Matthew Thornton, President of New Hampshire and Signer of the Declaration of Independence

thorntonOne of three New Hampshire men to sign the Declaration of Independence, Matthew Thornton, physician, soldier, patriot, agitated against the Stamp Act of 1765, presided over the Provincial Congress in 1775, served in the State Senate and as an associate justice of the Superior Court. His monument in Merrimack, NH honors his memory. He is buried in the adjacent cemetery. His homestead stands directly across the highway.

Matthew Thornton was born on 17 March 1713 in Kilskerry Parish, Tyrone, Ireland. He was the son – one of 10 children – of James Thorton, Jr., and Elizabeth Thorton. He was the husband of Hannah (Jack) Thornton and father to James, Mary, Matthew (Jr.), and Hannah. His parents emigrated to America when he was three. The Thornton family remained aboard the ship for the first six months they were in America. As Presbyterians, the Thorntons’ beliefs were often called upon for an explanation in their new home. They first settled at Wiscasset, in Maine, but soon went to Worcester, Massachusetts, where Mathew received an academic education. Thornton became a physician and was appointed surgeon to the New Hampshire Militia troops in an expedition against Fortress Louisbourg, Cape Breton (part of the French and Indian War). His medical practice was very successful and he acquired much land, becoming a leading member of the community in Londonderry. There he held many local offices while also representing Londonderry at the Provincial Assembly.

“But once Parliament enacted the Stamp Act, his politics reached a turning point. He became a very vocal and well-known advocate of independence and also served as chairman of the local Committee of Safety, which was typically charged with protecting citizens by mounting defenses. Thornton’s committee ended up assuming supreme executive power over the colony. 

“In 1774, as the situation worsened with the Mother Country, a mob attacked a royal fort in Portsmouth, swiping its stash of gunpowder and weapons and distributing them to the local militia. By the following summer, the Royal Governor John Wentworth and his family were hiding out in the very same fort – and perhaps seeing the writing on the way, they finally abandoned the colony and sailed for England. Not knowing if there would ever be a larger union, New Hampshire formed its own independent government, and Thornton was swiftly elected the colony’s president, or revolutionary executive – the first non-royal governor, so to speak.” (Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnest, Signing Their Lives Away, @2009, Quirk Books, page 22)

He was first President of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and Associate Justice of the Superior Court of New Hampshire. He was elected to the Continental Congress after the debates on independence had occurred, arriving just in time to actually sign the Declaration of Independence. He was selected to attend Congress again in 1777, but declined to attend due to poor health. He held royal commissions as justice of the peace under the colonial administration of Gov. Benning Wentworth, as well as a colonel of militia. He became Londonderry Town Selectman, a representative to, and President of the Provincial Assembly, and a member of the Committee of Safety, drafting New Hampshire’s plan of government after dissolution of the royal government, which was the first state constitution adopted after the start of hostilities with England.  

After serving his term in Congress he became chief justice of the Court of Common Pleas in New Hampshire, and afterwards judge of the Superior Court. About 1762, he established a farm in New Boston, New Hampshire, remaining there 8 years, before returning to Londonderry. After 1776 he purchased a farm in that part of Merrimack known as Thornton’s Ferry, where, surrounded by his family and friends, he passed the remainder of his days in dignified repose. He served Merrimack, New Hampshire, as moderator and selectman, and on the 1787 tax list he is shown living in District 4. He died at the house of his daughter, Mrs. Hannah Thornton McGaw, in Newburyport, Mass., June 24, 1803, at the age of eighty-nine years.

Mr. Thornton was a man of commanding presence, but of a very genial nature, remarkable for his native wit and great fondness for anecdote. His remains were brought back to Merrimack, and they repose in the little burial ground at Thornton’s Ferry, with only a modest tombstone to mark his resting place (inscription: “An honest man). On August 28, 1885, an act of the legislature authorized the erection of a suitable monument to his memory, upon a site selected and donated by the town. Upon September 29, 1892, this monument was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies, the Hon. William T. Parker being president and Hon. Charles H. Burns the orator of the day. The town of Thornton, New Hampshire, is named in his honor, as is a Londonderry elementary school, as well as Thorntons Ferry School in Merrimack. Thornton’s residence in Derry, which was part of Londonderry at the time, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

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The Matthew Thornton House in Derry, New Hampshire wikipedia

800px-Thornton_Sign

Sources: 

Colonial Hall 

Geni 

NH Searchroots 

U. S. History: Signers of the Declaration of Independence 

Wikipedia 

Posted in American History, British history, Declaration of Independence, Georgian England, Georgian Era, history, Living in the Regency, medicine, military, Regency era | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life Below Stairs, Part 10 – The ‘Pugs’ Procession of Precedence

maxresdefaultA sense of status above stairs was to be expected among the aristocracy, but it was no less observed below stairs. For example, the lower servants often spoke poorly of the “Pug’s” Procession, which happened after the first course of supper below stairs. All the servants would eat the first course together, generally in enforced silence. However, when that first course ended, the upper servants would exit to either the house steward’s quarters or those of the housekeeper where their pudding would be served to them. Even when leaving the table, they rose and filed from the room in order of precedence within the household. During the Victorian era, butlers and upper servants associated with like servants from other fine houses in their “clubs.” Footmen had similar clubs where they met and socialized. At a social gathering, such as a country fête, the servants took on the status of their employer. A maid tending to a mere “Miss” would be lower on the line of precedence than the maid tending a member of the aristocracy. 

A smart servant, however, especially a footman or butler, could manage his day where he could find time for all sorts of leisure hours. A maid may be expected to carry a bucket of coals up and down the steps of the house, while a footman was entrusted with a silver salver containing a single letter. There was no accounting for chivalry. 

eb356c7c0710d4a18f15ee668eef300d1c851c223e5e3a6f1a79f5f786acd50eAs it was true that many had poor accommodations within the household, at least they were not out upon the streets. The servants had a roof over their heads.There were four meals provided each day – breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper. A resourceful servant might also salvage a bit of what was left over from the meals served to the master and his guests. Servants were given home-brewed beer at each meal. (This tradition began in the 1700s when imported tea was too expensive for the master to squander upon his servants.) The male servants received a pint and the females at half pint at each meal. In some households, instead of the beer a “beer allowance” was paid each day. It amounted to about 8d per day. Upper servants sometimes received wine with their meals. 

Servants generally received their wages upon a quarterly basis. According to the archives of the West Sussex Record Office regarding the estate books of the family seat of the Duke of Richmond’s Goodwood House (near Chichester, West Sussex), in 1888, the house steward received £100 per year, the groom of the chamber, £70; the valet, £60; and the butler £45. The footmen were paid between £26 and £34. The two housekeepers each received £60; the cook £60, the ladies’ maids, £26 to £28; the stillroom maid, £22; kitchen maids, £14 to £24; housemaids and laundry maids, £12 to £26; and the scullery maid £12. 

According to Banking in Bath in the Reign of George III, “As the customer base expanded, the subject of deposits by “the poorer sort” of person arose. This resulted in the appearance of a new kind of banking organisation in Bath when, in January 1815, the Provident Institution or Bank for Savings opened its doors in Trim Street. The Institution was supervised by a Committee and Trustees and invested deposits in Government 5% stocks which were held in the names of the individual depositors. Dividends were payable six-monthly. The Institution grew out of the success of a Servants Fund established in 1808. That fund was limited in size to £2000 and was consistently over-subscribed. The Bath Provident Institution had no limit to the size of its deposits and was one of the first such establishments in the country. A similar organisation, the Bristol Savings Bank, was founded in the same year having grown out of the success of the Prudent Man’s Friend Society.” Lady Isabella Douglas reportedly organized the first servants bank in Bath in 1808. “About a quarter to a half of all depositors in the early savings banks were servants: in York, 322 out of the first 670; in Lincoln 49 out of the first hundred; and in Bolton, 44 out of the first two hundred.(Horne, H. Oliver, A History of Savings Banks, Oxford University Press, 1947). A thrifty servant could save enough funds to begin his or her own business rather than to remain in service. 

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Posted in British history, estates, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Living in the Regency, Living in the UK, Regency era, servant life, Victorian era | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mudeford, an English Spa Favored by King George III + an Excerpt from “The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy”

With the onset of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, the idea of a European Grand Tour for English aristocratic class lost its appeal. Instead, English men and women turned their sights on popular British destinations, such as Brighton, Margate, Lyme, and Weymouth. In England, inland spas, such as Bath, were the models of health spas. Among the early fashionable Georgian-Regency resorts (from approximately 1789 – 1815) was one favored by King George III, but Mudeford never achieved the popularity of the other tourist destinations.

Some believe the negative idea of “mud” used for health and medicinal purpose for the lack of development to the Christchurch district’s name. Mudeford was then part of southwest Hampshire. Also to the area’s detriment, Highcliffe was not adopted as a village name until 1892. Before that time, the local hamlets were known as Chuton, Newtown, and Slop Pond. The district’s other name was Sandhills.

In the summer of 1789, George III arrived in Weymouth to partake of the healing waters, a good sign for a concerned English population, which saw its King as a man going slowly mad. Each day, during his visit, as the King partook of his royal plunge into the salt waters, a band played “God Save the King.” Dips in the “curative waters” at Weymouth helped popularize the idea of “spa” towns.

