The British Royal Navy and Jane Austen

naval_battle_3In referring to the cult-like following of those who extolled all things involving Admiral Horatio Nelson, Jane Austen once wrote, “I am sick of Nelson.” Yet, the author always appreciated the lives of men in the Royal Navy. Two of her brothers served thusly. The British Navy at the time of the Napoleonic War was divided into “ships of the line,” those carrying between 60 and 100 guns, and “cruisers,” which were frigates, sloops, and brigs with fewer guns. In 1810, British naval strength was estimated to be 150+ ships of the line and near 400 cruisers. Documents on the naval history sites say that the Navy employed 800+captains, 600+ commanders, and nearly 3300 lieutenants.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the size of the British fleet was greater than all the other sea-faring nations put together.

The British Isles remained safe behind the “Wooden Walls” of the Royal Navy, and Britain was able to continue its world trade and empire building. They controlled English Channel and trading routes with size of their fleet, but Britain also actively sent its vessels out to attack enemy warships. With its strength in numbers and its developing naval industry, Britain could risk losing a ship or two to protect the British people.

In 1797, 1801, and 1807, the British navy sailed to destroy the neutral or French-allied vessels of Holland and Denmark. At Camperdown in 1797, Admiral Duncan pitted his 16 ships against 16 Dutch warships under Admiral de Winter and destroyed the enemy fleet – capturing seven Dutchmen and allowing the rest to flee.

In April 1801, the Admirality sent an expedition against Denmark to break up a northern European agreement, the Armed Neutrality of the North, that threatened British trade and shipbuilding materiel – wood, rope, grain and tar – in the Baltic Sea.

The naval Battle of Copenhagen was a British victory that saw 12 of 18 Danish vessels captured and ended the threat to its trade. In 1807, Britain again moved against Denmark when it became known there was a French move to grab the Danish fleet. Admiral Gambier took 20 ships of the line and an infantry force of some 20,000 men – including Arthur Wellesley (yes, that is the Duke of Wellington) – to prevent the vessels falling into French hands. A two-week siege began and a Danish military move to break the blockade was ended by Wellesley’s infantry. The bombardment of the capital by the Royal Navy forced neutral Denmark to hand over its 18 ships to London.

Sir Charles Austen

Sir Charles Austen

Jane Austen’s brothers entered the navy at the age of 12 and first went to sea at age 15. Naval life was a hard one, and many believed it necessary “to toughen up the boys.” Unlike in the army, naval commissions could not be bought. It was necessary to succeed in a naval career to have the patronage of an influential personage. If one recalls Admiral Crawford in Mansfield Park, this makes more sense. A man earned his future in prize money. Do we not recall Captains Wentworth, Benwick, and Harville in Persuasion? The captain would receive one-fourth of the value of the captured ship. His officers would receive graduated proportions, and ordinary seamen divided the final quarter among themselves. In Persuasion, Wentworth has earned 20,000 pounds in his eight years of service. Men learned to look forward to another war so they might continue their winning ways.”

Excerpt from Jane Austen’s Persuasion (upon letting Sir Walter’s estate, Mr. Shepherd, who is Sir Walter’s man of business, ventures a suggestion:

images-1“If a rich Admiral were to come in our way. . . “

“He would be a very lucky man, Shepherd,” replied Sir Walter. “That’s all I have to remark.”

“I presume to observe, Sir Walter, that, in the way of business, gentlemen of the navy are very well to deal with. . .I am free to confess that they have very liberal notions and are as likely to make desirable tenants as any set of people one should meet with.”

Sir Walter only nodded. But soon afterwards, rising and pacing the room, he observed sarcastically, “There are few among the gentlemen of the navy, I imagine, who would not be surprised to find themselves in a house of this description.”

Here Sir Walter’s daughter Anne spoke, “The navy, I think, who have done so much for us, have at least an equal claim with any other set of men, for all the comforts and all the privileges which any home can give. Sailors work hard enough for their comforts, we must all allow.”

“Very true, very true. What Miss Anne says, is very true,’ was Mr. Shepherd’s rejoinder, and “Oh! certainly,” was his daughter’s; but Sir Walter’s remark was, soon afterwards. “The profession has its utility, but I should be sorry to see any friend of mine belonging to it.”

“Indeed!” was the reply, and with a look of surprise.

