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The narrative is given in the first person by the Duchess of C**** herself. She relates the circumstances of her easy, wealthy upbringing and tells of how she fell in with a dangerous friend, the Marchioness de Venuzi. While staying with her friend, she becomes enamored of the exiled Count de Belmire, but is instead forced into a marriage with his villainous uncle, the Duke of C****, by her parents. When the Duke discovers incriminating letters from the Duchess of C**** to Belmire at the Venuzi residence, he locks the Duchess of C**** in a castle dungeon and takes their infant daughter away from her until she tells him the name of her lover. She refuses to tell him, so the Duchess of C**** remains in an underground prison (presumed dead) until she is rescued by the Count of Belmire nine years later. The Duke of C**** dies shortly after the Duchess' escape, but she has no desire to wed again after her long captivity. When the Duchess' daughter comes of age, she marries the Count of Belmire.

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Edward J. Coale




Literature in English, British Isles


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The Affecting History of the Duchess of C**** Who Was Confined Nine Years in a Horrid Dungeon, Under Ground, Where Light Never Entered, a Straw Bed Being Her Only Resting Place, and Bread and Water Her Only Support, Conveyed by Means of a Turning-Box, by Her Inhuman Husband; Whom She Saw but Once During Her Long Imprisonment, Though Suffering by Hunger, Thirst, and Cold, the Most Severe Hardships, But Fortunately She Was at Last Discovered, and Released from the Dungeon, By Her Parents. [Transcript]