Category Archives: Georgian

Inspired by the Google doodle – Jane’s other language.

Today’s ‘Google Doodle’ celebrates British Sign Language and its development. This gives me the opportunity to re-blog something I wrote a little while ago in the series, Five things you might not know about Jane Austen.

 

Like most educated women of her time Jane Austen knew some French and Italian. But she knew another language, a far more unusual one. What was it?

She tells us in her own words, in 1808 she was living in Southampton and on December 27 she wrote to her sister, who was staying with their brother in Kent. In her long letter she mentions a visit they had made.

‘We spent Friday evening with our friends at the boarding-house, and our curiosity was gratified by the sight of their fellow-inmates, Mrs. Drew and Miss Hook, Mr. Wynne and Mr. Fitzhugh; the latter is brother to Mrs. Lance, and very much the gentleman. He has lived in that house more than twenty years, and, poor man! is so totally deaf that they say he could not hear a cannon, were it fired close to him; having no cannon at hand to make the experiment, I took it for granted, and talked to him a little with my fingers, which was funny enough. I recommended him to read “Corinna”.’

So there it is, Jane Austen could sign, she knew what was probably an early version of British Sign Language which had been developed in the late eighteenth century, and was already being taught to deaf people of all classes through several schools. The question then arises, how did she come to know sign language?

V0016541 The Dumb Alphabet. Coloured aquatint, W.T. Annis 1819.

One possibility is that she learnt, as do many hearing people do today, to communicate with a relative. In her case her brother George, little is known about him. He was born in 1766, ten years before Jane, and like her and her other siblings, was placed with a wet-nurse in the village of Steventon immediately after birth. However he never returned to live with his family and the majority of references to him are concerned with his care. He was clearly mentally or physically disabled and the fact that Jane Austen could sign suggests that he was either deaf or couldn’t speak.

What is perhaps less surprising than Jane Austen holding a conversation in sign language, is that she takes the opportunity to suggest something to read!

 

Finally, if anyone doubts that sign language is a real language, British Sign Language was officially recognised as a minority language in 2003.

 

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Monday’s child

Another poem illustrated by Regency pictures (and later genre pictures). A classic nursery rhyme.

 

Charles Amable Lenoir - The Pink Rose

Monday’s child is fair of face,

Eugene von Blaas — Feeding the Pigeons

Tuesday’s child is full of grace;

Frédéric Soulacroix Dissapointment

Wednesday’s child is full of woe,

Emil Brack - Planning the Grand Tour Emil Brack

Thursday’s child has far to go;

Leslie, George Dunlop, 1835-1921; The Gardener's Daughter
Friday’s child is loving and giving,

Marie-Denise Villers Self-portrait Young Woman Drawing
Saturday’s child works hard for its living;

Charles Haigh Wood - The Time of Roses

But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

 

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1774 The Summer that Changed the World

Summer 1774
Matthew Boulton mopped his brow, it was hot. He looked across the lake and shook his head, where there should be a wide expanse of water there was a long, thin, channel marking where the stream had once ran before the dam had been built. He turned to his millwright,
“I’m sorry sir, but there is only water for one wheel, and if there is no rain even that will stop in two weeks.”

Boulton nodded, he knew the problem well enough. If there was no water, the water wheels wouldn’t turn, and without the power generated by the wheels the factory would stop. He needed more water, but how?

View of the manufactory of Boulton & Fothergill in Birmingham by Francis Eginton 1773
The two men walked back towards the mill, in the office they poured over a map of the district. The millwright pointed.

“Here sir, there is water enough in the river here, if we could get it into the pond. But it must be thirty or forty feet below the level of the leat.”

Boulton looked at the map, his man was right. A tributary entered the river below the point the leat ran off the river towards his pond. This tributary was still full of water and, he knew, usually was. There was just the problem of raising thousands of gallons of water up thirty feet.

“You are right, and there is a way. A pumping engine.”

“A pumping engine, aren’t they just used in mines?”

“Most are, but I have seen some used to raise water into canals, and one is even used to pump drinking water into London.” He paused and pointed “If we were to place one about here it could take water from the river and up to the leat, and there would be no trouble from any landowners as it would all be on my land.”

“Do you know where you could get an engine?”

“No, but there is a meeting next week, I am sure someone there will know.”

The millwright smiled, he knew about the ‘society’, they called it the Lunar Society as they met on the nights of the full moon so they could find their way home afterwards. People called the men who met there ‘Lunatics’, but Matthew Boulton knew different, he knew that in the room were some of the most brilliant men on earth, at the meeting he posed his question and got the answer he wanted.

“Young Watt, he’s the man for you. James Watt, he has improved the pumping engines in the Scottish mines so they use half and much coal as they did. I heard that he wants to leave Scotland for a while, family matters. If you like I will write to him.”

Matthew Boulton did like and a few weeks later the Scots engineer was standing by the dry mill pond as he explained the problem.

“Aye, I could build you a pumping engine to keep your pond filled. But I have an idea that would solve your problem in a much better way.”

 

And with that ‘But’ the world changed, children born after that ‘but’ grew up into a completely different world, no one, no place on earth was unaffected by the decision made that day.

 

Matthew Boulton was fascinated.

“Is it possible?” he asked, “and if so why haven’t you tried before?”

“Because I couldn’t get the materials, or the men skilled enough to build it. But I think there is a possibility now.”

Matthew Boulton looked at the plans, at the list of materials – and nodded.

“Yes, there is wrought iron strong enough, Henry Cort has made it down in Hampshire the Ironmaster can do the boring.” He grinned, and added “And as for the craftsmen, this is Birmingham – here we make anything and everything, the best craftsmen in the world are here.”

 

Over the following autumn and winter, the canals began to bring material to the workshop beside the Soho works. Wrought Iron from distant Hampshire, massive cylinders cast and bored by John Wilkinson the Ironmaster, coal from the mines of Yorkshire and timber from Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden, though even his wondrous imagination couldn’t have dreamed of what was being built on the outskirts of Birmingham. In secrecy the craftsmen laboured and slowly a machine grew, a machine unlike anything else on earth.

 

James Watt steam engine

By the spring it was ready, the men of the Lunar Society gathered to watch, the mill pond was full now but the millwright shut the sluices. The waterwheels stopped, the factory stopped, all of Matthew Boulton’s machines stood idle – then James Watt pulled on the leaver, steam hissed, the massive pivoted beam rose, and fell, as it did so the wheel turned. The engineer tightened the belts and power flowed into the factory, the machines started again powered by steam for the first time.

Everyone congratulated James Watt, but he was having none of it.

“No, it is good, but not perfect. If I were to build it again there are several improvements I would make.”

Erasmus Darwin, the mad grandfather of the brilliant Charles, asked.
“Are you going to build another?”

“Of course,” replied Matthew Boulton, “Another, and another, and another. We will give the world what it wants, even if it doesn’t know it yet”

“What is that?”

“Power, wherever and whenever it wants it. We will give the world power.”

 

Boulton and Watt’s steam engines changed the world. Developed first for Matthew Boulton’s factory at Soho near Birmingham, they were soon being built and exported around the world. No longer was power only to be obtained from wind or river, factories could be built anywhere, not just in places with a reliable water supply. The industrial revolution had properly begun.

 

I had been planning to retell this story for some time when my brother posted on his blog about a trip he had made to Arkwright’s mill in Derbyshire, and pondered on why it had been built in seemingly remote location. A location chosen only because of its proximity to a constant supply of moving water for power.

My tale tells of how the link between location and power was finally broken – and the world changed as a result of a hot summer in 1774!

Pictures from the internet

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The Wizard of the North

Written in response to Charli Mills May 18, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a wise story. It can be about wisdom, expressing wisdom or advice for turning 50! It can be a wise-cracking story, too. Go where wisdom leads you. So I am writing about a real wizard, though this is not one of my imagined historical events, as most of the words are not my own.

 

The Wizard of the North

“Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones.”

“But Jane, nobody knows who wrote it. How can you be so sure?”

“Because it is just like him, but it’s not fair. He has Fame and Profit enough as a Poet, and shouldn’t be taking the bread out of other people’s mouths.”

Cassandra smiled as her sister picked up the book again.

 “I do not like him.” Jane continued, “And do not mean to like Waverley if I can help it – but fear I must.” Silently she thought, “I wonder if he will like Emma?”

He did.

 

Emma title

 

Sir Walter Scott, who was known as The Wizard of the North, was a very well-known and successful poet, so he published his first novel Waverley anonymously and for years no one knew for certain who had written it. Jane Austen, however identified the author almost immediately. All her words in the above passage are taken directly from her letters.  Emma was published shortly after Waverley, Sir Walter Scott was delighted with the novel and gave it what we would call a rave review in The Quarterly, the top literary magazine of the day.

 

Purists may notice that, in order to meet the word count, I have edited Jane Austen’s words slightly, turning is not into isn’t and should not into shouldn’t.

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Reconstructing the Regency, or Protecting the Pound Coin with a Regency Toy!

The new One Pound Coin is being lauded as the most secure, most difficult to forge, coin ever produced. One of the many features is the ‘hologram’ on the obverse, just below the Queen’s head. This is a small feature that shows a £ sign when viewed from one direction and a figure 1 when viewed from another.

one pound coin hologram 3

Picture from the Royal Mint

However this isn’t a true hologram, rather it is a physical picture cut onto tiny ridges, one image is on one side of the ridge and one on the other. You can feel the ridges if you run a fingernail over the feature.

This type of picture is called an anamorphic picture, a picture that can only be viewed from a particular direction. The most famous example of this is the skull in Holbein’s picture ‘The Ambassadors’. However this type of anamorphic picture was developed much later and by the Regency was a children’s toy, and is described in The Boy’s Own Book published in 1834. The instructions are far from clear, if you would like to try and make one I give them here.

Boys own 3

Naturally, as soon as I discovered these instructions I wanted to make one, so I began by working out the geometry.

SUNP0057

Then I selected two suitable pictures (from the British Museum online catalogue) and printed them out.

SUNP0061

These were then cut into correctly sized strips, that was what all the geometry was about, and pasted onto the base sheet.

SUNP0063

When dry the strip was folded in a concertina fashion, the images are completely mixed up.

SUNP0065

But viewed from the side one picture becomes clear.

SUNP0067

And the other can be seen from the other side.

SUNP0068

So to protect the most advanced coin of the 21st century, you need a child’s toy from the 18th!.

 

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The First Speed Record – A Tale of 1827 – Part 3

The Race to Weymouth
As the coach headed on across the north Hampshire Downs the telegraph operator on Melbury Beacon was worried.

“I have to get this message to Weymouth, but how?” He muttered to himself.
He couldn’t leave the station, the other two men watching the stations on either side could manage for a few minutes, but Weymouth was twenty miles away, if he ran to Melbury Abbas to find a messenger, who could he send? He had to be able to trust the messenger, he knew how radical some people were in Dorset, and if the messenger was trustworthy, would he be putting them in danger if anyone guessed where he was going?
As he puzzled the answer came cantering across the downs!

A party of riders, two men and a woman, the operator grinned and waved. Seeing him the riders turned and rode towards him.
“You seem excited Mr Harris,” the first man spoke, “What is it? News from London? Have the French invaded?”
James Harris stepped forward, away from the station, and spoke quietly.
“It is serious sir, and I wondered if you could help?”
He handed Henry Radley the paper, Radley whistled and showed it to his companions. John Hopwood looked at his friend with a grin.
“Of course we can help, what do you say Henry, a race to Weymouth.”
“I’m for it.” He replied, he looked at Harris and said, “Yes, we can take the message, can you give me a second copy so we can ride separately, it would be best if there are people on the watch.”

As he went to copy the message the young woman spoke.
“And a different excuse than a race to Weymouth. You aren’t known as betting men, so anybody who knows you might get suspicious.”
“Have you a better idea Ruth?” Asked Henry Radley, she grinned.
“Yes, I think you and I will elope.”
The young men looked at her in shock. She continued.
“Half the county think you are courting me.”
“Half.” Spluttered Henry Radley.
“Three-quarters then.” She continued, “And they also know that your father is a leading Whig and mine a Tory.
“And they regard politics as an excuse for arguing over port after dinner. They would never object to us marrying.”
“But that is something the three-quarters of the county don’t know.”

The men were quiet, her brother was the first to speak.
“I think you have an idea there sister, what should we do.”
“Home first, I will get a bag and Mary, my servant won’t delay us and it will look more natural if we bring her. Henry will get a chaise ready, John will write a note to our father so he doesn’t get funny ideas if he hears what we are doing. Then we will start, you will wait a short while then follow.”
“After the villain that has abducted my sister.”
“Exactly.”

Chaise

A Post Chaise

Less than an hour later they were off, the journey down the valley was uneventful, until they reached the toll gate by Durweston Bridge. As Henry paid for the ticket to clear the road to Blandford, Ruth looked around. She suddenly sat back beside her maid.
“What is it miss?” Mary asked, Ruth was silent until they were on their way again, then turned to Henry.
“There was a man watching at the gate, I recognised him, he was in the mob at Shaftesbury when we made the mistake of going there at election time. Papa pointed him out as a ‘dammed radical’, and said he had no business being there as he came from a village near Dorchester.”
“Do you think he knows about the message?” Henry said patting his pocket.
“I don’t know but I am getting worried now. I think this is more than a game, I think it is really serious, and I wonder about John, will he be safe?”

 

Despite her fears John passed thought the gate safely about half an hour later, the watcher smiled at the news of the elopement and tried to mislead John by suggesting the couple had crossed the bridge. John, however continued southward.

Weymouth

Weymouth Promenade 1820’s

It was mid-afternoon when the chaise ran into Weymouth, straight down the long promenade, still crowded with holiday makers, round the circus to the end of the pier where a small crowd was gathered watching as the last of the coal was loaded on board the strange looking vessel. The Watersprite was no bigger than several other ships in the harbour, but it was far wider with the massive boxes on either side that covered the paddlewheels and its main mast wasn’t made of wood but was a strong iron column that was already beginning to belch smoke.

The chaise ran straight up to the gangplank, making some of the onlookers jump out of the way, and the young couple, followed by the maid ran on board. The postilion, well bribed, told the tale of the elopement to France, making some of the crowd smile and others shake their heads in disapproval. The ‘eloping couple’, had made their way to the captain, who was at first angry with the way they had barged on board, then read the telegraph message in shock.
Slightly to Henry’s surprise the captain immediately accepted the message and sent for the first mate, he handed him the note.
“What do you think? How would you stop the vessel?”
“They could damage the engine, but if they were to do it here, then that wouldn’t be a disaster, just a delay in getting underway. Even at sea it would just be seen as something that happens, after all on the first trip to Guernsey the engine broke down. They want a proper disaster.” He paused, then continued slowly.
“I would blow the ship up.”
“How on earth would you do that? How would you set off an explosion on board the ship? There is no way you could get a bomb on board.”
“Oh, that would be easy, with the coal!”
“The coal – that’s impossible.” Snapped the captain.
Henry, who had been listening to the conversation, interrupted.
“No, I see what you mean. A shell mixed in the coal would do it.” He looked at the captain who looked bemused, the mate nodded however.
“It’s like a small cannon ball, hollow and filled with gunpowder. If it got thrown into the fire it would explode, and probably make the boiler explode as well. My father has a couple he brought back from the war, I used to play with them when I was a boy.”
“Yes, that would do it.” Muttered the captain, he turned to the mate and said.
“Watch all the men carrying coal on board, if any suddenly seem to want to leave stop them.” He turned to Henry and Ruth. “I would suggest you leave now. The fire is going strong, if it explodes now.”
Ruth stopped him.
“But we are supposed to be eloping, if we leave now it would look suspicious and I am sure the ship is being watched.”
The captain nodded, “You are very brave miss, now let’s below.”
In the cramped engine room, that took up over half of the ship, the men now started to search the coal. Henry and Ruth watched for a while then returned to the deck, where they saw John. He was prevented from getting on board, seeing them he grinned at his sister and friend. He knew the message had safely got through.

Weymouth HarbourSuddenly there was a commotion along the quay, a rider was galloping through the crowd. He turned and gasped, it was his father!
“What the devil is going on? Where is your sister?” demanded Sir George Hopwood.
“She’s on board, didn’t you get our note.”
“Yes, some damned nonsense, now I need to see Ruth and young Radley.” He pushed his way through the crowd towards the boat.
“Bu they won’t let anybody on board.”
He ignored him and strode up the gangway, the man tried to stop him but he just pushed past, the mate ran up.
“Sir, you cannot come on board.”
“I need to see my fool of a daughter.” He said, then seeing Ruth at the stern strode towards her.
“What tomfoolery are you playing at? A daft note about radicals then you go galloping off over half the county.”
“It’s not foolish sir.” Henry tried to say something, Sir George shouted him down. The argument got more vigorous, then the captain came up to them. He ignored their shouts and said simply.
“We have it.”
Sir George stopped suddenly, the captain handed him a metal ball.
“It would have gone into the boiler fire.”
Sir George went pale.
“God, I never liked these things. But inside a ship. Who could have done such a thing?”
“We have him, he tried to leave the ship when he saw us searching the coal.”
“Good, I know the magistrates here, shall I take him to them?” Sir George’s attitude had changed.
“Not yet.” Replied the captain, he gave a thin grin. “We have found two shells, and he claims that was all he placed. But I think that to make sure he was telling the truth he can work as a stoker, right by the boiler fire.”

Henry left the ship with Ruth on his arm, followed by her father and brother, all smiling. As they walked towards the Golden Lion they heard the rumour spread that her father had been reconciled to the match.
In the inn parlour he smiled at Henry and Ruth, and said conversationally.
“You will have to get married you know.”
“But you know there is no reason to.” Gasped Ruth.
“Oh, I know that.” He replied, “And if it had been up to me I would have ignored your scrape. But the tale of your ‘elopement’ reached you mother.”
“Oh no.” Said Ruth.
“And yours,” He said looking at Henry. Henry went pale. “And both your aunts.”
The young couple sat down in shock.
“And I was sent to tell you that your marriage is approved by everybody and there is no need for you to elope to France.”
“But if you explained….” Said Henry.
“I have no intention of doing so. I will let you try if you wish, but when I left they were not just planning your wedding but had moved on to deciding where you were to live. By now I expect they will be deciding on your children’s names.”
John suddenly interrupted by calling to them.
“It’s the mail coach.”
They all looked out of the window, at the coach that had left London only that morning. The guard sat on the box, covering the crowd with his blunderbuss. The crowd looked nervous as three grim faced men got out of the coach, each one holding a pistol.
“I looks like they had trouble on the road.” Said Sir George.

An hour later Ruth Hopwood, together with her brother and fiancée, watched as the Watersprite steamed out of Weymouth.
“Do you think they will get there by tomorrow morning?” Asked Ruth.

view8

The Watersprite off Weymouth

Now back to reality
From the Sherborne Mercury, 1827
On Wednesday last, two gentleman having taken their breakfast in London, departed by the Magnet coach and arrived at the Golden Lion, Weymouth, the same evening, in good time for the packet so that on the following morning they were seated at their breakfast at Payns Hotel, Guernsey, all accomplished within 24 hours.

As for the events in the tale:
The Luddites were real, though they never threatened steamships as far as I am aware.
The Telegraph was real.
The Watersprite was real and could travel very fast for the time as the press extract proves.
The Deer stealers on Cranborne Chase were real and dressed as described
At this time there were men in the village of Martin that were easily led, and some who tried to persuade them not to get involved in violent protest.
Dorset was a radical county, there were violent protests in 1830 and 1831, and the elections at Shaftesbury were notorious for violence and corruption.

But the rest of the tale is complete fiction.

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The First Speed Record – A Tale of 1827 – Part 2

The Mail in danger
The coach pulled into the Crown at Basingstoke, as the ostlers hurried to change the horses the passengers stepped into the inn to grab a swift meal. The waiter placed plates of chops and tankards of ale in front of the hungry travellers. As they began a boy ran into the room.
“Are you the gennlemen from Lunon?” he asked.
“Yes, and get out.” Snapped the waiter, aiming a slap at the boys head.
“Got a message to you from the telegraph.” The boy called out, expertly ducking under the man’s hand.
“What, give it here!” Called Mr King. A glance at it and he swore, then dashed from the room. Sir William followed, Richard paused for a moment and tossed coins to the waiter and the boy. As the men left, the waiter looked at the coin and whistled, it was a half sovereign. “What was in that note?”
“This is serious gentlemen.” Mr King looked round at the four men, his companions, the driver and the guard. “There seems to be a plot against this journey, by a group of luddites.”
“Do you think the coach may be attacked?” asked Sir William.
“I doubt it. They loath machinery and I suspect the plot will focus on the ship. But we must be prepared.”
When the coach pulled out of the Crown twenty minutes later, the guard’s blunderbuss was held at the ready, his pistols were freshly primed and loaded pistols lay on the seat covers beside all three of the passengers. It would take a very determined foe to stop them now.

The Attempt on the Mail
The coach had left Basingstoke, with the men on board fully primed for an attack. But nothing happened, as they rolled through Hampshire and into Wiltshire, they began to think that the warnings had been exaggerated and they relaxed.
It was after passing Salisbury that they realised that the danger was real, the sun was getting low as they passed though the gap of Bokerley Dyke and into Dorset. The coaching was running well along the white chalk road, and was making very good time. Then suddenly the coach slowed,
“What is it man?” shouted Mr King.
“Something in the road.” The coachman replied.
“I will go and look.” Said the guard.
“No, you stay there and keep watch. I will go.” Called Mr King, he opened the door and, pistol in hand, he looked down the road.
A few moments later he climbed back in saying, “Just a branch laid across the road, easy to move.”
“Accident or deliberate?” asked Sir William.
“The branch was fresh cut, I think it was intended to slow us down.”
There were three more branches, each like the first then, as they crested the hill just beyond the village of Martin, there was a farm waggon drawn across the road.

Deer Stealer

“I think this is more serious gentlemen.” Said the driver as he slowed the coach. The men checked their weapons. As they approached the waggon they saw three or four men standing behind it, they were dressed very strangely, in leather jerkins with helmets that looked like bee skeps.
“Deer stealers.” The guard muttered, “They are dressed for a fight. That is what they wear when they expect to fight the gamekeepers.”
As the coach halted two men stepped up to the coach. One had an old musket, he pointed it at the guard.
“Get down, we don’t want to hurt you, just stop the coach.” For a moment there was silence, then there was a loud click as a gun was cocked.
“I suggest you stand away from your friend with the gun.” Mr King spoke softly, he stood behind the coach, a blunderbuss pointed at the men.
“Put your gun down or I will fire.”
The man paused, one of the other men shouted.
“He wouldn’t dare.”
“I told you to step away from your friend as I didn’t want you to get hurt if I fired. This gun would just about cut you in two, and the shot would probably injure anybody standing nearby. I once saw a highwayman who had been shot by a blunderbuss, they had to call a tailor to sew his corpse up so it would go neatly in his coffin. And as for daring to shoot, you are stopping the Kings Mail – that is a hanging matter, if I were to shoot you now I would be congratulated by the judges for saving the county the cost of your trial and execution.”
The speech was having an effect, several of the men were backing away. The guard now shouted.
“Clear the waggon off the road and run. Be thankful we have to reach Weymouth and can’t take you prisoner.”
One of the men shouted, “You haven’t a steam engine?”
“Of course not, this is same coach that passes here three times a week.”
“But he said you had a steam engine and were going to kill the horses.”
“There is a steam engine on the boat we are going to meet in Weymouth, that is all.”
“Then he lied.” The man now turned to the others. “You see he did lie, I told you so, now move the waggon.”

They trundled the waggon off the road, as the coach moved away. Sir William looked at Mr King.
“Well done sir, I was worried we might have had to fight.”
“No, they were just misguided, no real danger.” He paused, “But there is one thing that worries me. In half the villages in England you will find one real troublemaker and twenty men that can be persuaded into any sort of mischief. But that’s not the case here, you notice that the man said ‘he’ was a liar. If it was a local man he would be more likely to say ‘Jim’ or ‘Tom’, I think there was outside influence here. Also this was just designed to slow us down, the real danger, I think, is to the Watersprite. We need to get to Weymouth as soon as possible, but I fear there may be other trouble ahead.”

The Refreshment

The coach crested a ridge, and the coachman shouted.
“It’s the Woodyates Inn, there are men outside it.”
“Can’t we go round?”
“The horses cannot go on, we need to change them.”
“Prepare for more trouble then.” Mr King advised the gentlemen, they checked their weapons. As they approached they could see that there were five or six riders on the road, they pulled to one side as the coach stopped outside the inn. The ostlers ran to change the horses, the passengers now saw that three of the riders wore hunting jackets, one rode over to the coach.
“Captain James of the Blandford Hunt.” He saluted, then continued. “We had a message from young Hopwood, he had heard from the telegraph that you might be having trouble and asked us to see if we could help. Half the lads thought that it was a joke, but there is no hunting at the moment and any excuse for a ride.”
The horses had been changed, Sir William looked up at Captain James.
“Can you have two men ride ahead to check on the road? We really have had trouble. If the others can ride alongside and you can tell us about ‘young Hopwood’.”
Ten minutes later Mr King smiled.
“That is the first good news we have had since Basingstoke. The warning is on its way to Weymouth, it might even be there already.”

They rode on, John Hopwood had left messages as he rode to Weymouth, calling on all his hunting friends. At nearly every stop to change horses more men were waiting to take over the protection of the Mail, and at several places there were small groups of sullen looking men. As they left one group in Milborne, Richard Newman remarked.
“If it hadn’t been for the huntsmen I think we would be having even more trouble.”
“You’re right.” Replied Sir William, “Young Hopwood and his friends deserve a reward.”
“Which they will certainly get.” Added Mr King, “As long as we get to Weymouth.”

Yellowham Wood, County of Dorset

The Dorchester Road

As they drove into Dorchester Mr King said.
“We would normally stop to eat here, but I suggest we just change horses and push onto Weymouth.”
The other gentlemen agreed, and half an hour later they reached the top of the ridge that lay between Dorchester and Weymouth. The lights of the port twinkled in the distance.
“We should be there in less than an hour.” Called the driver.
“Let’s hope the message got through and the Watersprite is safe.” Added Sir William. The other men nodded and settled back as the coach slowly made its way down the steep hill.
To be continued

(pictures from the British Museum website)

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Filed under Georgian, Historical tales, Regency