Happy Thanksgiving!

From my house to yours, I wish you a safe and restful Thanksgiving. I am spending the day with my favorite munchkins and their parents. 


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What You Didn’t Know About Thanksgiving

cornucopia03It took more than 200 years after the first Thanksgiving before it became an official holiday.

The first Thanksgiving was a three day feast, which included hunting, athletic games, and eating. The Pilgrims dined on venison, NOT turkey. There was also NO pumpkin pie or sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows or cranberry sauce.

“According to historian George Willison, who devoted his life to the subject, the story about the rock is all malarkey, a public relations stunt pulled off by townsfolk to attract attention. What Willison found out is that the Plymouth Rock legend rests entirely on the dubious testimony of Thomas Faunce, a ninety-five year old man, who told the story more than a century after the Mayflower landed. Unfortunately, not too many people ever heard how we came by the story of Plymouth Rock. Willison’s book came out at the end of World War II and Americans had more on their minds than Pilgrims then. So we’ve all just gone merrily along repeating the same old story as if it’s true when it’s not. And anyway, the Pilgrims didn’t land in Plymouth first. They first made landfall at Provincetown. Of course, the people of Plymouth stick by hoary tradition. Tour guides insist that Plymouth Rock is THE rock.”

Some other places claim the first Thanksgiving. History News Network gives us The Top Ten Myths about Thanksgiving.

“To see what the first Thanksgiving was like you have to go to: Texas. Texans claim the first Thanksgiving in America actually took place in little San Elizario, a community near El Paso, in 1598 — twenty-three years before the Pilgrims’ festival. For several years they have staged a reenactment of the event that culminated in the Thanksgiving celebration: the arrival of Spanish explorer Juan de Onate on the banks of the Rio Grande. De Onate is said to have held a big Thanksgiving festival after leading hundreds of settlers on a grueling 350-mile long trek across the Mexican desert.

“Then again, you may want to go to Virginia.. At the Berkeley Plantation on the James River they claim the first Thanksgiving in America was held there on December 4th, 1619….two years before the Pilgrims’ festival….and every year since 1958 they have reenacted the event. In their view it’s not the Mayflower we should remember, it’s the Margaret, the little ship which brought 38 English settlers to the plantation in 1619. The story is that the settlers had been ordered by the London company that sponsored them to commemorate the ship’s arrival with an annual day of Thanksgiving. Hardly anybody outside Virginia has ever heard of this Thanksgiving, but in 1963 President Kennedy officially recognized the plantation’s claim.”

In 1789, George Washington announced the first NATIONAL Thanksgiving holiday, but Thanksgiving did not become an annual tradition until the 19th Century. The Americans celebrated on Thursday, November 26, 1789.

As the first Thanksgiving (1622) was to celebrate the Pilgrims’ first successful harvest, the celebration was not repeated.


A depiction of the Thanksgiving meal in Plymouth in 1621. JLG Ferris c. 1912. http://www.forbes.com

American writer, Sarah Josepha Hale, was inspired by A Diary of Pilgrim Life. In 1827, Hale began a 30 year campaign to make to make Thanksgiving a national tradition. At her own expense, Hale published recipes for pumpkin pie, stuffing, turkey, etc. (By the way, Hale is the author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”)

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the last Thursday of November.

“So how did we get the idea that you have turkey and cranberry and such on Thanksgiving? It was because the Victorians prepared Thanksgiving that way. And they’re the ones who made Thanksgiving a national holiday, beginning in 1863, when Abe Lincoln issued his presidential Thanksgiving proclamations…two of them: one to celebrate Thanksgiving in August, a second one in November. Before Lincoln Americans outside New England did not usually celebrate the holiday. (The Pilgrims, incidentally, didn’t become part of the holiday until late in the nineteenth century. Until then, Thanksgiving was simply a day of thanks, not a day to remember the Pilgrims.)”

In 1939, Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday to the 3rd Thursday in November to give retailers an extra week to make money during the holiday buying season. It was the Depression, after all.

Ironically, in 1941, FDR signed a bill to keep Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday of November.

turkey03In 1989, George H. W. Bush gave the first official turkey pardon.

These facts and lots more about Thanksgiving can be found at History.com and at History News Network


This work is released under CC-BY-SA


Posted in American History, British history, Church of England, customs and tradiitons, history, holidays, real life tales, religion | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Tory Daughters: Jane Austen and the Brontës (an Overview)

Recently, I was asked by a local teacher to speak to her English class after the students had read Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights. Below, you will find my notes for a comparison/contrast between the Brontës and Austen. As I have been out of the public classroom for several years, I did a bit of brushing up before opening myself up to lots of questions from these students. 

(Many of the key points below come from “Tory Daughters: Jane Austen and the Brontës,” from Patrick Parrinder’s Nation and Novel, 512 pages, Oxford University Press, November 15, 2008. This book is a fabulous resource, which I would highly recommend to others.)

(These notes are in no particular order.) 

Introduction to the early 1800s:
• Fictional romance requires that the young lovers defy social norms, but the novels of Austen’s contemporaries, such as Maria Edgeworth (I am currently reading “Castle Rackrent.”) reflect specific anxieties about marriage in the early 19th Century. For example, in “Castle Rackrent,” Edgeworth seems to be reconstructing an heir worthy of Irish legitimacy. As a female writer, Edgeworth appears to be fortifying the system of primogeniture, which separated women from access to property.
• The idea of a companionate marriage became increasingly dominant in the early 1800s. Austen’s novels did much to propagate this middle-class idea.
• Advocating love matches and companionate marriages in novels also held a symbolic element. Each new alliance represents a further weakening of the dynastic line. 
• A common complaint of Austen’s novels is her heroines marry for love. What the critic is missing is that the marriage can also hold political and social significance. Women can be active agents of cultural change. (See my posts on endogamous and exogamous marriages.)
• In a time when divorce was expensive and required Parliamentary approval, selfish and short-sighted family interests being set against the wider social interests that the lovers embody demonstrates the novelist implicit or explicit prejudices.
• Up until the Victorian period, the politics of marriage in English fiction reflected the social norms of the aristocracy and gentry. The narrative often frames and marks as “foreign” the literary conventions of sensibility. 
• The importance to the landed estate is England’s future is an element of the stories. The concept of primogeniture is reinforced.
• The English ‘Jacobin’ novelists of the 1790s (such as Charlotte Smith, Thomas Holcroft, and Robert Bage) produced parables of a reformed aristocracy rather than visions of an aristocracy overthrown by the people. Their novels tend to suggest that an enlightened aristocracy could still form the backbone of the English nation. Rarely do these narratives endorse any single, self-identical political future.
• The Church was a vocation open to the younger sons of the landed gentry. Members of the clergy were Oxford or Cambridge graduates.
• A clergyman’s life was associated with genteel poverty and a lack of ruling-class privilege.
• A clergyman’s daughters were so pressed to marry. Austen remained unmarried, while Charlotte Brontë eventually married the Reverend Arthur Nicholls.
• The English “courtship novel” appealed to female writers and readers.They reflected the tension between the traditional definition of womanhood in terms of the marriage mart, and women’s demand for moral independence and self-respect. Female-authored novels of the period made an attempt to frame sentiment as an outmoded, if still dangerously attractive structure of feeling.
• The heroines of courtship novels are outside the charmed circle from which aristocratic brides are chosen. They have no obvious dynastic responsibilities, and the marital expectations that have been formed about them are the vaguest.
• These heroines are relatively free and are conscious of their freedom; and coming from staunch Protestant backgrounds, they possess a moral conscience and a desire to take personal responsibility for their own lives. The movement between literature and history forms a transition between private and public meanings.
• The aim of the fictional plot in the courtship novel is not simply to portray the heroine’s growth towards self-fulfillment and a settled happiness. The happy ending translates her moral assets into material ones, suggesting that – in fiction, at least – virtue has its earthly reward.
• The Happily Ever After of the courtship plot rewards the most morally deserving pair of lovers while thwarting all rival claimants. The allegories of love and marriage are not only subject to particular forms of narrative inscription that ultimately determine their meanings but also deeply embedded with a political moment that demands closer attention. 
• The politics of the HEA ending depends upon its relationship to the conventional hierarchy of wealth and breeding. Most often, the established social power is unexpectedly reaffirmed while the aristocracy is revitalized by an infusion of social responsibility and Christian virtue (the typical dowry of clergyman’s daughter).
• The courtship novels lead us through romantic complications, intricate false alarms, and delicate misunderstandings to an endorsement of Tory England.

imagesJane Austen:
• Resided at Steventon Rectory
• She came from a solidly genteel background and was strongly anti-Jacobin.
• Her characters are far more ill at ease in fashionable society than those of the Jacobin novelists, whose politics she so disliked.
• The Jacobins remembered the anti-Royalist origins of the Whig party and dreamed of an alliance between radicals and reformed Whig aristocrats.
• For Austen, however, the 18th Century diversion between the Tory country gentry and the ruling Whig aristocracy was a deeply personal matter.
• Austen has been described as the “Tory daughter of a quiet Tory parson” and her novels as “Tory pastorals.”
• Although party names never appear in Austen’s fiction, the stinging portrayal of an aristocratic grande dame, such as Lady Catherine de Bourgh, implicitly involves party politics.
• Austen’s outspokenly Royalist teenage History of England, admittedly a burlesque, reveals the strong political opinions, which later mellowed into her family’s moderate Toryism.
• A Church of England parson held a duty to support the monarchy and the ruling class and to preach patriotism and social obedience to his flock.
• Patriotism accompanied paternalism. The parson also held the role of “spiritual father” to his flock.
• In Austen’s novels, it can be argued “the significance of marriage as a relationship between individuals…is always subordinate to its significance as a relationship between families.
• Austen’s characters are strongly individualized and are not carried away by the anarchy of romantic love.
• There is an important variation in Austen’s marriage plots, some of which are endogamous – as in Edmund Bertram’s union with his cousin Fanny – and some exogamous. Endogamous marriage implies the purification and consolidation of a house, a dynasty, or a community. It is a defensive, protective measure. Exogamous marriage is a union of opposites – political, social, and temperamental – injecting new blood into one of the nation’s old or ruling families.
• The culminating marriages in Austen’s fictions are socially and economically far more advantageous to the heroine than the hero. Moreover, exogamous marriage is fraught with danger in her novels.
• To marry openly for economic advantage (as with Charlotte Lucas in Pride and Prejudice) is to invite the novelist’s scorn.
• Those who marry beneath them in essentials are set for misery (such as Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and Sir Thomas Bertram in Mansfield Park).
• Austen’s heroines must resist easy captivation and must appear to disregard material considerations so their ability to contract a wealthy marriage becomes a tribute to their integrity alone. The heroine who rejects the handsome cavalier or bounder in favor of the unbending man of virtue (or prig) is set to fulfill her destiny.
• Her “cavaliers” are characterized by vacillation, self-contradiction, and inconsistency. They are all “Beta” males.
• Ironically, Austen uses many “Whig” names in her stories: Wentworth, Woodhouse, Watson, Bertram, Brandon, Churchill, Dashwood, D’Arcy, Fitzwilliam, Russell, and Steele.
• A self-imposed limitation of Austen’s novels is she only “hints” at social change.


Charlotte Brontë:
• Resided at Haworth Parsonage
• The Brontë sisters were daughters of an Irish father and a Cornish mother, who idolized the Anglo-Irish Duke of Wellington, the victor of Waterloo and, eventually, a Tory prime minister.
• Wellington and his brothers are the central figures of the fantasy world of the Class Town (later Angria) created by Charlotte and her brother Bramwell in their youth.
• At the age of 13, Charlotte copied out Walter Scott’s tribute to Wellington in his Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, adding the following exclamation: “If he saved England in that hour of tremendous perils, shall he not save her again?”
• The Victorian critic Leslie Stephen saw Charlotte Brontë as a typical example of the ‘patriotism of the steeple.’
• Charlotte thought of herself as the antithesis of Austen.
• Charlotte, for all her sympathy with oppressed woman, was a political conservative and an ardent admirer of Walter Scott.
• Her novels are “a marriage of identifiably bourgeois values with the values of the gentry or aristocracy – a figurative political marriage.”
• Jane Eyre’s whole life is determined, as we gradually realize, by a series of rash and impolitic marriages in preceding generations.
• At every stage of the novel, the young Jane is the chosen pilgrim following a predestined path, while her imagination continues to construct fictional versions of herself; her true identity is gradually revealed.
• In Jane Eyre, we see a Victorian “English-ist” in the characters. Those outside of England (Rochester’s French mistress, the Francophile Whig aristocracy represented by Blanche Ingram, etc.) set against the superiority of the English (Jane Eyre).
• The deepening love between Jane and Rochester is one of the English novel’s crowning examples of an exogamous sexual romance based on the attraction of social and historical opposites.
• Jane Eyre escapes from Rochester only to find herself being endogamously courted by St John Rivers, the country vicar and Puritan saint, who is her cousin.
• Where Rochester would have lured her into a bigamous marriage, Rivers proposes a mere marriage of convenience, not a love match or a union likely to lead to offspring.
• Rochester’s marriage to Bertha Mason was intended to carry colonial wealth back to England, while Rivers plans to export evangelical spirituality to India and tells Jane it is her duty to assist him.
• What Jane detects in Rivers is the self-mortifying patriotism of the new breed of British imperialists.
• Their life at Ferndean is one of repatriation and restoration.
• Rochester’s blindness is the blindness of Samson, but Jane’s arrival at Ferndean puts him back into familiar English hands.

Emily Brontë:
Wuthering Heights is understood as a provincial novel, portraying violent and brutal extremes of behavior and set in a wildly romantic landscape.
• The primitiveness of the Yorkshire moors is registered through the eyes of the southern-bred Lockwood.
• The novel’s confined topography is in sharp contrast to the cosmopolitan settings and incessant journeyings of the Gothic and Jacobin fiction to which it is indebted.
• Brontë balances the Gothic material in WH against a tale of courtship and domestic passion.
• The striking two-part structure, with bitter conflict in the first generation and gradual reconciliation in the second, had been anticipated in at least one earlier courtship novel, A Simple Story (1791) by Elizabeth Inchbald, the author of the English version of Kotzebue’s Lovers’ Vows, which was performed as part of the story of Austen’s Mansfield Park.
• In Wuthering Heights, provincial Puritanism to some extent takes the place of A Simple Story’s high bred Catholic spirituality.
• The Puritanical sermons of Joseph and Jabes Branderham set a devotional context for the love story.
• Catherine’s admitting her love for Heathcliff is a kind of neo-paganism or romantic nature worship. Her words are a poetic metaphor rather than inspired truths, and are deeply false.
• Catherine is portrayed as cruel and self-destructive as is her brother Hindley.
• Heathcliff is the Holy Ghost whom Joseph and Branderham wished to see excommunicated. This means the romantic passion of Catherine and Heathcliff is not a bond between external soul-mates, but a union of opposites, a Puritan-Cavalier love tragedy in which the vengeful Puritan outcast attempts to drag his former lover down to destruction.
• The more Catherine accepts the namby-pamby lifestyle into which she has married, the more Heathcliff accepts his demonic role of eternal excommunication.
• Heathcliff’s elaborate plan of revenge cannot prevent a growing alliance between the Earnshaws (remnants of the old yeoman class of independent farmers) and the Lintons (genteel land owners).
• Heathcliff’s death sums up the novel’s themes of dynastic succession, sin and punishment, excommunication, and devil-worship. He has made arrangements for an un-Christian burial.

• Their novels reflect their authors’ rural and Anglican backgrounds and their concern with patriotism, paternalism, pastoralism, and the moral accountability of the individual.
• Patriotism is a stronger emotion in Austen and Brontë than in most English women novelists before or since.

Jane Austen Film Adaptations:

*  Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016) – TV

 * Love and Friendship (2016) – Film

* Austentatious (2015) – TV Series
 * Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2015) – Film

* Northbound II (2015) – TV Series (modern Northanger Abbey)
 * A Modern Persuasion (2014) – Film

*  Pride and Prejudice (2014) – TV mini-series
 * Sense and Sensibility (2014) – Film

* Lady Susan, Missing Masterpiece (2013) Short Film 
 * Death Comes to Pemberley (2013) – TV mini-series

* Emma Approved (2013) – TV Series 
 * Austenland (2013) – Film
 * Pride and Prejudice: Having a Ball (2013) – TV Movie/Documentary

