Posted on

The Stuart Jacobite Kings: A Biography by Kathleen Spaltro

Many who have read Jane Austen’s History of England will have recognized that Jane was an avid supporter of the Royal House of Stuart and the Jacobite cause (the movement took its name from Jacobus, the Latinised form of James.) What most will not realize is that through service to Charles I, her relative,  Thomas Leigh of Stoneleigh Abbey, was elevated to the nobility (July 1643), becoming afterwards known as Lord Leigh. With this family connection and the recent interest in the Jacobite cause, it seems only reasonable to include this in depth look at the events surrounding the romantic character of “Bonnie Prince Charlie” and the rise of the Hanoverian Kings, beginning with George I.   Part One: James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales, The “Old Pretender” (1688-1766; “reigned” in exile as “James III” of Great Britain, 1701-1766) Portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller. Call your companions, Launch your vessel, And crowd your canvas, And, ere it vanishes Over the margin, After it, follow it, Follow The Gleam. –Alfred Lord Tennyson Shortly after the 1688 birth of James Francis Edward to James II of Great Britain and Queen Mary Beatrice, James II lost his crown to his daughter and her husband. The birth of a Catholic Prince of Wales precipitated the expulsion of his Catholic parents by the “Glorious Revolution” that enthroned the Protestants William III and Mary II. Resisting his overthrow, in 1689-1690 the expelled James II challenged William in Ireland and Scotland, but his challenges failed. After the (more…)
Posted on

Northanger Abbey: The Austen Project, by Val McDermid

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: In the second installment of The Austen Project, bestselling Scottish crime writer Val McDermid takes a stab at a contemporary reimagining of Jane Austen’s most under-appreciated novel, Northanger Abbey. Written in the late 1790’s when Austen was a fledgling writer, this Gothic parody about young heroine Catherine Morland’s first experiences in Bath society and her romance with the dishy hero Henry Tilney is one of my favorite Austen novels. Fresh and funny, the writing style is not as accomplished as her later works but no one can dismiss the quality of Austen’s witty dialogue nor her gentle joke at the melodramatic Gothic fiction so popular in her day. I was encouraged by the choice of McDermid as author and intrigued to see how she would transport the story into the 21st century. Our modern heroine, sixteen-year-old Cat Morland, is a vicar’s daughter living a rather disappointing life in the Piddle Valley of Dorset. Her mother and father seldom argued and never fought, and her siblings were so average she despaired of ever discovering any dark family secrets to add excitement to her life. Homeschooled, she can’t comprehend history or French or algebra, but delights in reading to fuel her vivid imagination, favoring ghost stories, zombie and vampire tales. After years of exploring the narrow confines of her home turf she craves adventure abroad. Rich neighbors Susie and Andrew Allen come to her rescue by inviting her to travel with them and attend the Edinburgh (more…)
Posted on

The History of England

from the reign of Henry the 4th to the death of Charles the 1st. By a partial, prejudiced, & ignorant Historian. To Miss Austen eldest daughter of the Revd George Austen, this book is inscribed with all due respect by The Author N.B. There will be very few Dates in this History. Henry the 4th Henry the 4th ascended the throne of England much to his own satisfaction in the year 1399, after having prevailed on his cousin & predecessor Richard the 2d to resign it to him, & to retire for the rest of his Life to Pomfret Castle, where he happened to be murdered. It is to be supposed that Henry was married, since he had certainly four sons, but it is not in my power to inform the Reader who was his wife. Be this as it may, he did not live for ever, but falling ill, his son the Prince of Wales came and took away the crown; whereupon, the King made a long speech, for which I must refer the Reader to Shakespeare’s Plays, & the Prince made a still longer. Things being thus settled between them the King died, & was succeeded by his son Henry who had previously beat Sir William Gascoigne. Henry the 5th This Prince after he succeeded to the throne grew quite reformed & amiable, forsaking all his dissipated Companions, & never thrashing Sir William again. During his reign, Lord Cobham was burnt alive, but I forget what for. His (more…)
Posted on

Love & Freindship

Letter the First from Isabel to Laura How often, in answer to my repeated intreaties that you would give my Daughter a regular detail of the Misfortunes and Adventures of your Life, have you said “No, my freind, never will I comply with your request till I may be no longer in Danger of again experiencing such dreadful ones.” Surely that time is now at hand. You are this day 55. If a woman may ever be said to be in safety from the determined Perseverance of disagreeable Lovers and the cruel Persecutions of obstinate Fathers, surely it must be at such a time of Life. Isabel. Letter 2nd Laura to Isabel ALTHO’ I cannot agree with you in supposing that I shall never again be exposed to Misfortunes as unmerited as those I have already experienced, yet to avoid the imputation of Obstinacy or ill-nature, I will gratify the curiosity of your Daughter; and may the fortitude with which I have suffered the many afflictions of my past Life, prove to her a useful lesson for the support of those which may befall her in her own. Laura. Letter 3rd Laura to Marianne AS the Daughter of my most intimate freind, I think you entitled to that knowledge of my unhappy story, which your Mother has so often solicited me to give you. My Father was a native of Ireland and an inhabitant of Wales; my Mother was the natural Daughter of a Scotch Peer by an Italian Opera-girl (more…)
Posted on

