A spell to restore the dead to life

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The spell that Gilbert Norrell used to restore Emma Wintertowne (Lady Pole) from the dead places the burden of actual resurrection on a summoned fairy. The fairy is summoned by reciting a spell; in the case of Emma Wintertowne, the fairy that Norrell summoned was the gentleman with the thistle-down hair. In order to persuade the fairy to help him, Norrell bargained away half of her life, naively supposing the debt would not be claimed until Miss Wintertime reached her middle years. In fact, the fairy enforces terms at once, asserting his rights over the lady each night as she slept.

It seems that under the peculiar conditions of this spell the fairy not only restores the dead person to life, but also controls those qualities that the person will have when resurrected. This can be seen in Emma Wintertowne: the formerly pale, sickly woman became athletic and talkative when returned to life.

Jonathan Strange also used a spell to return several dead Neapolitan soldiers to a form of life while serving as the Duke of Wellington's magician; however, this was clearly not the same spell used by Norrell. In Strange's spell, the assistance of a fairy was not required, and the soldiers were not returned to the fullness of life but were merely walking corpses.


NOTES AND QUERIES:

To the Editor:
Sir,

Signior Luigi Galvani conducts his experiments

Is it not a curious coincidence that, at the exact same time Mr. Norrell is dabbling in resurrection, men of Science throughout Europe were occupied in similar but far more serious research? Please do not mistake me - I do not allude to the tedious attempts of novelists such as Mrs. Shelley to invent fables on this topic. I refer to the noble experiments of the likes of Sgr. Galvani of Italy.

It is my own belief that, in time, Science will lead the way in this matter, as it already does in so many other fields of human activity. Magic, sir, has had its day.

Yours etc.,

'Darwinist'

Sir,

Allow me to disagree most strongly with the views expressed by your correspondent 'Darwinist'. As I understand it, Sgr. Galvani achieved nothing more notable than causing the legs of some dead frogs to twitch! What comparison does this hold with the great accomplishments of English Magic? It is scarcely more impressive than the games with which an indulgent father amuses his children while fowl are preparing in the kitchen, when the severed claws of a chicken can be made to open and close in the most entertaining way by playing with the tendons. My own dear papa often had myself and my sisters in fits of laughter with this trick. He did not think it qualified as Science.

As l am not afraid, sir, to append my name to my opinions I remain

Sincerely yours,

Adeline Tantony

Editor's note:

A contemporary caricature of Mrs. Shelley's best-known work

Regarding the novel referred to somewhat disparagingly by 'Darwinist' above, much has been written about this tale of the young student of science, Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque but sapient creature in a highly unorthodox experiment.
Its authoress Mrs Shelley began the story when she was eighteen, and was only twenty when it was published in 1818. She and her future husband (the poet Shelley) had travelled through Europe in 1814, journeying along the river Rhine in Germany with a stop in Gernsheim where, two centuries before, an alchemist (practical magician!) was engaged in experiments. The topic of galvanism was a recurrent theme of conversation among her companions, particularly her future husband, Percy Shelley; but it was in fact during an evening spent in the company of Lord Byron that Mrs Shelley appears to have conceived her tale. Byron, as we know, had an interest in the macabre and was later a witness to the calamity which overtook Jonathan Strange in Venice.