of Chinese, but it is NEVER followed by a 'c' or 'ch' in Chinese. Indeed, in the currently accepted Hanyu Pinyin of mainland China today, the Wade-Giles 'ts' was changed to a 'c'. So we can't use the Chinese pronunciation here, it isn't phonetically possible. I just don't know.

ferine: feral; wild and menacing

anthropophagy: human cannibalism

factitious: artificially created or developed

Archean gneiss: The Archean age is 2.5 to 4 billion years ago. Gneiss is a type of metamorphic rock formed by high temperature and high pressure metamorphic processes acting on igneous or sedimentary rocks. Archean gneiss is typically found in the exposed regions of continental shields.

nacarat: a shade of pale red-orange. I have no idea how to pronounce this word, and seemingly neither does anybody else. Every pronunciation I could find to listen to was different. *boggle*

hodden: coarse woolen cloth (historically typical of Scotland)

liana: a long-stemmed, woody vine that is rooted in the soil at ground level and uses trees as means of vertical support, to climb up to the canopy in search of direct sunlight

ort: a scrap of food from a meal

midden: refuse heap

flagitious: criminal; villainous

ebullition: the action of bubbling or boiling; a sudden outburst of emotion or violence

matutinal: of or occurring in the morning

piacular: requiring atonement

The picture used is the cover page spread for the story as it appeared in Weird Tales, October 1932. Illustration by T. Wyatt Nelson.

To follow along:

Although I would note that the text above has quite a few deviations from the book I am reading from. Nothing that changes the story in any fundamental word, just minor word choices, like "unaccustomed" in my text is "unparallelable" in the text above. But there's quite a few such variations like that. Such variance has not occurred in any of the other Hyperborean stories recorded to date. *shrug*

Sybil: any of several prophetesses usually accepted as 10 in number and credited to widely separate parts of the ancient world (such as Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, and Italy)

ignescent: bursting into flame; emitting sparks of fire when struck with steel

chaffer: could mean to haggle, but here more likely used as a synonym for chatter. Not sure why the alliteration was so important right here, but that appears to be all the author was going for.

eider is a real word, it's a type of seaduck, but it's not obvious to me that the author meant here in that way. He probably thought he was making up a word, as the mountain folk would be quite unlikely to be trading in ocean fowl.

damaskeening is also a real word, but having to with decorative patterns on a watch, or more generally to inlay with gold or silver.

machicolations: an opening between the supporting corbels of a projecting parapet. What's that, eh? It's a castle thing. There was a fun (friendly) controversy over the pronunciation of this word between lindeybeige, Shadiversity, scholagladitoria, metatron, and maybe a few others outside the main core of the so-called "community of the sword". If you have an hour to kill, it might be entertaining to look it up :) I went with Shad's pronunciations. Shad has at least one video completely dedicated to what these things were and how they were used, so if you really want all the gory details, check out his channel. Or if you just like castles in general, check out his channel. Scholagladitoria for swords and sword fighting. Metatron for things to do with ancient Rome and Japan, and with linguistics. Lindeybeige for all manner of history, sword, and tank stuff. There are other channels in the community besides, you will discover them soon enough as you explore these channels.

welkin: the celestial abode of the gods

To follow along:

Some of the names in this story... Oy vey! Including the name of the title character! I get it that you want something that sounds foreign, completely and utterly alien, but sometimes authors take it a bit too far.

fugacity: fleeting or evanescent

retiarii: a type of Roman gladiator who fought with a net and trident

oleaginous: We have two definitions here: 1) rich in, covered with, or producing oil; oily or greasy; 2) exaggeratedly and distastefully complimentary; obsequious. It seems both of these definitions could apply simultenaously to this creature.

To follow along:

I kept wanting to say the name Robilar instead of Ralibar. Old AD&D grognards will get that reference. Indeed, I did record it as Robilar now and again and had to re-record such passages to correct it.

There seems to be a great deal of confusion over how to pronounce 'geas'. Not being a speaker of any Gaelic language, I have no idea. What I used here is definitely correct in some forms of Gaelic, maybe not in others. I don't know. It's what you are getting, like it or not :-P

But what is a geas? A (generally magical) vow, obligation or injunction placed upon someone to do or not do something, which typically brings harm if violated and blessings if obeyed.

Catoblepas also doesn't seem to be widely agreed upon in pronunciation. And what is a catoblepas? A legendary creature from Ethiopia, said to have the body of a Cape buffalo, scales on its back, and the head of a wild boar, which always points downward because of its weight. It's gaze was said to be lethal.

