The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana

by Jess Nevins

A Week of Passion; or, the Dilemma of Mr. George Barton the Younger (1884)

copyright © Jess Nevins 2022

A Week of Passion; or, the Dilemma of Mr. George Barton the Younger was written by Edward Jenkins. Jenkins (1838-1910) was a British politician and writer best-known for the satire Ginx’s Baby (1870).

A Week of Passion is a novel about anarchists. It begins excitingly in media res with an anarchist’s strike in London and a chilling description of the effects of explosion, with a fine mist of blood coating the bystanders and a human hand sent flying by the bomb landing in an upper story office. Jenkins turns his attention to the identity of the only man slain in the explosion; he was vaporized, so that his identity cannot be reconstructed. Unfortunately the novel quickly declines from there. The first two hundred pages are not about Schultz or the anarchists. These pages are first a Victorian police procedural, with the Lecoq-like (see: The Lerouge Affair) detective Mr. Sontag investigating the case. A Week of Passion then becomes a more conventional mystery about an inheritance swindle involving George Barton, Jr., the son of the dead man, and the firm of Pollard and Pollard, crooked solicitors who are swindling Barton Jr. out of the money due him. A tedious romance subplot and the laborious revelation of the fraud and the criminality of the lawyers rounds out the novel. It is eventually revealed that Doctor Schultz was hired by Pollard and Pollard to blow up George Barton, Sr., because Barton had evidence of their crimes.

The novel starts well but then runs aground not just because of the uninteresting plot but also because of Jenkins’ prolixity and tendency to belabor moments that were best passed over or relayed quickly. Jenkins does speak sympathetically about the policeman’s lot, especially when dealing with pompous politicians, and Doctor Schultz himself is interesting for the brief periods he appears, but on the whole A Week of Passion is dull after the opening section.

Doctor Schultz, a German, is a genius, a well-educated philosopher, scientist, chemist, and inventor. “From a boy...his main pleasure was to mystify and circumvent anyone who had any authority over him.”1 He “might have made a fortune, for he is immensely clever. If anyone could have discovered the philosopher's stone, or the transmutation of metals, he was the man.”2 But all that can be credited to him are some exquisite dyes, a new process of bleaching, a rifle cartridge (which the German army adopted), a new process for mixing metals, some "wonderful imitations of gold and silver"3 and a type of small crystal bomb, which “when broken would send forth an odour so deadly and powerful that all living things within its influence perished.”4 Schultz is not a nice guy; in addition to being an anarchist, he is a “perfect dare devil” who “continues the work of Satan by sowing the seeds of evil in the world.”5 He is a “Socialist and Anarchist,” or professes to be. In truth he “would commit a crime...simply for the excitement and peril of the thing.”6 He hires himself out for private as well as political purposes; while he is a committed anti-aristocrat, he needs money and will perform private murders, as with the unfortunate George Barton Sr. He is involved with various secret societies as well as “clubs of the most dangerous criminals in England and the Continent.”7 He is responsible for at least six murders, but when he tried to kill the German emperor (a fictionalization of the attempt on William I at Niederwald in September, 1883) he only killed two German policemen and three of Schultz's anarchist collaborators. The explosion would have killed him as well, if he weren’t “as strong as a bull.” After the attempt on the German emperor he left for France and then made his way to England. He was too clever for the English police and escaped capture in Fulham, going to ground in London. He is sarcastic and superior, but at the end of the story is captured on a stolen yacht.

Dr. Schultz is, in other words, in most respects a typical Victorian mad scientist. Chemist mad scientists were particularly common, as were mad scientists who used their talents to make counterfeit diamonds or gold and silver.8 Similarly, as a chemist mad scientist in particular, Schultz is representative of the nihilist strain in the character type, who appears in works ranging from Alexandre Dumas’ Count Hermann (original: Le Comte Hermann, 1849) to Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons (1862).9 

Recommended Edition

Print: Edward Jenkins, A Week of Passion, or, The Dilemma of Mr. George Barton the Younger. London: Bliss Sands & Co., 1898.



1 Edward Jenkins, A Week of Passion, or, The Dilemma of Mr. George Barton the Younger (New York: G. Munro, 1885), 121.

2 Jenkins, A Week of Passion, 121.

3 Jenkins, A Week of Passion, 121.

4 Jenkins, A Week of Passion, 121.

5 Jenkins, A Week of Passion, 121.

6 Jenkins, A Week of Passion, 121.

7 Jenkins, A Week of Passion, 146.

8 Nevins, “Organ Theft and the Insanity of Geniuses.”

9 Nevins, “Organ Theft and the Insanity of Geniuses.”