At the time, Mudeford had caught the attention of other members of the aristocracy when a former British Museum curator and retired director of the Bank of England purchased large tracts of land in the area and began to invite members of the aristocracy to visit the area. Gustavus Brander (1720-1787) built a house on the grounds of Christchurch Priory and a summerhouse on Hengistbury Head. Later, the Brander family sold High Cliff estate to Pitt’s retiring Prime Minister, John Stuart, Lord Bute.

Bute retired to High Cliff in 1770. A botanist (co-founder of Kew Gardens), Bute hired the most famous landscape designer of the time, Capability Brown, to redesign the parkland on the High Cliff estate. The original house, built in a mediaevalist style to a Robert Adam design, set upon the cliff top “to command the finest outlook in England.” In fact, the house was so close to the cliff that it was necessary to dismantle it brick by brick when the cliff side crumbled away. Most of the estate was sold off following Bute’s death.

Bute Homage was the only house remaining on the estate. Lord Stuart de Rothesay, the 4thEarl of Bute, bought back the much of the estate in 1807 and began to build a grander manor than the former High Cliff. Not completed until 1835, the restored Highcliffe Castle sported stained glass windows from Rouen and other French art treasures “rescued” from the aftermath of the French Revolution.

In 1790, George Rose (1744-1818) became a MP for Christchurch. First, Rose, who owned Cuffnells Park in the New Forest near Lyndhurst, had been a Member of Parliament for Lymington (1788). He was a strong supporter of William Pitt the Younger. His youngest son, William Stewart Rose, became the second MP to serve Christchurch. George Rose resided at Cuffnells, where he wrote books on finance and policy and from where he attempted to run his cabinet post of Treasurer of the Navy. He also entertained both Pitt and King George in his home. George III stayed at Cuffnells in 1789, 1801, and 1803.

 

In 1785, Rose built a seaside house just east of Mudeford Quay, which he named Sandhills. The two Roses used Sandhills as their summer residences when not serving in Parliament.  Rose’s eldest son, Sir George Henry Rose, lived at Sandhills House while George Rose occupied Cuffnells, and William Stewart Rose lived in a row of seaside cottages (completed in 1796 on the Sandhills estate and just east of the main house). The house and the row of whitewashed seafront cottages would be named “Gundimore.”

The house sported one room designed to resemble a Persian tent and another room in Arabian Nights style because many of the Romantic poets of the time used exotic Eastern references in their poems. WS Rose was an amateur poet and translator. Robert Southey was among the many poets who visited the area and stayed in the cottages. So, while George Rose invited Pitt, Nelson, and the King to Gundimore, WS Rose held an interest in art and literature. Sir Walter Scott worked on “Marmion” while visiting at Gundimore, as well as on Waverley, Scott’s first historical novel. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Southey’s brother-in-law) visited in 1816. Coleridge planned a poem about the house, but his various ailments prevented him from working on it. Instead, WS Rose wrote a poem commemorating the visits of these writers, appropriately entitled “Gundimore.”

From “Our Forgotten English Resort,” we learn, “When Southey later became Poet Laureate, his mandatory memorial poem for his late patron George III was ridiculed by Byron and others, who felt Southey might just as well depict the King entering Heaven in a bathing machine. While George III’s favourite seaside resort had been Weymouth, he did visit Sandhills en route at George Rose’s bidding. Rose had him stop over at Cuffnells on his first journey to Weymouth, on 29 June 1789, and some sources say he also stopped at Sandhills. He also visited Sandhills on 3 July 1801, but better known is his 1803 official visit. In 1803 Rose arranged an official Royal ‘inspection’ style visit to Mudeford, complete with military parade, on another stopover by the royal yacht en route to Weymouth. The Christchurch Artillery fired a 3-volley salute echoed by another on Wight opposite, while detachments of the Scots Greys and the local Volunteers stood lined up on the beach. So that the King should not get his feet wet as he re-embarked on the royal barge, the pier-less resort’s three new bathing machines were laid end to end in the shallows. Sir Arthur Mee adds in his The King’s England guidebook series, ‘After that Mudeford brightened and increased the number of its bathing machines’ (apparently from three to seven). ‘…A picturesque little story which will, no doubt, ever be told of Mudeford,’ commented theBournemouth Times & Directory.

“Despite these claims, that was the end of George’s public patronage. The Prince Regent seems not to have visited either: generally, he tended to steer clear of anywhere his disapproving father might be found. The Prince had privately married the Catholic widow of the owner of Lulworth Castle, but in 1795 he had to put aside his secret Catholic wife and remarry to help pay off his debts. This arranged marriage was disastrously unhappy for both parties. His new Princess Of Wales, Caroline Of Brunswick, did stay at Sandhills in 1796 before she moved back to the Continent. The King’s brother, HRH Duke of Cumberland, also stayed with Rose on New Year’s Eve 1803 to inspect, and thank for their service, the Christchurch Volunteers who had lined up for his brother, although in the event rain cancelled the official parade. However after he became King, the former Regent did visit Gundimore and Mudeford, in the 1820s.

“An early Cooke’s guidebook of circa 1835 refers to this visit: ‘the admired spot, the favourite summer residence of numerous families of distinction … Muddiford, a beautiful village on the sea-shore, possessing every convenience for a watering-place, having good bathing machines, and a fine sandy beach. His late Majesty, George IV, honoured this spot with a visit, and his admiration of its scenery. The air here is salubrious…. These qualities were appreciated and emphatically remarked on by his Majesty George III, who with the royal family honoured Mr Rose with a visit at Sandhills.’”

Additional Sources: 

Highcliffe Castle     Highcliffe and Mudeford

Mudeford         Mudeford Quay

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TMDOMD2coverThe Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy

by Regina Jeffers

Available from Ulysses Press

A thrilling story of murder and betrayal filled with the scandal, wit and intrigue characteristic of Austen’s classic novels

Fitzwilliam Darcy is devastated. The joy of his recent wedding has been cut short by the news of the sudden death of his father’s beloved cousin, Samuel Darcy. Elizabeth and Darcy travel to Dorset, a popular Regency resort area, to pay their respects to the well-traveled and eccentric Samuel. But this is no summer holiday. Danger bubbles beneath Dorset’s peaceful surface as strange and foreboding events begin to occur. Several of Samuel’s ancient treasures go missing, and then his body itself disappears. As Darcy and Elizabeth investigate this mystery and unravel its tangled ties to the haunting legends of Dark Dorset, the legendary couple’s love is put to the test when sinister forces strike close to home. Some secrets should remain secrets, but Darcy will do all he can to find answers—even if it means meeting his own end in the damp depths of a newly dug grave.

With malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy will keep Austen fans turning the pages right up until its dramatic conclusion.

_________________________________________________________

Excerpt from Chapter 7 of The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy

Elizabeth shivered involuntarily. As Darcy had directed, she had met with the Woodvine cook regarding the weekly menu. They had finished their task when dread had physically rocked Elizabeth’s spine. Despite the feeling of dizziness drowning her senses in its sweep, she desperately pushed the swirling sensation away.

“Is something amiss, Mrs. Darcy?” the cook asked with what sounded of true concern.

Elizabeth shook her head in denial. “Just one of those intuitive moments we women experience daily. Likely, Mr. Darcy has turned his ankle or one of my sisters have has spotted a snake along the road to Meryton.” She laughed at her foolish nature.

The gray-haired woman with the sparkling, equally gray, eyes pushed her spectacles further up her nose. “It be the way of women,” she said sympathetically. “Me boy, Arnie, be one of Mr. Darcy’s grooms. We both have served the old master for many years. Whenever Arnie gets himself kicked by one of them ‘ornery beasts, I knows before he ever shows himself on me doorstep and looking for some of my herbs to ease the pain.”

Elizabeth again wondered if something had happened to Darcy. Her husband had spoken of the possibility that the gypsy band had posed an unknown threat. At home, at Pemberley, she had often sensed Darcy’s presence before he appeared on the threshold of her sitting room, but this was different. The lingering dread which currently wrapped itself about her shoulders had nothing to do with the pleasant anticipation she often experienced when her husband surprised her in the middle of the day. This was a warning of danger. Bravely, she said, “I am certain it is nothing. Mr. Darcy’s cousin, a seasoned military commander, as well as Mr. Cowan, accompanied my husband. I am being foolish.”

Mrs. Holbrook’s eyebrow rose in sharp denial, but the lady wisely said, “If that be all, Mrs. Darcy, I’s best return to me duties.”

Elizabeth gathered her notes. “Remember, Mrs. Holbrook, no sauces on the meats. The colonel prefers his dishes plain. Serve the dressings in a separate dish.”

“Yes, Ma’am. I understand.”

Elizabeth stood slowly to follow the woman to the door. “I expected Mrs. Ridgeway to join us,” she said as nonchalantly as she could muster. In reality, the housekeeper’s absence had irritated Elizabeth. It was another affront to Darcy’s authority, and she planned to express her anger over the woman’s slight.

Mrs. Holbrook paused in her speech, as well as her step. The woman looked about quickly—as if she suspected someone could be eavesdropping on their conversation. “Mrs. Ridgeway sent word, Ma’am, that she be experiencing a megrim.”

“I see,” Elizabeth said knowingly. “I suppose a headache might keep Mrs. Ridgeway from her duties.”

Mrs. Holbrook smiled wryly. “I suspect that be true, Mrs. Darcy.” The woman disappeared into Woodvine’s apparently empty halls.

Elizabeth stood silently by the still open door and listened carefully to what were obviously exchanged whispers. Someone, or several people, concealed themselves in Woodvine’s late afternoon shadows. The thought of others watching her every move, on one hand, shook her resolve, but on the other, it irritated her. She would permit no one to intimidate her. After all, had she not withstood the imperious Lady Catherine De Bourgh? “We shall see how they perceive their positions when I have my say,” she said privately to fortify her resolve.

Then she was on the move, climbing to the house’s third level again. As she turned the corner, Elizabeth declared boldly aloud, “I know you have hidden yourself from my view, but I am aware of your presence. If you have any sense of self-preservation, you will disperse immediately and attend to your duties.” As she climbed, Elizabeth did not turn her head to observe which of Woodvine’s staff broke from his hidden security, but she was well aware of the sound of scrambling feet and the quick opening and closing of doors. “They have chosen to make me their enemy,” she declared. “But they do not know that I am well seasoned in the comings and goings of servants.”

She thought immediately of how Darcy had early on complimented her on her quick assimilation into the role of Pemberley’s mistress. Little had her husband known that at Longbourn, Elizabeth and Jane had equally shared in the running of their parents’ estate. Their mother had taught all her daughters of the responsibilities of an estate’s mistress. As she and Jane had matured, Mrs. Bennet had relinquished more and more of her duties to her eldest children.

Elizabeth had arrived on Pemberley’s threshold well versed in preparing menus, balancing expenses, and settling service disputes. Her transition into the role of Pemberley’s mistress had come easily.

She paused at the top of the stairs and set her shoulders in a stubborn slant. “You mean to frighten me, but I will not be alarmed. There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me,” she declared to the empty passageway.

With renewed determination, Elizabeth entered Mrs. Ridgeway’s quarters unannounced. “I believe I requested to speak to you this morning,” she said tersely.

It did not surprise Elizabeth to find the woman dressed and working on an embroidery pattern. The housekeeper sprang to her feet. “Mrs. Darcy, I…I had…I had a severe headache,” she stammered. She tucked her sewing hoop behind her, but Elizabeth had observed the meticulous work of the pattern.

Taking a satisfyingly slow breath, Elizabeth’s mouth set in a tight line. “Evidently, you have recovered remarkably.” She gestured to the tea set upon a low table. “That being said, I will see you in my chambers in a quarter hour.” Elizabeth turned on her heels to leave.

However, Mrs. Ridgeway’s offer slowed Elizabeth’s retreat. “Why do we not share tea here?”

Elizabeth turned haltingly to the woman. “I think not. You will attend me. It is not acceptable for the mistress to attend those she employs. You did understand my husband has assumed control of this household?”

“Yes, Ma’am.” Mrs. Ridgeway dropped her eyes.

The act infuriated Elizabeth. “Do not offer me a false face.” She turned again for the door. “A quarter hour, Mrs. Ridgeway.” To emphasize her indignation, Elizabeth launched the door against the wall. The sound echoed throughout the dark passageway.

Returning to her quarters, Elizabeth fought hard to rein in her temper. “It would not do to permit Mrs. Ridgeway to know how much I dread this interview,” she declared as she punched one of the pillows decorating the bed. “Concentrate, Elizabeth,” she chastised her image in the cheval mirror. “You must see this through for Fitzwilliam’s sake.” The thought of her husband brought an immediate smile to Elizabeth’s lips. “Everything he has done he had has done for me,” she thought.

When Lydia had inadvertently disclosed Mr. Darcy’s part in bringing about her sister’s match to Mr. Wickham, Elizabeth could not fathom how his regard for her had allowed him to act without pride. The vague and unsettled suspicions which uncertainty had produced of what Mr. Darcy might have been doing to forward her sister’s match, which Elizabeth had feared to encourage as an exertion of goodness too great to be probably, and at the same time dreaded to be just, from the pain of obligation, were proved beyond their greatest extent to be true: Darcy had followed Lydia and Mr. Wickham purposely to Town; he had taken on himself all the trouble and mortification attendant on such a research; in supplication had been necessary to a woman whom he abominated and despised, and where he was reduced to meet—frequently meet, reason with, persuade, and finally bribe—the man whom he always most wished to avoid, and whose very name it was punishment to Darcy to pronounce. He had done it for her. For a woman who had already refused him.

Even as she considered her husband’s benevolence in the matter, Elizabeth blushed with embarrassment. Every kind of pride must have revolted from the connection. She was ashamed to think how much. Though, at the time, she could not place herself as his principal inducement, she had perhaps believed in Darcy’s remaining partiality for her might have assisted his endeavors in a cause where her peace of mind must be materially concerned. “If Fitzwilliam could place his qualms aside, then I will follow his lead.” Darcy’s ability to overcome a sentiment so natural as abhorrence would serve as her model.

When Mrs. Ridgeway arrived, Elizabeth bade the woman’s entrance in a perfectly calm voice. She motioned the woman to a chair across from where she sat at the small desk before setting the ledger, which she had used as a “stage prop” to make herself appear not to be awaiting the housekeeper’s appearance, aside. In reality, to compose her erratic heart and to soften her anger, Elizabeth had retrieved several of the notes, which Darcy had left for her over their few months of marriage. Beginning with the morning following their first night as man and wife, her husband had periodically presented her an eloquent reminder of their time together: a reminder of their one month anniversary and again to mark their first half year of marital bliss; one for the night they would spent apart when Darcy had been called away on business; and the one where he consoled her during the loss of the child she had not known she carried. Her magnificent husband had grieved silently for their lost child while she openly nursed her broken heart. Today, Elizabeth had read the two “anniversary” letters. They were full of love’s awe, and they had bolstered her spirits immensely.

Elizabeth did not permit Mrs. Ridgeway to speak. Instead, she had assumed the offensive. “I had expected better of you, Ma’am. When we first met, I presumed you to be a woman possessed of kindness, but also a woman well aware of her place in the world. I thought you possessed of an independent nature and capable of overcoming adversity.”

Mrs. Ridgeway asked earnestly, “And you no longer hold the same opinion, Mrs. Darcy?”

Elizabeth’s forthright nature never faltered. “You have proven yourself, Ma’am, to be a coward.”

“Do not think ill of me, Mrs. Darcy,” the woman challenged.

“How may I not?” Elizabeth asked aristocratically. She considered the possibility that Darcy’s air had found a new home in her. “Mr. Darcy gave specific orders for you to present yourself in the role of Woodvine’s housekeeper; yet, last evening, you made no appearance after our arrival, nor did you sit with me and Mrs. Holbrook this morning.”

“And did you find something lacking in your quarters? In Mrs. Holbrook’s attention to your needs?” Mrs. Ridgeway asked confidently.

Elizabeth’s chin rose with the challenge. This was her first real test as Darcy’s wife. Her transition at Pemberley had gone smoothly: partly because of her mother’s training, but partly because of Mrs. Reynolds’ guidance. Pemberley’s long-time housekeeper had brought Elizabeth along and had instilled the confidence of a fine lady in a country miss. “Do you dare claim to be the source of efficiency I have observed from certain members of the late Mr. Darcy’s staff?” Elizabeth would not mention those she suspected had found hiding places to shirk their duties.

Mrs. Ridgeway’s countenance betrayed a momentary lapse of confidence, but the woman quickly schooled her features. “And why should I not? Mr. Darcy blamed me for the deficiencies he discovered among those Mr. Samuel had hired. Why should I not glory in the household’s successes?”

If the older woman thought Elizabeth’s age would provide the housekeeper an advantage, Mrs. Ridgeway would discover otherwise. Elizabeth’s shoulders shifted, and she presented the Woodvine housekeeper with a look of scorn she had once seen displayed upon the countenance of Lady Catherine De Bourgh when the grand lady had instructed Mr. Collins on the state of the cleric’s gardens. “I am pleased to hear it, Mrs. Ridgeway.” The housekeeper’s forehead crinkled with disappointment, and Elizabeth knew satisfaction. She would definitely share her “disapproving” glower with Darcy when they were alone. She would ask her husband’s opinion of its effectiveness as compared to the one of his imperious aunt. “Then you will have no difficulty in overseeing a thorough cleaning of each of Woodvine’s rooms. I shall not have the Earl and Countess of Rardin finding Woodvine lacking. Lady Cynthia holds her uncle in loving regard. I will not tolerate having Her Ladyship’s memories of the late Mr. Darcy tarnished by finding Samuel Darcy’s home in anything but pristine condition.”

Elizabeth noted how the housekeeper recoiled, but the lady held her tongue. Elizabeth continued, “Every shelf will be dusted. Every rug beaten. Every piece of silver polished.” Elizabeth snarled her nose in disgust. “Cousin Samuel’s propensity for clutter will create additional responsibilities, but with your discipline, the staff shall rise to the challenge. You must inform me immediately if any of our current employees choose to seek other positions. As I have noted several among the staff who appear less than enthusiastic about fulfilling their duties, I assume we shall need to replace them. If you do not feel comfortable in making those decisions, I assure you I hold no such qualms. At home in Hertfordshire, I often dispensed with the servants.” That was a stretch of the truth, but Elizabeth would never permit the woman an advantage.

She stood to end the conversation. “I am pleased that we have had the opportunity to address Mr. Darcy’s perceived grievances. It shall make our stay more agreeable. Now, as I know you have many duties to which to attend, I shall excuse you.” Mrs. Ridgeway looked on dismay, but she managed a proper curtsy. Elizabeth led the way to the door. “Is this not more pleasant?” she asked sweetly. “To have a complete understanding between us?”

Mrs. Ridgeway spoke through tight lips, “As you say, Mrs. Darcy.”

* * *

Darcy had resumed his seat in the chariot. His cousin had pocketed the shell fragment, and they had reluctantly returned to their ride. Silence reigned as Mr. Stalling set the horses in motion.

Edward’s cross expression spoke of his cousin’s frustration. “Could the gypsy leader be sending you a message, Darcy? That if he cannot have the horse then neither can you.”

Darcy rubbed a weary hand across his face to clear his thinking. “Obviously, we should examine the American connection?” They did not speak for several minutes, each man lost in his thoughts. Finally, Darcy cautioned, “I would prefer Mrs. Darcy possessed no knowledge of today’s events. I would not worry my wife with news of this attack.” Another elongated silence followed. “I am thankful no one was hurt in this folly,” Darcy said sadly.

Cowan warned, “You must not permit your guard to become lax, Mr. Darcy.”

Darcy frowned noticeably. “I do not understand. Surely, you do not think this was more than a dispute about a horse’s ownership.”

The former Runner’s eyes scanned the passing countryside. “I believe, Mr. Darcy, that your insistence on discovering the disposition of your cousin’s estate has brought a warning. We might think the shooter made an unfortunate shot, but the bullet was placed in the animal’s neck. It was a admonition that a skilled marksman could easily achieve a smaller target. Say a man’s head.”

“You are saying someone wants me dead!” Darcy said incredulously. He felt the air rush from his lungs.

“I am saying, Sir, that someone knows desperation, and he holds no reservations about exercising mayhem in order to relieve himself of your interference.”

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Tory Daughters: Jane Austen and the Brontës (an Overview)

Recently, I was asked by a local teacher to speak to her English class after they had read Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights. Below, you will find my notes for a comparison/contrast between the Brontës and Austen. As I have been out of the public classroom for several years, I did a bit of brushing up before opening myself to lots of questions from these students. 

(Many of the key points below come from  “Tory Daughters: Jane Austen and the Brontës,” from Patrick Parrinder’s Nation and Novel, 512 pages, Oxford University Press, November 15, 2008. This book is a fabulous resource, which I would highly recommend to others.)

(These notes are in no particular order.) 

Introduction to the early 1800s:
• Fictional romance requires that the young lovers defy social norms, but the novels of Austen’s contemporaries, such as Maria Edgeworth (I am currently reading “Castle Rackrent.”) reflect specific anxieties about marriage in the early 19th Century. For example, in “Castle Rackrent,” Edgeworth seems to be reconstructing an heir worthy of Irish legitimacy. As a female writer, Edgeworth appears to be fortifying the system of primogeniture, which separated women from access to property.
• The idea of a companionate marriage became increasingly dominant in the early 1800s. Austen’s novels did much to propagate this middle-class idea.
• Advocating love matches and companionate marriages in novels also held a symbolic element. Each new alliance represents a further weakening of the dynastic line. 
• A common complaint of Austen’s novels is her heroines marry for love. What the critic is missing is that the marriage can also hold political and social significance. Women can be active agents of cultural change. (See my posts on endogamous and exogamous marriages.)
• In a time when divorce was expensive and required Parliamentary approval, selfish and short-sighted family interests being set against the wider social interests that the lovers embody demonstrates the novelist implicit or explicit prejudices.
• Up until the Victorian period, the politics of marriage in English fiction reflected the social norms of the aristocracy and gentry. The narrative often frames and marks as “foreign” the literary conventions of sensibility. 
• The importance to the landed estate is England’s future is an element of the stories. The concept of primogeniture is reinforced.
• The English ‘Jacobin’ novelists of the 1790s (such as Charlotte Smith, Thomas Holcroft, and Robert Bage) produced parables of a reformed aristocracy rather than visions of an aristocracy overthrown by the people. Their novels tend to suggest that an enlightened aristocracy could still form the backbone of the English nation. Rarely do these narratives endorse any single, self-identical political future.
• The Church was a vocation open to the younger sons of the landed gentry. Members of the clergy were Oxford or Cambridge graduates.
• A clergyman’s life was associated with genteel poverty and a lack of ruling-class privilege.
• A clergyman’s daughters were so pressed to marry. Austen remained unmarried, while Charlotte Brontë eventually married the Reverend Arthur Nicholls.
• The English “courtship novel” appealed to female writers and readers.They reflected the tension between the traditional definition of womanhood in terms of the marriage mart, and women’s demand for moral independence and self-respect. Female-authored novels of the period made an attempt to frame sentiment as an outmoded, if still dangerously attractive structure of feeling.
• The heroines of courtship novels are outside the charmed circle from which aristocratic brides are chosen. They have no obvious dynastic responsibilities, and the marital expectations that have been formed about them are the vaguest.
• These heroines are relatively free and are conscious of their freedom; and coming from staunch Protestant backgrounds, they possess a moral conscience and a desire to take personal responsibility for their own lives. The movement between literature and history forms a transition between private and public meanings.
• The aim of the fictional plot in the courtship novel is not simply to portray the heroine’s growth towards self-fulfillment and a settled happiness. The happy ending translates her moral assets into material ones, suggesting that – in fiction, at least – virtue has its earthly reward.
• The Happily Ever After of the courtship plot rewards the most morally deserving pair of lovers while thwarting all rival claimants. The allegories of love and marriage are not only subject to particular forms of narrative inscription that ultimately determine their meanings but also deeply embedded with a political moment that demands closer attention. 
• The politics of the HEA ending depends upon its relationship to the conventional hierarchy of wealth and breeding. Most often, the established social power is unexpectedly reaffirmed while the aristocracy is revitalized by an infusion of social responsibility and Christian virtue (the typical dowry of clergyman’s daughter).
• The courtship novels lead us through romantic complications, intricate false alarms, and delicate misunderstandings to an endorsement of Tory England.

imagesJane Austen:
• Resided at Steventon Rectory
• She came from a solidly genteel background and was strongly anti-Jacobin.
• Her characters are far more ill at ease in fashionable society than those of the Jacobin novelists, whose politics she so disliked.
• The Jacobins remembered the anti-Royalist origins of the Whig party and dreamed of an alliance between radicals and reformed Whig aristocrats.
• For Austen, however, the 18th Century diversion between the Tory country gentry and the ruling Whig aristocracy was a deeply personal matter.
• Austen has been described as the “Tory daughter of a quiet Tory parson” and her novels as “Tory pastorals.”
• Although party names never appear in Austen’s fiction, the stinging portrayal of an aristocratic grande dame, such as Lady Catherine de Bourgh, implicitly involves party politics.
• Austen’s outspokenly Royalist teenage History of England, admittedly a burlesque, reveals the strong political opinions, which later mellowed into her family’s moderate Toryism.
• A Church of England parson held a duty to support the monarchy and the ruling class and to preach patriotism and social obedience to his flock.
• Patriotism accompanied paternalism. The parson also held the role of “spiritual father” to his flock.
• In Austen’s novels, it can be argued “the significance of marriage as a relationship between individuals…is always subordinate to its significance as a relationship between families.
• Austen’s characters are strongly individualized and are not carried away by the anarchy of romantic love.
• There is an important variation in Austen’s marriage plots, some of which are endogamous – as in Edmund Bertram’s union with his cousin Fanny – and some exogamous. Endogamous marriage implies the purification and consolidation of a house, a dynasty, or a community. It is a defensive, protective measure. Exogamous marriage is a union of opposites – political, social, and temperamental – injecting new blood into one of the nation’s old or ruling families.
• The culminating marriages in Austen’s fictions are socially and economically far more advantageous to the heroine than the hero. Moreover, exogamous marriage is fraught with danger in her novels.
• To marry openly for economic advantage (as with Charlotte Lucas in Pride and Prejudice) is to invite the novelist’s scorn.
• Those who marry beneath them in essentials are set for misery (such as Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and Sir Thomas Bertram in Mansfield Park).
• Austen’s heroines must resist easy captivation and must appear to disregard material considerations so their ability to contract a wealthy marriage becomes a tribute to their integrity alone. The heroine who rejects the handsome cavalier or bounder in favor of the unbending man of virtue (or prig) is set to fulfill her destiny.
• Her “cavaliers” are characterized by vacillation, self-contradiction, and inconsistency. They are all “Beta” males.
• Ironically, Austen uses many “Whig” names in her stories: Wentworth, Woodhouse, Watson, Bertram, Brandon, Churchill, Dashwood, D’Arcy, Fitzwilliam, Russell, and Steele.
• A self-imposed limitation of Austen’s novels is she only “hints” at social change.

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Charlotte Brontë:
• Resided at Haworth Parsonage
• The Brontë sisters were daughters of an Irish father and a Cornish mother, who idolized the Anglo-Irish Duke of Wellington, the victor of Waterloo and, eventually, a Tory prime minister.
• Wellington and his brothers are the central figures of the fantasy world of the Class Town (later Angria) created by Charlotte and her brother Bramwell in their youth.
• At the age of 13, Charlotte copied out Walter Scott’s tribute to Wellington in his Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, adding the following exclamation: “If he saved England in that hour of tremendous perils, shall he not save her again?”
• The Victorian critic Leslie Stephen saw Charlotte Brontë as a typical example of the ‘patriotism of the steeple.’
• Charlotte thought of herself as the antithesis of Austen.
• Charlotte, for all her sympathy with oppressed woman, was a political conservative and an ardent admirer of Walter Scott.
• Her novels are “a marriage of identifiably bourgeois values with the values of the gentry or aristocracy – a figurative political marriage.”
• Jane Eyre’s whole life is determined, as we gradually realize, by a series of rash and impolitic marriages in preceding generations.
• At every stage of the novel, the young Jane is the chosen pilgrim following a predestined path, while her imagination continues to construct fictional versions of herself; her true identity is gradually revealed.
• In Jane Eyre, we see a Victorian “English-ist” in the characters. Those outside of England (Rochester’s French mistress, the Francophile Whig aristocracy represented by Blanche Ingram, etc.) set against the superiority of the English (Jane Eyre).
• The deepening love between Jane and Rochester is one of the English novel’s crowning examples of an exogamous sexual romance based on the attraction of social and historical opposites.
• Jane Eyre escapes from Rochester only to find herself being endogamously courted by St John Rivers, the country vicar and Puritan saint, who is her cousin.
• Where Rochester would have lured her into a bigamous marriage, Rivers proposes a mere marriage of convenience, not a love match or a union likely to lead to offspring.
• Rochester’s marriage to Bertha Mason was intended to carry colonial wealth back to England, while Rivers plans to export evangelical spirituality to India and tells Jane it is her duty to assist him.
• What Jane detects in Rivers is the self-mortifying patriotism of the new breed of British imperialists.
• Their life at Ferndean is one of repatriation and restoration.
• Rochester’s blindness is the blindness of Samson, but Jane’s arrival at Ferndean puts him back into familiar English hands.

Emily Brontë:
Wuthering Heights is understood as a provincial novel, portraying violent and brutal extremes of behavior and set in a wildly romantic landscape.
• The primitiveness of the Yorkshire moors is registered through the eyes of the southern-bred Lockwood.
• The novel’s confined topography is in sharp contrast to the cosmopolitan settings and incessant journeyings of the Gothic and Jacobin fiction to which it is indebted.
• Brontë balances the Gothic material in WH against a tale of courtship and domestic passion.
• The striking two-part structure, with bitter conflict in the first generation and gradual reconciliation in the second, had been anticipated in at least one earlier courtship novel, A Simple Story (1791) by Elizabeth Inchbald, the author of the English version of Kotzebue’s Lovers’ Vows, which was performed as part of the story of Austen’s Mansfield Park.
• In Wuthering Heights, provincial Puritanism to some extent takes the place of A Simple Story’s high bred Catholic spirituality.
• The Puritanical sermons of Joseph and Jabes Branderham set a devotional context for the love story.
• Catherine’s admitting her love for Heathcliff is a kind of neo-paganism or romantic nature worship. Her words are a poetic metaphor rather than inspired truths, and are deeply false.
• Catherine is portrayed as cruel and self-destructive as is her brother Hindley.
• Heathcliff is the Holy Ghost whom Joseph and Branderham wished to see excommunicated. This means the romantic passion of Catherine and Heathcliff is not a bond between external soul-mates, but a union of opposites, a Puritan-Cavalier love tragedy in which the vengeful Puritan outcast attempts to drag his former lover down to destruction.
• The more Catherine accepts the namby-pamby lifestyle into which she has married, the more Heathcliff accepts his demonic role of eternal excommunication.
• Heathcliff’s elaborate plan of revenge cannot prevent a growing alliance between the Earnshaws (remnants of the old yeoman class of independent farmers) and the Lintons (genteel land owners).
• Heathcliff’s death sums up the novel’s themes of dynastic succession, sin and punishment, excommunication, and devil-worship. He has made arrangements for an un-Christian burial.

Similarities/Differences:
• Their novels reflect their authors’ rural and Anglican backgrounds and their concern with patriotism, paternalism, pastoralism, and the moral accountability of the individual.
• Patriotism is a stronger emotion in Austen and Brontë than in most English women novelists before or since.

Jane Austen Film Adaptations:

*  Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016) – TV

 * Love and Friendship (2016) – Film

* Austentatious (2015) – TV Series
 * Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2015) – Film

* Northbound II (2015) – TV Series (modern Northanger Abbey)
 * A Modern Persuasion (2014) – Film

*  Pride and Prejudice (2014) – TV mini-series
 * Sense and Sensibility (2014) – Film

* Lady Susan, Missing Masterpiece (2013) Short Film 
 * Death Comes to Pemberley (2013) – TV mini-series

* Emma Approved (2013) – TV Series 
 * Austenland (2013) – Film
 * Pride and Prejudice: Having a Ball (2013) – TV Movie/Documentary

* The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012) – TV Series

 * Scents and Sensibility (2011) – Film
 * The Many Lovers of Miss Jane Austen – TV Movie/Documentary
 * Pride and Prejudice: A Modern Day Tale of First Impressions (2011) – Film
*  Prada to Nada (2011) – Film – modern day Sense and Sensibility with a Spanish “flavor”
 *Aisha (2010) – an Indie film version of Emma
*Jane Austen Handheld (2010) – Film – told through a documentary-style film format
Emma (2009) a BBC TV mini-series
Sense and Sensibilidad (2008) – Film
*Lost in Austen (2008) – TV mini-series that takes the main character into the novel’s pages
Sense and Sensibility (2008) – TV mini-series
Jane Austen Trilogy (2008) – a documentary with bibliographic intentions
Miss Austen Regrets (2008) – a made-for-TV show based on Austen’s letters
The Jane Austen Book Club (2007) – film based on the popular best-selling book
Mansfield Park (2007) – TV movie
Northanger Abbey (2007) – TV movie
Persuasion (2007) – TV movie
Becoming Jane (2007) – popular film based on Austen’s letters
Pride and Prejudice (2005) – Film
Bride and Prejudice (2004) – Indie film
Pride and Prejudice (2003) -modern adaptation film
The Real Jane Austen (2002) TV movie/documentary based on Jane Austen’s letters
Kandukondain, Kandukondain (2000) Film based on Sense and Sensibility
Mansfield Park (1998) – Film
* “Wishbone”- “Pup Fiction” (1998) -an episode of the popular TV show
* “Wishbone”- “Furst Impressions” (1997) – an episode of the popular TV show
Emma (1996) – TV movie
 Emma (1996) – Film
Sense and Sensibility (1995) – Film
Persuasion (1995) – TV movie
Pride and Prejudice (1995) – TV mini-series
Sensibility and Sense (1990) – TV movie
* Northanger Abbey (1987) -TV movie
Mansfield Park (1983) – TV mini-series
Sense and Sensibility (1981) – TV movie
* Jane Austen in Manhattan (1980) – Film
* Pride and Prejudice (1980) – TV mini-series
Emma (1972) – TV mini-series novel
* “Novela” – “Persuasión” (1972) -TV series episode
Sense and Sensibility (1971) – TV movie
Persuasion (1971) -TV mini-series
* “Novela” – “La abadía de Northanger” (1968) -TV series episode
Pride and Prejudice (1967) – TV series
* “Novela” – “Emma” (1967) – TV series episode
* “Novela” – “Orgullo y prejuicio” (1966) -TV series episode
* “Vier dochters Bennet, De” (1961) – TV mini-series based on Pride and Prejudice
Emma (1960) – TV movie
Camera Three (1960) – TV series based on Emma
Persuasion (1960) – TV mini-series
Pride and Prejudice (1958) – TV series
Pride and Prejudice (1958) – TV film
* “General Motors Presents: Pride and Prejudice” (1958) – TV series episode
* “Orgoglio e pregiudizio” (1957) – TV mini-series
* “Matinee Theater: Pride and Prejudice” (1956) – TV series episode
* “Kraft Television Theatre: Emma” (1954) – TV series episode
Pride and Prejudice (1952) – TV mini-series
* “The Philco Television Playhouse: Sense and Sensibility” (1950) – TV series episode
* “The Philco Television Playhouse: Pride and Prejudice” (1949) – TV series episode
Emma (1948) -TV film
Pride and Prejudice (1940) – Film
Pride and Prejudice (1938) -TV

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June 20 ~ West Virginia Day

June 20 celebrates the birth of my home state. As you are reading this, I am tooling my way along a West Virginia highway, off to visit the homes of some of our country’s Presidents. This past weekend (June 18 -19) there was a reenactment on Monticello’s ground. The British arrived on horseback for the Revolutionary War!

Personally, I love driving the mountain roads, but I’m certain many others do not. Many are intimidated by the sharp curves. When I exit the tunnel at Bluefield on Interstate 77, the one which separates West Virginia from Virginia, my heart always says “home.”

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Babcock State Park, Glade Creek Grist Mill

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The beauty of a WV highway

On June 20, 1863, West Virginia became the thirty-fifth state in the Union. The land that formed the new state formerly constituted part of Virginia. The two areas had diverged culturally from their first years of European settlement, as small farmers generally settled the western portion of the state, including the counties that later formed West Virginia, while the eastern portion was dominated by a powerful minority class of wealthy slaveholders. There were proposals for the trans-Allegheny west to separate from Virginia as early as 1769. When Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, the residents of a number of contiguous western counties, where there were few slaves, decided to remain in the Union. Congress accepted these counties as the state of West Virginia on condition that its slaves be freed. “Montani semper liberi,” “mountaineers always freemen,” became the new state’s motto.

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gold dome of the Capital Building in Charleston, WV

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my hometown

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fine shops found in the Arcade in downtown Huntington

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busy downtown streets in Huntington

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William Hooper: “Prophet” and Signer of the Declaration of Independence

William Hooper, one of North Carolina’s three signers of the  Declaration of Independence, was the oldest of five children of the Scots divine, the Reverend William Hooper (1704–14 Apr. 1767), second rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, Boston, Mass., and Mary Dennie Hooper (b. ca. 1720), daughter of Boston merchant John Dennie. He was the grandson of Robert and Mary Jaffray Hooper of the Parish of Ednam, near Kelso, Scotland. An unusually delicate, nervous child, until the age of seven, William was at first painstakingly taught at home by his father, himself a classicist and orator of some note, educated at the University of Edinburgh. At length, the boy was sent to the Boston Public Latin School where he worked so hard under headmaster John Lovell, a celebrated disciplinarian and staunch Loyalist, that at age fifteen Hooper entered the sophomore class of  Harvard College on 7 Oct. 1757. He was graduated A.B. in 1760 with marked distinction in oratory, surpassing, it is said, even his father in that field.

William-Hooper-259x300Mr. Hooper had destined his son for the ministerial office. But young William’s inclination turned instead towards the law. Once he obtained his father’s consent to pursue the studies of that profession, in 1761, William began his tenure in the office of the celebrated James Otis, a man famed for his knowledge of common, civil, and admiralty law. Various Hooper biographers have stated that Otis’s fiery stands for colonial rights indoctrinated the young Hooper.

In 1763 Harvard College conferred an M.A. on Hooper, and in 1764 he settled temporarily in Wilmington, North Carolina, to begin the practice of law. Hooper, who was handsome, well-bred and well-educated, with courtly manners and a pleasing personality, was warmly accepted by the planters and lawyers of the lower Cape Fear.  By June 1766 he was unanimously elected recorder of the borough. Yet, after spending a year or two in that province, his father became exceedingly desirous that young William should return home. The health of his son had greatly suffered, in consequence of an excessive application to the duties of his profession. He was seriously considering leaving New Hanover County when his father died without warning. William’s education was to be his chief inheritance, although his father’s will also left to him “all my Books and Manuscripts,” a legacy that he treasured.

Notwithstanding the wishes of his father, in regard to his favorite son, the latter, at length, in the autumn of 1767, fixed his residence permanently in North Carolina. On 16 Aug. 1767, Hooper married Anne Clark, of New Hanover, the daughter of Barbara Murray and Thomas Clark, Sr., late high sheriff of New Hanover County. 

He early enjoyed the confidence of his fellow citizens, and was highly respected by his brethren at the bar, among whom he occupied an enviable rank. In the year 1773, he was appointed to represent the town of Wilmington in the general assembly. In the following year, he was called upon to assist in opposing a most tyrannical act of the British government, in respect to the laws regulating the courts of justice in the province.

In 1769 he was appointed deputy attorney general of the Salisbury District and inevitably ran afoul of the Regulators, incurring their lasting enmity. The Regulator Movement (or the War of Regulation) grew steadily during the 1760s. Simple North Carolina settlers became more outspoken against what they called corruption, excessive fees, and taxation by the ruling class and their “henchmen,” usually in the form of sheriffs and the courts. The Regulators saw Hooper as part of the problem, after all, Hooper was a young attorney general. A 1768 incident in Anson County was followed by another at the Hillsborough riots of September 1770, when Hooper reportedly was dragged through the streets by the Regulators. The experience caused Hooper to look upon the masses as would an “aristocrat.” He was against mob rule and of democracy, in general, for the remainder of his days. 

Even so, Hooper wrote letters supporting the American cause. In a letter to his friend James Iredell, Hooper wrote how the colonies “are striding fast to independence, and will, ere long, build an empire upon the ruins of Great Britain – will adopt its constitution, purged of its impurities; and from an experience of its defects, will guard against those evils which have wasted its vigor and brought it to an untimely end.” From this embolden speech, Hooper was dubbed the “prophet of independence.” 

When it was necessary to update the laws of North Carolina, the advocates of the British government took occasion to introduce a clause into the bill, which was intended to exempt from attachment all species of property in North Carolina, which belonged to non-residents. “This bill having passed the senate and approved of by the governor, was sent to the house of representatives, where it met with opposition. In this opposition Mr. Hooper took the lead. In strong and animated language, he set forth the injustice of this part of the bill, and remonstrated against its passage by the house. In consequence of the measures which were pursued by the respective houses composing the general assembly, the province was left for more than a year without a single court of law. Personally to Mr. Hooper, the issue of this business was highly injurious, since he was thus deprived of the practice of his profession, upon which he depended for his support. Conscious, however, of having discharged his duty, he bowed in submission to the pecuniary sacrifices to which he was thus called, preferring honorable poverty to the greatest pecuniary acquisitions, if the latter must he made at the expense of principle.” (GENi)

His formal entry into political life came on 25 Jan. 1773, when he sat for the first time in the Provincial Assembly as representative for the Scots settlement of Campbellton (later Fayetteville.) In the same year, Hooper made the first purchase of land for his future home on Masonboro Sound eight miles below Wilmington—108 acres of Caleb Grainger’s old Masonborough Plantation. In 1774 he bought 30 adjoining acres on which he built his house, Finian. His three children – William (b. 1768), Elizabeth (“Betsy”) (b. 1770), and Thomas (b. ca. 1772) – were born there.

On the twenty-fifth of August, 1774, Mr. Hooper was elected a delegate to the general congress, to be held at Philadelphia.  In the following year, Mr. Hooper was again appointed a delegate to serve in the Second General Congress, during whose session he was selected as the chairman of a committee appointed to report an address to the inhabitants of Jamaica. The draught was the production of his pen. It was characterized for great boldness, and was eminently adapted to produce a strong impression upon the people for whom it was designed.

During the Revolution, Hooper’s brothers Thomas and George were wealthy merchants in both Wilmington, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina. Thomas became suspect as a British merchant and some of his goods were seized by Patriot committees. The brothers were labeled as Tories, with the confiscation of some of their properties. It is hard to imagine the concern this might have given Hooper. With the ratification of the Definitive Treaty in 1786-87, Thomas and his brother George were free from the threat of banishment and their property was restored to them.

In Philadelphia, Hooper served on Hewes’ marine committee with Benjamin Franklin on the highly important committee of secret intelligence which had broad powers to hire secret agents abroad, make agreements, and even to conceal information from the Congress itself. Before the close of 1776 Hooper had attended three Continental Congresses, five Provincial Congresses and Four Provincial Assemblies besides meetings of the Wilmington Committee of Safety. Almost invariably he was made chairman or member of any committee with important resolutions or addresses to compose, and some of the most significant statements of the Revolution crystalizing public opinion came from his pen. Although Hooper was absent when independence was actually voted and declared on 4 July 1776, he, like most of the other delegates, affixed his name to the amended Declaration on 2 August.

In January, 1776, Mr. Hooper was appointed, with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Livingston, a committee to report to congress a proper method of honoring the memory of General Montgomery, who had then recently fallen beneath the walls of Quebec. This committee, in their report, recommended the erection of a monument, which, while it expressed the respect and affection of the colonies, might record, for the benefit of future ages, the patriotic zeal and fidelity, enterprise and perseverance of the hero, whose memory the monument was designed to celebrate. In compliance with the recommendation of this committee, a monument was afterwards erected by congress in the city of New York.

In the spring, 1776, the private business of Mr. Hooper so greatly required his attention in North Carolina, that he did not attend upon the sitting of Congress. He returned, however, in season to share in the honor of passing and publishing to the world the immortal Declaration Of Independence.

imagesEarly in 1777, Hooper and numerous other delegates were stricken with yellow fever. On 4 February he secured permission to return to Wilmington to attend the General Assembly on 8 April, and on 29 April he formally resigned his seat in the U. S. Congress. “The situation of my own private affairs . . . did not leave me a moment in suspense whether I should decline the honour intended me,” he wrote to Robert Morris.

Hooper resumed his residence at Finian and his law practice in the newly opened courts, again riding the circuits with his friend Iredell as he had done before the Revolution. He attended the General Assembly of 1777, 1778, 1779, 1780, and 1781 as member for the borough of Wilmington, serving on numerous committees. When it appeared that Finian would not be safe from British men-of-war in Masonboro Sound (a house owned by Hooper three miles below Wilmington was burned and Finian was shelled), Hooper moved his family into the town. He himself, at times seriously ill with malaria and his right arm badly swollen, became a fugitive from the British, going from friend’s house to friend’s house in the Windsor-Edenton area.

On 29 January 1781, Major James H. Craig’s men took Wilmington, although the town was not evacuated until November. Then, an ailing Mrs. Hooper and two of her children were forced to flee by wagon to Hillsborough where her brother, General Clark, found shelter for them. Finally, on 10 April 1782, the reunited Hoopers purchased General  Francis Nash’s former home on West Tryon Street (still standing and in 1972 named a National Historic Landmark). Hooper’s preserved Memorandum Book, 1780–1783 provides valuable records of this period.

With his permanent removal to the backcountry, Hooper was now entirely out of the mainstream of current events, both state and national. His election to the 1782 General Assembly as member for Wilmington was declared invalid, and in 1783 he suffered the first political loss of his career at the hands of Hillsborough tavern keeper Thomas Farmer, who defeated him for a seat in the General Assembly. One absorbing new interest developed, however. Some years before, in 1778, Hooper had been named first on a committee of nine prominent men to begin an academy, “Science Hall,” in the vicinity of Hillsborough. The school had made a brave start on Colonel Thomas Hart’s Hartford Plantation, but it had been swept aside by Revolutionary activity. Now, Hooper pushed a new academy bill through the 1784 Assembly, to which he was elected, and almost single-handedly began a second venture, a new “Hillsborough Academy,” which prospered for a few years. Unfortunately, the November 1786 Assembly at Fayetteville, the last that he attended, tabled a bill to raise funds for the school and thereby ensured its demise.

Hooper’s law practice was still a considerable one, owing to steady litigation concerning Loyalists’ estates, confiscated lands, treason, and all the legal backwash of the Revolution. Like Iredell and other conservative men, Hooper lamented unreasonable severity and vengefulness against Loyalists and absentees and urged moderation in their treatment. In consequence, he found himself at painful odds with some of his old friends and acquaintances. On 22 Sept. 1786 Hooper was appointed by Congress as one of the Judges of a Federal Court formed for the purpose of settling a Massachusetts, New York territorial dispute, but the matter was resolved locally and the court never met.

Hooper_William_memorialWilliam Hooper died after five months of complications associated with his previous health problems. The date of his death, 4 October 1790, was the day before the planned marriage of his daughter, Elizabeth. He was buried in a corner of his garden in Hillsborough, North Carolina. The brick-walled plot was later incorporated into the adjoining Old Town Cemetery on 25 April 1894. That same year the grave was opened at dawn before various family representatives, and a few discernible relics, together with the sandstone slab, were sent to the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park in Greensboro. There, an imposing 19 foot high monument, surmounted by a statue of Hooper in colonial dress and in orator’s pose, honors the patriotic services of William Hooper and his friend and colleague, John Penn. The sandstone slab, with six additional words deeply incised, ” Signer of the Declaration of Independence,” was later returned to the original Hillsborough grave site. The monument to the three signers was erected over the new graves of Hooper, Penn, and Hewes and was dedicated on July 3, 1897.

 

Sources:

Blatteau, John and Paul Hirshorn, The Illuminated Declaration of Independence, 1976.

Edwin Anderson Alderman, Address on the Life of William Hooper, “The Prophet of American Independence ” (Guilford Battle Ground, 4 July 1894).

The Famous People 

The Society for the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence

NCpeida

Rev. Charles A. Goodrich, Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856. Pages 422-427. (via GENi)

William Hooper Papers (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill).

Posted in American History, British history, Declaration of Independence, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Living in the Regency, real life tales, Regency era | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do You Know The Origin of These Words and Phrases?

Three Sheets to the WindUrban Dictionary defines this phrase to mean “to be explicitly drunk; inebriated.” The origin is likely found in practicality: Sheets actually refer to the ropes that are used to secure a ship’s sail. If the 3 ropes used were loose in the wind, the sail would flop around, causing the ship to wobble around, much like a drunk.

From phrases.org, we find something similar. “To understand the phrase “three sheets to the wind,” we need to enter the arcane world of nautical terminology. Sailors’ language is, unsurprisingly, all at sea and many supposed derivations have to go by the board. Do not be taken aback to hear that sheets aren’t sails, as landlubbers might expect, but ropes (or occasionally, chains). These are fixed to the lower corners of sails, to hold them in place. If three sheets are loose and blowing about in the wind then the sails will flap and the boat will lurch about like a drunken sailor.

“The phrase is these days more often given as ‘three sheets to the wind’, rather than the original ‘three sheets in the wind’. The earliest printed citation that I can find is in Pierce Egan’s Real Life in London, 1821: ‘Old Wax and Bristles is about three sheets in the wind.’

The-Fisher-s-Daughter-Part-2-Mason-Catherine-9781167247231“Sailors at that time had a sliding scale of drunkenness; three sheets was the falling over stage; tipsy was just ‘one sheet in the wind’, or ‘a sheet in the wind’s eye’. An example appears in the novel The Fisher’s Daughter, by Catherine Ward, 1824: ‘Wolf replenished his glass at the request of Mr. Blust, who, instead of being one sheet in the wind, was likely to get to three before he took his departure.’ The earliest manifestation of the phrase in print is the ‘two sheets’ version. That is found in The Journal of Rev. Francis Asbury, 1815, which recounts Asbury’s travels through Kentucky. His entry for September 26th 1813 includes this: ‘The tavern keepers were kind and polite, as Southern folks should be and as Southern folks ought not to be; they were sometimes two sheets in the wind. O, that liquid fire!’ That leads us to think that the phrase may be of American origin. However, Asbury was English, born in West Bromwich and travelled to America when he was in his mid twenties. Whether he took the phrase with him from the English Black County or heard it (or indeed coined it) in the U.S., we cannot be certain.

imgres“Robert Louis Stevenson was as instrumental in inventing the imagery of ‘yo ho ho and a bottle of rum’ piracy as his countryman and contemporary Sir Walter Scott was in inventing the tartan and shortbread ‘Bonnie Scotland’. Stevenson used the ‘tipsy’ version of the phrase in Treasure Island, 1883 – the book that gave us ‘X marks the spot’, ‘shiver me timbers’ and the archetypal one-legged, parrot-carrying pirate, Long John Silver. He gave Silver the line: ‘Maybe you think we were all a sheet in the wind’s eye. But I’ll tell you I was sober.'”

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Duece Take It! – We who write Regency romances are always looking for a way for out gentleman hero to curse without appearing coarse in manners. Therefore, “duce take it!” appears often in these books. From The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, we find this meaning: n. The devil: used, with or without the definite article, chiefly in exclamatory or interjectional phrases, expressing surprise, impatience, or emphasis: as, deuce take you! go to the deuce! the deuce you did!

From The American Heritage ® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The devil: “Love is a bodily infirmity . . . which breaks out the deuce knows how or why” ( Thackeray).
  • n. An outstanding example, especially of something difficult or bad: had a deuce of a time getting out of town; a deuce of a family row.
  • n. A severe reprimand or expression of anger: got the deuce for being late.
  • n. Used as an intensive: What the deuce were they thinking of?

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rotting-fish-head-river-rocks-26740A fish rots from the head down Phrases.org gives us this definition: When an organization or state fails, it is the leadership that is the root cause. The origin of this phrase likely lies in some ancient proverb. Many countries lay claim to it – China, Russia, Poland, England, Greece and so on, but usually with no evidence to substantiate those claims. One source says it was written in a Greek text by Erasmus, who died in 1546, but this cannot be substantiated.

“All of the early examples of the phrase in print in English prefer the variant ‘a fish stinks from the head down’ to ‘a fish rots from the head down’, which is more popular nowadays. Those early examples all ignore the nations mentioned above and credit the term to the Turks. Sir James Porter’s Observations on the religion, law, government, and manners of the Turks, 1768, includes this: “The Turks have a homely proverb applied on such occasions: they say ‘the fish stinks first at the head,’ meaning, that if the servant is disorderly, it is because the master is so.’ The early date of this citation and the fact that Porter was in a position to be authoritative on Turkish custom, being British ambassador to the Sublime Porte of the Ottoman Empire for 15 years in the second half of the 18th century, gives Turkey a strong claim to be the birthplace of this proverb.” Needless to say, the proverb isn’t a lesson in piscine biology. The phrase appears to have been used in Turkey in a metaphorical manner rather than using the literal sense for, in reality, it is the guts of fish that rot and stink before the head.

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Brimborion (Pronounced /brɪmˈbɔərɪən/)

World Wide Words tells us that this “Weird Word” is “not a word that rises unbidden to the lips of English speakers today, nor — if the record is to be trusted — at any time. It means a thing without value or use. It was borrowed from French, where it may still be found in dictionaries, though firmly marked as literary. According to the lexicographer Emile Littré, who compiled a famous dictionary of French in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, it’s a bastardised form of the Latin breviarium, the source of breviary for the service book used by Roman Catholic priests.

“The link had been explained by another lexicographer two centuries earlier. Randall Cotgrave wrote in his French-English dictionary of 1611 that the word came to mean ‘foolish charms or superstitious prayers, used by old and simple women against the toothache, and any such threadbare and musty rags of blind devotion,’ hence something valueless. A rare appearance is in a letter of 1786 by the writer Fanny Burney, in which she refers to ‘Talking to your royal mistress, or handing jewels … and brimborions, baubles, knick-knacks, gewgaws.’

“It is much less weird in German, in which the closely connected Brimborium, also borrowed from French but given a Latinate ending, is an informal term for an unnecessary fuss. The sentence ‘du machst viel zu viel Brimborium um eine Kleinigkeit’ might be translated as ‘you’re making a lot of fuss about nothing.'”

