decorated initial 'T'he villains are uniformly evil, unrepentant, violent, and in most cases, romantically strange men. In a good many instances, such as those of Carver Doone or Parson Chowne, their motives appear to have sprung, like Iago's, from sheer viciousness. These men are frequently picturesque, of noble but despoiled houses, actuated if not by the viciousness I have mentioned, by covetousness, by desire for revenge, or by hunger after women. In one or two cases the villain is an illegitimate son, unrecognized, and desirous to avenge his mother. Occasionally women fill this role; and such women as Lady Bulwrag-Fairthorn boast no less of the general depravity of character than do their male counterparts. Probably the most consummate villain in Blackmore's novels is Caryl Came, the sinister French agent of Springhaven. Born in England of an English father and a French mother, he is at an early age taken back to France with his mother. The house of Carne falls into debt and disrepute; and years later, Caryl, now thoroughly Gallicized, returns as the secret envoy of Napoleon, to employ his crumbling castle as a repository for French arms, and his suave tongue to the corruption ot the simple folk of Springhaven. It is characteristic of Blackmore's conception that Carne's own viciousness is his undoing. He is the hero in reverse, the back of the heroic coin, evil personified. Some of his villainy is well enough motivated by circumstances such as his desire to regain his ancestral lands; but most of it is to be found in a natural bent for evil and a naturally sinister character. Blackmore's villains are simply the force of evil bodied forth in pensive melancholies, and handsome but vicious countenances. [55]


Burris, Quincy Guy. Richard Doddridge Blackmore: His Life and Novels. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1930.

Last updated 25 April 2006