Admiral and Mrs Croft 1995.jpeg “Yes; it is in two points offensive to me; I have two strong grounds of objection to it. First, as being the means of bringing persons of obscure birth into undue distinction, and raising men to honours which their fathers and grandfathers never dreamt of; and secondly, as it cuts up a man’s youth and vigour most horribly; a sailor grows old sooner than any other man; I have observed it all my life. A man is in greater danger in the navy of being insulted by the rise of one whose father, his father might have distained to speak to, and of becoming prematurely an object of disgust himself, than in any other line. One day last spring, in town, I was in company with two men, striking instances of what I am talking of, Lord St. Ives, whose father we all know to have been a country curate, without bread to eat; I was to give place to Lord St. Ives, and a certain Admiral Baldwin, the most deplorable looking personage you can imagine, his face the colour of mahogany, rough and rugged to the last degree, all lines and wrinkles, nine grey hairs of a side, and nothing but a dab of powder at top.– ‘Inthe name of heaven, who is that old fellow?’ said I, to a friend of mine who was standing near (Sir Basil Morley). ‘Old fellow!’ cried Sir Basil, ‘it is Admiral Baldwin. What do you take his age to be?’ ‘Sixty,’ said I, ‘or perhaps sixty-two.’ ‘Forty,’ replied Sir Basil, ‘forty, and no more.’ Picture to yourselves my amazement; I shall not easily forget Admiral Baldwin. I never saw quite so wretched an example of what a sea-faring life can do; but to a degree, I know it is the same with them all: they are all knocked about, and exposed to every climate, and every weather, till they are not fit to be seen. It is a pity they are not knocked on the head at once, before they reach Admiral Baldwin’s age.”

It seemed as if Mr. Shepherd, in this anxiety to bespeak Sir Walter’s goodwill towards a naval officer as tenant had been gifted with foresight; for the very first application was from an Admiral Croft. . .

“And who is Admiral Croft?” was Sir Walter’s cold suspicious enquiry.

Mr. Shepherd answered for his being of a gentleman’s family, and mentioned a place; and Anne, after the little pause that followed, added, “He is rear admiral of the white. He was in the Trafalgar action, and has been in the East Indies since; he has been stationed there, I believe, several years.”

“Then I take it for granted,” observed Sir Walter, “that his face is about as orange as the cuffs and capes of my livery.”


Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers: Francis and Charles in Life and Art

Gilman, Daniel; Thurston, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.

Posted in British history, Great Britain, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Regency era | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Thomas More’s Life and Literature and Being a Reformation Martyr

images.jpg I am continued my journey through my undergraduate degree by looking at English literature through the ages. Today we have Sir Thomas More.

Thomas More was born on Milk Street, London on February 7, 1478, son of Sir John More, a prominent judge. He was educated at St Anthony’s School in London.He attended St. Anthony’s School in London, one of the best schools of his day. As a youth he served as a page in the household of John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury and chancellor of England. More went on to study at Oxford under Thomas Linacre [humanist scholar and physician] and William Grocyn [an English scholar and a friend of Erasmus]. During this time, Thomas wrote comedies and studied Greek and Latin literature. One of his first works was an English translation of a Latin biography of the Italian humanist Pico della Mirandola. It was printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1510.

Around 1494, More returned to London to study law, was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in 1496, and became a barrister in 1501. Yet More did not automatically follow in his father’s footsteps. He was torn between a monastic calling and a life of civil service. More managed to keep up with his literary and spiritual interests while practicing law, and he read devotedly from both Holy Scripture and the classics. Also around this time, More became close friends with Desiderius Erasmus during the latter’s first visit to England. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship and professional relationship, for they corresponded often regarding their ideas, and the pair worked on Latin translations of Lucian’s works during Erasmus’ second visit. These were printed in Paris in 1506. On Erasmus’ third visit, in 1509, he stayed in More’s home and wrote Encomium Moriae [or] Praise of Folly, dedicating it to More.

While at Lincoln’s Inn, he determined to become a monk and moved into a monastery outside of London and subjected himself to the discipline of the Carthusians, living at a nearby monastery and taking part of the monastic life. The prayer, fasting, and penance habits stayed with him for the rest of his life, as would the practice of wearing a hair shirt. More’s desire for monasticism was finally overcome by his sense of duty to serve his country in the field of politics. He entered Parliament in 1504, and married for the first time in 1504 or 1505, to Jane Colt. They had four children: Margaret, Elizabeth, Cicely, and John.

More is thought to have written History of King Richard III (in Latin and in English) between 1513 and 1518. The work is considered the first masterpiece of English historiography (the study of history, or the study of a particular historical subject), and, despite remaining unfinished, influenced subsequent historians, including William Shakespeare.

In 1504 More was elected to Parliament to represent Great Yarmouth, and in 1510 began representing London. One of More’s first acts in Parliament had been to urge a decrease in a proposed appropriation for King Henry VII. In revenge, the King had imprisoned More’s father and not released him until a fine was paid and More himself had withdrawn from public life. After the death of the King Henry VII in 1509, More became active once more. In 1510, he was appointed one of the two under-sheriffs of London. In this capacity, he gained a reputation for being impartial, and a patron to the poor. In 1511, More’s first wife died in childbirth. More soon married again, to Alice Middleton. They did not have children.

During the next decade, More attracted the attention of King Henry VIII. In 1514, he became Master of Requests (The Court of Requests was a minor equity court in England and Wales.). In 1515 he accompanied a delegation to Flanders to help clear disputes about the wool trade. His most famous work, Utopia, opens with a reference to this very delegation. More was also instrumental in quelling a 1517 London uprising against foreigners, portrayed in the play Sir Thomas More, possibly by Shakespeare. More accompanied the King and court to the Field of the Cloth of Gold.  In 1518 he became a member of the Privy Council. After undertaking a diplomatic mission to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, accompanying Thomas Wolsey, Cardinal Archbishop of York, to Calasis and Bruges, More was knighted and made under-treasurer of the Exchequer in 1521.

More helped Henry VIII in writing his Defence of the Seven Sacraments, a repudiation of Luther, and wrote an answer to Luther’s reply under a pseudonym. More had garnered Henry’s favor, and was made Speaker of the House of Commons in 1523 and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1525. As Speaker, More helped establish the parliamentary privilege of free speech. However, he refused to endorse King Henry VIII’s plan to divorce Katherine of Aragón (1527). Nevertheless, after the fall of Thomas Wolsey in 1529, More became Lord Chancellor, the first layman yet to hold the post.

 While his work in the law courts was exemplary, his fall came quickly. More’s fate would begin to turn when, in the summer of 1527, King Henry tried to use the Bible to prove to More that Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, who had failed to produce a male heir, was void. More tried to share the king’s viewpoint, but it was in vain, and More could not sign off on Henry’s plan for divorce. He resigned in 1532, citing ill health, but the reason was probably his disapproval of Henry’s stance toward the church. He refused to attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn in June 1533, a matter which did not escape the King’s notice, and his vengeance was imminent. This amounted to More essentially refusing to accept the king as head of the Church of England, which More believed would disparage the power of the pope. In 1534 he was one of the people accused of complicity with Elizabeth Barton, the nun of Kent who opposed Henry’s break with Rome, but was not attainted due to protection from the Lords who refused to pass the bill until More’s name was off the list of names.

In April, 1534, More refused to swear to the Act of Succession and the Oath of Supremacy, and was committed to the Tower of London on April 17.  More was found guilty of treason and was beheaded alongside Bishop Fisher on July 6, 1535. More’s final words on the scaffold were: “The King’s good servant, but God’s First.” More was beatified in 1886 and canonized by the Catholic Church as a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1935.

In 1516, More published Utopia, a work of fiction primarily depicting a pagan and communist island on which social and political customs are entirely governed by reason. The description of the island of Utopia comes from a mysterious traveler to support his position that communism is the only cure for the egoism found in both private and public life—a direct jab at Christian Europe, which was seen by More as divided by self-interest and greed.

Utopia covered such far-reaching topics as theories of punishment, state-controlled education, multi-religion societies, divorce, euthanasia and women’s rights, and the resulting display of learning and skill established More as a foremost humanist. Utopia also became the forerunner of a new literary genre: the utopian romance.

Summary of Book 1 of Utopia: The author/narrator meets Raphaell Htholdaye. He brings him to the house of a friend in Antwerp where they discourse on the economic and social abuses prevalent in contemporary England. They lament the prevalence of crime, declaring that it cannot be checked by the methods of punishment then practiced. They are opposed to capital punishment for thieving, branding it as unjust in consideration of the fact that thieving has its source in poverty. Especially likely to become thieves were those parasitical retainers who lost their means of subsistence when their lords went bankrupt. Accustomed to live in pampered luxury, they are not able to work for a living when work proves necessary. Another cause of poverty was the law enforcing the enclosure of sheep lands and general morality was at a very low state anyhow. 

