Dealing with Otherworldly People – Mental Illness in the Regency

Vanessa here,

As you all know, I love Regency Romance, everything from the comedy of manners, spies, war torn lovers, and my beloved favorite, marriages of convenience. A few times I’ve read a few where the character was described as otherworldly. This is Regency speak for nutters, missing a few marbles, etc.

Now all of us have accquaintances who fly off the handle, or we swear they missed their medicine. Or maybe you have people in your life who are too random or flighty for your tastes and perhaps their own good. (You know who you are, and I’m praying for you.)

I am not talking about those bless-your-heart souls. I am talking about the one’s who struggle with depression, the ones who have difficulty remembering to smile, who battle with suffocating thoughts in their head, and even the one’s trying hard to discern between reality and fiction.

Multicultural Historical Regency Romance
Amora Norton

My heroine in Unveiling Love, Amora Norton, suffers from depression. She has survived a harrowing ordeal but has kept the trauma and nightmares bottled-up inside. Yet, those memories can’t be contained. They burst free and shatter everything– her marriage and her will to live.

Depression is real. It is real now and in the time of Jane Austen.

For my sun-loving brethren, can you image living in the year of 1816, the year of no summer. Mount Tambora on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia erupted producing volcanic clouds that literally changed the weather patterns over most of Europe. England had cold weather for the entire year.  Yes, an entire year…

People rioted from food shortages that year. Can you imagine being cold, hungry, and in the dark?

flavored spa candle on a wooden background
                  We need light in the dark.

But what did Regency folks think about mental illness? Maybe it’s a very British concept, but family member’s seemed to manage it as a part of their responsibilities.

Jane Austen shows us a look at mental instability with Emma (1815). Emma’s father, Mr. Woodhouse is in mental decline. He has moments of paranoia, in which Emma’s patience helps to re-establish his footing. Here are Emma’s thoughts on her father:

Emma could not but sigh over it, and wish for impossible things, till her father awoke, and made it necessary to be cheerful. His spirits required support. He was a nervous man, easily depressed; fond of every body that he was used to, and hating to part with them; hating change of every kind. Matrimony, as the origin of change, was always disagreeable; and he was by no means yet reconciled to his own daughter’s marrying, nor could ever speak of her but with compassion, though it had been entirely a match of affection, when he was now obliged to part with Miss Taylor too; and from his habits of gentle selfishness, and of being never able to suppose that other people could feel differently from himself, he was very much disposed to think Miss Taylor had done as sad a thing for herself as for them, and would have been a great deal happier if she had spent all the rest of her life at Hartfield. Emma smiled and chatted as cheerfully as she could, to keep him from such thoughts.

Here are Mr. Woodhouse’s own words:

“I believe it is very true, my dear, indeed,” said Mr. Woodhouse, with a sigh. “I am afraid I am sometimes very fanciful and troublesome.”

Because of her father, Emma believes that she cannot marry. She is very young and now that the other caregiver, Miss Taylor, now Mrs. Weston, has gone, Emma takes on the whole responsibility of caring for her father. This underlying thread in Emma points to a few things:

  1. Regency families were aware of the affects of depression.
  2. Families and friends took responsibilities to support those with mental illness.

Notice Emma’s thoughts aren’t to send him away, but to make him comfortable and secure. They aren’t even to medicate him, which at that time would have been an opiate, very addictive stuff.

The next part of my series will discuss how the Regency dealt with severe mental illness, where life and limb are at risk, but for now I leave with you these thoughts:

  1. Depression is real and can be debilitating.
  2. Though suicide rates are higher in spring and early summer, cold winter temperatures, less sunlight, and blizzards impact many with increasing rates of depression.
  3. Many suffer in silence. A pray and smile can go a long way.
  4. Act with love, seeking your friend’s comfort. Save the pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps talk for a sunny day.
  5. Check on those struggling and urge them to seek help.

 

Swept Away Again

Vanessa here,

Next week, I will begin a series on mental illness and the Regency. Yes, a very exciting subject. So I thought I’d post something not so gloomy today. Many of you about 15,000 were able to get a copy of Swept Away this weekend. (It’s still free Jan. 4 2016.) It’s my Regency Cinderella story. Swept Away just released on audio.  Here’s a little snippet after Swept Away with Edwin and Charlotte:


Before Edwin Cinder could excuse himself from the drawing room of his wife’s Grosvenor Square town home, his stepbrother’s snide voice repeated another stinging comment above his dear sister’s pianoforte.

“The gossip papers got you pegged, you elevated shoe peddler.” Shelby laughed and snorted his claret. “Someone caught you in Cheapside. Next, we’ll see a sketch of you yet in an apron, hugging a shoe lasting station. The duchess will love that, won’t you, madame.”

Charlotte winced, her creamy temple wrinkling. “Surely, Lord Rundle, it will not come to that.”

Shelby rocked his large head up and down. “Maybe you married too quickly, my dear duchess?”

Everything in the room halted, even Lillian’s wondrous notes.

Edwin took a long breath. If not for the vow to his late stepfather to take care of the foolish Shelby, and a general principal of not smashing in the face of one of God’s creatures in his wife’s home, he’d take great pleasure in permanently wiping the smile from the troll’s face. He leaned forward but kept his hands smooth against his dark pantaloons. “Be careful, Shelby. Christian peace can only go so far.”

With the fool taking a loud swallow, Edwin believed his threat was understood. Good. Nodding to Charlotte, he turned and pounded up the carpeted mahogany steps to his bedchamber.

Anger roiled within his stomach. The need for fresh air squeezed at his lungs. Maybe a good wind would douse the flames of his doubts. His marriage to Charlotte had been quick and wonderful, but he should’ve known that everyone would be scrutinizing his whereabouts. Had working a few minutes in Ella’s shoe store shamed Charlotte?

The wind rattled the glass pane, but this night possessed a black velvet sky, no hint of storm like the day he had met the duchess. Looking a little further, he could see the reflection of torch lights at Dalrymple House, the Duke and Duchess of Wellstone’s residence. A Wellstone party was famous. How many of the ladies attending were wearing Ella’s slippers?

He rubbed at his temples and focused on the true problem. Charlotte’s neighbors were having a party, to which the Duchess of Charming was not invited. That feeling of being distant, separated from the rest, settled upon him again. So much for love making all the ills right.

The door to the room creaked open. The sound of dull heels slapping against the floorboards neared. A soft palm gripped his shoulder, the thin fingers working away the tension bound up within his muscles. “Edwin? What were you making at Ella’s?”

Turning, he placed a smile upon his lips. This truly was no burden, for Charlotte was the loveliest woman in the world. He leant forward, kissing her nose. “Nothing, special.”

She squinted at him and looped her arms about his neck, slipping against his heavily starched shirt collar. “I think I know you well, sir. You don’t have to hide checking on Ella’s. We’ve been gone three months. You’re bound to miss that store.”

He tugged her hands free and held her palms. “Are you happy, dear Charlotte?”

“What kind of question is that?”

He bit his lip and tried to think of hundred different ways to respond, but there was no easy way to ask the headstrong woman to second-guess her decisions. After a moment of breathing her perfume, counting the blinks of her blonde lashes, he just said it. “Have you no regrets? You were not presented at court. You’ll never be, married to me.”

Charlotte’s wide blue eyes lifted. The silk taffeta of her slippers crunching as she turned to window. “Tell me why you ask now? This wasn’t mentioned at Gretna Green with the blacksmith who married us. Nor any day of our wedding trip.” Rotating, she stood on tiptoes and pressed her lips to his Adam’s apple. “Nor any night in our bedchamber?”

“That was different. We weren’t in London, but now we’ve returned.” He stroked her cheek, her skin flushing at his touch. “When was the last time I created anything except gossip?”

“I thought you were happy?” Her soft voice rose, taking a sharper tone. “That’s what this is about. You have regrets.” Pulling away, she whipped her head again toward the window. Her shoulders leveled, and she crossed her arms as if she held a shield to her bosom.

Pushing her away was not what Edwin wanted. “A thousand times no. I love you, but do you ever think of what you gave up for me? Aren’t I an impediment? I am sure you wouldn’t want your husband to be seen in Cheapside with lasting tools, even if it was to fix you a new set of slippers?”

“I love shoes. I love your shoes. So that was what Rundle’s comments were about?”

Edwin tugged open the window and pointed to Dalrymple House. “More than shoes. Your cobbler husband is surely why long-time neighbors excluded you from their ball.”

Charlotte sighed. “You, silly, dear man. We were invited. The invitation was in the pile of correspondence awaiting us upon our return.

What? He blinked. “Then why would the Duchess of Charming not want to go to a party that will be the talk of the town?”

“The last grand ball I attended, a roof fell on me. I wasn’t up to fighting through rubble tonight. I had other plans.”

“I thought they had excluded you because of the gossip’s whispers. That rubbish hold much sway.”

“No, the Wellstones are fine people, and I hear they are used to having lively entertainment. We can still go, if you don’t believe me, but I thought we’d find something else to do this evening.”

The subjective notes in her voice made his pulse race. He pushed at his hair then loosened the knot of his cravat. “Am I ever going to get this right?”

“Depends upon how much practice you have in making amends. I’m sure those new slippers you’ve styled for me are great way to appease.”

“Yes, my dear. Just a new pair, soft ones meant to caress your feet. Those you have on now… Well, I’m sure these will be perfect.”

“We don’t need to strive for perfection, Edwin. Let’s just get to happy. ”Showcover4a_vanessa riley 300dpiRGB

“No time like the present.” He scooped her up into his arms and out of her horrible shoes. The party, his family downstairs, even the new lacy present he’d made at Ella’s, all would have to wait. He needed to taste happy, for the divine gift of Charlotte’s love was perfection.

 

Learn more of Edwin and Charlotte’s romance in Swept Away.

2015 My Year in Numbers – 2016 My Year in Expectation

Vanessa here,

2015 has now given away to a new year. I just wanted to take a moment to reflect.  Here is what 2015 has meant:

27,000 visits to this blog.

68,000 unique visitors to ChristianRegency.com

181,000 visits to ChristianRegency.com

1.9 Million hits to ChristianRegency.com

This is exciting. It means the content that has been built up over the years has meaning to a great many.

For me personally 2015 was a year of freedom. I embraced being a hybrid author fully, releasing books that traditional publishing felt were too much of a niche, being diverse in foils, faces, and faith. It has been a great learning experience and very fulfilling reaching readers, giving them something delightfully different. So here are my numbers.

1 full novel, Unmasked Heart

1 serialized novel (4 episodes) The Bargain

Released 2 audio books: Unmasked Heart and Swept Away

36,000 copies of my books are now parked on folks Kindles and iPads around the world.

 

So what is on tap for 2016? Expectation.

1 Chronicles 4:10

And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that Thou wouldest bless me indeed and enlarge my borders, and that Thine hand might be with me and that Thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!” And God granted him that which he requested.

More novels. More audiobooks. More research. More connecting with peers and readers. More fun.

Multicultural Historical Regency Romance
Multicultural Historical Regency Romance

I leave with you two nuggets. If you have never tried one of my Novels, Swept Away will be free 1/2/2016 at Amazon.  And if you are looking for something different, my latest serialized novel which launched today: married hero and heroine steeped in suspense in Regency London, Unveiling Love.

 

So I wish you all a happy and blessed New Year.

 

 

Gossip about the Duke – 2015 Reflections

Vanessa here,

As I reflect on 2015, I am thankful. This has been a year of building an audience for multi-cultural Regency Romances, ones where faith and passion for life and love are central. Today, I am showcasing one of the stories, the award winning, Unmasked Heart. Meet the duke and his problems.

Colonel Brandon from Sense & Sensibility - What I think Cheshire would look like.
Colonel Brandon from Sense & Sensibility – What I think Cheshire would look like.

William St. Landon, the Duke of Cheshire, leaned against the mantle of his study, resisting the urge to bash his skull against the fretwork trim. He looped his finger into the carved maple and pushed himself upright, allowing the rag of a society paper to slip to the ground.

That hateful gossip would stop at nothing. The woman or her army of wenches would even invent whale-tales to quell his investigation. With a side kick from his boot, he pushed the awful page onto the braid rug, one of the many items of his late wife’s choosing littering the London townhouse. The only good thing produced by Elizabeth was their precious daughter asleep in the nursery.

He craned his ear, but no shrieks sounded. His little Mary had no nightmares, tonight. Maybe she’d dream peacefully until the morn. If only God would allow it.

With a shake of his head, he smacked his skull. If prayers had true answers, not just a means to express contrition or condemnation, then maybe he’d drop to his knees, dust his breeches, and give it ago, again. But that wasn’t his lot any more. A backslidden fool his father would call William.

Well, that didn’t matter. He’d stopped listening to the man years ago. And now William just savored the music of calm, the absence of noise. The little hiss from the hickory in the firebox metered an occasional refrain.

His chest filled fully, maybe for the first time since arriving at Mayfair. What a horrid day, one filled with no answers or true name or names of the blackmailer discovered. And this…warning.

1778 James Gilroy caricature.
1798 James Gillray caricature of Prince William Harry and Mulatto Woman

“Wowski’s song

White man, never go away;
Tell me why need you?
Stay with your Wowski, stay;
Wowski will feed you.
Cold moons are now coming in;
Ah don’t go grieve me!
I’ll wrap you in leopard’s skin;
White man, don’t leave me.”

 

A groan welled inside as his gaze focussed on the reprint of the 1778 James Gilroy caricature. The scandalous drawing of Prince William Henry, the Regent’s brother, caught in an affair with an enslaved Jamaican woman. At least the poor woman wasn’t made grotesque like others had done when characterizing dark-skinned females.  But Gilroy still mocked her, calling her Wowski.

“Wowski,” William said with a groan. It was the name of a black servant in the play Inkle and Yarico, in which Inkle falls in love with an Indian maiden who saves his life but then sells her into slavery for profit.

Rubbing the stiffness from his jaw, he headed for the sideboard. The housekeeper had left him a sweet biscuit and mug of coffee. The coffee had to be cold with his hours of pacing the length of the room, but the fragrant bits of fresh crusty pastry still clung to the air. Suddenly hungry, he popped a flaky morsel into his mouth and let the buttery goodness melt upon his tongue. With his thumb, he traced the edge of the silver tray. Slow, steady circles, he made and listened to the small squeaks formed betwixt his flesh and the shiny surface. The chirps would make his beloved daughter clap her hands and smile. Would she try to imitate the sounds as she once did? Why couldn’t her rose-petal lips push out a syllable?

Nothing but hellish cries. A child of four should be able to speak.

His throat dried. His gut ached as if he’d been stabbed by a dull knife. He dusted off his hands and returned to the paper’s garbage and her parting thrust.

“Seems there’s a cheshire cat who grins like the Prince, but which Wowski will he choose?”

He scanned it again and crumbled the page, throwing it into the fire. The flames blazed and spit for a moment, then quieted. Truth had that affect too, coming from nowhere, torching the land, then settling into place. He had to be honest with himself. William did fancy anything that was the opposite of the lithe blonde deceiver formerly called his wife. That included honest eyes, a non-lying tongue, and silky skin that didn’t shun his touch.

Mary’s cry pierced his fogged mind and his heart. He trudged out of the study toward the stairs. London, this house, everything that screamed Elizabeth, he needed to be away from it. If he couldn’t stop the rumormongers, maybe it was time to leave. Retreat wasn’t an option that set easily on a military man’s shoulders, but this time it might be for the best. The gossips wasn’t above lies or innuendo. And if his clumsy attempts at finding the gossips set the dogs chasing Mary’s paternity, he’d never forgive himself.


William’s story released June 15th, Unmasked Heart.

unmasked_bookpicShy, nearsighted caregiver, Gaia Telfair always wondered why her father treated her a little differently from her siblings, but she never guessed she couldn’t claim his love because of a family secret, her illicit birth. With everything she knows to be true evaporating before her spectacles, can the mulatto passing for white survive being exposed and shunned by a powerful duke who has taken an interest in her?

Ex-warrior, William St. Landon, the Duke of Cheshire, will do anything to protect his mute daughter from his late wife’s scandals. With a blackmailer at large, hiding in a small village near the cliffs of Devonshire seems the best option, particularly since he can gain help from the talented Miss Telfair, who has the ability to help children speak. If only he could do a better job at shielding his heart from the young lady, whose honest hazel eyes see through his jests as her tender lips challenge his desire to remain a single man.

 

 

Get your copy of Unmasked Heart now at Amazon. It is available in Print, ebook, and audiobook.

 


References:

http://www.greatcaricatures.com/articles_galleries/nypl_gillray.html

Peter Pindar‘s Pair of Lyric Epistles (1792): “Lo, like a Cheshire cat our court will grin.”

http://www.spanglefish.com/slavesandhighlanders/index.asp?pageid=222459

Caricature: (1788) by James Gillray from La Rochelle Museum of Slavery showing a young European with his ‘wousky’ – a term also used by George Pinckard in his Notes on the West Indies (1796), p317. The man is, in fact, Prince William Henry, the younger brother of George III.

 

Today in 1820 – Discovery of a Statue

Greece_location_map.svgImagine a clear day on the Aegean Sea, the sea an indigo blue, the sky azure. You are a twenty-three year old French officer aboard the naval schooner Estafette. The vessel drops anchor at Melos one of the Greek isles littering the sea.

This young ensign, Olivier Voutier, who knows a bit about antiquities, as a well-educated gentleman of the regency era would, takes a pick and shovel and hikes up a hillside with a couple of sailors toward the remains of an ancient theater, hoping to find antique statuary near the ruin. Already, Thomas Bruce, seventh Earl of Elgin had brought back sculpted friezes and statues from the Parthenon, known as the “Elgin Marbles” to display at the British Museum.

220px-MilosNapoleon, another lover of antiquity, had purchased many Roman sculptures when he conquered Italy and brought them to the Louvre in Paris.

All things Greek, Roman and Egyptian were highly valued in Europe at the time of the regency.

On this 8th of April, 1820, young Voutier noticed a peasant farmer in a nearby field. He was digging around an ancient wall to use its stones in a structure he was building.  Voutier noticed he stopped and was staring at something in a niche in the wall. Voutier drew near and saw the partially buried statue of a female torso.

Despite her broken arms, chipped nose and other imperfections, Voutier was enthralled by the statue of the nude. Along with the farmer, he was the first person to gaze upon the Venus de Milo since it had graced an ancient Greek wall.

The farmer, who had no use for such statuary, was ready to shovel earth back over it, when Voutier recognized the beauty of this classical sculpture and persuaded him to dig it out.

Eventually Voutier was able to bring other French officials to see the statue. Another naval officer, Jules Dumont d’Urvilles, went to Constantinople, the head of the Ottoman Empire, which controlled Greece and the Greek Isles at that time, and persuaded the French Ambassador to purchase the statue for France.

It was brought to France in 1821 and presented to King Louis XVIII, who donated it to the Louvre220px-Paris_Louvre_Venus_de_Milo_Debay_drawing. The statue was not found in one piece and was broken in parts. The torso was carved from one block of marble, the draped legs from another, smaller blocks for each arm and the left foot. Fragments of the right arm were unearthed as well as the left hand holding an apple, but they were later discarded as not being part of the original statue because the carving was rougher.

The original plinth or pedestal it rested on was also found nearby but because the inscription carved in it with the artist’s name dated it to the Hellenistic period, rather than the earlier Greek Classical, it devalued the statue in the eyes of scholars at the time, so they discarded the plinth and continued to claim it as a statue from the Classical Greek period.

Today, millions of people visit the Louvre to view the Venus de Milo, along with the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory of Samothrace, another Greek statue.

Aphrodite_of_Milos
Aphrodite (Venus) of Milo

 

More about Flowers

I really enjoyed Laurie Alice’s post on flowers in regency England in springtime. It dovetails well with the post I’ve been thinking about, which is on the meanings and legends of common flowers during both the regency and Victorian eras in Britain.

May Flowers in a Teacup
Forget-me-nots and white lilacs in spring

The forget-me-not, a common flower in regency gardens was called by Coleridge “blue and bright-eyed flower of the brook.” It’s official name “myosotis” actually means the not-so-romantic “mouse ear,” so named because of the shape of its leaves.

A German legend has it that a knight fell into a swift stream while picking the forget-me-not for his lady. He had only time to toss it to her and cry, “Forget-me-not!” before he was swept away. British king Henry IV chose it as one of his emblems, and it was often embroidered on the king’s robes.

It was not until the regency that it became a garden flower.

2012plants 031
Foxglove in a Maine garden

Ever wonder why foxgloves are called by that name? Digitalis, the official name, is not nearly as descriptive. The old English name of foxes-glofa means foxes’ gloves. The fable is that foxes were hunted for their tails, which were considered amulets against the snares of the devil. In order to hang onto their furry brushes, they appealed to the gods for help, who gave them bells to hide in the fields. The bells would sound a warning when hunters were about and become silent when the coast was clear.

All that ducking and dodging the hunters had given the foxes rough paws, so that when they went hunting in the chicken coops, the chickens would squawk when seized by them. This time the fairies gave the foxes gloves to cover their paws with, and these became known as fox gloves.

Digitalis, which the leaves yield, is a recognized heart stimulant, which was used by American Indians before it became known in Europe. It is also a poison, so it was only used externally by Europeans until the 18th century. It then began to be used in the treatment of fevers, insanity and heart disease.

091
Red roses in a park in Brooklyn in June

Roses cultivated in Europe before 1800 are usually referred to as “old roses.” Not until 1792 when a rose from China was introduced into Europe did any of them bloom more than once a year. (The only occasional exception was the Damascus). Rose water was used for cooking. Vanilla supplanted it as a flavoring extract in the 17th century. Rose oil, rose water and rose petals continued in British pharmacopoeias but more and more for use in cosmetics. Attar of roses, the essential oil, took 60,000 roses to make one ounce!

One of the earlier spring flowers, the pansy, goes by many names including “Kiss-Me-Quick” and “Johnny-Jump-Up.” The word pansy is derived from the French penser, to think, which is why Ophelia said “Pansies, that’s for thoughts.” Legend had it that to pick one with the dew upon it would cause the death of a loved one. If picked on a fair day, it would rain before night. Pansy juice squeezed on the lids of a sleeper would cause her to fall in love with the first person she saw on awaking, as Titania discovered in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Axtell_final
A Heart’s Rebellion, London Encounters #2

The hero of my upcoming regency, A Heart’s Rebellion, is an amateur botanist, so he will usually refer to a flower by its official name. The system of classifying plants into genus and species was still a new science in the regency era. The heroine’s name, Jessamine, is a form of jasmine, which the hero is fond of calling by its official name, Gelsemium sempervirens.

Bibliography: Flower Fables by Geraldine E. Nicholson, Mid-America Publishing Corp., Kansas City, Missouri

 

Smuggling in Regency England

Naomi here. We’ve talked quite a bit this month about taxes and money, both current and Regency related. But one thing we haven’t looked at was how the people of Regency England felt about those taxes, and even more importantly, how the people thwarted those taxes.

Isn’t it rather interesting to know that people have been evading taxes for hundreds of years? The concept is hardly new, though the methods and means have changed through the centuries.

So, now you’re asking, how did the English population avoid all those hefty taxes? Well, not all of them could be avoided (here’s a little list of some of the more odd Regency taxes). But duties or import taxes could be easily avoided through:

Smuggling.

That’s right. Smuggling, that dastardly century-old business. England being an island and therefore surrounded by water, imported and exported all its taxable goods via shipping. There are lots of places along the English coast where sailing vessels could harbor and unload their goods away from the watchful eye of the revenue agents.

What was smuggled?

Anything that was taxed–which was pretty close to every purchasable good imaginable. Tea and brandy were two of the biggest items, but that list would also include salt, leather, soap, chocolate, fabric, and cigars.

Furthermore, during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars, French imports were banned from England. And France made things craved by the British upper class, like silk from Lyons and lace from cities such as Alencon and Arras and Dieppe and Le Puy.

And of course brandy.

If there’s one constant in smuggling throughout the annals of history, it’s this: smugglers always deal with spirits.

Where were the goods smuggled?

Though the whole of the English coast was subject to smuggling, smuggling occurred in greatest concentration along the English Channel. A quick little jaunt to France and back allowed for smuggling en masse in this region. The County of Kent, which lies nearest France and at it’s easternmost point is separated only by a few miles of water, was a smuggling hotbed. In the 1780s, the English government burned all the sailing vessels in the town of Deal, located just north of Dover, claiming there wasn’t a single sea-worthy vessel in the harbor that didn’t engage in smuggling.

Once on land, tea and brandy and cigars and the like easily made their way to the markets in London, and the overland smuggling was so elaborate that the English people had no way of knowing whether the tea they purchased had been smuggled in. In fact, some estimate that 75% of the tea in England was smuggled in during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

How did the smugglers operate?

Answering this question gets fun and creative and more than a little interesting. The British government did try to prevent smuggling, but keep in mind, the crown needed sailing vessels (most commonly cutters) and sea-worthy men to do this. And while fighting wars with America and France, the crown didn’t exactly have the personnel and vessels to shut down smuggling operations. In fact, it’s often said that the sailors on the kings cutters were people unfit for naval service. There are all kinds of stories of sailors sleeping on duty, and being hired despite old age and missing limbs and a host of other ailments that would make fighting off quick, able-bodied smugglers rather impossible.

The crown did have a preventative service in place, with enough revenue agents that smugglers couldn’t bring a large vessel directly into a harbor and unload illegal goods in broad daylight. Smuggling vessels were often painted black with black sails, making them invisible in the night. Often times smuggling cutters and sloops would drop barrels of brandy into the channel just off the shore, and then “fishermen” would take their smaller crafts out to retrieve the brandy and send it off to London. Sometimes these smuggling cutters would have a rendezvous time and place set up, and the smaller vessels would come and unload the cutter, then return to port under the guise of fishing.

In some towns along the coast, such as Hastings and Dover and the smaller towns in between, the smugglers almost acted like a modern day gang. The smugglers looked out for one another and engaged in illegal activities with each other. Even if the law abiding citizens of the town knew of the smugglers, they’d never turn the smugglers in for fear that their houses would be burned and their families killed.

And yes, sadly, such things did happen.

In other instances, there are stories of smugglers acting out of line and hurting a good, upstanding citizen, after which, the inhabitants of the local village got mad at the injustice and called down the law.

All in all, the topic of smuggling is much too involved to delve into with a single blog post. If you’re interested in further reading on this topic, you could try King’s Cutters and Smugglers: 1700-1855 by E. Keble Chatterton. (The ebook is free.) Or Smuggling in the British Isles by Richard Platt. Platt has a great smuggling website with a lot of information as well.

And you might be interested to know, I’m going to have a rather nefarious French smuggler and his gang play a major role in the sequel to Sanctuary for a Lady. Oh the fun we writers get to have as we explore the dastardly deeds of ages past!

What? A Cover Reveal

Vanessa here,

I am so excited to announce a few things. For “The Bargain” fans, the season finale is on its way. My editor is having one more look at it to make sure it sparkles when it shows up on your Kindle. It will also be available in Paperback, too. Today, I must share with you the cover for my next serial novel that will release in January 2016.

UnveilingLove_pulled back_72

Unveiling Love:

Winning in the courts, vanquishing England’s foes on the battlefield, Bradley Norton has used these winner-take-all rules to script his life, but is London’s most distinguished mulatto barrister prepared to win the ultimate fight, restoring his wife’s love?

Amora Norton is running out of time. The shadows in her mind, which threaten her sanity and alienate Bradley’s love, have returned. How many others will die if she can’t piece together her shattered memories? Can she trust that Bradley’s new found care is about saving their marriage rather than winning the trial of the century?

It’s available on Pre-Order now at Amazon:

This story of Bradley and Amora’s is very dear. Parts of their tale made me weep. I hope it lives up to my heroes like Jo Beverly, Beverly Jenkins, and Laurie Alice Eakes who weave suspense into their sweeping romances.

 

What is a serial novel?

Unveiling Love is a serialized story or soap opera told in episodes. Each episode averages three to eight chapters, about 15,000 to 30,000 words. Each episode resolves one issue. Emotional cliffhangers may be offered, but the plot, the action of the episode, will be complete in resolving the main issue.
My promise to you is that the action will be compelling, and I will tell you in the forward the length of the episode.

 

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

It Keeps Getting Better

Vanessa here,

Everywhere I look, Regency goodness springs forth. Here is some of the most interesting Regency content I found today. Click the headline and you will be taken to our custom feed of delightful articles, the best from around the Regency World.

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