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richard collins 1727 A Family of Three At Tea

A Family of Three At Tea by Richard Collins 1727

On October 1, 2017, we will be entertaining a guest! Noted author Regina Jeffers will be posting on this site, discussing some knotty issues of inheritance, and her new release. Please don’t miss it!

Illustration: “Family of three at tea” by Richard Collins, 1727 (here )

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I’m visiting Austen Authors blog today!

sir_roger_newdigate_in_the_library_at_arbury_arthur_devis

 

I have an article posted on the Austen Authors blog today, titled The Significance of Books and Reading in Jane Austen’s Novels.  Please join me on their site at Austen Authors.

 

Illustration: Sir Roger Newdigate in the Library at Arbury, by Arthur Devis (18th Century) via Wikimedia Commons Here

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In the news in July and August of 1808

by Lauren Gilbert

One of the articles I most enjoy in Jane Austen’s Regency World magazines provides snippets of news articles that would have appeared in England in Jane Austen’s time.  In the current edition, the following item intrigued me:

“By order of council, no licenses are to be granted to neutral ships to import French wines or French brandies.  This will operate to the advantage of the trade of Portugal and Spain, and quicken the sale of rums.” (1)

In view of the Napoleonic wars, the ban on the import of French wines and brandies by neutral countries made sense.  Since Spain requested aid from England against the French earlier in 1808 (and several English firms were vested in the wine trade in Spain and in Portugal which Spain had overrun with France), the desire to advance their trading interests was logical.  However, the desire to boost the sale of rums specifically caught my attention, and inspired me to look at that more closely.

England’s relationship with rum goes back to its colony on Barbados (1625) and to Jamaica (the British took Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655).  Rum was a by-product of sugar, and Jamaica especially made rum from molasses, producing a darker rum with a fuller taste.  As such, it was a product of England’s West Indian sugar plantations and slave labor.  Rum was introduced to England in 1714.  It was a popular ingredient in rum punch, which was made with rum, hot water, fruit, and spices.  The Royal Navy issued a ration of rum twice daily, mixed with water and lemon or lime juice to its sailors.  It was an important trade commodity, traded heavily with the American colonies, and competed with rum made in the French colonies (rhum agricole which was made from cane juice-it retained the flavor of sugar cane and was frequently  more expensive).

I wondered why the council would specifically consider the need to boost the sale of rum, as it would seem to have had a fairly secure place in British commodities.  I do not believe that it was a coincidence that this concern for the sales of rum arose at this particular time.

Abolitionists had been lobbying against slavery for decades.  In 1706, in the case of Smith vs Brown and Cooper, the chief justice indicated that a man may be a peasant in England but not a slave.  In spite of the fact that fortunes were made by English landowners who owned plantations in colonies worked by slaves, the issue would not die and in fact became more contentious.

663px-wedgwood_-_anti-slavery_medallion_-_walters_482597

Pro-abolition consumers boycotted products made by slaves, including sugar from the British colonies.  Rum could have fallen into this category.  Sugar from the East Indies became a popular alternative (originally Dutch, but this too came under French control).  Finally in 1807, the slave trade was banned  to the extent that slaves could not be transported in British ships, nor could they be bought or sold in British territories.  The act stopped short of banning ownership, so the plantations continued operating with the existing population of slaves (and their children), even though tarnished in reputation.

Maybe I have the business of politics on the brain, but it seemed possible that the desire to boost the sale of rum had as much to do with improving the fortunes of the plantation owners (who also tended to be wealthy landowners involved in the British political world) as making a patriotic statement.  Certainly the guise of “doing down” the French at this time would tend to make a controversial product more marketable, at least to some consumers.  It would not be the first time, or the last, that an apparently logical and reasonable act in politics had a seamier aspect as well.  (If this seems unduly cynical, please blame it on my current surfeit of political campaign material.)

It’s important to note that slavery was finally banned in England in 1833.