The remedy for these conditions was to be found in Perisia. Here evil-doers would be segregated in places provided by money collected from alms or taxes. These evil-doers would be free except from a certain amount of daily labor. They would have to wear a special form of dress. Anyone who would inspire these people to rebel would be punished by death. 

In these conversations on the state of England, it is further suggested that kings should be allowed a limited amount of money, since it was more important that the people be wealthy than that the king be wealthy. If, furthermore, wealth is to be distributed with greater equality, it would be necessary to abolish property. Under the present system, the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer. 

Analysis of Thomas More’s Tale: Utopia is a special treatise. If falls into the class of literature, which today is generally known as Utopian. Thomas More, a man with social conscience, looked upon the England of his day as a land governed with much inefficiency. He saw no reason for the sufferings, which the common people had to endure in the struggle for existence. Even more, he believed he had the remedy for these sufferings. He conceived a land in a far-away spot that was governed much as he believed contemporary England could be. This system of government he has painted in Utopia. From this work shines forth the author’s humanitarianism and hatred of war. Thomas More wanted people to be happy, hence the people of his imaginary land are happy. Further, he presents those constituents of government and life which would make people happy. Most important to the happiness of people was work. Second, as recreation from labor, innocent recreations were provided. Nor does he write as an impractical idealist. He was perfectly well aware that human nature is such that it often comes into conflict with beautiful ideals. Hence, a certain amount of force is also used in this ideal land to compel cooperation from the inhabitants. As an artist, More gives us his ideal picture with enough concrete detail to make his imaginary land live as working reality. As a whole he writes dispassionately, but with deep love for humanity. From the passage on punishment especially it can be seen how far ahead of his times More was in his social thinking. 



Gabrieli, Vittorio. Melchiori, Giorgio, editors Introduction. Munday, Anthony. And others. Sir Thomas More. Manchester University Press.

History of English Literature (Part I – Early Saxon Through Milton). Hymarx Outline Series. Student Outlines Company Publishers, Boston, MA, pp. 95-96.


Magnusson (ed.) Chambers Biographical Dictionary (1990) p. 1039.


Posted in British history, Great Britain, history, kings and queens, religion, research, Tudor, Tudors | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Benedictine, the Exquisite French Liqueur

Year Founded: 1863
Distillery Location: Fécamp, France


  • In 1510, the Benedictine monk Don Bernardo Vincelli created the recipe for this French liqueur, which calls for 27 plants and spices. The three main ingredients are Angelica, Hyssop and Lemon Balm.
  • There are only three people on earth who know the complete recipe for making the spirit.
  • Benedictine is aged for up to 17 months before bottling.
  • The brand was first imported to the United States in 1888.
Posted in business, Edward III, Guest Blog | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

“And the Best Supporting Character” Blog Hop Continues!

Today we kick off a fab blog hop that celebrates our favorite supporting characters. Personally, I am on Friday, December 9, but I encourage you to visit the authors’ posts listed below to learn more of the best of the best. Each post will appear on Helen Hollick’s “Of History and Kings” Blog. 


We all know the protagonist is the hero (or anti-hero!) of a novel. He or she usually has a companion main character, often the ‘love interest’ or maybe the stalwart side-kick, but what about that next rank down: the supporting role guy or gal? You know, the one who doesn’t get Best Actor, but Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars. I thought it time that some of these supporting cast characters had a chance to step from the shadows of novels and have a turn in the limelight.

PLUS! something for the intrepid author to answer. Each author can invite six fictional characters (not their own!) to Christmas Dinner – who will they invite? 

Here are our participating authors – but who will be their Supporting Role Characters? Join us each day!

Here is the schedule: 

December 6 ~  Inge H Borg and the Supporting Character Post is found HERE
December 7 ~ Matthew Harffy and the Supporting Character Post is found HERE
December 8 ~ Alison Morton and the Supporting Character Post is found HERE
December 9 ~ Regina Jeffers and the Supporting Character Post is found HERE
December 10 ~ Anna Belfrage and the Supporting Character Post is found HERE
December 11 ~ Christoph Fischer
December 12 ~ Pauline Barclay
December 13 ~ Antoine Vanner
December 14 ~ Annie Whitehead
December 15 ~ Derek Birks
December 16 ~ Carolyn Hughes
December 17 ~ Helen Hollick


I will be featuring one of my favorite characters, Adam Lawrence, Viscount Stafford, who has made an appearance in nearly a dozen of my books: The Phantom of Pemberley, His American Heartsong, A Touch of Velvet, A Touch of Grace, A Touch of Mercy, A Touch of Love, A Touch of Honor, and Mr. Darcy’s Bargain. Adam received his own book in His Irish Eve. He is something of a scoundrel, but I am certain you will learn to love him as much as I do. 


Posted in blog hop, book release, books, British Navy, mystery, Napoleonic Wars, paranormal, Peterloo Massacre, reading, real life tales, Realm series, Regency era, Regency romance, romance, Tudors, Victorian era, War of 1812 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Regency Era Con Man, Gregor McGregor and the Release of “Mr. Darcy’s Bargain” + a Giveaway

Gregorio_MacGregor.jpg In writing my latest Austen-inspired vagary, Mr. Darcy’s Bargain, I researched LOTS of scams of the Regency era. One of the most prolific of those who practiced a scheme to defraud others was a Scot named Gregor McGregor.

Gregor McGregor was a late Georgian era swindler, who profited at the hands of his many investors. He was more than a bit narcissistic, even going so far as presenting himself the title of “Sir” and of Grand Cazique (Prince) of Poyais. So how was McGregor the ultimate pitch man? He persuaded people to invest in a country that did not exist.

According to The Big Picture, McGregor joined the British Royal Navy in 1803. He fought under Simon Bolivar in Florida in 1817. “During the Napoleonic Wars, Spanish control over its South American colonies weakened and the colonists in those countries fought for their independence. Between 1809 (Ecuador) and 1825 (Uruguay), all of the South American countries gained their independence from Portugal and Spain. However, countries need money, and the local tax base was limited. Most of the South American countries had mines that produced gold and silver, so in the early 1820s, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and other countries issued bonds that were backed by their new governments. Local mines issued stocks making promises of large profits to investors. This led to one of three bubbles on the London Stock Exchange in the early half of the 1800s: the Canal Bubble of the 1810s, the South American Bubble of the 1820s, and the Railroad Bubble of the 1840s. In the midst of this investment mania came Gregor McGregor who sold bonds and anything else he could muster in his mythical country of Poyais.”

When McGregor returned to London in 1820, he spread the tale of his being made a Prince of Poyais. He told all who would listen how the “made up” 12,500 square miles’ country was located on the Bay of Hondoras and was given to him by a native chief, King Fredric Augustus I of the Mosquito Shore and Nation. In truth, during a night of heavy drink, King Frederic Augustus signed over a piece of land surrounded by uninhabitable jungles and no fertile land, gold or silver mines, etc.

General_Gregor_MacGregor_retouched.jpg So, how did McGregor convince his investors that this land was everything that it was not? McGregor wrote and published a book under the name of Captain Thomas Strangeways. In the book, Sketch of the Mosquito Shore, the fictitious Strangeways describes a land of “milk and honey”: gold mines, fertile land, a country with a democratic government, natives willing to work for a fair day’s pay, a capital called St. Joseph (supposed founded by English settlers in the 1730s), small towns with banks and mercantiles, and a small military force for defense. [The book can be found on Google for a free download.]

“For the rich he offered 2000 bonds at £100 each on October 23, 1822, which resulted in £200,000 in sales. The bonds were offered at 80 and paid 3% interest. For the poor, he offered land for sale at the rate of 3 shillings, 3 pence per acre (later 4 shillings), which was about a day’s wages in 1822, therefore it appeared to be a very attractive investment. He sold places in his military, the right to be shoemaker to the Princess, a jeweler, teacher, clerk or other craftsmen in his non-existent government and country. In fact, he even issued his own currency which the settlers could use once they arrived in Gregor McGregor’s El Dorado.

“The Poyaisian Legation to Britain opened offices in London, and land offices were opened in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh to sell land to his fellow Scots. Gregor McGregor had a group of people who promoted and sold all the land and other Poyaisian goods, sharing the profits with McGregor. By 1823, Gregor McGregor was a multi-millionaire in today’s terms.” (The Big Picture)


Mr. Darcy’s Bargain: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary

Darcy and Elizabeth are about to learn how “necessity” never makes a fair bargain.

