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Posts Tagged ‘Jane Austen’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

James Stanier Clarke
1766–4 October 1834

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James Stanier Clarke

James Stanier Clarke was the eldest son of Edward Clarke and Anne Grenfield, and brother of Edward Daniel Clarke, he was born on 17 December 1766 at Mahon, Minorca where his father was at the time chaplain to the governor. He was educated at Uckfield School and then at Tonbridge School under Vicesimus Knox. Matriculating at St John’s College, Cambridge in 1784, he did not complete a first degree.

Having taken holy orders, Clarke was in 1790 appointed to the rectory of Preston, Sussex. About the beginning of 1791 he was living in Sussex with his mother, taking in the refugee Anthony Charles Cazenove for half a year. In 1792 he was living at Eartham with William Hayley; Thomas Alphonso Hayley made a bust of him.

Clarke in February 1795 entered the Royal Navy as a chaplain; and served, 1796-9, on board the HMS Impetueux in the Channel fleet, under the command of captain John Willett Payne, by whom he was introduced to George, Prince of Wales. It was the end of his service afloat, after George appointed him his domestic chaplain and librarian.

In 1806, Clarke took the degree of Bachelor of Laws (LLB) at Cambridge, and in 1816 the further degree of Legum Doctor (LLD) was conferred on him per literas regias. George had him made historiographer to the king on the death of Louis Dutens in 1812. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society.

From 1815 for a short period Clarke was in contact with Jane Austen about her novel-writing: they were introduced by Austen’s friend the surgeon Charles Thomas Haden. Having shown Austen round the library at Carlton House in November, and arranged that George should have Emma dedicated to him, Clarke also made suggestions in correspondence for Austen’s future writing. These she mocked in the satirical manuscript Plan of a Novel, according to Hints from Various Quarters, not published in her lifetime.

Clarke was installed canon of Windsor, 19 May 1821; and was Deputy Clerk of the Closet to the king. The canonry came about by compromise between George IV (as George had become) and Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool the Prime Minister, in a clash over preferment for Charles Sumner. Under a deal struck, Sumner took on Clarke’s royal appointments.

Clarke died on 4 October 1834.

In 1798, Clarke published a volume of Sermons preached in the Western Squadron during its services off Brest, on board HM ship Impetueux (1798; 2nd edit. 1801). With John McArthur, a purser in the navy and secretary to Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood at Toulon, he started the Naval Chronicle, a monthly magazine of naval history and biography, which ran for twenty years. In 1803 he published the first volume of The Progress of Maritime Discovery, which was not continued. He issued in 1805 Naufragia, or Historical Memoirs of Shipwrecks (3 vols.). Its subtitle “of the Providential Deliverance of Vessels” reflects its traditional content, harking back to James Janeway.

In 1809, with McArthur, Clarke published his major work, the Life of Lord Nelson (2 vols.; 2nd edit. 1840). It mixed official and private letters, and made questionable use of its sources. Robert Southey criticised it destructively in the Quarterly Review, a culmination of his literary feud with Clarke that led also to Southey writing his own Nelson biography.

In 1816, Clarke published a Life of King James II, from the Stuart MSS. in Carlton House (2 vols.). The work contains portions of the king’s autobiography, the original of which is now lost; in the Dictionary of National Biography it was considered to be the work of Lewis Innes, where Clarke attributed it to his brother Thomas Innes. A modern scholarly view is that the work was written in two parts by different Jacobite courtiers, the first part (to 1677) being by John Caryll, the second by William Dicconson. David Nairne assisted Caryll.

Clarke also edited William Falconer’s The Shipwreck, with life of the author and notes (1804), which ran to several editions, and Lord Clarendon’s Essays (1815, 2 vols.).

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Martha Lloyd
1765 – 24 January 1843

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Martha Lloyd

Martha Lloyd was the eldest daughter of Rev. Noyes Lloyd of Bishopstone in (Wiltshire and his wife, Martha Craven. Her mother was second daughter of the Royal Governor of South Carolina, Charles Craven. She is believed to have met her future husband in Newbury, when she and her sister lived there with an aunt. Mrs Lloyd considered herself fortunate to have married “a beneficed clergyman of respectable character and good position.” The Lloyds settled down and had four children. Martha, the oldest daughter, was born in 1765 and her sister Mary in 1771. A few years later, a smallpox epidemic took the life of their brother and left the two older sisters scarred for life, though the youngest, Eliza, seems to have escaped relatively unharmed. When the Rev. Lloyd died in 1789, the Lloyd family lived for two or three years in the parsonage at Deane, a benefice held by Rev. George Austen. During this period, Martha Lloyd and her sister Mary became particular friends of Cassandra and Jane Austen, friendships that lasted as long as they lived.

The Lloyd family had much in common with the Austens and from an early time, visits between the two families were frequent. Though no one knows quite how they met, the Austens and Lloyds shared many mutual friends and when the Rev. Lloyd died in 1789, his widow and her two oldest, single daughters were happy to move into the unused Deane parsonage offered by Rev. Austen. Their time there, only a mile and a half from Steventon, must have been a delight for young Jane, for though she was ten years younger than the oldest Lloyd daughter, Martha, they were, as Jane’s cousin Eliza de Feuillide remarked, “very sensible and good-humored.”

Austen considered Martha to be a second sister, as her letter of 13 October 1808, written to Cassandra, shows: “With what true sympathy our feelings are shared by Martha, you need not be told;—she is the friend & Sister under every circumstance.”

Three years later, when Jane Austen’s brother, James, married and assumed the parish of Deane, it was necessary for the Lloyds to move, this time to a home in Hurstbourne, called Ibthorpe. Though only 15 miles (24 km) from Steventon, this separation must have seemed cruel to Jane, who had few friends nearby and no mode of transportation. It is clear from Jane Austen’s correspondence that her friend Martha was privy to her great secret—her writing. An early piece of Juvenilia, Frederick and Elfrida, is dedicated to her “As a small testimony of the gratitude I feel for your late generosity to me in finishing my muslin Cloak, I beg leave to offer you this little production of your sincere Friend” and later writings prove that she had been allowed to see the manuscripts for Love and Freindship [sic] and for First Impressions, an early version of Pride and Prejudice and an honor accorded to few.

In 1805 changes abounded for the Austen and Lloyd families. Many years had now passed since James Austen’s first wife had died and he had remarried again, choosing the younger Miss Mary Lloyd to be his second wife. With The Rev, George Austen’s retirement and his family’s to Bath in 1801, James had taken over both the Deane and Steventon, Hampshire holding and his growing family now lived in the Steventon parsonage.

It was while they were living in Bath, Somerset that Mr. Austen finally succumbed to his long illness and not too many months later that Mrs. Lloyd also died. The women, being in a delicate financial state, decided to combine housekeeping and all four (Mrs. Austen, Cassandra, Jane and Martha Lloyd) moved to Southampton to be with Jane’s younger brother Frank and his wife, Mary. As an officer in the Navy, Frank was often away from home and this joining of households not only helped him look after his widowed mother, but provided constant companionship for his soon pregnant wife. It seems to have been, by all accounts, an excellent arrangement.

On 7 July 1809, Jane Austen moved to a cottage in Chawton, together with her mother, her sister Cassandra, and their friend Martha Lloyd, at the invitation of her brother Edward Austen Knight, on whose estate it lay. Their new house was a late 17th Century brick building with two sitting rooms, five bedrooms, kitchens, garrets, outbuildings, and about 2 acres (8,100 m2) of grounds. It had once been an inn, and stood at the junction where the Gosport and Winchester roads met and became the main road to London.

The family remained at Chawton Cottage, even after Jane Austen’s death in 1817. Martha Lloyd took on many duties as housekeeper for the family, though the work was divided among the three surviving women. Unfortunately for Frank, by now Sir Francis Austen, his happy home was broken up upon the death of his wife in 1823 after the birth of their 11th child. In 1828 he remarried, completing the family circle by wedding Martha Lloyd. At sixty-two, Martha was at last a bride, and more than that, Lady Austen.

Martha Lloyd’s role as Jane Austen’s friend and confidante cannot be overvalued and her contribution to what we know of Austen’s life is significant. We have not only letters written by Jane to Martha, but Martha’s collection of recipes used at Chawton, which were later compiled into A Jane Austen Household Book by Peggy Hickman, David & Charles, Ltd. 1977, and in The Jane Austen Cookbook by Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye, British Museum Press, 1995 (ISBN 0-7141-2769-8). Martha Lloyd is also directly mentioned in Jane Austen’s poem, Oh! Mr. Best You’re Very Bad.

A single photograph (daguerreotype) exists of Martha, capturing her in old age accompanied by her dog. It must have been taken at some point after 1839 (when the daguerreotype was invented).

Martha Lloyd died in 1843.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Rear Admiral Charles John Austen
23 June 1779 – 7 October 1852

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Charles John Austen

Charles John Austen was born in 1779 as the sixth and youngest son of the Reverend George Austen. His elder brother, Sir Francis Austen also joined the navy and eventually rose to be Admiral of the Fleet. Their sister was the famous novelist Jane Austen. Charles joined the Royal Naval Academy in July 1791, and by September 1794 he had become midshipman aboard HMS Daedalus. He subsequently served aboard HMS Unicorn and HMS Endymion. While serving aboard the Unicorn Austen assisted in the capture of the 18-gun Dutch brig Comet, the 44-gun French frigate Tribune and the French transport ship Ville de l’Orient.

After transferring to the Endymion he helped in the driving into Hellevoetsluis of the Dutch ship of the line Brutus. As a result of the latter action Austen was promoted to lieutenant on 13 December 1797, and appointed to HMS Scorpion. He was aboard Scorpion long enough to be present at the capture of the Dutch brig Courier, after which he transferred to HMS Tamar. Aboard Tamar Austen was frequently involved in attacks and engagements with gunboats and privateers out of Algeciras. He returned to the Endymion in April 1800. On one occasion he set off in a small boat in a gale with only four other men, and succeeded in boarding and taking possession of the 18-gun Scipio, with 149 men aboard. He kept control of her until the following day when Endymion could complete the capture. After continued good service under Captain Charles Paget, the Admiralty promoted Austen to commander and he took command of the sloop HMS Indian on 10 October 1804.

Austen spent the next five years serving on the North American Station, before his promotion to captain on 10 May 1810 when he was given command of the 74-gun HMS Swiftsure, which was then the flagship of Sir John Borlase Warren. Austen moved again the following September, joining HMS Cleopatra. Between November 1811 and September 1814 Austen served as captain of HMS Namur, based at the Nore and flying the flag of Sir Thomas Williams. He was then given command of the 36-gun frigate HMS Phoenix and after the outbreak of hostilities with France Austen was dispatched in command of a squadron with HMS Undaunted and HMS Garland to hunt a Neapolitan squadron suspected to be at large in the Adriatic. After Naples had surrendered Austen was active in the blockade of Brindisi. Lord Exmouth then sent him on to search of a French squadron, but with the end of the war with France in the intervening period he briefly turned his attention to suppressing piracy in the region. He successfully captured two pirate vessels in the port of Pavos, but disaster struck when the Phoenix was wrecked off Smyrna on 20 February 1816, through the ignorance of her pilots.

Austen was appointed to the 46-gun HMS Aurora on 2 June 1826, and was sent to the Jamaica Station as the second in command. He was active in combating the slave trade and had considerable success, intercepting a number of slave ships. He commanded the Aurora for two and a half years, until she was paid off in December 1828. Sir Edward Griffith Colpoys nominated Austen to become his flag captain aboard HMS Winchester on the North American and West Indies Station. Austen remained here until being forced to be invalided home after a severe accident in December 1830. Austen recovered and returned to service, being appointed to HMS Bellerophon on 14 April 1838. He was awarded a pension on 28 August 1840. He sailed with the Bellerophon to the Mediterranean, and was active at the bombardment of Acre on 3 November 1840. As a result of his good service during the bombardment he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath on 18 December 1840. Austen and the Bellerophon returned home, where the latter was paid off in June 1841.

Austen was advanced to rear-admiral on 9 November 1846, and was appointed commander-in-chief in the East Indies and China Station on 14 January 1850, hoisting his flag the following day. He commanded the British expedition during the Second Anglo-Burmese War but died of cholera at Prome on 7 October 1852, at the age of 73. On 30 April 1852 Austen had been thanked for his services in Burma by the Governor-General of India, The Marquess of Dalhousie, who subsequently also formally recorded his regret for Austen’s death. Austen is buried in Trincomalee.

Austen married Frances Palmer, the youngest daughter of the late Attorney-General of Bermuda, in 1807. The two had three children together. After the death of Frances in 1814, Charles married his late wife’s sister Harriet Palmer in 1820. The couple produced four children, two of them sons, and one of whom followed his father into the navy.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Admiral Sir Francis William Austen
23 April 1774 – 10 August 1865

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Francis William Austen

Admiral Sir Francis William Austen was a Royal Navy officer. As commanding officer of the sloop HMS Peterel, he captured some 40 ships, was present at the capture of a French squadron and led an operation when the French brig Ligurienne was captured and two others were driven ashore off Marseille during the French Revolutionary Wars.

On the outbreak of Napoleonic Wars Austen was appointed to raise and organise a corps of Sea Fencibles at Ramsgate to defend a strip of the Kentish coast. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Canopus, in which he took part in the pursuit of the French Fleet to the West Indies and back and then fought at the Battle of San Domingo, leading the lee line of ships into the battle. He later commanded the third-rate HMS St Albans and observed the Battle of Vimeiro from the deck of his ship before embarking British troops retreating after the Battle of Corunna. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Elephant and captured the United States privateer Swordfish during the War of 1812.

As a senior officer Austen served as Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies

Born the son of the Reverend George Austen and Cassandra Austen (the daughter of the Reverend Thomas Leigh), Austen joined the Royal Navy in April 1786. After graduating at the Royal Naval Academy at Portsmouth, he was appointed to the fifth-rate HMS Perseverance on the East Indies Station. Promoted to midshipman in December 1789, he joined the third-rate HMS Crown and then transferred to the fifth-rate HMS Minerva in November 1791. In HMS Minerva he took part in a blockade of the coast of Mysore.

Promoted to lieutenant on 28 December 1792, Austen transferred to the sloop HMS Despatch and then returned to England at the end of 1793. In March 1794 he joined the sloop Lark, a brig that was part of a fleet that evacuated British troops from Ostend and Nieuwpoort after the French captured the Netherlands during the French Revolutionary Wars. In March 1795 HMS Lark was part of a squadron that escorted Princess Caroline of Brunswickto England. Austen transferred to the fifth-rate HMS Andromeda in May 1795 and to the second-rate HMS Glory in Autumn 1795. In HMS Glory he escorted the troops of General Ralph Abercromby destined for the West Indies in December 1795. He moved to the fifth-rate HMS Shannon in early 1796, to the fifth-rate HMS Triton in September 1796 and to the fifth-rate HMS Seahorse in March 1797. He then joined the second-rate HMS London in February 1798 and took part in the blockade of Cádiz. After securing the patronage of Admiral Lord Gambier, he was promoted to commander on 3 January 1799 and became commanding officer of the sloop HMS Peterel in February 1799. In HMS Peterel he captured some 40 ships, was present at the capture of a French squadron in June 1799 and led an operation when the French brig Ligurienne was captured and two others were driven ashore off Marseille in March 1800. He also took part in the blockade of Genoa in May 1800 and, having been promoted to captain on 13 May 1800, was present at the blockade of Abu Qir in August 1800.

Austen became Flag Captain to Lord Gambier, in the second-rate HMS Neptune in August 1801 and earned a reputation for seeing to the welfare and health of his men. On the outbreak of Napoleonic Wars he was appointed to raise and organise a corps of Sea Fencibles at Ramsgate to defend a strip of the Kentish coast. He went on to be commanding officer of the fourth-rate HMS Leopard, flagship of Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Louis, in May 1804 and then took part in the blockade of Boulogne. He next became commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Canopus, a French ship of the line captured in the Battle of the Nile (as the Franklin), early in 1805. In HMS Canopus he took part in the pursuit of the French Fleet, under the command of Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve, to the West Indies and back in Summer 1805.

Austen was temporarily detached from the fleet for convoy duty in the Mediterranean and missed the Battle of Trafalgar. However, he did command HMS Canopus at the Battle of San Domingo, leading the lee line of ships into the battle, in February 1806. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS St Albans in March 1807. On 13 July 1808, the East India Company gave Austen £420 with which to buy a piece of plate: this was a substantial gift (perhaps the equivalent of a year’s salary) in thanks for his having safely convoyed to Britain from Saint Helena seven of their Indiamen, plus one extra (voyage chartered) ship. In HMS St Albans he observed the Battle of Vimeiro from the deck of his ship in August 1808 and then embarked British troops retreating after the Battle of Corunna in January 1809.

Austen became Flag Captain to Lord Gambier, Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Squadron, in the first-rate HMS Caledonia in September 1810. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Elephant in the North Sea in 1811 and took part in a blockade of the Scheldt. In HMS Elephant he captured the United States privateer Swordfish in December 1812 during the War of 1812. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath on 4 June 1815.

Promoted to rear admiral on 22 July 1830, Austen was advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 28 February 1837 and promoted to vice admiral on 28 June 1838. He became Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station, with his flag in the third-rate HMS Vindictive, in December 1844. His main role was to protect British commercial interests during the Mexican–American War, which broke out in 1846, and to disrupt the activities of slave traders. Promoted to full admiral on 1 August 1848, he was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 18 May 1860 before being appointed Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom on 5 June 1862 and then Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom on 11 December 1862. He was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 27 April 1863.

Austen died at his home Portsdown Lodge at Widley in Hampshire on 10 August 1865 and was buried in the churchyard at St Peter and St Paul, Wymering, Portsmouth.

In July 1806 Austen married Mary Gibson (eldest daughter of John Gibson); they had eight children. Following the death of his first wife, he married Martha Lloyd (eldest daughter of the Reverend Noyes Lloyd) in July 1828; they had no children. Austen’s siblings included Jane Austen, the novelist, Cassandra Austen, the watercolor painter, and Charles Austen, a naval officer.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Maria Edgeworth
1 January 1768 – 22 May 1849

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Maria Edgeworth

Maria Edgeworth was a prolific Anglo-Irish writer of adults’ and children’s literature. She was one of the first realist writers in children’s literature and was a significant figure in the evolution of the novel in Europe. She held advanced views, for a woman of her time, on estate management, politics and education, and corresponded with some of the leading literary and economic writers, including Sir Walter Scott and David Ricardo.

Maria Edgeworth was born at Black Bourton, Oxfordshire. She was the second child of Richard Lovell Edgeworth (who eventually fathered 22 children by four wives) and Anna Maria Edgeworth (née Elers); Maria was thus an aunt of Francis Ysidro Edgeworth. She spent her early years with her mother’s family in England, until her mother’s death when Maria was five. When her father married his second wife Honora Sneyd in 1773, she went with him to his estate, Edgeworthstown, in County Longford, Ireland.
Maria was sent to Mrs. Lattafière’s school in Derby after Honora fell ill in 1775. When Honora died in 1780 and Maria’s father married Honora’s sister Elizabeth (considered somewhat shocking in that time’s moral climate), Maria transferred to Mrs. Devis’s school in London. Her father’s attention became fully focused on her in 1781 when she nearly lost her sight to an eye infection. Returning home at the age of 14, she took charge of her many younger siblings and was home-tutored in law, Irish economics and politics, science, and literature by her father. She also started her lifelong correspondences with learned men, mainly members of the Lunar Society.

She became her father’s assistant in managing the Edgeworthtown estate, which had become run-down during the family’s 1777–1782 absence; she would live and write there for the rest of her life. With their bond strengthened, Maria and her father began a lifelong academic collaboration “of which she was the more able and nimble mind.” Present at Edgeworthstown was an extended family, servants and tenants. She observed and recorded the details of daily Irish life, later drawing on this experience for her novels about the Irish. She also mixed with the Anglo-Irish gentry, particularly Kitty Pakenham (later the wife of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington), Lady Moira, and her aunt Margaret Ruxton of Black Castle. Margaret supplied her with the novels of Anne Radcliffe and William Godwin and encouraged her in her writing.

In 1798 Richard married Frances Beaufort, daughter of Daniel Augustus Beaufort, who instigated the idea of travelling to England and the European continent. Frances, a year younger than Maria, became her lifelong confidante. The family travelled first to London in 1800.

In 1802 the Edgeworths toured the English midlands. They then travelled to the continent, first to Brussels and then to Consulate France (during the Peace of Amiens, a brief lull in the Napoleonic Wars). They met all the notables, and Maria received a marriage proposal from a Swedish courtier, Count Edelcrantz. Her letter on the subject seems very cool, but her stepmother assures us in the Augustus Hare Life and Letters that Maria loved him very much and did not get over the affair quickly. They came home to Ireland in 1803 on the eve of the resumption of the wars and Maria returned to writing. Tales of Fashionable Life, The Absentee and Ormond are novels of Irish life. Edgeworth was an extremely popular author who was compared with her contemporary writers Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott. She initially earned more than them, and used her income to help her siblings.

On a visit to London in 1813, where she was received as a literary lion, Maria met Lord Byron (whom she disliked) and Humphry Davy. She entered into a long correspondence with the ultra-Tory Sir Walter Scott after the publication of Waverley in 1814, in which he gratefully acknowledged her influence, and they formed a lasting friendship. She visited him in Scotland at Abbotsford House in 1823, where he took her on a tour of the area. The next year, Sir Walter visited Edgeworthstown. When passing through the village, one of the party wrote, “We found neither mud hovels nor naked peasantry, but snug cottages and smiles all about.” A counterview was provided by another visitor who stated that the residents of Edgeworthstown treated Edgeworth with contempt, refusing even to feign politeness.

Richard Edgeworth was comparatively fair and forgiving in his dealings with his tenants and was actively involved in the estate’s management. After debating the issue with the economist David Ricardo, Maria came to believe that better management and the further application of science to agriculture would raise food production and lower prices. Both Richard and Maria were also in favour of Catholic Emancipation, enfranchisement for Catholics without property restrictions (although he admitted it was against his own interest), agricultural reform and increased educational opportunities for women. She particularly worked hard to improve the living standards of the poor in Edgeworthstown. In trying to improve conditions in the village she provided schools for the local children of all denominations.

After her father’s death in 1817 she edited his memoirs, and extended them with her biographical comments. She was an active writer to the last.

She worked for the relief of the famine-stricken Irish peasants during the Irish Potato Famine. She wrote Orlandino for the benefit of the Relieve Fund. Her letters to the Quaker Relief Committee provide a vivid account of the desperate plight facing the tenants in Edgeworthstown, the extreme conditions under which they lived, and the struggle to obtain whatever aid and assistance she could to alleviate their plight. Through her efforts she received gifts for the poor from America.

During the Irish Famine Edgeworth insisted that only those of her tenants who had paid their rent in full would receive relief. Edgeworth also punished those of her tenants who voted against her Tory preferences.
With the election of William Rowan Hamilton to president of the Royal Irish Academy, Maria became a dominant source of advice for Hamilton, particularly on the issue of literature in Ireland. She suggested that women should be allowed to participate in events held by the academy. For her guidance and help, Hamilton made Edgeworth an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy in 1837, following in the footsteps of Louisa Beaufort, a former member of the academy and a relative of hers.

After a visit to see her relations in Trim, Maria, now in her eighties, began to feel heart pains and died suddenly of a heart attack in Edgeworthstown on 22 May 1849.

Though Maria Edgeworth spent most of her childhood in England, her life in Ireland had a profound impact on both her thinking and views surrounding her Irish culture. Fauske and Kaufman conclude, “[She] used her fiction to address the inherent problems of acts delineated by religious, national, racial, class based, sexual, and gendered identities.” Edgeworth used works such Castle Rackrent and Harrington to express her feelings on controversial issues.

In her works, Edgeworth created a nostalgic past of Ireland in an attempt to celebrate Irish culture. Suvendrini Perera said Edgeworth’s novels traced “the gradual anglicanization of feudal Irish society.” Edgeworth’s goal in her works was to show the Irish as equal to the English, and therefore warranting equal, though not separate, status. Essay on Irish Bulls rejects an English stereotype of Irishmen and portrays them accurately in realistic, everyday settings. This is a common theme in her Irish works, combating the caricatured Irish with accurate representations. In her work Edgeworth also places focus on the linguistic differences between Irish and English societies, as a foil to how dynamic and intricate Irish society was in spite of English stereotypes.

Edgeworth’s writing of Ireland, especially her early Irish tales, offer an important rearticulation of Burkean local attachment and philosophical cosmopolitanism to produce an understanding of the nation as neither tightly bordered (like nations based on historical premises such as blood or inheritance) or not borderless (like those based on rational notions of universal inclusion). Edgeworth used her writing to reconsider the meaning of the denomination “Anglo-Irish”, and through her interrogation she reinterpreted both cosmopolitan and national definitions of belonging so as to reconstitute “Anglo-Irish” less as a category than as an ongoing mediation between borders. In Edgeworth’s Irish novels, education is the key to both individual and national improvement, according to Edgeworth, “it is the foundation of the well-governed estate and the foundation of the well-governed nation”. More specifically, a slow process of education instills transnational understanding in the Irish people while retaining the bonds of local attachment by which the nation is secured. The centrality of education not only suggests Edgeworth’s wish for a rooted yet cosmopolitan or transnational judgment, but also distinguishes her writing from constructions of national identity as national character, linking her through to earlier cosmopolitan constructions of universal human subjects. By claiming national difference as anchored in education, culture rather than nature, Edgeworth gives to national identity a sociocultural foundation, and thereby opens a space in which change can happen.

Maria agreed with the Act of Union, but thought that it should not be passed against the wishes of the Irish people. Concerning education, she thought boys and girls should be educated equally and together, drawing upon Rousseau’s ideas. She believed a woman should only marry someone who suits her in “character, temper, and understanding.” Becoming an old maid was preferable to an incompatible union. The story Vivian from Tales of Fashionable Life and Patronage attack eighteenth-century English Whig governance of Ireland as corrupt and unrepresentative. Edgeworth strove for the self-realization of women and stressed the importance of the individual. She also wanted greater participation in politics by middle class women. Her work Helen clearly demonstrates this point in the passage: “Women are now so highly cultivated, and political subjects are at present of so much importance, of such high interest, to all human creatures who live together in society, you can hardly expect, Helen, that you, as a rational being, can go through the world as it now is, without forming any opinion on points of public importance. You cannot, I conceive, satisfy yourself with the common namby-pamby little missy phrase, ‘ladies have nothing to do with politics’.” She sympathised with Catholics and supported gradual, though not immediate, Catholic Emancipation.

To help illustrate the care that must be taken in teaching children and to emphasise the necessity of properly directing and managing their attentiveness, Maria Edgeworth drew several comparisons with non-European peoples. In her 1798 book Practical Education she maintained that unnecessarily causing fatigue should be a great concern of educators. In making the point that any mode of instruction that tired the attention was hurtful to children, her reasoning was that people can pay attention only to one thing at a time, and because children can appear resistant to repetition, teachers naturally should vary things. However, educators should always be mindful of the fact that, “while variety relieves the mind, the objects which are varied must not all be entirely new, for novelty and variety when joined, fatigue the mind” as Edgeworth states. The teaching of children needed to follow carefully considered methods, needed to evidence concern for appropriateness and proper sequencing, and needed to be guided by consideration from forms of teaching that would be empowering and enabling, not fatiguing or disabling. In Edgeworth’s work, the attention of the child appears as a key site for pedagogical work and interventions.

Edgeworth’s early literary efforts have often been considered melodramatic rather than realistic. Recent scholarship, however, has uncovered the importance of Edgeworth’s previously unpublished juvenilia manuscript, The Double Disguise (1786). In particular, The Double Disguise signals Edgeworth’s turn toward realism and is now considered a seminal regional narrative predating Castle Rackrent (1800). In addition, Edgeworth wrote many children’s novels that conveyed moral lessons to their audience. One of her schoolgirl novels features a villain who wore a mask made from the skin of a dead man’s face. Edgeworth’s first published work was Letters for Literary Ladies in 1795. Her work, “An Essay on the Noble Science of Self-Justification” (1795) is written for a female audience in which she convinces women that the fair sex is endowed with an art of self-justification and women should use their gifts to continually challenge the force and power of men, especially their husbands, with wit and intelligence. It humorously and satirically explores the feminine argumentative method. This was followed in 1796 by her first children’s book, The Parent’s Assistant, which included Edgeworth’s celebrated short story The Purple Jar. The Parent’s Assistant was influenced by her father’s work and perspectives on children’s education.

Mr. Edgeworth, a well-known author and inventor, encouraged his daughter’s career. At the height of her creative endeavours, Maria wrote, “Seriously it was to please my Father I first exerted myself to write, to please him I continued.” Though the impetus for Maria’s works, Mr. Edgeworth has been criticised for his insistence on approving and editing her work. The tales in The Parent’s Assistant were approved by her father before he would allow them to be read to her younger siblings. It is speculated that her stepmother and siblings also helped in the editing process of Edgeworth’s work.

Practical Education (1798) is a progressive work on education that combines the ideas of Locke and Rousseau with scientific inquiry. Edgeworth asserts that “learning should be a positive experience and that the discipline of education is more important during the formative years than the acquisition of knowledge.” The system attempted to “adapt both the curriculum and methods of teaching to the needs of the child; the endeavour to explain moral habits and the learning process through associationism; and most important, the effort to entrust the child with the responsibility for his own mental culture.” The ultimate goal of Edgeworth’s system was to create an independent thinker who understands the consequences of their actions.

Her first novel, Castle Rackrent (1800) was written and submitted for anonymous publication in 1800 without her father’s knowledge. It was an immediate success and firmly established Edgeworth’s appeal. The book is a satire on Anglo-Irish landlords, before the year 1782, showing the need for more responsible management by the Irish landowning class. The story follows four generations of an Irish landholding family, the Rackrents. It is narrated by an Irish catholic worker on the estate, named Thady Quirk, and portrayed the rise of the catholic-Irish middle class.

Belinda (1801), a 3-volume work published in London, was Maria Edgeworth’s first full-length novel. It dealt with love, courtship, and marriage, dramatising the conflicts within her “own personality and environment; conflicts between reason and feeling, restraint and individual freedom, and society and free spirit.” Belinda was also notable for its controversial depiction of interracial marriage between an African servant and an English farm-girl. Later editions of the novel, however, removed these sections.

Tales of Fashionable Life (1809 and 1812) is a 2-series collection of short stories which often focus on the life of a woman. The second series was particularly well received in England, making her the most commercially successful novelist of her age. After this, Edgeworth was regarded as the preeminent woman writer in England alongside Jane Austen.

Following an anti-Semitic remark in The Absentee, Edgeworth received a letter from an American Jewish woman named Rachel Mordecai in 1815 complaining about Edgeworth’s depiction of Jews. In response, Harrington (1817) was written as an apology to the Jewish community. The novel was a fictitious autobiography about overcoming antisemitism and includes one of the first sympathetic Jewish characters in an English novel.

Helen (1834) is Maria Edgeworth’s final novel, the only one she wrote after her father’s death. She chose to write a novel focused on the characters and situation, rather than moral lessons. In a letter to her publisher, Maria wrote, “I have been reproached for making my moral in some stories too prominent. I am sensible of the inconvenience of this both to reader and writer & have taken much pains to avoid it in Helen.” Her novel is also set in England, a conscious choice as Edgeworth found Ireland too troubling for a fictitious work in the political climate of the 1830s.

  • Letters for Literary Ladies – 1795 ; Second Edition 1798
  • An Essay on the Noble Science of Self-Justification – 1795
  • The Parent’s Assistant – 1796
  • Practical Education – 1798 (2 vols; collaborated with her father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth and step-mother, Honora Sneyd)
  • Castle Rackrent (1800) (novel)
  • Early Lessons – 1801
  • Moral Tales– 1801
  • Belinda – (1801) (novel)
  • The Mental Thermometer– 1801
  • Essay on Irish Bulls – 1802 (political, collaborated with her father)
  • Popular Tales – 1804
  • The Modern Griselda – 1804
  • Moral Tales for Young People – 1805 (6 vols)
  • Leonora – 1806 (written during the French excursion)
  • Essays in Professional Education– 1809
  • Tales of Fashionable Life – 1809 (first in a series, includes The Absentee)
  • Ennui – 1809 (novel)
  • The Absentee – 1812 (novel)
  • Patronage – 1814 (novel)
  • Harrington – 1817 (novel)
  • Ormond – 1817 (novel)
  • Comic Dramas – 1817
  • Memoirs of Richard Lovell Edgeworth – 1820 (edited her father’s memoirs)
  • Rosamond: A Sequel to Early Lessons– 1821
  • Frank: A Sequel to Frank in Early Lessons– 1822
  • Tomorrow – 1823 (novel)
  • Helen – 1834 (novel)
  • Orlandino– 1848 (temperance novel)

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Edward Austen Knight
7 October 1768 – 19 November 1852

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Edward Austen Knight

Edward Austen Knight was born in Deane, Hampshire, the third of eight children born to Rev. George Austen and Cassandra Leigh. He had five brothers James (1765–1819), George (1766–1838), Henry Thomas (1771–1850), Francis William (Frank) (1774–1865), Charles John (1779–1852), and two sisters, Cassandra and Jane.

He married Elizabeth Bridges (1773–1808) on 27 December 1791, and together they had eleven children, Fanny Catherine (1793–1882) (one of Jane Austen’s favourite nieces), Edward (1794–1879), George Thomas (1795–1867), Henry (1796-1843), Reverend William (1798-1873), Elizabeth (1800-1884), Marianne (1801-1896), Charles (1803–1867), Louisa (1804-1889), Cassandra Jane (1806-1842) and Brook John (1808–1878).

When Edward was twelve years old he was presented to Thomas and Catherine Knight, who were relatives of his father and were wealthy. Thomas had given George Austen the living at Steventon in 1761. They were childless and took an interest in Edward, eventually adopting him by Thomas and Catherine in about 1783, becoming their legal heir.

The Knights paid for Edward to go on a Grand Tour when he was 18 years old, and he recorded many of his experiences in his Journals. These have been edited by Jon Hunter Spence and published by the Jane Austen Society of Australia in 2004.

When Thomas died in 1794 he left the Godmersham estate to his wife for her life, with the remainder going to Edward. She left Godmersham before her death to move to Canterbury, and gave up the estates to Edward.

Edward inherited three estates from Thomas Knight, in Steventon, Chawton and Godmersham (which included a manor at Wittersham). The libraries from these estates were used extensively by Jane Austen. When war broke out with France, Edward raised and was appointed Captain of the Godmersham and Molash Company of the East Kent Volunteers.

In 1812 due to a stipulation in Catherine Knight’s will, he changed his legal name to Knight.

The rectory at Steventon, where the Austen family had spent their time growing up, and Jane is said to have written the first drafts of several of her books, was severely damaged by flooding and was knocked down by Edward in about 1823, and a new rectory was built by Edward for his son, William Knight, who had taken on the living.

Edward made several improvements to Chawton House, including planting a walled garden, and forming new parkland to take advantage of the views from the house. (Chawton House at present has been purchased by the founders of Cisco and turned into a center for the study of Early English Women’s Writing. It is a short walk down the lane from the Cottage where Jane lived from 1809 on courtesy of Edward.)

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Just finished the first draft of my next Regency Romance. So now it is time to solicit from those who might be interested, aid by enlisting you in my army of Beta Readers.

The premise of this work, is one little tidbit that Jane Austen relates in regards to one of the characters from Pride and Prejudice. Caroline Bingley has a marriage fortune of 20,000 pounds.

As we know, that is a lot of money, ranging in value in todays dowry of estimates of 1,000,000 pounds to $40,000,000.

It is at least four years of the money that Charles Bingley has yearly. Other estimates place that a Regency Gentlemen could survive in London on 100 pounds a year, and should they maintain a household at the high end of 2,000 a year, that is ten years of living large.

One should note that the richest dowry was for the Wiltshire Heiress, Catherine Tylney-Long had a fortune of 40,000 a year. (Four times what Darcy had) and married the nephew of Arthur Wellesley who would become the Duke of Wellington.

But back to Caroline. She may have a sharp tongue, and not a friend to Lizzie Darcy, but she is sister to Jane Bingley and we can be sure that Jane would rather have her out of the house. The only way to assure that is to marry her off.

But who wouldst ever take such a shrew…

“She’s a shrew!” Said Darcy.

The Honourable Colonel Stephen Fitzwilliam chose his words carefully. “Of course she is. If you had been passed on left on the shelf, you, as taciturn as you are, would also be rather shrewish, I would wager.” Though the Colonel, for lack of funds, found that he could but wager not more than ten guineas a year. His allowance, and his pay, did not go as far as one wished, especially when having to underwrite so much of the mess bill for the regiment. And the man he usually would wager with, was sitting next to him.

Cards however, that was another story.

“Damn, man. My wife…”

“Your wife is the very definition of good manners, and that, should Ms Bingley learn to imitate them, would not only be flattery, but would be greatly becoming.” Fitzwilliam said. He had given that some thought. Those who were intimate with Elizabeth Darcy knew that Caroline and Bingley and she were not close friends. That they tolerated each other was because of Ms Bingley’s brother being married to Mrs Darcy’s sister.

“I cannot for the life of me fathom how you ever could set your intent upon Caroline Bingley.”

“If you would refrain from saying her christian name in public, it would be more seemly. That I must give you a scold shows that this has unhinged you, cousin.” Darcy was more often apt to remind the Colonel about such matters.

Darcy shook his head. “Yes, you will forgive me. Have you asked for her hand? Charles certainly would have informed me the instant he knew of your intent.”

“I have not, but before the end of this Season, I inform you that she shall be my bride. I thought to let you know first for…” Here Fitzwilliam found the choice of words difficult.

“Because for the love my wife bears you, as not only my cousin, but one of my two closest friends, you think she will take a pet against you.” Darcy was able to articulate the thought.

“The thought had occurred to me. Mrs Darcy is perhaps the most respected amongst our set, and should she act favorably to this notion, then all our future shall be the more blessed for it.” Fitzwilliam was not sure if Darcy would warm to the idea quickly, for Ms Bingley had muddled her future countless times in regards to her treatment of Mrs Darcy.

“As you know Mrs Darcy well, and she regards you as a brother, she will let you know herself of her opinion. I confess, I am always amazed at her thoughts on certain matters. As you well know I am sometimes unable to make correct predictions in what my wife may think on certain issues.”

Fitzwilliam grinned at his cousin.The Colonel said, “I do indeed know this. Well has it cost you to my benefit on more than one occasion.”

Darcy’s love for his new wife, though their marriage was near a year before, his cousin had made some small wager with Fitzwilliam on how Mrs Darcy might react, or act upon some issues. Fitzwilliam was never sure if Darcy intentionally lost these, but as yet if led into a wager on the matter, Darcy had not won these small bets. Though they both well knew that the new groom should never have indulged in them. Thus they never spoke of them unless in private such as they were then at their club.

So opens the story that I solicit you to come to my aid, read, review, point out my glaring typoes and mistakes, throw out half way through and say, sorry David, can’t help. Read to the end because you enjoyed it and thought it fun….

Post a comment, send an email, get on your horse and ride over for me to personally hand you a copy.

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