Friday, May 28, 2010

Review of The Singular Trial of Francis Ormiston by George Soane

The scary short story that George Soane titled The Singular Trial of Francis Ormiston was first published in Volume 9 of Fraser's Magazine for 1834. This was a February issue and the scary story was published anonymously. In it the protagonist is visited by a creature that is his destiny. It changes his entire disposition and life from that point forward.
I know not how long I slept— perhaps a few hours, for the moon was nigh when I was awakened from this delicious slumber by an unknown voice calling on me by name. I looked around my chamber, and in the farthest part saw a dusky figure, almost too undefined in its outlines to be described, and wrapt about with loose robes that resembled nothing so much as the palest moonlight on a dark ground. Upon the brow of the creature was a star, and the brightness of it glanced from his pale features like the cold, watery sunbeams from a rock of ice. It was as if winter had suddenly come into the room, so chilling was the air; and there I lay, numbed by frost, my teeth chattering, my limbs immovable, and the very marrow of my bones aching with intense cold. At length I managed to stammer out, Who art thou?
He is now predestined to be "a man of blood." After this visit by the creature it is not long before the protagonist fulfills his destiny and murders. First, however, he must decide on the victim. He struggles between killing a person that the world will not miss and one who will go "pure and innocent into the grave." He picks the later.
This is the first scary short story from 1800-1849 where the protagonist must chose his own murderous destiny. One feels for the characters and the writing excels. In "The Singular Trial of Francis Ormiston" George Soane has written one of the Top 20 scary stories from this fifty year period.

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