When ELIZABETH BENNET appears on his doorstep some ten months after her refusal of his hand in marriage, FITZWILLIAM DARCY uses the opportunity to “bargain” for her acceptance of a renewal of his proposal in exchange for his assistance in bringing Mr. George Wickham to justice. In Darcy’s absence from Hertfordshire, Wickham has executed a scam to defraud the citizens of Meryton, including her father, of their hard-earned funds. All have invested in Wickham’s Ten Percent Annuity scheme. Her family and friends are in dire circumstances, and more importantly, Mr. Bennet’s heart has taken an ill turn. Elizabeth will risk everything to bring her father to health again and to save her friends from destitution; yet, is she willing to risk her heart? She places her trust in Darcy’s ability to thwart Wickham’s manipulations, but she is not aware that Darcy wishes more than her acquiescence. He desires her love. Neither considers what will happen if he does not succeed in bringing Mr. Wickham before a magistrate. Will his failure bring an end to their “bargain”? Or will true love prevail?



As they entered the sinfully luxurious theatre lobby, Darcy could not disguise the smile of satisfaction upon his lips. Elizabeth Bennet was on his arm, clinging to him as if she feared exposure as a fraud. Soon, he thought. As my wife, Elizabeth will know the respect of all.

When he called upon the Gardiner household for the evening’s entertainment, her relations greeted him cordially, but it was Elizabeth who fascinated him. She wore the same gown as she wore at the Netherfield Ball, but somehow she no longer appeared as a fetching girl, but rather a woman in full bloom. His body recognized her in a purely male manner. Mine, it announced. It was all he could do not to flip Elizabeth over his shoulder and carry her off to some place private. As they crossed the lobby, he noted more than one head turned in their direction. He rarely was seen about Town with any lady in his protection, and Darcy knew tongues would be wagging on the morrow. For a change, he was glad of it. Having Elizabeth connected to him was what he desired.


He turned to observe the approach of his aunt and uncle. If he had known the Matlocks were in London, he would have chosen a different venue for the evening’s entertainment.

“Your lordship.” He led his party in proper acknowledgements. “Countess. I did not realize you were in London. If so, I would have left my card.”

“Matlock held business with his solicitor,” Darcy’s aunt explained, “and I took advantage of the colonel being at the family Town house to usher me about Bond Street.”

“I am certain my cousin enjoys the additional company,” Darcy said judiciously.

When the conversation began, he nudged Elizabeth closer so she could not bolt. He noted the hitch in her breathing and the quickness of her pulse at the base of her neck, but her chin rose to meet the Matlocks’ close scrutiny. She possessed a sort of vulnerable temerity that fascinated him.

The earl’s eyebrow rose in curiosity. “Perhaps you might make the introductions.”

Darcy noted the stiffness in Elizabeth’s shoulders. “Certainly,” he said while cupping her hand on his arm with his free one. “Your lordship. Countess. Permit me to give you the acquaintance of Miss Elizabeth Bennet and her aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner.”

“Miss Bennet?” The countess rolled the name about as if to taste its familiarity. “The colonel spoke of a Miss Bennet who was a visitor at Hunsford Cottage some months removed. Are you one and the same?”

Elizabeth’s voice held her apprehension, but she managed a sensible response. “Yes, your ladyship. I had the pleasure of taking Colonel Fitzwilliam’s acquaintance when he and Mr. Darcy shared the quarter days with Lady Catherine and Miss De Bourgh.”

“I did not know you continued the acquaintance, Darcy,” Lord Matlock remarked in chariness.

“I took Miss Bennet’s acquaintance several months prior to her sojourn with her cousin, Mr. Collins. The lady’s father is a gentleman from Hertfordshire and holds the nearest estate to the one Mr. Bingley means to purchase. At present, I am conducting business with Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Bennet.”

“I see,” Matlock pronounced suspiciously before changing his tone. “We should not keep you from your seats.”

Darcy executed a bow of respect. “Georgiana will join me at Darcy House tomorrow. Please feel free to make Miss Darcy part of your next outing to Bond Street. It would do my sister good to spend more time with our mother’s family. Miss Darcy has excelled at school this term. You will find my sister’s progress exemplary.” More than speaking the truth of his sister’s accomplishments, Darcy meant to draw attention from Elizabeth.

“I will send a note around tomorrow,” the countess announced.

With another bow of respect, Darcy directed his party toward the staircase.

“No mention of our bargain, Mr. Darcy?” Elizabeth inquired softly.

“We agreed to a measure of secrecy for the time being,” he replied in hushed tones. “If I announced our betrothal to Lord and Lady Matlock, every household in London would be abuzz with the news tomorrow. But know that I mean to have you to wife, Elizabeth. If you have not done so previously, it might behoove you to use this time together to acclimate your thoughts to the idea.”