All Hallow’s Eve

Halloween, Hallowe’en, All Hallow’s Eve…they all sound mysterious and spooky; but where did this celebration of the underworld come from and when did it begin? Did Jane Austen ever go trick-or-treating? The celebration now known as Halloween has its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain, one of the four Druid “Bonfire” festivals. Celebrated on November 1, midway between the Autumn and Winter Solstices, some scholars believe that it marked the end of the old year and start of the new. Samhain (pronounced sów-en) was not a god to be worshipped, but rather a term meaning “The End of Summer”. It was at this time that the harvest was brought in, preparations for winter completed, debts were settled and the dead buried before the coming winter. In the highly superstitious Celtic culture, it was also believed that at this time when “a new year was being stitched to the old” the veil between the present world and the next was especially thin, allowing the spirits of the departed, both good and evil to roam. Because of this belief, October 31 became a highly superstitious night. Some used the opportunity to entreat the dead for guidance in the coming year. Others carried on traditions involving the revelation of one’s sweetheart or good fortune for the coming year. Towards the close of the evening priests and townsfolk, dressed as spirits would parade through the village in order to lead the wandering ghosts back to their resting places. Far from being a burning (more…)
Posted on

Sport Hunting in Regency England

“When you have killed all your own birds, Mr Bingley,” said her mother, “I beg you will come here, and shoot as many as you please on Mr Bennet’s manor. I am sure he will be vastly happy to oblige you, and will save all the best of the covies for you.” Pride and Prejudice Nearly all of Jane Austen’s heroes are seen to hunt in some manner or other, though it is seen as sport for the gentry rather than the working classes or clergy. Captain Wentworth and Charles Musgrove hunt while in Somerset; Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley return to Netherfield to hunt, thus renewing their acquaintance with the Bennet Family; Mr. Willoughby and Sir John Middleton have an ongoing discussion about Willoughby’s Pointer (a hunting dog). The list could go on and on. The traditional end of the London Season is the Glorious Twelfth of August, which marks the beginning of the shooting season. Society would retire to the country to shoot birds during the autumn and hunt foxes during the winter, before coming back to London again with the spring. Since UK law says that the start of the season cannot begin on a Sunday, it is sometimes postponed to August 13. Opening day is one of the busiest days in the shooting season, with large amounts of game being shot. It is also a significant boost to the rural economy in moorland areas. The current legislation enshrining it is the Game Act 1831. It should (more…)
Posted on

British Ballooning

Vincenzo Lunardi was only 22 when he came to England as Secretary to Prince Caramanico, the Neapolitan Ambassador. Born in Lucca, Italy, then part of the Kingdom of Naples in 1759, Vicenzo was one of three children. His family were of minor Neapolitan nobility, and his father had married late in life. He travelled in France in his early years before being called home, where he was put into the diplomatic service. There was a flying craze in France and Scotland with James Tytler, Scotland’s first aeronaut and the first Briton to fly (and, incidentally, an editor of the Encyclopædia Britannica), but even so and after a year since the invention of the balloon, the English were still skeptical, and so George Biggin and ‘Vincent’ Lunardi, “The Daredevil Aeronaut”, together decided to demonstrate a hydrogen balloon flight at the Artillery Ground of the Honourable Artillery Company in London on 15 September 1784. His balloon was later exhibited at the Pantheon in Oxford Street. However, because 200,000 strong crowd (which included eminent statesmen and the Prince of Wales) had grown very impatient, the young Italian had to take-off without his friend Biggin, and with a bag that was not completely inflated, but he was accompanied by a dog, a cat and a caged pigeon. The flight from the Artillery Ground travelled in a northerly direction towards Hertfordshire, with Lunardi making a stop in Welham Green, before eventually bringing the balloon to rest in Standon Green End. The road junction in Welham (more…)
Posted on

The Apothecary

 

He had been at the pains of consulting Mr Perry, the apothecary, on the subject.

Mr Perry was an intelligent, gentlemanlike man, whose frequent visits were one of the comforts of Mr Woodhouse’s life; and upon being applied to, he could not but acknowledge (though it seemed rather against the bias of inclination) that wedding-cake might certainly disagree with many — perhaps with most people, unless taken moderately.

From Emma ~ By Jane Austen

 

The following article is from “The Book of Trades, or Library of Useful Arts” published by Jacob Johnson, in 1807, with the original copper plate engraving. Continue reading The Apothecary