(1) Jane Austen’s Regency World.  July/August 2016.  Lansdown Media Ltd, Bath, England.  p. 38

Illustration from Wikimedia Commons: Anti-Slavery Medallion ordered by Josiah Wedgewood from William Hackwood 1787.  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wedgwood_-_Anti-Slavery_Medallion_-_Walters_482597.jpg

 

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Princess Esterhazy: The “Bonne Enfant” of Almack’s


Portrait of Prince and Princess Esterhazy with their children c. 1850

She was born Her Serene Highness, Princess Maria Theresia, Hereditary Princess of Thurn and Taxis on July 6, 1794. Her parents were Karl Alexander, the 5th Prince of Thurn and Taxis, and Duchess Therese of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (a niece of the late English Queen Charlotte). She was their third child, and second daughter. Princess Maria Theresia was born in Regensburg, Bavaria. She maintained an attachment to the city of Regensburg throughout her life.

Princess Maria Theresia was married to Crown Prince Paul Anthony Esterhazy III (date of birth March 11, 1786) of Galantha on June 18, 1812 in Regensburg, not quite 18 years old to his age26. The prince’s father, Prince Nicholas II, travelled extensively and had lived for some time in England. From an ancient Hungarian family, Prince Paul Esterhazy had begun a diplomatic career young, serving under Louis, Prince of Stahremberg, in London. He was apparently liked and respected in English society as well as in diplomatic circles. It seems Princess Esterhazy was already active in London society and established as a Patroness of Almack’s by 1814, so it is obvious that she plunged right in to the social mainstream. After attending the Congress of Vienna in 1814 with Metternich, where Princess Esterhazy was much admired, Prince Paul was appointed to the Prince Regent’s court in 1815 as Austrian ambassador, at the Prince Regent’s request.

The youngest of the Lady Patronesses, Princess Esterhazy was an attractive young woman, based on the descriptions. She was apparently dark, plump, pretty and lively. Countess Lieven (later Princess) described her as “small, round, black, animated and spiteful”. She was very formal, and known to have a distaste for status seekers. Her love of ceremony and etiquette were attributed to her German background. As wife of the Austrian ambassador, Hereditary Princess of Thurn and Taxis in her own right, and connected with English royalty (cousin to Princess Charlotte, niece of the Duchess of Cumberland), Princess Esterhazy was at the top of the social strata from the beginning. Her knowledge protocol and of Austro-Hungarian, German and central European aristocracy would have been invaluable to her as a hostess for her husband.

Princess Esterhazy’s youth, personal attractiveness, and connections put her into a position of influence, had she chosen to use it. Supposedly Countess Lieven felt Princess Esterhazy to be a threat to her own position, at least initially. Information about Princess Esterhazy as a spiteful person appears in Countess Lieven’s letters to Prince Metternich. Countess Lieven was known for her efforts to influence European politics in Russia’s best interests, and apparently feared that the Austrian ambassador’s young wife would attempt to compete with her on the political stage as well as in society. It’s interesting to speculate that her malicious comments about Princess Esterhazy were an underhanded way to undercut Prince Paul’s position as Austrian ambassador. Ironically, there is no reference to Princess Esterhazy having any interest in political maneuvering. According to the Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne, Princess Esterhazy missed her home and was bored in London.

Princess Esterhazy was primarily associated with high society in her capacity as Lady Patroness of Almack’s. She was one of only two foreigners accorded this position (the other being Countess Lieven). As previously mentioned, she was a very high stickler. She was noted for her love of new dances, and was especially fond of waltzing. She was frequently partnered by Baron de Neumann, secretary at the Austrian Embassy.

Prince and Princess Esterhazy had 3 children, two daughters and a son, Nicholas Paul. It is interesting to note that their son was born in Regensburg in 1817, and married Lady Sarah Frederica Villiers, the daughter of Lord and Lady Jersey.

Her father-in-law passed away November 25, 1833, at which point her husband Paul became the 8th Prince Esterhazy of Galantha. Princess Maria Theresia’s full title became Princess Maria Theresia Esterhazy, Princess of Galantha, Princess of Thurn and Taxis. (The questions of lineage and title were apparently contributed to Countess Lieven’s dislike of Princess Esterhazy; her dislike appears to have been returned. When Count Lieven was made a prince in 1826, the now-Princess Lieven told Lord Grey that they were the only ones granted that title. Princess Esterhazy had no hesitation in showing her disdain for the Russian title, which did not endear her to Princess Lieven.) It is worth noting that the only source I found that dwells on Princess Esterhazy’s spiteful nature seems to be Princess Lieven.

Prince Esterhazy served as the Austrian Ambassador from 1815 to 1818, and again from 1830 to 1839. Prince and Princess Esterhazy also ruled Galantha from his father’s death and returned there in 1842. The Prince was active in political affairs for the Austrian empire and for Hungary, serving briefly as minister of foreign affairs to the King of Hungary, trying to mediate between the two governments. He left public life completely when Austrian and Hungarian relations broke down in 1848. I have found little data of Princess Esterhazy’s life after leaving England or during the years in Hungary. Sources indicate that Prince Esterhazy (and, by extension, Princess Esterhazy) had spent beyond his means, and that his last years were made difficult by money problems. He died May 21, 1866 in Regensburg (Maria Theresia’s much loved home city), at which time their son Nicholas became Crown Prince.

Princess Maria Theresia lived until August 18, 1874. She died in Huttledorf, Vienna, Austria. It is known that her son eased the family’s financial straits by selling the family’s famous art collection to the Austro-Hungarian Empire about 1870. Her rooms are the focus of an exhibition at the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt, Austria. I requested more information about her from the Esterhazy Palace, but have yet to receive a reply. I will post an update with any additional information about her, when received.

Sources include:
Chancellor, E. Beresford. LIFE IN REGENCY AND EARLY VICTORIAN TIMES An Account of the Days of Brummell and D’orsay 1800 to 1850. London: B. T. Batsford, Ltd. 1926.

Also by Chancellor: Memorials of ST. JAMES’S STREET and Chronicles of Almack’s. New York: Brentano’s, 1922.

Charmley, John. The PRINCESS and the POLITICIANS Sex, Intrigue and Diplomacy, 1812-1840. London: Penguin Group, 2005. [This is actually about Princess Lieven, but talks about her issues with Princess Esterhazy.]

Gronow, Captain Rees Howell. Reminiscences of Captain Gronow. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1862. Reprinted by IndyPublish.com, McLean, VA.

King, David. VIENNA 1814 How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna. New York: Random House, Inc. 2008
.
Kloester, Jennifer. GEORGETTE HEYER’S Regency World. London: William Heinemann, 2005.

Quennell, Peter, ed. THE PRIVATE LETTERS OF PRINCESS LIEVEN TO PRINCE METTERNICH 1820-1826. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc. 1938.

Robinson, Lionel G., ed. LETTERS OF DOROTHEA, PRINCESS LIEVEN, during her Residence in London, 1812-1834. London: Longmans, Green and Co. 1902.

Candace Hern’s blog. “Leaders of Society and the Demimonde.” Princess Esterhazy (1794-?) http://www.candacehern.com/regency.htm

Unusual Historicals blog. “Fashionable People of the Regency- – Time for a Reassessment?” by Michelle Styles, posted 7/10/2012. http://unusualhistoricals.blogspot.com/2012/07/fashionable-people-of-regency-time-for.html

GoogleBooks.com. An Irish Beauty of the Regency by Frances Pery Calvert (the Hon. Mrs.) Great Britain: John Lane, 1911. Page 341. http://books.google.com/books?id=_LA_AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA341&lpg=PA341&dq=princess+esterhazy+regency&source=bl&ots=VfO–gHncf&sig=dpn5TZy–v898ruToxfX9z2Q6pY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=jw0gUe6vCpT09gTfzYHQCA&ved=0CDIQ6AEwATgU#v=onepage&q=princess%20esterhazy%20regency&f=false

GoogleBooks.com. Memoires of the comtesse de Boigne, Volume 2. (1815-1819). by Louise-Eleonore-Charlotte-Adelaide Osmond Boigne (comtesse de). M. Charles Nicoulaud. London: William Heinemann, 1907. http://books.google.com/books?id=6VUoAAAAYAAJ&q=The+diplomatic+body+paul+esterhazy#v=snippet&q=The%20diplomatic%20body%20paul%20esterhazy&f=false

GluedIdeas.com. From “Chambers Encyclopedia 1880”, Vol. 5 Escitria to Fagging, ESTERHAZY entry. http://gluedideas.com/content-collection/chambers-5/Esterhazy.html

ThePeearage.com. “Maria Theresia Prinzessin von Thurn und Taxis.” Person #32081. http://www.thepeerage.com/p32081.htm#i320810; “Pal Antal Furst Esterhazy von Galantha.” Person 320811. http://www.thepeerage.com/p32082.htm#i320811

Wikipedia.com. “Princess Maria Theresia of Thurn and Taxis.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/index.html?curid=25561257
Image: Wikipedia Commons Prince Pal Antal Esterhazy and his Family c 1850 artist unknown http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3a/Prince_P%C3%A1l_Antal_Esterh%C3%A1zy_and_his_Family_c._1850.jpg/595px-Prince_P%C3%A1l_Antal_Esterh%C3%A1zy_and_his_Family_c._1850.jpg

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Women and Politics In Jane Austen’s Time

     As we are heating up for presidential elections, politics of course is becoming all-consuming.  What were politics like in Jane Austen’s time, and what were women’s concerns?  This is a big subject, and I would like to present some thoughts in a two-part article.  The first will present some thoughts and information about the political situation of the time; the second will address some ideas about politics and Jane Austen’s novels.

PART I

     Politics in Jane Austen’s time have little in common with politics today.  Before 1832, only 5 to 6% of the male population could vote, made up largely of aristocrats who were large property owners.  Parties (and party loyalty) were much more fluid.  Rhetoric was much more uncontrolled.  After the French Revolution, a more cautious spirit pervaded the English political landscape, reigning in ideas of change and individual rights.  Although women had been actively involved with politics in the previous generation (witness the Duchess of Devonshire and her sister soliciting votes for the Whigs, and the political hostess Mrs. Crewe; and women at the lower ends of the social scale participating in mobs and rallies), by the time Jane was a young woman, women were discouraged from concerning themselves directly with political activity.  Does that mean that women, and in particular Jane Austen, were uninformed or uninterested in politics?  For that matter, what were the issues in politics during Jane’s time that might have interested women? 

     A general political overview is helpful.  In Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Whigs succeeded in removing James II (and the exclusion of James VII/II from the throne) and establishing a constitutional monarchy  (William and Mary, followed by Queen Anne; after Anne’s death, Elector of Hanover was invited to rule.)  The Whig party felt that they had saved the realm and expected to be rewarded.  They embraced ideals of the American and French revolutions, but wanted to retain the existing structure.  Whig power declined due to their support of the French Revolution (popular until the Terror and the executions of the King and Queen).   The Tory government was much more conservative, wanted to win the Napoleonic Wars, and concerned with  fiscal responsibility.

     Political parties were not like today.  Membership was fluid: members of all sides switched with various issues.  There was cooperation as well as conflict (see Ministry of All The Talents-both Whigs and Tories –formed by Lord William Grenville, in place 2/1806-3/1807).  Party affiliations were often drawn along the lines of one issue, which resulted in strange partnerships and fluid alliances.  Forming of factions was characteristic of the period.  There were three basic groups active during this time, with movement back and forth at will.

     The Whig party supported a landowner-controlled monarchy (constitutional), and was somewhat reform minded (i.e. favored education as expected gratitude and support, supported some expansion of suffrage but didn’t expect or desire basic social structure/class changes), and sought electoral, parliamentary and philanthropic reforms within their constitutional position.  They resented the king’s control of patronage.  The Whig families controlled polite Society  (The “Upper 400”, the London season).  During Jane Austen’s era, they were the minority party, but still wielded great power on the social level.   They supported Prince of Wales.  George III hated the Whigs.