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Furlong (mile) – “Before the days when Edward I ruled England (1272 – 1307), an acre of land was understood to be such amount of tillable land as a yoke of oxen could plow in a day. The size was indefinite, just as was the  Latin ager, field, from which acre is derived. It was several times the size of our present acre, usually ten times the size, because in some regions at least the extent was measured as the amount which a team of eight oxen could plow in a day. This latter ideal field was a square which measured an eighth of a Roman mile, or a stadium, in each direction. The furrows were therefore each a stadium in length and, with the primitive plow then used, there were probably 320 furrows across the field. The length of a furrow thus became a convenient measure of distance – a furlang, as it was called in Old English from furh, furrow, and lang, long. But for the sake of standardization, the size of the acre was reduced under the statutes of King Edward. Thereafter it denoted an area which measured forty rods in length by four rods in breadth, although neither the rod nor the yard upon which it was based were of standard size. Then when the Roman mile of a thousand paces (mille passus), or about 1,618 yards, was replaced by the standard English mile of 1.790 yards, and the length of the yard became a standard measure, furlong became merely a term for a unit of distance an eighth of a mile or 220 yards in length, no longer equal to the Roman stadium.” (Charles Earle Funk, Thereby Hangs the Tale, ©1950, Harper and Row, page 127)

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SitooterieWorld Wide Words tells us, “This word is a Scots colloquial term, though not a common one in print. It means a place to sit out in, a summerhouse or gazebo, from sit plus oot (a Scots pronunciation of out) plus the noun ending –erie of French origin that’s familiar from words like menagerie and rotisserie.

In the flickering light from a distant candle my partner and I sat in a “sitooterie” to partake of tea, pie and cakesMotherwell Times, 10 Mar. 1933.

“English newspaper readers suddenly started to see this word during the summer of 2000 because it was applied to an art exhibition in the historic landscaped gardens of Belsay House in Northumberland, near Newcastle upon Tyne. A dozen designers and architects were each given a budget and invited to interpret the idea of a sitooterie as a meditation on the perception of landscape. This resulted in intriguing structures, some practical, some more like follies. The exhibition had the minor consequential effect of turning sitooterie for a brief period into part of the English — as opposed to the Scots — tongue. It has since vanished again.

“Several Scottish subscribers have remarked that the word used to have a rather different meaning — a secluded corner where you could take your partner during a dance. It would seem that the word has either shifted sense, or the exhibition organisers have extended its meaning.”

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That’s all she wrote – Needless to say a female author would find this phrase’s origin fascinating. World Wide Words tells us, “Let’s be clear to start with what the expression means. It always has an implication of finality about it, though it can be variously translated as ‘that’s all there is,’ ‘it’s finished,’ ‘it’s over,’ ‘there’s no more,’ ‘that’s enough’:

When it starts to get really dark — when the sky goes from blue to purple — I’m flipping back. That’s it; that’s all she wrote. I’m not walking through these woods after darkThe Talisman, by Stephen King, 1984.

Skipper Tom meowing and hopping around like he had the itch. Then dumped a load of cat crap all over a lobster trap. Jack threw it overboard to rinse it, and that’s all she wrote buddy, he was jerked into the waterThe Shipping News, by E Annie Proulx, 1993.

On the one hand it is obvious enough what the phrase means, but why should anybody drag in a reference to an anonymous woman writer?

“If one searches the reference books for the answer, he will probably come across the story that it’s from a bitter joke of the Second World War. An American serviceman opens a letter from his wife or girlfriend and starts to read it to his mates: ‘Dear John.’ He stops. ‘Well, go on,’ his listeners urge him, ‘read us the rest of it.’ ‘I can’t,’ he replies, ‘that’s all she wrote.’ Dumping letters were common enough to have been given the Dear John letter epithet at the time, though it starts to appear in the record only in 1945. It’s a nice story, but it’s a pity about the absence of any contemporary evidence for it, such as somebody on record as telling the joke or referring to it.

“Another suggestion is that that’s all she wrote comes from the words of a popular song, perhaps one that linked Dear John to it. A song by Aubry Gass and Tex Ritter, written in 1950, the same year Hank Williams recorded it, has the line: ‘And that’s all she wrote, Dear John.’ That arrived on the scene too late to be the origin. In 1946, George Crawford penned That’s All She Wrote, ’Cause the Pencil Broke, though similarly the dating confirms the title came from the existing saying. But there’s an earlier one.

ernesttubbsongfolio

The cover of a sheet music collection by Ernest Tubb The Ernest Tubb collection of 1942 that contains the song

“A World Wide Words reader, Michael Templeton, found a song by Ernest Tubb, dubbed the Texas Troubadour, who was a pioneer of country music on radio from the late 1930s. His song was entitled That’s All She Wrote and appeared in a sheet music collection that was published by the American Music Inc of Hollywood in 1942.

“American researcher Garson O’Toole, writing on the American Dialect Society mailing list, has unearthed three examples of that’s all she wrote from 1942. All derive from civilian contexts, so the prevailing view that the idiom is from World War Two servicemen being dumped by Dear John letters is no longer sustainable. Four even earlier appearances, all from Texas, were posted on the American Dialect Society list in October 2015 by Bonnie Taylor-Blake. The oldest is this excellent example:

No power except that of the legislature can change the rolls. The assessor-collectors do not have the power, the commissioners’ courts do not have the power. That’s all she wrote and it’s final, the attorney general says in language much more eloquent and technical. – Ralph L Buell, in his In Our Valley column in The Brownsville Herald (Texas), 16 Jun. 1935. 

“Ralph Buell clearly used the phrase in the expectation that his readers would recognise and understand it. The Texas Troubadour’s song is very unlikely to have reached such widespread popularity as early as 1935 and so has to be rejected as the origin. It’s more likely that it was an existing folksy saying among Texans that Ernest Tubb happened to make use of.”

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Pall Mall – This name marks both a popular brand of cigarettes, as well as street in London. Both names came to the language from an old outdoor game. The name (and the game) entered the language from the French (ball, palle + mallet, maille). Palle maille was a popular 16th Century game that arrived in England during the reign of Charles I (1625 – 1649). “The boxwood ball used in the game was about the size of the modern croquet ball, and the mallet, also of wood, was similar to the croquet mallet, except that the head was curved and the two faces sloped toward the shaft. The game was played on an alley of considerable length, from the starting point at one end to an iron ring suspended at some height at the other end. The player was winner who took the fewest strokes to drive his ball through the ring. The most noted alley in London in which the game was played was the near St. James’s, now bearing the name of the game. The French name was long retained, but because of its pronunciation, the spelling was altered by some to pell-mell. Others, however, recalled that the Latin sources of the French words were respectively palla and malleus, and therefore insisted upon the spelling pall-mall, which; nevertheless, is still pronounced in England either as if spelled ‘pell-mell’ or like the first syllables of ‘pallet’ and ‘mallet’ respectively.” (Charles Earle Funk, Thereby Hangs the Tale, ©1950, Harper and Row, page 213)

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Wet one’s whistle – Some claim this one comes from a tale that goes something like this: ‘Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. ‘Wet your whistle’ is the phrase inspired by this practice’. 

Although fun to read, there is but a “morsel of truth with a large serving of invention. They lie at one extreme of the spectrum of folk or popular etymology, and they’re a very good illustration of the way that mistaken ideas about words and phrases can disseminate.

One “can be sure that no pub cup or mug ever had a whistle fitted to it for this purpose. If one wanted another drink, he went up to the bar and asked for it; if the place was posh enough to have table service, he most certainly wouldn’t blow a whistle to get attention! You sometimes see such mugs today, but they’re the pottery equivalent of your a joke on a long-established saying.

imgres-1“In the expression, whistle is just a joking reference to one’s mouth or throat and to the fact that one can’t easily whistle when one’s mouth is dry. It’s a very ancient expression: its first recorded appearance is in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales at the end of the fourteenth century, and it must surely be even older.

“You can sometimes find it as whet one’s whistle, through confusion with whet one’s appetite and similar words in whet, literally meaning to sharpen. It would seem that those who first wrote it that way, more than 300 years ago, were as unsure of the real source of the expression as many of us are today (the first known example is from a book of 1674 by Thomas Flatman with the title Belly God).”

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Guinea – A special gold coin came into place in 1663. The Royal Mint of England created the gold coinage of twenty-shilling pieces “in the name and for the use of the Company of Royal Adventurers of England,” who traded with Africa. When they came into general use, these coins, designed for the specific purpose of trading, were called guineas, because the “Company of Royal Adventurers of England” were actually along the coast of Guinea. “At this period in English history the standard of value was not gold, but silver, and the silver coinage was in bad state owing to the activities of ‘clippers,’ who mutilated coins by paring the edges. The value of the gold guinea therefore increased to more than twenty-shillings’ worth of silver coin, or more than its face value. Accordingly, in 1717, its value was fixed at 21 shillings. After the establishment of the gold standard in 1816 no more guineas were coined.” (Charles Earl Funk, Thereby Hangs the Tale, ©1950, Harper and Row, page 139)

Posted in Age of Chaucer, Canterbury tales, etymology, history, Jane Austen, real life tales, tall tales, word choices, word origins, word play, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments