Archive for the Life the Universe and Other Things Category

Sunday 15th October 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on October 15, 2017 by bishshat

For next Sunday 22nd I was going to dress up as Mr Wickham in Pride and Prejudice.

After studying the roll I decided I was way to old for the part so Clifford and myself will dress as two old reprobates who are still in the militia. Peachy and Danny.. I am really glad I made the right choice as Ryan came through the door and he was perfect for Mr Wickham.

Redcoats were vilified by Mary Wollstonecraft in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she warned about the dangerous attraction of military men for young women: “Nothing can be so prejudicial to the morals of the inhabitants of country towns as the occasional residence of a set of idle superficial young men, whose only occupation is gallantry.” Austen had a more nuanced view of the militia. Wickham embodies what Wollstonecraft is talking about but other soldier characters in Pride and Prejudice – notably Colonel Forster – have high moral standards and generous hearts.

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The militia offers social mobility for poor and immoral men to ascend in society and marry beyond their class, destabilizing the traditional English marriage system among aristocrats.

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The military, the armed forces of a country, is not usually thought of as material because of its human constituents. However, in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a novel set in a time period when women were considered property and marriage an economic convention, one may very well see how the militia assumes a role as part of the material culture of the time.

The militia is comprised of men, quite often the younger sons of the gentry, and rich, well-bred men were so scarce at the time that they were sought after as husbands by nearly every family with a daughter to marry off. Though not all of the officers were rich or well-bred, enough were to ensure that the officers thus appear as goods more than people at times, and are treated as such by women such as Lydia and Kitty. Of Lydia, Elizabeth muses, “Sometimes one officer, sometimes another had been her favourite, as their attentions raised them in her opinion. Her affections had been continually fluctuating, but never without an object”. Austen’s reluctance to designate the officers by individual names, or Elizabeth’s failure to remember them, dehumanizes them and implies that they are indistinguishable. The fact that they are “objects” of Lydia’s affections instead of subjects who act for themselves in this description suggests that they are essentially no more human than the carriages or playing cards of the time.

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Pride and Prejudice takes place in Regency England during the French Revolution, which began in 1789. To combat the threat of Napoleon’s conquest of Europe, militia forces were moved across the countryside to lie in wait of an attack at camps, where they were involved in training sessions. Landowning aristocrats generally led the militia of their locality, although the soldiers of each regiment came from various places. Though the militia was made up of volunteers, a commission was needed to enroll. With the Militia Act of 1757, which created a more professional force with proper uniforms and better weapons, the militia became seen as a more respectable occupation, especially for younger sons who would not inherit land.

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Immorality and Social Mobility in the Militia

Reading Pride and Prejudice, one may notice that there is a conspicuous lack of war in the text despite the historical context of the Napoleonic Wars and the near-constant presence of the militia. The soldiers Austen depicts are more likely to play card games or dance rather than tell tales of bloodshed, partly because the militia received few chances to fight. The aristocrats that led each local militia tended to be corrupt as well, handing out promotions in exchange for money or sexual bribes. Lydia’s fantasies exemplify the moral laxity of the militia; she imagines “the streets of that gay bathing place covered with officers… She saw all the glories of the camp; its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once”. Lydia’s description reveals the militia’s superficial attractions, one of which is novelty–the militia are still a new enough presence in England to appear “young and gay” and “dazzling” in their uniforms rather than war-weary. Undercurrents of sexuality run through Lydia’s fantasy in her image of “herself seated… tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once.” Although Lydia’s vision seems romantic enough, sexual deviance was a prominent spectacle of military life. Soldiers invited their mistresses into their tents at night and several prominent aristocrats such as the Duke of York were involved in highly publicized sex scandals.

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Added to the immorality that a military life offered was the anonymity and respectable status, which allowed men to climb social ranks easily. Due to the constant movement of the militia across the country, the new regimentals a man wore, and his new title as an officer, he could escape the hold of his past. Tim Fulford explores this idea in his essay “Sighing for a Soldier,” writing that “[a soldier’s] dress and rank might well have been earned not by experience on the battlefield or parade ground but by influence, and the shiny uniforms masked a variety of characters and origins”. The idea that “influence” can earn a man status is not new to England, a country in which the aristocracy thrive off of patronage, and in the militia “influence” took the form of underhanded bribes and secret deals among officers. “[S]hiny uniforms” and the opulence and novelty of militia camps mostly covered up this corruption from the public; however, corruption on such large a scale could never be wholly hidden.

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Nowhere are the effects of this social mobility more clearly seen than in the character of George Wickham. Charming and handsome, Wickham exudes virtue and fine manners, but these pretended traits belie his true moral deviance. The anonymity and glamor surrounding the militia allows Wickham to project whatever persona he chooses, as no others in the army know of his past and regular citizens are inclined to think well of soldiers. When Elizabeth and her family attempt to research his past, they discover that “[i]t was not known that Wickham had a single relation with whom he kept up any connection, and it was certain that he had no near one living. His former acquaintance had been numerous; but since he had been in the militia, it did not appear that he was on terms of particular friendship with any of them” Through the militia, Wickham has escaped his “former acquaintances” and been given a chance to start anew with a raised social rank.

In portraying the militia as corrupt and superficial, Austen suggests that the social status granted to these men poses a threat to the existing inter-aristocracy marriage system. Ideally in this system the rich would marry the rich and continue to preserve and expand their wealth; however, the upper class will always be beset by social climbers from the middle and lower classes seeking to increase their meager fortunes. The militia provides an opportunity for immoral and perhaps even poor men to elevate their statuses enough to marry into wealth if they have sufficient charm and cunning. Wickham’s marriage to Lydia is the prime example of this corruption of the marriage system. After he elopes with her, the Bennet family learns that “in the wretched state of his own finances, there was a very powerful motive for secrecy … for it had just transpired that he had left gaming debts behind him to a very considerable amount… He owed a good deal in the town, but his debts of honour were still more formidable”. Wickham hides the “wretched state of his own finances” under a veneer of sociability, and once the debts begin to erode his reputation, he tries to escape them by running away with Lydia. Though her dowry is not enough to substantially increase Wickham’s fortune, by marrying her he can alleviate his own debts by imposing them on the Bennets. Thus, a man with little money marries a woman with more, impoverishing her family with his own lack of fortune.

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The fluctuations in wealth that occur within and between English families show the fundamental instability of the ‘marriage economy.’ The intermarriage of rich and poor, sometimes caused by the false reputations conveyed by the militia, disrupted its sanctity and may have eventually led to its collapse.

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The Historical Context of Pride and Prejudice

War with France

Stretching over twenty-two years, Britain’s war with France affected every level of British society. While an estimated quarter of a million men were serving in the regular army, a militia of officers and volunteers in the southeast coast of England (the region where Austen was from) mobilized for what was thought to be an impending invasion by Napoleon. Austen had a close connection to the militia, as her brother Henry joined the Oxfordshire militia in 1793. Though the rural countryside in which Austen’s novels are set seems at a far remove from the tumultuousness of the period, the world of Pride and Prejudice bears the traces of turmoil abroad. As Gillian Russell writes, “The hum of wartime, if not the blast or cry of battle, pervades [Austen’s] fiction.” The presence of the troops at Brighton and militia officers like Wickham reflect wider concerns about the place of the military in English civil society.

Over the Hills and Far Away

“Over the Hills and Far Away” is a traditional British song, dating back to at least the late 17th century. George Farquhar’s 1706 play The Recruiting Officer. A version also appears in John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera of 1728.
Farquhar’s version refers to fleeing overseas to join the army.

Here’s forty shillings on the drum
For those who volunteer to come,
To ‘list and fight the foe today
Over the Hills and far away

O’er the hills and o’er the main
Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain
King George commands and we obey
Over the hills and far away
When duty calls me I must go
To stand and face another foe
But part of me will always stray
Over the hills and far away

If I should fall to rise no more
As many comrades did before
Then ask the fifes and drums to play
Over the hills and far away

Then fall in lads behind the drum
With colours blazing like the sun
Along the road to come what may
Over the hills and far away

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Danny Dravot and Peachy Carnehan are both in their fifties.