     The Tory party supported strong monarchy, and the Church of England.  More conservative, the Tories considered moves toward political reform dangerous.   Hard work, and personal worth allowed individual advancement.   The Tories took a more pragmatic, fiscal-minded view, and believed that the king should determine the direction of the state.   Country gentry, tradesmen and official administrative groups were most often allied to Tory goals.

     A third group, the Radicals, were much more independent.   They wanted broad reforms (expanded suffrage, broader religious freedom, etc.)

     Parliament was made up of two houses: the House of Lords consisting of peers of the realm (dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts and barons), with the bishops and archbishops of the Church of England (Pool, p. 35), and the House of Commons (from the Norman French “Communes” or localities-elected from boroughs (towns) in the shires by electors whose right to vote was determined by sheriffs and the rules varied widely.)  For elections, seats were not linked to population, so representation was uneven, and a disproportionate number of seats were controlled by a few powerful men.  As a result of the Septennial Act of 1716, parliamentary elections were required every 7 years, with by-elections held between the general elections to replace a sitting member who died or resigned.  A very small number  were eligible to vote, and votes were bought and sold (both parties involved with this, even though illegal).  Public opinion had little effect on outcomes.  “Pocket boroughs” were small localities owned by one man who controlled the few resident voters, and were even bought and sold (see Duke of Bedford, Duke of Devonshire).    Both parties (Whigs and Tories) were entrenched in political system of patronage and nepotism.

      Jane Austen is often considered a Tory sympathizer, but did not disclose her personal opinions at length, as far as we know.  (Her brother Henry in 1818 was at pains to state that she was “thoroughly religious and devout” and “her opinions accorded strictly with those of our Established Church.” (CAMBRIDGE COMPANION p. 154)  This implies strong Tory leanings.)   Her mother Cassandra Leigh was connected to James Brydges, the 1st Duke of Chandos and Lord Leigh of Stoneleigh Abbey, but her immediate family had no money or influence (her father was a clergyman).   Jane’s father’s family was professional (George Austen’s father was a surgeon, his uncle a lawyer).  (George Austen was born in Tonbridge in Kent, one of four children of William Austen, a surgeon, and Rebecca (nee Hampson).) Both parents died before George was nine, and he was raised by his uncle, Francis Austen, a wealthy lawyer, who paid for George’s education at Tonbridge School and St. John’s College, Oxford.  In 1755, he was ordained in Rochester Cathedral.

                Various factors in Jane Austen’s life would have awakened an interest in many issues.  Her father, George Austen, a landless clergyman, had no money or property, leading to inheritance problems for his daughters.   Her cousin Eliza was the daughter of an East India merchant and her father’s sister who was sent out to India to find a husband (again, no money); Eliza’s mother took her to France where she married a minor French aristocrat connection.  During the French Revolution, Eliza’s husband was guillotined, a victim of the Terror.  (Eliza subsequently married Jane’s brother Henry.)  Jane’s  brother, Edward Austen-Knight, was a landowner with money, but had to be adopted to achieve his rank and fortune.    She had two brothers in the Navy, participating in war; for both the rank of admiral was achieved-they rose by merit and hard work.

     There were specific political issues that would be of particular interest to women, including Jane Austen.  First would be war; with husbands, fathers, sons, etc. going to war, there was a loss of protection and income for many (pay was slow to come, if issued at all; prize money could not be counted on).  Secondly were moral issues, such as the questions of slavery, and civil and criminal laws and penalties.  Although the slave trade was abolished in 1807, ownership was still legal.  Aunt Perrot’s trial for theft of a card of lace would have been an immediate concern, especially as possible penalties included being transported to a penal colony.  Thirdly, and for many most importantly, were marital issues; although much was written about love, marriage had more to do with property.  Frequently, family pressure was applied to compel young people to marry appropriately.  Once married, women had little or no control of their assets (in essence, they and anything they owned became the property of their husbands).  Divorce was hugely expensive and time-consuming, involving a  petition to Parliament; women had great difficulty gaining custody of children, or funds. 

     Another issue of huge importance was inheritance law-the issues primogeniture (property and money going to the oldest son), entail (restrictions on the disposal of property), etc. limited women’s ability to inherit.  With few opportunities available to support themselves, women were frequently left at the mercy of the intentions and generosity of male family members to provide support.

     General reform was a major topic of the day on many levels.  Regarding slavery issues, William Wilberforce (and his Anti-Slavery league) was active during her life.  Although the slave trade in the British Empire was abolished in 1807, there was still on-going activity to abolish ownership of slaves.  In education, Hannah Moore (a prolific writer, founder of schools) and Mary Wollstonecraft (who wrote about women’s education) brought issues of education to the forefront,  as availability of education to all was not considered a right, or even desirable.  Election reforms, including suffrage and other rights for Catholics and non-landowners were also major issues.   In the political climate of the time, given the loss of the American colonies and the French Revolution leading to the destruction of French society and the rise of Napoleon, these were sensitive issues, not to be embraced lightly. 

    The fear of revolution in Britain was real, and issues of reform exacerbated these fears.  Indeed, laws were passed to restrict the press from publishing material that could be construed as critical or seditious.

Bibliography:

Washington & Lee University, “The World of Jane Austen” 2009 Alumni College – Dr. Taylor Sanders-  Lectures: ‘The British Empire at Full Attention (or Why were all those men in uniform?)’ on 7/21/09, and  ‘The Court Jester: Was George III Truly Mad?: The Political Scene’ on 7/23/09; Dr. Marc Conner-Lecture ‘The Economies of Jane Austen: Wealth/Religion/Marriage’ on 7/24/09.  (Outlines and my notes)

Austen, Jane.  PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.  London: 1813.

                          PERSUASION.  London: 1817.                       

Copeland, Edward and McMaster, Juliet, ed.  THE CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO JANE AUSTEN. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.  “Religion and Politics” by Gary Kelly, PP. 149-169.

Erickson, Carolly.  ROYAL PANOPLY Brief Lives of the English Monarchs.  “Epilogue: Historical Turning Points, ‘England in 1714’”, pp. 350-352.  New York: History Book Club, 2003.

Johnson, Claudia L.  JANE AUSTEN Women, Politics, and the Novel.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988. 

LeFaye, Deirdre, ed.  JANE AUSTEN’S LETTERS. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Mitchell, Leslie.  THE WHIG WORLD. London and New York: Hambledon Continuum, 2005.

PERSUASIONS, No. 24, 2002.  “Jane Austen and the Enclosure Movement: The Sense and Sensibility of Land Reform,” by Celia Easton.  PP. 71-89.

Pool, Daniel.  WHAT JANE AUSTEN ATE AND CHARLES DICKENS KNEW From Fox Hunting to Whist-the Facts of Daily Life in 19th Century England.  New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

ELECTIONEERING (from Robert Southey’s “Letters from England,” written in 1802 [originally published in 1807])

On-Line Research Sources:

Bloy, Dr. Marjory.  A WEB OF ENGLISH HISTORY – THE AGE OF GEORGE III.  http://www.historyhome.co.uk

FIND A GRAVE http://www.findagrave.com

 THE EFFECTS OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION ON POLITICS , http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/history/A0858818.html    

GEORGIAN BRITAIN: British History Under George I/II/III/IV and William IV http://www.ukstudentlife.com/Britain/History/Georgian.htm 

A WEB OF ENGLISH HISTORY: THE AGE OF GEORGE III                                                 http://www.historyhome.co.uk/c-eight/ministry/ldgrenmi.htm

THE GEORGIAN INDEX http://www.georgianindex.net/Election/election.html 

REGENCY COLLECTION.  “Whig or Tory?”  http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~awoodley/regency/whig.html

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