Tsathoggua gives us a tie-in to Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos! One reference I can recall specifically is in his story "The Mound", in chapter 5. I really enjoyed that story, go give it a listen if you can spare a few hours. Looks like also in "The Whisperer in Darkness". I believe it first appears in Clark's writings, and Lovecraft picked it up and used it as well.

anlace is a new one on me - a double-edged dagger of the Medieval period.

porrected: extended forward

caul has two meanings: the amniotic membrane enclosing a fetus, or a woman's close-fitting indoor headdress or hairnet. "Caul of darkness" is probably using the second definition.

The picture used is "Tsathoggua" by Kaek, used here under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license (

To follow along:

The picture used is "Hyperborea" by SOLIDToM, used here under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license (

To follow along:

The picture used is "Mercury About to Kill Argus" by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1818).

To follow along:

Chapter XVII. The Seventeenth and Last:

Cosi vince Goffredo!
"Gerusal. Lib." cant. XX. 44.


Last chapter! Strap in, there's a lot of ground to cover!

The author goes back to not referencing the sex of the child. Even though he revealed in a previous chapter it's a girl. Probably he didn't intend to make that reveal, but it slipped through the editing process. Probably we were never meant to know the sex.

For some reason, it didn't immediately occur to me that the Italian woman there near the end of the chapter shouting about Clarence was Fillide going on about Glydon. The book rarely refers to Glyndon by his first name, so hearing it out of nowhere, his role in the story having concluded several chapters prior, it just didn't immediately strike me what was going on with that bit. Obviously I did finally figure it out, just took a few moments.

You can just imagine Nicot screaming like a hysterical little girl when his turn came... LOL! It's horrific what was being done, yes, but however it happens, when your time does finally come, you should do your best to meet your end with dignity.

The picture used is "Robespierre going to the guillotine", oil on canvas by Alfred Mouillard, 1884.

Robespierre is the one with his head wrapped up. For having taken a bullet to the head (the author here suggests attempted suicide, others suggest he might have been shot by Charles-André Meda (one of the officers occupying the Hôtel de Ville), the record is unfortunately unclear), it shattered his jaw. The good news (for him) is, he didn't have to suffer the pain and bother of the broken jaw for very long! D:

I thought about using the depiction of Robespierre's beheading, but wasn't sure how Youtube would handle it. Sure, it's a famous and important historical painting, but Youtube doesn't always care such things. So I decided not to risk it and went with this instead.

To follow along:

Chapter XVI:

Und den Mordstahl seh' ich blinken;
Und das Mörderauge glühn!


Regarding the prison muster roll, the author gives us this footnote: Called, in the mocking jargon of the day, "The Evening Gazette."

Danton's thought that death is nothingness comes with this footnote from the author: "Ma demeure sera bientôt le néant", said Danton before his judges.

The French franc was apparently abolished in 1641 in favor of the gold louis and the silver écu, and wasn't restored to usage until 1795. Our story is set in 1794. So the author referencing the value of the diamond in francs in not actually appropriate. Now since the author is referring to francs, we have to assume he is basing it on the then current (1842) franc for the audience of his day to reference against. In 1842, a French franc would have been 290 mg of fine gold (0.01 ounces). In 1842, one ounce of fine gold was worth 4.25 pounds sterling, or 20.67 USD. 0.01 ounce obviously becomes £0.0425 or $0.2067. (Recall in 1842 the British were still using 12 pence to a shilling, and 240 pence to a pound, so we're talking 10.2 pence for a French franc of this period.)

1000 francs, therefore, becomes £42.5, or $2,067 USD in 1842 currency. 80,000 francs = £3,400 or $16,536. In today's money, that 80,000 francs from 1842 would be in the range of £340K to £4.8 million in 2022, or for USD that's $456K to $12.8 million.

Now if I've done everything correctly, given the current pound to dollar exchange rate as of the day of recording, £340K is 429K USD, so pretty close. There is a little bit of rounding I did in a few places that probably explains most of that difference, and then the present value calculation only went up to the end of 2022, so it's missing 5 months of data, which probably explains the rest.

Even at the low end, that's quite a hefty bribe for a lowly prison guard, and at the high end, that's an insanely massive bribe! But, when you expect to die in a few hours anyways, what does your own wealth matter to you any more at that point? May as well give it away to gain what favors you still want or need, eh?

In any event, while it is not stated, I would not be surprised if Mejnor saw fit to see to Viola's (and thus the baby's) financial security. It seems these mystics have insane wealth (they have, after all, had thousands of years to accumulate it...), and it would no doubt be but small change to Mejnour to set Viola up for life, thereby giving Zanoni's child a strong starting position in life.