Amazon      Kindle     Kobo     CreateSpace Store  


The Big Picture ~

The Fraud of the Prince of Poyais on the London Stock Exchange ~

Gregor McGregor ~


Posted in American History, Austen Authors, blog hop, book excerpts, book release, books, British history, British Navy, eBooks, excerpt, George Wickham, Georgian England, giveaway, historical fiction, history, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Pride and Prejudice, Regency personalities, Regency romance, Vagary | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Queen Victoria’s Grief at Losing Her Beloved Albert

Prince_Albert_1848.jpgOn December 14, 1861, Prince Albert succumbed to what was believed to be typhoid fever, although a recent book Magnificent Obsession by historian Helen Rappenport suggest the prince suffered from Crohn’s disease. (The Daily Mail). Queen Victoria’s grief over the loss of her husband, Prince Albert, came to define her entire reign. The extent of Queen Victoria’s despair was laid bare in a previously unseen letter, in which she expressed the hope that she would go to an early grave. The remarkably candid letter, which has been acquired by London auctioneers Argyll Etkin, is thought to be the first in the public domain in which the Queen yearns for her own death, so she can be reunited with her husband. Victoria wrote the ‘astonishing’ letter in March 1863, some 15 months after Albert’s death, to 82-year-old Viscount Gough. In writing to her daughter Vicky, the queen lamented “Why may not the earth not swallow me up?”

Albert’s loss was the removal of her other half for they shared an identity. They were Victoria and Albert. Complicating the queen’s grieving period was the extraordinary circumstances of her life. After all, she was the most powerful monarch in the world at the time. European royalty depended on the stability of the British crown. Victoria has so come to depend upon Albert, more so than even her prime ministers, that after his death, she was rightly “at a loss.” Albert had served as more than her prince consort and father of her children. 

Within a year of her mother’s death, Victoria now grieved her husband’s death. She would never recover from Albert’s passing. Victoria again turned to Princess Alice for support. Alice had nursed her father through his illness and became Victoria’s life line following Albert’s passing. Victoria’s dependence upon her daughter had Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine, Alice’s betrothed, questioning whether the princess would make him a suitable grand duchess. 

It took more than a few weeks for Victoria to manage her emotions and to lay out a plan for the remainder of her reign. She made the decision to treat all of Albert’s opinions as if they were an unwritten constitution. Victoria made slight alterations in Albert’s dictates, but she never abandoned the essence of her husband’s wisdom. The problem was that Victoria did not possess Albert’s intellectual capacity to learn from his mistakes and to change his mind. Victoria became downright unmovable from 1861 to her own death in 1901. 


Queen Victoria with Princesses Alice and Louise and a portrait of her late husband, Albert, in 1863. (Credit: Getty Images via History Extra)

She turned the many family residents into mausoleums dedicated to Albert’s memory. All of his private rooms were treated as shrines to her husband. Nothing was removed. His clothes were set out each day. Valets prepared for his morning ablutions with fresh towels and water. The last offices of Prince Albert grew more exacting in Victoria’s life. She observed his passing in unrelenting details. She expected every mention or reference to Albert to be pious in nature. Her children were never to mention their father unless they did so with great deference. 

Jerrold M. Packard (Victoria’s Daughters, St. Martin’s, New York, ©1998, pp. 94-95) explains, “Though Victoria’s position in a constitutional monarchy largely circumscribed her actions and authority to figurehead status – the physical embodiment of a state in which parliamentarians governed – the monarch’s desire to monitor and advise her government’s actions was to an amazing extent acceded to by her ministers, men who permitted her to review and comment on their deliberations and decisions to any degree she chose. Her participation was, in the main, always treated with near-religious respect, and her views granted as much deference as possible. 

“Victoria regarded her role as a trust requiring her own unequivocal seriousness, immutable labor, and faithworthy probity; and she strove to fulfill that trust over any interest in personal gain or what would make life more comfortable for herself. Her entire existence reflected that outlook, whether it took the form of seemingly bizarre relations with her children or the demands she unflinchingly placed on her ministers. As for her official capacities, her closest adviser…was her husband, an adviser whose term was furthermore not fettered by any electorate. In the last years of their marriage, the prince consort spoke openly for the monarch whose grasp of national affairs came nowhere near matching his own, and who to her credit recognized her shortcomings and her husband’s concomitant strengths. Lord Granville would write of the sovereign after her loss: ‘Having given up [for] 20 years, every year more, the habit of ever deciding anything, either great or small, on her own judgment…who has she upon whom she can [now] lean?’ Gone was what one biographer called ‘an ever open encyclopedia on the desk beside her.’ When Albert died, not only did the normal physical and emotional love that passes between spouses vanish with him, but so did the one person over whom this queen did not want to reign.” 

From History Extra tells us, “When Prince Albert breathed his last at 10.50pm on the night of Saturday 14 December 1861 at Windsor, a telegraph message was sent within the hour to the lord mayor that the great bell of St Paul’s Cathedral should toll out the news across London. Everyone knew that this sound signified one of two things: the death of a monarch or a moment of extreme national crisis such as war.

“People living in the vicinity of the cathedral who had already gone to their beds that night were woken by the doleful sound; many of them dressed and began gathering outside St Paul’s to share the news with shock and incredulity. Only the previous morning the latest bulletin from Windsor had informed them that the prince, who had been unwell for the last two weeks, had rallied during the night of the 13th. The whole nation had settled down for the evening reassured, hopeful that the worst was now over.

“Most of the Sunday morning papers for the 15th had already gone to press and did not carry the news, although in London one or two special broadsheets were rushed out and sold at a premium. For most ordinary British people the news of Prince Albert’s death came with the mournful sound of bells, as the message was relayed from village to village and city to city across the country’s churches.

“Many still did not realise the significance until, when it came to the prayers for the royal family during morning service, the prince’s name was omitted. But it was still hard to believe. The official bulletins from Windsor had suggested only a ‘low fever’ – which in Victorian parlance could be anything from a chill to something more sinister like typhoid fever. The royal doctors had been extremely circumspect in saying what exactly was wrong, not just to the public but also Albert’s highly strung wife, and very few had any inkling of how ill he was. How could this have happened, people asked themselves; how could a vigorous man of only 42 have died without warning?

“The impact of Prince Albert’s death, coming as unexpectedly as it did, was dramatic and unprecedented. The last time the nation had mourned the loss of a member of the royal family in similar circumstances had been back in 1817 when Princess Charlotte, daughter of the Prince Regent – and heir to the throne failing the birth of any legitimate male heirs – had died shortly after giving birth to a still-born baby boy. Public grief at this tragedy had been enormous, and it was no less with the death of Albert.”

Posted in British history, customs and tradiitons, history, kings and queens, Living in the UK, marriage, Victorian era | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy December Birthday to Some of Our Favorite “Austen” Actors

Happy Birthday Wishes, Quotes, Messages, Greetings, Cards, SMS, Images

Happy Birthday Wishes, Quotes, Messages, Greetings, Cards, SMS, Images

We wish to say a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to these actors who brought some of our favorite Austen characters to life. 






jeremy-northam-5December 1 – Jeremy Northam, who portrayed Mr. Knightley in the 1996 film version of Emmajones_3

December 4 – Gemma Jones, who portrayed Mrs. Dashwood in 1995’s Sense and Sensibility, as well as playing Bridget’s Mum in the “Bridget Jones” franchise.


Jack-Huston.jpgDecember 7 – Jack Huston, who portrayed Mr. Wickham in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 


Judi-Dencjs-fantastic-cropDecember 9 – Judi Dench, who portrayed Lady Catherine De Bourgh in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice





MV5BMjY2MzE1NzYxNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDYyMjc0ODE@._V1_UY317_CR19,0,214,317_AL_.jpgDecember 10 – Xavier Samuel, who portrayed Reginald DeCourcy in Love and Friendship




December 12 – Tom Wilkinson, who portrayed Mr. Dashwood in 1995’s Sense and Sensibility



PP3.76Perdita Weeks Scarlet Marlowe5December 14 – Barbara Leigh Hunt, who portrayed Lady Catherine De Bourgh in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice 


December 25 – Perdita Weeks, who portrayed Lydia Bennet in Lost in Austen


sands1971_marianne1wDecember 27 – Ciaran Madden, who portrayed Marianne Dashwood in 1971’s Sense and Sensmaggie-smith-becoming-janeibility 


December 28 – Maggie Smith, who portrayed Lady Gresham in Becoming Jane



JenniferDecember 29 – Jennifer Ehle, who portrayed Elizabeth Bennet in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice 

Posted in Jane Austen, real life tales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments