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D’Arcy Wentworth: Heroic Inspiration?


Jane Austen’s Aunt was once at risk of transportation to Botany Bay for shoplifting. It is piquant that Austen

named two of her major male characters Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice and Captain Wentworth in

Persuasion, because a leading inhabitant of New South Wales in those years was D’Arcy Wentworth,

disreputable but acknowledged kinsman of Lord Fitzwilliam. D’Arcy Wentworth’s career smacks more of Georgette Heyer

than Jane Austen, since he was a highwayman four times acquitted. Rather than push his luck further, he went, a

free man, as assistant surgeon with the Second Fleet in 1790. As a young teenager Jane Austen may have read about

him in the Times.

Remembered in Australian history, his origins somewhat fudged, as father of the better-known W.C. Wentworth, D’Arcy

turns out to be a complex and significant character. All his life he was an outsider. Born in Ireland in 1762, he

was the youngest son of a Protestant innkeeper whose family had come down in the world. D’Arcy qualified as an

assistant surgeon in London, but then gravitated to vice and crime; through flash arrogance, Ritchie thinks, rather

than a self-destructive urge.

Once in Australia, Wentworth spent his first six years on Norfolk Island, the margin of marginalised New South

Wales. Back in Sydney, he still seemed too raffish for intimacy with the New South Wales Corps clique, the

Macarthurs and their like. Because of his professional skills and an economic clout built up through trade, notably

in rum, Wentworth could not be ignored. Walking alone, he trod delicately through the feuds and alliances which

culminated in Governor Bligh’s overthrow in 1808.

Bligh had suspended Wentworth for allegedly using government prisoners on his own private projects; so it was not

surprising that Wentworth sided with Macarthur and the men of property who made the Rum Rebellion. But he did not

draw too close to them, and when Governor Macquarie arrived in 1810 Wentworth soon won favour with him.

By the end of 1810 the erstwhile outcast was principal surgeon, justice of the peace, commissioner for turnpike

roads, and superintendent of police — the last appointment beginning a venerable New South Wales tradition of

contentious appointments. Not surprisingly in one who learned his political ethics in eighteenth century Ireland,

Wentworth tended to be a lax and negligent administrator, happy to leave the work to subordinates while he got on

with the serious business of enriching himself. Except when his business interests brought out the bully in him he

was a humane justice who punished leniently. He weathered the criticisms following Commissioner Bigge’s reports in

the early 1820s. When a court of quarter session was set up in 1824 he would have been its chairman but for failing

health. Not bad for an ex-highwayman.

Success in the cut-throat business and factional politics of early New South Wales often depended on the quality of

aristocratic influence which could be brought to bear in London. Where Macarthur had to exert himself in courting

Lord Camden or Sir Joseph Banks, Wentworth had the inside running through his shadowy kinship with Lord

Fitzwilliam. In addition to direct patronage, Wentworth had access to the earl’s London agent, the long-suffering

and trustworthy Charles Cookney, who looked after commercial matters and fostered Wentworth’s sons when they were

sent to England for education.

These sons were the children of the convict Catherine Crowley, Wentworth’s common law wife until her death in 1800.

He never married, but through serial monogamy produced at least twelve children, the last born some months after

his death, aged sixty-five, in 1827. The eldest son, William Charles, was the apple of D’Arcy’s eye, and some of

Ritchie’s subtlest and most telling insights chart the changing relationship between father and son.

Where D’Arcy was cool, diplomatic, and rationally self-interested — a gentleman of the road, maybe, but still a

gentleman — William was roughshod, Byronic, and passionate. The father compartmentalised his life with almost

chilling efficiency. He never wrote to his Irish family and seldom allowed personal rancour to interfere with

business. In William’s character private and public motives fused stormily. He fought the Macarthurs not just

because they were powerful, but because they snubbed his courtship of their sister.
Geoffrey Bolton is Senior Scholar in Residence at Murdoch University. This article originally appeared in

The Australian Book Review (June, 1998) and is reprinted with their permission. Further information about the D’Arcy family can be found in The

Wentworths: Father and Son, by John Ritchie (ISBN: 1 522 84751 X).

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An Apt Analogy for the Declining Year

Anne Elliot accompanies her sister Mary, Charles, Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove and Captain Wentworth on a walk over the November fields, and finds the world of nature reflects her mood of melancholy resignation.

At some unspecified time after her sister’s death, Cassandra Austen took a pencil and wrote beside a certain passage in her own copy of Persuasion ” Dear, dear Jane! This deserves to be written in letters of gold”. And the sentence so singled out for attention reads “She had been forced into prudence in her youth, but she learnt romance as she grew older – the natural result of an unnatural beginning.”

Cassandra’s comment has sparked much fresh debate in its own right. What did she – or Jane – mean by that weasel word, “romance”? Originally it comes from the French roman, meaning work of fiction, and it remains the modern
French term for a novel. Today, we use the term loosely to mean any aspect of the perennial quest for a partner. The romantic novel, dealing with the game of love, traditionally ends after several reversals with blissful union – or else an equally satisfying grand tragedy. So can we call Jane Austen a “romantic” writer in our modern sense of the word? Well, yes. The fuel that drives her plots is what publishes call the “love interest”. And for all her rationality, all her sharpness, she remains essentially an optimist. In her shrewd analysis of the middle-class marriage market of her day, the novels close with wedding bells – sounding remarkably harmonious and free from ironic dissonance, considering the author’s sense of realism.

But in 1816, the words “romance” and “romantic” had different and wider connotations. Most of the literature between around 1800 until 1830, along with music and fine art, emphasised what Wordsworth called “the holiness of the heart’s affections”, as well as imagination and the yearning for that something beyond the material world – in Keats’ phrase, “truth and beauty”, – to nurture the spirit. Cassandra probably meant the word “Romance” in this earlier, more literary sense. And it’s as a Romantic author – let’s use a capital letter to denote the literary sense of the word – an author who finds in Nature that sense of connection with something outside and greater than ourselves, that we see Jane Austen, when we take another look at this passage from her autumnal masterpiece, “Persuasion”.

In the description of the walk to Winthrop in Chapter X, Jane is employing a new sense of the specific in her description of the landscape. She gives us a detailed picture of the time, the place, and the weather. It is a very fine day in November and we are told of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges. We can be sure that the practical Jane had checked her facts to confirm that these hedgerows, consisting of a double row of mixed foliage with a rough, wild sort of channel down the centre, were a feature of this area on the borders of Somerset and Dorset. Remember the Musgroves live some seventeen miles from Lyme. The structure of the hedgerow is important to her purpose, for it is down this central path that Louisa will draw Wentworth away to search for a gleaning of nuts.

How effortlessly and neatly Jane arranges her characters, and like a skilful director, sits back to see them interact. Anne finds herself suddenly within earshot of the couple’s conversation as they walk along the hedge, and has to freeze her own movements to avoid detection. What is a well- worn stage device – the screen hiding the listener, seen by the audience, but not by those on stage – becomes in Jane’s hands a deft method of gaining insights into Wentworth’s attitude to Anne, without any clumsy switches away from Anne’s viewpoint. Her introspective, sensitive heroine, evidently still deeply in love with Wentworth, and resigned but saddened that he seems to be content to court the immature Louisa, makes a very reluctant eavesdropper. The dramatic irony is painful, rather than playful, as Anne is forced to listen to his heartfelt comments about “The evils of too silent and yielding a character”. As readers we share her silent mortification at his conclusion: “Let those who would be happy be firm” he tells his companion, in a tone that not only indicates their increasingly intimate footing, but makes Anne feel keenly the implication that he can never forgive the woman who was too easily persuaded to part from him all those years ago.

No wonder Anne Elliot looks at the autumnal landscape and feels that its underlying quiet melancholy is an apt analogy for her own declining happiness, the images of youth and spring all gone together. Like a true Romantic, Anne is fond of poetry and has committed to memory many of the poetical descriptions of autumn, that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt description, some lines of feeling. And this was written, we must remind ourselves, some three years before John Keats wrote his famous ode To Autumn!

Gleaning Nuts
Do Anne’s feelings give insights into her creator’s inner life and emotions? It would be rather impertinent of us to assume as much. Despite her affinities with the Romantic attitude to Nature seen here, Jane Austen is never a confessional writer in the true Romantic tradition. Crisp, rational and essentially self-effacing, we won’t catch her writing an “Ode to Dejection” like Coleridge, or wailing with Shelley that “I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed!” Her inner life, in the absence of any highly personal letters, diaries or journals, remains for us a tantalising mystery. The nearest we get to Jane’s emotional life may well be these autumnal musings of this solitary, elegant little woman of twenty-seven – – the closest of all her heroines to her own age at the time of writing. But we will probably never know for sure.

It’s typical of the writer that at this moment of intimacy, and possible identification with her heroine, she suddenly detaches herself and makes playful fun of the whole Romantic scenario – including Anne’s melancholy reflections. For the fictional Winthrop – without beauty and without dignity – is the very opposite of the idealised English village. The prosaic farmer with his plough is counteracting the sweets of poetical despondency by preparing the land for the seeds of next year’s crop. Whether it fits in with Romantic poetry or not, the nation must be fed, and Nature means to have spring again. Even when Jane Austen is at her most “Romantic” – in every sense of the word – she gives the careful reader no excuse for wallowing in self-indulgent thoughts of ageing and decay. As that rare creature, the rational optimist, Jane always balances emotional sensitivity with good sense. By the time she wrote Persuasion, she can resist the temptation to be brisk with a melancholy heroine. But the message remains, gentle yet firm. If Anne Elliot can remain steadily rational, even at this moment when her hopes are at their lowest ebb, her intelligence will appreciate the full seasonal analogy – that there will be for her, as for the natural world, a “second bloom”, a springtime of hope and regeneration.

Sue Le Blond is writer and tour guide at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, and
teaches English, Drama and Creative Writing to adults part-time at Frome
Community College. Author of the Austen-related plays “Poppy and Porage” and
“Darcy’s Dilemma”, Sue is the editor of the new Jane Austen’s Regency World
, due for launch in January 2003. She welcomes feedback on this
feature and considers all proposals for Jane Austen-related articl

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Persuasion: 1995

A Fairy Tale for Adults! A Splendid Motion Picture!The 1995 (Sony/BBC/WGBH) version of Persuasion, ironically the first in the long line of “new” Austen adaptations, has been called “The film most like sitting down with an Austen novel.” High praise indeed.

With it’s timeless story and autumnal feel this film is beautiful and comfortingly familiar while at the same time fresh and surprising. Persuasion remains a first not only time-wise, but is also the first Austen film to benefit from foreign sponsorship (other than the United States) with it’s Sony distributor (based in Japan) as well as being the first WGBH/Masterpiece Theater film created for cinema distribution. 1995 was a big year for costume drama and Persuasion held it’s own against the myriad of BAFTA (British equivalent to the American Oscar) award nominees- even beating rival Pride and Prejudice for best costume design! Other entrants that year (in all categories) included Sense and Sensibility, Braveheart, Rob Roy, The Madness of King George, Cold Comfort Farm, and Apollo 13. Truly a stellar slate and difficult decisions all round.

Elizabeth, Mrs. Clay, and Anne have tea at Mollands The combination of Nick Dear’s heartwrenching screenplay, Roger Mitchell’s innovative camera work and Jeremy Sams award winning score create a beautiful, not to be forgotten montage of “everyday” life in Regency England. Also contributing to the overall effect was a phenomenal cast comprised of film and theater veterans including Corin Redgrave (brother of Lynn and Vanessa) as Sir Walter Elliot, John Woodvine (Sir Hew Dalrymple, Horatio Hornblower: The Duchess and the Devil) as Admiral Croft, Phoebe Nicholls (Empress of Lilliput, Gulliver’s Travels)- a properly proud and spiteful Elizabeth Elliot, Sophie Thompson (Miss Bates, Emma2) as the often hysterical hypochondriac sister Mary Musgrove, Judy Cornwall (Daisy, Keeping Up Appearances) as the well meaning Mrs. Musgrove,Victoria Hamilton (Pride and Prejudice2, Mansfield Park2), making another Austen appearance, as the flighty Henrietta Musgrove and Samuel West (Major Edrington, Horatio Hornblower: Frogs and Lobsters) as the ever-so-slightly menacing (or smarmy, if you prefer) Mr. William Walter Elliot. Simon Russell Beale (Hamlet, An Ideal Husband) also makes an appearance as the genial, if rather clueless, Charles Musgrove.

Amanda Root
Ciaran Hinds

Secondary characters aside, it is the main protagonists that make this film shine- Amanda Root (Anne Elliot) and Ciaran Hinds (Captain Wentworth.) Root’s performance is simply lovely, filled with both inner strength and the sadness of a woman approaching the 19th century equivalent of spinsterhood as an unmarried 27-year-old. Amazingly, she herself actually appears to grow more beautiful as the film goes on and her confidence grows. Interestingly, the viewer is allowed to watch her change almost from the perspective of Capt. Wentworth.

Actress Amanda Root explains her character:“What I think is hard in any film adaptation of a book is that you might have a whole chapter written about your character’s feelings, and then you get a couple of scenes on the film in which you don’t say anything. And yet somehow you have to get across how she’s feeling. That’s the hardest thing. To strike a balance between sharing too much or sharing too little, but actually getting the message across. You might notice that Anne Elliot doesn’t say as much as the other people in the first half of the film, and that’s right.Anne Elliot It’s right that she doesn’t say a lot, because that’s the kind of woman she is. Anne’s had to deal with an awful lot of pain because she lost the man of her dreams. She also left him not through her own will but because she was persuaded that that was the right thing to do. That’s part of the tragedy in a sense, that she has coped with it. She’s somebody who accepts her life as it is, and fully prepared to settle down to spinsterhood, and die an old maid. She doesn’t expect Frederick Wentworth to come back, and if he didn’t she would have a relatively happy life, but he does comes back, and she has to readjust. She is now a much more mature woman, and I think she would not make the same choices again, although she has to respect the choice she made when she was younger.”

Capt. Wentworth and Mr. Elliot measure up Captain Wentworth also makes a transformation over the course of the film. A reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “The lease of [Anne’s] father’s estates to a navy man… brings Wentworth back into her life. Now the man she turned away is mature, worldly and rich. But she has so repressed her spirits by becoming plain and kindly that he doesn’t even recognize the woman who only a few years before made his heart leap. And besides, he is distracted by other women now, Anne’s fawning sisters [in-law.]The plot thickens deliciously around a seaside incident in which one of Wentworth’s giddy admirers has an accident. Almost at once, Anne emerges as the inevitable woman Wentworth loves, but there are complications. A young man has shown a strangely impatient interest in her. The captain stammers, stutters and may be too late. This film is… a big one for Hinds (Mr. Rochester, Jane Eyre, 1997) because he goes big with that stormy, darkly handsome look that makes hearts throb. His performance is a wonderful mix of dash and awkwardness — viewers are likely to feel he’s so vulnerable and such a prize, they just want to point him in the right direction. It’s a big part of the film’s ruffled charm.”

Captain Wentworth Hinds also comments on his character’s turmoil, “I see Captain Wentworth as a man who couldn’t get it together. He is talked about a lot but doesn’t come into the story for quite a while. He has led a tough life at sea and in society he behaves very formally with women. At first he is very cool with Anne Elliot–the woman who rejected him–but in his heart there’s something very different going on. Obviously she’s older, her glow of youth has gone, but seeing her again, his feelings start to come back. What’s extraordinary about him is that in front of this one woman he is socially inept. He is stumbling and nervous. Yet in his professional life, he is personally responsible for hundreds of men.”

Captain and Mrs. Wentworth aboard ship By the close of the film, things have worked themselves out the inevitable conclusion, and yet, it is so touching- and so unsettled up until the very end- that you can’t help coming away satisfied and longing for more. Filmed on location in Bath and Lyme the movie brings Austen’s last completed novel to vivid life, avoiding the pitfalls of so many other adaptations- cutting too much, adding new scenes or making life just a bit too pretty and idyllic. The biggest complaint this film can boast is that of not giving Mr. William Elliot his full measure of nastiness.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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