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Epistolary Gothic romance by C. B. Brown published in 1798.

The elder Wieland, a German mystic, emigrates to Pennsylvania, erects a mysterious temple on his estate, and dies there one night by spontaneous combustion. His wife dies soon afterward, and their children, Clara and the younger Wieland, depend for friendship on Catharine Pleyel. Wieland marries Catharine, and Clara falls in love with Henry Pleyel, who is engaged to a woman in Germany. Into their happy circle enters a mysterious vagabond, Carwin (see Memoirs of Carwin), and at the same time comes the first of a series of warnings from unearthly voices. Henry falls in love with Clara after one of these disembodied voices announces the death of his German fiancée. When circumstances force him to believe that Clara and Carwin have had an affair, Pleyel deserts her, discovers his former fiancée to be alive, and marries her. Wieland, inheriting his father's fanaticism, is driven mad by the voices, and murders his wife and children. Carwin then confesses to Clara that a “mischievous daemon” led him to test the family courage, producing the mysterious voices by ventriloquism. Wieland, escaping from an asylum, is about to murder his sister when Carwin for the last time uses ventriloquism to command Wieland to desist. The unhappy madman commits suicide, Carwin departs to a remote district of Pennsylvania, and Clara marries Pleyel after the death of his first wife.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Charles Brockden Brown (1771—1810)