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Synopsis of Albert and Eliza

by Isaac Mitchell

[From the Poughkeepsie Political Barometer, June - July 1802]

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[Placed on-line December 2002]

No. 1, June 8:

On Long-Island, generations ago, a young man named Albert becomes engaged to Eliza. Before they can be married, he has to go to England to claim a family inheritance, his father being to old to travel. Eliza watches his ship's departure from Montauk-Point, and grows dejected; she fears that he will die or never return. To cheer her up, her family send her to live with a rich uncle in New-York, who has a daughter her age.

No. 2, June 15:

Among her uncle's acquaintances is Blake, related to the colonial Governor and known as a "Lady's man." Enjoying Eliza's company, he drops his old girl-friend Miss Smith (who bears a grudge) and escorts Eliza to many balls. Blake has a rival in Mr. Palmer, another frequent escort, but neither knows about Albert, and she takes neither of them seriously. Blake, though he has a secret impediment back home in England, proposes marriage; shocked, Eliza says it is impossible.

No. 3, June 22:

Next morning gets a loving letter from Alonzo in England; he is completing his business and will shortly start back home. Blake, suspecting that Eliza has fallen for Palmer, asks her why she will not listen to his suit, but she refuses to explain. She writes her father on Long-Island to bring her home. Eliza agrees to go for a drive in the country with Palmer; they take refuge from a storm at an inn, Palmer gets drunk, evades her demands to be taken home, and clasps her to his bosom. The innkeeper and Blake enter and separate the two after a fight in which Blake knocks Palmer down and he threatens a duel. Blake sends Eliza home in a carriage, following behind on horseback.

No. 4, June 29:

Palmer, though drunk, would not have molested Eliza. Blake, riding in the countryside, had appeared coincidentally. The next morning Blake receives and accepts a challenge to a duel with pistols. Blake is slightly wounded, but nevertheless shoots Palmer dead. The body is buried and the duel hushed up--Eliza knows nothing of it. A grateful Eliza lets Blake renew his attentions. Blake comes upon and reads Albert's letter--a rival he had never heard of. But Albert, though overdue, does not appear or write, and Eliza again becomes dejected. Her father appears to take Eliza home, but she is talked into remaining in the city. In the spring a stranger arrives from England, with a letter for Blake and another from a young man addressed in the name of Albert's father in Long-Island; the stranger says this young man had come to England to claim an estate, and had since married a wealthy heiress. Eliza collapses.

No. 5, July 6:

At first she cannot believe it, but Eliza comes gradually to think that Albert has deceived and abandoned her. Blake renews his attentions. Eliza's father writes that Albert's father has died in poverty, with nothing more heard from Albert. Miss Smith, out boating with Eliza, trips and knocks her into the water; Blake, who is nearby, swims and rescues her. Blake proposes to Eliza again; if rejected he will disappear abroad in misery. Eliza says she will respond in a month. One day Eliza overhears a conversation in a shop, about a young man who has married a rich London heiress and may soon purchase a title of nobility; Albert's family name is mentioned, along with the death of Albert's father. When Blake comes for his answer, Eliza accepts him; the wedding is set for the following spring. One evening Miss Smith warns Eliza that she courts disaster, but refuses to explain; soon thereafter Miss Smith disappears--Blake says to New- Jersey. Eliza attributes this to jealousy. As she is about to depart for Long-Island for the wedding, Eliza has a dream in which Blake falls to his death in a chasm, while she is snatched to safety by a man whose face seems somehow familiar. On the morning of the wedding Eliza goes to Montauk-Point where she had watched Albert's ship depart three years before; she sees a ship approaching, and realizes she is about to marry without love. The wedding ceremony begins, but is interrupted just as Eliza and Blake join hands, by an emaciated man (Eliza suddenly recognizes him from her dream) who proves to be Albert. Eliza faints.

No. 6, July 13:

Albert explains that, after completing the family business and setting sail for America, he was seized by Algerine pirates and remained a galley slave for eighteen months, when he was rescued and hurried home, arriving on the ship Eliza had seen approaching the night before. It was another relative, of the same name, who had also gone to England, and married the rich heiress -- and it was to this relative that the stranger and the conversation at the milliner's had referred. But the clergymen believe that the wedding between Blake and Eliza had gone on far enough to be legal! As this is being decided, Miss Smith turns up. It now turns out that Blake's father had had, before his birth, had two illegitimate children, a boy and a girl. The girl was Miss Smith; Blake had married her in Italy without either knowing their relationship; they had come to America to await an annulment from England that never arrived. Miss Smith was jealous of Eliza, and had pushed her overboard and otherwise made her life difficult. Miss Smith, sent off to New-Jersey by Blake, had met Palmer's second who, just before the duel, had been given her miniature for safe-keeping; Palmer was in fact her long-lost brother (though she hadn't recognized him) and Blake's half brother. Having married his sister and murdered his brother, and now deprived of Eliza, Blake rushes off and commits suicide. Albert and Eliza are married, move to Connecticut, and live a long and happy life; some of their descendants have been distinguished public servants.
          Would that some real novelist like [Charles Brockden] Brown could take this little story and make it into a real novel.

No. 39; March 1, 1803:

The story of Albert and Eliza having been reprinted in the Sun, a reader has composed a poem summarizing and commenting on it [text of poem follows the story on the main page].

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