Deserted at conception by his father and losing his unhappy mother not long after she gave him birth, Simonelli was indebted to an indulgent grandfather for his start in life. This benevolent man, a successful linen-draper by trade, not only gave him his upbringing but also his Italianate name. He also furnished his grandson with an excellent education. From the latter Simonelli benefited greatly, for he was naturally both intelligent and industrious. Indeed Simonelli had a great many admirable qualities, though a besetting tendency to think highly of himself cannot perhaps be counted among them. It must, however, be admitted that his favourable opinion of his own abilities was often vindicated.
In due course the young Simonelli went to Cambridge, where he became a Fellow of Corpus Christi - and there he might have stayed, had not an enemy, the drunken Dr. Prothero, inveigled him from this happy position. Enmity between scholars is a byword: it is of little utility to explore the origins of the quarrel in this case. Suffice it to say, Prothero fancied himself injured and determined to repay Simonelli by ruining him! He accomplished his unmanly design as follows. Professing to be acting disinterestedly on behalf of wealthy friends, he tempted Simonelli with the promise of a very handsome living as rector of the village of Allhope in Derbyshire. The precise scholar had in his nature a dash of fairy impetuosity: abruptly throwing up his fellowship and taking holy orders, Simonelli eagerly hastened north to Allhope - only to find the parish small, poor and barbarous, and the living worth but £50 p.a. At Cambridge he had enemies, so there his retreat was quite cut off: he consequently determined to stay in Allhope and make the best of things.
Mr. Simonelli at Allhope
There was but one family of note living in the vicinity of Allhope, and their name was Gathercole. The family consisted of Mrs Gathercole (relict of Admiral Gathercole) and her five beautiful, amiable and wealthy daughters. Mr. Simonelli was man of the world enough to realize from the first that Mrs. Gathercole was most anxious that her daughters should marry men of their own rank - should in short, marry well. It therefore behoved him, as a penniless clergyman of humble and (some would say) base origins, to behave towards the young ladies with circumspection and a cool and distant regard. Despite this resolve, however, a combination of circumstances obliged him to make violent love, and indeed offer marriage, to each of the five lovely sisters in turn. He acted from the finest motives in so doing - did not vitiate his character as a gentleman or a clergyman in the least - but necessarily such a course led him into conflict with Mrs. Gathercole.
Mr. Simonelli and John Hollyshoes
Shortly after arriving in his new parish Mr. Simonelli was so fortunate as to make the acquaintance of a fairy nobleman called John Hollyshoes, and by obliging him in the matter of delivering Mrs. Hollyshoes of a child he quickly secured the fairy's friendship and interest. Imagine however his astonishment and delight when Hollyshoes was able to reveal to him the secret of his birth - that Simonelli was in fact the natural son of a fairy called Thomas Fairwood, since deceased. Fairwood had been a cousin of Hollyshoes, and that worthy took pleasure in informing Mr. Simonelli that according to fairy custom he was the rightful heir to his father's vast territories in Faerie. This was welcome news indeed! Mr. Simonelli felt strongly that if it lay within his power to claim his father's estate and riches he was morally obliged to do so. It was ever his firm belief that should he inherit enormous wealth he would use it benevolently and wisely and for the greater benefit of mankind.
Unfortunately, after he had had the opportunity to study John Hollyshoes and his character a little longer it dawned upon Mr. Simonelli that his fairy cousin, though polished in manners, was in many ways no gentleman. He lived in squalor; he treated his servants very badly; he stole maidens from the ranks of Mr. Simonelli's human parishioners whenever it suited him to do so; and he occasionally committed a murder or two. In addition, he had designs upon the honour of the Misses Gathercole. Altogether Mr. Simonelli was left with little choice but to destroy him, and very promptly did so. Thereafter we are led to believe that Mr. Simonelli acceded to his father's properties and titles, becoming a person of first consequence in Faerie.[LoGA].
|The Much Admir'd Young Mr. Simonelli as seen by his flock in Allhope.|