The picture used is "Calling Out the Last Victims of the Terror at Saint Lazare Prison on the 7-9 Thermidor 1794" by Charles Louis Müller

To follow along:

Chapter XV:

Il ne veulent plus perdre un moment d'une nuit si précieuse.
Lacretelle, Tom. XII.


In concluding the opening description of Dumas, the author gives us this footnote: Dumas was a Beau in his way. His gala-dress was a blood-red coat, with the finest ruffles.

Madame de Lamballe is Marie Thérèse Louise of Savoy, Princesse de Lamballe. Or was, as she was executed in 1792, almost two years prior to the events of this chapter.

fournée: batch

Je pense, citoyens, que vous etes convaincus du crime des accuses? - I think, citizens, that you are convinced of the crime of the accused.

Vive le Vertueux Robespierre, la Colonne de la Republique! - Long life to the virtuous Robespierre, the pillar of the Republic!

eau de vie: brandy

métier: job

atrabilious: melancholy or ill-tempered

Regarding André Chenier, we have this footnote from the author: His brother is said, indeed, to have contributed to the condemnation of this virtuous and illustrious person. He was heard to cry aloud, "Si mon frère est coupable, qu'il périsse". This brother, Marie-Joseph, also a poet, and the author of "Charles IX.," so celebrated in the earlier days of the Revolution, enjoyed, of course, according to the wonted justice of the world, a triumphant career, and was proclaimed in the Champ de Mars "le premier de poëtes Francais," - a title due to his murdered brother.

Where Fouquier says he never ventures out without an escort, we get this footnote from the author: During the latter part of the Reign of Terror, Fouquier rarely stirred out at night, and never without an escort. In the Reign of Terror those most terrified were its kings.

Zanoni and Dumas met way back in Book 1, chapter 8. Zanoni had saved an old man from being poisoned by his adopted son (who we learn in this chapter is apparently Jean Nicot), and the old man had a cousin who came to check on him afterwards with Zanoni present at the meeting, that cousin being Rene Dumas.

The picture used is of Antoine Quentin Fouquier de Tinville, by Bonarov, used here under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license (

Rather curiously, there doesn't seem to be any pictures of René-François Dumas, which is what I really wanted to use for the picture for this chapter. Fortunately we do have at least the public accuser, and he is rather important to this chapter as well, so there you go.

To follow along:

Chapter XIV:

Dann zur Blumenflor der Sterne
Aufgeschauet liebewarm,
Fass' ihn freundlich Arm in Arm
Trag' ihn in die blaue Ferne.
-Uhland, "An den Tod."


We get a lengthy footnote from the author, regarding this passage: "how Human Improvement, rushing through civilisation, crushes in its march all who cannot grapple to its wheels", the author tells us: "You colonise the lands of the savage with the Anglo-Saxon,-you civilise that portion of THE EARTH; but is the SAVAGE civilised? He is exterminated! You accumulate machinery,-you increase the total of wealth; but what becomes of the labour you displace? One generation is sacrificed to the next. You diffuse knowledge,-and the world seems to grow brighter; but Discontent at Poverty replaces Ignorance, happy with its crust. Every improvement, every advancement in civilisation, injures some, to benefit others, and either cherishes the want of to-day, or prepares the revolution of to-morrow." -Stephen Montague.

The picture used is "Elemental Plane of Air - Image base for 3D" by mah4t, used here under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license (

To follow along:

Chapter XIII:

Erde mag zurück in Erde stäuben;
Fliegt der Geist doch aus dem morschen Haus.
Seine Asche mag der Sturmwind treiben,
Sein Leben dauert ewig aus!


Tribune, in this case, is likely here to mean not a popular leader or champion of the people, but a raised area or gallery with seats.

fuliginous: sooty, dusky

circumfuse: pour a liquid so as to cause it to surround something

"as men, before they die, see and comprehend the enigmas hidden from them before" has a footnote attached to it: The greatest poet, and one of the noblest thinkers, of the last age, said, on his death-bed, "Many things obscure to me before, now clear up, and become visible." -See the "Life of Schiller."

And finally, FINALLY, we are given the sex of the child: a daughter.

To follow along:


Created 3 years, 6 months ago.

955 videos

Category Arts & Literature

I have applied to be a star on subscribe, so if you would like to support me there, look for when my application has been approved:

Until subscribe makes a decision, I have in also set up on Patreon:

I'm also on minds! I post links to the all latest uploads there, often with some bonus comments:

And rumble: