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Ozias Humphrey (1742-1810)

Ozias Humphrey (8 September 1742 – 9 March 1810) was a leading English painter of portrait miniatures, later oils and pastels, of the 18th century. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1791, and in 1792 he was appointed Portrait Painter in Crayons to the King (i.e. pastels).

Born and schooled in Honiton, Devon, Ozias Humphrey was attracted by the gallery of casts opened by the Duke of Richmond and came to London to study art at Shipley’s school. He also studied art in Bath (under Samuel Collins, taking over his practice in 1762); in Bath, he lodged with Thomas Linley. As a young artist, his talent was encouraged by Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds, among others. His problems with his sight, the result of a fall from his horse in the early 1770s, which ultimately led to blindness, forced him to give up miniature painting and paint larger works in oils and pastel.

Ozias Humphrey travelled to Italy in 1773 with his great friend George Romney, stopping en route at Knole, near Sevenoaks in Kent, where the Duke of Dorset commissioned several works from him. His stay in Italy lasted until 1777.

On his return, his numerous subjects included George Stubbs (1777), fellow academician Dominic Serres, and the chemist Joseph Priestley. He compiled a fifty-page manuscript, A Memoir of George Stubbs, based on what Stubbs had related to him; it is the only contemporary biography of the “Painter of the English Enlightenment”. This was edited and privately published in the 1870s and republished in 2005. He also knew William Blake and commissioned copies of some of his illustrated books.

From 1785 to 1787, he travelled to India, producing many miniatures and sketches. He was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1791. In 1792 he was appointed Portrait Painter in Crayons (Pastels) to the King. Most of his many portraits of the Royal Family are still in the Royal Collection.

 

In 1788 Ozias Humphrey painted what may, perhaps be his most famous painting, a portrait claimed to be of a young Jane Austen, known as the “Rice” portrait after its current owners. This portrait, painted, so family legend goes, was a “sister” piece to a similar portrait of Cassandra (now lost) and the famous portrait of Edward Austen-Knight on his return from the continent. The portrait of Edward has never been questioned, but the full length portrait of Jane was, for a time, misattributed to Johann Zoffany, which has caused later researchers to doubt it’s authenticity and suggest that the “sitter” is another member of the Austen family.

Still, family members who knew and remembered Jane did not seem to question that this portrait was indeed Jane Austen of Pride and Prejudice fame, painted about the time that her juvenilia was being written. The current owners, the Rice family, have spent a great deal of time authenticating the portrait, tracings it’s origins from its painting (perhaps at Uncle Francis Austen’s home, Sevenoaks?) to its current homes with them. Their research can be found www.janeaustenriceportrait.co.uk. Due to the rather recent controversial attribution of the sitter, this portrait failed to reach its minimum estimate in a Christies auction in April 2007, and was withdrawn from sale. No doubt its value will only increase with the passing of time.

In 1797 Ozias Humphrey’s sight finally failed, leaving him blind, and he died in 1810 in Hampstead, north London.

The bulk of his possessions came into the hands of his natural son, William Upcott, the book collector. From him the British Museum acquired a large number of papers relating to Humphry.

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Jane Austen’s Brothers

Jane Austen’s brothers

“A Family of [Eight] children will always be called a fine family, where there are head and arms and legs enough for the number. ”
-Jane Austen

Jane Austen had six brothers– each with different talents, each contributing to her work in some way.

James (1765-1819)

Often thought by the family to be the “literary one” (see his poem on Sense and Sensibility), one of Austen’s brothers James followed in his father’s footsteps attending Oxford university at the age of 14 in 1779. After his ordination in 1787, he and his brother Henry edited a university magazine called The Loiterer, which ran for sixty issues. (Some issues of The Loiterer are available on-line.) After his marriage, he became his father’s curate at Deane, and after his retirement, He took on the duties of the Steventon as well.

James was not Jane Austen’s favorite brother, though she did call him “good and clever”. He seems to have had a bit of melancholy about him, uncharacteristic of the other Austens. Perhaps it was turning from the excitement of Oxford to the retired life of a country Vicar. Perhaps it was seeing his literary pretensions lived out through his sister or the wealth acceded to by his younger brother. It is true that his life was not untouched by sorrow, as well. His first wife died when their daughter, Anna (1793-1872), was but two years old. Anna was the first niece and a favorite of Jane Austen’s. She also had her father’s creative streak and worked on a a novel, Which is the Heroine, with the help of her aunt, until Jane Austen’s death, at which time Anna burned the work.

James married again and his second wife, Mary Lloyd, was not a favorite of Jane Austen’s, even though she was the sister of her dear friend, Martha Lloyd. James and Mary had two children, James Edward (1798-1874) and Caroline (1805-1880) who also solicited their aunt’s approval on their literary efforts. Caroline later wrote down her memories of her Aunt Jane and James Edward wrote the Memoir.

George (1766-1838)

Not much is known about young George Austen. Though he lived a relatively long life, characteristic of the Leigh side of the family, he spent the whole of it living with a farming family a few miles from Steventon. Some scholars believe he was mentally retarded, others that he was merely deaf, speculation rising from Jane Austen’s comment that she was fluent in “finger speaking”. Regardless of the cause, George was destined to play little part in the Austen’s brothers and family daily lives.

Edward Knight (1767-1852)

Edward was the only Austen brother not to have a profession. Early in the 1780’s he was adopted by Mr. Austen’s Patron, the rich but childless Thomas and Catherine Knight. Instead of going off to University, He was sent on the “grand tour” of continental Europe in 1786-1788, and eventually inherited their estate of Godmersham, Kent, and took the last name of “Knight”.

As part of his inheritance, Edward also acquired Steventon and an estate in Chawton. It was a cottage attached to the latter that he made available to his widowed mother and sisters, and here that millions of fans tour each year when they visit “Jane Austen’s Home”.

Edward had a large family and lively, cultured wife, Elizabeth. The Austen Aunts, Cassandra and Jane were frequent visitors to Godmersham during the early years, and when Edward’s wife died during her eleventh confinement the aunts became an integral part of the Godmersham and then Chawton, life.

Edward’s oldest daughter, Fanny, was but 16 when her mother died. She was another favorite niece who looked to her aunt for emotional as well as literary guidance. Unfortunately, Jane Austen died before she was able to see her find her own Mr. Darcy. Fanny eventually married a baronet; her son edited the first edition of Jane Austen’s letters.

Henry Thomas (1771-1850)

Henry was Jane Austen’s favorite brother and the sibling most like her in looks and temperament. He was witty and enthusiastic in whatever he did; the eternal optimist, though success did not always find him. He entered Oxford in 1788 in time to co edit the Loiterer with his brother James. He and James also shared a passion for the same woman, their widowed cousin, Eliza de Feuillide. She eventually chose Henry, 10 years her junior, and they were married in 1797.

Thanks in part to Eliza’s influence, Henry forsook his family’s expectations that he join James in the ministry and instead chose the militia. He later tried banking and lived the life of a London Business man until the bank failed, due to economic factors, in 1815. His wife, Eliza had died two years previously allowing him to return to his intended profession, eventually becoming a Calvinist-leaning minister. He served at different times in the curacy of Steventon and Chawton before becoming the Perpetual Curate at Bentley.

Henry was the sibling most influential in allowing Jane Austen to publish her works. Not only was his home available for her to stay in during her trips to London to work with her publisher, these visits also gave her an insight into society life that she would not otherwise have had, furnishing settings, events and characters for her novels to come. It was Henry who saw to the publication of Persuasion and Northanger Abbey after her death, and a Henry who wrote the brief, but loving biographical notice which prefaced these two novels and provided the world with their first glimpse into the life of this author.

Henry went on to marry again, this time Eleanor Jackson, a woman the family considered “an excellent wife”. He spent the rest of his days living the retired life of a country curate.

Francis William (1774–1865)

Francis Austen had, perhaps, the most glorious career of the Austen brothers, serving in the Navy from the age of 12 and eventually achieving Knighthood as Sir Francis Austen and rising to the position of Admiral of the Fleet. Considered by Admiral Nelson to be “an excellent young man”, he narrowly missed involvement in the battle of Trafalgar due to his temporary detachment as captain of a captured French Ship, the Canopus.

It is doubtless this connection which gave Jane Austen such an admiration for the men of the Royal Navy. A look at his career proclaims him not only the inspiration for the young Lieutenant William Price in Mansfield Park, but even more so for the unforgettable Captain Wentworth of Persuasion. Even the high points of their promotions stem from the same Battle, The Action off Santo Domingo.

According to some, Francis’ earlier promotions were due to the patronage of Warren Hastings, a friend of the family and supposed father of his cousin, Eliza de Feuillide. His ports of call ranged to the far corner of the British Empire at the time, spending time in the Far East from age 14 to 18 and later the Indies.

Francis and his wife, Mary had a cordial relationship with the Austen ladies, even including them for some time in their household in Southampton from 1805-1808, after the death of Rev. Austen. This arrangement, happy for all, as Frank was often at sea, also included their close friend, Martha Lloyd, sister to James Austen’s wife Mary. Unfortunately for Francis, His happy home was broken up upon the death of his wife in 1823 after the birth of their 11th child. In 1828 he remarried, completing the family circle by wedding Martha Lloyd (1765-1843). She gained fame in her own right, by collecting the recipes which later were compiled into The Jane Austen Household Book and more lately, The Jane Austen Cookbook.

Francis’ daughter, Catherine married John Hubback and went on to write the first completion of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, The Watsons. Her son, John Henry Hubback co-authored Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers with his Daughter, Edith Hubback, in 1906.

Charles John (1779-1852)

Charles was Jane’s darling little brother, clearly a favorite with both sisters as a boy. Though his career was nowhere near as distinguished as that of his brother, he also joined the Naval Academy as Midshipman at the age of 12 and rose to become a Rear-Admiral. Much to the regret of his family, he was stationed in the West Indies where he remained for seven years straight, returning at the end of that time with a wife and child.

It was Charles’ gift of Topaz Crosses to his sisters which inspired a similar scene in Mansfield Park. Charles Austen’s ship, Endymion captured many prizes during the war with France, leaving him a comfortable settlement. He died, at age 75, still on Active Duty, during a naval river-war in Burma.

Brian Southam, president of the Jane Austen Society, has written a wonderful book about these two daring brothers, entitled Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers.

 


Laura Boyle creates custom made hats, bonnets, reticules and other Regency Accessories for Austentation a Regency Fashion History site and Boutique.

Portrait of the Austen Family by Jane Odiwe. Visite her website, Austen Effusions for more original Austen Art and Gift Items.

Portrait of Francis Austen reproduced by kind permission of the owner. No other reproudctions permissable.

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A Poem to Francis Austen on the Birth of his Son

Jane Austen was, by all accounts, a doting Aunt. This letter, written in verse form to her brother Francis Austen, celbrates the birth of his son on July 26, 1809.

My dearest Frank, I wish you joy

Of Mary’s safety with a boy,

Whose birth has given little pain,

Compared with that of Mary Jane.

May he a growing Blessing prove,

And well deserve his Parents Love!

Endow’d with Art’s & Nature’s Good,

Thy name possessing with thy Blood;

In him, in all his ways, may we

Another Francis William see! —

Thy infant days may he inherit,

Thy warmth, nay insolence of spirit; —

We would not with one fault dispense

To weaken the resemblance.

May he revive thy Nursery sin,

Peeping as daringly within,

(His curley Locks but just descried)

With, ‘Bet, my be not come to bide.’

Fearless of danger, braving pain,

And threatened very oft in vain,

Still may one Terror daunt his soul,

One needful engine of controul

Be found in this sublime array,

A neighbouring Donkey’s aweful Bray! —

So may his equal faults as Child

Produce Maturity as mild.

His saucy words & fiery ways

In early Childhood’s pettish days

In Manhood shew his Father’s mind,

Like him considerate & kind;

All Gentleness to those around,

And eager only not to wound.

Then like his Father too, he must,

To his own former struggles just,

Feel his Deserts with honest Glow,

And all his self-improvement know.

A native fault may thus give birth

To the best blessing, conscious worth. —

As for ourselves, we’re very well,

As unaffected prose will tell.

Cassandra’s pen will give our state

The many comforts that await

Our Chawton home — how much we find

Already in it, to our mind,

And how convinced that when complete,

It will all other Houses beat

That ever have been made or mended,

With rooms concise, or rooms distended.

You’ll find us very snug next year;

Perhaps with Charles & Fanny near

For now it often does delight us

To fancy them just over-right us.

J.A.

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Wentworth Makes His Bones: The Battle of St. Domingo: February 4, 1806

Wentworth

Wentworth Makes His Bones: The Battle of St. Domingo: February 4, 1806

In Volume I, Chapter IV of Persuasion, Jane Austen mentions that Captain Wentworth had been “made commander in consequence of the action off St Domingo, and not immediately employed, had come into Somersetshire, in the summer of 1806,” (26) where he met and wooed the lovely young second daughter of Sir Walter Elliot. A tantalizing reference; the contemporary audience for whom Jane was writing would of course know all about that battle, but what about modern Janeites, reading the novel nearly two centuries later and wondering how this obscure action fits in between Trafalgar and Waterloo?

Capt. Wentworth in the 1995 version of PersuasionJane Austen’s legion of biographers have already recorded that her brother Francis Austen participated in the Battle of St. Domingo on 6 February 1806 as captain of HMS Canopus, an 80-gun ship of the line under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir John Duckworth. We have the Canopus’ log book entries, which describe the battle with military terseness; we also have Frank’s letter to his fiancée Mary Gibson, assuring her of his safety and giving a more descriptive account of the action. Austenian scholarship usually stops there, if it makes any mention at all of Frank’s participation in the battle; a frustrating exercise for the Janeite seeking information about the fictional Wentworth’s career. The Battle of St. Domingo is mentioned only in passing in naval histories, while the Battle of Trafalgar, which occurred only a few months before, has entire books written about it and is celebrated to this day. It is understandable that a reader might consider the Battle of St. Domingo relatively unimportant, and return to the story without further elucidation. However, if one considers the battle in the context of the surrounding events of its time, the importance of the action can be better understood, as can the mindset of the confident young Commander Frederick Wentworth in the summer of the Year Six.

A peace treaty between France and England was signed in Amiens on 25 March 1802, but the peace had been uneasy and short-lived, and the British declared war against France and her dictator, Napoleon Bonaparte, on 16 May 1803. Napoleon had planned to invade Britain even before the peace treaty (Parkinson 91), and when he crowned himself Emperor of France in December 1804 and began massing troops in seaside towns along the Channel, the British mobilized their naval forces to prevent the Emperor’s plan from succeeding. They organized companies of “sea fencibles,” sort of a naval militia, and Frank Austen received command of a group protecting the coast near Ramsgate in July, 1803 (Nokes 261).

Admiral Lord Horatio NelsonThe Channel fleet and the Mediterranean fleet had the French blockaded, and a few offensive sallies by the North Sea Fleet kept the French under control (Parkinson 93). William Pitt, the Prime Minister, made alliances with Russia, Austria, and Sweden, an alliance called the Third Coalition, while Spain chose to remain neutral, though they resisted pressure to take an active stand against France. According to C. Northcote Parkinson, “Napoleon came to realize that his enemies were gathering against him. The coalition took time to organize but Napoleon recognized his danger and concluded that his invasion of Britain must take place in 1805 if it were to take place at all. He could not count on naval victory but he began to dream of elaborate plans by which the British fleet might be tricked and lured away from its position in goal.” (96) Napoleon’s plan was to have two squadrons escape the blockades and sail for the West Indies; the British, fearful of French disruption of their lucrative trade in the sugar islands, would naturally follow. When the French ships reached Martinique, they would rendezvous and promptly sail back to the Channel, which would now be undefended.

With this plan in mind, Rear-Admiral Villeneuve sailed from Toulon on 30 March 1805 toward the Straits of Gibraltar. “Reaching Cadiz, the French Admiral raised the blockade of Cadiz, added six Spanish and one French ship to his squadron, crossed the Atlantic and presently reported his arrival at Martinique with 18 sail of the line.” (Parkinson 99) Unfortunately Villeneuve’s counterpart, Rear-Admiral Ganteaume, was unable to break the blockade at Brest, having been ordered by Napoleon not to engage the British fleet (Glover 39). However, Villeneuve’s action had induced Admiral Lord Nelson to take 10 sail of the line and chase the French squadron across the Atlantic, only to find when they arrived in the West Indies that the French ships had turned around and sailed back to France. One of the ships under Nelson’s command was Frank Austen’s ship, the Canopus, which Nelson had captured from the French at the Nile (the ship had then been named Le Franklin after Benjamin Franklin) and which carried Nelson’s second-in-command, Admiral Louis. (Honan 216)

Disheartened by his failure to stop Villeneuve, Nelson took a short shore leave upon his return to England, but soon was ordered back to his command. When he reached Cadiz on 28 September 1805, Nelson found the fleet needful of supplies, and dispatched Canopus to Gibraltar for water and stores; Nelson assured Admiral Louis, who did not want to miss the now-inevitable battle, that there was plenty of time for them to go to Gibraltar and return before the combined enemy fleet took action (Nokes 293).

HMS Ganges, built in 1819 as a reproduction of HMS Canopus.However, Nelson miscalculated; on 14 September, Napoleon had sent orders to Villeneuve “to break out of Cadiz, pass Gibraltar, pick up the Cartagena squadron and transport French troops to Naples.” (Glover 101) While Canopus was on its way back to Cadiz on 19 October, the Combined Fleet (French and Spanish), led by Admiral Villeneuve, left Cadiz and sailed toward Cape Trafalgar with a fleet consisting of 33 sail of the line, 5 frigates, and 2 corvettes. Two days later, Nelson gave orders for the famous signal, “England expects that every man will do his duty,” and the British fleet, at a slight disadvantage with 27 sail of the line, four frigates, a schooner and a cutter, sailed toward the enemy, led by Nelson’s flagship Victory. By the end of the action, the Combined Fleet had only 11 sail of the line remaining. The rest were either captured by the British or destroyed, and Admiral Villeneuve had been taken prisoner. However, the British had lost Nelson, cut down by a French sniper’s musket ball.

Four French sail of the line, commanded by Rear-Admiral Dumanoir, escaped south. They were unable to sail for Toulon because of the presence ofCanopus and the other British ships returning from Gibraltar, so they sailed north and encountered the frigate Phoenix. They chased the frigate, which led them back to the British squadron blockading Ferrol under the command of Captain Sir Richard Strachan, which engaged and eventually captured the four French ships. The French had 730 killed or wounded in the action while the British had only 135 casualties. (Parkinson 114)

The decimation of the fleet meant that Napoleon was forced to abandon his plan of invading England for the time being, so he decided to try to disrupt British trade in the West Indies, trade that helped finance the British war effort. Two French squadrons, commanded by Rear-Admiral Willaumez and Vice-Admiral Leissegues, were able to break the blockade at Brest and sailed for the West Indies. “When news of Leissegues’ operations reached Vice-Admiral Sir John Duckworth, who, with six sail of the line and two frigates, was blockading Cadiz, he sailed with six sail of the line for Madeira. He finally caught up with the French squadron off Santo Domingo in the West Indies. Here the five French ships were all captured or driven on shore, only the smaller vessels escaping. There were heavy losses again, over 1,500 men in all, over 500 of them aboard the three-decked flagship Imperial.” (Parkinson 114)

The Battle of St. Domingo
The Battle of St. Domingo.
On fire are the French ships Diomede and Imperial.

Frank’s official description of the action is reported by Nokes: “‘Five minutes before seven,’ Frank wrote in his log, ‘Enemy’s ships are of the line.’ At a quarter past ten, he noted, ‘the Superb commenced to fire on the enemy’s van’. By half past ten, he was in action himself; ‘opened our fire on the first ship in the enemy’s line…with one broadside brought her masts by the board…ten minutes to eleven, the dismasted ship struck…Engaged with the three-decker…ten minutes to twelve, gave her a raking broadside which brought down her mizzen mast…'” (299) Frank’s letter to Mary Gibson was a little more descriptive: “(H)is first broadside from the Canopus ‘brought our opponent’s three masts down at once, and towards the close of the business we also had the satisfaction of giving the three-decker a tickling which knocked all his sticks away.'” (Tucker 173-174)

Capt. Francis William Austen, 1794 miniature. By kind permission of the owner. All reproduction prohibited.Canopus returned to Plymouth in early May, whereupon “Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund presented (Frank) with a silver vase valued at 100 pounds as a memento of St. Domingo, and he also received a gold medal as he left theCanopus. This accession of honours and prize-money evidently encouraged him to think that he could now afford to marry Mary Gibson, and so the date of 24 July was chosen.” (Austen-Leigh 137) It was not uncommon for first lieutenants of ships involved in a successful action to receive promotion, and a few years later, when Jane Austen created her fictional naval officer, she drew upon her brother’s experiences. Commander Frederick Wentworth, who had been promoted but had not yet received a command, made his way to Somerset to spend the summer of the Year Six and pursue a romance of his own.

Between Trafalgar, the capture of the four escaped ships by Strachan, and the Battle of St. Domingo, the French navy was severely crippled. Only 32 ships of the line remained, although the French were busily building 21 more, and could capture or ally themselves with other countries and make use of their navies. But the lessening of French naval power meant that the fear of imminent invasion of England was past, as well as establishing the prominence of the Royal Navy; it is easy to see why Captain Francis Austen received medals and prizes as a result of his participation in the action, and why an able young lieutenant who took part in the action was promoted to commander rank.

***

Margaret C. Sullivan is the webmistress of Tilneys and Trap-doors andThe Cult of Da Man and has a childlike fascination with big wooden ships and the men who sail them.

Minature portrait of Capt. Francis Austen, by kind permission of owner. All other reproduction prohibited.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Austen, Jane. Persuasion. Ed. by R.W. Chapman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1923.
Austen-Leigh, William and Richard Arthur. Jane Austen, A Family History. Revised and enlarged by Deirdre LeFaye. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1989.
Glover, Michael. The Napoleonic Wars: an illustrated history 1792-1815. New York: Hippocrene Books, Inc., 1979.
Honan, Park. Jane Austen: Her Life. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996.
Nokes, David. Jane Austen: A Life. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997.
Parkinson, C. Northcote. Brittania Rules: The Classic Age of Naval History, 1793-1815. Alan Sutton Publishing Limited, 1994.
Tucker, George Holbert. A History of Jane Austen’s Family. Sutton Publishing, 1998.

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