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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:

Portrait of King James II by Sir Godfrey Kneller.
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 death of James II in 1701, his son James Francis Edward and, later, his grandsons Charles Edward and Henry all in turn inherited and proclaimed their right to rule Great Britain. For a century, “Jacobites” argued, schemed, conspired, fought, and died on their behalf. Each of these three very different men struggled with his entangling legacy of denied kingship, either allowing the dream of restoration to dominate his life or making another life quite immune from its seductive pull, for the dream could become very nightmarish indeed.

James Francis Edward both felt and resisted the pull of the dream. An introverted and conscientious man, James Francis Edward agreed to three attempts at his restoration: two aborted efforts in 1708 and 1719 that bookended his all-out Scottish campaign in 1715 (called “the Fifteen”). Thirty years later, his more dynamic son Charles Edward (“Bonnie Prince Charlie”) enthralled the Scottish clans in “the Forty-five.” All of these major Jacobite rebellions depended for their success on Continental support and British discontent holding steady just when competent generalship was available and the weather agreed with their purpose. Such a happy conjunction of forces, however, never held long enough to effect a Jacobite restoration.

Historic image depicting the Jacobite Uprising of 1715.
Historic image depicting the Jacobite Uprising of 1715.

James Francis Edward felt compelled to assert his right as Prince of Wales to the British throne stolen from his father and made many plans that finally culminated in his three campaigns of 1708, 1715, and 1719. His own withdrawn personality and frequent malarial illnesses proved detrimental to military success. Nicknamed “Old Mr. Melancholy” or “Old Mr. Misfortune” by English satirists, James Francis Edward seemed lethargic, depressed, and uninspiring to his followers in Scotland. As one Jacobite Scot recorded, “we found ourselves not at all animated by his presence; if he was disappointed in us, we were tenfold more so in him. We saw nothing in him that looked like spirit. . . . Some said the circumstances he found us in dejected him; I am sure the figure he made dejected us.” In 1745, the far more athletic and extroverted Bonnie Prince Charlie would spark a very different reaction.

Yet, while Charles Edward proved himself the better leader of men at arms, James Francis Edward would have made the better King and was the better man. The conscientiousness that drove James Francis Edward to assert his father’s right would have driven him also to rule well. In addition, he had none of the religious bigotry that had hardened James II’s subjects against him. In fact, the dying James II advised James Francis Edward to establish liberty of conscience upon his restoration. James Francis Edward himself wrote, “I am a Catholic, but I am a King, and subjects, of whatever religion they may be, have an equal right to be protected. I am a King, but as the Pope himself told me, I am not an Apostle.”

Yet, at the same time, James Francis Edward utterly refused to listen to any persuasion that he should change his own religion in order to become King more easily. (In 1701, the Act of Settlement sought to ensure a Protestant succession and to exclude his claim. Heirs to the throne must themselves be Protestants, and they must not marry Catholics.) In contrast, Charles Edward eventually became an Anglican for such opportunistic reasons. Surely, James Francis Edward revealed himself as the more principled man of the two.

His greater strength of character showed, too, in his reaction to the failure of the Jacobite risings in which he himself took part. While after 1746 Bonnie Prince Charlie brooded over defeat and drank himself into a stupefied and miserable middle age, James Francis Edward after 1719 for the most part shelved any ideas about active campaigning and lived a new life in Italy. Born in St. James’s Palace in London, he had lived but a few weeks on his native soil before his parents’ 1688 exile led them to seek refuge with James II’s first cousin, Louis XIV of France. Louis had housed his cousins in St-Germain-en-Laye, twelve miles west of Paris and not far from Versailles. Although Louis recognized James Francis Edward as the rightful King of Great Britain in 1701, the Treaty of Utrecht (1713-1714) forced Louis to expel James Francis Edward from French soil.

After the subsequent failure of the Fifteen, James Francis Edward wandered—to Lorraine, to Avignon (then papal territory), to various places in Italy, then finally to Rome and Urbino. A sympathetic Pope Clement XI gave the exile a pension and allowed him to live in Palazzo Muti in Rome, near Santi Apostoli. Clement also lent Palazzo Savelli at Albano as a summer home. By accepting refuge in Rome, James Francis Edward effectively surrendered any hope of gaining the Protestant support vital to his restoration. After 1719, he still claimed to rule as “James III” and indulged in some intrigue but essentially made another life for himself for the next 45 years. The scene had shifted to Rome internally as well as externally.

His marriage in 1719 to Princess Clementina of Poland, granddaughter of John III Sobieski and goddaughter of Clement XI, produced two sons: Charles Edward, born in 1720, and Henry Benedict, born in 1725. So uninterested was James Francis Edward in further Jacobite risings that Charles Edward told him of the Forty-five in a letter written on the day Charles Edward sailed for Scotland. James Francis Edward reacted with dismay, “Heaven forbid that all the crowns of the world should rob me of my son.”

David Morier's painting Culloden shows the highlanders still wearing the plaids which they normally set aside before battle, where they would fire a volley then run full tilt at the enemy with broadsword and targe in the "Highland charge" wearing only their shirts.
David Morier’s painting Culloden shows the highlanders still wearing the plaids which they normally set aside before battle, where they would fire a volley then run full tilt at the enemy with broadsword and targe in the “Highland charge” wearing only their shirts.

After the disaster of the Forty-five, James Francis Edward showed again how little he thought of Jacobite aspirations when in 1747 he supported his son Henry’s being made a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. Alive to the political consequences of this event, enraged by what he saw as his father’s and brother’s betrayal of the Jacobite cause, Charles Edward never saw James Francis Edward again. While Charles Edward wrote to his father from time to time, he maintained a total estrangement from his brother Henry for 18 years.

Henry re-established contact with Charles Edward as their aging father declined, but Charles Edward refused to visit until Pope Clement XIII recognized his rights to the throne as James Francis Edward’s heir. James Francis Edward died in 1766 as Charles Edward preserved a stubborn absence that had lasted 22 years.

After honorably asserting his claim, James Francis Edward sensibly recognized the futility of further assertion. And yet, sensible as his turning away from Jacobitism seems, the romance of his being the “Chevalier de Saint George” or “the King over the Water” still lingers. The rising of 1708 acted against James Francis Edward’s half-sister Queen Anne, who had succeeded William and Mary. Angered by his action into terming James Francis Edward “the Pretender,” Anne nevertheless sought to give the impression at times that she preferred her half-brother to any other successor, especially the detested Hanoverians specified by the 1701 Act of Settlement.

Anne. Queen of Great Britain. Portrait by Michael Dahl, 1705.
Anne. Queen of Great Britain. (6 February 1665 – 1 August 1714) Portrait by Michael Dahl, 1705.

As Anne’s health declined a few years later, the Jacobite James Douglas, 4th Duke of Hamilton, wanted James Francis Edward in Scotland to await the Queen’s death. James Fitzjames, 1st Duke of Berwick (a bastard of James II by Arabella Churchill), planned to have James Francis Edward meet their half-sister Queen Anne in London. Hamilton’s suspicious death in a duel aborted such plans, and the throne passed to the Hanoverian descendants of Elizabeth of Bohemia. The risings of 1715 and 1719 (against George I), and of 1745 (against George II) failed to dislodge them. With Hamilton’s  death in 1712 and Anne’s death in 1714, the opportunity for reconciliation and restoration had died as well. A brilliant rendering of Jacobite intrigue complete with an unflattering, unfair, and unforgettable view of James Francis Edward, Thackeray’s historical novel Henry Esmond portrays this lost moment—and all the Jacobite strivings—in all their comedy, tragedy, romance, and futility.

Part Two:

Charles Edward, “The Young Pretender” (1720-1788) and Henry, Cardinal Duke of York (1725-1807) (“reigned” in exile as “Charles III," 1766-1788 and “Henry IX,” 1788-1807) Portrait by Allan Ramsay, painted in Edinburgh in 1745
Charles Edward, “The Young Pretender” (1720-1788) and Henry, Cardinal Duke of York (1725-1807) (“reigned” in exile as “Charles III,” 1766-1788 and “Henry IX,” 1788-1807) Portrait by Allan Ramsay, painted in Edinburgh in 1745

For who better may
Our high scepter sway,
Than he whose right it is to reign:
Then look for no peace,
For the wars will never cease
Till the King shall enjoy his own again.

So sang Bonnie Prince Charlie to Flora Macdonald during their flight together after the disastrous Jacobite defeat at Culloden in 1746. First sung in reference to the imprisoned and executed Charles I and his successor in exile, Charles II, “The King Shall Enjoy His Own Again” later became a Jacobite song. It heartened the supporters of the expelled James II, his son James Francis Edward, “the Old Pretender” or “the Chevalier de Saint George,” and his grandson Charles Edward, “the Young Pretender” or “the Young Chevalier.” In 1746, Charles Edward defiantly sang it after the final defeat of Jacobite hopes.

Those hopes had always depended on the lucky conjunction of foreign diplomatic, military, and financial support with British discontent and competent generalship. In 1689-90, 1708, 1715, and 1719, James II and then James Francis Edward had found that conjunction unstable. In the third phase of Jacobite rebellion, this time led in 1745-46 by Charles Edward, equivocal foreign aid, unreliable English support, and questionable military decisions doomed Bonnie Prince Charlie’s attempt to gain Britain for his father and to rule there himself as Regent. Though smashed by the Hanoverians at Culloden and disillusioned about European recognition of his claim, Charles Edward never accepted the defeat of Jacobite hopes. His father and his younger brother, Henry Benedict, more realistically knew that Culloden had rung the death knell. Charles’s obstinately clinging to the dream of a Jacobite restoration, and Henry’s realizing its inherent impracticality set the brothers on very different—indeed, diametrically opposed—paths. While Charles insisted on being a Prince of Great Britain, Henry settled for being a Prince of the Church—by choosing in 1747 the path that led to his becoming a Roman Catholic Cardinal.

Divided in life by these choices, the brothers are buried together with their father James Francis Edward in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican beneath the Monument to the Stuart Kings commissioned by Pope Pius VII, sculpted by Canova, and paid for by George IV. (George VI and his Queen Elizabeth in 1939 had a sarcophagus built over the three tombs.) The grave of the mother of Charles and Henry, James Francis Edward’s wife Clementina, also lies in St. Peter’s, behind the Monument to Queen Clementina. Finally united in death, the members of this fractious family seldom were united during their lives.


On the chapel walls of the Pontifical Scots College are mounted the original tombstones for James III, Charles III, and Henry IX.  Their remains, as well as those of Queen Clementina, lie in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
On the chapel walls of the Pontifical Scots College are mounted the original tombstones for James III, Charles III, and Henry IX. Their remains, as well as those of Queen Clementina, lie in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
Tombstone of Charles III.
Tombstone of Charles III.
Tombstone Henry IX
Tombstone of Henry IX

Granddaughter of the Polish King John III Sobieski and goddaughter of Pope Clement XI, the 17-year-old Clementina married James Francis Edward in 1719. Doing a favor for George I, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI had sought to prevent the marriage by arresting Clementina at Innsbruck; from there, she made a daring escape with the help of James Francis Edward’s supporters and then married him by proxy in Bologna. She gave birth to Charles Edward in 1720 and to Henry Benedict in 1725. During these early years of the family’s long sojourn in Palazzo Muti in Rome, husband’s and wife’s initial delight in each other soured with familiarity.

A power struggle evolved over the Protestant members of James Francis Edward’s household. Although the Pope scolded Clementina for her intolerance, she feared their influence over her sons. Failing to sway her husband, Clementina ran away to the Ursuline convent at Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. James Francis Edward lost financial and political support because his alleged but unlikely adultery supposedly provoked her flight. Clementina stubbornly stayed in her convent for many months until the Pope told her she might be forbidden the sacraments unless she returned to her husband. In 1727, she finally complied, but a much-changed woman now lived in Palazzo Muti. She had become extremely devout, compulsive in her religious observances, and so stringent in her fasting that she ate alongside the family at a small table holding scanty portions of specially prepared meals. An emaciated 33-year old Clementina died in 1735. Perhaps anorexia served as a defiant, if self-destructive, response to her perceived powerlessness in her household and contributed largely to her death.

The Jacobite Stuarts all lived part of their lives in this Roman building.  Charles and Henry were born here, Charles died here, and their parents, James and Clementina, also died here.
The Jacobite Stuarts all lived part of their lives in this Roman building. Charles and Henry were born here, Charles died here, and their parents, James and Clementina, also died here.

Charles supposedly resembled his mother in temperament, while Henry resembled their father. As the boys grew to manhood without their mother, the athletic Charles trained himself to lead a Jacobite rebellion by hunting, shooting, hiking in bare feet, and reading military manuals. Early in his own life, Henry became extremely observant of his religion, just as their father became after Clementina’s death.

The European political situation seemed to offer Charles an opening. France sought a way to hamper George II from helping Austria during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48). A Jacobite rising in Scotland might serve as an effective means.

Promises of French support proved equivocal, however, and James Francis Edward distrusted them out of long experience. Determined to go ahead even without French support, Charles announced his embarking for Scotland in a letter written to his father on the very day he gallantly landed with a tiny force in the Hebrides, on the island of Eriskay, at a place later called “the Prince’s Strand.” With charm, courage, gallantry, and persuasiveness—by sheer force of personality—he stirred the reluctant Highlanders not only to recognize his claim but also to fight for it. Later the Jacobite Lord Balmerino at his own execution testified about Charles: “the incomparable sweetness of his nature, his affability, his compassion, his justice, his temperance, his patience, and his courage are virtues, seldom to be found in one person.” Resentful of the 1707 Union with England that had ended Scotland’s status as a discrete nation with its own Parliament, the clan chiefs sought to restore the Stuarts to a Scottish throne and to achieve Scottish independence.

Charles succeeded with the Highlanders’ help in mastering Scotland, but his desire to invade England met with Highlander misgivings and resistance. Eventually, his officers argued for a retreat to Scotland, where William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland and the son of George II, routed Charles’s troops at Culloden Moor in April, 1746. A hunted fugitive until he escaped to France in September, 1746, Charles received much help from such supporters as Flora Macdonald during his perilous journey to safety.

Portrait of Flora MacDonald by Allan Ramsay.
Portrait of Flora MacDonald by Allan Ramsay.

In France, Charles found that defeat increased equivocation exponentially. Henry (and their father) understood that Jacobite hopes had died at Culloden, but Charles obstinately insisted on living as though those hopes were realizable. He refused to leave France after the 1748 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle specified that Pretenders to the British throne could not reside in Britain, France, Holland, Germany, Spain, or Genoa; Louis XV had to expel Charles by force.

After a stay in papal Avignon, Charles went underground for almost 20 years. Wandering through Europe in disguise, he even made secret visits to England in 1750 and later. In London in 1750, he became an Anglican, probably out of political calculation.

Henry heard nothing from Charles and James Francis Edward very little, because Charles had felt enraged by Henry’s becoming a Cardinal in 1747. Although at that time Cardinals need not be priests, Henry chose ordination in 1748. His ecclesiastical career proceeded as he became a Cardinal-Priest in 1752; the Camerlengo in charge of the papal conclave in 1758; Cardinal-Bishop with a see in Frascati in 1761; and Vice-Chancellor of the Church in 1763. Before abolishing the Jesuit order in 1773, Pope Clement XIV put Henry in charge of the Jesuit seminary at Frascati and made him an investigator of the Jesuit seminary in Rome.

Henry Benedict Stuart, "Cardinal Duke of York"
Henry Benedict Stuart, “Cardinal Duke of York”

Addressed as “Your Royal Highness and Eminence,” the Cardinal Duke of York made his home at the Palace of LaRocca in Frascati, with a summer home at Villa Muti outside Frascati. After he became Vice-Chancellor, he lived at Palazzo Cancelleria when in Rome. His large income derived from ecclesiastical offices in Flanders, Spain, Naples, France, and Spanish America, especially Mexico, where he owned land. Henry supported many Jacobites and eased the plight of Frascati’s poor. Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman, Archbishop of Westminster, later remarked of Henry, “to a royal heart he was no pretender. His charities were without bounds: poverty and distress were unknown in his see.”

In Frascati, where Henry was Bishop for 46 years, the sign for the street "Largo Duca di York" refers to Henry Duke of York as being a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.
In Frascati, where Henry was Bishop for 46 years, the sign for the street “Largo Duca di York” refers to Henry Duke of York as being a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.

Realizing the impracticality of a Jacobite restoration, Henry had entered upon a notably successful ecclesiastical career, while his brother, a determined Jacobite to the end, wandered through Europe in disguise. Their aging father, to whom Charles wrote occasionally, served as a tenuous link between the severed brothers. In 1765, Henry notified Charles of James Francis Edward’s decline and approaching death, but Charles refused to visit until the Pope recognized Charles’s royal claims. The father died without seeing again his prodigal son, and Charles returned in 1766 to live in Palazzo Muti in Rome. Although he now assumed the name of “Charles III,” he received little official recognition of his title and reluctantly accepted being called “Count of Albany.” (“Albany” was the traditional title of the second son of the King of Scotland.) Henry gave Charles Henry’s rights to their father’s papal pension.

Although their father’s death had reunited the brothers, many crises strained their relationship. During his wandering years, Charles had lived with Clementina Walkinshaw, who had given birth to his daughter Charlotte. In 1760, Clementina ran away from Charles and took their daughter with her. “You pushed me to the greatest extremity, and even despair,” she wrote to him, “as I was always in perpetual dread of my life from your violent passions.”

Clementina Walkinshaw, Charles's mistress from 1752 until 1760, and mother of his daughter Charlotte Stuart
Clementina Walkinshaw, Charles’s mistress from 1752 until 1760, and mother of his daughter Charlotte Stuart.

James Francis Edward, and later Henry, supported mother and daughter because Charles would not do so. In 1772, Charles married Louise of Stolberg-Gedern, granddaughter of a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. The marriage quickly deteriorated while they lived in Palazzo Guadigni in Florence; as an English observer commented in 1779, “she has paid dearly for the dregs of royalty.” As jealous of Louise as he had been of Clementina, Charles reverted to his pattern of physical abuse in a drunken rage on St. Andrew’s Day in 1780. He apparently also raped his wife because he suspected her of adultery with the Italian poet Count Vittorio Alfieri, whose muse Louise had been.

Charles's estranged wife, Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern,
Charles’s estranged wife, Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern.

In a reprise of the events of 55 years before, Louise ran away to the Convent of the White Nuns in Florence, and she turned the Pope and Henry against Charles. Henry even arranged for her to stay in Rome in the same Ursuline convent where his mother had sought refuge, but Louise eventually preferred to live in Palazzo Cancelleria.

Henry did not become fully reconciled to Charles until after Charles in 1784 legitimized his daughter Charlotte, named her Duchess of Albany, and asked her to care for him in his decrepit middle age. Having developed a habit of drinking six bottles of Cyprus wine after dinner, Charles obviously needed a caretaker. To her credit, Charlotte took good care of her previously neglectful father, though he tried her patience. She exasperatedly noted that he resembled a fifteen-year-old boy.

Charlotte Stuart, Charles's daughter by Clementina Walkinshaw. Portrait by Hugh Douglas Hamilton, Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
Charlotte Stuart, Charles’s daughter by Clementina Walkinshaw. Portrait by Hugh Douglas Hamilton, Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Charlotte also effected a reconciliation of Charles with Henry. Charles returned to Rome in 1785 to live once again in Palazzo Muti, this time with Charlotte. When he had lived there with Louise before they moved to Florence, the Romans had called her their “Queen of Hearts.”

Three years later, after Charles died, Henry, tears streaming down his face, conducted a private royal burial in Frascati. (The public royal funeral held for James Francis Edward was not permitted for Charles.) He sent a Memorial to foreign courts asserting his claim to be Henry IX and the right of his named successor Charles Emmanuel IV, King of Sardinia (a descendant of Henrietta Stuart, sister of James II). Other than honorably keeping faith with his dead by asserting their and his claim, Henry made no move to effect a Jacobite restoration after forty years’ realization of its futility.

The 1796 Napoleonic invasion of Italy, with its threat to the Papacy, caused the Cardinal King to donate much of his fortune to preserve the Holy See. Two years later, the fortunes of war caused Henry to flee from his beloved Frascati to Naples, then to Sicily, then to Venice in order to hold a conclave to elect a successor to Pope Pius VI. In the meantime, Henry’s wealth had vanished. His friends sent an appeal to Prime Minister William Pitt, who informed George III. Henry’s Hanoverian cousin sent immediate financial relief and instituted a pension for life in 1800. (Pitt probably never told George III that the British government actually owed over ₤1 million to this heir of James II’s Queen Mary of Modena.) The Cardinal King appreciated this kindness (as well as the friendly and gracious encounters he had had with George III’s son, Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, who insisted on addressing the Cardinal as “Your Royal Highness,” a courtesy reciprocated by Henry). In his will, he left to the Prince of Wales (later George IV) the British crown jewels carried by James II and Queen Mary Beatrice in their 1688 flight from England.

A plaque in Italian in the courtyard of Palazzo Balestra, formerly Palazzo Muti, refers to Henry Cardinal Duke of York as Henry IX and to his father as James III, and it notes that Henry's 1807 death extinguished the Stuart dynasty.
A plaque in Italian in the courtyard of Palazzo Balestra, formerly Palazzo Muti, refers to Henry Cardinal Duke of York as Henry IX and to his father as James III, and it notes that Henry’s 1807 death extinguished the Stuart dynasty.

Henry’s 1802 will also left his claim to the King of Sardinia (of the House of Savoy), the claim eventually by a tangled chain being passed to the Dukes of Bavaria. In 1803, as the most senior Cardinal, the Cardinal King became Dean of the College of Cardinals. Four years later, he died on the 46th anniversary of his being made Bishop of Frascati. While Charles had spoiled more than 40 years by making undignified attempts to preserve his royal dignity, Henry merely called himself King non desideriis hominum sed voluntate Dei—“not by the desire of man but by the will of God.” Endearingly, Henry did insist, however, that the stray King Charles spaniel that glued itself to him one day at St. Peter’s had instinctively recognized him as a royal Stuart.

Will ye no come back again?
Will ye no come back again?
Better loed ye canna be;
Will ye no come back again?
Ye trusted in your Hielan men,
They trusted you dear Charlie!
They kent your hiding in the glen,
Death and exile braving.
English bribes were a in vain
Tho puir and puirer we mun be;
Siller canna buy the heart
That aye beats warm for thine an thee.



Kathleen Spaltro, who lives and works in Woodstock, Illinois, in the United States, is a writer, editor, and teacher of literature, history, and film courses.  She specializes in biography and is the co-author of Royals of England: A Guide for Readers, Travelers, and Genealogists. This essay on the Stuart Jacobite Kings comes from her book, composed of more than 40 short biographies of figures from William of Normandy to Victoria.

For Further Reading:
Corp, Edward. The King over the water: portraits of the Stuarts in exile after 1689. Edinburgh: Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 2001.

Cruickshanks, Eveline, and Corp, Edward (Eds.). The Stuart court in exile and the Jacobites. Rio Grande, OH: The Hambledon Press, 1995.

Daiches, David. The last Stuart: the life and times of Bonnie Prince Charlie. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1973.

Fothergill, Brian. The Cardinal King. London: Faber and Faber, 1958.

Lees-Milne, James. The last Stuarts: British royalty in exile. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1984.

Marshall, Rosalind K. Bonnie Prince Charlie. Edinburgh: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1988.

Miller, Peggy. James. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1971

Nicholson, Robin. Bonnie Prince Charlie and the making of a myth: a study in portraiture, 1720-1892. Lewisburg : Bucknell University Press, 2002.

Sinclair-Stevenson, Christopher. Inglorious rebellion: the Jacobite risings of 1708, 1715, and 1719. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1971.

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Northanger Abbey: The Austen Project, by Val McDermid

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid

northanger-abbey-austen-project-val-mcdermid-2014-x-200Northanger 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 Festival in Scotland where Cat “is in her element, seeing potential for terror and adventure around every twist and turn of the narrow streets.”

Introduced to theater, art and books, and thanks to fashionista Mrs. Allen, Cat soon acquires a new wardrobe and dancing lessons where she partners with a charming and witty young attorney, Henry Tilney. After researching Henry on Facebook and Google she discovers that his father is the much-decorated general who made his name in the Falkland’s war before she was born. Even more interesting to Cat’s Gothic infused imagination, he owns Northanger Abbey, a medieval Borders abbey in Scotland. Cat also meets Mrs. Allen’s long-lost school friend Martha Thorpe and her three daughters, one of which is just Cat’s age. Bella, who recognizes the Morland last name, knows Cat’s elder brother Jamie who is attending Oxford with her brother Johnny. Before long they were “gossiping about the things that entertain young women of a certain age and type,” and becoming bff’s.

Blowhard Johnny Thorpe arrives in his racy red sports car with friend James Morland in tow. He attempts to court Cat but all she can think of is Henry and his sister Ellie. When Cat attends a céilidh, she anticipates dancing the Highland fling and hopes to encounter Henry Tilney again, who will surely save her from the unwanted attentions of crude Johnny Thorpe. As she and Bella scout the room they notice a beautiful, pale young woman dressed all in white:

“Who on earth was that?” Bella asked, “She acts like she’s in Pride and Prejudice.”
“That’s Henry Tilney’s sister Ellie.” Cat stared after the disappearing figure. There was something about Ellie, something out of time and out of style, like there would be if you were a two-hundred-year old vampire, she thought with a mixture of dread and delight.”

The story continues, mirroring the text of Northanger Abbey page for page, and scene for scene. Cat travels to Northanger Abbey as guest of the Tilney’s and the story turns Gothic and mysterious – just as Austen had devised.

McDermid made clever, creative and sensible choices in modernizing Northanger Abbey by moving the action from England to Scotland. The Edinburgh Festival easily replaces eighteenth century Georgian Bath allowing for a social hub similar in context: theater, shopping and country dancing. Later, we are treated to a really creepy medieval setting for a Scottish castle/Northanger Abbey. Cat is appropriately addicted to modern Gothic novels rivaling the famous Northanger Canon: Herbridean Harpies, Ghasts of Ghia and even Pride a Prejudice and Zombies! McDermid builds the vampire theme slowly, allowing Henry and Ellie to be pale in complexion, anachronistic in demeanor and just mysterious enough to trigger Cat’s imagination. Her characterizations are spot on: Henry is droll and swoon-worthy as ever, Cat a bit air-headed and impressionable, Bella a slick piece of work, and General Tilney deceptive and tyrannical.

The plot plays out as one would expect, and if you had not read Northanger Abbey before you would not notice that the author has really created a complete translation, scene for scene, and sometimes word for word—a No Fear Shakespeare version of Northanger Abbey. While I admired McDermid’s creative choices to bring the story into the modern world (cell phones, Facebook, language and culture), I was immediately puzzled by her choice of narrative style. This novel is really a retelling instead of the reimagining that it was advertised as. The downside of a translation is in its creative limitations, resulting in McDermid’s sentences being affected and unnatural. I just wanted her to break out of the stranglehold she had placed on herself and use the plot and characterization as a spring board, and not a noose. Limiting herself in this manner may have been her way of honoring Austen, but I think she has done a great disservice to her own writing. Having not read any of her acclaimed crime novels I have no idea of her real talent. I believe that Austen herself, who honed her craft so precisely, would be baffled at one author lessening their gifts at the expense of another.

Like the reaction to Joanna Trollope’s contemporary reimaging of Sense and Sensibility published last year, whenever you fiddle with the classics there are bound to be those who are open to the concept and those completely closed off. I read this novel in anticipation of enjoying it. In hindsight, I do not think that it was written for an Austen fan familiar with the original, but for the uninitiated who may view it in a completely different light.

RRP: £18.99
Grove Press (2014)
Hardcover (368) pages
ISBN: 978-0802123015

A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the editor of the short story anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It, and, a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington where it rains a lot. Visit Laurel Ann at her blog Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.

This review of Val McDermind’s Northanger Abbey originally appeared on and is used here with permission.

Cover image courtesy of Grove Press © 2014; text Laurel Ann Nattress,

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The History of England by Jane Austen

The History of England

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 Majesty then turned his thoughts to France, where he went & fought the famous Battle of Agincourt. He afterwards married the King’s daughter Catherine, a very agreable Woman by Shakespeare’s account. Inspite of all this however he died, and was succeeded by his son Henry.

Henry the 6th

I cannot say much for this Monarch’s Sense. Nor would I if I could, for he was a Lancastrian. I suppose you know all about the Wars between him & the Duke of York who was of the right side; if you do not, you had better read some other History, for I shall not be very diffuse in this, meaning by it only to vent my Spleen against, & shew my Hatred to all those people whose parties or principles do not suit with mine, & not to give information. This King married Margaret of Anjou, a woman whose distresses & Misfortunes were so great as almost to make me who hate her, pity her. It was in this reign that Joan of Arc lived & made such a row among the English. They should not have burnt her — but they did. There were several Battles between the Yorkists & Lancastrians, in which the former (as they ought) usually conquered. At length they were entirely overcome; The King was murdered — & Edward the 4th ascended the Throne.

Edward the 4th

This Monarch was famous only for his Beauty & his Courage, of which the Picture we have here given of him, & his undaunted Behaviour in marrying one Woman while he was engaged to another, are sufficient proofs. His Wife was Elizabeth Woodville, a Widow who, poor woman! was afterwards confined in a Convent by that Monster of Iniquity & Avarice Henry the 7th. One of Edward’s Mistresses was Jane Shore, who had a play written about her, but it is a tragedy & therefore not worth reading. Having performed all these noble actions, his Majesty died, & was succeeded by his son.

Edward the 5th

This unfortunate Prince lived so little a while that nobody had time to draw his picture. He was murdered by his Uncle’s Contrivance, whose name was Richard the 3d.

Richard the 3d

The Character of this Prince has been in general very severely treated by Historians, but as he was a York, I am rather inclined to suppose him a very respectable Man. It has indeed been confidently asserted that he killed his two Nephews & his Wife, but it has also been declared that he did not kill his two Nephews, which I am inclined to beleive true; & if this is the case, it may also be affirmed that he did not kill his Wife, for if Perkin Warbeck was really the Duke of York, why might not Lambert Simnel be the Widow of Richard. Whether innocent or guilty, he did not reign long in peace, for Henry Tudor E. of Richmond as great a villain as ever lived, made a great fuss about getting the Crown & having killed the King at the battle of Bosworth, he succeeded to it.

Henry the 7th

This Monarch soon after his accession married the Princess Elizabeth of York, by which alliance he plainly proved that he thought his own right inferior to hers, tho’ he pretended to the contrary. By this marriage he had two sons & two daughters, the elder of which Daughters was married to the King of Scotland & had the happiness of being grandmother to one of the first Characters in the World. But of her, I shall have occasion to speak more at large in future. The Youngest, Mary, married first the King of France & secondly the D. of Suffolk, by whom she had one daughter, afterwards the Mother of Lady Jane Gray, who tho’ inferior to her lovely Cousin the Queen of Scots, was yet an amiable young woman & famous for reading Greek while other people were hunting. It was in the reign of Henry the 7th that Perkin Warbeck & Lambert Simnel before mentioned made their appearance, the former of whom was set in the Stocks, took shelter in Beaulieu Abbey, & was beheaded with the Earl of Warwick, & the latter was taken into the Kings kitchen. His Majesty died & was succeeded by his son Henry whose only merit was his not being quite so bad as his daughter Elizabeth.

Henry the 8th

It would be an affront to my Readers were I to suppose that they were not as well acquainted with the particulars of this King’s reign as I am myself. It will therefore be saving them the task of reading again what they have read before, & myself the trouble of writing what I do not perfectly recollect, by giving only a slight sketch of the principal Events which marked his reign. Among these may be ranked Cardinal Wolsey’s telling the father Abbot of Leicester Abbey that “he was come to lay his bones among them,” the reformation in Religion, & the King’s riding through the streets of London with Anna Bullen. It is however but Justice, & my Duty to declare that this amiable Woman was entirely innocent of the Crimes with which she was accused, of which her Beauty, her Elegance, & her Sprightliness were sufficient proofs, not to mention her solemn protestations of Innocence, the weakness of the Charges against her, & the King’s Character, all of which add some confirmation, tho’ perhaps but slight ones when in comparison with those before alledged in her favour. Tho’ I do not profess giving many dates, yet as I think it proper to give some & shall of course make choice of those which it is most necessary for the Reader to know, I think it right to inform him that her letter to the King was dated on the 6th of May. The Crimes & Cruelties of this Prince, were too numerous to be mentioned, (as this history I trust has fully shewn;) & nothing can be said in his vindication, but that his abolishing Religious Houses & leaving them to the ruinous depredations of time has been of infinite use to the landscape of England in general, which probably was a principal motive for his doing it, since otherwise why should a Man who was of no Religion himself be at so much trouble to abolish one which had for ages been established in the Kingdom. His Majesty’s 5th wife was the Duke of Norfolk’s Neice who, tho’ universally acquitted of the crimes for which she was beheaded, has been by many people supposed to have led an abandoned life before her Marriage — Of this however I have many doubts, since she was a relation of that noble Duke of Norfolk who was so warm in the Queen of Scotland’s cause, & who at last fell a victim to it. The King’s last wife contrived to survive him, but with difficulty effected it. He was succeeded by his only son Edward.

Edward the 6th

As this prince was only nine years old at the time of his Father’s death, he was considered by many people as too young to govern, & the late King happening to be of the same opinion, his mother’s Brother the Duke of Somerset was chosen Protector of the realm during his minority. This Man was on the whole of a very amiable Character, & is somewhat of a favourite with me, tho’ I would by no means pretend to affirm that he was equal to those first of Men Robert Earl of Essex, Delamere, or Gilpin. He was beheaded, of which he might with reason have been proud, had he known that such was the death of Mary Queen of Scotland; but as it was impossible that he should be conscious of what had never happened, it does not appear that he felt particularly delighted with the manner of it. After his decease the Duke of Northumberland had the care of the King & the Kingdom, & performed his trust of both so well that the King died & the Kingdom was left to his daughter in law the Lady Jane Grey, who has been already mentioned as reading Greek. Whether she really understood that language or whether such a study proceeded only from an excess of vanity for which I beleive she was always rather remarkable, is uncertain. Whatever might be the cause, she preserved the same appearance of knowledge, & contempt of what was generally esteemed pleasure, during the whole of her Life, for she declared herself displeased with being appointed Queen, and while conducting to the scaffold, she wrote a sentence in latin & another in Greek on seeing the dead Body of her Husband accidentally passing that way.


This woman had the good luck of being advanced to the throne of England, inspite of the superior pretensions, Merit & Beauty of her Cousins Mary Queen of Scotland & Jane Grey. Nor can I pity the Kingdom for the misfortunes they experienced during her Reign, since they fully deserved them, for having allowed her to succeed her Brother — which was a double peice of folly, since they might have foreseen that as she died without Children, she would be succeeded by that disgrace to humanity, that pest of society, Elizabeth. Many were the people who fell martyrs to the protestant Religion during her reign; I suppose not fewer than a dozen. She married Philip King of Spain who in her Sister’s reign for [sic] famous for building the Armadas. She died without issue, & then the dreadful moment came in which the destroyer of all comfort, the deceitful Betrayer of trust reposed in her, & the Murderess of her Cousin succeeded to the Throne. —


It was the peculiar misfortune of this Woman to have bad Ministers —— Since wicked as she herself was, she could not have committed such extensive Mischeif, had not those vile & abandoned Men connived at, & encouraged her in her Crimes. I know that it has by many people been asserted & beleived that Lord Burleigh, Sir Francis Walsingham, & the rest of those who filled the cheif Offices of State were deserving, experienced, & able Ministers. But oh! how blinded such Writers & such Readers must be to true Merit, to Merit despised, neglected & defamed, if they can persist in such opinions when they reflect that these Men, these boasted Men were such Scandals to their Country & their Sex as to allow & assist their Queen in confining for the space of nineteen Years, a Woman who if the claims of Relationship & Merit were of no avail, yet as a Queen & as one who condescended to place confidence in her, had every reason to expect Assistance & protection; and at length in allowing Elizabeth to bring this amiable Woman to an untimely, unmerited, and scandalous Death. Can any one if he reflects but for a moment on this blot, this ever-lasting blot upon their Understanding & their Character, allow any praise to Lord Burleigh or Sir Francis Walsingham? Oh! what must this bewitching Princess whose only freind was then the Duke of Norfolk, and whose only ones are now Mr Whitaker, Mrs Lefroy, Mrs Knight & myself, who was abandoned by her Son, confined by her Cousin, abused, reproached & vilified by all, what must not her most noble mind have suffered when informed that Elizabeth had given orders for her Death! Yet she bore it with a most unshaken fortitude, firm in her mind; Constant in her Religion; & prepared herself to meet the cruel fate to which she was doomed, with a magnanimity that could alone proceed from conscious Innocence. And yet could you Reader have beleived it possible that some hardened & zealous Protestants have even abused her for that Steadfastness in the Catholic Religion which reflected on her so much credit? But this is a striking proof of their narrow souls & prejudiced Judgements who accuse her. She was executed in the Great Hall at Fotheringay Castle (sacred Place!) on Wednesday the 8th of February — 1586 —— to the everlasting Reproach of Elizabeth, her Ministers, and of England in general. It may not be unnecessary before I entirely conclude my account of this ill-fated Queen, to observe that she had been accused of several crimes during the time of her reigning in Scotland, of which I now most seriously do assure my Reader that she was entirely innocent; having never been guilty of anything more than Imprudencies into which she was betrayed by the openness of her Heart, her Youth, & her Education. Having I trust by this assurance entirely done away every Suspicion & every doubt which might have arisen in the Reader’s mind, from what other Historians have written of her, I shall proceed to mention the remaining Events that marked Elizabeth’s reign. It was about this time that Sir Francis Drake the first English Navigator who sailed round the World, lived, to be the ornament of his Country & his profession. Yet great as he was, & justly celebrated as a Sailor, I cannot help foreseeing that he will be equalled in this or the next Century by one who tho’ now but young, already promises to answer all the ardent & sanguine expectations of his Relations & Freinds, amongst whom I may class the amiable Lady to whom this work is dedicated, & my no less amiable Self.

Though of a different profession, and shining in a different sphere of Life, yet equally conspicuous in the Character of an Earl, as Drake was in that of a Sailor, was Robert Devereux Lord Essex. This unfortunate young Man was not unlike in Character to that equally unfortunate one Frederic Delamere. The simile may be carried still farther, & Elizabeth the torment of Essex may be compared to the Emmeline of Delamere. It would be endless to recount the misfortunes of this noble & gallant Earl. It is sufficient to say that he was beheaded on the 25th of Feb:ry, after having been Lord Leuitenant of Ireland, after having clapped his hand on his Sword, and after performing many other services to his Country. Elizabeth did not long survive his loss, & died so miserable that were it not an injury to the memory of Mary I should pity her.

James the 1st

Though this King had some faults, among which & as the most principal, was his allowing his Mother’s death, yet considered on the whole I cannot help liking him. He married Anne of Denmark, and had several Children; fortunately for him his eldest son Prince Henry died before his Father or he might have experienced the evils which befell his unfortunate Brother.

As I am myself partial to the roman catholic religion, it is with infinite regret that I am obliged to blame the Behaviour of any Member of it; yet Truth being I think very excusable in an Historian, I am necessitated to say that in this reign the roman Catholics of England did not behave like Gentlemen to the protestants. Their Behaviour indeed to the Royal Family & both Houses of Parliament might justly be considered by them as very uncivil, and even Sir Henry Percy tho’ certainly the best bred man of the party, had none of that general politeness which is so universally pleasing, as his attentions were entirely confined to Lord Mounteagle.

Sir Walter Raleigh flourished in this & the preceding reign, & is by many people held in great veneration & respect — But as he was an enemy of the noble Essex, I have nothing to say in praise of him, & must refer all those who may wish to be acquainted with the particulars of his Life, to Mr Sheridan’s play of the Critic, where they will find many interesting Anecdotes as well of him as of his freind Sir Christopher Hatton. — His Majesty was of that amiable disposition which inclines to Freindship, & in such points was possessed of a keener penetration in Discovering Merit than many other people. I once heard an excellent sharade on a Carpet, of which the subject I am now reminds me, and as I think it may afford my Readers some amusement to find it out, I shall here take the liberty of presenting it to them.

My first is what my second was to King James the 1st,
and you tread on my whole.

The principal favourites of his Majesty were Car, who was afterwards created Earl of Somerset and whose name perhaps may have some share in the above-mentioned Sharade, & George Villiers afterwards Duke of Buckingham. On his Majesty’s death he was succeeded by his son Charles.

Charles the 1st

This amiable Monarch seems born to have suffered Misfortunes equal to those of his lovely Grandmother; Misfortunes which he could not deserve since he was her descendant. Never certainly were there before so many detestable Characters at one time in England as in this period of its History; Never were amiable Men so scarce. The number of them throughout the whole Kingdom amounting only to five, besides the inhabitants of Oxford who were always loyal to their King & faithful to his interests. The names of this noble five who never forgot the duty of the Subject, or swerved from their attachment to his Majesty, were as follows — The King himself, ever steadfast in his own support — Archbishop Laud, Earl of Strafford, Viscount Faulkland, & Duke of Ormond, who were scarcely less strenuous or zealous in the cause. While the Villains of the time would make too long a list to be written or read; I shall therefore content myself with mentioning the leaders of the Gang. Cromwell, Fairfax, Hampden, & Pym may be considered as the original Causers of all the disturbances, Distresses, & Civil Wars in which England for many years was embroiled. In this reign as well as in that of Elizabeth, I am obliged in spite of my attachment to the Scotch, to consider them as equally guilty with the generality of the English, since they dared to think differently from their Sovereign, to forget the Adoration which as Stuarts it was their Duty to pay them, to rebel against, dethrone & imprison the unfortunate Mary; to oppose, to deceive, and to sell the no less unfortunate Charles. The Events of this Monarch’s reign are too numerous for my pen, and inded the recital of any Events (except what I make myself) is uninteresting to me; my principal reason for undertaking the History of England being to prove the innocence of the Queen of Scotland, which I flatter myself with having effectually done, and to abuse Elizabeth, tho’ I am rather fearful of having fallen short in the latter part of my Scheme. —. As therefore it is not my intention to give any particular account of the distresses into which this King was involved through the misconduct & Cruelty of his Parliament, I shall satisfy myself with vindicating him from the Reproach of arbitrary & tyrannical Government with which he has often been charged. This, I feel, is not difficult to be done, for with one argument I am certain of satisfying every sensible & well disposed person whose opinions have been properly guided by a good Education — & this argument is that he was a Stuart.


Saturday Nov: 26th. 1791

This work is a parody of Oliver Goldsmith’s A History of England, required reading of English schoolchildren everywhere, including the young Austens. What makes it remarkable is that it was written by one so young. Jane was but 15 years old when she wrote it. The portraits, drawn by Cassandra, bear more of a resemblence to family members than the Kings they are set to portray.

According to the British Library, Jane Austen’s ‘The History of England’ ranks as one of the most precocious and engaging works of juvenilia ever produced by a leading literary figure. Written in 1791, the manuscript is illustrated with delightful medallion portraits of monarchs painted by Jane’s sister Cassandra.From the age of 12, Jane spent more of her spare time in literary composition than in serious study. She preserved 26 items of juvenilia, dating from around 1787 to early 1793, and later copied them into three notebooks entitled Volume the First, Volume the Second and Volume the Third. The ‘History of England’ appears in Volume the Second.

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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.


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.


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 — I was born in Spain, and received my Education at a Convent in France.

When I had reached my eighteenth Year, I was recalled by my Parents to my paternal roof in Wales. Our mansion was situated in one of the most romantic parts of the Vale of Uske. Tho’ my Charms are now considerably softened and somewhat impaired by the Misfortunes I have undergone, I was once beautiful. But lovely as I was, the Graces of my Person were the least of my Perfections. Of every accomplishment accustomary to my sex, I was Mistress. When in the Convent, my progress had always exceeded my instructions, my Acquirements had been wonderfull for my age, and I had shortly surpassed my Masters.

In my Mind, every Virtue that could adorn it was centered; it was the Rendez-vous of every good Quality and of every noble sentiment.

A sensibility too tremblingly alive to every affliction of my Freinds, my Acquaintance, and particularly to every affliction of my own, was my only fault, if a fault it could be called. Alas! how altered now! Tho’ indeed my own Misfortunes do not make less impression on me than they ever did, yet now I never feel for those of an other. My accomplishments too, begin to fade — I can neither sing so well nor Dance so gracefully as I once did — and I have entirely forgot the Minuet Dela Cour.


Letter 4th
Laura to Marianne

OUR neighbourhood was small, for it consisted only of your Mother. She may probably have already told you that, being left by her Parents in indigent Circumstances, she had retired into Wales on eoconomical motives. There it was, our freindship first commenced. Isabel was then one and twenty. Tho’ pleasing both in her Person and Manners, (between ourselves) she never possessed the hundredth part of my Beauty or Accomplishments. Isabel had seen the World. She had passed 2 Years at one of the first Boarding-schools in London; had spent a fortnight in Bath and had supped one night in Southampton.

“Beware, my Laura, (she would often say) Beware of the insipid Vanities and idle Dissipations of the Metropolis of England; Beware of the unmeaning Luxuries of Bath and of the stinking fish of Southampton.”

“Alas! (exclaimed I) how am I to avoid those evils I shall never be exposed to? What probability is there of my ever tasting the Dissipations of London, the Luxuries of Bath, or the stinking Fish of Southampton? I who am doomed to waste my Days of Youth and Beauty in an humble Cottage in the Vale of Uske.”

Ah! little did I then think I was ordained so soon to quit that humble Cottage for the Deceitfull Pleasures of the World.


Letter 5th
Laura to Marianne

ONE Evening in December, as my Father, my Mother, and myself were arranged in social converse round our Fireside, we were, on a sudden, greatly astonished by hearing a violent knocking on the outward Door of our rustic Cot.

My Father started — “What noise is that,” (said he). “It sounds like a loud rapping at the door” — (replied my Mother). “It does indeed,” (cried I). “I am of your opinion; (said my Father) it certainly does appear to proceed from some uncommon violence exerted against our unoffending door.” “Yes (exclaimed I) I cannot help thinking it must be somebody who knocks for admittance.”

“That is another point (replied he); We must not pretend to determine on what motive the person may knock — tho’ that someone does rap at the door, I am partly convinced.”

Here, a second tremendous rap interrupted my Father in his speech, and somewhat alarmed my Mother and me.

“Had we not better go and see who it is? (said she) The servants are out.” “I think we had,” (replied I).

“Certainly, (added my Father) by all means.” “Shall we go now?” (said my Mother). “The sooner the better,” (answered he). “Oh! let no time be lost” (cried I).

A third, more violent Rap than ever, again assaulted our ears. “I am certain there is somebody knocking at the Door,” (said my Mother). “I think there must,” (replied my Father). “I fancy the servants are returned; (said I) I think I hear Mary going to the Door.” “I’m glad of it (cried my Father) for I long to know who it is.”

I was right in my conjecture; for Mary instantly entering the Room, informed us that a young Gentleman and his Servant were at the door, who had lossed their way, were very cold, and begged leave to warm themselves by our fire.

“Won’t you admit them?” (said I). “You have no objection, my Dear?” (said my Father). “None in the World” (replied my Mother).

Mary, without waiting for any further commands, immediately left the room and quickly returned, introducing the most beauteous and amiable Youth I had ever beheld. The servant, she kept to herself.

My natural sensibility had already been greatly affected by the sufferings of the unfortunate stranger and no sooner did I first behold him, than I felt that on him the happiness or Misery of my future Life must depend.


Letter 6th
Laura to Marianne

THE noble Youth informed us that his name was Lindsay — for particular reasons, however, I shall conceal it under that of Talbot. He told us that he was the son of an English Baronet, that his Mother had been many years no more, and that he had a Sister of the middle size. “My Father (he continued) is a mean and mercenary wretch — it is only to such particular freinds as this Dear Party that I would thus betray his failings. Your Virtues, my amiable Polydore (addressing himself to my father), yours Dear Claudia, and yours my Charming Laura, call on me to repose in you my confidence.” We bowed. “My Father, seduced by the false glare of Fortune and the Deluding Pomp of Title, insisted on my giving my hand to Lady Dorothea. “No, never,’ exclaimed I. “Lady Dorothea is lovely and Engaging; I prefer no woman to her; but know, Sir, that I scorn to marry her in compliance with your Wishes. No! Never shall it be said that I obliged my Father.'” We all admired the noble Manliness of his reply. He continued:

“Sir Edward was surprized; he had perhaps little expected to meet with so spirited an opposition to his will. “Where, Edward in the name of wonder (said he) did you pick up this unmeaning gibberish? You have been studying Novels, I suspect.’ I scorned to answer: it would have been beneath my dignity. I mounted my Horse and followed by my faithful William, set forwards for my Aunt’s.”

“My Father’s house is situated in Bedfordshire, Aunt’s in Middlesex, and tho’ I flatter myself with being a tolerable proficient in Geography, I know not how it happened, but I found myself entering this beautifull Vale which I find is in South Wales, when I had expected to have reached my Aunt’s.”

“After having wandered some time on the Banks of the Uske without knowing which way to go, I began to lament my cruel Destiny in the bitterest and most pathetic Manner. It was now perfectly dark, not a single star was there to direct my steps, and I know not what might have befallen me, had I not at length discerned thro’ the solemn Gloom that surrounded me a distant Light, which, as I approached it, I discovered to be the chearfull Blaze of your fire. Impelled by the combination of Misfortunes under which I laboured, namely Fear, Cold, and Hunger, I hesitated not to ask admittance, which at length I have gained; and now, my Adorable Laura (continued he, taking my Hand) when may I hope to receive that reward of all the painfull sufferings I have undergone during the course of my attachment to you, to which I have ever aspired. Oh! when will you reward me with Yourself?”

“This instant, Dear and Amiable Edward,” (replied I). We were immediately united by my Father, who, tho’ he had never taken orders, had been bred to the Church.


Letter 7th
Laura to Marianne

WE remained but a few days after our Marriage in the Vale of Uske. After taking an affecting Farewell of my Father, my Mother, and my Isabel, I accompanied Edward to his Aunt’s in Middlesex. Philippa received us both with every expression of affectionate Love. My arrival was indeed a most agreeable surprize to her, as she had not only been totally ignorant of my Marriage with her Nephew, but had never even had the slightest idea of there being such a person in the World.

Augusta, the sister of Edward, was on a visit to her when we arrived. I found her exactly what her Brother had described her to be — of the middle size. She received me with equal surprize, though not with equal Cordiality, as Philippa. There was a disagreeable Coldness and Forbidding Reserve in her reception of me which was equally Distressing and Unexpected; none of that interesting Sensibility or amiable Simpathy in her manners and Address to me when we first met, which should have Distinguished our introduction to each other. Her Language was neither warm nor affectionate, her expressions of regard were neither animated nor cordial; her arms were not opened to receive me to her Heart, tho’ my own were extended to press her to mine.

A short Conversation between Augusta and her Brother, which I accidentally overheard, encreased my dislike to her, and convinced me that her Heart was no more formed for the soft ties of Love than for the endearing intercourse of Freindship.

“But do you think that my Father will ever be reconciled to this imprudent connection?” (said Augusta).

“Augusta (replied the noble Youth) I thought you had a better opinion of me, than to imagine I would so abjectly degrade myself as to consider my Father’s Concurrence in any of my Affairs, either of Consequence or concern to me. Tell me, Augusta, tell me with sincerity; did you ever know me consult his inclinations, or follow his Advice in the least trifling Particular, since the age of fifteen?”

“Edward (replied she) you are surely too diffident in your own praise. Since you were fifteen only! My Dear Brother, since you were five years old, I entirely acquit you of ever having willingly contributed to the Satisfaction of your Father. But still, I am not without apprehensions of your being shortly obliged to degrade yourself in your own eyes by seeking a Support for your Wife in the Generosity of Sir Edward.”

“Never, never Augusta will I so demean myself. (said Edward) Support! What Support will Laura want which she can receive from him?”

“Only those very insignificant ones of Victuals and Drink,” (answered she).

“Victuals and Drink! (replied my Husband in a most nobly contemptuous Manner) and dost thou then imagine that there is no other support for an exalted Mind (such as is my Laura’s) than the mean and indelicate employment of Eating and Drinking?”

“None that I know of, so efficacious,” (returned Augusta).

“And did you then never feel the pleasing Pangs of Love, Augusta? (replied my Edward) Does it appear impossible to your vile and corrupted Palate, to exist on Love? Can you not conceive the Luxury of living in every Distress that Poverty can inflict, with the object of your tenderest Affection?”

“You are too ridiculous (said Augusta) to argue with; perhaps, however, you may in time be convinced that…”

Here I was prevented from hearing the remainder of her speech, by the appearance of a very Handsome Young Woman, who was ushered into the Room at the Door of which I had been listening. On hearing her announced by the Name of “Lady Dorothea,” I instantly quitted my Post and followed her into the Parlour, for I well remembered that she was the Lady proposed as a Wife for my Edward by the Cruel and Unrelenting Baronet.

Altho’ Lady Dorothea’s visit was nominally to Philippa and Augusta, yet I have some reason to imagine that (acquainted with the Marriage and arrival of Edward) to see me was a principal motive to it.

I soon perceived that tho’ Lovely and Elegant in her Person, and tho’ Easy and Polite in her Address, she was of that Inferior order of Beings with regard to Delicate Feeling, tender Sentiments, and refined Sensibility, of which Augusta was one.

She staid but half an hour and neither, in the Course of her Visit, confided to me any of her secret thoughts, nor requested me to confide in her any of Mine. You will easily imagine, therefore, my Dear Marianne, that I could not feel any ardent affection or very sincere Attachment for Lady Dorothea.


Letter 8th
Laura to Marianne, in continuation

LADY DOROTHEA had not left us long before another visitor, as unexpected a one as her Ladyship, was announced. It was Sir Edward, who informed by Augusta of her Brother’s marriage, came doubtless to reproach him for having dared to unite himself to me without his Knowledge. But Edward, foreseeing his Design, approached him with heroic fortitude as soon as he entered the Room, and addressed him in the following Manner.

“Sir Edward, I know the motive of your Journey here — You come with the base Design of reproaching me for having entered into an indissoluble engagement with my Laura without your Consent. But Sir, I glory in the Act. — It is my greatest boast, that I have incurred the displeasure of my Father!”

So saying, he took my hand and whilst Sir Edward, Philippa, and Augusta were doubtless reflecting with Admiration on his undaunted Bravery, led me from the Parlour to his Father’s Carriage, which yet remained at the Door, and in which we were instantly conveyed from the pursuit of Sir Edward.

The Postilions had at first received orders only to take the London road; as soon as we had sufficiently reflected, However, we ordered them to Drive to M—-, the seat of Edward’s most particular freind, which was but a few miles distant.

At M—-, we arrived in a few hours; and on sending in our names, were immediately admitted to Sophia, the Wife of Edward’s freind. After having been deprived during the course of 3 weeks of a real freind (for such I term your Mother), imagine my transports at beholding one most truly worthy of the Name. Sophia was rather above the middle size; most elegantly formed. A soft languor spread over her lovely features, but increased their Beauty. — It was the Characteristic of her Mind. — She was all Sensibility and Feeling. We flew into each other’s arms and after having exchanged vows of mutual Freindship for the rest of our Lives, instantly unfolded to each other the most inward secrets of our Hearts. — We were interrupted in the delightfull Employment by the entrance of Augustus (Edward’s freind), who was just returned from a solitary ramble.

Never did I see such an affecting Scene as was the meeting of Edward and Augustus.

“My Life! my Soul!” (exclaimed the former) “My Adorable Angel!” (replied the latter), as they flew into each other’s arms. It was too pathetic for the feelings of Sophia and myself — We fainted alternately on a sofa.


Letter the 9th
From the same to the same

TOWARDS the close of the day, we received the following Letter from Philippa.

“Sir Edward is greatly incensed by your abrupt departure; he has taken back Augusta with him to Bedfordshire. Much as I wish to enjoy again your charming society, I cannot determine to snatch you from that of such dear and deserving Freinds — When your Visit to them is terminated, I trust you will return to the arms of your Philippa.”

We returned a suitable answer to this affectionate Note, and after thanking her for her kind invitation, assured her that we would certainly avail ourselves of it, whenever we might have no other place to go to. Tho’ certainly nothing could, to any reasonable Being, have appeared more satisfactory than so gratefull a reply to her invitation, yet I know not how it was, but she was certainly capricious enough to be displeased with our behaviour and in a few weeks after, either to revenge our Conduct, or releive her own solitude, married a young and illiterate Fortune-hunter. This imprudent Step (tho’ we were sensible that it would probably deprive us of that fortune which Philippa had ever taught us to expect) could not, on our own accounts, excite from our exalted Minds a single sigh; yet fearfull lest it might prove a source of endless misery to the deluded Bride, our trembling Sensibility was greatly affected when we were first informed of the Event. The affectionate Entreaties of Augustus and Sophia that we would for ever consider their House as our Home, easily prevailed on us to determine never more to leave them. In the society of my Edward and this Amiable Pair, I passed the happiest moments of my Life; Our time was most delightfully spent, in mutual Protestations of Freindship, and in vows of unalterable Love, in which we were secure from being interrupted by intruding and disagreeable Visitors, as Augustus and Sophia had, on their first Entrance in the Neighbourhood, taken due care to inform the surrounding Families, that as their Happiness centered wholly in themselves, they wished for no other society. But alas! my Dear Marianne, such Happiness as I then enjoyed was too perfect to be lasting. A most severe and unexpected Blow at once destroyed every sensation of Pleasure. Convinced as you must be from what I have already told you concerning Augustus and Sophia, that there never were a happier Couple, I need not, I imagine, inform you that their union had been contrary to the inclinations of their Cruel and Mercenary Parents; who had vainly endeavoured with obstinate Perseverance to force them into a Marriage with those whom they had ever abhorred; but with an Heroic Fortitude worthy to be related and admired, they had both constantly refused to submit to such despotic Power.

After having so nobly disentangled themselves from the shackles of Parental Authority, by a Clandestine Marriage, they were determined never to forfeit the good opinion they had gained in the World, in so doing, by accepting any proposals of reconciliation that might be offered them by their Fathers — to this farther tryal of their noble independance, however, they never were exposed.

They had been married but a few months when our visit to them commenced, during which time they had been amply supported by a considerable sum of Money which Augustus had gracefully purloined from his unworthy father’s Escritoire, a few days before his union with Sophia.

By our arrival their Expenses were considerably encreased, tho’ their means for supplying them were then nearly exhausted. But they, Exalted Creatures! scorned to reflect a moment on their pecuniary Distresses, and would have blushed at the idea of paying their Debts. — Alas! what was their Reward for such disinterested Behaviour! The beautifull Augustus was arrested and we were all undone. Such perfidious Treachery in the merciless perpetrators of the Deed will shock your gentle nature, Dearest Marianne, as much as it then affected the Delicate Sensibility of Edward, Sophia, your Laura, and of Augustus himself. To compleat such unparalelled Barbarity, we were informed that an Execution in the House would shortly take place. Ah! what could we do but what we did! We sighed and fainted on the sofa.


Letter 10th
Laura in continuation

WHEN we were somewhat recovered from the overpowering Effusions of our Grief, Edward desired that we would consider what was the most prudent step to be taken in our unhappy situation, while he repaired to his imprisoned freind to lament over his misfortunes. We promised that we would, and he set forwards on his journey to Town. During his absence we faithfully complied with his Desire, and after the most mature Deliberation, at length agreed that that the best thing we could do was to leave the House; of which we every moment expected the Officers of Justice to take possession. We waited, therefore, with the greatest impatience for the return of Edward, in order to impart to him the result of our Deliberations. But no Edward appeared. In vain did we count the tedious Moments of his Absence — in vain did we weep — in vain even did we sigh — no Edward returned. — This was too cruel, too unexpected a Blow to our Gentle Sensibility — we could not support it — we could only faint. At length collecting all the Resolution I was Mistress of, I arose, and after packing up some necessary Apparel for Sophia and myself, I dragged her to a Carriage I had ordered, and we instantly set out for London. As the Habitation of Augustus was within twelve miles of Town, it was not long e’er we arrived there, and no sooner had we entered Holbourn than, letting down one of the Front Glasses, I enquired of every decent-looking Person that we passed “If they had seen my Edward?”

But as we drove too rapidly to allow them to answer my repeated Enquiries, I gained little, or indeed, no information concerning him. “Where am I to Drive?” said the Postilion. “To Newgate, Gentle Youth (replied I), to see Augustus.” “Oh! no, no, (exclaimed Sophia) I cannot go to Newgate; I shall not be able to support the sight of my Augustus in so cruel a confinement — my feelings are sufficiently shocked by the recital of his Distress, but to behold it will overpower my Sensibility.” As I perfectly agreed with her in the Justice of her Sentiments, the Postilion was instantly directed to return into the Country. You may perhaps have been somewhat surprised, my Dearest Marianne, that in the Distress I then endured, destitute of any support, and unprovided with any Habitation, I should never once have remembered my Father and Mother or my paternal Cottage in the Vale of Uske. To account for the seeming forgetfullness I must inform you of a trifling circumstance concerning them which I have as yet never mentioned. The death of my Parents a few weeks after my Departure, is the circumstance I allude to. By their decease I became the lawfull Inheritress of their House and Fortune. But alas! the House had never been their own, and their Fortune had only been an Annuity on their own Lives. Such is the Depravity of the World! To your Mother I should have returned with Pleasure, should have been happy to have introduced to her my charming Sophia, and should with Chearfullness have passed the remainder of my Life in their dear Society in the Vale of Uske, had not one obstacle to the execution of so agreeable a scheme, intervened; which was the Marriage and Removal of your Mother to a distant part of Ireland.


Letter 11th
Laura in continuation

“I HAVE a Relation in Scotland (said Sophia to me as we left London) who I am certain would not hesitate in receiving me.” “Shall I order the Boy to drive there?” said I — but instantly recollecting myself, exclaimed, “Alas, I fear it will be too long a Journey for the Horses.” Unwilling, however, to act only from my own inadequate Knowledge of the Strength and Abilities of Horses, I consulted the Postilion, who was entirely of my Opinion concerning the Affair. We therefore determined to change Horses at the next Town and to travel Post the remainder of the Journey. — When we arrived at the last Inn we were to stop at, which was but a few miles from the House of Sophia’s Relation, unwilling to intrude our Society on him unexpected and unthought of, we wrote a very elegant and well penned Note to him containing an account of our Destitute and melancholy Situation, and of our intention to spend some months with him in Scotland. As soon as we had dispatched this Letter, we immediately prepared to follow it in person, and were stepping into the Carriage for that Purpose, when our Attention was attracted by the Entrance of a coroneted Coach and 4 into the Inn-yard. A Gentleman considerably advanced in years, descended from it. At his first Appearance my Sensibility was wonderfully affected, and e’er I had gazed at him a second time, an instinctive sympathy whispered to my Heart that he was my Grandfather. Convinced that I could not be mistaken in my conjecture, I instantly sprang from the Carriage I had just entered, and following the Venerable Stranger into the Room he had been shewn to, I threw myself on my knees before him and besought him to acknowledge me as his Grand-Child. He started, and after having attentively examined my features, raised me from the Ground, and throwing his Grand-fatherly arms around my Neck, exclaimed, “Acknowledge thee! Yes, dear resemblance of my Laurina and Laurina’s Daughter, sweet image of my Claudia and my Claudia’s Mother, I do acknowledge thee as the Daughter of the one and the Granddaughter of the other.” While he was thus tenderly embracing me, Sophia, astonished at my precipitate Departure, entered the Room in search of me. No sooner had she caught the eye of the venerable Peer, than he exclaimed with every mark of astonishment — “Another Granddaughter! Yes, yes, I see you are the Daughter of my Laurina’s eldest Girl; Your resemblance to the beauteous Matilda sufficiently proclaims it.” “Oh! replied Sophia, when I first beheld you, the instinct of Nature whispered me that we were in some degree related — But whether Grandfathers, or Grandmothers, I could not pretend to determine.” He folded her in his arms, and whilst they were tenderly embracing, the Door of the Apartment opened and a most beautifull Young Man appeared. On perceiving him, Lord St. Clair started, and retreating back a few paces, with uplifted Hands, said, “Another Grand-child! What an unexpected Happiness is this! to discover in the space of 3 minutes, as many of my Descendants! This, I am certain, is Philander the son of my Laurina’s 3d Girl, the amiable Bertha; there wants now but the presence of Gustavus to compleat the Union of my Laurina’s Grand-Children.”

“And here he is; (said a Gracefull Youth who that instant entered the room) here is the Gustavus you desire to see. I am the son of Agatha, your Laurina’s 4th and Youngest Daughter.” “I see you are indeed; replied Lord St. Clair — But tell me (continued he, looking fearfully towards the Door) tell me, have I any other Grand-children in the House.” “None my Lord.” “Then I will provide for you all without farther delay — Here are 4 Banknotes of £50 each — Take them and remember I have done the Duty of a Grandfather.” He instantly left the Room and immediately afterwards the House.


Letter the 12th
Laura in continuation

You may imagine how greatly we were surprised by the sudden departure of Lord St. Clair. “Ignoble Grand-sire!” exclaimed Sophia; “Unworthy Grandfather!” said I, and instantly fainted in each other’s arms. How long we remained in this situation, I know not; but when we recovered we found ourselves alone, without either Gustavus, Philander, or the Banknotes. As we were deploring our unhappy fate, the Door of the Apartment opened and “Macdonald” was announced. He was Sophia’s cousin. The haste with which he came to our releif so soon after the receipt of our Note, spoke so greatly in his favour that I hesitated not to pronounce him at first sight, a tender and simpathetic Freind. Alas! he little deserved the name — for though he told us that he was much concerned at our Misfortunes, yet by his own account it appeared that the perusal of them, had neither drawn from him a single sigh, nor induced him to bestow one curse on our vindictive Stars. — He told Sophia that his Daughter depended on her returning with him to Macdonald-Hall, and that as his Cousin’s freind he should be happy to see me there also. To Macdonald-Hall, therefore, we went, and were received with great kindness by Janetta, the Daughter of Macdonald and the Mistress of the Mansion. Janetta was then only fifteen; naturally well disposed, endowed with a susceptible Heart, and a simpathetic Disposition, she might, had these amiable qualities been properly encouraged, have been an ornament to human Nature; but unfortunately her Father possessed not a soul sufficiently exalted to admire so promising a Disposition, and had endeavoured by every means in his power to prevent its encreasing with her Years. He had actually so far extinguished the natural noble Sensibility of her Heart, as to prevail on her to accept an offer from a young Man of his Recommendation. They were to be married in a few Months, and Graham was in the House when we arrived. We soon saw through his character. He was just such a Man as one might have expected to be the choice of Macdonald. They said he was Sensible, well-informed, and Agreeable; we did not pretend to Judge of such trifles, but as we were convinced he had no soul, that he had never read The Sorrows of Werter, and that his Hair bore not the least resemblance to auburn, we were certain that Janetta could feel no affection for him, or at least that she ought to feel none. The very circumstance of his being her father’s choice too, was so much in his disfavour, that had he been deserving her in every other respect, yet that of itself ought to have been a sufficient reason in the Eyes of Janetta for rejecting him. These considerations we were determined to represent to her in their proper light, and doubted not of meeting with the desired success from one naturally so well disposed; whose errors in the affair had only arisen from a want of proper confidence in her own opinion, and a suitable contempt of her father’s. We found her, indeed, all that our warmest wishes could have hoped for; we had no difficulty to convince her that it was impossible she could love Graham, or that it was her Duty to disobey her Father; the only thing at which she rather seemed to hesitate, was our assertion that she must be attached to some other Person. For some time, she persevered in declaring that she knew no other Young Man for whom she had the smallest Affection; but upon explaining the impossibility of such a thing, she said that she beleived she did like Captain M’Kenzie better than any one she knew besides. This confession satisfied us, and after having enumerated the good Qualities of M’Kenzie, and assured her that she was violently in love with him, we desired to know whether he had ever in any wise declared his affection to her.

“So far from having ever declared it, I have no reason to imagine that he has ever felt any for me.” said Janetta. “That he certainly adores you (replied Sophia) there can be no doubt. — The Attachment must be reciprocal. Did he never gaze on you with Admiration — tenderly press your hand — drop an involuntary tear — and leave the room abruptly?” “Never (replied she) that I remember — he has always left the room indeed when his visit has been ended, but has never gone away particularly abruptly or without making a bow.” “Indeed my Love (said I) you must be mistaken — for it is absolutely impossible that he should ever have left you but with Confusion, Despair, and Precipitation. Consider but for a moment, Janetta, and you must be convinced how absurd it is to suppose that he could ever make a Bow, or behave like any other Person.” Having settled this Point to our satisfaction, the next we took into consideration was, to determine in what manner we should inform M’Kenzie of the favourable Opinion Janetta entertained of him… We at length agreed to acquaint him with it by an anonymous Letter which Sophia drew up in the following manner.

“Oh! happy Lover of the beautifull Janetta, oh! enviable possessor of her Heart whose hand is destined to another, why do you thus delay a confession of your attachment to the amiable Object of it? Oh! consider that a few weeks will at once put an end to every flattering Hope that you may now entertain, by uniting the unfortunate Victim of her father’s Cruelty to the execrable and detested Graham.”

“Alas! why do you thus so cruelly connive at the projected Misery of her and of yourself by delaying to communicate that scheme which had doubtless long possessed your imagination? A secret Union will at once secure the felicity of both.”

The amiable M’Kenzie, whose modesty, as he afterwards assured us, had been the only reason of his having so long concealed the violence of his affection for Janetta, on receiving this Billet flew on the wings of Love to Macdonald Hall, and so powerfully pleaded his Attachment to her who inspired it, that after a few more private interveiws, Sophia and I experienced the satisfaction of seeing them depart for Gretna-Green, which they chose for the celebration of their Nuptials, in preference to any other place, although it was at a considerable distance from Macdonald-Hall.


Letter the 13th
Laura in continuation

THEY had been gone nearly a couple of Hours, before either Macdonald or Graham had entertained any suspicion of the affair. And they might not even then have suspected it, but for the following little Accident. Sophia, happening one day to open a private Drawer in Macdonald’s Library with one of her own keys, discovered that it was the Place where he kept his Papers of consequence, and amongst them some bank notes of considerable amount. This discovery she imparted to me; and having agreed together that it would be a proper treatment of so vile a Wretch as Macdonald to deprive him of Money, perhaps dishonestly gained, it was determined that the next time we should either of us happen to go that way, we would take one or more of the Bank notes from the drawer. This well-meant Plan we had often successfully put in Execution; but alas! on the very day of Janetta’s Escape, as Sophia was majestically removing the 5th Bank-note from the Drawer to her own purse, she was suddenly most impertinently interrupted in her employment by the entrance of Macdonald himself, in a most abrupt and precipitate Manner. Sophia (who though naturally all winning sweetness could, when occasions demanded it, call forth the Dignity of her sex) instantly put on a most forbidding look, and darting an angry frown on the undaunted Culprit, demanded in a haughty tone of voice “Wherefore her retirement was thus insolently broken in on?” The unblushing Macdonald, without even endeavouring to exculpate himself from the crime he was charged with, meanly endeavoured to reproach Sophia with ignobly defrauding him of his Money… The dignity of Sophia was wounded; “Wretch (exclaimed she, hastily replacing the Bank-note in the Drawer) how darest thou to accuse me of an Act, of which the bare idea makes me blush?” The base wretch was still unconvinced and continued to upbraid the justly-offended Sophia in such opprobrious Language, that at length he so greatly provoked the gentle sweetness of her Nature, as to induce her to revenge herself on him by informing him of Janetta’s Elopement, and of the active Part we had both taken in the Affair. At this period of their Quarrel I entered the Library and was, as you may imagine, equally offended as Sophia at the ill-grounded Accusations of the malevolent and contemptible Macdonald. “Base Miscreant! (cried I) how canst thou thus undauntedly endeavour to sully the spotless reputation of such bright Excellence? Why dost thou not suspect my innocence as soon?” “Be satisfied Madam (replied he) I do suspect it, and therefore must desire that you will both leave this House in less than half an hour.”

“We shall go willingly; (answered Sophia) our hearts have long detested thee, and nothing but our freindship for thy Daughter could have induced us to remain so long beneath thy roof.”

“Your Freindship for my Daughter has indeed been most powerfully exerted by throwing her into the arms of an unprincipled Fortune-hunter” (replied he).

“Yes, (exclaimed I) amidst every misfortune, it will afford us some consolation to reflect that by this one act of Freindship to Janetta, we have amply discharged every obligation that we have received from her father.”

“It must indeed be a most gratefull reflection, to your exalted minds” (said he).

As soon as we had packed up our wardrobe and valuables, we left Macdonald Hall, and after having walked about a mile and a half, we sat down by the side of a clear limpid stream to refresh our exhausted limbs. The place was suited to meditation. A grove of full-grown Elms sheltered us from the East. — A Bed of full-grown Nettles from the West. — Before us ran the murmuring brook and behind us ran the turn-pike road. We were in a mood for contemplation and in a Disposition to enjoy so beautifull a spot. A mutual silence which had for some time reigned between us, was at length broke by my exclaiming — “What a lovely Scene! Alas why are not Edward and Augustus here to enjoy its Beauties with us?”

“Ah! my beloved Laura (cried Sophia) for pity’s sake forbear recalling to my remembrance the unhappy situation of my imprisoned Husband. Alas, what would I not give to learn the fate of my Augustus! to know if he is still in Newgate, or if he is yet hung. But never shall I be able so far to conquer my tender sensibility as to enquire after him. Oh! do not, I beseech you ever, let me again hear you repeat his beloved name. — It affects me too deeply. — I cannot bear to hear him mentioned, it wounds my feelings.”

“Excuse me my Sophia for having thus unwillingly offended you –” replied I — and then changing the conversation, desired her to admire the noble Grandeur of the Elms which sheltered us from the Eastern Zephyr.” Alas! my Laura (returned she) avoid so melancholy a subject, I intreat you. Do not again wound my Sensibility by observations on those elms. They remind me of Augustus. He was like them, tall, magestic — he possessed that noble grandeur which you admire in them.”

I was silent, fearfull lest I might any more unwillingly distress her by fixing on any other subject of conversation which might again remind her of Augustus.

“Why do you not speak my Laura?” (said she after a short pause) “I cannot support this silence — you must not leave me to my own reflections; they ever recur to Augustus.”

“What a beautifull sky! (said I) How charmingly is the azure varied by those delicate streaks of white!”

“Oh! my Laura (replied she, hastily withdrawing her Eyes from a momentary glance at the sky) do not thus distress me by calling my Attention to an object which so cruelly reminds me of my Augustus’s blue satin Waistcoat striped with white! In pity to your unhappy freind, avoid a subject so distressing.” What could I do? The feelings of Sophia were at that time so exquisite, and the tenderness she felt for Augustus so poignant that I had not power to start any other topic, justly fearing that it might in some unforseen manner again awaken all her sensibility by directing her thoughts to her Husband. Yet to be silent would be cruel; she had intreated me to talk.

From this Dilemma I was most fortunately releived by an accident truly apropos; it was the lucky overturning of a Gentleman’s Phaeton, on the road which ran murmuring behind us. It was a most fortunate accident as it diverted the attention of Sophia from the melancholy reflections which she had been before indulging. We instantly quitted our seats and ran to the rescue of those who but a few moments before had been in so elevated a situation as a fashionably high Phaeton, but who were now laid low and sprawling in the Dust. “What an ample subject for reflection on the uncertain Enjoyments of this World, would not that Phaeton and the Life of Cardinal Wolsey afford a thinking Mind!” said I to Sophia as we were hastening to the field of Action.

She had not time to answer me, for every thought was now engaged by the horrid Spectacle before us. Two Gentlemen most elegantly attired, but weltering in their blood, was what first struck our Eyes — we approached — they were Edward and Augustus. — Yes dearest Marianne they were our Husbands. Sophia shreiked and fainted on the Ground — I screamed and instantly ran mad. — We remained thus mutually deprived of our Senses some minutes, and on regaining them were deprived of them again. For an Hour and a Quarter did we continue in this unfortunate Situation — Sophia fainting every moment and I running Mad as often. At length a groan from the hapless Edward (who alone retained any share of Life) restored us to ourselves. Had we indeed before imagined that either of them lived, we should have been more sparing of our Greif — but as we had supposed when we first beheld them that they were no more, we knew that nothing could remain to be done but what we were about. No sooner, therefore, did we hear my Edward’s groan than postponing our Lamentations for the present, we hastily ran to the Dear Youth and kneeling on each side of him implored him not to die. — “Laura (said He, fixing his now languid Eyes on me) I fear I have been overturned.”

I was overjoyed to find him yet sensible.

“Oh! tell me Edward (said I) tell me, I beseech you, before you die, what has befallen you since that unhappy Day in which Augustus was arrested and we were separated –“

“I will” (said he) and instantly fetching a deep sigh, Expired. — Sophia immediately sunk again into a swoon. — My greif was more audible. My Voice faltered, My Eyes assumed a vacant stare, my face became as pale as Death, and my Senses were considerably impaired. —

“Talk not to me of Phaetons (said I, raving in a frantic, incoherent manner) — Give me a violin. — I’ll play to him and sooth him in his melancholy Hours — Beware ye gentle Nymphs of Cupid’s Thunderbolts, avoid the piercing Shafts of Jupiter — Look at that Grove of Firs — I see a Leg of Mutton — They told me Edward was not Dead; but they deceived me — they took him for a Cucumber –” Thus I continued wildly exclaiming on my Edward’s Death. — For two Hours did I rave thus madly and should not then have left off, as I was not in the least fatigued, had not Sophia who was just recovered from her swoon, intreated me to consider that Night was now approaching and that the Damps began to fall. “And whither shall we go (said I) to shelter us from either?” “To that white Cottage” (replied she pointing to a neat Building which rose up amidst the grove of Elms, and which I had not before observed). — I agreed and we instantly walked to it — we knocked at the door — it was opened by an old Woman; on being requested to afford us a Night’s Lodging, she informed us that her House was but small, that she had only two Bedrooms, but that However we should be wellcome to one of them. We were satisfied and followed the good Woman into the House, where we were greatly cheered by the sight of a comfortable fire. — She was a Widow and had only one Daughter, who was then just seventeen — One of the best of ages; but alas! she was very plain and her name was Bridget… Nothing, therefore, could be expected from her — she could not be supposed to possess either exalted Ideas, Delicate Feelings or refined Sensibilities. — She was nothing more than a mere good-tempered, civil and obliging Young Woman; as such we could scarcely dislike her — she was only an Object of Contempt. —


Letter the 14th
Laura in continuation

ARM yourself, my amiable Young Freind, with all the philosophy you are Mistress of; summon up all the fortitude you possess, for alas! in the perusal of the following Pages your sensibility will be most severely tried. Ah! what were the Misfortunes I had before experienced, and which I have already related to you, to the one I am now going to inform you of. The Death of my Father, my Mother, and my Husband, though almost more than my gentle Nature could support, were trifles in comparison to the misfortune I am now proceeding to relate. The morning after our arrival at the Cottage, Sophia complained of a violent pain in her delicate limbs, accompanied with a disagreeable Head-ake. She attributed it to a cold caught by her continued faintings in the open air as the Dew was falling the Evening before. This, I feared, was but too probably the case; since how could it be otherwise accounted for that I should have escaped the same indisposition, but by supposing that the bodily Exertions I had undergone in my repeated fits of frenzy had so effectually circulated and warmed my Blood as to make me proof against the chilling Damps of Night, whereas Sophia, lying totally inactive on the Ground, must have been exposed to all their Severity. I was most seriously alarmed by her illness which, trifling as it may appear to you, a certain instinctive Sensibility whispered me, would in the End be fatal to her.

Alas! my fears were but too fully justified; she grew gradually worse — and I daily became more alarmed for her. At length she was obliged to confine herself solely to the Bed allotted us by our worthy Landlady. — Her disorder turned to a galloping Consumption and in a few Days carried her off. Amidst all my Lamentations for her (and violent you may suppose they were) I yet received some consolation in the reflection of my having paid every Attention to her that could be offered, in her illness. I had wept over her every Day — had bathed her sweet face with my tears and had pressed her fair Hands continually in mine. — “My beloved Laura (said she to me a few Hours before she died) take warning from my unhappy End and avoid the imprudent conduct which had occasioned it… Beware of fainting-fits… Though at the time they may be refreshing and agreeable, yet beleive me they will in the end, if too often repeated and at improper seasons, prove destructive to your Constitution… My fate will teach you this… I die a Martyr to my greif for the loss of Augustus… One fatal swoon has cost me my Life… Beware of swoons, Dear Laura… A frenzy fit is not one quarter so pernicious; it is an exercise to the Body and if not too violent, is, I dare say, conducive to Health in its consequences — Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint –“

These were the last words she ever addressed to me… It was her dieing Advice to her afflicted Laura, who has ever most faithfully adhered to it.

After having attended my lamented freind to her Early Grave, I immediately (tho’ late at night) left the detested Village in which she died, and near which had expired my Husband and Augustus. I had not walked many yards from it before I was overtaken by a Stage-coach, in which I instantly took a place, determined to proceed in it to Edinburgh, where I hoped to find some kind some pitying Freind who would receive and comfort me in my afflictions.

It was so dark when I entered the Coach that I could not distinguish the Number of my Fellow-travellers; I could only perceive that they were Many. Regardless, however, of anything concerning them, I gave myself up to my own sad Reflections. A general silence prevailed — A silence, which was by nothing interrupted, but by the loud and repeated snores of one of the Party.

“What an illiterate villain must that Man be! (thought I to myself) What a total want of delicate refinement must he have, who can thus shock our senses by such a brutal Noise! He must, I am certain, be capable of every bad action! There is no crime too black for such a Character!” Thus reasoned I within myself, and doubtless such were the reflections of my fellow travellers.

At length, returning Day enabled me to behold the unprincipled Scoundrel who had so violently disturbed my feelings. It was Sir Edward, the father of my Deceased Husband. By his side sat Augusta, and on the same seat with me were your Mother and Lady Dorothea. Imagine my Surprise at finding myself thus seated amongst my old Acquaintance. Great as was my astonishment, it was yet increased, when on looking out of Windows, I beheld the Husband of Philippa, with Philippa by his side, on the Coachbox, and when on looking behind I beheld, Philander and Gustavus in the Basket. “Oh! Heavens, (exclaimed I) is it possible that I should so unexpectedly be surrounded by my nearest Relations and Connections?” These words rouzed the rest of the Party, and every eye was directed to the corner in which I sat. “Oh! my Isabel (continued I, throwing myself across Lady Dorothea into her arms) receive once more to your Bosom the unfortunate Laura. Alas! when we last parted in the Vale of Usk, I was happy in being united to the best of Edwards; I had then a Father and a Mother, and had never known misfortunes — But now, deprived of every freind but you –“

“What! (interrupted Augusta) is my Brother dead, then? Tell us, I intreat you, what is become of him?” “Yes, cold and insensible Nymph, (replied I) that luckless Swain your Brother, is no more, and you may now glory in being the Heiress of Sir Edward’s fortune.”

Although I had always despised her from the Day I had overheard her conversation with my Edward, yet in civility I complied with hers and Sir Edward’s intreaties that I would inform them of the whole melancholy Affair. They were greatly shocked — even the obdurate Heart of Sir Edward and the insensible one of Augusta, were touched with Sorrow by the unhappy tale. At the request of your Mother, I related to them every other misfortune which had befallen me since we parted. Of the imprisonment of Augustus and the absence of Edward — of our arrival in Scotland — of our unexpected Meeting with our Grandfather and our cousins — of our visit to Macdonald-Hall — of the singular Service we there performed towards Janetta — of her Father’s ingratitude for it… of his inhuman Behaviour, unaccountable suspicions, and barbarous treatment of us, in obliging us to leave the House… of our Lamentations on the loss of Edward and Augustus, and finally, of the melancholy Death of my beloved Companion.

Pity and surprise were strongly depictured in your Mother’s Countenance, during the whole of my narration, but I am sorry to say, that to the eternal reproach of her Sensibility, the latter infinitely predominated. Nay, faultless as my Conduct had certainly been during the whole course of my late Misfortunes and Adventures, she pretended to find fault with my Behaviour in many of the situations in which I had been placed. As I was sensible myself that I had always behaved in a manner which reflected Honour on my Feelings and Refinement, I paid little attention to what she said, and desired her to satisfy my Curiosity by informing me how she came there, instead of wounding my spotless reputation with unjustifiable Reproaches. As soon as she had complyed with my wishes in this particular and had given me an accurate detail of every thing that had befallen her since our separation (the particulars of which, if you are not already acquainted with, your Mother will give you) I applied to Augusta for the same information respecting herself, Sir Edward, and Lady Dorothea.

She told me that having a considerable taste for the Beauties of Nature, her curiosity to behold the delightful scenes it exhibited in that part of the World had been so much raised by Gilpin’s Tour to the Highlands, that she had prevailed on her Father to undertake a Tour to Scotland and had persuaded Lady Dorothea to accompany them. That they had arrived at Edinburgh a few Days before, and from thence had made daily Excursions into the Country around in the Stage Coach they were then in, from one of which Excursions they were at that time returning. My next enquiries were concerning Philippa and her Husband, the latter of whom, I learned, having spent all her fortune, had recourse for subsistance to the talent in which, he had always most excelled, namely, Driving, and that having sold every thing which belonged to them except their Coach, had converted it into a Stage, and in order to be removed from any of his former Acquaintance, had driven it to Edinburgh, from whence he went to Sterling every other Day; That Philippa, still retaining her affection for her ungratefull Husband, had followed him to Scotland and generally accompanied him in his little Excursions to Sterling. “It has only been to throw a little money into their Pockets (continued Augusta) that my Father has always travelled in their Coach to veiw the beauties of the Country since our arrival in Scotland — for it would certainly have been much more agreeable to us to visit the Highlands in a Postchaise, than merely to travel from Edinburgh to Sterling and from Sterling to Edinburgh every other Day in a crouded and uncomfortable Stage.” I perfectly agreed with her in her sentiments on the Affair, and secretly blamed Sir Edward for thus sacrificing his Daughter’s Pleasure for the sake of a ridiculous old woman, whose folly in marrying so young a man ought to be punished. His Behaviour, however, was entirely of a peice with his general Character; for what could be expected from a man who possessed not the smallest atom of Sensibility, who scarcely knew the meaning of Simpathy, and who actually snored. —


Letter the 15th
Laura in continuation

WHEN we arrived at the town where we were to Breakfast, I was determined to speak with Philander and Gustavus, and to that purpose, as soon as I left the Carriage, I went to the Basket and tenderly enquired after their Health, expressing my fears of the uneasiness of their situation. At first they seemed rather confused at my Appearance, dreading no doubt that I might call them to account for the money which our Grandfather had left me, and which they had unjustly deprived me of, but finding that I mentioned nothing of the Matter, they desired me to step into the Basket, as we might there converse with greater ease. Accordingly I entered, and whilst the rest of the party were devouring green tea and buttered toast, we feasted ourselves in a more refined and sentimental Manner by a confidential Conversation. I informed them of every thing which had befallen me during the course of my life, and at my request they related to me every incident of theirs.

“We are the sons, as you already know, of the two youngest Daughters which Lord St. Clair had by Laurina, an Italian opera girl. Our mothers could neither of them exactly ascertain who were our Fathers, though it is generally beleived that Philander is the son of one Philip Jones, a Bricklayer, and that my Father was Gregory Staves, a Staymaker of Edinburgh. This is, however, of little consequence, for as our Mothers were certainly never married to either of them, it reflects no Dishonour on our Blood, which is of a most ancient and unpolluted kind. Bertha (the Mother of Philander) and Agatha (my own Mother) always lived together. They were neither of them very rich; their united fortunes had originally amounted to nine thousand Pounds, but as they had always lived upon the principal of it, when we were fifteen it was diminished to nine Hundred. This nine Hundred, they always kept in a Drawer in one of the Tables which stood in our common sitting Parlour, for the convenience of having it always at Hand. Whether it was from this circumstance, of its being easily taken, or from a wish of being independant, or from an excess of Sensibility (for which we were always remarkable), I cannot now determine, but certain it is that when we had reached our 15th year, we took the Nine Hundred Pounds and ran away. Having obtained this prize, we were determined to manage it with eoconomy and not to spend it either with folly or Extravagance. To this purpose, we therefore divided it into nine parcels, one of which we devoted to Victuals, the 2d to Drink, the 3d to Housekeeping, the 4th to Carriages, the 5th to Horses, the 6th to Servants, the 7th to Amusements the 8th to Cloathes and the 9th to Silver Buckles. Having thus arranged our Expences for two months (for we expected to make the nine Hundred Pounds last as long), we hastened to London, and had the good luck to spend it in 7 weeks and a Day, which was 6 Days sooner than we had intended. As soon as we had thus happily disencumbered ourselves from the weight of so much Money, we began to think of returning to our Mothers, but accidentally hearing that they were both starved to Death, we gave over the design and determined to engage ourselves to some strolling Company of Players, as we had always a turn for the Stage. Accordingly we offered our Services to one and were accepted; our Company was indeed rather small, as it consisted only of the Manager, his wife, and ourselves, but there were fewer to pay and the only inconvenience attending it was the Scarcity of Plays which, for want of People to fill the Characters, we could perform. We did not mind trifles, however. — One of our most admired Performances was Macbeth, in which we were truly great. The Manager always played Banquo himself, his Wife my Lady Macbeth. I did the Three Witches and Philander acted all the rest. To say the truth, this tragedy was not only the Best, but the only Play we ever performed; and after having acted it all over England and Wales, we came to Scotland to exhibit it over the remainder of Great Britain. We happened to be quartered in that very Town, where you came and met your Grandfather. — We were in the Inn-yard when his Carriage entered and perceiving by the Arms to whom it belonged, and knowing that Lord St. Clair was our Grandfather, we agreed to endeavour to get something from him by discovering the Relationship. — You know how well it succeeded. — Having obtained the two Hundred Pounds, we instantly left the Town, leaving our Manager and his Wife to act Macbeth by themselves, and took the road to Sterling, where we spent our little fortune with great éclat. We are now returning to Edinburgh in order to get some preferment in the Acting way; and such, my Dear Cousin, is our History.”

I thanked the amiable Youth for his entertaining Narration, and after expressing my Wishes for their Welfare and Happiness, left them in their little Habitation and returned to my other Freinds who impatiently expected me.

My adventures are now drawing to a close my dearest Marianne; at least for the present.

When we arrived at Edinburgh Sir Edward told me that as the Widow of his Son, he desired I would accept from his Hands of four Hundred a year. I graciously promised that I would, but could not help observing that the unsimpathetic Baronet offered it more on account of my being the Widow of Edward than in being the refined and amiable Laura.

I took up my Residence in a romantic Village in the Highlands of Scotland where I have ever since continued, and where I can, uninterrupted by unmeaning Visits, indulge in a melancholy solitude my unceasing Lamentations for the Death of my Father, my Mother, my Husband, and my Freind.

Augusta has been for several Years united to Graham, the Man of all others most suited to her; she became acquainted with him during her stay in Scotland.

Sir Edward, in hopes of gaining an Heir to his Title and Estate, at the same time married Lady Dorothea. — His wishes have been answered.

Philander and Gustavus, after having raised their reputation by their Performances in the Theatrical Line at Edinburgh, removed to Covent Garden, where they still Exhibit under the assumed names of Lewis and Quick.

Philippa has long paid the Debt of Nature; Her Husband, however, still continues to drive the Stage-Coach from Edinburgh to Sterling: —

Adeiu, my Dearest Marianne.


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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 Hell, the Celtic “underworld” was a place of light and feasting, much more akin to the Christian ideal of Heaven.

Charles Smith's maligned 1815 rendering of a Druid Priest As it was also the close of the year, the bonfire, kindled by the priests served an extra purpose. Each villager would let their hearth fire die out that night to be lit afresh by embers from the bonfire, symbolizing a new year and hope for prosperity. During the night of spooks and ghosts, homes would be lit by rustic lanterns carved from turnips (known early on as neeps) beets and rutabagas. Pumpkins would be used later, as they were brought to Europe from the New World in the 17th century. These flickering lights were set out in hopes of welcoming home friendly souls and chasing away the evil spirits who wandered that night.

Another important part of the celebration’s revelries included lawlessness and mischief. It was during this time that rules were lifted and pranksters were given a free hand. Cows would be found it far off fields, gates unhinged, women dressed in men’s clothing and servants ruled their masters.

When the Romans conquered Britain in AD 43 they drove the Celts to Scotland and Ireland, building Hadrian’s Wall across Britannia in order to protect their settlements from raiders, officially dividing the two countries. Though they brought with them their own polytheistic religion, they were not above incorporating the holidays already in place in the land, adding a celebration to their goddess of fruit trees, Pomona, to the revelries, forever linking apples and feasting to Halloween.

The result of the Roman invasion and subsequent adoption of the Julian Calendar, which moved New Year’s Day to January 1st, was that for some, the entire period between October 31st (the Old New Year) and January 1st became a time when Ghosts were free to wander the earth and meddle in the affairs of mortals. It was with this in mind that, in 1843, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol as a ghost story. A vivid picture of this kind of noctunral wandering can be found in Ebenezer Scrooge’s first meeting Marley’s Ghost. “The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley’s Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door-step. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.”

Such was the power of tradition begun by the Druids. With the spread of Christianity in the 7th-10th centuries came the desire by the church to wipe out pagan rituals and holidays and replace them with festivals of Christian significance. Accordingly, Pope Gregory III (731–741) moved All Saints Day (originally celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost, signaling the official end of Easter) from May to November 1, followed by All Souls Day on November 2. All Saints Day, which involves a vigil kept the night before (October 31) was set aside to commemorate all saints two numerous to be given their own feast day. With the far reaching influence of the Catholic church, the day was soon celebrated across Europe and later the Americas.

All Souls day became a day for celebrating the memory of the dead, whose souls were still in purgatory. Beggars would traipse from door to door pleading “soul cakes” from each home in return for prayers made for their relatives. This connection with the departed tied the holiday once again to the earlier festival of Samhain. The new name, Halloween came from the Christian Festival. As a night of vigil, the 31st was a “Hallowed Evening”, shortened to Hallowe’en and then Halloween. It was also known as Hallowmas, a begging holiday, as mentioned in Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona when Speed accuses his master of “puling (whimpering and whining) like a beggar at Hallowmas.”

In 1605, a group of Catholic rebels planned to blow up Parliament in the now famous Gun Powder Plot. The plan was discovered and on November 5, key insurgent Guy Fawkes was arrested. Though he was later executed for treason, the day of his arrest became a holiday and the bonfires which once burned on October 31st were now lit on November 5th. Guy Fawkes Day became a time of revelry and mischief. Though “souling” had since died out, children would often beg pennies off of passing adults in order to buy fireworks for the night’s illuminations, keeping alive the tradition of ritual begging.

Later, under the puritanical rule of Oliver Cromwell, Halloween, as well as most other holidays and feast days were abolished. For many years there had been a push to eradicate witches, with whom the festival was especially popular, and even cats who were seen as their familiars (a spirit guide who takes the form of an animal) This destruction of cats may have actually hastened the spread of the Bubonic Plague (Black Death) in which is spread by rats and fleas. The London outbreak in 1665-1666 killed between 75,000 and 100,000 people—one fifth of the city’s population.

The Celts who populated Scotland and Ireland, however, were loathe to relinquish their old ways in favor of Christian feast days or lack there of. Instead, they incorporated these new rites into the old celebration. It is clear from Scottish poet Robert Burns’ 1786 work, Halloween, that by Georgian times, the holiday was still alive and well, with much of its superstitious symbolism intact. The poem describes the tricks (such as eating an apple in front of a mirror in hopes of seeing your beloved) and treats (Flummery and Barmbrack) of the season to which most Scots or Irishmen would have been familiar.

The extended Regency was an era fascinated by the mysterious and horrible. Frightening gothic romances, such as The Mysteries of Udolpho, were being written and were read by all. Some of the more familiar icons of modern Halloween such as Frankenstein (1816) and The Headless Horseman (brought to life in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, 1820) were created during this era.

Jane Austen, an avid reader with a taste for novels was no doubt familiar many of these gothic masterpieces as well as with the work of Robert Burns. She would have been aware of these celebrations and divination rites; however, as the daughter of an Anglican clergyman, it is doubtful that she would have partaken in such goings on. Surely, growing up in a houseful of boys, she would have celebrated with a bonfire on Guy Fawkes night, but we nowhere find that she dabbled in any of the occultic practices of the more ancient holidays still celebrated by the local villages. She mentions neither of these holidays or her feelings towards them. The trappings of Halloween which we now so regularly employ would have been foreign to her, even if their roots lay deep in the English history, of which she was so fond.

Halloween was brought to the United States by Irish settlers in the 1840’s where it was eventually embraced by all nationalities. In 1915, the Boy Scouts of America scheduled the first “trick-or-treating” as a way of discouraging damaging mischief, but it was not until 1938 that the term actually appeared in print. As each decade since has passed, costumes, parties and decorations have become more elaborate finally evolving into a multimillion dollar industry replete with specially wrapped candies, ornate costumes and a fascination with all that is frightening and evil.

This lack of evidence supporting a universal celebration of Halloween in Georgian and Regency England has not stopped numerous authors from sliding it into their works. There are many “Regency” inspired novels now in print which employ elements of the various superstitions of the holiday as well known fact, some employing the paranormal, and others playing off the themes of Harvest and plenty.


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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 be noted that not all game (as defined by the Game Act 1831) have the same start to their open seasons – most begin on September 1, with October 1 for Woodcock and Pheasant.

Hunting was formerly a royal sport, and to an extent still is, with many Kings and Queens being involved in hunting and shooting, including King Edward VII, King George V (who on 18 December 1913 shot over a thousand pheasants out of a total bag of 3937), King George VI and the present day Prince Phillip, although Queen Elizabeth II does not shoot. Shooting on the large estates of Scotland was particularly popular. This trend is generally attributed to the Victorians who were inspired by the romantic imagery of the Scottish Highlands.

Part of the reason sport hunting was considered a past time for the wealthy was the sheer space required to conduct a successful run. If one did not have the means to own or maintain a country estate or “Grouse Moor” in Scotland, their next best hope was to be invited to join a shooting party at the home of some acquaintance or other. Endless rounds of house parties were an expected part of fall and winter entertainment. Hunting on someone else’s land was considered poaching (theft), the the penalties for such activities were severe, sometimes resulting in deportation or even hanging.

Are you going near Camden Place? Because, if you are, I shall have no scruple in asking you to take my place, and give Anne your arm to her father’s door. She is rather done for this morning, and must not go so far without help, and I ought to be at that fellow’s in the Market Place. He promised me the sight of a capital gun he is just going to send off; said he would keep it unpacked to the last possible moment, that I might see it; and if I do not turn back now, I have no chance. By his description, a good deal like the second size double-barrel of mine, which you shot with one day round Winthrop.”

During the Regency, game birds were shot in different ways, though Driven Game shooting was popular on larger estates. Here, where beaters are employed to drive game towards a line of standing guns through woods and over moors or fields, dependent on the quarry and time of year. The total bag (number of birds shot) will be anywhere between 80 and 300, again dependent on quarry etc. The day will be very formal, and gamekeepers or a shoot captain will oversee proceedings. Pickers-up are also employed to make sure all shot game is collected. On such estates, large numbers of pheasants, partridge and duck, but not grouse, may be released to maintain numbers.

Shotguns (also known as a fowling piece or scattergun) were improved during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and game shooting became more popular. To protect the pheasants for the shooters, gamekeepers culled vermin such as foxes, magpies and birds of prey almost to extirpation in popular areas, and landowners improved their coverts and other habitats for game. Game Laws were relaxed in 1831 which meant anyone could obtain a permit to take rabbits, hares and gamebirds.

Fox Hunting
He told her of horses which he had bought for a trifle and sold for incredible sums; of racing matches, in which his judgment had infallibly foretold the winner; of shooting parties, in which he had killed more birds (though without having one good shot) than all his companions together; and described to her some famous day’s sport, with the fox-hounds, in which his foresight and skill in directing the dogs had repaired the mistakes of the most experienced huntsman, and in which the boldness of his riding, though it had never endangered his own life for a moment, had been constantly leading others into difficulties, which he calmly concluded had broken the necks of many.
Northanger Abbey

Fox hunting, or Riding to Hounds, as it was called, a sport most associated with Great Britain, was outlawed in 2005. This type of hunting was considered not only barbaric to the fox, but also caused considerable damage to area farmers as large groups of mounted hunters trampled field and forest in pursuit of their prey. The romantic image of scarlet clad hunters on horseback was actually a complicated hierarchy of huntsmen, hounds, their handlers (the Quorn) along with a variety of lookers on.

The earliest known attempt to hunt a fox with hounds was in Norfolk, in the East of England, in 1534, where farmers began chasing down foxes with their dogs as a form of pest control. Packs of hounds were first trained specifically to hunt foxes in the late 1600s, with the oldest such fox hunt likely to be the Bilsdale in Yorkshire. By the end of the seventeenth century, many organised packs were hunting both hare and fox.

Modern foxhunting is attributed to Hugo Meynell, Master of the Quorn Hunt between 1753 and 1800. Meynell was instrumental in the breeding of a new type of Fox hound. These faster dogs, allowed the hunt to begin later in the day, thus offering a broader appeal to the fashionable ladies and gentlemen who kept city hours, while in the country.

According to, Peculiar Privilege: A Social History of English Foxhunting, 1753-1885, November to March marked fox hunting season, starting after the fall of the leaf, when the fields lie fallow, and ending after the last frost, just before the first planting. The golden age for hunting in Leichesterchire is considered to be 1810 to 1830. During this time, there were as many as 300 hunters stabled in Melton Mowbray–with some gentlemen keeping up to 12 hunters. A gentleman could hunt six days a week with the Quorn, the Cottesmore, the Belvoir, and the Pytchley, and to do so would need at least two mounts every day to keep pace with the master and the pack of hounds.

Until the mid 1800’s (when the jumping pommel was invented for the side saddle) the sport of fox hunting remained purely masculine. Ladies were advised to “ride to the meet and home again to work up an appetite” and while many did choose to ride to the hunt, a few followed the hunt in their carriages, keeping to the roads and lanes rather than going cross-country. Grand picnics and “Hunt Balls” were often organized as a way of bringing a societal aspect to this otherwise male dominated sport.

Historical information from

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British Ballooning

British ballooning is born

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 Green near to the site Lunardi made his first stop is called Balloon Corner to this day to commemorate the landing.

The 24 mile flight brought Lunardi fame and began the British ballooning fad that inspired fashions of the day — Lunardi skirts were decorated with balloon styles, and in Scotland, the Lunardi Bonnet was named after him (balloon-shaped and standing some 600 mm tall), and is even mentioned by Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns (1759-96), in his poem ‘To a Louse’, written about a young woman called Jenny, who had a louse scampering in her Lunardi bonnet, “But Miss’s fine Lunardi, fye”.

In October the following year (in 1785), a large and excited crowd filled the grounds of George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh to see Lunardi’s first Scottish hydrogen-filled balloon take off. The 46 mile flight over the Firth of Forth ended at Coaltown of Callange in the parish of Ceres, Fife. There is today a plaque commemorating this feat of British ballooning nearby. At the time, The Scots Magazine reported:

‘The beauty and grandeur of the spectacle could only be exceeded by the cool, intrepid manner in which the adventurer conducted himself; and indeed he seemed infinitely more at ease than the greater part of his spectators.’

The Glasgow Mercury newspaper ran adverts the following month announcing Lunardi’s intention to ‘gratify the curiosity of the public of Glasgow, by ascending in his Grand Air Balloon from a conspicuous place in the city’.

Vincenzo made five flights in Scotland in his Grand Air Balloon — which was made of 140m² of green, pink and yellow silk, and which was exhibited, ‘suspended in its floating state’ in the choir of St. Mungo’s Cathedral in Glasgow for the admission charge of one shilling.

The weather was fine at about 14:00 on 23 November 1785 when The Daredevil Aeronaut ‘ascended into the atmosphere with majestic grandeur, to the astonishment and admiration of the spectators’ from St. Andrew’s Square in Glasgow. The two-hour flight covered 110 miles, and passed over Hamilton and Lanark before landing at the feet of ‘trembling shepherds’ in Hawick near the border with England.

A couple of weeks later, in early December, a local ‘character’ called Lothian Tam managed to get entangled in the ropes and as the balloon ascended — again from St. Andrew’s Square in Glasgow, Tam was lifted 6 metres before being cut loose and falling, with apparently no serious injury. The weather was worse on this flight — which had to end after just 20 minutes, with the Grand Balloon landing in Campsie Glen in Milton of Campsie — just over 10 miles from Glasgow. His landing, on 5 December 1785, is commemorated by a small plaque in the village.

However, the next flight on 20 December 1785, was a disaster. Seventy minutes after the ascent from the grounds of Heriot’s Hospital in Edinburgh, Lunardi was forced down in the sea. He spent a long time in the North Sea until rescued by a passing fishing boat which docked at North Berwick. The diary of the Rev John Mill from Shetland states:

‘A French man called Lunardi fled over the Firth of Forth in a Balloon, and lighted in Ceres parish, not far from Cupar, in Fife; and O! how much are the thoughtless multitude set on these and like foolish vanities to the neglect of the one thing needful. Afterwards, ’tis said, when soaring upwards in the foresaid machine, he was driven by the wind down the Firth of Forth, and tumbled down into the sea near the little Isle of May, where he had perished had not a boat been near who saved him and his machine.’

A short time later, (in 1786) Lunardi published An Account of five Aerial Voyages in Scotland in a Series of Letters to his Guardian, Gherardo Campagni.

Lunardi would subsequently also invent a life saving device for shipwrecked people. Called by the inventor his “acquatic machine” it was like a one man lifeboat with an oar for steering. He actually successfully tested the machine in 1787.

After his return to the continent Lunardi would make an assent by balloon near Mt. Vesuvius in September 1789. He also made the first successful ascent by balloon in Sicily in July 1790. It lasted two hours.

Lunardi never married. He died in Lisbon, Portugal in 1806.

A more in-depth history of ballooning can be found at, Flights of Fancy:
A short history, or overview, of British ballooning during the Georgian and Regency, eras: together with interesting eye-witness accounts, to which are added numerous woodcuts and descriptions of the various balloons
can be found at

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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