Chief John Norton, Real-Life Model for a Character in “The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin,” a 2016 Finalist for the Chanticleer International Book Awards Mather Brown-Portrait of Major John Norton as Mohawk Chief Teyoninhokarawen Notecards Mather Brown-Portrait of Major John Norton as Mohawk Chief Teyoninhokarawen Notecards

One of the characters in my latest Austenesque novel, The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin, is modeled upon that of John Norton (Teyoninhokarawen), who was a Mohawk Indian chief of Scottish birth. Norton attended school in Scotland and was a force with which to be reckoned during the War of 1812. 

Norton was the son of a Cherokee Indian father and a Scottish mother. His father was taken prisoner as a boy by British soldiers when the British destroyed the Cherokee village of Kuwoki in South Carolina. Later, the youth was removed to England.

John Norton became a soldier in 1784, serving with the 65th Foot Regiment in Lower Canada. From 1787 to 1788, he served at Fort Niagara (Upper Canada). From 1791-1795, he found his “fortune” in the fur trade. During those years, he learned his skills in trade and negotiation from John Askin, an American trader who served as an interpreter for those in and around Fort Detroit. Norton and Askin also had dealings with the First Nations (Maumee, Wyandot, and Shawnee tribes), who resided south of the Great Lakes. When the Americans defeated the Maumee at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in August 1794, Norton returned to Canada.

In Canada, Norton became an interpreter for the Indian Department at Niagara. During this time, he met Joseph Brant (Mohawk chief), who convinced Norton to become a fellow tribesman of the Grand River Mohawks. Brant even adopted Norton as his nephew, and Norton became chief when Brant died in 1807. As “Peace Chief,” Norton assisted the Mohawks in negotiating land settlements with the British government. Under Indian law, Norton was considered a full-blooded Indian for his father was an Indian.

The British and Foreign Bible Society saw John Norton as an asset to their cause. They asked him to translate the Gospel of St. John into the Mohawk language. The translation was published in 1806, a first for the First Nations’ language.

Over the next few years, Norton traveled extensively through the Grand River area, even establishing a relationship with Tecumseh. During the War of 1812, Norton served as a captain in the British army. He led several of the Indian tribes at Detroit and at the Battle of Queenston Heights. With the death of Sir Isaac Brock (the British leader in Canada), Norton led the Mohawk tribes against the American troops. He participated in the burning of Buffalo (NY) in 1813, as well as fighting in the battles of Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane. His efforts provided the British time to successfully defeat the Americans in the encounters.

Norton also was instrumental in the British defense of Fort Niagara, Fort George, the Battle of Stoney Creek, and the Battle of Beaver Dams. After the war, Norton and his wife, a Lenape (Delaware Indian) traveled to England, where he received the higher rank of major in the British army for his gallantry and meritorious conduct. It was a brevet commission and held no authority, precedence, or rank pay.

During his years in England, Norton finished his journal, which became an accurate account of the War of 1812 from the Indian point of view.

Norton return to the Canadian front in 1816. In 1823, he was found guilty of manslaughter after a duel involving his wife’s infidelity. We know little of Norton after this point. He reportedly passed in October 1831 in northern Mexico.

Resources for the post:
Davis, D. S. “Norton, John (Teyoninhokarawen).” War of 1812. © RCGS/HDI/Parks Canada 2011, All rights reserved.

“Chief John (Teyoninhokarawen) Norton,” The Casebook: The War of 1812.

Carl F. Klinck and James J. Talman, eds. The Journal of Major John Norton. Toronto: Champlain Society, 1970.

PoMDC Cover-3 copy.jpg The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery

Fitzwilliam Darcy is enjoying his marital bliss. His wife, the former Elizabeth Bennet, presented him two sons and a world of contentment. All is well until “aggravation” rears its head when Darcy receives a note of urgency from his sister Georgiana. In truth, Darcy never fully approved of Georgiana’s joining with their cousin, Major General Edward Fitzwilliam, for Darcy assumed the major general held Georgiana at arm’s length, dooming Darcy’s sister to a life of unhappiness.

Dutifully, Darcy and Elizabeth rush to Georgiana’s side when the major general leaves his wife and daughter behind, with no word of his whereabouts and no hopes of Edward’s return. Forced to seek his cousin in the slews of London’s underbelly, at length, Darcy discovers the major general and returns Fitzwilliam to his family.

Even so, the Darcys’ troubles are far from over. During the major general’s absence from home, witnesses note Fitzwilliam’s presence in the area of two horrific murders. When Edward Fitzwilliam is arrested for the crimes, Darcy must discover the real culprit before the authorities hanged his cousin and the Fitzwilliam name knew a lifetime of shame.

Barnes and Noble 
Excerpt from Chapter 2 of

The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery

“I expect you to reexamine your records, Belker,” Darcy said with his best “Master of Pemberley” voice.

He favored the harbormaster with a quelling glare.

“I want to know unequivocally that no one impressed my cousin into service upon one of the ships recently setting sail from the Thames. If you ignore my request, you will know the wrath of the Earl of Matlock, Viscount Lindale, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and even His Royal Highness Prince George, who favored the major general upon more than one occasion.”

Darcy took pleasure when his exaggeration caused Belker to flinch. The harbormaster was not happy to observe Cowan enter his office.

Without doubt, as a Bow Street Runner, Thomas Cowan hounded Belker’s existence, for the man held a reputation for the importation of illegal goods. When this investigation knew completion, Darcy would use his extensive influence to aid Cowan in replacing the man who used his position for personal benefit.

“As I said previously, Mr. Darcy,” Belker shot a furtive glance to a glaring Cowan, “the major general was here. Saturday last. But he never boarded any ship.”

“How can you be so certain?” Cowan growled.

Belker puffed out his chest in self-importance.

“Assisted the officer meself,” he declared. “Some men upon the Towson thought the major general an easy target for your cousin consumed more than his share of drink.”

Darcy did not like to think upon Edward imbibing so heavily. Whatever drove the major general from his home rested hard upon his cousin’s soul.

“Certainly, some can hold their drink better than others.”

Belker straightened some papers upon his desk while organizing his thoughts.

“Those from the Towson thought to claim the major general, but Lord Matlock’s son proved himself worthy of his position. With just his fists, the major general dispatched the four men from the Towson. More easily than what anyone might believe of a gentleman’s son, I might add.”

“Explain,” Cowan demanded.

Belker did not disguise his disgust, but he provided the information. The harbormaster would not cavil over a thing such as principle.

“Needless to say, none on the Towson realized the man they discovered passed out among the crates waiting to be loaded onboard was a gentleman. The major general’s clothes be finely cut, but they be filthy. On the night in question, my dockers escorted all five men to my office, and I summoned a surgeon. Your cousin had but a few bruises and cuts, Sir. Two from the Towson are still housed at the infirmary a few streets over.”

“Do you know the major general’s destination when he departed the docks?” Darcy asked.

“Said he meant to find himself an inn to wait for his next set of orders. I thought him a junior officer on one of the ships, for he wore no epaulets. Thought he expected to depart soon,” Belker disclosed.

Cowan stood to depart.

“Do you have a guess as to where the man took residence?”

Desiring their exit, Belker stood also.

“Can’t say for certain. Most sailors avoid the inns close to the river, preferring those inland for obvious reasons. I would image a King’s soldier would follow suit. If I wished to hide from those who would follow me, I would avoid the city inns.”

Weariness claimed Darcy’s stance.

“If you think of anything of import, please contact me at Darcy House. It would be well worth your time.”  

Posted in America, American History, Austen Authors, British history, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, real life tales, Regency era | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frigates, Treasure, Snobbery, and Jane Austen, Guest Post by Antoine Vanner

In October 2016 when Antoine Vanner posted this piece on his Dawlish Chronicles blog, I asked his permission to repost it here. At the time, he asked me to wait for a bit. Well, as they say, one thing led to another. At last, the post has made it over the social media pathways. Be amazed and enjoy! 

Prize Money – Frigates, Treasure and Jane Austen


HMS Pomone, from a colour lithograph by T. G. Dutton, after a painting by G.F. St.John via Wikipedia

 The allocation of prize money followed a fixed formula, and some who benefitted from it might not be directly involved in the capture of the enemy vessel. The total value of the prize was divided into eight parts which were assigned as follows:In naval fiction set in the Age of Fighting Sail, prize money, accruing from the capture of enemy shipping which would subsequently be sold to third parties or bought by the Admiralty, is rightly shown as an important driver for Royal Navy officers and crew alike. For most on the lower deck it represented the only opportunity of their lives to earn a sum substantial enough to set themselves up in some comfort – typically by purchase of a tavern or other small business. For the officers it could mean the difference between an old age spent in respectable near-penury and acquisition of a fortune that would secure significant property for themselves and their families. The navy differed from the army in that an officer did not need to purchase his commission (a practice that continued up to the 1870s). Younger sons from wealthy families, who due to the law of primogeniture were likely to inherit little or nothing, or sons from poor but respectable backgrounds – such as Nelson – could however enter the navy at a young age and hope to rise through competence and luck.

Jack got safe into port with his prize, Robert Sayer

View of how the prize money was often spent!

One part to the admiral or commander-in-chief who signed the ship’s written orders (but if the orders came directly from the Admiralty in London, then this went to the captain);

Two parts (i.e. one quarter) went to the captain or commander;

One part was divided among the lieutenants, sailing master, and captain of marines;

One part was divided among the wardroom warrant officers (surgeon, purser, and chaplain), standing warrant officers (carpenter, boatswain, and gunner), the lieutenant of marines, and the master’s mates;

One part was divided among the junior warrant and petty officers, their mates, sergeants of marines, captain’s clerk, surgeon’s mates, and midshipmen;

Two parts (i.e. one quarter) were divided among the crew, with able and specialist seamen receiving larger shares than ordinary seamen, landsmen, and boys.

Frigate and sloop commands were much sought after for the opportunities they gave for capturing prizes but many crews were to find themselves dogged by bad luck for years. When fortune was favourable however, the rewards could be immense. In one such case, in 1799, the officers and crews of four British frigates were lucky enough to encounter two Spanish warships some 200 miles west of the northern Spanish coast. They were initially sighted on 15th October by HMS Naiad.  Her commander, Captain Pierrepoint, gave chase.  They subsequently proved to be the frigates Santa Brigida and Thetis, which were headed to Spain from Vera Cruz in Mexico.  

Sailor's Return boitard-1

The sailor’s return after Anson’s voyage. Note the wagons in the background carrying the prizes

The fact that the two frigates, which outgunned Naiad by two to one, should decide to run from her rather than to fight was indicative that whatever they carried was of great value. Pierrepoint followed them doggedly through the night and early in the following morning, another ship was seen in the south-west. It proved to be the British frigate HMS Ethalion and soon afterwards two more frigates, HMS Alcmène and HMS Triton, also appeared. In the hope of escape the Spanish vessels parted company and steered away on different courses, each were pursued by two British frigates. The odds had turned decisively against the Spanish. Overhauled, they chose to strike their colours rather than fight it out.

It is likely that much of the prize money was dissipated in wine, women and brief high-living ashore. Cartoonists of the time depicted seamen squandering money with wild abandon. Many of the officers were more likely however to set themselves up as land-owning country gentry. Although these men were in the front line of the nation’s defence or more than two decades in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, those whom they protected were often not just grossly ungrateful but resentful of such success. The novelist Jane Austen had two brothers in naval service in this period – both rose in their later careers to be admirals – and she makes a Royal Navy captain her hero in her last published novel, Persuasion, as well as portraying other officers sympathetically. With brilliant irony she describes the mean-minded prejudice endured by such officers – as her brothers may have experienced – from stay-at-homes resentful of their hard-earned prize money. The value of prizes was enormous since much of their cargoes proved to be specie – gold and silver coinage. The treasure was landed and Plymouth and loaded on sixty-three artillery wagons. Escorted by soldiers, armed seamen and marines, with bands playing and watched by a huge crowd, it began its journey to the vaults of the Bank of England in London. In the final distribution each British captain was awarded £40,000 (probably worth at least a million today, though such comparisons can only be very approximate). Each lieutenant received £5,000 pounds, each warrant officer more than £2000 pounds. The midshipmen – in many cases young boys the start of their careers, were each given £800. Those who received most of all, by the standards of their own expectations, were the seamen and marines, each being awarded £182 pounds. To put this into context it is worth noting that a domestic servant could be had for £10 per year while a private soldier in the army was paid a shilling a day, some £18 pounds a year, though deductions were to reduce this significantly in practice.

Cruikshank - pid off at Portsmouth

Paid-off seaman celebrating – cartoon by Cruikshank

Here is a snobbish landowner speaking in Persuasion – this passage deserves to be repeated in full:


(Referring to the Navy) 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.

Sir Walter Elliot.jpg“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 disdained 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. ‘In the 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.”

So much for gratitude for deliverance from Bonaparte!

img-profile.jpg Meet Antoine Vanner 

Antoine Vanner found himself flattered when nautical novelist Joan Druett described him as the “The Tom Clancy of historic naval fiction”.

He says: “I find the late Victorian era, roughly 1870 to 1900, fascinating because for my baby-boomer generation it’s ‘the day before yesterday’. It’s history that you can almost touch. Our grandparents grew up in that period and you heard a lot from them about it. So much in that time was so similar to what we still have today that you feel you could live easily in it, and then you hit some aspects – especially those associated with social conventions and attitudes – that make it seem wholly alien. It was a time of change on every front – intellectual, scientific, medical, social, political and technological – and yet people seem to have accommodated to these rapid changes very well.”

51O3qD9+aKL.jpg Britannia’s Wolf: The Dawlish Chronicles: September 1877 – February 1878

This is the first volume of the Dawlish Chronicles naval fiction series – action and adventure set in the age of transition from sail to steam in the last decades of the 19th Century.

It’s late 1877 and the Russian and Ottoman-Turkish Empires are locked in a deadly as the war between them is reaching its climax.  A Russian victory will pose a threat to Britain’s strategic interests. To protect them an ambitious British naval officer, Nicholas Dawlish, is assigned to the Ottoman Navy to ravage Russian supply-lines in the Black Sea. In the depths of a savage winter, as Turkish

It’s November 1879 and on a broad river deep in the heart of South America, a flotilla of paddle steamers thrashes slowly upstream. It is laden with troops, horses and artillery, and intent on conquest and revenge. Ahead lies a commercial empire that was wrested from a British consortium in a bloody revolution. Now the investors are determined to recoup their losses and are funding a vicious war to do so. Nicholas Dawlish, on leave of absence from the Royal Navy, is playing a leading role in the expedition and though it could not be much further from the open sea he must face savage naval combat. forces face defeat on all fronts, Dawlish confronts enemy ironclads in naval combat and Cossack lances and merciless Kurdish irregulars in battles ashore. But more than warfare is involved, for Dawlish finds himself a pawn in the rivalry of the Sultan’s half-brothers for control of the collapsing empire. And in the midst of this chaos, unwillingly and unexpectedly, Dawlish finds himself drawn to a woman whom he believes he should not love.

51l5b3cnbGL._SY346_.jpg Brittania’s Reach: The Dawlish Chronicles: November 1879 – April-1880

It’s November 1879 and on a broad river deep in the heart of South America, a flotilla of paddle steamers thrashes slowly upstream. It is laden with troops, horses and artillery, and intent on conquest and revenge. Ahead lies a commercial empire that was wrested from a British consortium in a bloody revolution. Now the investors are determined to recoup their losses and are funding a vicious war to do so. Nicholas Dawlish, on leave of absence from the Royal Navy, is playing a leading role in the expedition and though it could not be much further from the open sea he must face savage naval combat.

51Aap7r-ihL Britannia’s Shark: The Dawlish Chronicles: April – September 1881

It’s 1881 and the British Empire’s power seems unchallengeable.

But now a group of revolutionaries threaten that power’s economic basis. Their weapon is the invention of a naïve genius, their sense of grievance is implacable and their leader is already proven in the crucible of war. Protected by powerful political and business interests, conventional British military or naval power cannot touch them.

51e4mgiAYaL.jpg Britannia’s Spartan: The Dawlish Chronicles: June 1859 and April – August 1882

1859: a terrified 13 year-old boy has survived the shredding of a flotilla by enemy gunfire, the first defeat suffered by the Royal Navy for four decades. Now he cowers in a muddy ditch, waiting for the signal that will launch a suicidal assault on Chinese fortifications. It is Nicholas Dawlish’s blooding in combat and its memory will stay with him throughout his future career as a naval officer.

1882: now a captain, Dawlish is returning to China command of Britain’s newest cruiser, HMS Leonidas. Her voyage to the Far East is to be a peaceful venture, a test of this innovative vessel’s engines and boilers. It should bear no relation to that nightmare of failure in China that Dawlish remembers since boyhood and so there is no forewarning of the whirlwind of land and naval combat ahead. But soon after arrival in Hong Kong Dawlish is required to undertake a diplomatic mission in Korea. It seems no more than a formality but he finds a country racked by riot, treachery and massacre and the focus of merciless international ambitions.

613TthH9lyL.jpg Britannia’s Amazon: The Dawlish Cronicles: 5 April – August 1882 

1882: Florence Dawlish stands at the quayside in Portsmouth and watches the Royal Navy’s newest cruiser, HMS Leonidas, departing under command of her husband Captain Nicholas Dawlish. Months of separation lie ahead, quiet months which she plans to fill with charitable works.

Witnessing of the abduction of a young girl shatters that quiet, bringing Florence into brutal contact with the squalid underside of complacent Victorian society. With her personal loyalties challenged to the limit, and conscious that her persistence in seeking justice may damage her ambitious husband’s career, not to mention the possibility of prison for herself, Florence is drawn ever deeper into a maelstrom of corruption and violence. The enemies she faces are merciless and vicious, their identities protected by guile, power and influence.

Posted in British currency, British history, British Navy, Victorian era | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Celebrating the Re-Release of “Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes” + Giveaway

During the 2007-2008 school year, I complained to my Advanced Placement Language class about a particular novel, what we would now call Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF). The story, although well written, was historically inaccurate in the situations presented. It was not a true reflection of Austen’s period. As the class was taught to examine the language and the situation to identify the time period of a piece of literature, this novel would be misleading. Many of the students in the class had been in my honors classes previously, or in my elective classes, such as Journalism. They were accustomed to how I challenged them, and so one student said, “If you know how to do this, do it yourself.” Therefore, I took on the role of fiction writer. I had written much in the academic realm, but not novels. I decided to rewrite Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s point of view.

To make a long story short, I self-published the book at a time when self-publishing was not a popular means to see one’s book in print. All I wanted at the time was to answer the challenge presented me…to be a good sport. I permitted one of my students to draw the cover of the book so she might put the experience upon her college application. I purchased copies for those in the class and quickly forgot about it until my son sent me an email informing me that the book was #8 on the Amazon sales list. Even then, I considered it a fluke. At length, however, Ulysses Press contacted me asking about traditionally publishing the book. This was the time when several of the traditional publishers were buying up the rights to JAFF pieces. Ulysses had 3 other Austen-inspired writers, while Sourcebooks scooped up a dozen or more.

In February 2009, Darcy’s Passions was published by Ulysses Press, and my publishing career began. I retired from teaching in 2010, after some 40 years, and have supplemented my retirement with the publication of 31 novels to date. Yet, Darcy’s Passions remains a favorite for it started me down this path. Moreover, it remains my best seller, having entered into multiple printings. 

Recently, I decided to rerelease Darcy’s Passions with a new cover and a reworking of the story (Gosh, I cannot believe neither the editor or I caught some of those errors found in the first printing!) So, please enjoy from Mr. Darcy’s point of view, the scene where Elizabeth Bennet comes to Netherfield to tend her sister.


Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Retold Through His Eyes

FITZWILLIAM DARCY loves three things: his sister Georgiana, his ancestral estate, and Elizabeth Bennet. The first two come easily to him. He is a man who recognizes his place in the world, but the third, Elizabeth Bennet, is a woman Society would censure if he chose her for his wife. Can he risk everything he has ever known to love an impossible woman, a woman who has declared him to be “the last man in the world (she) could ever be prevailed upon to marry”?

Revisit Jane Austen’s beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice, retold from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. Discover his soul-searching transformation from proud and arrogant into the world’s most romantic hero. Experience what is missing from Elizabeth Bennet’s tale. Learn something of the truth of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s pride. Return to your favorite scenes from Austen’s classic: Darcy’s rejection of Miss Elizabeth at the Meryton assembly; the Netherfield Ball; his botched first proposal; his discovering Elizabeth at Pemberley; and Darcy’s desperate plan to save Lydia Bennet from George Wickham’s manipulations, all retold through his eyes. Satisfy your craving for Austen’s timeless love story, while defining the turmoil and vulnerability in a man who possesses everything except the one thing that can make him happy.


Chapter 3

“…to be really in love without encouragement . . .”

LITTLE DISTRACTED DARCY from his growing obsession with Miss Elizabeth except the opportunity to dine with the officers of the Derbyshire militia. Much to his friend’s dismay, his sisters chose to engage Miss Bennet to Netherfield on the same evening. Bingley had not enjoyed Jane Bennet’s company for several days, and his countenance showed the irony of the situation. “That beautiful angel dines at my own table, while you and I have the duty of dining with the local militia.”

For Darcy’s part, being away from Elizabeth Bennet had solidified his resolve to ignore her and to squash any aspirations she might have. “It is only one evening, Bingley.” His response did little to allay his friend’s desire to cancel their engagement with the officers. After the meal, the smooth brandy and the interesting conversation entertained Darcy. His interest in military history served him well. A continual downpour dampened his spirits some, but not enough to ruin the evening, while the rain and the travesty of the situation dramatically increased Bingley’s discomposure.

Upon their return to Netherfield, they were met at the door by Miss Bingley. “That foolish chit rode a horse in the rain,” she declared with a snit. “She is down with the ague. I had no choice but to offer lodging for the night. The apothecary has come and gone. Miss Bennet has a fever.”

“Should we send to London for a physician?” Bingley paced the floor.

“The lady has a cold, Charles. Sending for a physician would be preposterous! I warrant Miss Bennet shall be better on the morrow.” The whole matter fatigued Caroline. Although not thoroughly content with the answer, Bingley did not press his sister further. Privately, he told Darcy that he would wait until the morning to assess whether Miss Bennet required more learned care.

Satisfied he could do nothing to relieve his friend’s tumult and seeing no other need for his service, Darcy retired to his rooms. Sitting before the mirror in his dressing room, he spoke aloud to the image he found there. “So, Miss Bennet is at Netherfield and ill. How convenient! I wonder who planned such an astute venture. Mrs. Bennet, naturally. She sent her daughter out in the rain to snag a husband. Can one imagine such a mother–such connections–poor Elizabeth?” As quickly as he said her name, a reverie of images claimed his senses. Every time he thought he rid himself of his desire to see and talk to Elizabeth Bennet, reminders resurfaced. She would never agree to such a clearly manipulated plot as this one, he mused. Should he warn Bingley? His friend had become more entangled each day. Could he permit Bingley to create an alliance with such a family?

Darcy undressed and prepared for bed. Leaning over to blow out the candle, another thought dawned. If Miss Bennet fell very ill, Elizabeth Bennet would likely come to Netherfield to care for her sister. Darcy groaned with the realization. Elizabeth would be in the house with him. He would be forced to spend time with her. Was his groan from pain or pleasure? He was not certain.

Jane Bennet’s fever worsened. In the morning the Bingleys dispatched a note to Longbourn to secure approval to send for a physician. Despite not agreeing with propriety, Bingley realized he had no right to order a physician for Jane Bennet. “Please, you must calm down, Bingley. Everything which can be done for Miss Bennet is being done,” Darcy cautioned.

“I am aware of my insensibility, Darcy, but I feel I should be doing more for her.”


“Please, Charles, you are doing your best for Miss Bennet. She will recover soon; you will see. Let us join your family in the morning room. Your sisters are concerned for your well-being also.”

