Parlez-vous Français?

Pride and Prejudice (2005 - Photo: IMDB)

Do you speak French? Or Italian? Perhaps you can even grasp the basics of Latin or Greek?

I can claim to know enough French to be just a wee bit dangerous. I could probably read street signs or order from a café menu in Paris but beyond that, I wouldn’t be the best translator to select for your next trip abroad.  (That’d be enough to get us a meal and a trip to the Louvre, but that’s about it.) College helped some, but I never left class  truly adept at the conversational side of speaking the language that comes from years of dedicated study.

Had you lived in the Regency, you’d not have had the opportunity to partake in any state-run system of education. And depending upon your wealth and station, your access to educational opportunities could differ (and languages studies along with it). Those with less social standing could possibly attend a local charity or church-administered school but for those with means, a boarding school, trained governess (for young ladies), or skilled tutors (for young men) would have administered the education of Regency Era youths.

Though the extent to which you received a Regency education would have largely depended upon your social station and your gender, there was a larger focus on classical language studies than we might see today. In fact, you’d likely have been fluent (or at least educated) in several languages. This was customary, especially with French, as it was the language of diplomacy of the day. To review letters and first-hand accounts of life in the Regency, it is quite clear that the education (and language studies in particular) exceeded many of the expectations of our current system: “Even the letters of Regency-era females who married at seventeen are full of references to the classics, poetry, and the effortless interspersion of French.” (Regency Reader, 2006)

Since we’re talking about education this month, I wondered what it would have been like to study during the Regency Era. How would my knowledge of French stack up against the young English men and women of the day? (Alas… I fear I may have already answered my own question, but we’ll continue anyhow.)

Oxford University (Photo: University Wallpapers)

Les Hommes (Men): Young men could have been taught in the home during their early years, though it was conventional for boys to pursue more formal education once they reached school age. Usually by the age of eight, young men would attend public schools such as those in Eton, Harrow, St. Paul’s or Winchester. Studies of the Classics, Latin, and Greek were standard, as were languages such as French and Italian. (Source: Author Jennifer Kloester’s Georgette Heyer’s Regency World – This book has a wealth of information on education practices for young men and women in the Regency.)

There were university opportunities for gentlemen, though it’s a misnomer that collegiate studies were only available to the wealthy or members of the aristocracy. There were scholarly opportunities for young men of intellect, especially if they could prove worthy of a scholarship. The primary universities for an English gentleman were at Cambridge and Oxford, of which men would first attend at just sixteen or seventeen years of age. And though the educational opportunities at these institutions were virtually limitless, these jaunts at the university were seen as more of a prospect to advance socially than to focus solely on academia.

If a gentleman had neither the inclination nor opportunity to attend the university, he might begin his career in the military. Here the opportunities to expand his knowledge of languages would have been likely (through travel and some ongoing study), though the danger to one’s longevity in this type of career was quite obvious.

Photo: Wiki Commons

Les Filles (Ladies):  In contrast to gentlemen, young ladies of the Regency had more limitations on their educational opportunities than their male counterparts. Though they could be sent to attend an education provided by a boarding school, there were no universities available for females. Young ladies were largely taught in the home and had education in subjects such as French, drawing, dancing, music, poetry and literature, embroidery, and basic instruction in mathematics and the geography of the globe.  As a governess may have deemed appropriate, girls could also be taught the more practical subjects of sewing, darning, the keeping of household ledgers, and in some cases, basic cookery and duties of household management.

Singing? Drawing? Dancing and the modern languages? Perhaps we’ll have to stick to ordering from that Paris café menu or hiring a professional to assist us with a tour of the Louvre? After learning a bit about the extent our Regency Era young men and women went through in their language studies, I’m not feeling so dangerous with my grasp of French any longer. But then again – we have one thing our Regency Era counterparts did not, and that would be access to a snazzy Smart Phone App that would be sure to translate just about anything we need.

What do you remember most about the language studies from your school days? (And could you help me order a pastry at a Paris café, especially if in a true emergency?)