* The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012) – TV Series

 * Scents and Sensibility (2011) – Film
 * The Many Lovers of Miss Jane Austen – TV Movie/Documentary
 * Pride and Prejudice: A Modern Day Tale of First Impressions (2011) – Film
*  Prada to Nada (2011) – Film – modern day Sense and Sensibility with a Spanish “flavor”
 *Aisha (2010) – an Indie film version of Emma
*Jane Austen Handheld (2010) – Film – told through a documentary-style film format
Emma (2009) a BBC TV mini-series
Sense and Sensibilidad (2008) – Film
*Lost in Austen (2008) – TV mini-series that takes the main character into the novel’s pages
Sense and Sensibility (2008) – TV mini-series
Jane Austen Trilogy (2008) – a documentary with bibliographic intentions
Miss Austen Regrets (2008) – a made-for-TV show based on Austen’s letters
The Jane Austen Book Club (2007) – film based on the popular best-selling book
Mansfield Park (2007) – TV movie
Northanger Abbey (2007) – TV movie
Persuasion (2007) – TV movie
Becoming Jane (2007) – popular film based on Austen’s letters
Pride and Prejudice (2005) – Film
Bride and Prejudice (2004) – Indie film
Pride and Prejudice (2003) -modern adaptation film
The Real Jane Austen (2002) TV movie/documentary based on Jane Austen’s letters
Kandukondain, Kandukondain (2000) Film based on Sense and Sensibility
Mansfield Park (1998) – Film
* “Wishbone”- “Pup Fiction” (1998) -an episode of the popular TV show
* “Wishbone”- “Furst Impressions” (1997) – an episode of the popular TV show
Emma (1996) – TV movie
 Emma (1996) – Film
Sense and Sensibility (1995) – Film
Persuasion (1995) – TV movie
Pride and Prejudice (1995) – TV mini-series
Sensibility and Sense (1990) – TV movie
* Northanger Abbey (1987) -TV movie
Mansfield Park (1983) – TV mini-series
Sense and Sensibility (1981) – TV movie
* Jane Austen in Manhattan (1980) – Film
* Pride and Prejudice (1980) – TV mini-series
Emma (1972) – TV mini-series novel
* “Novela” – “Persuasión” (1972) -TV series episode
Sense and Sensibility (1971) – TV movie
Persuasion (1971) -TV mini-series
* “Novela” – “La abadía de Northanger” (1968) -TV series episode
Pride and Prejudice (1967) – TV series
* “Novela” – “Emma” (1967) – TV series episode
* “Novela” – “Orgullo y prejuicio” (1966) -TV series episode
* “Vier dochters Bennet, De” (1961) – TV mini-series based on Pride and Prejudice
Emma (1960) – TV movie
Camera Three (1960) – TV series based on Emma
Persuasion (1960) – TV mini-series
Pride and Prejudice (1958) – TV series
Pride and Prejudice (1958) – TV film
* “General Motors Presents: Pride and Prejudice” (1958) – TV series episode
* “Orgoglio e pregiudizio” (1957) – TV mini-series
* “Matinee Theater: Pride and Prejudice” (1956) – TV series episode
* “Kraft Television Theatre: Emma” (1954) – TV series episode
Pride and Prejudice (1952) – TV mini-series
* “The Philco Television Playhouse: Sense and Sensibility” (1950) – TV series episode
* “The Philco Television Playhouse: Pride and Prejudice” (1949) – TV series episode
Emma (1948) -TV film
Pride and Prejudice (1940) – Film
Pride and Prejudice (1938) -TV

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Primogeniture and Inheritance and the Need for a Widow’s Pension in Jane Austen’s Novels

By Jane Austen’s time, primogeniture was no longer the law of the land, but it remained a strongly entrenched custom of inheritance proceedings. Breaking apart large landholdings were frowned upon. An impoverished aristocracy, whose wealth rested in the agricultural realm, would lead to total chaos in the countryside or so it was assumed. The practice of primogeniture, with the family’s holdings going to the the eldest son, made paupers of younger sons or forced them to seek gainful employment in a handful of occupations: the army, the navy, the church, or law. (Medicine was not as well accepted as were the other four, but a some “gentlemen” chose the occupation.) 

mrbennet.gif But what occurred if there were no sons to inherit, as in the case of Mr. Bennet in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion? Under English law, women were subordinate to their husbands. It was expected that she was under the “protection and influence of her husband, her baron, or lord.” The law stated the old adage of “two shall become one.” She was her husband’s “feme covert.” Any property she owned—real or personal—came under his control. A married woman could not draft a will or dispose of any property without her husband’s consent.

Women rarely inherited property (land). They could inherit “personal” belongings such as, furniture, jewelry, clothing, moveable goods, etc. But that does not mean that a woman could NOT inherit real property (meaning land, or what we now call “real estate”). The practice of primogeniture under English law presented the oldest son with the real property upon the death of the father. A “fee tail male” was the legal means to present the “entail” through the male line. It was possible for a father and his son to join forces to eliminate the entail. This would give the current owner something called “fee simple,” meaning ownership could be bequeathed without restrictions. In Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, a “fee tail male” agreement results in the Dashwood ladies’ displacement from their family home. Mr. Dashwood’s estate goes to the son of his first marriage. A “fee tail male” agreement also affects Mr. Bennet’s situation. Bennet is the life tenant of the Longbourn estate. Whichever of his ancestors created the fee tail male agreement is never identified. The entail that controls the Bennet estate (better known legally as “the remainder”) expires upon his death if he had no male heirs. The reader is told in Pride and Prejudice that Mr. Bennet had hoped to have a son [who could have joined with Bennet in terminating the fee tail male arrangement]. Unless Mrs. Bennet predeceasing her husband, and Bennet remarries and produces a son, the remainder [the property] would go his closest male relative: Mr. Collins. 

Daughters could only inherit in the absence of a male heir. The law of intestate primogeniture remained on the statue books in Britain until the 1925 property legislation simplified and updated England’s archaic law of real property. Aware of their daughters’ unfortunate situation, fathers often provided them with dowries or worked into a prenuptial agreement pin money, the estate which the wife was to possess for her sole and separate use not subject to the control of her husband, to provide her with an income separate from his.

prideandprejudice_126-e1431533593682.jpg In Mrs. Bennet’s case, her “nerves” make her both a comic and a sympathetic character. In reality, her ranting against the establishment was the lady’s only means to express her frustration. With the passing of her husband, she and any daughters that are not married will be out of their home. She will have no income other that the money settled upon her at her marriage. Locating suitable housing for a woman of her station with five dependents would be difficult. Her £4000 would likely yield only £200 to £250 yearly. Her situation would be more dire than the Dashwoods.

bts_poster_costumes.jpg “For example, in Sense and Sensibility, the widowed Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters do not inherit the great Dashwood estate, Norland, because the owner, Uncle Dashwood, suddenly changes his will and leaves it to his grandnephew. He does this for two reasons: The grandnephew is cute, and he will carry on the Dashwood surname, keeping Norland in Dashwood hands. So the four Dashwood women now must live on £500 annually (SS 1:2). Now while this does not put them on the street, this sum doesn’t give them the life they lived at Norland Park, a beautiful and spacious gentry estate with a large house attached to it. They must move to a cottage with moderate rent. And their social life is limited to where their feet can take them because they can’t afford a carriage and horse. A visit to London is out of the question financially, unless a friend covers their expenses. And their chances of landing a financially stable marriage are lessened by the daughters each having a dowry of only £1,000, their Uncle having given each girl that amount (and their inability to get out often to meet people)….The Dashwood ladies have a cottage at a very moderate rent; they have two maids and a man servant, whose pay would have been quite low; they have neither carriage nor horse; the four Dashwoods probably have limited wardrobes; and they appear to get quite a bit of food from Sir John Middleton, on whose estate they live. This amount would allow them to live in a minimally genteel way.” [Ray, Joan Klingel. Jane Austen for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2006. 133-34.]


Mrs. Norris 1983 Anna Massey

From Jane Stabler [Explanatory Notes. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Oxford’s World Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2003, 396-397.], we learn, “In Austen’s day, £600 a year is a comfortable income for someone who is careful with his money (and there is no doubt Aunt Norris’s extreme caution in this respect). Austen’s pinpointing of Aunt Norris’s income makes it clear that she can afford to employ three servants to help with the running of the White house so her exploitation of Fanny is mean, as well as cruel.”

In contrast to wives, women who never married or who were widowed maintained control over their property and inheritance, owned land and controlled property disposal, since by law any unmarried adult female was considered to be a feme soleSome of the peeresses, in their own right had property, as well as the title which the husband couldn’t touch. Still, inheritance through the female of a peerage by patent was  extremely rare and usually only put into the patent while the 1st peer was alive. Usually, the patents didn’t allow for female inheritance. It was rare for a woman to be able to inherit a peerage created by patent. The Duke of Marlborough had his patent changed when it was obvious he would not have a son, but that was a rare occurrence. Most females succeeded to a lesser peerage created by writ. Once married, the only way that women could reclaim property was through widowhood.

I have completed a series of articles on Primogeniture for this blog if you wish to know more. You will find them at the links below: 

The Effects of Primogeniture and Family Dynamics https://reginajeffers.blog/2017/06/15/the-effects-of-primogeniture-on-family-dynamics/

Female Inheritance Laws   https://reginajeffers.blog/2017/08/31/female-inheritance-laws-an-excerpt-giveaway-from-mr-darcys-brides/

Gavelkind, Inheritance in Opposition to Primogeniture https://reginajeffers.blog/2016/08/22/gavelkind-inheritance-in-opposition-to-primogeniture/

The Popularity of Primogeniture During the Regency Period https://reginajeffers.blog/2016/10/21/the-operation-of-primogeniture-in-regency-england/

Primogeniture and the 19th Century Entail https://reginajeffers.blog/2015/05/28/primogenture-and-the-19th-century-entail/

Primogeniture? Collateral Relatives? The First Laws of Inheritance…   https://reginajeffers.blog/2014/07/24/primogeniture-collateral-relatives-the-first-laws-of-inheritance/

The Roots of Primogeniture and Entails https://reginajeffers.blog/2017/07/10/the-roots-of-primogeniture-and-entailments/

Statue of Wills, Henry VII’s Answer to Primogeniture https://reginajeffers.blog/2016/09/05/statute-of-wills-henry-viiis-answer-to-primogeniture/


Posted in Austen Authors, British history, customs and tradiitons, estates, family, Georgian England, Inheritance, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Pride and Prejudice, primogenture, real life tales, Regency era | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 1832 Cholera Outbreak in England

Lieutenant-General Lord William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, known as Lord William Bentinck, was a British soldier and statesman. He served as Governor-General of India from 1828 to 1835. In 1831, he wrote a letter to his brother, the Duke of Portland, in which William described the spread of cholera in India. (Read the Transcript of Pw H 287/1-3: Letter from Lord W.H. Cavendish Bentinck, Camp Bahadaghur [Bahadurpur], India, to [W.H.C. Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck] 4th Duke of Portland, Cavendish Square, London; 4 Dec. 1831 (Pw H 287/1-3HERE)

2-cholera-epidemic-1892-granger.jpgEarlier than the descriptions Lord William Bentinck, cholera was noted in Jessore, India, in 1817. It spread quickly to Russia by 1823, to Hamburg, Germany, by 1831, and the first case in London was documented on 12 February 1832. Thankfully, only about 800 victims were named in the East London slums. “In 1832 more people died of tuberculosis than cholera, and a child born of a labourer in Bethnal Green had a life expectancy of only 16 years. However, cholera evoked a response in social terms, and a contribution to the development of public health, of far more significance that its effect on mortality at the time.

“Although the ‘Cholera Morbus’ is what we now call just cholera, the terms ‘Asiatic’, ‘spasmodic’, ‘malignant’, ‘contagious’ and ‘blue’ were also used to describe this new disease, generally thought to be a more serious form of the contagious cholera already well known. It was confused with, or thought to be the same as, ‘common’ or ‘English’ cholera, dysentery and food poisoning frequent in this country during the summer months. What actually caused the disease or how it was spread, was not understood until well after 1832 but it is now clear that the bacterium Vibrio comma, if drunk in water contaminated with infected sewage, causes a mild fever that usually gets better within a week. A poison produced by the bacterium however stimulates a profuse diarrhoea that may prove fatal if the vast quantities of water and salts lost are not replaced. Thus it is not a serious disease if treated correctly, but doctors in the 1830’s generally tried to restrict fluid intake, to prescribe emetics and purgatives, and even to bleed their patients, trying to ‘equalize the circulation’.

“The disease was first noticed among British troops in India, and vivid accounts appeared in the press of the effects of cholera in St. Petersburg, Russia. This first hand knowledge of the disease, and reports of the mortality it could cause in large cities, led the Privy Council to put all ships for Russia arriving in England under quarantine in January 1831. The Privy Council had set up a Central Board of Health in 1805, after concern about yellow fever arriving in Britain. This was reconstituted, and met daily from June 1831 to May 1832. It issued circulars and gave advice to parochial Vestry Committees, who were responsible for the precautionary measures taken within their own parishes.” (Mernick THHOL)

European cities attempted to contain the disease by placing all ships under quarantine. The London docks held ships in Standgate Creek, near Deptford, for ten days. A physician had to pronounce the ship disease free before it could proceed to unload and before men were allowed to enter the country.  Unfortunately, this method was not completely effective in stymieing the disease’s slow march across London.

the last three days of this period to be bona fide employed under proper supervision in opening hatches …. and ventilating the spaces between decks by Windsails, and opening, airing and washing the Sailors’ clothes and bedding. [CBH Letter-book PC 1/93, 17 November 1831.]


London_Board_of_Health_searching_the_city_for_cholera_Wellcome_V0010896.jpgMerrick THHOL also tells us (along more on specific cases), “During December and January there were a large number of cases of suspected cholera in London, and the prospect of an epidemic received a lot of attention. Even a play was produced, called ‘Cholera Morbus, or Love and Fright’, in which a man dispersed a crowd in terror by shouting ‘collar her’ after a girl who had picked his pocket, allowing her to run free. The Times thought this an outrage and an indecency. 

“Of the 48 cases investigated by the Central Board before February, probably only one or two on the river were the Asiatic cholera; the illness of John Potts received the most attention, although it was only dysentery. He was a sailor recently arrived from Sunderland on the collier Mould, and waiting to work north on the Dirt. Taken ill with vomiting and cramps, he was removed to Shadwell Workhouse, where he soon died, on 18th January. A postmortem examination was performed, and a twenty-inch length of his intestines carried to the Central Board at Whitehall by the parish beadle. The inquest was held in the George and Dragon public house on Shadwell High Street, and was attended by representatives from all the neighbouring parishes, but the verdict was that ‘the deceased had died by the visitation of God, from natural causes, and not from the Cholera Morbus’.”

By 1832, the disease reached Britain for the first time. Reports from Nottingham say that the first victim was a Mr T. Farnsworth of Lees’ Yard, Narrow Marsh. The disease spread mainly through the poorer districts, until it affected some 1,000 people and caused nearly 300 deaths.

19022.37722.jpg Very unusual remedies against cholera were advertised in the press. The University of Nottingham website quotes: “In the absence of proper understanding of the medical causes of cholera, people were persuaded to try a variety of preventatives and cures which were advertised regularly in the press. Cures ranged from mixtures of tincture of rhubarb, salvolatile and essence of peppermint, to Dr. Norris’s Fever Drops (described as ‘Most efficacious’) and concentrated Ilkeston water, the latter being credited with the cure of Mr. Hollingworth’s son.” (see Extracts from Nottingham Journal 4 and 25 August 1832 HERENevertheless, according to an 1849 report of the Sanitary Committee of the Borough of Nottingham, ‘this terrible scourge the Cholera fixed itself in 1832 in Streets and Courts filthy, ill ventilated and crowded with inhabitants too poor, dirty or dissipated to procure necessary food or use the most common means to secure health’. [source: Records of The Borough of Nottingham, Vol. IX, 1849, p. 71]

05-0506m-map-houses.jpgFrom the East Midlands Collection Not 3.D14 FIE: Extracts from Henry Field, The date-book of remarkable and memorable events connected with Nottingham and its neighbourhood, from authentic records. Part 2, 1750-1884. (Nottingham: H. Field, 1884), we learn something of the spread of the outbreak. 

For more information, you might also explore History Home 

or London and the Thames

or Cholera in Sunderland 

or for a look at the same epidemic in America, try ThoughtCo


Posted in American History, British history, herbs, history, Living in the UK, medicine | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Broken Engagements in the Regency Period

34113799-concept-of-a-lost-relationship-with-a-letter-a-red-rose-and-an-engagement-ring-left-on-a-table-Stock-Photo A popular plot in Regency era romances is the broken engagement, but what was the truth of the situation?

Unless he suddenly uncovered a flaw in the morals of he lady, once a man proposed to a woman, he was expected to go through with it. Sometimes engagements were called off when the fathers and/or guardians could not agree on the settlements with the gentleman. However, if a man jilted the one to whom he had proposed, it was thought that he found out something to speak to her low character, particularly that she had known another intimately.

The only means to save the female’s reputation was for the gentleman to marry another quickly, so quickly that the betrothed female sometimes did not even know she was jilted. The jilted person had the right to sue for breach of promise–if of age. Because betrothals and engagements were no longer enforced by the church, they were considered to rest on a man’s honor. The man could more easily jilt a female than the girl could jilt him.

“Breach of promise of marriage suits originated in the ecclesiastical courts; the Hardwicke Marriage Act, however, invalidated betrothals and forced jilted lovers to use the common law courts for redress. Lower-middle and upper-working class couples had a definite set of courtship rituals, based on their desire for respectability and their simultaneous lack of economic security. Though most couples wanted to find the companionate ideal, they also needed to have good homemakers (for men) and solid providers (for women). They indulged in middle-class sentimentality in their letters and poetry, yet their courting was less formal and unsupervised. This mixture of needs was also reflected in their motives for separating, a combination of ideological, structural and personal difficulties. There was a sustained argument over breach of promise in the later Victorian period, which showed the tensions between individualism and companionate marriage in its culture. The legal community was divided over the desirability of the suit; most judges supported it and most lawyers did not. It also divided the populace, since the lower classes were favorable, but the upper classes abhorred it. Women, too, were unable to agree, breach of promise protected them, but it also placed them in a special category that was inherently unequal. Ironically, the plaintiffs, by appealing to the patriarchal courts, proved to be strong feminists, since they refused to be passive in the face of victimization. This showed great determination, since most of the commentators on the action were hostile; breach of promise cases in fiction, in fact, were overwhelmingly negative, legitimizing the upper-class disdain for the suit and ignoring its usefulness for poorer women.”[Rice University Digital Scholarship Archives; Promises broken: Breach of promise of marriage in England and Wales, 1753-1970, Ginger Suzanne Frost, 1991]

The couple would often try to come up with some excuse that showed that the woman simply changed her mind, and she and the man agreed to part amicably. However, the “tale” told was often overlooked for the rumors and gossip were much more tantalizing to repeat. More gossip and scandal stuck to female’s name; there was less blame attributed to the man unless the girl’s family entered into a counter attack to shift the blame to him or to make it appear she broke the engagement. The appeal to honor was very strong. Both Wellington and Byron married women they didn’t want because they had once made the mistake of showing interest or of discussing marriage with the women.

That is the bare bones of it–the woman generally paid the price unless they could successfully claim she felt they wouldn’t suit–however, how society reacted depended on the woman’s dowry, her family position. [This held true for the gentleman, as well.] If a great heiress was jilted people would be careful not to blame her too much because they would want a chance for a son or nephew to marry her. A rich peer or a rich young man was always a good catch, and a father or guardian of the next young lady to catch his eye would make certain he made it to the altar.

A woman could cry off, but she had to be wary of being labeled a “jilt.”  (1670s, “loose, unchaste woman; harlot;” also “woman who gives hope then dashes it;” probably a contraction of jillet, gillet, from Middle English gille “lass, wench,”)

cover.indd A man who promised marriage and cried off could be sued for breach of promise, particularly if the promise was in writing. To win such a suit, one had to prove the promise and damages. Or he might just be labeled as bad ton. There were a few cases of men winning breach of promise suits. A good reference for those cases is Broken Engagements: The Action for Breach of Promise of Marriage and the Feminine Ideal, 1800–1940, by Saskia Lettmaier; Ginger Frost; Victorian Studies, Vol. 54, No. 1 (Autumn 2011), pp. 151-153, Indiana University Press. Not everyone would sue for breach of promise for it involved there being damages (to the daughter, leaving her unable to marry), so upper class might be inclined to sweep the whole thing aside as soon as possible so the social stain might be forgotten. Either way, it was poor form. A gentleman was not to propose unless he to go through with it; likewise a woman should not accept unless she was certain. 

This is an excerpt from Elizabeth Bennet’s Excellent Adventure in which Mr. Darcy has been detained by footpads in London and does not make it to Hertfordshire to marry Elizabeth. See how the scenario of a broken engagement plays out in the story: 

“Where is the dastard?” Elizabeth heard her father demand of Colonel Fitzwilliam.

The colonel and Miss Darcy arrived at the church without the groom the entire neighborhood expected. Ironically, but Elizabeth knew Mr. Darcy had not come. Even without being told, her heart said she would know disappointment. Nevertheless, Elizabeth had permitted her mother and the others to offer a hundred reasons for Mr. Darcy’s absence. How could she tell them she destroyed her happiness with a quarrelsome tongue

“Perhaps Mr. Darcy took ill.”

“Mayhap there was a carriage accident.”

“More likely, the gentleman changed his mind, just as I predicted,” Mrs. Connor declared in triumph.

Miss Darcy caught Elizabeth’s hand, offering the girl’s support. “You must know how dearly William cares for you,” the girl pleaded.

Elizabeth did not wish to be cruel to Mr. Darcy’s sister, but her pride smacked of the betrayal. “Mr. Darcy cared more for his railroad than his intended,”she snapped.

Fighting back tears, Elizabeth spoke privately to her father. “Please, Sir, may we not return to Longbourn? I believe two hours is long enough to wait for Mr. Darcy.”

Thankfully, her father recognized Elizabeth’s fragile composure. As they made their exit to his waiting coach, Mr. Bennet discreetly requested that Mr. Bingley see the remainder of the Bennet family home. Inside the carriage, her father gathered Elizabeth in his arms to rock her to and fro.

“My dearest girl,” Mr. Bennet whispered as Elizabeth permitted her tears free rein. “I will not tolerate this insult, not to my darling Lizzy.”

“No!” Elizabeth sobbed. “Mr. Darcy is not worth our notice. Please say you will do nothing foolish. I could not bear it.”

“I am but a country squire,” her father declared, “but I am not without connections.”

“Please, Papa. I simply wish to forget this slight. Do not exacerbate it.” Elizabeth buried her face in her father’s cravat. “It was my fault for aspiring to a match above my sphere. Lady Catherine said as much. Mr. Darcy likely realized the censure he would claim with our joining.”

Mr. Bennet took umbrage with Elizabeth’s remarks. “I will not have you speak so, Lizzy. Any man would earn a brilliant match by claiming you.”

Elizabeth attempted to control her tears. She swiped hard at her cheeks. “Permit me my misery this day,” she said through a choking sob. “I promise to know a wiser choice on the morrow.”

“As you wish, Lizzy.” Her father gathered her closer to caress Elizabeth’s back. It was comforting to know his love. “I will forbid all from entering your room until you are prepared to face them. Take as long as you like. One day or a whole month of days. When you decide how you wish to proceed, send for me, and we will deal with this together. Even if you do not wish to force the marriage, I believe Mr. Darcy’s name will know the shame of a breech of promise action.”

Elizabeth did not argue with her father regarding the futility of such legal actions against a man of Mr. Darcy’s stature. Instead, when they reached Longbourn, she hurried to her room to bury her tears in her bed pillow. She noted the worried look from Mr. and Mrs. Hill as she scurried past them. The servants and all her neighbors would know Mr. Darcy abandoned her at the altar.

Inside the room, Elizabeth kicked off her slippers, sending brought her a momentary surcease. She wished there was something else she could throw, or better yet, punch in a most unladylike manner. The thought of slapping Mr. Darcy’s too masculine cheek was quite satisfying.

In frustration, Elizabeth ripped at the lace of her ivory wedding dress. She should summon a maid to assist her, but it did her well to hear seams rip and to have lace sleeves come loose in her hands.

With more anger than she knew possible, Elizabeth tore the gown from her body, strip by silken strip. She would never wear the dratted dress again, and seeing it turned to rags brought her the only delight this day could hold for her. Standing at last in nothing more than her shift, Elizabeth gathered the ribbon and pieces of cloth in an untidy heap and unceremoniously dumped them out the window.

The realization brought another round of tears to her eyes, injustice rushing to her lips. It was bad enough to know that Mr. Darcy only agreed to their marriage to save her from the damage of Maria Lucas’s gossip, but to be so publicly shamed was beyond Elizabeth’s comprehension.

“Maria’s tale would be preferable to what occurred today,” she sobbed aloud. “I might have convinced the girl to ignore the obvious, but now everyone knows the man’s disdain for the Bennets.”


A soft knock at the door caught Elizabeth’s attention: It was Jane.

“Are you…? Is there anything…?”

“No, Jane,” Elizabeth called before biting down hard on her lip to keep from lashing out at her sister.

Jane would soon know the happiness of joining with Mr. Bingley. How often had they hid in the copse to speak of the men they would love?

“I am well,” Elizabeth managed.

“Are you certain?” came her sister’s voice of concern. Anger returned.

“Why should I not be well?” she said with ill temper. “It was the pinnacle of my day to stand before friends and foes and permit them to witness my public humiliation.” She paused, seeking control. “Just leave me be, Jane. I know you mean well, but…”

“As you wish,” Jane said in what sounded of tears.

Silence followed her sister’s departure. Elizabeth could hear the buzz of voices below. She hoped her father could keep everyone away. She imagined the chaos as Mrs. Bennet hustled servants to remove the wedding breakfast.

“The breakfast,” she murmured through a new round of tears. Curling in a ball upon the bed, Elizabeth covered her face. “The breakfast where Mr. Darcy and I were to accept the

congratulations of all our dear family and friends.”

EBEZ copy 2Elizabeth Bennet’s Excellent Adventure: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary 

The Last Man in the World She Wishes to Marry is the One Man Who Owns Her Heart!

ELIZABETH BENNET adamantly refused Fitzwilliam Darcy’s proposal, but when Maria Lucas discovers the letter Darcy offers Elizabeth in explanation of his actions, Elizabeth must swallow her objections in order to save her reputation. She follows Darcy to London and pleads for the gentleman to renew his proposal. Yet, even as she does so, Elizabeth knows not what she fears most: being Mr. Darcy’s wife or the revenge he might consider for her earlier rebuke.

FITZWILLIAM DARCY would prefer that Elizabeth Bennet held him in affection, but he reasons that even if she does not, having Elizabeth at his side is far better than claiming another to wife. However, when a case of mistaken identity causes Darcy not to show at his wedding ceremony, he finds himself in a desperate search for his wayward bride-to-be.

Elizabeth, realizing Society will label her as “undesirable” after being abandoned at the altar, sets out on an adventure to mark her future days as the spinster aunt to her sisters’ children. However, Darcy means to locate her and to convince Elizabeth that his affections are true, and a second chance will prove him the “song that sets her heart strumming.”

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Posted in British history, Church of England, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Great Britain, Living in the Regency, Living in the UK, marriage, marriage customs, romance | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

A Closer Look at “A Touch of Love: Book 6 of the Realm Series”

Originally, I thought the Realm series would be three, mayhap four novels. I thought the books would cover the adventures of James Kerrington (book 1), Brantley Fowler (book 2) and Gabriel Crowden (book 4). For the other four men of the Realm, I thought I would write novellas. All that changed as the series grew. Soon each of the gentlemen had their own stories. 

In A Touch of Love, we meet Sir Carter Lowery, who is the second son of Baron Blakehell. Sir Carter is the youngest of the seven members of the Realm, but he is being groomed eventually to take over their particular unit of the Home Office. Sir Carter receives a baronetcy in book 1 when Sir Louis Levering emotionally attacks the Prince Regent and loses his position in Society. Carter’s back story shows a young man always attempting to prove himself worthy to his father, who favors the older brother, Lawrence Lowery. Lawrence and Carter are close, but his father Baron Blakehell offers Carter no encouragement. Fresh off the Waterloo battlefield, such was the reason Carter joined the Realm and why he is so driven. 

As a side note, Lawrence Lowery appears twice in this series. Early on in Book 3, he assisted his brother’s friends by escorting the Aldridge sisters’ uncle, Viscount Averette, from the picture, providing time for the Realm to rescue Velvet Aldridge from a crazy Balock assassin. In this book six, he plays a supporting character to Sir Carter’s efforts to thwart a group of smugglers. Lawrence Lowery has his own book, His American Heartsong, which serves as a companion to the series. 

We first meet Lucinda Warren, the heroine of book 6, in book 2 of the series. Lucinda’s late husband, Matthew Warren, served with Brantley Fowler for a time, and they were school chums. When Fowler, the Duke of Thornhill, encounters Lucinda at a museum showing, it thinks it would be wise to choose another other than Miss Velvet Aldridge upon whom to spread his attentions. Lucinda is only a passing fancy for the duke, and nothing of importance happens between them, but something of note passes between her and Sir Carter at Lady Eleanor Fowler’s Come Out ball. It is something quite profound, but it takes the duke bringing the two back together that sets Carter and Lucinda’s steps on the same path. 

Lucinda’s situation greatly deteriorates after her brief encounter with Fowler. She lives on her widow’s pension, but one day she returns home to find an abandoned child upon her doorstep. The boy is Jewish, and he has a note pinned to his clothes saying that he is her late husband’s child, and that Matthew Warren had been married to a Jewess on the Continent before he married Lucinda. The woman was not dead when Warren pronounced his vows to Lucinda. Moreover, Warren is a Jew himself — a Jew that had been raised up as a Protestant. If Lucinda was never married to Warren, she has no means of support, and so she calls upon Fowler for assistance. As Sir Carter is the one with the most knowledge and connections in the Realm, Fowler recruits his friend to assist Lucinda. Little do they know that Matthew’s deception lies deeper than a bit of bigamy. Warren’s double life puts both Lucinda and Sir Carter in danger.

ATOL3.jpg A Touch of Love: Book 6 of the Realm Series

[historical fiction; Regency romance; adventure; romantic suspense; mystery]

The REALM has returned to England to claim the titles they left behind. Each man holds to the fleeting dream of finally knowing love and home, but first he must face his old enemy Shaheed Mir, a Baloch warlord, who believes one of the group has stolen a fist-sized emerald. Mir will have the emeralds return or will exact his bloody revenge.. Aristotle Pennington has groomed

SIR CARTER LOWERY as his successor as the Realms leader, and Sir Carter has thought of little else for years. He has handcrafted his life, filled it with duties and responsibilities, and eventually, he will choose a marriage of convenience to bolster his career; yet, Lucinda Warren is a temptation he cannot resist. Every time he touches her, he recognizes his mistake because his desire for her is not easily quenched. To complicate matters, it was Mrs. Warrens father, Colonel Roderick Rightnour, whom Sir Carter replaced at the Battle of Waterloo, an action which had named Sir Carter a national hero and her father a failure as a military strategist.

LUCINDA WARRENs late husband has left her to tend to a child belonging to another woman and has drowned her in multiple scandals. Her only hope to discover the boys true parentage and to remove her name from the lips of the tons censors is Sir Carter Lowery, a man who causes her body to course with awareness, as if he had etched his name upon her soul. Cruel twists of Fate have thrown them together three times, and Lucinda prays to hold off her cry for completion long enough to deny her heart and to release Sir Carter to his future: A future to which she will never belong.

The first fully original series from Austen pastiche author Jeffers is a knockout.Publishers Weekly

Kindle   https://www.amazon.com/Touch-Love-Book-Realm-ebook/dp/B00GFDGYZQ/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Kobo    https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-touch-of-love-4

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Enjoy this Excerpt from Chapter 2:

Lucinda wiped at the moisture accumulating on the inside of the thin windowpane. For nearly two months, she explored every resource at her disposal in determining what she might do to survive her nightmare.

“My efforts would prove more profitable if I could explain why I wished to know more of Mr. Warren’s service in Spain,” she grumbled under her breath. She wore several layers to keep warm. Coal cost more than Lucinda could afford, and she and the boy wore much of their respective wardrobes to ward off the chill and the dampness. Turning to the child, she announced, “The rain stopped. We should see to our errands and a bit of air while we might.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” The boy obediently retrieved his jacket. The garment was already too small for the lad. She wondered how she was to provide for the child. Lucinda knew she could always turn Simon over to the authorities, but the thought of the sensitive, frail boy in one of the orphanages fortified her resolve to find a means to save him. She considered swallowing her pride and begging her uncle for assistance, but Lucinda doubted the Earl of Charleton would take kindly to her asking for funds to raise a Jewish child belonging to her late husband. No, Lucinda would delay the rumor of ruin awaiting her on the earl’s steps for as long as she could.

Thirty minutes saw her approaching the small park she and the boy frequented when the weather permitted. Mrs. Peterman presented Simon with a small ball, and the boy enjoyed working it up and down a low hill with intricate footwork that Simon must have learned in his former home. Lucinda brushed off a bench with a handkerchief.

“You must stay where I may see you,” Lucinda cautioned. She always worried on how other children might treat the child. “I shall rest here while you enjoy yourself.”

Simon smiled largely. The boy’s spontaneity surprised her. He was usually so serious-faced. The gesture made him more childlike.

“Thank you, Ma’am.”

Lucinda watched him go. The well-worn ball twirling through the brown grass. There were days she cursed the boy’s appearance in her life, but she never cursed the child. It was no fault on Simon’s part for what had occurred. “Likely someone would discover Captain Warren’s perfidy before long,” she murmured. Lucinda took to thinking and speaking of her late husband as either “Mr.” or “Captain” Warren. It was her means to distance herself from everything for which Matthew Warren stood.

“Mrs. Warren?” Lucinda looked up to observe a freckled-faced young man standing before her. Hat in hand, he bowed awkwardly to her.

A familiar face. Lucinda laughed easily.

“Lieutenant Worsley? My goodness. To think we meet again after all these years.” She patted the bench beside her. “If you have a few moments, please join me.” After Matthew’s death and that of her father, Lucinda quickly came to the conclusion she had no true friends, only a string of acquaintances, who waltzed in and out of her life. The man standing before her was one such acquaintance.

“I would be honored, Ma’am.” With a blush of color on his cheeks, the young lieutenant sat stiffly on the other end of the bench. “I could not believe my eyes when I crossed the street and spotted you upon this very bench,” he said on a nervous exhalation.

The man was several years older than she, but his actions said otherwise. The former lieutenant was quite discomfited.

“How long have you been in London?” she asked in politeness.

“We only arrived this week.” Worsley nervously ran his finger along the line of his cravat.

Lucinda felt sorry for him. She did not know Lieutenant Worsley well, but she always noted how he stumbled over his words when he was in the presence of a woman. She assumed him quite naïve, but that was years prior. Should not the war have given the man more confidence?

“We?” she inquired. “With your family or your wife or betrothed perhaps?”

She could not erase the teasing tone from her words. Since coming to London, Lucinda knew very little company, and it was good to speak to an acquaintance with the easy of joined memories.

Worsley fingered his hat.

“Oh, no, Ma’am. I am not the one betrothed, but my sister made a fine match with Sir Robert O’Dell. Mother insisted we come up from Surrey to commission a trousseau for the nuptials. Mama seems to think I should take in some of the entertainments. She believes I require a wife to ease my way into Society.” Lucinda doubted a wife would cure the man’s bashfulness.  He swallowed deeply. “Is Captain Warren in London also? I would enjoy an evening with someone who speaks of all I we shared upon the Continent. It is sometimes difficult for others to accept honesty in my responses.”

Lucinda knew immediate regret. Perhaps, more than shyness plagued the man. Those who served suffered, even if they survived the devastation.

“I fear Captain Warren met his Maker a year before Waterloo. I am alone in the City. I only recently left behind my mourning weeds for Mr. Warren and for the colonel.” In hindsight, because of her late husband’s betrayal, she wished she never mourned Matthew’s passing.

“Your father also?” Worsley said in incredulity.

“Yes, at Waterloo.” Lucinda would not tell him how foolishly she responded when the French approached. Sometimes, she wondered if her father would have survived if she did not act so uncharacteristically.

They sat in companionable silence for several minutes before the lieutenant said, “You must pardon my familiarity, Ma’am, but I do not understand how you could be permitted to live without the guidance of a man.”

Lucinda knew many males would not approve of her actions.

“As you have said, Lieutenant Worsley, those who were not on the Continent cannot understand the conditions under which we lived. Even the women who followed the drum hold a different perspective of what is important in life. I fear an afternoon tea with companions speaking of frills and lace holds no attraction for me.”

“Are you one of those bluestockings?” Worsley snarled with displeasure. The man must learn to curb his tongue if he meant to find a wife. Where had the lieutenant’s timidity gone? Had it all been an act? Or was it she who erred? Her experience with men came from the confines of war. She had no means of knowing when to speak her mind and when to temper her words.

She said calmly, “I always was a reader, but I am far from advocating universal suffrage. Moreover, I must insist my life is my own concern.” Lucinda reached for her gloves.

The lieutenant stood quickly.

“Please forgive me, Ma’am. I spoke from turn.”

Lucinda noted the remorse upon the man’s countenance. “I am not annoyed with you, Lieutenant,” she said dutifully, although she was embarrassed to admit how she came to this moment.

Worsley’s Adam’s apple worked hard.

“I truly meant no disrespect, Mrs. Warren. England changed much in the decade I was away. I am often at sixes and sevens it seems.”

“As are we all,” she said compliantly.

He shuffled his feet in place.

“Would it be?” Tentativeness returned. “Would it be acceptable for me to call upon you while I am in London?”

Lucinda stood also.

“Your offer is greatly appreciated, Lieutenant, but we should each find a means to return to English society. It would be wrong of us to seek comfort in each other.” Her words sounded foolish, but Mr. Worsley nodded his agreement.

“You speak with reason, Mrs. Warren. The captain would be proud to call you his wife,” he declared.

Lucinda kept the scorn from her expression, but not totally from her tone.

“I am certain Captain Warren rewarded his wife with his devotion,” she said enigmatically. She spoke the truth: Mr. Warren devoted himself to his wife; the only exception was she was not that woman. She extended her hand to the lieutenant. “I wish you well, Mr. Worsley. Find your happiness and seize it tightly to you.”

A look of confusion crossed the man’s countenance He accepted her hand and bent to kiss her glove.

“I pray I know the happiness you did with Captain Warren, Ma’am.”

Lucinda withdrew her fingers from the man’s grasp. As a squire’s son, Mr. Worsley would do well among the genteel sect.

“I pray you know happiness beyond what you observed in my stead.”

* * *

Carter frowned as he read the missive. Much had happened since he saw his parents aboard The Northern Star. First, he led an operation, which confiscated a large supply of opium entering England: then he set about dismantling the vessel to search for clues to the whereabouts of Murhad Jamot, a known enemy of the Realm. Gabriel Crowden reported seeing Jamot aboard The Sea Spray when the Realm staged its take over, and although Carter initially declared his disbelief in the marquis’s account, he knew the Marquis of Godown would never say as such if it were not true.

Thinking on the marquis’s report brought Carter a moment of regret, and he prayed he did not permanently damage his relationship with Lord Godown. His actions were a great mistake. It all started when Carter fished Lady Godown from the water. The woman and the marquis’s elderly aunts had been taken prisoners; however, the marquise escaped. Godown’s wife attempted an impossible swim for shore in the icy waters off England’s coast. Thinking the lady was a cabin boy, Carter captured her and brought Lady Godown into his small boat. Realizing who she was, Carter turned the ship toward shore and where her husband awaited. Even so, as Carter carried Lady Godown to Crowden’s waiting arms, an unusual loneliness invaded Carter’s heart.

He lifted the marquise into his arms before light-footing his way from the small boat to the lower planking.

“You do that very well, Sir Carter,” Lady Godown murmured from where her head rested below his chin. “I imagine you are an excellent dancer.”

The woman’s words brought a smile to Carter’s lips. It felt a lifetime since he experienced the teasing tone of a handsome woman. He admitted, if only to himself, to enjoying the warmth of Lady Godown’s breath against the base of his neck. At the time, Carter wondered how it would feel to carry his own wife into his bedroom and to know the happiness the other of his unit had discovered. Without thinking, he kissed the soft fuzz at the crown of Lady Godown’s head.

“I will not fail you,” he whispered hoarsely as he climbed the irregular steps leading to the main docks. “In truth, I will prove myself an excellent partner. Promise you will save me a dance at the first ball of the Season.” A gnawing longing caught in his chest. Carter looked up from where his lips grazed Lady Godown’s hair to view Crowden’s approach.

Carter gave his head a mighty shake to drive the memory away.

“Almost as great an error as that fiasco at Waterloo,” he chastised. The missive he held in his hand would only add to the chaos of late. It was from his assistant at the Home Office: Rumors of “Shepherd’s” leaving his post sooner than expected spread quickly among Lord Sidmouth’s staff. Carter frowned. Unlike many of those not of the “inner circle,” he was well aware of Shepherd’s, whose real name was Aristotle Pennington, interest in the Marquis of Godown’s Aunt Bel: Rosabel Murdoch, the Dowager Duchess of Granville. Carter even held hopes that those in power might consider him for Pennington’s replacement. He wondered how Pennington’s leaving would affect the Realm. If Carter did not earn the post, he was not certain he wished to follow another’s orders.

“How would someone else know as much as Shepherd?” he murmured. “Shepherd possesses knowledge beyond the field. He defined the Realm’s role in the world.”

Carter stared out the window at the harbor. He had remained in Liverpool since before Twelfth Night, and he was exhausted by the tedium. It was odd: he was the youngest of their band, but it was he who assumed the duties of King and country. The remainder of his group sought relief in home and family, while he looked to his occupation to fill the long hours.

“Somehow, Kerrington, Fowler, and Wellston proved more successful than I,” he told the empty room. “I thought I had the right of it…”

The sound of the explosion sent Carter diving for protection. The smell of gunpowder filled the air. Splinters of wood flew past as he covered the back of his head with his hands. He landed face down on the dirt floor of the warehouse, which the Realm had procured as his headquarters while in Liverpool. A whish of hot air brushed his scalp.

“Sir Carter!” Symington Henderson called as he rushed into the room. Carter did not move, mentally checking each of his limbs for injury. The young man knelt beside him. “Sir Carter?” Henderson said anxiously. “Are you injured, Sir?”

Carter slowly lowered his hands and pushed upward to sit on his knees. His ears still rang from the impact, and the smell of heated smoke brought back images he worked hard to quelch. He retrieved his handkerchief to wipe his face and hands. Over his shoulder, a gaping hole loomed in the side of the building, which looked out upon the busy dock.

“I appear to be in one piece.” Carter’s voice trembled, and his breath came in short bursts. A crowd had gathered on the other side of the opening to peer into the small office.

Henderson supported Carter to his feet. He swatted away the dust on Carter’s shoulders.

“I sent agents to investigate,” Henderson assured.

Carter nodded his gratitude.

“Have them ask if anyone saw a stranger in the area.” His voice held more authority than he expected.

“I will see to everything, Sir.” Henderson began to gather the papers strewn about the room. “Perhaps you should call in at the Golden Apple and refresh your things,” Henderson suggested cautiously.

Carter raised an eyebrow in dissatisfaction.

“I do not require a nurse,” he said adamantly, but a small voice in his head said, But my mother’s presence would be soothing. Why is it, he thought, we wish our mother’s comfort when the world sends us its worst? He heard more than one soldier, while lying wounded upon the battlefield, calling out for his mother.

Henderson halted his efforts.

“But, Sir. You must feel the ticking clock,” he declared. “On balance, this is your third encounter with death in a little more than six weeks. You cannot think to remain invincible forever.”

* * *

Lucinda permitted the boy to choose two new books at the makeshift lending library. It was an expense she tolerated. Although but five years of age, Simon devoured books, and they had come to a routine of sorts: she read several chapters of a compelling adventure to the child at night, and the next day, the boy would reread the pages, sounding out the words he did not recognize immediately. Young Simon often carried the book to her and asked Lucinda to pronounce a difficult word. As foolish as it sounded, she believed the child memorized the passages.

She glanced down at the boy. He was an odd one–so mature and yet so innocent. Simon never questioned why someone deposited him upon her doorstep. He never complained about the pallet she made for him before the fire nor of the less than palpable meals she managed to place before him. Lucinda supposed the child’s good nature was the reason she tolerated Simon’s obsession with books. Books and the carved wooden horse, which was among the child’s belongings when she discovered him alone in the world.

Early on, Lucinda attempted to question the boy on what he could recall of his previous life, but whoever sent Simon to her schooled the child well. Lucinda would not even consider the possibility Simon held no memories of what came before: the child was too intelligent.

Lucinda set her key to the lock of the double rooms she let in the Peterman’s household, but the door stood ajar. Instantly, she was on alert. Lucinda knew, without a doubt, she had locked the door. She handed the two books she meant to return to the lending library to Simon to hold while she pulled the door closed and gave the lock a solid shake before releasing it.

“Stay here,” she whispered sternly to the boy, who went all wide-eyed. “If you hear anything unusual, run for assistance. Do you understand me?”

Simon nodded several times.

Lucinda swallowed hard and stood slowly. She caught the latch in her trembling hand and edged the door open. Through the narrow crack, she could see her few belongings strewn about the room. Her heart clutched in her chest. She wished she possessed some sort of weapon.

Glancing back to where the boy clung to the wall opposite, she mouthed, “Be prepared. I mean to check what is inside.” Simon appeared less frightened.

Slowly, she turned to face the slender slit. With the palm of her hand, she shoved hard against the flat surface, and the door swung wide to bang against the inside wall. Both she and the child jumped with the sound. Catching at her heart with her hand, Lucinda stepped into the dimly lit space.

Whoever had entered her rooms pulled the drapes closed to block the view from the buildings across the way. Lucinda edged forward, circling the room, her back to the wall. Carefully, she sidestepped over the blocks scattered upon the floor. Without turning her head from the room, she caught the heavy drape and carried it backward to permit the late afternoon sun to invade the space before tying it off with the ribbon she found discarded upon the floor.

She looked up to observe Simon clinging to the doorframe. Motioning the boy to remain in his place, Lucinda executed a more serious search. Even though she thought it foolish to do so, Lucinda knelt to peer beneath the bed. Next, she searched the wardrobe and behind the standing screen; finally, she moved through the small dressing room, which ran the width of her one large room.

Finding nothing unusual, other than the disarray, Lucinda released the pent up breath she did not realize she held.

“Simon, would you ask Mrs. Peterman to come to our rooms. We should speak to the constable.”

The boy’s voice wavered, but he agreed. When Simon disappeared into the house’s passageway, Lucinda scrambled to her secret hiding place. She quickly worked the board free under the small side table to retrieve her bag of coins. Peeking inside, she knew relief to find the coins still in the cloth bag.

The sound of approaching footsteps set her in motion. She would count the coins later, when the boy went to sleep. Shoving the bag into the small opening, she slid the board into place just as Simon burst through the open door, followed closely by Mrs. Peterman.

“Oh, my Girl,” the matron wailed as she clutched a handkerchief to her lips. “I never…” The landlady braced her stance by clasping the back of a chair.

Although still shaken, Lucinda’s ever practical self said, “I think it best we contact the authorities.”

Mrs. Peterman frowned dramatically.

“I am certain this is an anomaly; there is no reason to involve the constable.”

“Someone invaded my room,” Lucinda said in amazement. “A person climbed two flights of stairs, worked my lock free, and then shuffled through my belongings.” Lucinda’s voice rose quickly as her pulse throbbed in the veins of her neck.

The landlady glanced about the room to the disarray.

“Are you certain you locked the door?”

Lucinda swallowed her retort. Despite the disaster of the moment, the rooms were reasonably price.

“Ask the boy.” She kept her countenance expressionless. “He held my package while I secured the door.” Lucinda caught her personal wear from a pile on the floor and shoved the items into a now empty drawer. “Someone targeted my room,” she insisted.

Mrs. Peterman waved away Lucinda’s protest.

“I imagine whoever it was simply tried all the doors until he found one he could manipulate. I cannot say I am surprised. I warned Mr. Peterman we should lock the main door to the house at all times. There are so many men without occupations roaming the streets these days.”

Lucinda’s shoulders slanted defiantly.

“Then you mean to do nothing?”

The landlady pulled herself up to her full height.

“I mean to send Mr. Peterman to repair the door. Unless you lost a fortune, Mrs. Warren,” the woman said threateningly, “calling on the authorities would waste their valuable time and show poorly on my household. I shall not have word upon the street that I do not keep a secure establishment.”

Lucinda bit the inside of her jaw to keep from speaking out against the injustice. Instead she said, “If you will ask Mr. Peterman to a look about the place, I shall be satisfied.”

Mrs. Peterman smiled falsely.

“Naturally, my girl.” The landlady gestured to the clutter. “After you set the rooms aright, you and young Simon should join me for tea. I always enjoy your conversation.”

“Thank you, Ma’am,” Lucinda said respectfully. She thought she discovered a place where she and the boy could live out their middling lives. For all she knew, the culprits could easily be the Petermans, rather than an outsider. Lucinda reminded her foolish self never to trust anyone. She trusted her parents to arrange a comfortable marriage for her, and she trusted Matthew Warren to act the role of husband. She would learn her lessons well: No one would know her loyalty ever again.

* * *

The nightmare had returned, only this time with a twist. As always, the blood was everywhere, and the acrid smell filled Carter’s lungs. Screams of pain echoed in his ears, but the smoke parted, and the boy was there. His cheeks covered with mud, the youth cringed behind the fallen horse. The French had charged their position, and Carter knew real fear. He was not supposed to be at Waterloo; he had sold his commission to join the Realm some fifteen months prior, but when Wellesley personally asked for Carter’s assistance, Carter readily agreed.

“You men, form a line along the ridge!” he shouted above the noise of the cannons.

Although Carter no longer wore a military uniform, the voice of authority remained. British soldiers scrambled to do his bidding. Men limped and crawled to a defensive position with the hill at their backs. Whoever was these men’s commanding officer had made a strategic error: They were too exposed.

“Come with me,” he commanded as he reached for the lad, who did not move with the others.

The youth’s cinnamon-colored eyes were the most compelling ones Carter ever saw. “My father?” the boy’s voice squeaked.

Carter looked about him: Nothing but bodies and destruction everywhere. Why would any father permit his son to view the slaughter that was war? The French advanced with a flourish, and time was of an essence.

“Your father would expect you to live,” he said defiantly. Catching the lad by the arm, he dragged the youth along behind him. When they reached the line, Carter shoved the boy behind a tree. “Stay hidden!” he ordered. “I will come for you when this is over.” Without looking back, Carter strode away to oversee the rag-tag group of soldiers.

They were outnumbered five to one, but as the French broke into a run, Carter rallied the men.

“No hoity-toity Frenchie is to cross the line. Do you hear me? No Frenchies beyond this point. They are soft. They possess half the heart of an Englishman. Now do your duty. For King George and Country and for your loved ones in England! Do it now, or you will see your children speaking French!”

As the squares formed, Carter glanced to where he left the boy. A bit of the youth’s shirt showed behind the tree, and Carter wondered if either of them would survive the day.

“It was the last you saw of the boy,” Carter whispered in bitter regret. He had taken a bullet in the leg and was removed from the field at the battle’s end. What with the blood loss and the fever, he was weeks in recovery. When learning of Carter’s injury, Shepherd whisked Carter away to a safe house, where he had spent countless days and nights reliving each harrowing moment of the battle. By the time he walked away from the secret facility, Carter held no idea where to search for the youth.

Somehow, the unit of which he assumed command lost only five good Englishmen during the melee, while the French suffered over a hundred before sounding a retreat. Theirs was but a single skirmish in a chaotic campaign, but Wellesley proclaimed Carter a hero.

“Never felt the hero,” Carter grumbled as he swung his legs over the bed’s edge. “I failed the boy.”


To Learn More of the Other Books in the Series, Visit…

A Touch of Scandal: Book 1 of the Realm Series

A Touch of Velvet, Book 2 of the Realm Series

A Touch of Cashémere, Book 3 of the Realm Series

A Touch of Grace, Book 4 of the Realm Series

A Touch of Mercy: Book 5 of the Realm Series

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