George Garrard – Painter and Sculptor

Sawrey Gilpin, Public Domain
Sawrey Gilpin, Public Domain

George Garrard was born on 31 May 1760 and became a well-known animal painter in the late 1700 and early 1800s. Although little is known about Gerrard’s early life, it seems that the name of Garrard was “frequently associated with art.” A descendant of his, Marc Garrard, came to England from Bruges in the late 1500s and became a painter to Queen Elizabeth. Marc Garrard also supposedly executed a “picture representing the procession … of Queen Elizabeth’s visit in 1584 to Hunsdon House, near Ware, Hertfordshire.”

Similar to his ancestor Marc, George Garrard developed his artistic talents. He began art lessons with Joseph Simpson but soon proved talented enough that at the age of 18 he was accepted as a student at the Royal Academy. There he studied under Sawrey Gilpin, an English animal painter, illustrator, and etcher who specialized in painting horses and dogs. In 1781, while at the Academy, Garrard also gave his first exhibit of horses and dogs paintings. Continue reading

Benjamin Franklin in Passy, France

Hôtel de Valentinois in Passy, France
Hôtel de Valentinois, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Benjamin Franklin served as an American Ambassador to France from 1776 to 1785. For much of the time he was there — from March of 1777 to July of 1785 — Franklin lived in a rural area known as Passy. Today, Passy is included within the realms of Paris, but at the time, Passy was located about three miles outside of Paris. It was situated on a lofty hill on the Seine’s right bank and was an area known for its expansive gardens, beautiful parks, and numerous chateaux. Continue reading

Penny Bloods and the Penny Dreadfuls

Penny Dreadful Cover from the 1860s
Penny Dreadful Cover from the 1860s, Public Domain

The Penny Blood, later called Penny Dreadful, were cheap nineteenth century publications that featured sensational and intriguing stories printed over a series of weeks. Originally, they told stories of pirates and highwaymen, and later focused on crime and mystery. They were popular because they cost buyers a penny and were cheaper than other fiction available, such as works by Charles Dickens, which cost about a shilling (or 12 pennies).

The weekly penny publications were extremely popular and millions of copies were sold. They first appeared in the 1830s and soon there were over 100 publishers producing them. Penny Bloods originally targeted young working class males and entertained readers by allowing them to escape into a thrilling fantasy world. They were printed on cheap paper, often included black and white illustrations on the front page, and were short, no more than eight to sixteen pages long. Continue reading

Napoleon and His Camel Corps

Napoleon's Camel Corps, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Napoleon’s Camel Corps, Courtesy of Wikipedia

The great general Napoleon employed a camel corps during his Egyptian Campaign between 1798 and 1799. He formed the camel corps after suffering Bedouin incursions and raids into Egypt proper. After their raids, the Bedouins would easily escape from the French cavalry because of their swift horses. To remedy this situation, Napoleon decided to form a camel corps partly because of the camel’s adaptability and partly because of the camel’s swiftness.

The men assigned to camel corps came from a variety of regiments. They used two-humped camels, known as bactrians, as their transportation. To establish the camel corps, French soldiers used “the Arab ‘camel language'” to work with the camels. It took about a month’s worth of training to make a solider skillful in the art of camel driving and maneuvering Continue reading

Elizabeth Brownrigg, Executed for Torture

Elizabeth Brownrigg, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Elizabeth Brownrigg, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Elizabeth Brownrigg met and married a plumber named James Brownrigg, and they created a nice life for themselves. They were wealthy enough to live in London on Fleet Street in Flower-de-Luce Court and owned a second home in Islington that they used as a retreat. The Brownriggs were also lucky enough to become parents to a brood of fifteen (or perhaps sixteen) children, and, Mrs. Brownrigg was said to be a loving, nurturing, and caring mother.

Because of her motherly skills, Mrs. Brownrigg gained an appointment at Dunstan’s parish. There she was tasked with taking care of all the poor women who entered the workhouse. In addition, Mrs. Brownrigg earned money as a midwife and was skilled enough to have women lie-in privately at her home, which is where her problems began. Continue reading

John Frederick Herring, Sr. – A Highflyer

John Frederick Herring, Sr., Courtesy of Wikipedia
John Frederick Herring, Sr., Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Highflyer coach was one of the oldest and most popular coaches on the road and probably next in importance to the mail coaches that ran in the 1700s. Among the stops that the Highflyer made for horses was Doncaster, where the principal coach proprietor was a man named Richard “Dickey” Wood. To aid Wood’s horsing of the Highflyer, he employed a man who drove the Highflyer, painted insignias on the sides of coaches, and painted signs for public houses and inns. This man was named John Frederick Herring, Sr.

Herring was the son of a Dutch fringe making merchant. Herring’s father had been born in America but Herring was born in London in 1795. From an early age Herring showed an interest in art and spent much of his free time drawing animals, particularly horses. Herring’s interest in art caused his father to send him to a local artist for training, but after a few lessons, the artist declared Herring knew more than he did. Continue reading

How House Stewards Cheated Their Masters

Footman and House Stewards, Courtesy of Library of Congress
Footman, Courtesy of Library of Congress

House stewards were at the pinnacle when it came to servants. In large and wealthy families, they were responsible for several important jobs: They hired and fired staff, and they purchased and paid for all the bills related to the household. With such responsibilities, it was easy for unscrupulous stewards to take advantage of their positions and fleece their masters to supplement their own income.

One writer noted that unscrupulous house stewards were methodical in their fleecing methods. One way was by holding regular luncheon meetings with other disreputable stewards where they would share their tricks and schemes and discuss ways to “oust all tradesmen who … [would] not fall into their views of robbing [their masters].” Continue reading

Jane Austen’s Vocabulary From Persuasion

Anne Elliott and Henrietta Musgrove, Public Domain
Anne Elliott and Henrietta Musgrove, Public Domain

Jane Austen’s Persuasion was published posthumously in 1818. This novel focuses on the fashionable watering-place of Bath and is different from some of Austen’s other books because of the biting satire directed at some of the novel’s characters.

In Persuasion, Austen also demonstrates brilliantly how women are at the mercy of males. Similar to Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, the heroine, Anne Elliot, leaves behind her old life and her old connections. She also marries for love and thereby gains a stimulating intellectual, social, and emotional life worthy of her character.

To more fully appreciate Austen and her ability to create a moving love story, despite the novel’s simple plot, it helps to look at her word choice. Therefore, fifteen interesting words from Austen’s Persuasion are defined and quoted below: Continue reading

Anne, Princess of Orange, and George II’s Daughter

Anne, Princess of Orange, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Anne, Princess of Orange, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Anne, Princess of Orange, was also the eldest daughter of King George II. She was born on 2 November 1709, and practically from the moment she was born displayed an “imperious temper.” As a child she was also forthright and remarkably proud of her position as royalty. In fact, one day she expressed her wish to not have brothers because she wanted to become Queen one day. Her mother taken aback, reproved her, but it didn’t dissuade her from her feelings on the matter and she exclaimed, “I would die to-morrow, to be queen to-day!”

When Princess Anne was still a girl, her grandfather, George I, and her father, King George II, had a disagreement. This caused George I to seize George II’s daughters — the Princesses Anne, Caroline, and Amelia Sophia — and he detained them as national property, which George II inherited when his father died. Under George I the girls were educated in the way he thought fit. Of the three girls, George I liked Anne best, and, supposedly, this relationship caused Princess Anne to behave even more haughtily and imperiously than she had before, and it also created strife between her and her father. Continue reading

The Phrygian Cap or the Cap of Liberty

Phrygian Cap or The Famous Cap of Liberty, Author's Collection
The Famous “Cap of Liberty,” Courtesy of Wikipedia

The phrygian cap — a soft, conical, brimless cap from antiquity — came to be associated with freedom and was adopted as the “Cap of Liberty” during the French Revolution. It was first used as a symbol of liberty on the 8th and 9th of May in 1790 when the red cap adorned a statue that represented the new French nation at a Federation festival in Troyes. Later that month, on the 30th, the cap also appeared in Lyon, where it was carried by the goddess of Liberty on the end of her lance. However, the history behind the phrygian cap starts with slaves in ancient times.

“In all countries the slaves were obliged to appear bareheaded; and whenever the day came that freedom was the reward … one of the ceremonies used in the manumission of the slave was the placing of a cap on the head by the former master.”[1]

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