May the light of Christ guide our days, no matter which language we speak as we walk through them.

Au revoir mes amis!

~ Kristy

Jane Austen Para-literature – Sequels, Retellings, and More by Susan Karsten

Researching this subject taught me a new term and concept: Jane Austen para-literature. Oh my. This is a huge topic. I am only able to skirt around it, since to cover this topic completely would take years. The incredible array of sequels and retellings of the Austen ouvre is astounding. I, dear reader am a veritable babe in the woods when it comes to such reading opportunities. I have read a few spin-offs, no sequels, and no retellings of Jane Austen’s novels.

Is there a name for the phenomenon of the fact that a movie is never/rarely anywhere near as good as the book? Extrapolating that thought further tells me there could never be a sequel book as good as the original Pride and Prejudice.

Creative or knowledgeable people: Please come up with a name for the above phenomenon. Mention it in the comments.

Inveterate Austen sequel/prequel readers: Have you read any great ones? If so, please leave the titles in the comments.

READ ON! Much good information coming your way in this post.

Please check out these websites for listings of sequels: http://www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/austseql.html

http://webdoc.sub.gwdg.de/edoc/ia/eese/breuer/biblio.html

{The second site lists them alphabetically, but also has a listing of them in chronological order, so you could skip down to the more recent ones.}

There’s also a list on Goodreads of the popular ones: http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/jane-austen-sequels

And another on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Jane-Austen-Sequels-Miscellany/lm/R1SHWQ7HPAS300

From the first link listed above, Ted Adams has a wonderful, comprehensive article slicing and dicing the terminology of Austen para-literature. I have used material from this article below. He said it so well.

“The adaptations, completions, sequels, pastiches and other attempts to tap into the Jane Austen industry … devolve from a most noble sentiment: We have read the six published novels and we want more. We want more and different insights into both the novels and into the type of person that Jane Austen was.

Adaptations are transformations into another medium, e.g., stage, screen and television.

Completions are the finishing off of a novel fragment. Jane Austen’s two fragments, The Watsons and Sanditon have been attempted a number of times.

Sequels are a continuation of the action. To my knowledge, nobody has written a “prequel”, which would be a description of what occurred before the action started.

Pastiches are work written in the style of Jane Austen. Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor is a pastiche. Its premise is that it is a notebook that Jane Austen kept concerning events during a period for which we do not have documentation.

Certainly no Jane Austen pastiche will ever be as good as the original, but that is to be expected. Mind you, when the standard is one of the best writers in the English language, to fall short of the mark is no disgrace. To write with wit, economy, great insight and develop complex and interesting characters is no mean feat. After all, we read Jane Austen with great pleasure 200 years later because she compares well not only with her contemporaries but also with ours and everybody who has come in between.

Personally, I enjoy pastiches for much the same reason that I sometimes enjoy Jane Austen criticism. Even when a pastiche fails or fall short, it can be interesting to try understand how or why it comes up short. And in the meantime, I’ve read a story that really has no requirement to be taken seriously.

The questions I would ask of a pastiche are the same that I ask of criticism: Is the work interesting/entertaining in its own right? How faithful it to spirit of Jane Austen’s novels? Does it provide insights into the work in question and/or the character of Jane Austen? ”

So, dear Austen-loving friends, I highly recommend reading the full text of the Ted Adams article — not the least for the titles of para-Austen books he considers excellent! Thanks for visiting Regency Reflections.

Remember to comment on the questions: What to call the phenomenon when the movie or sequel is never as good as the original AND Give the titles of any Austen para-literature books you’ve read that you think were pretty good.

Susan Karsten

The love of Regency romance lives on today. Comment on any post this week for a chance to win a book by one of Regency Reflections’ amazing published authors. The winner will be emailed the list of available books to choose from. The winner will be announced Monday, August 26th. Winner’s mailing address must be within the United States to win. 

A Scientist By Any Other Name ~ Guest Post by Regina Scott

Regina Scott
Regency Reflections is pleased to welcome Regina Scott to the blog.

I’ve had several careers over the years, one of which involved supporting scientists at a major national laboratory.  I love the way their minds work, probing gaps in knowledge, pushing the boundaries of understanding.  While the scientific process we know today–question, research, hypothesis, testing, and conclusion–existed during the Regency, the idea of a career as a scientist was in its infancy.  Those interested in observing natural phenomenon and developing and testing theories were more often called natural philosophers.  That’s why the journal of the Royal Society, Britain’s oldest chartered scientific association, is called Philosophical Transactions.

My favorite brand of natural philosopher is the Grand Amateur.  A Grand Amateur was a man or woman who, by interest, ability, and fortune, made major contributions to the sciences. There was something noble about discovering something new, whether it was a planet or the internal workings of a combustion engine.

Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution
Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution

On the other hand, if you wanted to make a living at science, you had two choices. One was to lecture or run a laboratory at an established institution. The premier of these was the Royal Institution in London. It began operations in early 1800 to bring attention to advances in science and technology among the public. Lecturers brought in a large audience, some of which, it was hoped, might advance funds for future research that tickled their fancies.  Sir Humphry Davy, the famed chemist, used to pack them in when he demonstrated the use of galvanic electricity and laughing gas.

Your other choice was to discover something noteworthy like a new element or unknown planet or build up such a body of knowledge that the Royal Society would take note and elect you as a Fellow. The Royal Society was nearly 200 years old by the mid-nineteenth century. At the beginning of the century, it comprised both scientists and wealthy peers those scientists hoped would pay to sponsor their work. By 1847, however, Fellows were elected based on their scientific prowess alone.

And if someone in power, like one of those Grand Amateurs who happened to be a baron or duke, took note of your work, you might be referred to the ruler for a knighthood and even offered an annual salary. Often the salary came with the appointment as an officer of the Sovereign, such as in the case of the Astronomer Royal. Even if you weren’t officially appointed to a position, there was the expectation that you would use that salary to allow you to continue working for the betterment of the nation.

Ada Byron
Ada Byron

Women as well as men pursued scientific interests, although no woman was elected to Britain’s scientific bodies during the Regency.  Even Caroline Herschel, who had been awarded a salary by King George for her discoveries in astronomy, was not granted membership in the Royal Society until 1835, when she was 85, and then it was an honorary membership only.  But even without royal patronage or recognition, women such as Ada Byron (now noted as the world’s first computer programmer) and Mary Anning (who discovered one of Britain’s first dinosaur skeletons) would make their mark on science, and history.

reginascott-courtingcampaign-webRegina Scott is the author of 25 works of Regency-set romantic fiction.  Her most recent release, The Courting Campaign, features a hero who is a natural philosopher.  You can learn more about her at www.reginascott.com, discover more about the Regency at www.nineteenteen.blogspot.com, or connect with her on Facebook at facebook.com/authorreginascott.  

William Wilberforce: Abolitionist and Friend, Politician and Evangelical

“If this be madness, I hope that it will bite us all!” said one of William Wilberforce’s friends after the young politician became an evangelical Christian. His other friends thought his newfound beliefs and life changes madness, and they still counted him friend and so much more.

Photo and link to William Wilberforce article on Christianity Today
William Wilberforce

Born in 1759, William was a sickly young man with poor eyesight, slight stature, and a quick mind. He sang and conversed in ways that pleased his interlocutors to the point the writer and socialite Madame de Staël described him as the “wittiest man in England”. And the Prince of Wales said he would go anywhere to hear Wilberforce sing.

Wilberforce was born to a wealthy merchant family. After his father died when the lad was young, he went to live with an uncle. But other relatives thought that evangelical Christian branch of his family was not a good influence, so brought William back to Hull, where he’d been born. He attended Cambridge and, though became quite a college partier (not a term that would have been used during the Georgian era of course), he managed to pass the exams and receive undergraduate and graduate degrees from that august institution.

Still interested in gaming and other less savory pursuits, William became a politician, using his great voice to persuade listeners. Never did he choose a party. He voted his conscience. It, or perhaps his poor eyesight and health, cost Wilberforce a post in William Pitt’s ministry. When Mr. Pitt became prime minister, whatever the reason, they remained friends.

Especially after his conversion, Wilberforce took up the subject of slavery. By the late 1780s, he was working toward the abolition of the trade. Opposition was fierce. Many Englishmen were getting rich taking trade goods from England to Africa to purchase slaves. These men and women were transported to the West Indies under horrendous conditions. From the West Indies, the English ships brought back sugar and rum.

Hannah More, link to her poetry
Hannah More, poet and abolitionist

In 1802, Wilberforce engaged in other important issues of the day such as the Society for the Suppression of Vice, working with Hannah More and the Association for the Better Observance of Sunday, and also Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He also married and became the father of six children, to whom he was devoted. The abolition of slavery, however, was his life’s most important goal.

1833 Abolitionist Act photo and link to U.K. educational site.
1833 Abolitionist Act succeeds in Britain

In 1807, the slave trade ended in England greatly because of Wilberforce’s work. Slavery, however, continued for those already enslaved in British colonies. All through the Regency, Wilberforce fought for the complete freedom of those enslaved.

In the early 1820s, he retired from politics due to poor health. He did not stop fighting for the abolition of slavery. Three days before he died in 1833, Parliament passed the act to abolition slavery in British colonies.

How Else to Entertain a Houseguest

Laurie Alice here: While working on my next Regency, (Zondervan Books, 2014), I ran into a problem—I needed to entertain a houseguest who is in mourning and who is also. . . We’ll be kind and call her distraught rather than whiny. Since I didn’t want them to play card games commonly associated with gambling, such as silver loo or whist, and this lady is not bright enough to play chess, I went to the well of information that is The Beau Monde ladies, the Regency special interest chapter of Romance Writers of America. As usual, they gave me enough information to keep my guest entertained for weeks; therefore, I thought I would share a few of them with you all.

Let’s start with Spillikins.

From Wikipedia (Jeu de mikado photo)

This is a game that is still played today. Sticks of varying shapes and sizes are held upright, then allowed to fall into a random pile. The object of the game is to collect as many sticks as you can without disturbing any of the other sticks. I remember playing something similar to this as a child called “Ker plunk”—or something like that.

Another game that reminds me a little of a favorite childhood game was, A Journey Through Europe, or The Play of Geography. The idea was a race through Europe, reaching the goal first. Players moved their game pieces along a map of Europe according to the toss of a dice. Sound a little like The Game of Life?

Other games included first having to put together what we would now call a jigsaw puzzle which resulted in a board game of some kind. These games—and others—were stored in slip cases for easy storage or taking on long road trips.

So now I need to figure out how I can get the heroine and hero playing one of these games. Or maybe that will wait for another book in this series. All I know is that knowing more about the games of the time makes for far more interesting evenings in the country houses in which I like to place my characters, than the standards of playing cards, chess, or music.

The Mysterious Ms. Darcy

My first Regency was Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer and got me interested in the Regency time period. The book that really hooked me on the Regency romance, however, was Georgina by Clare Darcy.

Georgina has all the wonderful elements of a romance that absolutely delight me—delight me to the point that I think I have followed a little in her footsteps in my own romances—books that is, not life—a heroine being courted by just the right sort of gentleman when her heart demands she go after the exactly wrong gentleman. Ah, be still my beating heart for Shannon, a disreputable landowner with mystery and rumors swirling around him. Though I knew I would regret doing so in the morning, I stayed up late to finish this story and was delighted and saddened at the end—delighted with the outcome and saddened that the book was over.

Over the next several years, I read every Clare Darcy book I could find. These were what we now call traditional Regencies. Traditional Regencies are those in the true spirit of Georgette Heyer—comedies of manners with no sensuality other than a few subtle comments and maybe a kiss or two, no foul language, and generally appropriate for young women all the way up to old ladies.

All of Ms. Darcy’s books were named for the heroine, except for one named for two females, one I just learned of today, as I did some research on this post. They ranged from countryside frolics, to country house romps, to balls and adventures. The heroines usually had minds of their own without being anachronistic or too much alike, as far as I remember, and the heroes varied in temperament and social position, though all were at least gentry class.

When I started looking at writing Regencies myself, I asked a few people about Ms. Darcy. Who, exactly, was she and why didn’t she gain more acclaim in the genre? I discovered that Ms. Darcy was highly respected amongst true Regency devotees, but her person was  pretty much unknown. Some even hinted she might be a he.

According to Wikipedia now, ten years later, Ms. Darcy was an author from Ohio named Mary Deasy (1914-1978). Her papers are in the Boston University research library. This is the most information I’ve been able to find out about this author who, like Ms. Heyer, died before ever I read one of her books. Also like Ms. Heyer, Ms. Darcy was a powerful influence on me becoming a Regency writer.

If you haven’t yet picked up Georgina, Eugenia, Lydia, Cressida, Lady Pamela, or any of the other delightful books by Ms. Darcy, you are in for a treat when you do.

Taking to the Sky

To celebrate A Flight of Fancy, we’re running a special week-long contest. Starting October 5, 2012, through next Friday, October 12, we’ll feature Regency quiz questions at the end of each post. To enter the contest, you’ll need to correctly answer the questions in the comment section below. For every correct answer, your name will be added into the drawing for a Regency Food and Frolic gift basket. There will be five questions in all, which means your name can be entered up to five times (if you get all five questions right). The deadline to answer ALL CONTEST QUESTIONS will be Saturday, October 13 at midnight.

Photo on Scenic Reflections

A Flight of Fancy has a heroine who would be considered a nerd nowadays. For fun, she reads Greek and Hebrew, translates ancient documents into English, and executes mathematics. She regrets not being able to go to university, but since she cannot, she determines to make her mark on the world through creating a balloon one can steer.

Balloons could not be steered except per the caprices of the wind currents. These change at various heights of the atmosphere, so a balloonist had to raise and lower the gas—hydrogen—level in the balloon to affect their direction. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not. Usually it did not. Sails and paddles were employed in an attempt to create steerage to greater or lesser success—mostly lesser.

Considering one had to go aloft with live fire to create the hydrogen, and the car or basket was not all that large, limiting the quantity of fuel, long journeys in a balloon without touching down were simply not possible. Decades later, Jules Verne’s book, Around the World in 80 Days, was considered fantasy. It was the science fiction of its day. (He is, of course, the founder of steam punk, a steam punk author told me.) But I digress.

How grand getting from London to Lisbon, sailing over the heads of the French enemy, sailing high enough to be out of range of their guns, would be! Much safer from the enemy than taking a ship.

Unfortunately, steering was the first problem with long-range travel, and having enough fuel to keep gas in the balloon was another problem.

It doesn’t mean people did not attempt, and come close, to sailing long distances. Sophie Blanchard, a famous French balloonist, sailed across the Alps. No problem. Balloons could go extremely high; therefore, getting over the mountains was not a problem for her. She was also not sailing over enemy territory, being French.

During the Regency, Mr. Sattler decided to fly from Ireland, across the Irish Sea, and to England. He did so with great success. Several times, he had to raise and lower his level to catch favorable currents, but the coast of Cumberland drew into his sites.

So he decided to go down to Liverpool, and that’s when he ran into trouble. He caught a strong current. The waxed canvas tubing that carried the hydrogen from the beaker of acid and iron shavings, to the balloon, began to tear away from the balloon, causing him to lose altitude at an alarming rate.

Mind you, he reports that he was around three miles in the sky. Plunging from that height would have been rather frightening, not to say deadly.

With great risk to life and limb, he managed to affect repairs while poised above a live fire and that beaker of acid and iron shavings to make the hydrogen. I won’t say how because I use this incident for the basis of an important scene in A Flight of Fancy.

Mr. Sattler ended up in the sea near Liverpool. A flock of sea birds attacked him for the food he had carried with him, and several ships sailed past him. Eventually, as night fell, a naval vessel stopped and picked him up.

That Lord Whittaker is against Cassandra going aloft in a balloon makes a great deal of sense. Men and women, including Sophie Blanchard, died because of their fascination with taking to the sky in a balloon. Cassandra, however, is like thousands of men and women throughout history, who risked their fortunes and their lives to bring us new inventions and scientific discoveries—she will not let the danger stop her from trying to improve balloon flight and make it a practical form of transportation.

For more details on how balloonists made hydrogen and why they went aloft with a live fire, read my article at: http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com/

Today’s questions:

1: How did aeronauts steer a balloon?

A: They used sails.

B: They used paddles.

C: They used wind currents.

D: They used the balloon itself.

 2: Which of the following was not used to make hydrogen for the balloon.

A: Fire

B: Acid

C: Wax

D: Iron

This contest is now closed. Please see the final post for answers to the trivia questions. 

Good Stewardship by Ruth Axtell

I often think about how privileged I am to have been born in this country, received a good education, always had enough food to eat, clothes to wear, comfortable houses to live in, cars to drive, opportunities to travel—and do the work I enjoy doing. As a Christian, I feel very much that this privilege includes responsibility in the form of “stewardship.” To me stewardship means acknowledging that I’ve been given more than others, not squandering those things (be they talents or material things), and then using those benefits to help someone else.

Portrait of Robert Raikes by George Romney, National Portrait Gallery, London

A person who embodies this spirit of good stewardship in the Georgian era, but whose impact was felt way into the Regency and beyond, was Robert Raikes (1736-1811). He was born into privilege in Gloucester, England, the son of a printer and newspaper publisher. When he lost his father at the age of twenty-one, he had enough wealth to live the idle life of a typical man of his class.

Instead, he felt that sense of stewardship and used his talents and wealth to help the men locked in the workhouse and county jail in his city. He began to teach many to read, since they had little to do in jail. He also began to see how ignorance and illiteracy often led to a life of crime.

His “aha” moment came when he went to see about hiring a gardener. While there, he noticed how noisy a group of boys in the street was. The gardener’s wife told him how much worse they were on Sunday. It gave him the idea of teaching them to read, since working children only had Sunday off. He immediately inquired if there were any women in the neighborhood willing to teach them, and hired four, paying them a shilling each, to teach these boys the Bible and catechism.

At first only boys were taught. The first lessons were given in the early 1780s (accounts vary whether it was in 1780 or 81) in a woman’s private home. Soon there were more “schools” opened in the city. In 1783 Raikes published an article about these Sunday schools in his paper. One of the reasons he gave for teaching children of working class families on Sunday was the following: “Farmers and other inhabitants of the towns and villages complain that they receive more injury in their property on the Sabbath than all the week besides; this in a great measure proceeds from the lawless state of the younger class, who are allowed to run wild on that day, free from every restraint.”*

The story was picked up by the London periodicals and generated a lot of response from other cities. From these initial Sunday schools, the Sunday School Movement took off. For those who opposed what he was doing, his schools became known as Raikes’ Ragged Schools. The children spent most of the day in the school, attending church in the afternoon, and going home by five o’clock. The movement caught on and spread to other cities and then to the United States. The parents willingly brought their children to Sunday school because it meant a chance for them to receive a free education.  By 1831, 1.25 million British children were being taught weekly in these Sunday schools. That constituted approximately one-quarter of the population.Free, compulsory education was not passed into law in England until 1880.

Think of the impact a Sunday school movement had on a nation and on the world.

 

From The Rise and Progress of Sunday Schools, A Biography of Robert Raikes and William Fox by John Carroll Power, Sheldon & Co., New York, 1863