Darcy’s words lessened Bingley’s anxiety, and Bingley allowed himself to be led to the morning room. Although the rainstorm had ended, and the land had dried, remnants of the downpour remained. Darcy knew they could not ride out, so he, too, remained in a state of disorder; a ride on Cerberus would do him well. Consequently, there they sat, partaking of the morning repast, making niceties, and each of them lost in his own thoughts. Bingley worried for Miss Bennet’s well-being; Caroline and Louisa wished to rid themselves of the duty of caring for someone they only pretended to admire; and Darcy needed to be free of the unexplained energy which thoughts of Elizabeth Bennet created in him.

Suddenly, the door swung wide, and a servant announced, “Miss Elizabeth Bennet,” and she stood framed in the doorway. Her appearance had taken all of them by surprise. Mud steeped her petticoat, her hair was windswept, and her clothes, disheveled. The Bingley party sat in shock–-in momentary suspension-–at an unannounced visit so early. Both he and Bingley sprang to their feet to acknowledge the entrance of a lady. Mesmerized by her image, Darcy stood dumbfounded; in all his nightly musings, he had never envisioned Elizabeth to look as such; she was lovelier than ever.

Bingley, thankfully, had the good sense to leave the table to approach her. “Miss Elizabeth,” he began, “please, join us.” She motioned his plea away. “You have come to see your sister. I am so glad. Miss Bennet will benefit by having her loved ones close.”

Sarcastically, Caroline said, “Miss Elizabeth, did you walk here?”

“I did, Miss Bingley. I was worried for Jane,” Elizabeth reasoned.

“Three miles?” Louisa added incredulously.

Elizabeth smiled at their astonishment. “I believe so.” Then turning to Mr. Bingley she asked, “Would it be too much trouble for me to see Jane?”

“We will have someone show you to Miss Bennet’s room,” Bingley chimed in. “When you are able, please advise us on her condition; our apprehension grows. If Miss Bennet requires anything, we are your servants.” Bingley turned to the footman and indicated for him to escort Miss Elizabeth to her sister. During this exchange, Darcy did not move; the picture of Elizabeth, which he would add to his mental gallery of her, thrilled him.

When she was safely from earshot, Caroline could not contain her distaste for Miss Elizabeth’s display. “Did you ever?” she began, but Darcy cut her short by removing her immediate audience. “Bingley, it appears we will be unable to ride out today to examine your holdings, but we may address expenses for the renovations you have considered.” Bingley looked relieved at the possibility. They removed quickly to Bingley’s study.

“Darcy, would it be inappropriate to bring a physician from London to attend to Miss Bennet?” Bingley asked when they were from earshot.

“It would be a break in propriety,” Darcy responded. “May I suggest if Miss Bennet’s progress is delayed, her sister should also be given accommodations so she may attend to the lady. From what I have observed of Miss Elizabeth, she is very sensible. She would never allow decorum to stand in the way of her sister’s health; Miss Elizabeth would ask, mayhap demand, you do more if need be.”

“Naturally, why did I not think of such? When Miss Elizabeth joins us later, I will ask her to stay. Your good counsel never fails me, Darcy.” As Darcy turned to the plans for

Netherfield, he wondered if he had erred in favor of insensibility.

At three in the afternoon, Elizabeth entered the sitting room; she had attended Miss Bennet all day, with the occasional assistance of the ladies of the house. The apothecary declared Miss Bennet to have a violent cold and to be in need of additional care. “I must depart,” she said tentatively. “Evening approaches, and I must be to Longbourn.”

“Allow me to offer you the use of my coach,” Caroline declared in tones that sounded too sweet.

“I thank you for the consideration,” Elizabeth said.

Bingley hesitated, but Darcy nodded his encouragement. “I will not hear of it, Miss Elizabeth. You must stay and tend your sister,” his friend declared. “I insist. Miss Bennet will recover much faster if you are in attendance.”

“Mr. Bingley,” Elizabeth gushed with gratitude. “Your kindness is most appreciated. I do desire to stay with Jane if your offer is sincere.”

“Then it is settled,” Bingley added quickly. “We will send a servant to Longbourn to acquaint your family with our plan and to bring back clothes for your stay.”

“I am in your debt, Mr. Bingley.” Elizabeth curtsied and happily returned to her sister’s room. This satisfied Bingley, but if his friend had taken note of his sister’s face, Bingley would have seen displeasure. Caroline had made it no secret she wanted the Bennet family removed from Netherfield. She recognized her brother’s interest in Miss Bennet. Darcy suspected the woman also recognized his growing interest in Elizabeth Bennet.

It was half past six before Elizabeth rejoined the party, having been summoned to supper. “I am afraid, Mr. Bingley, I cannot give you a favorable response to your inquiry. My sister shows no improvement.”

Although she quickly returned to the needlework she held, Caroline intoned, “That is dreadful to hear, Miss Elizabeth.”

During supper Darcy hoped for an opportunity to speak with Elizabeth, but Caroline strategically placed Miss Elizabeth beside Mr. Hurst. Darcy made conversation with Caroline. He split his attention, however, hoping for gems of Elizabeth’s conversation, which he could use later.

She returned to her sister’s care after the meal, and Miss Bingley immediately abused her. “Miss Elizabeth’s manners, I find, are lacking indeed; they are a mix of pride and impertinence. Did you notice, Louisa, she cannot hold a civil conversation; she has no style, no taste, and no beauty of which to speak. Country ideas of such appealing qualities must be far below those of refined societies.” Darcy wondered at how little he knew of Miss Bingley. He once found her to be dignified, but her luster dulled.

Louisa Hurst joined in her sister’s aspersions. “Elizabeth Bennet has nothing, in short, to recommend her but being an excellent walker. I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild.”

Caroline cackled, “She did, indeed. I could hardly keep my countenance. Very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country because her sister had a cold? Her hair so untidy, so blowzy!”


“Yes, and her petticoat. I hope you noted her petticoat, six inches deep in mud!”

Bingley came to Elizabeth’s defense. “I thought Miss Elizabeth looked remarkably well when she came into the room this morning. Her dirty petticoat quite escaped my notice.” Bless him, thought Darcy. Mayhap he will one day be able to handle Caroline.

Caroline turned to Darcy. “You observed it, Mr. Darcy, I am certain, and I am inclined to think you would not wish to see your sister make such an exhibition. To walk three miles or whatever it is, above her ankles in dirt and quite alone–what can she mean by it? It seems to me to show an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country-town indifference to decorum.”

Caroline’s references to the boorish behavior of the locals wore on Darcy’s patience. “Her sister was ill. It shows an affection that is very pleasing.”

“Mr. Darcy, you must agree, however, this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes.” Caroline’s voice displayed her desperation.

“Again you are mistaken, Miss Bingley. I found them brightened by the exercise.”

Darcy hoped his comment would stifle Miss Bingley’s censure of Elizabeth, but she ignored his censorious tone. “Did you know, Louisa, the Bennet family has an uncle who is a country attorney and an uncle who owns a warehouse in Cheapside?” 

“I do not understand all this emphasis on material wealth when one judges a person’s merit; even if the Bennets had enough uncles to fill all of Cheapside, I would not think less of the family.”

Bingley felt the need to defend his preference for Jane Bennet, and in many ways Darcy sympathized with his friend, but the truth remained unchanged. “Unfortunately, Bingley, other people will judge differently. It must very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration in the world.” He hated to acknowledge the facts. Men of fine Society would not consider the Bennet sisters as probable mates, and although he found Elizabeth Bennet to be more than desirable, he knew he could not marry her.

Darcy’s speech had given the Bingley sisters permission to continue their condemnation of the Bennet family’s vulgar relations. Bingley, on the other hand, had no response. Darcy, too, could not shake the uneasiness he felt each time Caroline mentioned Elizabeth in a negative light. Eventually, the sisters ceased their humorous attack and removed to Miss Bennet’s room to offer their concerned advice. It was late in the evening before Elizabeth rejoined the Bingley household. The party sat at loo when she returned; Darcy anxiously observed her again.

After the Bingley sisters’ attacks, he spent several hours in quiet contemplation. During the day he decided he once more wished for Elizabeth’s company. Moreover, he reasoned having her at Netherfield would provide him time to know more of Elizabeth Bennet. Darcy looked forward to engaging her in a verbal battle. She would view him differently; she would increase her regard. That idea played to Darcy’s sense of pride. What woman would not desire his attention? No one Darcy met previously had refused his consideration.

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Georgian Era Commerce, Part III: The Surrey Docks and the East India Docks

The cargo handling docks of the early nineteenth century were the West India Docks, the London Docks, the Greenland Docks, the East India Docks, and the St. Katherine’s Docks. Previously, we explored an overview of the time period and a look at the West India and London Docks. Today, we mean to explore the other major docks upon the Thames. 

The Surrey Docks lacked the “flash” and the design of either the West India Docks or the London Docks. The Surrey Commercial Docks included Greenland Dock. It is located in Rotherhithe, in the area known as the “Docklands.” The original plans for the docks came about in the last decade of the 1600s on land owned by the 1st Duke of Bedford. In 1695, the Russell family received parliamentary permission to build a rectangular dock and supporting acres to accommodate 120 ships. The dock was named Howland Great Wet Dock in honor of John Howland, a signer of the Mayflower Compact.

The name Greenland Docks came about because the docks accommodated whaling ships from Greeenland. The Docks fell into disrepair with the decline of the whaling industry. William Ritchie of Greenwich purchased the land upon which the docks sat and formed the Commercial Dock Company, headed by Alderman Sir Charles Price. The docks were converted to the timber and grain handling docks. The dilapidated buildings were brought down and new granaries constructed. In 1811, the dock was awarded an Act of Incorporation, giving it the capacity of 350 ships.

From A Rotherhithe Blog, we learn, “Another dock was also completed for timber handling and was ready for use at the opening of Greenland Dock, to which it was connected. On the map Greenland Dock is marked as “Commercial Docks” and the irregularly shaped dock above it, “New Dock,” later became Norway Dock (now the development known as The Lakes). Meanwhile, William Ritchie was busy with the creation of a small thin dock, which was added to the south of Greenland Dock, parallel to its southern end, also shown on the map to the left. This opened in 1811, the same year in which the Commercial Dock Company opened for business, with capacity for 28 ships. It supplemented Greenland Dock, handling similar traffic as well as supplies for the local shipyards. It is shown on maps between 1810 and 1843.


The Commercial Docks. At the Commercial Dock, Rotherhithe, there were multi-storey warehouses designed to store grain and seeds. 1827

“The new Commercial Docks were not the only docks in Rotherhithe. In 1807 the entrance to the Surrey Grand Canal had been extended to incorporate a basin (where Surrey Water is now located) for loading and unloading ships; and at the same time the East Country Dock Company opened the East Country Dock, a long thin dock parallel to Greenland Dock to it east, so there was competition for the CDC from the word go. However, in 1850 the East Country Dock Company sold the East Country Dock to the Commercial Dock Company, which they renamed South Dock, for £40,000. Between 1850 and 1852 the Commercial Dock Company expanded the dock, and connected it to Greenland Dock. A connection to the rail network was established in 1855, which linked South Dock, Greenland Dock and Norway Dock. Competition between Rotherhithe’s two dock companies, the Commercial Dock Company and the more laboriously named Grand Surrey Docks and Canal Company resulted in the impoverishment of both. Eventually the losses became untenable, business sense kicked in, and in 1865 the two companies were merged to form the Surrey Commercial Docks Company. The two separate dock systems were connected by two locks where they ran along side each other, which enabled them to form one integrated, albeit complex dock network with entrances from the Thames from Greenland Dock at one side of Rotherhithe and Surrey Basin at the other.”

The East India Docks were located in Blackwall, for the company had a variety of warehouses in the area. They were the third set of wet docks built in the early years of the 1800s. The East India Company already had in place a cargo system to move their goods from Blackwall to London by barge before the docks were built. Because the East India ships were so large they traditionally unloaded some of their cargo at Long Reach before sailing up the Thames to dock at Blackwall. “The valuable cargoes were then carried by lighters to the ‘legal quays’ and ‘sufferance wharves,’ and from them to the spacious East India Company warehouses, which by the late eighteenth century centered on Billiter Street and Cutler Street. The system was not entirely satisfactory, especially after the opening of the West India Docks and London Docks robbed the river pirates of their previously easy pickings in the chaos of the Pool, and they turned their attention to the exotic cargoes from the East Indies and the Indiamen’s ports of call on their homeward voyages: teas, silk, saltpeter, Madeira, wine and spices, all of which had a ready sale on the black market.” (British History Online)

Surprisingly, there were no large warehouses associated with the docks. With quays 200 feet wide, the docks sported only three low buildings to house the salt petre. After being loaded on the West Quay of the import dock, the goods were moved to the City warehouses over roads in closed caravans. The deep chests holding the goods were mounted upon four wheels and the “wagons” moved with the assistance of horses. The chests were padlocked with iron lock.

“Despite the absence of storage within the docks, a variety of workmen was employed. As well as the Dockmaster, his Deputy and an Assistant, there were six officers and another six subordinate working men to supervise the labourers. There were 30 labourers, including watchmen, employed on yearly contracts, while another 100 men were engaged on a casual basis as ‘lumpers’ to load and unload the ships for eight months of the year. Other casual labour was hired if needed.  The docks were subject to stringent controls; indeed, regulation in the East India Docks was no less strict than in the West India Docks. Work in the dock did not start until ten o’clock, and at three o’clock in the afternoon in winter and four o’clock in summer a bell was rung which announced that the gate was to close. All work then stopped and the labourers, clerks, horses, wagons and carts as well as all visitors (permitted only with tickets) had to leave.” (British History Online)

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The Significance of Books and of Reading in Jane Austen’s Novels, Guest Post from Lauren Gilbert


The Significance of Books and Reading in Jane Austen’s Novels

By Lauren Gilbert

2cd7978cac40f9b0a7577d1d8b28f1c0_muay-thai-books-images-of-books-and-reading_640-360.jpeg Jane Austen was a reader.  She read widely.  We know she enjoyed novels; she was a subscriber to Fanny Burney’s third novel, Cecilia or Memoirs of an Heiress. She also enjoyed Henry Fielding, Samuel Richardson, Anne Radcliffe and Maria Edgeworth, among others. In Northanger Abbey, Austen defended Catherine Morland’s and Isabella Thorpe’s taste for reading novels (1). In fact, one of the most popular quotes from Jane Austen (also from Northanger Abbey, a remark by Henry Tilney) follows: 
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” (2)  Austen also read poetry, such as William Cowper and Walter Scott and others.  Non-fiction held no terrors for Austen either.  Her own The History of England in her Juvenilia shows her familiarity with Oliver Goldsmith’s The History of England from the Earliest Times to the Death of George II (she actually had a copy of the 4-volume 1771 edition of Dr. Goldsmith’s work). She also read Thomas Clarkson’s work on slavery and Robert Southey’s biography Life of Horatio, Lord Nelson (not surprising considering that she had sailors in the family) and other non-fiction.  Is it possible, given the importance of reading to Austen and the extent of her reading, that there was some significance to reading (or the lack thereof) in relation to characters in her books?   I took a look at Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Persuasion just to see…

bec24b1744a650324dde441f7ac40635.jpg Northanger Abbey was Austen’s first completed novel as an adult (sold as Susan to Crosby & Co. in 1803 for publication).  She later bought it back and, during 1816-1817 revised it t0 the novel we know today.  The novel’s heroine, Catherine Morland, was only 17 years old, one of the youngest of Austen’s main heroines.  She was from a large and loving family and something of a tomboy.  She had opportunities to learn but was not supervised closely by her mother, and not pushed to study hard.  She memorized some poetry and was predisposed to like books as long as they were all story and had little practical information. (3)  She was passionately fond of Gothic novels, which coloured her friendships with Isabella Thorpe and Henry and Eleanor Tilney.  While Catherine and Isabella seemed almost obsessed by the Gothic novels, Henry and Eleanor were much more balanced in their enjoyment (given their greater maturity). Her romantic disposition and inordinate fondness for these novels were clues to her youth and immaturity, which led her to make several poor judgements, climaxing in her conviction that General Tilney must have murdered his wife (Henry’s mother) because the atmosphere in his home and the general’s demeanour were so reminiscent of her favourite novels.  She had the humiliation of being caught by Henry who recognized her misunderstanding and corrected it directly, and the greater humiliation of being sent home unescorted by General Tilney when he discovered that she was not the wealthy heiress he had thought her.  These experiences, including having to manage her journey on her own, hastened her maturing process and, by the end of the novel, she was ready to receive Henry’s offer of marriage.

Pride and Prejudice featured Elizabeth and Jane Bennet, arguably Jane Austen’s most popular heroines.  Elizabeth was 20 years old and Jane 22 at the beginning of the book, so were more grown up than Catherine Morland.  Jane was almost her mother’s favourite (because of her looks) while Elizabeth was her father’s (because of her wit and spirit).  Mr. Bennet was a scholarly gentleman and was most fond and involved the oldest two of his five daughters.  (The three younger girls were apparently left to their mother’s hands.)  His library was Mr. Bennet’s pride; he seemed to have spent a significant amount of money building it, and spent most of his time in it.  Elizabeth was welcomed into his sanctum. Elizabeth was keenly interested in people, and quite confident of her ability to size up individuals.  She formed opinions quickly.  There is no list of what Elizabeth (or Jane) might have read; THAT Elizabeth (and probably Jane) enjoyed reading is my opinion based on their father’s influence and involvement with them.  On her first night at Netherfield, Elizabeth picked up a book rather than join in a card game with Darcy, Bingley and the others.  There was no indication of her selection, and she denied being a great reader or liking books better than cards as accused by Miss Bingley. 

book-cover-fordyce-sermons.jpg Ironically, Mary Bennet’s taste for Fordyce’s Sermons is the only clear example of literary taste among the Bennet sisters and, unfortunately, this and her music were exhibited more to get attention than to give herself (or anyone else) pleasure.  Neither Kitty nor Lydia, the youngest Bennet girls, concerned themselves with accomplishments or reading at all. At Netherfield, after having heard Mr. Darcy aver that, with other accomplishments, a lady must also add “…the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”(4), Miss Bingley picked up a book while Mr. Darcy is reading and the others are occupied otherwise (Elizabeth was working, probably on some kind of needlework).  Unfortunately, Miss Bingley’s effect was wasted as she selected the second volume of Mr. Darcy’s book and was clearly not really reading it.  Like Mary Bennet, Miss Bingley was using her book to draw attention.   Unlike her sister Mary and Miss Bingley, Elizabeth was aware of her lack of accomplishments and education, and how foolish her mother and younger sisters (and Miss Bingley) appeared when flaunting themselves for attention.  Her blind spot was her confidence in her ability to see through people and in her own judgement.  She blundered with Mr. Wickham and Mr. Darcy.  When she rejected Darcy’s poorly timed proposal, she was so sure he was the villain of the piece; Darcy’s letter explaining the circumstances of his and Wickham’s relationship, punctured her self-confidence and forced her to recognize her errors of judgement.  “Till this moment, I never knew myself.” (5)  Elizabeth and Jane decided not to tell anyone about Wickham’s past, which was a misguided effort to be fair (and also kept Elizabeth’s misjudgement quiet). 

When Elizabeth encountered Darcy again at Pemberly while travelling with the Gardiners, they were well on the way to a much better understanding, when Wickham ran off with her 15-year old sister Lydia.  Realizing that the elopement might have been prevented had she disclosed what she knew, then discovering Darcy’s role as Lydia’s rescuer when he compelled Wickham to marry Lydia, forced Elizabeth to recognize, yet again, her errors and pride.  Her recognition of Darcy’s virtues and the fact that she loved him indicated her maturing mind.   Her father’s and Darcy’s appreciation of her lively mind and intelligence, to me, demonstrated that reading was not an accomplishment neglected by Elizabeth even though we do not know what she read or actively see her engaged in reading as a frequent activity.

In Emma, books and reading were involved in the plot.  Emma Woodhouse was 20 years old, and bored.  She was talented in many ways, but did not choose to apply herself to fully develop her talents.  She was very fond of Miss Taylor, her governess, whose affection for Emma resulted in a lack of discipline.  Emma was indulged, and accustomed to being admired and having her own way.  When Miss Taylor married Mr. Weston and moved to her own home, it left Emma to her own devices.  Emma was very intelligent and active, more so than her sister and others around her.  Emma inherited her abilities from her mother, who may have been able to control and direct Emma had she lived.  (Certainly, no one else could.)  Consequently, Emma dabbled instead of applied, which gave her little satisfaction or occupation, and left her free to find another project. 

The only person to notice weakness and try to help her correct herself was Mr. Knightley, who told Mrs. Weston, “She will never submit to anything requiring industry and patience and a subjection of the fancy to the understanding.”(6)  Emma prided herself on making the match between her governess and Mr. Weston, and decided to make a project of matching Harriet Smith, a parlour boarder at the local school for young ladies with unknown connections.  Because of Harriet’s beauty and good nature (and good taste in looking up to Emma wholeheartedly), Emma decided that Harriet’s mysterious parentage must be of noble origin and resolved to match her with a gentleman.  Emma did not act so much out of malice but exhibited a consummate blindness to anything she did not want to see so missed many cues.  When Robert Martin, a tenant farmer of whom Mr. Knightley though highly, proposed to Harriet, Emma encouraged Harriet to refuse him, on the grounds he was beneath her and (among other flaws) illiterate.  Even though he wrote an excellent letter of proposal to Harriet and was known to read farm journals, Emma apparently equated his failure to procure and read The Romance of the Forest immediately upon Harriet’s recommendation as illiteracy. 

Emma’s attempts to throw the local vicar Mr. Elton (who had his eye on Emma herself) and Harriet together, her misguided jealousy and fault-finding of Jane Fairfax, and her misunderstanding of Frank Churchill’s intentions (while embracing his rather mean-spirited gossip) had her bouncing from awkward moment to worse.  Mr. Knightley’s attempts to rein her in rather pushed her even further on her path; she felt uncomfortable but was unwilling to concede her errors. Emma’s unkind remarks to Miss Bates at the Box Hill picnic, which resulted in a blunt and emphatic castigation by Mr. Knightly (showing how she had fallen in his estimation) brought her up short, and set her on a more appropriate path.  When Harriet confided that she had feelings for Mr. Knightley and thought Mr. Knightley might approach her, the final blinder came off and Emma realized she loved him.  All of these realizations allowed Emma to mature and evolve to the young woman ready to receive and deserving of Mr. Knightley’s regard.  (I always hoped that, after marriage, Mr. Knightley and Emma would read together some of those books she meant to read but never had.)

The first three novels considered feature young heroines in the process of maturing and evolving.  The girls’ reading (or lack thereof) showed their need to grow up. They concluded with each young woman realizing her potential and making worthy matches accordingly.  The fourth novel considered here, Persuasion, featured a different heroine.  Being Austen’s last completed novel, written when she was over 40 and in ill health, the choice of an older heroine seemed logical to me.  Anne Elliot was 27 years old and a mature woman who knew herself, her strengths and her weaknesses.  Her father, Sir Walter Elliot, was inordinately proud of being a baronet and the only reading material in which he showed interest was his family’s entry in Debrett’s The New Baronetage of England.  Her older and more beautiful sister Elizabeth, single at age 29, no longer enjoyed the Baronetage, and had quit looking at it.  There was no indication of interest in any other form of reading interest for either of them.  Younger sister Mary was married with two children, primarily concerned with her own health and feelings (household and children were left to her servants, and she was very occupied with making sure that her own precedence was observed and feeling put upon).  Anne saw clearly the vanity and selfishness of her father and her sisters, and had experienced heartbreak (at the death of her mother at age 14, and at the breaking of her engagement to Captain Wentworth at age 19).  In the intervening years, Anne had recognized her own weaknesses and errors, and learned from them.  Her recognition of these matters did not lessen her affection and regard for her friend Lady Russell, who persuaded her that the engagement was an error; it taught her to respect her own judgement. 