They joined the regular army at 14 or 15 and have been fighting mostly in Europe but did spend time in India.
They have been together ever since taking the shilling.
They are poorly educated but have made there way up through the ranks by being in the right place at the right time.

Danny and Peachy have been in too many scrapes to recant here but their rise through the ranks has been their fortune in the field of battle.

They had been seconded to the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers) in 1807 simply because Danny was overheard by Lieutenant-Colonel John Wallace in a tavern in Portsmouth telling jokes about Englishmen Irishmen and Scotsman in a brilliant Irish accent. He immediately had Danny restrained and along with Peachy who refused to leave his friends side were both shipped off to the barracks.

An Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman are the only survivors in a ship wreck.
Though the ordeal has bonded them like brothers they’re all now dying of thirst. It looks like it’s all over until they find a magic lamp!
“I’ll give each of you two wishes,” says the genie.
The Englishman knows exactly what he wants. “I wish for a pint of ice cold lager and to be back home in Aylesbury where I belong!”
“Done!” Bellows the genie, and the last thing the Scot and the Paddy see is the Englishman taking a big swig of Kronenbourg as he disappears.
“Alright, who’s next?”
“Me!” Shouts the Scot. “I want a bottle of Irn Bru and to be back home with me wife and bairn in Dundee.”
The genie waves his hand and the Scot fades from existence greedily quaffing his vile orange piss.
“And yourself?” Asks the genie of the Irishman. Paddy thinks for a moment.
“How about a big bottle of whiskey?” The bottle appears before him almost instantaneously.
“And your second wish?”
“Ah Jaysis? It’s no good without company. I want me two best friends back to enjoy it with me!”

At the Battle of Barrosa 5 March 1811 Danny and Peachy were both Sergeants in the 88th regiment(“the Devil’s Own”) under Major-General Packenham and were part of in an unsuccessful manoeuvre to break the siege of Cádiz.
During the battle, a single British division defeated two French divisions.

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The first French eagle to be captured by the British was taken by the 87th (Royal Irish Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot from the French 8th Line The 88th had become mixed up in the mêlée The and together they aided Ensign Edward Keogh grab the eagle standard, although as his hand grasped it, he was immediately shot through the heart and killed.
He was followed by Sergeant Patrick Masterson, who grabbed the eagle from the French ensign who carried it, reputedly with the cry “By Jaysus, boys, I have the cuckoo”.
But both Danny and Peachy had a part in handing the eagle to Masterson as he had dropped it in his excitement. Thus they were both promoted to Lieutenant in the field.

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From the 16th March – 6th April 1812 they were at the Siege of Badajoz and headed through a major breach in the walls with the Forlorn Hope.

On the 16th April 1812 they are carrying a ladder which they hope to use for firewood when Lieutenant James McPherson grabs them and orders them to lift the said ladder. The ladder is too short! Undaunted he cries to Danny and Peachy to push harder! They  lift the base of the ladder closer to the wall and this rapid, vertical movement suddenly propels Lieutenant James McPherson him to a height several feet above the defensive wall. The ladder breaks and McPherson falls on top of Peachy and Danny.  At the foot of the wall they are revived with a cups of coco from friend A.A. General Hercules Packenham, who was directly behind him on the ladder when it broke. Though winded by the shot he rises to his feet.  More ladders are brought and together they all climb up into and through the breach. Atop the abandoned tower of Santa Maria before him still flies the French flag McPherson along with Danny and Peachy mount the spiral stairway to the top turret and pulls down the enemy flag. For want of a substitute McPherson takes of his red jacket and flies it from the pole, signifying that the castle has fallen. ( The jacket actually belonged to Danny and they spent the next two hours waiting at the foot of the tower to retrieve it. In the rest of the town the fighting continued. Badajoz is one of the bloodiest and violent sieges of the Peninsula War.

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At the battle of Salamanca on 22nd July 1812 whilst resting below a small crested incline a Jingling Johnny belonging to the French fell cascading down the hill. Danny and Peachy managed to prevent its rolling any further and took the credit in resting it from the French. They were approached on after the battle both singing with the bells tinkling and persuaded by Lieutenant-Colonel John Wallace to hand over their booty for a promotion to Captain.

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They continued having many risky adventures until now October 1813 finds them at Compton Verney with Colonel Forsters Militia regiment waiting for discharge papers. They are both at a loss of what to do now their time in the army is coming to a close.

Vitoria

At the last battle Danny and Peachy  took part in in Portugal before setting sail to Britain from San Sebastián was the battle of Vitoria Wellingtons plan was to split his army into four attacking “columns”, attacking the French defensive position from south, west and north while the last column cut down across the French rear. Coming up the Burgos road, Hill sent Morillo’s Division to the right on a climb up the Heights of La Puebla. Stewart’s 2nd Division began deploying to the left in the narrow plain just south of the river. Seeing these moves, Gazan sent Maransin forward to drive Morillo off the heights. Hill moved Col. Henry Cadogan’s brigade of the 2nd Division to assist Morillo. Gazan responded by committing Villatte’s reserve division to the battle on the heights.

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Wellington thrust James Kempt’s brigade of the Light Division across the Zadorra at the hairpin. At the same time, Stewart took Subijana and was counterattacked by two of Gazan’s divisions. On the heights, Cadogan was killed, but the Anglo-Spanish force managed to hang on to its foothold. Wellington suspended his attacks to allow Graham’s column time to make an impression and a lull descended on the battlefield.

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With some help from Kempt’s brigade, Picton’s 3rd Division along with Danny and Peachy shouted at them “come on you rascals”!  and the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers) crossed to the south side of the river. According to Picton, the enemy responded by pummelling the 3rd with 40 to 50 cannon and a counter-attack on their right flank, still open because they had captured the bridge so quickly, causing the 3rd to lose 1,800 men (over one third of all Allied losses at the battle) and They held their ground.

French morale collapsed and the soldiers of Gazan and d’Erlon fled from the field. Artillerists left their guns behind as they fled on the trace horses. Soon the road was jammed with a mass of wagons and carriages. The efforts of Reille’s two divisions, holding off Graham, allowed tens of thousands of French troops to escape by the Salvatierra road. This was the boys last action.

Below is a list of their battles.

1793

Between 29 August – 19 December 1793 they were in action at the Siege of Toulon a military siege of Republican forces over a Royalist rebellion in the southern French city of Toulon. It is also known as the Fall of Toulon.

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1798

Saw them together in Ireland where side by side they were at the Battle of Vinegar Hill during the Irish Rebellion on 21 June 1798 when over 13,000 British soldiers launched an attack on Vinegar Hill outside Enniscorthy, County Wexford, the largest camp and headquarters of the Wexford United Irish rebels. It marked a turning point in the rebellion, as it was the last attempt by the rebels to hold and defend ground against the British military. The battle was actually fought in two locations: on Vinegar Hill itself and in the streets of nearby Enniscorthy.

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1803

On 23 September 1803 near Assaye in western India they fought in Battle of Assaye which was a major battle of the Second Anglo-Maratha War fought between the Maratha Empire and the British East India Company.

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They were both with Wellesley in his victory at Assaye, this was preceded by the capture of Ahmednagar and followed by victories at Argaon and Gawilghur, resulting the defeat of Scindia and Berar’s armies in the Deccan. Wellesley’s progress in the Deccan was matched by Lieutenant General Gerard Lake’s successful campaigns in Northern India and led to the British becoming the dominant power in the heartlands of India.

1808

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They crossed over with Wellesley into Portugal on the campaign to rid Europe of the French.
They were present at the Battle of Roliça on17 August 1808 where an Anglo-Portuguese army under Sir Arthur Wellesley defeated an outnumbered French army under General Henri Delaborde, near the village of Roliça in Portugal. The French retired in good order. Formerly spelled Roleia in English, it was the first battle fought by the British army during the Peninsular War.

Battle of Vimeiro 21 August 1808 the British under General Arthur Wellesley defeated the French under Major-General Jean-Andoche Junot near the village of Vimeiro near Lisbon, Portugal during the Peninsular War. This battle put an end to the first French invasion of Portugal.

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1809

Battle of Corunna took place on 16 January 1809, when a French corps under Marshal of the Empire Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult attacked a British army under Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore. The battle took place amidst the Peninsular War, which was a part of the wider Napoleonic Wars. It was a result of a French campaign, led by Napoleon, which had defeated the Spanish armies and caused the British army to withdraw to the coast following an unsuccessful attempt by Moore to attack Soult’s corps and divert the French army.

Doggedly pursued by the French under Soult, the British made a retreat across northern Spain while their rearguard fought off repeated French attacks. Both armies suffered extremely from the harsh winter conditions. Much of the British army, excluding the elite Light Brigade under Robert Craufurd, suffered from a loss of order and discipline during the retreat. When the British eventually reached the port of Corunna on the northern coast of Galicia in Spain, a few days ahead of the French, they found their transport ships had not arrived. The fleet arrived after a couple of days and the British were in the midst of embarking when the French forces reached them. They forced the British to fight another battle before being able to depart for England.

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In the resulting action, the British repulsed the French assault and completed their embarkation. They saved their army from destruction. But the port cities of Corunna and Ferrol, as well as northern Spain, were captured and occupied by the French. During the battle, Sir John Moore, the British commander, was mortally wounded, dying after learning that his men had repulsed the French attacks.

Death of Sir John Moore, La Coruna, Spain, 17th January 1809 (1815).

Battle of Grijó
10–11 May 1809 was a battle that ended in victory for the Anglo-Portuguese Army commanded by Sir Arthur Wellesley over the French army commanded by Marshal Nicolas Soult during the second French invasion of Portugal in the Peninsular War. The next day, Wellesley drove Soult from Porto in the Second Battle of Porto.

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Battle of Talavera
27–28 July 1809 was fought just outside the town of Talavera de la Reina, Spain some 120 kilometres (75 mi) southwest of Madrid, during the Peninsular War. At Talavera an Anglo-Spanish army under Sir Arthur Wellesley combined with a Spanish army under General Cuesta in operations against French-occupied Madrid. The French army withdrew at night after several of its attacks had been repulsed.

After Marshal Soult’s French army had retreated from Portugal, General Wellesley’s 20,000 British troops advanced into Spain to join 33,000 Spanish troops under General Cuesta. They marched up the Tagus valley to Talavera, some 120 kilometres (75 mi) southwest of Madrid. There they encountered 46,000 French under Marshal Claude Victor and Major-General Horace Sebastiani, with the French king of Spain, Joseph Bonaparte in nominal command.

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The French crossed the Alberche in the middle of the afternoon on 27 July. A couple of hours later, the French attacked the right of the Spaniards and the British left. A strategic hill was taken and lost, until, finally, the British held it firmly. At daybreak on 28 July, the French attacked the British left again to retake the hill and were repulsed when the 29th Foot and 48th Foot who had been lying behind the crest stood up and carried out a bayonet charge. A French cannonade lasted until noon when a negotiated armistice of two hours began. Troops from both sides took drinks at the River Portina exchanging insults and bits of food and even souvenirs then they went back to their own lines and began killing each other again

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That afternoon, a heavy exchange of cannon fire started ahead of various infantry and cavalry skirmishes. Early in the evening, a major engagement resulted in the French being held off. A cannon duel continued until dark. At daylight, the British and Spanish discovered that the bulk of the French force had retired, leaving their wounded and two brigades of artillery in the field. Wellesley was ennobled as Viscount Wellington of Talavera and of Wellington for the action.

1810

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The Combat of the Côa

The Combat of the Côa July 24, 1810 was a skirmish that occurred during the Peninsular War period of the Napoleonic Wars. It took place in the valley of the Côa River and it was the first significant battle for the new army of 65,000 men controlled by Marshal André Masséna, as the French prepared for their third invasion of Portugal.

As the British-Portuguese forces were outnumbered here, on July 22, General Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington sent Brigadier-General Robert Craufurd a letter, saying that he (Wellington) was “not desirous of engaging in an affair beyond the Coa.” On July 24, Craufurd’s Light Division, with 4,200 infantry, 800 cavalry, and six guns, was surprised by the sight of 20,000 troops under Marshal Michel Ney. Rather than retreat and cross the river as ordered by Wellington, Craufurd chose to engage the French, narrowly avoiding disaster.

The French objective was to force the Light Division back across the Côa in order to besiege Almeida. They succeeded after hard fighting, but then launched a costly assault across the Côa, suffering heavy casualties. Craufurd committed a serious tactical error by choosing to fight with an unfordable river at his back while badly outnumbered. As such, in the early hours of 24 July, after a night of torrential rain, Ney sent forth Ferey and Loison’s divisions to engage the allies.

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A company of the 95th Rifles came under fire from French artillery as they moved in to attack. French voltiguers of the 32nd then came up and took the fight to the bayonet, and the heavily outnumbered British broke and fled. The guns of Almeida opened fire on the 95th Rifles, mistaking them for French because of their dark uniforms. They then fell under attack by the French 3rd Hussars, supported by two companies of dragoons. British troops of the 43rd came to assist them. Though fierce fighting broke out, the French advance was halted. Despite orders from Wellington to fall back across the river Côa, Craufurd decided to hold his ground as more French arrived and began to deploy in formation.

The 15th Chasseurs a Cheval then charged to the south to outflank the British 52nd division, while Ferey’s French brigade attacked the British positioned near a windmill positioned at the British right, advancing through rough-terrain while Almeida’s guns were firing upon them. The French infantry charged the British with fixed bayonet and, under mounting pressure, the allies began to fall back, isolating themselves from the 43rd division under attack by the 15th Chasseurs. The 3rd Hussars came into the fight and Craufurd’s men took heavy casualties. All this time, while Ney’s assaults were being slowed by awful terrain, Almeida was slowly being isolated from the allied force.

Craufurd, realising his situation that the French were threatening his only escape (the bridge crossing the river Côa), ordered a withdrawal across the river Côa, with the British 52nd and 43rd foot as well as the 95th rifles protecting their retreat. For the British, matters only became worse. A supply wagon turned over and caused a traffic jam in the retreat across the bridge. The French were gradually driving back the British divisions protecting the withdrawal.

Craufurd then ordered these troops to fall back and take position the heights overlooking the bridge and hold that position until the retreat had been made. The French took the heights but in a move that took the Ney’s forces completely by surprise the allies made an assault and held their opponents at bay long enough for the main body of the British-Portuguese to make it across to the other side of the river Côa.

With the French driving the Light Division back, Ney then attempted attacking across the Côa. In the first attempt, grenadiers of the 66th surged towards the bridge under a hail of musketry and cannon fire, failing to get more than halfway across the bridge. The second more strongly-pressed offensive was made by the Elite Chasseurs de la Siège light infantry. Oman writes that they had “flung themselves at the bridge, and pushed on till it was absolutely blocked by the bodies of the killed and the wounded, and till they themselves had been almost literally exterminated, for out of a battalion of little more than 300 men 90 were killed and 147 wounded in less than ten minutes.” The final attack was once more led by the 66th which was beaten off with little difficulty.

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The battle ended with the French having, despite the setback at the bridge, driven the Light Division from the field. Having been beaten back and only narrowly escaped a total rout, Crauford’s forces withdrew at midnight, leaving Masséna free rein to lay siege to Almeida. Napier and Oman stated that the British Light Division held off the entire 20 000 troops under Ney. However, it was only Ferey and Loison’s division that actually engaged the Light Division. French forces engaged were around 6,000 pitched against 4,000 British-Portuguese.

Casualties are hard to determine. Both the French and the British-Portuguese were biased. Imperial propaganda reported allied casualties to be at 1,200, while many British sources claimed the loss of 36 killed and 189 wounded as well as 83 missing. On the other hand, French casualties are easier to determine, as both the allies and French estimated around five hundred dead or wounded. The great majority of these casualties were due to Ney’s futile attack across the bridge.

Battle of Buçaco
fought on 27 September 1810 during the Peninsular War in the Portuguese mountain range of Serra do Buçaco, resulted in the defeat of French forces by Lord Wellington’s Anglo-Portuguese Army.

Having occupied the heights of Bussaco (a 10-mile (16 km) long ridge located at 40°20’40″N, 8°20’15″W) with 25,000 British and the same number of Portuguese, Wellington was attacked five times successively by 65,000 French under Marshal André Masséna. Masséna was uncertain as to the disposition and strength of the opposing forces because Wellington deployed them on the reverse slope of the ridge, where they could neither be easily seen nor easily softened up with artillery. The actual assaults were delivered by the corps of Marshal Michel Ney and General of Division (Major General) Jean Reynier, but after much fierce fighting they failed to dislodge the allied forces and were driven off after having lost 4,500 men against 1,250 Anglo-Portuguese casualties.

1811

Battle of Barrosa

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An unsuccessful manoeuvre on the 5 March 1811 to break the siege of Cádiz.
During the battle, a single British division defeated two French divisions.

Cádiz had been invested by the French in early 1810, leaving it accessible from the sea, but in March of the following year a reduction in the besieging army gave its garrison of British and Spanish troops an opportunity to lift the siege. A large Allied strike force was shipped south from Cádiz to Tarifa, and moved to engage the siege lines from the rear. The French, under the command of Marshal Victor, were aware of the Allied movement and redeployed to prepare a trap. Victor placed one division on the road to Cádiz, blocking the Allied line of march, while his two remaining divisions fell on the single Anglo-Portuguese rearguard division under the command of Sir Thomas Graham.

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Following a fierce battle on two fronts, the British succeeded in routing the attacking French forces. A lack of support from the larger Spanish contingent prevented an absolute victory, and the French were able to regroup and reoccupy their siege lines. Graham’s tactical victory proved to have little strategic effect on the continuing war, to the extent that Victor was able to claim the battle as a French victory since the siege remained in force until finally being lifted on 24 August 1812.

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Battle of Sabugal
was an engagement of the Peninsular War which took place on 3 April 1811 between Anglo-Portuguese forces under Arthur Wellesley and French troops under the command of Marshal André Masséna. It was the last of many skirmishes between Masséna’s retreating French forces and those of the Anglo-Portuguese under Wellington, who were pursuing him after the failed 1810 French invasion of Portugal.

In poor weather, with heavy rain and fog, Allied forces succeeded in forcing the demoralized French force into retreat. The victory was lauded by the British; Sir Harry Smith, then a junior officer of the 95th Rifles and a participant in the battle, remarked “Oh, you Kings and usurpers should view these scenes and moderate ambition” while Wellesley later referred to the Light Division’s action in the battle as “one of the most glorious that British troops were ever engaged in”.

1812

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Siege of Badajoz
From the 16th March – 6th April. After capturing the frontier towns of Almeida and Ciudad Rodrigo in earlier sieges, the Duke of Wellington’s army moved south to Badajoz to capture this frontier town and secure the lines of communication back to Lisbon, the primary base of operations for the allied army. Badajoz was garrisoned by some 5,000 French soldiers under General Philippon, the town commander, and possessed much stronger fortifications than either Almeida or Ciudad Rodrigo. With a strong curtain wall covered by numerous strongpoints and bastions, Badajoz had already faced two unsuccessful sieges and was well prepared for a third attempt, with the walls strengthened and some areas around the curtain wall flooded or mined with explosives. The allied army, some 27,000strong, outnumbered the French garrison by around five to one and after encircling the town on 17 March 1812, began to lay siege by preparing trenches, parallels and earthworks to protect the heavy siege artillery, work made difficult by a week of prolonged and torrential rainfalls, which also swept away bridging works that were needed to bring the heavy cannon and supplies forward.

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On 19 March the French made a strong sally with 1,500 men and 40 cavalry which surprised the working parties and caused losses of 150 officers and men before being repulsed. Amongst the wounded was Lt. Col. Fletcher, chief Engineer. By 25 March batteries were firing on the outwork, Fort Picurina, which that night was stormed by 500 men and seized by redcoats from General Thomas Picton’s 3rd Division. Casualties were high with 50 killed and 250 wounded, but the fort was captured. The French made several raids to try to destroy the lines advancing toward the curtain wall, but were repeatedly fended off by the famed British 95th Rifles while simultaneously being counter-attacked by line infantry. The capture of the bastion allowed more extensive siege earthworks to be dug and with the arrival of heavy 18 lb (8.2 kg) and 24 lb (11 kg) howitzers, breaching batteries were established. On 31 March the allies began an intense bombardment of the town’s defences. Soon a maze of trenches were creeping up to the high stone walls as the cannons continued to blast away at the stonework. On 2 April an attempt was made to destroy a barrier that had been erected amongst the arches of the bridge to cause flooding that was hampering the siege. The explosion of 450lbs of powder was only partly successful. By April 5 two breaches had been made in the curtain wall and the soldiers readied themselves to storm Badajoz. The order to attack was delayed for 24 hours to allow another breach to be made in the wall.News began to filter to the allies that Marshal Soult was marching to relieve the town and an order was given to launch the attack at 22:00 on April 6. The French garrison were well aware of what was to come, and mined the large breaches in the walls in preparation for the imminent assault.

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With three large gaps in the curtain wall and with Marshal Soult marching to the town’s aid, Wellington ordered his regiments to storm the town so at 22:00 on the 6th and the troops made their way forward with scaling ladders and various tools. Three attacks would be mounted. The first men to assault the breaches were the men of the Forlorn Hope, who would lead the main attack by the 4th Division on two of the breaches. The third breach would be assaulted by Craufurd’s Light Division while diversionary attacks were to be made to the north and the east by Portuguese, and British soldiers of the 5th Division and Picton’s 3rd Division would assault the Castle from across the river.

Just as the main Forlorn Hope were beginning their attack, a French sentry was alerted and raised the alarm. Within seconds the ramparts were filled with French soldiers, who poured a lethal hail of musket fire into the troops at the base of the breach. The British and Portuguese surged forward en masse and raced up to the wall, facing a murderous barrage of musket fire, complemented by grenades, stones, barrels of gunpowder with crude fuses and bales of burning hay to provide light.

The furious barrage devastated the British soldiers at the wall and the breach soon began to fill with dead and wounded, over whom the storming troops had to struggle. The carnage, rubble and loss of guiding Engineering officers led the Craufurd’s Light Division to become confused; assaulting an outlying ravelin that led nowhere, the troops got mixed up with those of the 4th Division. Despite the carnage the redcoats continued to surge forward in great numbers, only to be mown down by endless volleys and shrapnel from grenades and bombs. The French could see they were holding the assault and the British were becoming stupefied and incapable of more exertion. In just under two hours, some 2,000 men had been killed or badly wounded at the main breach, while countless more men of the 3rd Division were shot down as they made their diversionary assault. Picton’s 3rd Division managed to reach the top of the castle wall — without General Picton, who was wounded as he climbed a ladder to try to reach the top of the wall — and found themselves secure within the castle, but as all doors into the town were blocked up, could not immediately come to the assistance of the other divisions.

Everywhere they attacked, the allied soldiers were being halted and the carnage was so immense that Wellington was just about to call a halt to the assault when he heard that the soldiers had gained a foothold in the castle. He ordered the castle gates to be blown and that the 3rd Division should support the assaults on the breaches with a flank attack

The 5th Division, which had been delayed because their ladder party had become lost, now attacked the San Vicente bastion; losing 600 men, they eventually made it to the top of the curtain wall. FitzRoy Somerset, Wellington’s military secretary (and the future Lord Raglan), was the first to mount the breach, and afterwards secured one of the gates for British reinforcements before the French could organise a fresh defence.

The town’s fate was sealed with the link up with men of the 3rd and 5th Divisions, who were also making their way into the town. Once they had a foothold, the British and Portuguese soldiers were at an advantage. Seeing that he could no longer hold out, General Philippon withdrew from Badajoz to the neighbouring outwork of San Cristobal; however, he surrendered shortly after the town had fallen.

When dawn finally came on 7 April, it revealed the horror of the slaughter all around the curtain wall. Bodies were piled high and blood flowed like rivers in the ditches and trenches. Surveying the destruction and slaughter Wellington wept openly at the sight of British dead piled upon each other in the breaches and bitterly cursed the British Parliament for granting him so few resources and soldiers. The assault and the earlier skirmishes had left the allies with some 4,800 casualties. Numbers differ between 4,924 and 4,760. The elite Light Division had suffered badly, losing some 40 percent of their fighting strength. The storming of Badajoz affords as strong an instance of the gallantry of our troops as has ever been displayed. But I greatly hope that I shall never again be the instrument of putting them to such a test as that to which they were put last night.

From an engineering view point, the requirement to undertake the assault in a hasty manner, relying upon the British bayonet, rather than scientific methods of approach, undoubtedly resulted in heavier casualties, as did the lack of a corps of trained sappers. The siege was to lead, within 2 weeks, to the formation of the Royal School of Military Engineering. The siege was over and Wellington had secured the Portuguese–Spanish frontier. He could now advance into Spain, where he eventually engaged Marshal Marmont at Salamanca

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On the night of 6th April 1812

Wellingtons Army, surrounding the walled Spanish town of Badajoz (garrisoned by Napoleons soldiers under general Baron Philippon) is ready to attack! The men of the 45th regiment from Pictons 3rd Division launch themselves in a desperate and bloody assault against the north castle wall. Carrying improvised ladders, the men have their top buttons undone, overalls rolled up and are stripped for action. The castles defenders (Germans, allied to Napoleon of the Graf und Erbprinz Regiment from Hesse-Darmstadt) patrolling the walls in their greatcoats are initially surprised by the bold assault from this sector but they have been preparing the strong defenses for some time. Soon the night air is full of musketry, falling masonry, burning bundles of ropes and exploding grenades or mines. Despite the horrific casualties suffered the attackers press home. As the first scaling ladders are raised near a small bell tower the young Lt. James Macpherson reaches for the top of the wall. The ladders are too short! Undaunted he cries to his men below to lift the base of the ladder closer to the wall. This rapid, vertical movement suddenly propels him to a height several feet above the Germans heads. A shot rings out as one of the defenders fires point blank into the young mans chest. Fortunately the lead ball only strikes a glancing blow, cleaving in two a button of the officers waist coat and dislocating one of his ribs. Despite his fortunate escape, the force of the impact nearly sends him tumbling from the ladder. Somehow he maintains his grasp but the ladder itself gives way under the weight of the men following.

Some unfortunates are impaled on the bayonets of their comrades below. Leaping from the rungs of another ladder, Corporal Kelly is the first man over the top and gradually the 45th gain a foothold on the ramparts. The rest of the regiment is ordered to unfix bayonets. Using the few remaining ladders, others also manage to scale the walls. Through the carnage they climb, club and shoot their way into the castle itself! Maepherson now regains consciousness at the foot of the wall and revived with a cup of coco from his friend A.A. General Hercules Packenham, who was directly behind him on the ladder when it broke. Though winded by the shot he rises to his feet. This sudden movement relocates his rib and he is able to climb the ladders once more. Once over the defense he sees the old towers of Apendez and Albar-rana to his left and the cathedral illuminated by gun fire in the distance. However his objective is directly ahead. Atop the abandoned tower of Santa Maria before him still flies the French Macpherson the opportunity, mounts the spiral stairway to the top turret and pulls down the enemy flag. For want of a substitute he flies his own red jacket from the pole, signifying that the castle has fallen. In the rest of the town the fighting continues and turns into a blood lust. Badajoz is one of the bloodiest and violent sieges of the Peninsula War. On the following day Macpherson presents his trophy to the Duke of Wellington himself but his bravery is not rewarded with a promotion.

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Battle of Salamanca
Anglo-Portuguese army under the Duke of Wellington defeated Marshal Auguste Marmont’s French forces among the hills around Arapiles, south of Salamanca, Spain on 22 July 1812 during the Peninsular War. A Spanish division was also present but took no part in the battle.

The battle involved a succession of flanking manoeuvres in oblique order, initiated by the British heavy cavalry brigade and Pakenham’s 3rd division, and continued by the cavalry and the 4th, 5th and 6th divisions. These attacks resulted in a rout of the French left wing. Both Marmont and his deputy commander, General Bonet, received shrapnel wounds in the first few minutes of firing. Confusion amongst the French command may have been decisive in creating an opportunity, which Wellington successfully seized and exploited. General Bertrand Clausel, third in seniority, assumed command and ordered a counterattack by the French reserve toward the depleted Allied centre. The move proved partly successful but with Wellington having sent his reinforcements to the centre, the Anglo-Portuguese forces prevailed.

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Allied losses numbered 3,129 British and 2,038 Portuguese dead or wounded. The Spanish troops took no part in the battle as they were positioned to block French escape routes and as such suffered just six casualties. The French suffered about 13,000 dead, wounded and captured. As a consequence of Wellington’s victory, his army was able to advance to and liberate Madrid for two months, before retreating to Portugal. The French were forced to abandon Andalusia permanently while the loss of Madrid irreparably damaged King Joseph’s pro-French government.

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Battle of Vitoria
In July 1812, after the Battle of Salamanca, the French had evacuated Madrid, which Wellington’s army entered on 12 August 1812. Deploying three divisions to guard its southern approaches, Wellington marched north with the rest of his army to lay siege to the fortress of Burgos, 140 miles (230 km) away, but he had underestimated the enemy’s strength and on 21 October he had to abandon the Siege of Burgos and retreat. By 31 October he had abandoned Madrid too, and retreated first to Salamanca then to Ciudad Rodrigo, near the Portuguese frontier, to avoid encirclement by French armies from the north-east and south-east.

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Wellington spent the winter reorganising and strengthening his forces. By contrast, Napoleon withdrew many soldiers to rebuild his main army after his disastrous invasion of Russia. By 20 May 1813 Wellington marched 121,000 troops (53,749 British, 39,608 Spanish and 27,569 Portuguese from northern Portugal across the mountains of northern Spain and the Esla River to outflank Marshal Jourdan’s army of 68,000, strung out between the Douro and the Tagus. The French retreated to Burgos, with Wellington’s forces marching hard to cut them off from the road to France. Wellington himself commanded the small central force in a strategic feint, while Sir Thomas Graham conducted the bulk of the army around the French right flank over landscape considered impassable.

Wellington launched his attack with 57,000 British, 16,000 Portuguese and 8,000 Spanish at Vitoria on 21 June, from four directions.

The Battle of the Pyrenees was a large-scale offensive launched[5] on 25 July 1813 by Marshal Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult from the Pyrénées region on Emperor Napoleon’s order, in the hope of relieving French garrisons under siege at Pamplona and San Sebastián. After initial success the offensive ground to a halt in face of increased allied resistance under the command of Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington. Soult abandoned the offensive on 30 July and headed toward France, having failed to relieve either garrison.

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The Battle of the Pyrenees involved several distinct actions. On 25 July, Soult and two French corps fought the reinforced British 4th Division and a Spanish division at the Battle of Roncesvalles. The Allied force successfully held off all attacks during the day, but retreated from the Roncesvalles Pass that night in the face of overwhelming French numerical superiority. Also on the 25th, a third French corps severely tried the British 2nd Division at the Battle of Maya. The British withdrew from the Maya Pass that evening. Wellington rallied his troops a short distance north of Pamplona and repelled the attacks of Soult’s two corps at the Battle of Sorauren on 28 July.

Instead of falling back to the northeast toward Roncesvalles Pass, Soult made contact with his third corps on 29 July and began to move north. On 30 July, Wellington attacked Soult’s rearguards at Sourauren, driving some French troops to the northeast, while most continued to the north. Rather than use the Maya Pass, Soult elected to head north up the Bidassoa River valley. He managed to evade Allied attempts to surround his troops at Yanci on 1 August and escaped across a nearby pass after a final rearguard action at Etxalar on 2 August. The French suffered nearly twice as many casualties as the Allied army.

Danny and Peachy were sent back to England after the Pyrenees offensive to get their discharge papers. But they were first ordered to attend Compton Verney as part of the Militia with Colonel Forster’s regiment. As two trusted old timers they have been ordered to keep a watchful eye on Mr Wickham.

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Victorian antique salt-glazed stoneware ink bottles

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Saturday 14th October 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on October 14, 2017 by bishshat

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Spurs 1 Bournemouth 0

Our first-ever Premier League win at Wembley Stadium was achieved on Saturday afternoon thanks to Christian Eriksen’s second-half strike.
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The Danish midfielder produced a calm finish from 18 yards just two minutes after half-time and it was enough to give us maximum league points for the first time at our temporary home, following draws against Swansea City and Burnley and a defeat by Chelsea.

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The first half was a disappointing affair, as visitors Bournemouth pulled all 10 players back behind the ball when not in possession and we struggled to penetrate their defence. Eriksen and Dele Alli had efforts blocked while Asmir Begovic made a good save to deny Harry Kane, while at the other end, we needed a great block by Davinson Sanchez to deny Junior Stanislas and a superb close-range save from Hugo Lloris – keeping out a corner which hit Eric Dier and was heading in – to keep the game goalless at the interval.
But we wasted no time in the second half and went in front on 47 minutes when Heung-Min Son played in Eriksen and he advanced into the area before sending a slide-rule shot past Begovic and into the far corner.

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A good spell followed for us and the Cherries goalkeeper was forced into making a great double save to prevent Kane from extending our lead, but there was always a threat from Bournemouth and Lloris was called upon to keep out former Spur Jermain Defoe’s chance in the 78th minute, just moments after he had come off the bench.
In the closing stages, Dier had an effort blocked by Steve Cook from 12 yards, Dele just headed wide after great work by Moussa Sissoko and fellow substitute Georges-Kevin Nkoudou was upended on the edge of the area in stoppage time by Begovic when clean through. The keeper saved Eriksen’s effort from the resulting free-kick, but the whistle blew seconds later to ensure we took the three points

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Friday 13th October 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on October 13, 2017 by bishshat

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Thursday 12th October 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on October 12, 2017 by bishshat

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Wednesday 11th October 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on October 11, 2017 by bishshat

Jane Austen

Jane Austen

Jane Austen was born in the winter of 1775 in the Hampshire County of southern England. The second-youngest of seven children born to George Austen, rector of Steventon, and his wife, Cassandra Leigh, Jane composed short stories, novellas, and amateur theatricals with her siblings. Jane Austen was extremely close to her sister Cassandra, two years her elder. The sisters maintained a lively correspondence, although only a fraction of their letters remains. Austen’s letters, like her novels, describe the intricate details of social interaction within early-nineteenth century British middle-class life.

As a child, Jane Austen read extensively from the library at Steventon, including the works of Johnson and Richardson. Although the influence of eighteenth-century prose is evident in her style, Austen’s novels contain many of the hallmarks for which nineteenth-century realism would later be known, such as attention to the domestic spaces of everyday life and free indirect discourse.

Austen’s first published novel was Sense and Sensibility, in 1811. Her novels garnered high praise from her contemporary, Sir Walter Scott. Later in the century Victorian critic G.H. Lewes deemed the author unsurpassed in “economy of art,” and Virginia Woolf would praise Austen in The Common Reader as “the most perfect of artists among women.” Austen’s works include Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion. Her final project, Sanditon, was in progress when she died in 1817.

Late Eighteenth-Century Britain and the Regency Period

Jane Austen’s brief life and writing career overlapped with one of the most transformative eras in British history, marked by revolution abroad and unrest at home. The signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the year after Austen’s birth, signaled the start of the American Revolution, followed in the next decade by the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. For the next two decades, Britain was engaged almost without cease in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars of 1793–1815, one of the most significant conflicts in British history. Among the effects of England’s foreign wars during this period were great financial instability and monetary volatility. The precariousness of the late eighteenth-century was followed in the 1810s and 1820s by what is known as the Regency period. The Regency officially began in 1811, when King George III went permanently insane and his son George, Prince of Wales, was sanctioned to rule England in his place as Regent. The political Regency lasted until 1820, when George IV was crowned. However, the Regency period has also come to refer more generally to the early decades of the nineteenth century before the start of Victoria’s reign in 1837, during which the Prince Regent provided a great deal of support for the development of the arts and sciences that flourished during this period. Austen would have witnessed, moreover, the beginning of industrialization in England, though the growth of the factory system would not reach its peak until the middle of the nineteenth century. Outside of the genteel world we see in Pride and Prejudice, a third of the country’s population lived on the verge of starvation, spurring food riots across the countryside. This unrest was compounded by Luddite protestors who attacked new industrial machinery (a practice called “machine breaking”) in demonstrations that were a precursor to labor strikes. As these demonstrations spread fear of a revolution in England, the government responded with repressive measures that sharply curtailed freedom of speech.

The Historical Context of Pride and Prejudice

War with France

Stretching over twenty-two years, Britain’s war with France affected every level of British society. While an estimated quarter of a million men were serving in the regular army, a militia of officers and volunteers in the southeast coast of England (the region where Austen was from) mobilized for what was thought to be an impending invasion by Napoleon. Austen had a close connection to the militia, as her brother Henry joined the Oxfordshire militia in 1793. Though the rural countryside in which Austen’s novels are set seems at a far remove from the tumultuousness of the period, the world of Pride and Prejudice bears the traces of turmoil abroad. As Gillian Russell writes, “The hum of wartime, if not the blast or cry of battle, pervades [Austen’s] fiction.”[1] The presence of the troops at Brighton and militia officers like Wickham reflect wider concerns about the place of the military in English civil society.

The Landed Gentry

The novel is also embedded within a set of domestic concerns over property, money and status that highlight the changing social landscape of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century England. Austen’s novels portray the gentry, a broad social class that includes those who owned land (the country or landed gentry) as well as the professional classes (lawyers, doctors and clergy) who did not. Though industrialization and urbanization had begun to take hold at the end of the eighteenth century, the most influential sector of society in Austen’s time was the landed gentry. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, ownership of English land was concentrated in the hands of the relatively small landed classes, who retained their hold over the land through a system that encouraged the consolidation and extension of estates by enforcing strict inheritance laws. Entails of the kind referred to in the novel were established during this period in order to concentrate wealth and enlarge estates by funneling property to male children or male relatives rather than breaking it up and distributing it amongst family members. Thus, Mr. Bennett’s land is left not to his daughters but to a (male) member of his extended family, Mr. Collins, ensuring that the property stays in the family line, while disinheriting Elizabeth and her sisters. Large country estates, of the kind Darcy owns and Mr. Bingley desires to purchase, served as a symbol of the wealth and power of the landed gentry.

Marriage and Gender Roles

As we see in the novel, questions of land ownership and inheritance are closely interlinked with courtship and marriage. In the late eighteenth century, English conceptions of family and the role of women began to change, as British culture became increasingly focused on the accumulation and concentration of wealth within the family. One way for families to rapidly accumulate capital was through advantageous marriages. As a result, the position of daughters within the family changed, as they became the means through which a family could attain greater wealth. Familial aspirations, coupled with women’s increased dependence on marriage for financial survival, made courtship a central focus of women’s lives.

At the same time, the late eighteenth century also witnessed a transformation in the conception of women’s rights following the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792. In the Vindication, Wollstonecraft argues, in the language of Enlightenment thinkers like John Locke, that women should be treated as the rational equals of men. Elizabeth Bennett serves as a paradigmatic example of the conflicting transformations in women’s roles that occurred in the late eighteenth century. Disinherited of her father’s property, Elizabeth is not financially independent, and in fact depends upon an advantageous marriage for her future survival. Yet throughout the novel, she asserts an intellectual and moral independence that reflects a Wollstoncraftian conception of gender politics.

Print Culture and the Novel in Austen’s Time

One particularly significant change that occurred during Austen’s lifetime was the expansion of literacy and print culture in England. By 1800, almost everyone in the middle classes and above could read, and literacy rates for the rest of the population rose steadily thereafter. At the same time, from 1780 onwards there was a fairly steady rise in the number of new novels being published, so that by the end of Austen’s life, the novel was the dominant form of literature in England. In part, the rise of the novel was spurred on by new forms of printing and marketing, which made books less expensive and expanded their readership. Smaller format books—octavos and duodecimos, as opposed to quartos—were more portable, and therefore easier to consume. Similarly, novels became more readily accessible through the expansion of various modes of access, including circulating and subscription libraries as well as periodicals, which made literature affordable in a time when books were often prohibitively expensive. Nevertheless, novels of the kind Austen published would have been an unaffordable luxury for a great deal of the population. This was particularly true in the earlier part of the nineteenth century, when “taxes on knowledge” raised prices on paper, newspapers, advertisements, and other texts. These taxes were in fact at their height during Austen’s career. This was in part because of a desire to limit access to information for the lower classes in response to revolution in France and upheaval at home. Though the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries marked an explosion in novel reading and the production of the novels themselves, the widely affordable novel would not become ubiquitous until the middle of the nineteenth century.

The realist novel, defined by its putatively objective narrator, psychologically developed characters, and minute description of the realities of domestic life, was in part inaugurated by Austen in Pride and Prejudice, and would come to dominate the literary scene in England throughout the rest of the nineteenth century. The rise of the novel has historically been linked to the rise of the middle class in England from the eighteenth century onwards, because this expanding social class (and middle class women in particular) had both the income and the leisure time available to consume them. Although novels were widely read, throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, they were largely considered unserious, frivolous, and even irrelevant—a merely “popular” genre.

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Tuesday 10th October 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on October 10, 2017 by bishshat

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Blade Runner 2049

In 2049, bioengineered humans called replicants have been integrated into society as bioengineered life has been necessary to ensure humanity’s continued survival. K, a newer model created to obey, works as a “blade runner” for the LAPD, hunting down and “retiring” rogue older model replicants. His home-life is spent with his holographic girlfriend Joi, a product of Wallace Corporation.

K’s investigation into a replicant freedom movement leads him to a farm, where he retires rogue replicant Sapper Morton and finds a buried box with what appears to be human remains inside. Forensic analysis reveals they are of a female replicant who died as the result of complications from an emergency caesarian section. K finds this unsettling as pregnancy in replicants was originally thought to be impossible.

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K is ordered to destroy all evidence related to the case and to retire the child by his superior, Lieutenant Joshi, who believes the knowledge that replicants are able to reproduce to be dangerous and could lead to war. K, disturbed by his orders, visits the headquarters of replicant manufacturer Niander Wallace who identifies the body as Rachael, an experimental replicant. In the process, he learns of her romantic ties with former veteran blade runner Rick Deckard. Believing that reproduction in replicants can bolster his production, but unable to give them this ability himself, Wallace sends his replicant enforcer Luv to steal Rachael’s remains from LAPD headquarters and follow K to find Rachael’s child. Wallace hopes to use the child to engineer replicant reproduction and expand his off-world operations.

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Returning to Morton’s farm, K finds a hidden date that matches a childhood memory about hiding a toy horse. K later finds the toy horse at an orphanage, suggesting that his memories—which he thought were implants—are real. Joi insists this is evidence that K is in fact a real person, giving him the nickname “Joe.” While searching birth records for that year, he discovers an anomaly: “twins” were born on that day with identical DNA except for the sex chromosome; only the boy is listed as alive. K seeks out Dr. Ana Stelline, a memory designer who informs him that it is illegal to program replicants with humans’ real memories, leading K to believe he might be Rachael’s son. After failing a test of his replicant behavior, K is suspended by Joshi, but he explains that he failed the test because he completed his mission in killing the child. Joshi, knowing K will be chased for deviating from his base line, gives him 48 hours to disappear. K transfers Joi to a mobile emitter despite knowing if it is damaged she will be erased.

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Undeterred, K has the toy horse analyzed and finds traces of radiation that lead him to the ruins of Las Vegas, where he finds Deckard. Deckard reveals that he scrambled the birth records to cover his tracks and was forced to leave a pregnant Rachael with the replicant freedom movement to protect her. Luv and her men arrive to kidnap Deckard, having murdered Joshi and tracked K’s location. They leave a badly injured K for dead, in the process destroying Joi’s emitter. He is later rescued by the replicant freedom movement who were tracking him and told by their leader, Freysa, that Rachael’s child is actually a girl. K deduces that Stelline is Deckard’s daughter, as she is the only one capable of creating the memory and implanting it into him. Freysa urges K to prevent Wallace from uncovering the secrets of replicant reproduction by any means necessary, including killing Deckard.

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In Los Angeles, Deckard is brought before Wallace, who suggests Rachael’s feelings for him were engineered by Tyrell to test the possibility of a replicant becoming pregnant. Deckard refuses to cooperate with Wallace, even when promised a replicant recreation of Rachael. Luv escorts Deckard to one of Wallace’s off-world outposts to be tortured for information. K intercepts them before fighting and killing Luv. He stages Deckard’s death to protect him from both Wallace and the replicants, and leads Deckard to Stelline’s office. K encourages Deckard to meet his daughter and laments that all the best memories are hers. Deckard cautiously enters the office and approaches Stelline, while K lies down on the steps amidst the falling snow, and dies from his wounds.

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Heavens Gate

In 1870, two young men, Jim Averill and Billy Irvine, graduate from Harvard College. The Reverend Doctor speaks to the graduates on the association of “the cultivated mind with the uncultivated” and the importance of education. Irvine, brilliant but obviously intoxicated, follows this with his opposing, irreverent views. A celebration is then held after which the male students serenade the women present, including Averill’s girlfriend.

Twenty years later, Averill is passing through the booming town of Casper, Wyoming, on his way north to Johnson County where he is now a Marshal. Poor European immigrants new to the region are in conflict with wealthy, established cattle barons organized as the Wyoming Stock Growers Association; the newcomers sometimes steal their cattle for food. Nate Champion – a friend of Averill and an enforcer for the stockmen – kills a settler for suspected rustling and dissuades another from stealing a cow. At a formal board meeting, the head of the Association, Frank Canton, tells members, including a drunk Irvine, of plans to kill 125 named settlers, as thieves and anarchists. Irvine leaves the meeting, encounters Averill, and tells him of the Association’s plans. As Averill leaves, he exchanges bitter words with Canton. Canton slapping Averill across the face immediately provokes retaliation, and Canton is knocked to the floor. That night, Canton recruits men to kill the named settlers.

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Ella Watson, a Johnson County bordello madam from Quebec, who accepts stolen cattle as payment for use of her prostitutes, is infatuated with both Averill and Champion. Averill and Watson skate in a crowd, then dance alone, in an enormous roller skating rink called “Heaven’s Gate”, which has been built by local entrepreneur John L. Bridges. Averill gets a copy of the Association’s death list from a baseball-playing U.S. Army captain and later reads the names aloud to the settlers, who are thrown into terrified turmoil. Cully, a station master and friend of Averill’s, sees the train with Canton’s posse heading north and rides off to warn the settlers but is murdered en route. Later, a group of men come to Watson’s bordello and rape her. All but one are shot and killed by Averill. Champion, realizing that his landowner bosses seek to eliminate Watson, goes to Canton’s camp and shoots the remaining rapist, then refuses to participate in the slaughter.

Canton and his men encounter one of Champion’s friends leaving a cabin with Champion and his friend Nick inside, and a gunfight ensues. Attempting to save Champion, Watson arrives in her wagon and shoots one of the hired guns before escaping on horseback. Champion and his two friends are killed in a massive, merciless barrage which ends with his cabin in flames. Watson warns the settlers of Canton’s approach at another huge, chaotic gathering at “Heaven’s Gate”. The agitated settlers decide to fight back; Bridges leads the attack on Canton’s gang. With the hired invaders now surrounded, both sides suffer casualties (including a drunken, poetic Irvine) as Canton leaves to bring help. Watson and Averill return to Champion’s charred and smoking cabin and discover his body along with a hand written letter documenting his last minutes alive.

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The next day, Averill reluctantly joins the settlers, with their cobbled-together siege machines and explosive charges, in an attack against Canton’s men and their makeshift fortifications. Again there are heavy casualties on both sides, before the U.S. Army, with Canton in the lead, arrives to stop the fighting and save the remaining besieged mercenaries. Later, at Watson’s cabin, Bridges, Watson and Averill prepare to leave for good. But they are ambushed by Canton and two others who shoot and kill Bridges and Watson. After killing Canton and his men, a grief-stricken Averill holds Watson’s body in his arms.

In 1903 – about a decade later – a well-dressed, beardless, but older-looking Averill walks the deck of his yacht off Newport, Rhode Island. He goes below, where an attractive middle-aged woman is sleeping in a luxurious boudoir. The woman, Averill’s old Harvard girlfriend (perhaps now his wife), awakens and asks him for a cigarette. Silently he complies, lights it, and returns to the deck.

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The Real Ella Watson

The eldest of 10 surviving children, Watson was born on July 2, 1860, in Ontario, Canada, and moved with her family to a homestead near Lebanon, Kansas, in 1877. Bucking the norm of the day, Watson shocked Lebanon when she divorced her first husband, farm laborer William Pickell, on Valentine’s Day, 1884—and then demanded her maiden name back. An abusive drunk, he had often beat her with a horsewhip.

She fearlessly went West on her own during 1883 to 1886, ignoring the fact that most women went with their fathers, brothers or husbands. She ultimately chose Wyoming to settle in because women already had the vote and the territory still offered land to claim under the Homestead Acts.

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As tongues wagged, an unmarried 25-year-old Watson joined 34-year-old James Averell at a roadhouse in early 1886. Unknown to anyone, they secretly married a couple months later, miles away in another county. Historians agree the couple had come up with the ruse so each could file multiple claims as “head of household.” As a married woman, Watson couldn’t own land in her own name.

On August 30, 1886, Watson filed a “squatter’s claim” on 160 acres adjacent to Averell’s homestead claim on Horse Creek. She went to court to fight off a neighbor’s bogus “timber claim” on the land—land without trees. In 1888, in the territorial capital, Cheyenne, she would file the formal paperwork for Claim 2003.

All that time, she and Averell fought constantly with their powerful neighbor, Bothwell, who declared Watson’s claim was on his pasture land and blocked his right to water in Horse Creek. Insult became injury when Bothwell was forced to buy an easement from the couple to get access to the water—a trench 15 feet wide and 3,300 feet long.

In the meantime, on May 25, 1887, Watson filed for citizenship, taking home the test she would have to pass in five years to become an American citizen.

In October 1888, she bought 28 head of cattle, stated two men who were with her that day. That December, she tried to get a legal brand through the official brand committee of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, but the committee wouldn’t give her one—just as its members repeatedly refused a brand to Averell for any future cows he would own.

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Watson outsmarted the cattlemen by buying a brand from neighbor John Crowder, who was moving on. She officially registered her LU brand with the Carbon County Brand Commission on March 20, 1889.

She became like a stepmother to 11-year-old Gene, believed to be John Crowder’s son. She also took in 14-year-old John DeCorey, who became a general handyman around her homestead. Her “family” included Averell’s 20-year-old nephew from Wisconsin, Ralph Cole, and neighbor Frank Buchanan, who would try to stop the double hanging led by Bothwell and John Durbin, two of the most prominent cattlemen in the territory. By the time the case came before the grand jury, none of her “family” appeared to identify the six men who had hanged the couple: Cole had died under mysterious circumstances; Buchanan and Gene disappeared; and DeCorey fled to Colorado for safety. All the lynchers walked free.

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Watson’s name and honor were defended with a shocking lawsuit filed by the executor of her estate, Carbon County Coroner George Durant. While the murder charges were still hanging over their heads, Bothwell and Durbin were sued for $1,100. Durant’s suit accused them of stealing Watson’s cows and rebranding them as their own on the day they lynched her. The cattlemen’s attorney continuously delayed court hearings, until the case was finally dismissed—51 months after Watson was buried.

“The Homesteaders’ Heroine, Cattle Kate, and the Land Grabbers in the West.” That was the headline suggested by former Wyoming Sen. Joseph C. O’Mahoney, in a 1960s letter to a writer investigating the case.

On the 100th anniversary of her murder, Watson’s nieces and nephews gathered in Wyoming to place a marker near where she lay—now under the new Pathfinder Ranch. It read: “These innocent homesteaders were hanged by cattle ranchers for their land and water rights.”

To this day, the city of Rawlins remembers Watson and her murder in its Rawlins Main Street Mural Project, noting she and Averell had been “hanged by greedy land barons.” The mural honors their true characters, declaring, “Ellen and Jim fed the hungry, clothed the naked and took anyone in.”

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Nate Champion

Nathan D. Champion known as Nate Champion was a key figure in the Johnson County War of April 1892. Falsely accused by a wealthy Wyoming cattlemen’s association of being a rustler, Champion was the first person murdered by a band of hit men hired by the cattlemen. In reality, Champion was simply a small rancher who stood up against the big cattlemen’s practice of claiming all unbranded young cattle on the range. He is celebrated for his heroic stand in his besieged cabin and for a heartfelt letter written at the time describing the events.

James Averell

James Averell was born in 1851 in Renfrew County, Ontario, Canada. In 1871, at the age of 20, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the 13th Infantry until his discharge in 1876, described as a “good honest reliable soldier.” Less than a month after his discharge, he reenlisted with the 9th Infantry, serving until his discharge in 1881 at Fort Fred Steele, Wyoming Territory.

The following year Averell married Sophia Ann Jaeger in Illinois and the couple moved to Wyoming, settling north of Rawlins on Sand Creek. The Averell’s first child, born prematurely in August of 1882, died shortly after birth, and Sophia died several days later of puerperal fever. The baby was likely buried near their cabin, while Sophia’s body was returned to her home state of Wisconsin for interment there.

Averell remained in Wyoming, and in February of 1886, he filed a homestead claim for 160 acres of land near Independence Rock in what is now Natrona County, Wyoming. He established a store and saloon there, and served as postmaster and a justice of the peace. Two years later, Ella Watson claimed 160 acres of land adjacent to Averell’s. The two neighbors became friends, with Watson reportedly working at Averell’s saloon while improving her property.

Averell and Watson quickly became involved in a dispute with Albert J. Bothwell, a large landowner and powerful stockman in the area who claimed that he owned their land. The homesteaders stood their ground, with Averell writing letters to the Casper newspaper critical of the greediness of the cattle barons. The stockmen retaliated with claims that Averell and Watson were stealing their cattle. The dispute ultimately led to the kidnapping and lynching of Averell and Watson on July 20, 1889 by Bothwell and several of his cattle baron friends. Bothwell and five others were arrested, but none were convicted of the murders.

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The Johnson County War

The Johnson County War, also known as the War on Powder River and the Wyoming Range War, was a series of range conflicts that took place in Johnson County, Wyoming between 1889 and 1893. The conflicts started when cattle companies ruthlessly persecuted supposed rustlers throughout the grazing lands of Wyoming.

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As tensions swelled between the large established ranchers and the smaller settlers in the state, violence finally culminated in Powder River Country, when the ranchers hired armed gunmen to invade the county and wipe out or scare off the small settlers they were competing against. When word came out of the gunmen’s initial incursion in the territory, the small farmers and ranchers, as well as the state lawmen, formed a posse of 200 men to fight them, which led to a grueling stand-off. The conflict ended when the United States Cavalry, on the orders of President Benjamin Harrison, relieved the two forces, although further conflicts persisted in the following months.

The events have since become a highly mythologized and symbolic story of the Wild West, and over the years variations of the storyline have come to include some of its most famous historical figures. In addition to being one of the most well-known range wars of the American frontier, its themes, especially the theme of class warfare, served as a basis for numerous popular novels, films, and television shows of the Western genre

Monday 9th October 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on October 9, 2017 by bishshat

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The Man with the Iron Heart

The Man with the Iron Heart is an English-language French biographical war thriller drama film directed by Cédric Jimenez and written by David Farr, Audrey Diwan, and Jimenez. It is based on French writer Laurent Binet’s novel HHhH, and focuses on Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich in Prague during World War II. The film stars Jason Clarke, Rosamund Pike, Jack O’Connell, Jack Reynor, and Mia Wasikowska. It was shot in Prague and Budapest from September 2015 until February 2016.

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The film is based on the Laurent Binet’s novel HHhH about Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich in Prague.
The title is an acronym for Himmlers Hirn heißt Heydrich (“Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich”), a quip about Heydrich said to have circulated in Nazi Germany. Cédric Jimenez directed the film based on the script he co-wrote with David Farr and Audrey Diwan, which was financed by Légende Films, Adama Pictures, Echo Lake Entertainment and FilmNation Entertainment. Alain Goldman and Simon Istolainen produced the film. On 28 October 2015, The Weinstein Company came on board to handle the United States distribution rights to the film.

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Principal photography on the film began on 14 September 2015 in Prague and Budapest, which ended on 1 February 2016.