All of the action was viewed through Anne, who saw clearly but not unkindly.  When Captain Wentworth, now successful and wealthy, turned up at Uppercross, while Anne was visiting her sister Mary and Mary’s family, Anne did not expect a second chance; she was focused on merely getting through meeting him again without exposing her own feelings.  Anne herself was a reader.  In the years prior to meeting him again, Anne had followed Captain Wentworth’s career in the newspapers and naval sheets.  She was fond of poetry, occupying herself during the long walk from Upper Cross with remembering autumnal quotes appropriate to the season and her mood, while the others were separated out (including Captain Wentworth strolling with Louisa and Henrietta Musgrove).  Anne was quiet but herself in the continuing interactions with Captain Wentworth, and he came to view her with renewed appreciation, especially during the visit at Lyme, where the admiration for Anne shown by an unknown gentleman (who turned out to be Mr. William Elliot, the cousin and heir to her father’s title) caught his attention and again when Louisa fell and injured herself and Anne kept her composure and took charge.  In Lyme, Anne engages Captain Wentworth’s friend Captain Benwick in conversation about literature.   As Anne had mourned the figurative death of her engagement, Captain Benwick mourned the literal death of his fiancee’ Fanny, and read poetry assiduously, quoting sad verses.   While having great sympathy for his loss, Anne’s recommendation was more bracing: she suggested that he include more prose in his reading.(7)  (Somehow, I could see Anne recommending Robert Southey’s Life of Horatio, Lord Nelson as suitable prose for a naval man.) 

As the action moved from Upper Cross to Bath, Anne continued to pursue her own path, resuming a friendship with her old school friend, Mrs. Smith, who was poor and an invalid, while Sir Walter and Elizabeth chased social standing.  Elizabeth neglected her sister in favour of Mrs. Clay, daughter of Sir Walter’s solicitor, who flattered both Elizabeth and Sir Walter assiduously.  Captain Wentworth re-entered Anne’s orbit in Bath, freed from any entanglement with Louisa due to her falling in love with and becoming engaged to Captain Benwick as he read poetry to her during her convalescence.(8)   Anne formed the warm, quiet centre of the action, the kind and sympathetic person to whom all were drawn, except for Elizabeth and Sir Walter who were both completely self-absorbed.  Anne’s affections had not changed; it only remained for Captain Wentworth to rediscover his love for her and to write possibly the most beautiful love letter ever written to give Anne her due reward.  She had already done the work and earned it.  Her fondness for reading and choice of materials seemed almost a metaphor for her maturity and the development of her mind and spirit.

As an author, Jane Austen was known for her subtlety and delicate touch.  One would not look for blatant symbolism or an obvious device in her novels.  In the matter of books and reading, a source of great interest and inspiration to her and her writing, one would expect to find some reference to reading in her novels, and one does.  Pride and Prejudice specifically referred to the improvement of the mind by extensive reading.  The neglect of this improvement was reflected by the missteps of Emma, who did not challenge herself or develop her abilities, and Catherine Morland, who spent too much time reading light fare.  Elizabeth, I believe, did read, but put too much faith in her own observations and judgements before her reading and her life experience could refine them.  We watched these three heroines struggle and mature, so that they were worthy of their happy endings. In Anne, we saw the culmination of experience and growth, nurtured by her reading and the variety of materials she read, as she received her just and natural reward when those around her saw and appreciated her worth.


  1. Northanger Abbey  Vol. 1 p. 37-38
  2. Northanger Abbey  Vol. 1 p. 106
  3. Northanger Abbey Vol. 1 p. 15
  4. Pride and Prejudice  Vol. 1 p. 39
  5. Pride and Prejudice Vol. 2 p. 209   
  6. Emma Vol. 1 p. 37   
  7. Persuasion Vol. 3 p. 101           
  8. Persuasion Vol. 4 p. 167                  

Sources include:

Austen, Jane.  Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.  The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen.  3rd edition.  Vol. 5.  1988: Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Austen, Jane.  Pride and Prejudice.  The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen.  3rd edition. Vol. II.  1988: Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Austen, Jane.  Emma. The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen.  3rd edition. Vol. IV.  1988: Oxford University Press, Oxford.

BBC Arts & Culture. “Jane Austen: What books were on her reading list?” January 23, 2013.  (No author shown.)

Persuasions On-line.  “Jane Austen’s Reading: The Chawton Years” by Gillian Dow and Katie Halsey.  Vol. 30 No. 2 (Spring 2010).

Republic of Pemberly.  “Allusions to Books and Authors in Jane Austen’s Writing.”  (No date or author provided.)

About the Author:

LAUREN GILBERT has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in Art History. An avid reader, she is a long-time member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. She has presented several programs for JASNA meetings including a breakout session at the 2011 Annual General Meeting in Ft. Worth, Texas. She lives in Florida, with her husband.  Her first published book, HEYERWOOD: A Novel, was released in 2011.  Her second, A Rational Attachment, is in process, due out shortly.  You can visit her website at for more information.

HEYERWOOD: A Novel is a romantic historical novel, set in the Georgian/Regency period in England. The story of a woman learning to cope with power and control at a time when women traditionally had little power at all, this book will appeal to readers of history, fans of historical novels, and admirers of Jane Austen alike.

Posted in Austen Authors, books, British history, family, George Wickham, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Guest Blog, Guest Post, Jane Austen, literature, Living in the Regency, Pride and Prejudice, reading | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Black Monday Tragedy

blackmonday.jpg Black Monday was the Monday after Easter on 13 April 1360, during the Hundred Years’ War (1337 – 1360). The Hundred Years’ War began in 1337; by 1359, King Edward III of England was actively attempting to conquer France. In October, he took a massive force across the English Channel to Calais. The French refused to engage in direct fights and stayed behind protective walls throughout the winter, while Edward pillaged the countryside.  By 13th April he had sacked and burned the suburbs of Paris and was now besieging the town of Chartres.  

At nightfall, a sudden storm came upon Edward’s troops, who were camped outside Chartres. Unfortunately, for Edward, their tents provided little protection. The temperature dropped. Lightning. Freezing rain. High winds. Hailstorms. Many of the soldiers abandoned the encampment. 1000 English soldiers and some 6000 horses were killed by the intense hail storm. Horses also fell to the storm; many stampeded. The casualties were larger than any previous battle. Two of the English commanders met their death. King Edward was on his knees begging for God’s mercy. 

The carnage was described as “a foul day, full of myst and hayle, so that men dyed on horseback [sic].”

From the contemporary French Chronicle of Jean Froissart:

... for an accident befell [Edward III] and all his army, who were then before Chartres, that much humbled him, and bent his courage.

During the time that the French commissioners were passing backwards and forwards from the king to his council, and unable to obtain any favourable answer to their offers, there happened such a storm and violent tempest of thunder and hail, which fell on the English army, that it seemed as if the world was come to an end. The hailstones were so large as to kill men and beasts, and the boldest were frightened.

The king turned himself towards the church of Our Lady at Chartres, and religiously vowed to the Virgin, as he has since confessed, that he would accept of terms of peace. He was at this time lodged in a small village, near Charters, called Bretigny; and there were then committed to writing, certain rules and ordinances for peace, upon which the following articles were drawn out.


France after the Treaty of Brétigny – French territory in green, English territory in pink John Richard Green – Taken from History of the English People, Volume 2 Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons ~ Public Domain

Edward rushed to pursue peace with the French and as a direct result of the killer storm, on May 8, 1360, the Treaty of Bretigny was signed. By this treaty Edward agreed to renounce his claim to the throne of France in return for sovereignty over Aquitaine and Calais. The French agreed to pay a handsome ransom for the release of their king John II who was held captive in England.

Fighting resumed nine years later, when the king of France declared war, claiming Edward had not honored the treaty. The last phase of the Hundred Years’ War did not end until 1453.

The legacy was mentioned in Shakespeare:  

“It was not for nothing that my nose fell a- bleeding on Black Monday last, at six o’clock i’ the morning.” —Shakespeare: Merchant of Venice, ii. 5.


Encyclopedia of the Hundred Years War (Google Book) by John A. Wagner

Historic UK 

History ~ Stack Exchange

This Day in History 


Posted in British history, Edward III, kings and queens, military | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Tax Day During the late Georgian and Regency Periods

Tuesday is tax day in the U.S. I paid mine in March. My tax receipts are sometimes 5 inches deep in paper. As a self-employed author and retired teacher, I save receipts for lodging, mileage, advertising, home office, technology, insurance benefits, medical expenses, etc. But what were some of the taxes required in the Regency Period and when would they pay their taxes?

We know there were taxes upon hair powder, carriages and coaches, and carriage and saddle horses, windows, and male servants during the Regency.

In 1777, Lord North proposed a tax on male servants to help pay for the cost of fighting the Americans, and by 1808, when Britain was involved in an even more prolonged war against the French, the tax reached a little over £7 per year for each male servant if there were eleven or more in the household. For the servants’ tax, an estate owner would pay for those who performed non-essential services: “butlers, footmen, valets, grooms, coachmen, gardeners, park-keepers, game-keepers, masters-of-the-horse, whippers-in and other huntsmen, were all to be taxed. But farm laborers, day laborers, factory workers and the servants of tavern-keepers, shop-keepers and merchants were all to be exempted from the tax. So, too, were the servants of the royal family, official foreign ambassadors and the servants in the various Colleges. However, if an inn-keeper, shop-keeper or farmer were to employ one of their servants to perform personal or domestic services, such as scrubbing a floor, saddling a horse or cleaning boots, their masters would then be expected to pay the tax on that servant. Few would voluntarily pay the tax, but had to be careful about when and where their servants performed those prohibited tasks, as there was always the chance a rival or adversary might inform against them.” (Regency Redingcote) In 1843, the Earl of Ashburnham paid taxes for the half-year of £21 15s 9d for his male servants, another £11 for his four-wheeled carriages, and £1 4s for armorial bearings, plus a ten percent surcharge. (MS Ashburnham. 1814. East Sussex Record Office)

From 1785 – 1792, a tax was also levied on those employing female servants at the rate of one guinea on each one. This tax had nasty effects on the labour market and only lasted for seven years before it was repealed.

St_Helen, King William III levied a window tax beginning in 1696. The tax was to level the difference resulting from the clipping and defacing of silver coins, as well as to help pay for the various wars in Ireland and Europe. Initially, if a household had less than 10 windows, they were charged 2 shillings per year. 10-20 windows would cost 4 shillings. Those houses with over 20 would be 8 shillings. The window tax increased 6 times between 1747 – 1808, before a decrease came about. 

The Glass Excise tax was in existence for 100 years. It was first levied by Parliament in 1745. Taxes were levied upon window and bottle glass, as well as flint glass. (With respect to glass, the term flint derives from the flint nodules found in the chalk deposits of southeast England that were used as a source of high purity silica by George Ravenscroft, c. 1662, to produce a  potash lead glass that was the precursor to English lead crystal.) Initially, the tax was purely on materials, with flint and white glass, crown and plate charged at the highest rates. Green and other bottle glass was charged at a lower rates.

For 90 years, beginning in 1784, people paid taxes on pleasure horses (race horses, those let to hire or rode by bailiffs or butchers, horses exceeding 12 hands (height), but not work horses.

Charges varied for Horses for riding (£1.8s.9d). In 1785 an Act exempted those occupying a farm worth not more than £150 a year rent in which the horse was used only for riding to church or market. The yearly exemption rate was reduced to £20 in 1802 and thus many more owners were taxable.

An Abstract of the Principal Tax Acts from 1819’s Gentleman’s Pocket Memorandum Book, tells us that a man with one carriage would pay £12 per year in taxes. Two carriages would be £26, etc. Carriages drawn by one horse with less than 4 wheels (Taxed carts excepted) 6£ 10s if drawn by 2 or more horses, 9£ and every additional body used on the same carriage, 3£ 3s. Dog lovers who kept greyhounds, whether his property or not, would pay £1. For every other species of dog, where more than one is kept, 14s. Every person wears hair powder would pay 1£ 3s 6 d.

From 1695 to 1706, a “marriage tax” was assessed on bachelors, widowers, and childless couples. It was also charged for parish register entries of baptism, marriage, and burial.

Beginning in 1793, those who had an armorial bearing marking carriages, etc. paid two guineas for arms borne on carriages and one guinea if borne in any other way, as on a signet ring. This lasted until 1882.

From 1795 to 1861, those who used hair powder, (to keep wigs white), had to pay a guinea to £1.3.6 for a licence to do so. The tax included those servants required to wear wigs. Exemptions included the royal family and their immediate servants, army officers, clergymen, dissenting ministers, and any person in holy orders not possessing an annual income of £100. Wigs quickly went out of fashion in the early 19th century, although the tax was not abolished until 1861.

 How long before a tax lien would be placed on the property?  The delinquent tax payer would be taken before the  judges of the court of the Exchequer to have the debt filed formally and the order for property to be seized. The property of peers was handled different from that of commoners, though it was still seized. Theoretically, if a man’s taxes were delinquent in a particular calendar year, he would not be formally labeled as delinquent until after April 6 of the next calendar year. Attempts would then be made to collect the back taxes before seizure of the property would be made. More than likely it would take two, perhaps three, years for the seizure to take place. Meanwhile more taxes would be accumulating while the courts acted.

Again, however, it really depends on what taxes and to whom they were due and how they  were paid. Needless to say if a duke owed taxes, he would be treated differently than a merchant. 

There were hundreds of taxes and so a variety of dates on which they would be due. Some taxes were pay as you go. For others, the tax man came along and counted your windows and looked at your footmen and counted the crested carriages and other armorial bearings and wheeled vehicles and made his demand.  A person then had a stated amount of time to pay the tax. Some taxes were due on quarter days and some on cross quarter days. The quarter days were four dates in each year on which servants were hired, school terms started, and rents were due. They fell on four religious festivals, roughly three months apart. Leasehold payments and rents for land and premises in England are often still due on the old English quarter days. The quarter days ensured that debts and unresolved lawsuits were not allowed to linger on. Accounts had to be settled, a reckoning had to be made and publicly recorded on the quarter days.

The taxes were due in quarterly installments until the late 1800’s, and tax day was changed to 6 April in 1800.

In typical style, the Treasury ensured that there would be no loss of tax revenue and no concession to the populous by making the tax year 365 days. To complicate the matter, we have the New Style Calendar. The Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. It reformed the calendar of England and British Dominions so that the new legal year began on 1 January rather than 25 March (Lady Day); and it adopted the Gregorian calendar, as already used in most of western Europe. 

taxcart.jpg In England and Wales, the legal year 1751 was a short year of 282 days, running from 25 March to 31 December. 1752 began on 1 January. To align the calendar in use in England to that on the continent, the Gregorian calendar was adopted: and the calendar was advanced by 11 days: Wednesday 2 September 1752 was followed by Thursday 14 September 1752. The year 1752 was thus a short year (355 days) as well.

Several theories have been proposed for the odd beginning of the British tax year on 6 April. One is that from 1753 until 1799, the tax year began on 5 April, which corresponded to 25 March Old Style. After the twelfth skipped Julian leap day in 1800, it was changed to 6 April, which still corresponded to 25 March Old Style. And so the 1800 tax year was moved from 25 March to 5 April. Having done it once, the Treasury then decreed in 1800 that there would be another lost day of revenue, given that the century end would have been a leap year under the Julian calendar whereas it was not under the new Gregorian calendar. Thus 1800 was a leap year for tax purposes, but not for the purpose of the calendar and so the tax year start was moved on again by a single day to 6 April. However Poole thought that quarter days, such as Lady Day on 25 March, marked the end of the quarters of the financial year.] Thus, although 25 March Old Style marked the beginning of the civil year, the next day, 26 March Old Style was until 1752 the beginning of the tax year. After removing eleven days in 1752, this corresponded to 6 April New Style, where it remains today.

One has to be certain that the income tax was in force during the year in  question and that it was a tax due on the 6th and not on some other day.

For more information check out these sources: 

All Things Georgian 

England Taxation 1700 – 1900

The Regency Redingote 

Nancy Regency Researcher 

Vanessa Riley’s Regency Life

Posted in British currency, British history, buildings and structures, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Great Britain, Inheritance, Living in the Regency | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments